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[LPA] (en) ZNet: Christian Fundamentalist TV for Iraq - & Naomi Klein

## Nachricht vom 29.04.03 weitergeleitet/fwd by LPA Berlin ## Ersteller: sysop@ZMAG.ORG

[Articles below; the second one of Naomi Klein is about modern unideological "anarchosyndicalism" in Argentine - factories run by the workers themselves; LPA]


Another ZNet Free Update. These go to about 130,000 email addresses that folks have entered in the sapce for it on our top page. You can add or remove email addresses, remember, at that top page -- which is http://www.zmag.org/ weluser.htm

Of course we have many new pieces online there, since last mailing, for you to access.

A couple of essays -- by Galeano and Albert -- address the current controversy of Cuba's recent legal actions and responses to them. There are many pieces addressing the occupation of Iraq, and there is a whole new page with links addressing that, in particular.

The We Stand statement is above 84,000 signatures, but it could use yours, if it isn't already appended. If you haven't read Commandante Marcos' comments on the project, linked from the We Stand page...that is quite a document, as well.

From the ZNet top page it is also possible to purchase Z produced videos, to get subscriptions to Z Magazine print or Z Magazine online or both, and to become a ZNet Sustainer, in which case you donate to support our work and receive premiums, including the daily ZNet Commentary mailing, to show our appreciation. We hope you will consider these options.

And here to provide some additional substance to this reminder and update, are two new essays linked from ZNet's top page, the first is from Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman, and the second is from Naomi Klein.

Grace News

By Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

The U.S. government this week launched its Arabic language satellite TV news station for Muslim Iraq.

It is being produced in a studio -- Grace Digital Media -- controlled by fundamentalist Christians who are rabidly pro-Israel.

That's Grace as in "by the Grace of God."

Grace Digital Media is controlled by a fundamentalist Christian millionaire, Cheryl Reagan, who last year wrested control of Federal News Service, a transcription news service, from its former owner, Cortes Randell.

Randell says he met Reagan at a prayer meeting, brought her in as an investor in Federal News Service, and then she forced him out of his own company.

Grace Digital Media and Federal News Service are housed in a downtown Washington, D.C. office building, along with Grace News Network.

When you call the number for Grace News Network, you get a person answering "Grace Digital Media/Federal News Service."

According to its web site, Grace News Network is "dedicated to transmitting the evidence of God's presence in the world today."

"Grace News Network will be reporting the current secular news, along with aggressive proclamations that will 'change the news' to reflect the Kingdom of God and its purposes," GNN proclaims.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the U.S. government agency producing the television news broadcasts for Iraq, likes to say it is the BBC of the USA.

BBG runs Radio Free Europe, Voice of America, and Radio Sawa -- Arabic language radio for the Middle East.

"Our mission is clear," BBG's Joan Mower told us. "To broadcast accurate and objective news about the United States and the world. We don't do propaganda, leafleting -- we are like the BBC in that respect."

Well, then why hook up with Grace?

BBG's Joan Mower said that Grace Digital Media is a mainstream production house used by all kinds of mainstream news organizations.

"Grace will have nothing to do with the editorial side of the news broadcast," she said. "They are renting us equipment, space, studio. The Grace personnel we use include technicians, production people but no editorial people."

But Mower said she couldn't get us a copy of the contract between BBG and Grace Digital media. Nor could she say how Grace Digital was chosen as the production studio.

Grace News Network proclaims that it will be a "unique tool in the Lord's ministry plan for the world."

"Grace News Network provides networking links and portals to various ministries and news services that will be of benefit to every Christian believer and seeker of truth," according to the company's mission statement.

The CEO of Grace News Network is Thorne Auchter.

The same Thorne Auchter who began the dismantling of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under Presidents Reagan and George Bush I.

Auchter did not return our calls seeking comment for this story.

While it's unclear whether Grace News Network actually produces any news, it has produced a documentary movie titled "Israel: Divine Destiny" which it showed at the National Press Club in September 2002.

The film is about "Israel's destiny and the United States' role in that destiny," according to Grace News Network.

Grace News said that it could not make a copy of the film available to us at this time, since it is now undergoing post-production editing. Nor could it provide a transcript.

The mainstream media has documented strong and growing ties between right-wing Republican Christian fundamentalists and right-wing Sharonist Israeli expansionists.

This alliance is personified in Ralph Reed's Stand Up for Israel, a group formed to "mobilize Christians and other people of faith to support the State of Israel."

President Bush has very strong ties to fundamentalist Christians, most notably Franklin Graham, the son of Rev. Billy Graham.

Last week, Franklin Graham delivered a Good Friday message at the Pentagon, despite an uproar over his previous slander of Islam as "a very evil and wicked religion."

