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Emerging Hope PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Tuesday, 27 December 2005 09:04
Emerging Hope

jazzman chronicles - Jack Random - Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan proclaimed 2004 ?Annus Horribles? ? a horrible year. The year 2005 had all the horror of its predecessor but there were signs of hope as well. The war in Iraq raged on but the American people awakened to the nightmare of an unjustified war. Natural disasters exposed a lack of government preparedness bordering on criminal negligence but the resultant outcry made clear we will not be content to bury the dead and move on. A series of scandals involving political corruption and abuse of power held forth a promise of accountability and reform.

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TOP STORIES OF 2005:
A YEAR OF EMERGING HOPE
Jack Random

Jazzman Chronicles
December 27. 2005

THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES ? DISSEMINATE FREELY


It was a year of constant struggle but it was also a year of emerging hope.

The following is one list of the most important stories of the year. Unlike data-generated lists, it is inherently linked to the values and biases of its compiler. It is an American list, necessarily filtered through mainstream media, yet it is also the list of one who strives for international perspective. It reflects both my fears and hopes as a citizen of the world at the fulcrum of a new millennium.

1. THE KASHMIR QUAKE.

As many as a hundred thousand people were buried in the rubble of the October 8 earthquake in the war torn region of Kashmir. At this writing, hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) confront the onset of a harsh Himalayan winter without adequate shelter, food, drinking water and supplies. Relief agencies protest that nations have not delivered on their promises and the aid that has been given is not reaching those in need.

Like the Indian Ocean tsunami one year ago, the Kashmir Quake was a reminder that we are not alone on the planet. It is a reminder as well of the importance of televised imagery. Perhaps the imagery of the quake could not rival the riveting footage of the tsunami or the drowning of New Orleans but the people of this devastated region require compassionate assistance as much any other. We cannot afford to put up blinders to tragedy in an increasingly small world in an emerging age of catastrophe. We can no longer afford to squander resources building weapons of mass destruction and engaging in aggressive wars when the needs of humanity are so great.

2. HURRICANE KATRINA.

In the worst hurricane season in recorded history, the city of New Orleans and much of the Mississippi gulf coast was laid to waste as the Bush administration?s ineptitude was exposed before the eyes of a dumfounded world. To this day, while billions of dollars have been allocated, displaced citizens of Katrina are dispersed around the nation, homeless and jobless, and the fate of New Orleans remains very much in doubt. While the subsequent Hurricane Rita failed to wreak comparable havoc, it further exposed the nation?s lack of preparedness ? specifically, the absence of effective evacuation.

3. THE IRAQ WAR.

It was a year in which the American death toll struck 2,000 and continued unabated. It was a year in which the American president finally acknowledged the Iraqi dead. His estimate of 30,000, honed from press reports, was either hopelessly optimistic or desperately misleading. It was a year of covert operations in Syria, Lebanon and Iran. It was a year in which the insurgency only grew stronger despite a series of deadly offensives.

Without doubt, the recent elections for an Iraqi National Assembly did not possess the propaganda value of its predecessors. Americans are a difficult audience. The purple finger of freedom does not play so well when you realize that the war and the insurgency will go on. The further realization that the winners in these democratic exercises are anti-American, pro-Iranian fundamentalist clerics further diminishes the vaunted ?crusade? for democracy.

The real test will come when the Iraqi citizenry compels an elected government to demand an end to the occupation. Will the occupying forces comply? If we do not, where will our claim to righteousness in an illegal, immoral war rest then?

4. NSA DOMESTIC SPYING SCANDAL.

While it occurred at year-end, the spying scandal rose to the top of the list when the president openly admitted an impeachable offense: Ignoring Congressional mandate. The subsequent attempts to provide legal authority for spying on Americans without a warrant or judicial review are at best laughable. Articles II and III of the Constitution make no references to spying or surveillance whatsoever. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (September 2001) and the War Powers Resolution of 1973 do not even begin to provide legal authority for unwarranted domestic surveillance. As for the FISA law, such acts of surveillance and eavesdropping are specifically forbidden:

?Notwithstanding any other law, the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order?if the Attorney General certifies in writing under oath that?there is no substantial likelihood that the surveillance will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party.?

Let the impeachment proceedings begin.

5. THE VALERIE PLAME-WILSON CASE.

The difference between the Valerie Plame case and the NSA Domestic Spying scandal is that the president has not confessed and the Attorney General has not yet issued a manifesto on why exposing an operative is within the scope of executive powers. By contrast, the vice president has his fingerprints all over this one. As the year draws to a close, it remains to be seen if prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will have the stomach to pursue the case to its logical conclusion: At the very least, vice president Dick Cheney and political henchman Karl Rove should be removed from office for deliberately leaking the identity of a CIA operative for political motives.

