Friday, May 27, 2005

Take Public Broadcasting Back

by Bill Moyers

Closing address
National Conference on Media Reform
St. Louis, Missouri
May 15, 2005

I can’t imagine better company on this beautiful Sunday morning in St. Louis. You’re church for me today, and there’s no congregation in the country where I would be more likely to find more kindred souls than are gathered here.

There are so many different vocations and callings in this room -- so many different interests and aspirations of people who want to reform the media or produce for the media -- that only a presiding bishop like Bob McChesney with his great ecumenical heart could bring us together for a weekend like this.

What joins us all under Bob’s embracing welcome is our commitment to public media. Pat Aufderheide got it right, I think, in the recent issue of In These Times when she wrote: “This is a moment when public media outlets can make a powerful case for themselves. Public radio, public TV, cable access, public DBS channels, media arts centers, youth media projects, nonprofit Internet news services . . . low-power radio and webcasting are all part of a nearly-invisible feature of today’s media map: the public media sector. They exist not to make a profit, not to push an ideology, not to serve customers, but to create a public—a group of people who can talk productively with those who don’t share their views, and defend the interests of the people who have to live with the consequences of corporate and governmental power.”

She gives examples of the possibilities. “Look at what happened,” she said, “when thousands of people who watched Stanley Nelson’s ‘The Murder of Emmett Till’ on their public television channels joined a postcard campaign that re-opened the murder case after more than half a century. Look at NPR’s courageous coverage of the Iraq war, an expensive endeavor that wins no points from this Administration. Look at Chicago Access Network’s Community Forum, where nonprofits throughout the region can showcase their issues and find volunteers.”

For all our flaws, Pat argues that the public media are a very important resource in a noisy and polluted information environment.

You can also take wings reading Jason Miller’s May 4th article on Z Net about the mainstream media. While it is true that much of it is corrupted by the influence of government and corporate interests, Miller writes, there are still men and women in the mainstream who practice a high degree of journalistic integrity and who do challenge us with their stories and analysis. But the real hope ‘lies within the internet with its two billion or more web sites providing a wealth of information drawn from almost unlimited resources that span the globe. . . If knowledge is power, one's capacity to increase that power increases exponentially through navigation of the Internet for news and information.”

Surely this is one issue that unites us as we leave here today. The fight to preserve the web from corporate gatekeepers joins media reformers, producers and educators -- and it’s a fight that has only just begun.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Breath of Fresh Air Sweeps into Hell, but There's Still No Way Out |

by John Chuckman
Article Excerpts

Like a refreshing breeze blowing briefly over those damned to endure the hell created by America's government came the words of British M.P. George Galloway to an American Senate Committee. The man was simply magnificent. Tough, brave, and articulate--hurling unanswerable truth at blubbering political lowlifes in silk suits.
Washington is the most dishonest place on earth, and with that fact goes another, that the American people are among the earth's worst governed. These creepy American Gauleiters* had wronged Galloway with faked accusations of his profiting from oil trading with Saddam Hussein. My God, it's just one filthy lie after another. They tried smearing Kofi Anan with the same kind of stuff.

Why is it so rarely Americans who take on their own lying, murderous political establishment? It has always been the same. How few Americans stood up to that bellowing angry drunk, political wife-beater, Senator Joseph McCarthy, or that ugly maggot sucking at the nation's liberties, J. Edgar Hoover.

George Galloway's real crime is to have been a sharp thorn in Tony Blair's side, a powerful critic of the stupid Iraq War. Blair dreamt he would rise to Churchillian heights by attending training classes in Crawford, Texas, on how to rig an illegal war. Today he looks more like the sad, depleted Lloyd George expressing his admiration for that rising new star in Europe, Hitler.

There can be no more acid comment on the American press's role in Bush's sleazy war than the mere observation of the New York Times' regular use of the out-of-date, sentimental term GI when referring to America's professional killers now occupying Iraq.

It is not clear yet that America's establishment dislikes Bush. The profits from money thrown around Washington likes slops at an industrial-scale hog farm are delightful while the broader cost of Bush's brutish stupidity has not yet registered. Events on this scale take time to play out. The invasion of Iraq, just as the War in Vietnam, will prove certainly to have been an unmitigated disaster, mass killing and destruction to no good purpose, but the full cost won't be known for years.

John Chuckman, a former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company, is a member of no political party. His articles can be found on such sites as YellowTimes, CounterPunch, SmirkingChimp, and Democrats with Spine. He encourages reader comments:

Monday, May 23, 2005

BELLACIAO - George Galloway Testimony to Congress- Full Transcript

Testimony of Mr. George Galloway, Member of the British Parliament, before the U.S. Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee
Senators Norm Coleman and Carl Levin attending

SEN. COLEMAN: Mr. Galloway, I’m pleased to have you before the committee today.

What I’m going to do is briefly summarize the evidence before we give you a chance to give your sworn testimony.

The Oil-for-Food program was used to support those who were favorable to Iraq. Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan confirmed this.

I would think that you would admit that your efforts to oppose the sanction were well received by the regime. I know it’s been quoted to you many, many times--but your, I would say, infamous statement to Saddam Hussein on January 21, 1994, where you said to Saddam, "Your Excellency, Mr. President, I greet you in the name of many thousands of people in Britain who stood against the tide and opposed the war of aggression against Iraq and continue to oppose the war by economic means, which is aimed to strangle the life out of the great people of Iraq."

