Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Bush Library-Scraping to Fill the Shelves

Baylor or SMU?

The joke will be on the winner. If this library is stocked the way Bush stuck it to the people, this is going to be the most empty $200 million library in the world. It will be unique because the most interesting story of the Bush administration is how it did as much as possible without visibility.

Lots of libraries have a rare-manuscript section. This one at best would feature redacted manuscripts, such as: the 2003 Environmental Protection Agency report about global warming where the administration deleted the part that pinned warming on cars and industry; the 2003 Health and Human Services report on healthcare to people of color that deleted the words ''disparities" and ''inequality" from a first draft; and the Department of Justice report on perceptions of racism on its staff where half of the 186 pages were blacked out. Don't even think about notes from Cheney's Energy Task Force.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Pictures of Old Books

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

GOP's immigration shame
The GOP's immigration shame
Republicans choose divisive campaign politics over urgently needed policy.

June 21, 2006

HOW CAN YOU TELL WHEN a governing party is running out of steam? When it controls all branches of government yet abandons even the pretense of addressing an issue most members claim is a "crisis."

That's what the GOP-led House did Tuesday in announcing that discussions over reconciling its enforcement-centric immigration bill with the Senate's legalization-focused version will be pushed back to September at the earliest, and only after completing more hearings. Instead of naming negotiators and attempting in good faith to bridge the chasm between the bills, House leaders are busy naming locations for "field meetings" that can deliver maximum demagogic effect in the run-up to the November election.

These meetings are nonsense. Congress held more than a dozen hearings on immigration last year before passing HR 4437. That punitive bill filled the streets with millions of protesters angry that it did little to address the nation's need for a legal supply of labor or the estimated 11 million-plus illegal residents of this country, besides turning them into felons.

The Senate version, a flawed piece of work in its own right after too many compromises, at least offered a system (however torturous) by which millions of underground workers could finally come into the open without fear of immediate incarceration or deportation. Most of the last-minute amendments to the Senate bill brought the legislation closer to the version passed by the House. But Republicans there prefer clinging to the dangerous fantasy that a massive, militarized wall must be approved before discussions can even begin over what to do with the millions of indispensable, but vilified, workers already here.

House GOP leaders can barely conceal their preference for divisive politics over sound policy. Speaker J. Dennis Hastert of Illinois has reportedly conveyed to President Bush that hard-line enforcement politics is polling particularly well this season. One Republican congressional aide told the Associated Press: "The discussion is how to put the Democrats in a box without attacking the president." This is what passes for Republican leadership nowadays.

Summer and fall will be gut-check time not just for Bush, who has tried in his vague though periodically eloquent way to make immigration reform his signature domestic accomplishment this year, or for pro-reform GOP senators such as John McCain of Arizona, but for the American people. When the vulnerable party in power chooses to adopt a campaign strategy that demonizes a class of people, how it fares will say much about who we are.

Twelve years ago, Republicans were swept into Congress on a platform bursting with energy and ideas, with many measures enacted within the GOP's first 100 days in power. If inaction and xenophobia are all the party has left, this could be its last 100 days.

Copyright 2006 Los Angeles Times

Friday, June 16, 2006

Cuban Librarians Write to ALA

Havana, June 8, 2006

Mr. Michael Gorman
ALA President

Dear President Gorman:

The reason for this letter is to tell you, and for you to pass on to your colleagues meeting at ALA, the opinion this letter relating to our country which was sent by Mr. Steve Marquardt yesterday and which contains signatures of members and non-members of ALA, deserves. The letter in question is meant to demand the support of ALA delegates at the upcoming 72nd IFLA conference, being held in Seoul for an anti-Cuban resolution presented by two library associations from Latvia and Lithuania

We are writing you about the relationships of respect, collaboration and friendship that the librarians of our two countries have traditionally maintained, an expression which is in the agreement signed by our association in 2001 and still valid.

