Over 100,000 Protest Immigration Bill

Hundreds of thousands of people converged on the streets of Los Angeles today in protest of The House of Representatives bill that would make it a felony to be in the U.S. illegally, impose new penalties on employers who hire illegal immigrants and erect fences along one-third of the U.S.-Mexican border. (watch video)
H.R. 4437, known as the Sensenbrenner Bill after its author, the bigoted Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI).

The abhorrent disregard of men and women who are pillars of everyday American society is well-documented in many places. In fact, the country of Mexico will not even stand for it. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) calls it “anti-faith based.”

The Senate is to begin debating the proposals on Tuesday and as the bill has already passed in the House, it is high time to see to it that this does not pass the Senate. Call your Congressman.
Should H.R. 4437 be signed into law, the items bulleted below will be in effect:
source: via TalkLeft and AlterNet.

  • Continues expanding the same border enforcement and militarization strategies that has resulted in over 4,000 migrant death since 1994.
  • Expands the expedited deportation program
  • 11 million undocumented immigrants would be declared “aggravated felons” for having come to this country to do back-breaking work at low wages in order to feed their families.
  • Priests, nuns, health care workers and other helpers would be threatened with jail time for assisting the undocumented.
  • Local police would have to enforce federal immigration laws, undermining community policing strategies meant to build confidence between police and immigrant communities.
  • Day labor sites would be shut down by federal law, overruling the hard work of activists and enlightened local communities attempting to solve problems caused in part by Congressional inaction on comprehensive immigration reform.
  • Seven hundred miles of walls would be built between the United States and our friendly neighbors to the south, an act that has touched off a diplomatic crisis with Latin America.
  • Immigration Rally, Los Angeles, March 25, 2006

  • Drastically expands the definition of an aggravated felony (deportable offense).
  • Requires mandatory detention for all immigrants apprehended at ports of entry or along international borders until removal or a final decision in their case.
  • Overturns the Supreme Court’s ruling in Zadvydas which limits long-term detention.

Iraqi Reconstruction… Wha Happened?

Good eye, CJR’s Gal Beckerman, highlighting a much-overlooked bit of news that appeared in Friday’s USA Today:

The government has slipped a noose around the $21 billion program that, according to the article, was supposed to “fix or build schools, roads, clinics, ports, bridges, government offices, phone networks, power plants and water systems.”

Also in the how-to-blow-a-trillion-bucks department:? Warren Olney discussed estimates that the U.S. will spend over one trillion dollars on the Iraq campaign on PRI’s To the Point (listen).

Post Pundidn’t Plucked

The Washington Post has been highly criticized since launching a biased blog titled “Red America” written by 24-year-old Ben Domenech, the founder of, as his Post profile puts it, the “web’s leading Republican community blog.”

Why the WPI found it necessary to publish a biased blog (by a bigoted author, no less) without even attempting to balance it led many on the left, and later on the right to demand its removal.
Today, we find Jim Brady red-faced as ever, revealing that Domenech is a phony and a plagiarist:

In the past 24 hours, we learned of allegations that Ben Domenech plagiarized material that appeared under his byline in various publications prior to washingtonpost.com contracting with him to write a blog that launched Tuesday.

A former employer of Domenech, the National Journal, has documented the plagiarism charges leading to his resignation. Salon lists several passages that Domenech lifted from its site. Jay Rosen of PressThink encourages the Post to hold an “open competition” on the web for its next blogger, and FishBowl DC is accepting nominations. Marty Kaplan notes President Bush’s own history as a plagiarist.

As part of the Bush Administration’s campaign to label the media as liberal reconstructionists, they hired Domenech as a speech-writer and encouraged plagiarism and deception as a political tool

Plagiarism is among the most classless and lowly crimes. Many are calling for a major shake-up at the Post, on the heels of the lies printed by WaPo’s clueless ombudsman Deborah Howell, her criticism of columnist Dan Froomkin and her mysterious defense this week of Domenech. The revelation that they hired a writer who had previously plagiarized a multitude of material disgraces not only the Post’s reputation, but belittles the high journalistic standards demanded by the blogging community.

Remaining Peace Activist Hostages Released

Less than two weeks after reports of the brutal torture and killing of Tom Fox, the sole American member of the Christian Peacemaker Team that had been held hostage in Iraq since November, the three remaining hostages are being reported as rescued on the streets of Baghdad.

BBC News reports:

One British and two Canadian peace activists held hostage in Iraq have been freed in an operation by multinational forces.Norman Kember, 74, of Pinner, north-west London, was seized in Baghdad with two Canadians and an American in November.

Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden were also freed in the operation on Thursday.

Only 6 Months for Abu Ghraib Dog-Handler?!?!?

abu ghraib dog handlerSgt. Michael Smith, who was convicted yesterday on charges of tormenting prisoners at Abu Ghraib, has been sentenced today by a military jury.

The unrepentant Sgt. Smith received a measly six month sentence for mistreating Iraqi prisoners with a snarling, unmuzzled, black Belgian Shepherd.

“Soldiers are not supposed to be soft and cuddly,” he told the court.

Among other things, Smith allowed his dog to participate in videotaped lewd acts (licking peanut butter off of one soldier’s testicles and another’s breasts in separate dares), and competed with another dog-handler — who will be tried in May — to frighten detainees into soiling themselves.

Several of the photos introduced as evidence are familiar around the world as part of the much criticized images of American soldiers abusing prisoners at Abu Ghraib that were released to the public in 2004.

“What you’re seeing is what the department has committed itself to — a very broad and a very deep review of its detention operations across the board,” said a Pentagon spokesman.

Human rights groups are disappointed with the leniency of the sentence and argue that responsibility for clarifying unconventional interrogation techniques lay at the highest levels of government.

“Our soldiers shouldn’t be forced to sort out what manners of interrogation are permissible by watching who is convicted of what,” said Jean Aylward, a lawyer for Human Rights First.

Sgt. Smith, who must also pay $2,250 in fines, will be released from the military with a bad conduct discharge — one step above “dishonorable discharge” — following his six month sentence.

Smith could have faced up to 24 years if convicted on all 13 counts (he was convicted on 6). He was sentenced instead to a mere 179 days — one of the shortest sentences for our Abu Ghraib symbols of scandal.

Where is the justice? Can you hear the ICC knocking? Even Baghdad finds the U.S.-run court system there to be out-of-whack.