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Commentary :: Media

Bush's War on the Press

In his speech to last spring's National Media Reform Conference in St. Louis, Bill Moyers accused the Bush Administration not merely of attacking his highly regarded PBS program NOW but of declaring war on journalism itself. "We're seeing unfold a contemporary example of the age-old ambition of power and ideology to squelch and punish journalists who tell the stories that make princes and priests uncomfortable," explained Moyers.

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News :: Elections & Legislation

The Ohio Insurgency

Major Paul Hackett came home from Iraq to launch an assault on a GOP stronghold. Can Democrats follow his lead?

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News :: Media

Networking: Feds calls BlackBerry essential

Federal government tries to take control of all Blackberry devices.
CHICAGO, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The feds are intervening in a 5-year-old patent case against Research in Motion Ltd., the Canadian-based developer of BlackBerry, arguing in court papers filed last week that the networked wireless computing devices are essential and a network outage could cause severe problems for the U.S. government.

"The injunction would, literally, prevent RIM from providing the services that would be essential for the federal government, as well as state and local governments, to continue their use of the BlackBerry devices," the U.S. Department of Justice argued in a court filing. By Gene Koprowski

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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Abuse Included Use of Lions, Iraqis Allege

By Josh White
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 15, 2005; A06

Two Iraqi men who were arrested in Iraq in 2003 but never charged with crimes say that U.S. troops put them in a cage with lions, pretended to execute them in a firing line and humiliated them during interrogations at multiple detention facilities.

Sherzad Khalid, 35, and Thahe Sabber, 37, say they were brutally beaten over several months at U.S. facilities such as Camp Bucca, Abu Ghraib prison and another detention facility at the Baghdad airport. They said the abuse occurred when they were unable to tell U.S. troops where Saddam Hussein was hiding and did not know about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Both are businessmen who were arrested in a July 17, 2003, raid in Baghdad while Khalid, of Kurdistan, was visiting friends. Both said they were supporters of the U.S. invasion.

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News :: Labor & Class

Fredericksburg College considers rise in lowest pay levels

College considers rise in lowest pay levels

Coalition advocates more for custodians and groundskeepers

FREDERICKSBURG - The University of Mary Washington is considering a proposal to boost the starting wages of groundskeepers and custodians - the school's lowest-paid employees.

A group of students and faculty members called the Living Wage Coalition has repeatedly drawn attention to the hardships of living on these small wages. In April, several students - members of the group but acting independently - protested by occupying the office of university Chief Financial Officer Richard Hurley.

About 25 workers at the university now earn the school's bottom wage: $17,610 a year, or $8.46 an hour. Half of them have worked for Mary Washington for more than seven years.

By the way, when reading this article, you have to recognize that the college has been completely unresponsive for the first two years of this coalition work. Whats going on now is largely because they have been forced by the efforts of the living wage Campaign to give some concessions.

One of the hardest things we are still up against is that raising wages in this instance is solely based on market based arguments, not based on the fact that workers at UMW are poor and work 70 to 80 hours a week to get by. This is due to the conservativism of the Commonwealth of Virginia, which greatly restricts the power of labor movements. A victoy of this sort (if this is a victory) can only go as far as the market will allow, and we need stronger forces to change that fact.

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News :: Civil & Human Rights

Charges Dropped for GMU War Protester

Charges dropped for GMU student
Prosecutors provide no explanation in case of recruitment protest
Tuesday, November 15, 2005

FAIRFAX -- Charges were dropped yesterday against a George Mason University student arrested while protesting the presence of military recruiters on campus.

Prosecutors gave no explanation for dropping the case against Tariq Khan, but GMU officials had earlier said they were not interested in pursuing charges against the 27-year-old Air Force veteran and junior sociology major.

Khan was arrested Sept. 29 on charges of trespassing and disorderly conduct after he silently protested U.S. Marine Corps recruiters inside GMU's Johnson Center. Khan positioned himself several feet from a military-recruiting table. He taped to his chest a small, handmade sign that read, "Recruiters lie. Don't be deceived."

When told by a university official that he needed a permit to "table" inside the center, Khan responded that he was not using a table but was merely standing quietly and expressing his opinion.

Khan said he and the recruiters exchanged no words, but he added that he was harassed by bystanders. One student tore up his sign. Police were called, and Khan was handcuffed, arrested and held at Fairfax County jail. He was released after about an hour.