It isn’t an exaggeration to state that ALA has always had first hand information about the Cuban reality and, especially about our libraries and librarians, from the periodic interchanges of information, the mutual visits and the contacts between colleagues attending different international events. In June 2001, after the lies of the campaign of the so-called “independent libraries” in Cuba were confirmed by high-level delegations from ALA and IFLA, at the proposal of U.S. and Cuban librarians representing ALA and ASCUBI, IFLA’s council adopted the resolution in Boston about this topic, approved by 86.7% of the votes of the world’s delegates. As you know, this is IFLA’s official opinion about this subject which is still in force after five years, reflecting the opinion of the majority of the world’s librarians, including the United States, democratically and freely expressed at the appropriate place and moment.

This is the opinion that a small group of highly prejudiced and politicized people tries to manipulate and trick with the letter to which we object. These people are representatives of the ruthless war that the United States government carries out against the island, the same who fabricated the text of the lamentable anti-Cuban project now being presented IFLA; the same one who deceived uninformed colleagues from Latvia and Lithuania with it making them appear as spontaneous authors of a text written and sent in advance by Mr. Robert Kent the same way that he tried to do unsuccessfully last year in Oslo with our Polish colleagues; the same who organized the participation of Mr. Codrescu before the members of ALA in San Antonio, evading the most basic ethics in public matters, even the good faith of this association.

It is not a secret for anyone that thanks to the destabilizing work of the government of the United States, and with U.S. contributions of money (See: Colin L. Powell, Commission for Assistance for a Free Cuba Washington: United States Department of State, May, 2004. ( this scandalous fraud called “independent libraries” has been fabricated, described in the Boston Resolution as... “organizations ... who represent (in Cuba) the political interests of the United States.” It is not the place to discuss here the right of Cubans to read and share information and ideas. In order to guarantee this we work under hard conditions that the blockade has created in the country for more than 45 years. Nor is it the place to discuss the right which has been denied U.S. librarians to visit Cuba, interchange with their colleagues, and to know our reality at first hand. It is about a political campaign against the legal order and sovereignty of the Cuban people and against their constitution, which forms part of the psychological war and the destabilization plans which is combined with attempts to asphyxiate the Cuban people by hunger and disease. In it a very small group of Cuban counterrevolutionary activists participate who receive money and other lucrative items from the Interest Section of the United States in Havana: the so-called “independent librarians.”

I don’t think it is necessary to extend myself further about these topics which are well known by the international library community, only to comment, finally, about some of the points that Mr. Marquardt tackles in his letter:

1) It is false, as he states, that “two resolutions about Cuba” have been presented to the IFLA congress. The same project has been presented in the name of both associations.

2) It is false that this project has been thought of or written by Latvian or Lithuanian librarians. This project was written by Mr. Kent and sent by e-mail to several librarian associations of Eastern Europe where he solicited them to act as front men before IFLA and to present it as if it had been spontaneously drawn up by them. Mrs. Emilija Banionyte, Vice-President of the Latvian Librarian Association, in a letter to a Canadian journalist residing in Cuba, dated June 6 recognizes that the text of this project “was sent to them by Robert Kent.” We have a copy of this letter.

3) It is false that our Latvian or Lithuanian colleagues have acted this way because of sympathies towards the anti-Cuban politics carried out by Mr. Kent for several years, since the time that he was surprised by the Cuban authorities, as an undercover tourist, with a lot of money and spy equipment that he gave to a supposed “independent librarian.” This equipment was meant, according to his own words, to keep a watch on Carlos Lage’s house, Executive Secretary of the Council of Ministers, State Council of the Republic of Cuba (see: The leaders of the Lithuanian and Latvian associations do not have real or trustworthy knowledge about the reality of our country, much less of their libraries. Mrs. Banionyte has recognized, in the letter in question, that Mr. Kent approached them and the Latvians several times , asking for their support for the Cuban librians (sic)… and that they don’t know what is his trajectory or history.”

4) It is very worrisome the deceitful way in which a person known by everybody in our profession, as is Mr. Robert Kent making use of immoral methods, such as those already written, which you and ALA experienced personally experienced in San Antonio, carries out with impunity a slanderous campaign in the press with pressure and blackmail against who don’t think as he and who keep a fair and balanced position towards Cuba. It is more worrisome still that he tries to manipulate by means of lies and trickery the opinion of librarian associations and IFLA itself.