6. THE FEDERALIST COURT.

The death of former Chief Justice William Rehnquist combined with the announced resignation of Sandra Day O?Conner provided an opportunity for the Bush administration to claim a judicial legacy that will far outlive its term of office. The court of Rehnquist will be remembered for its politically motivated selection of George W. Bush as president in 2000 (Bush V. Gore). The Roberts court will be remembered for its Federalist philosophy, dedicated to the evisceration of government authority as the guardian of individual and minority rights.

7. POLITICAL CORRUPTION SCANDALS.

It is difficult to gage the eventual impact of the corruption scandals but the shadow has fallen over all of Washington. If the indictment of Tom Delay was damning, it is but a drop in the storm when compared to the potential impact in the case of lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff has supplied virtually every influential member of Congress with perks and benefits, including a goldmine of campaign funds. If he goes down for an assortment of criminal misdeeds, including the defrauding of a Native American tribe in a corrupt casino deal, he will take the high and mighty down with him.

8. EMERGENCE OF CHINA AND INDIA.

It would be difficult to understate the significance of the emergence of China and India as players in the global economy. We have seen all the statistics on growth rate and the growing imbalance of trade. We have been warned of Indian dominance in technology and communications. We have seen projections of Chinese dominance in manufacturing. Beneath all the warnings and statistics looms the reality that China contributes only six percent of the world?s exports while India contributes less than one percent. Both nations are desperately poor with nearly 1.5 billion people of a total 2.3 billion earning less than two dollars a day. While China and Japan hold the trump cards on the American debt, it is growingly apparent that the new global economy is founded largely on the marketing of poverty. When all the cards are laid on the table, a new global economy must rest on the foundation of international standards of labor and the right to a living wage.

9. LATIN AMERICAN OPPOSITION.

The rejection of American-led free trade policies at the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plaza, Argentina, and the election of Evo Morales as the first indigenous president of Bolivia highlight an era of Latin American opposition to the policies and practices of their most powerful neighbor. While Morales and Venezuela?s Hugo Chavez take the spotlight of opposition, it is perhaps more significant that relative moderates (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay) joined Venezuela at the summit in voting against further ?free trade zone? negotiations. Decades of exploitation and increasing divides between the rich and poor, under the IMF-WTO leadership, have finally begun to erode mindless support of American dominance. It is a potent reminder that, despite all the rhetoric, America has traditionally supported dictators over democratically elected governments. There comes a time when the historical debt must be paid.

10. TRANSFORMATION OF THE ANTIWAR MOVEMENT.

Except as a footnote to the emergence of Cindy Sheehan and Congressman John Murtha as antiwar spokespersons, this is not a story that will make the list of any mainstream news organization. American media has steadfastly ignored the antiwar movement from its inception, including the largest gathering of public protest in world history. It does not matter that every sound and syllable of the antiwar cause has been fully vindicated by the facts. It is now accepted that the administration bullied the world and the American public into a war of naked aggression. No longer able to ignore that solemn fact, media have allowed the relatively palatable voices of a bereaved mother and a pro-military veteran to speak for a movement fully capable of speaking for itself. On the one hand, we are grateful that Sheehan and Murtha have been allowed to speak out against the war. On the other, it signifies a transformation of the antiwar movement into a voice of relative moderation and one that will likely reinforce a two-party system with a history of democratic failure.

OTHER STORIES OF NOTE: The Terri Schiavo case and the right to die, the Syrian assassination probe, Iranian war drums, the London bombing, the torture rendition scandal, the Papal transition, oil profiteering at a time of crisis, the Paris riots, the trial of Saddam, the failure of the European Constitution, the execution of Tookie Williams, the failure of the Schwarzenegger referenda, the American border posse, the Palestinian stalemate, the Korean stalemate and the New York City transit strike.

ENDNOTE: As the year 2005 ends, virtually everything is in limbo. Will the global climate change crisis be addressed? Will the Iraqi occupation end? Will it be replaced by an intensified bombing campaign? Will the free trade movement lose ground to the fair trade movement? Will the president and the vice president be removed from office?

By any objective analysis, there are more questions than answers and yet, as we emerge from years of darkness and despair, the promise of a new year is both troubling and inviting.

Jazz.



JACK RANDOM
IS THE AUTHOR OF THE JAZZMAN CHRONICLES (CROW DOG PRESS) AND GHOST DANCE INSURRECTION (DRY BONES PRESS). THE CHRONICLES HAVE APPEARED ON DISSIDENT VOICE, THE ALBION MONITOR, BUZZLE, COUNTERPUNCH AND PEACE-EARTH-JUSTICE. SEE RANDOM JACK: www.jazzmanchronicles.blogspot.com.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 27 December 2005 09:04
 

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