Khan was represented by lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia at his appearance in Fairfax County General District Court.

"This arrest should never have occurred. The next step for us is to make certain that GMU does not do this again," said Kent Willis, Virginia ACLU executive director.

GMU has begun an effort to re-examine campus free-speech policies. After a protest of Khan's treatment and an internal investigation, a task force of student, faculty and staff members will make recommendations on updating the policies.

The school currently has two "free-speech zones" where students can stage protests, but demonstrations inside campus buildings require a university-issued permit, a GMU spokesman said.

Khan said he was pleased that the charges were dropped. But he said he still wants apologies from the university and its police force for arresting him without cause.

"They won't admit to doing anything wrong," Khan said. "They stomped all over my civil rights."

Khan said his protest and the publicity surrounding his arrest have rallied other students to his anti-recruiting cause. He said the effort has kept recruiters from showing up at scheduled campus appearances in recent weeks.

"The recruiters haven't been back on campus," Khan said. "That itself almost makes it all worthwhile."

Contact Paul Bradley at (703) 548-8758 or pbradley@timesdispatch.com

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News :: Globalization

Seoul: thousands of people protest Bush visit, APEC summit

Thousands of people carrying anti-globalization placards demonstrated in central Seoul today against a meeting of Pacific Rim leaders set to promote trade liberalization this week.

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Commentary :: Civil & Human Rights

We Do Not Torture

A betrayal of our most precious values


Well, I guess that settles that.

"We do not torture," President Bush said on Monday. Never mind all those torture pictures from Abu Ghraib. Never mind all those torture stories from Guantanamo Bay. Never mind the 2002 Justice Department memo that sought to justify torture. Never mind reports of U.S. officials sending detainees to other countries for torture. Never mind Dick Cheney lobbying to exempt the CIA from rules prohibiting torture.

"We do not torture," said the president. And that's that, right? I mean, if you can't believe the Bush administration, who can you believe? No torture. Period, end of sentence.

But . . . What does it say to you that the claim even has to be made?

Bush spoke in Panama on the last day of a five-day swing through Latin America to promote free trade. He was addressing controversy over secret CIA prisons in foreign countries. America, Bush reminded us in case it had slipped our minds in the 20 minutes since he last reminded us, is at war.

Guess that would explain all the dead people. And yes, war is not a nice business under the best of circumstances. It is less so when you fight a stateless enemy that strikes from shadows.

But we've been at war before, nasty, brutish wars, one war with civilization itself on the line, yet somehow we always managed to be the good guy. That is not to say our soldiers and sailors and fliers were always good, immune from committing atrocities. It is not to say our officials were always good, untouched by dirty deeds done in clandestine ways. Finally, it is not to say our cause was always good, free from the taint of imperialism or expedience.

But we - the collective we, the official we, the face shown in light of day we - were the good guys.

It occurs to me that maybe I've larded that statement with so many caveats as to drain it of meaning. I'm not trying to be cute. Rather, I'm trying not to sound naive while at the same time getting at something important:

We were the nation of moral authority, the nation of moral high ground, the nation that lectured other nations about human rights. And you know what? People believed us. They rush to our shores because there is freedom here, yes; because there is opportunity here, yes; but also because we stood for something, which was more than the tin-pot tyrants who ran their countries could ever say.

What a difference a presidency makes. "We do not torture," he says.

When I heard that, my first thought was a one-liner: he's been torturing me for years. But you know, this just ain't funny.

In the name of fighting terror, we have terrorized, and in the name of defending our values, we have betrayed them. We have imprisoned Muslims in America and refused to say if we had them, why we had them, or even to provide them attorneys. We have passed laws making it easier for government to snoop into what you read, who you talk to, where you go. We have equated dissent with lack of patriotism, disagreement with treason. And we have tortured.

Yes, Bush says we don't do that kind of thing but, to paraphrase Groucho Marx, who you going to believe, him or your lying eyes?

We ignore our lying eyes, I think, because we are afraid, because we saw what happened Sept. 11 and we never want to see it again. I'd never suggest we ought not fear terrorism. But we should also fear the nation we are becoming in response. We should fear the fact that we have abrogated moral authority, retreated from moral high ground, become like those we once chastised.

"We do not torture," says the president. I can remember when that went without saying.

Miami Herald

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