Dear Mr. President, we can’t stop being surprised, in the name of the Cuban people and the families of victims of terrorism in our country, upon reading among the signatories of Mr. Marquardt’s letter, the name of two people, originally Cuban (Ramón Humberto Colas and Bertha Mexidor) who state to be “ALA members”, and who are self-named “representatives of the Cuban Independent Libraries”. It surprises us that people who don’t have any real relationship with libraries, either in Cuba of the United States, are members of a respectable professional association like ALA. And it also alarms us, if it is true, because Ramón Humberto Colas is a salaried employee of the Cuban-American National Foundation in Miami, the very organization which has promoted terrorist acts in Cuba causing deaths and injuries to innocent citizens. In one such act, an Italian tourist named Fabio Di Celmo, nineteen years old, lost his life, product of a bomb explosion.

Finally, I bring to your knowledge that the real Cuban librarians will present a resolution before the IFLA council in Seoul, titled “The need to put an end to the negative effects of the U.S. blockade on Cuban librarians, based on a document from two researchers of the “José Martí” National Library, covering the period 2001-2005 (see: I am attaching the text of this project and asking you for a vote of support from the ALA delegates to the IFLA Congress in Seoul.

I say my goodbyes to you with the confidence that ALA will not let itself be dragged into this dirty war against Cuba; it will not allow itself be politically manipulated against its Cuban colleagues by the same government causing destruction to the National Library in Iraq, the same which imposed the Patriot Act, which maintain the jail in Abu Grahib and the concentration camp in Guantánamo; the same which wishes to end the self-determination and sovereignty of the Cubans and to erase their achievements in the sphere of health, education, culture, and social injustice.

Receive, dear President, all our appreciation and respect, the same which we feel for our colleagues and the noble U.S. people. With cordial greetings:

Margarita Bellas Vilariño
President of the Cuban Librarian Association (ASCUBI)

Other signers of this letter:

Mirta Botana Rodríguez, Presidenta de la Sociedad de Información Científica (SOCICT), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente (CITMA).

Marta Terry González, Directora de la Biblioteca “Dulce María Loynaz”, Miembro del Comité IFLA-FAIFE, MINCULT.

Eliades Acosta Matos, Director de la Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Rigoberto Fabelo Pérez, Director del Centro de Intercambio y Referencia: Iniciativa Comunitaria (CIERIC), UNEAC.

Bárbara Lazo Rodríguez, Directora de la Biblioteca Médica Nacional, Centro de Información Médica (INFOMED), MINSAP.

Francisco Lee Tenorio, Director de Informática del Ministerio de Educación Superior (MES).

Carlos Alberto Mejías Rodríguez, Profesor de Derecho de la Universidad de La Habana, Ministerio de Educación Superior (MES).

Rosa Báez Valdés, Editora de la Revista “Librínsula”, Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Miguel Ángel Ferrer López, Director de Bibliotecas Escolares, Ministerio de Educación.

Pedro Urra González, Director de Información Médica, Ministerio de Salud Pública.

Eduardo Orozco Silva, Director Instituto de Información de Ciencia y Técnica (IDICT), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente (CITMA).

Alina Aldama Innis, Especialista de Gestión Documental, Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores (MINREX).

María Elena Dorta Duque, Directora de la Biblioteca Científico – Técnica del Instituto Superior de Relaciones Internacionales (ISRI), MINREX.

Abel Ponce Suárez, Jefe del Grupo BINANET, Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Teresa Sánchez Rivero, Directora Biblioteca Provincial “Rubén Martínez Villena”, Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana,

Marisela Corvo de Armas, Directora de la Biblioteca Municipal de San Antonio de los Baños, MINCULT.

René Roberto Valdés Muñoz, Coordinador del Grupo Cuba-IFLA, Biblioteca Nacional “José Martí”, MINCULT.

Olga M. Pedierro Valdés, Biblioteca del Archivo Nacional.

Lourdes María Quijano, Biblioteca Pepe Rodríguez (UNEAC).