You then went on to say you greet the Palestinian people, you went on to note that you thought "the president would appreciate knowing that even today three years after the war I still meet with families who are calling their newborn ’son of Saddam.’"

You went on ultimately at the very end to say, "Sir, I salute your strength, your courage, your indefatigability, and I want you to know that we are with you." And I believe it was in Arabic (????), which means "Until victory, until victory, until victory in Jerusalem." And I also would note that you would say that you deeply regret those comments and that the comments were not aimed directly at Saddam but were aimed at the Iraqi people. (more)

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Galloway 'did not query donors'

BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | Galloway 'did not query donors': "Respect MP George Galloway has said he 'never asked' contributors to an appeal he set up to help a sick Iraqi girl where they had got their money from.
He told Sky news 'two kings and an Arab businessman' gave to the Mariam Appeal.

Last week he made a fiery appearance in front of US senators investigating claims he was given credits for Iraqi oil by Saddam Hussein.
The MP denies funds from the sale of oil were funnelled through the appeal, but may face an inquiry in the UK.

US senators have investigated allegations that Mr Galloway was allocated millions of barrels of cut-price oil by Saddam Hussein's regime under the UN oil-for-food programme.

On Wednesday, in the wake of the Washington hearing attended by Mr Galloway, the Charity Commission said it would ask to see the US senators' evidence in order to establish if further action is needed. "

Speaking on Sky's Sunday With Adam Boulton, he added:
I don't know where the King of Arabia got his money - I presume through being the King of Arabia.

George Galloway
Respect MP

Galloway to tour US

GEORGE GALLOWAY has been invited on a lecture tour of America’s Ivy League universities as a result of his performance before the US Senate.

Washington was left buzzing after the Respect MP traded verbal blows with senators who had accused him of making money from Iraq’s Oil-for-Food programme.

Mr Galloway, 51, could earn £5,000 per speech when he addresses audiences at Harvard, Princeton and Yale universities.

US media unmoved by fiery Galloway

It's a long way - literally and figuratively - from George Galloway's hometown of Dundee to Washington DC. But the man who was kicked out of the British Labour Party because of his fierce criticism of the war in Iraq seemed at ease on Capitol Hill last week as he defended himself against allegations of financial chicanery.

Galloway's appearance in front of the US Senate permanent subcommittee on investigations was a triumph, at least in his estimation.

Back in London on Wednesday night, Galloway told a rally of supporters: “We blew them away.’' A politician rarely burdened by excessive modesty, Galloway went on to depict himself as the man the world had been waiting for.

“From the e-mails and feedback we've had from all over the world, it is true undoubtedly that there was a worldwide audience out there waiting for someone to speak the truth to power,” he said.

The reality of the matter was a bit more complex than that. Galloway's trenchant style largely kept the senators on the defensive, but the Scot was also evasive about some important issues. While the British press hailed his performance, it was seen as little more than a curious diversion by the US media.

Galloway came to Capitol Hill to respond to a report issued by the subcommittee the previous week.

Galloway spent most of his time in Washington attacking his critics.

He accused the subcommittee chairman, Republican senator Norm Coleman, of being a “pro-war, neo-con hawk, and the lickspittle of George W Bush'‘. He also told Coleman that “for a lawyer, you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice'‘.

Such combative language is rarely heard in the genteel environs of the Senate. As a result, most major US newspapers dwelt more on the MP's belligerence than on the fundamental questions he sought to raise.

The New York Times, in an article headlined, ‘British Lawmaker Scolds Senators On Iraq', noted that Galloway was “a flamboyant orator and skilled debater'‘, adding that “his aggressive posture and tone seemed to flummox'‘ the head of the subcommittee.

The Los Angeles Times focused on Galloway's use of “harsh language that shook up the hearing room'‘, while the Washington Post referred to him “dispensing with the deference traditionally reserved for Senate leaders'‘.

For most of the media, though, Galloway's testimony was only a passing storm - it seemed to have been almost forgotten within 48 hours.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

News & Analysis: Galloway vs. The US Senate: Transcript of Statement

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defense made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realize played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].

"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

"I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Halliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

Resources - Audio/Video/Comments

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Britain's Galloway Turns Into Media Hero

Guardian Unlimited | World Latest | Britain's Galloway Turns Into Media Hero: "There is usually no love lost between George Galloway and the British press.

But after the maverick lawmaker's blistering performance before a U.S. Senate committee this week in which he excoriated the Bush administration over Iraq, not even his biggest critics could contain their grudging admiration.

``Galloway: the man who took on America,'' ran a headline in The Independent newspaper on Thursday.
Galloway's combative appearance Tuesday before senators who accused him of taking kickbacks from Saddam Hussein enhanced his status as folk hero among his supporters.

The lawmaker is known, even in the highly articulate world of British politics, for his memorable turns of phrase. On Tuesday, he called the panel of senators a ``lickspittle Republican committee'' and accused them of ``the mother of all smoke screens.''

Upon his return Wednesday, he was given a standing ovation by hundreds of people at a rally in London.

``He blasted the whole of the U.S. Senate,'' said Abdul Khaliq Mian, a member of Respect, the anti-war party founded by Galloway.
Galloway's no-holds-barred testimony won widespread praise in a country where many accuse Prime Minister Tony Blair's government of taking a supine approach to relations with the United States. "

One friend said that Galloway could now set himself up as a successor to Michael Moore, whose documentary, Fahrenheit 911, became a lightning conductor for enemies of President George W Bush.