Rita Pages, Biblioteca de la Asamblea Nacional del Poder Popular.

Tania Gutiérrez Soto, Biblioteca del Ministerio de la Agricultura.

Carmen Sánchez Rojas, Biblioteca Nacional de Ciencia y Técnica.

Irina Gómez, Centro de Documentación CAP.
Dora Nisenbaun García, Centro de Información del Ministerio de la Construcción.

Mercedes García Arias, Centro de Información y Documentación del Ministerio de Cultura.

Odesa Suárez, Centro de Superación y Documentación de la Cuenca de Almendares.

Amparo Hernández Denis, Centro Documentación Instituto de Historia,

Marta Sierra Penot, Centro Información del CIERIC.

Sonia Reyes, Centro Internacional de Prensa- Unión de Periodistas de Cuba.

Ileana García, Centro Memorial Martin Luther King.

María Ofelia Prendes Vázquez, Centro Nacional de Superación Cultural.

Jonathan Bemúdez, Departamento de Documentación de Prensa Latina.

Gloria Ponjuán, Facultad de Comunicaciones, Universidad de la Habana.

Miguel A. García Alzugary, Biblioteca de la Fiscalía General de la República.

Tania Garcia, Biblioteca del Joven Club Nacional de Computación.

Belkis Garces, Unión Nacional de Juristas.

Yudeisy Pérez González, Biblioteca de la Universidad de Ciencias Informáticas.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Censorship Certificate in Brunei

BBC News states:
Brunei's media are neither diverse nor free. The privately-owned press is either owned or controlled by the sultan's family, or exercises self-censorship on political and religious matters. News outlets are said by the media rights body Reporters Without Borders to report "virtually no criticism of the government". that's why the Language and Literature Bureau is holding a
Workshop on Censorship
By Jon Tampoi

Bandar Seri Begawan - In conjunction with the Reading Month, the Language and Literature Bureau has organised several workshops to benefit the public.

One of them is a workshop on censorship, which...will discuss the proper methods of censoring an article, material or any related matter without altering the content of the subject.

Speakers from the Language and Literature Bureau, Islamic Dakwah Centre and Internal Security Department have been invited to present methods and guidelines at the workshop.

There will also be visits to the Package Receiving Section of the Postal Department at Old Airport in Berakas, as well as the Censors and Publication Control Department of the Islamic Dakwah Centre.

Upon completion of the course, the participants comprising personnel from government departments will each receive a certificate. -- Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bush Has Ignored 750 Laws

The Boston Globe
Bar group will review Bush's legal challenges

By Charlie Savage, Globe Staff | June 4, 2006

WASHINGTON -- The board of governors of the American Bar Association voted unanimously yesterday to investigate whether President Bush has exceeded his constitutional authority in reserving the right to ignore more than 750 laws that have been enacted since he took office.

Meeting in New Orleans, the board of governors for the world's largest association of legal professionals approved the creation of an all-star legal panel with a number of members from both political parties.

They include a former federal appeals court chief judge, a former FBI director, and several prominent scholars -- to evaluate Bush's assertions that he has the power to ignore laws that conflict with his interpretation of the Constitution.

Bush has appended statements to new laws when he signs them, noting which provisions he believes interfere with his powers.

Among the laws Bush has challenged are the ban on torturing detainees, oversight provisions in the USA Patriot Act, and ``whistle-blower" protections for federal employees.

The challenges also have included safeguards against political interference in taxpayer-funded research.

Bush has challenged more laws than all previous presidents combined.

The ABA's president, Michael Greco, said in an interview that he proposed the task force because he believes the scope and aggressiveness of Bush's signing statements may raise serious constitutional concerns. He said the ABA, which has more than 400,000 members, has a duty to speak out about such legal issues to the public, the courts, and Congress.

``The American Bar Association feels a very serious obligation to ensure that when there are legal issues that affect the American people, the ABA adopts a policy regarding such issues and then speaks out about it," Greco said. ``In this instance, the president's practice of attaching signing statements to laws squarely presents a constitutional issue about the separation of powers among the three branches."

The signing statements task force, which was recruited by Greco, a longtime Boston lawyer who served on former Governor William F. Weld's Judicial Nominating Council, includes several Republicans. Among them are Mickey Edwards , a former Oklahoma representative from 1977 to 1993, and Bruce Fein , a Justice Department official under President Reagan.

In interviews, several of the panel members said they were going into the project with an open mind, but they expressed concerns about Bush's actions.

``I think one of the most critical issues in the country right now is the extent to which the White House has tried to expand its powers and basically tried to cut the legislative branch out of its own constitutionally equal role, and the signing statements are a particularly egregious example of that," Edwards said. ``I've been doing a lot of speaking and writing about this, and when the ABA said they were looking to take a position on signing statements, I said that's serious because those people carry a lot of weight."

William Sessions , a retired federal judge who was the director of the FBI under both Reagan and President George H.W. Bush , said he agreed to participate because he believed that the signing statements raise a ``serious problem" for the American constitutional system.

``I think it's very important for the people of the United States to have trust and reliance that the president is not going around the law," Sessions said. ``The importance of it speaks for itself."

Another member, Patricia Wald, is a retired chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, appointed by President Carter.

She said she had monitored the use of signing statements by previous administrations, but ``the accelerated use in recent years presents a real question about separation of powers and checks and balances."

Wald also said she was especially interested in studying how signing statements affect the federal bureaucracy. As a judge, Wald said, she dealt with many cases involving challenges to decisions made by administrative agencies. She said that courts are deferential to such decisions because they are supposed to be made by objective specialists in the agencies. But a heavy use of signing statements could call that assumption into question.

``If Congress passes a law telling the people in the bureaucracy that `this is what you should do,' and the president signs it but attaches a statement saying `I don't want you to do it,' how is that going to affect the motivation of the bureaucracy?" she said.

The task force also includes several prominent legal scholars, such as Harold Koh , dean of Yale Law School and a former official in the Reagan and Clinton administrations; Kathleen Sullivan , former dean of Stanford Law School; Charles Ogletree , a Harvard law professor; and Stephen Saltzburg , a professor at George Washington University Law School.

Saltzburg -- who was a Justice Department official under Reagan and the first president Bush, as well as a prosecutor in the Iran-Contra scandal -- said he did not believe that signing statements were unconstitutional.

But, he said, frequent use of them could create bad perceptions about whether the US government obeys the rule of law.

``The president can say anything he wants when he signs a bill," Saltzburg said. ``[But] what does it say about respect for the Constitution and for the notion of checks and balances to have the president repeatedly claim the authority not to obey statutes, which he is signing into law?"

Rounding out the panel are Mark Agrast , a former legislative counsel for Representative William D. Delahunt , Democrat of Quincy, and Thomas Susman, who worked in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under both Presidents Johnson and Nixon , and was later counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Susman said he agreed to serve out of intellectual curiosity: ``I think it's a fascinating subject," he said. The task force is chaired by Neal Sonnett , a former federal prosecutor. Earlier this year, Sonnett chaired a similar ABA panel of bipartisan specialists who studied the legality of Bush's warrantless spying program.

The earlier panel unanimously concluded that Bush should obey a law requiring warrants for such surveillance, or he should ask Congress to change the law, rather than simply ignoring it.

In February, the ABA House of Delegates voted overwhelmingly to endorse the surveillance task force's recommendations, enabling Greco to testify about the program before Congress.

Sonnett said he planned to run the task force in a similar fashion. The group will discuss the issues in telephone conference calls. They will also divide up issues to research for the report that will accompany any of their recommendations, circulating drafts until they reach a consensus.

The task force will make its recommendation this summer, Greco said, and the 550-member ABA House of Delegates will vote on whether to adopt its findings at a meeting in August.

The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania, promised to hold a hearing on Bush's use of signing statements.

Specter pledged the action after an article in The Boston Globe described the scope and details of Bush's assertions concerning the laws in them.

Greco and Sonnett also said the Globe's coverage of signing statements had persuaded them to launch the task force .