Don Wagner, a professor of religion and director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at North Park University, an evangelical Christian college in Chicago, has written extensively about what he calls Christian Zionism, whose leaders he identifies as, among others, Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, and Franklin Graham.

"Christian Zionists have historically pointed to Genesis 12:3 - I will bless those who bless you. And the one who curses you, I will curse," Dr. Wagner said. "They have interpreted this to mean that individuals and nations who support the state of Israel will be blessed by God. It has come to mean political, economic, and moral support, often uncritically rendered to the state of Israel."

Grace News Network seems to fit the mold.

Joan Mower says that BBG is currently producing and transmitting six hours of news into Iraq including a dubbed version of the daily evening news from ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and PBS, plus three hours of original news programming from BBG.

BBG says it sees no problem in having Grace produce the evening news broadcast for Iraq.

Given the brewing anti-American revolt through all sectors of Iraqi society, maybe it should reconsider.

We called Grace Digital Media to speak with Cheryl Reagan.

Her secretary told us that she has been away in extended vacation for more than a month -- in Israel.

When will she back? we asked.

No one knows, the secretary said.

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime Reporter. Robert Weissman is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Multinational Monitor, http://www.multinationalmonitor.org . They are co-authors of Corporate Predators: The Hunt for MegaProfits and the Attack on Democracy (Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press; http://www.corporatepredators.org ).

(c) Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Snapshot of a Nation

By Naomi Klein

In 1812, bands of British weavers and knitters raided textile mills and smashed industrial machines with their hammers. According to the Luddites, the new mechanised looms had eliminated thousands of jobs and broken communities and deserved to be destroyed. The British government disagreed and called in a force of 14,000 soldiers to brutally repress the worker revolt and protect the machines.

Fast-forward two centuries to another textile factory, this one in Buenos Aires. At the Brukman factory, which has been producing men's suits for 50 years, it's the riot police who smash the sewing machines and the 58 workers who risk their lives to protect them.

Last Monday, the Brukman factory was the site of the worst repression Buenos Aires has seen in almost a year. Police had evicted the workers in the middle of the night and turned the entire block into a military zone guarded by machine guns and attack dogs. Unable to get into the factory and complete an outstanding order for 3,000 pairs of dress trousers, the workers gathered a huge crowd of supporters and announced it was time to go back to work. At 5pm, 50 middle-aged seamstresses in no-nonsense haircuts, sensible shoes and blue work smocks walked up to the black police fence. Someone pushed, the fence fell and the Brukman women, unarmed and arm in arm, slowly walked through.

They had only taken a few steps when the police began shooting: tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets, then lead. The police even charged the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, in their white headscarves embroidered with the names of their "disappeared" children. Dozens of demonstrators were injured and police fired tear gas into a hospital where some had taken refuge.

This is a snapshot of Argentina in the week of its presidential elections. Each of the five major candidates is promising to put this crisis-ravaged country back to work. Yet Brukman's workers are treated as if sewing a grey suit were a capital crime.

Why this state Luddism, this rage at machines? Well, Brukman isn't just any factory, it's a fabrica ocupada , one of almost 200 factories across the country that have been taken over and run by their workers over the past year and a half. For many, the factories, employing more than 10,000 nationwide and producing everything from tractors to ice cream, are seen not just as an economic alternative, but as a political one as well. "They are afraid of us because we have shown that if we can manage a factory we can also manage a country," Celia Martinez, a Brukman worker, said on Monday night. "That's why this government decided to repress us."

At first glance, Brukman looks like every other garment factory in the world. As in Mexico's hyper modern maquiladoras and Toronto's crumbling coat factories, Brukman is filled with women hunched over sewing machines, their eyes straining and fingers flying over fabric and thread.

What makes Brukman different are the sounds. There is the familiar roar of machines and the hiss of steam, but there is also Bolivian folk music, coming from a small tape deck in the back of the room, and softly spoken voices, as older workers lean over younger ones, showing them new stitches. "They wouldn't let us do that before," Martinez says. "They wouldn't let us get up from our workspaces or listen to music. But why not listen to music, to lift the spirits a bit?"

Here in Buenos Aires, every week brings news of a new occupation: a four-star hotel now run by its cleaning staff, a supermarket taken by its clerks, a regional airline about to be turned into a cooperative by the pilots and attendants. In small Trotskyist journals around the world, Argentina's occupied factories, where the workers have seized the means of production, are giddily hailed as the dawn of a socialist utopia. In large business magazines like the Economist, they are ominously described as a threat to the sacred principle of private property. The truth lies somewhere in between.

I n Brukman, for instance, the means of production weren't seized, they were simply picked up after they had been abandoned by their legal owners. The factory had been in decline for several years, debts to utility companies were piling up, and, over a period of five months, the seamstresses had seen their salaries slashed from 100 pesos a week to a mere two pesos - not enough for the bus fare.

O n December 18, the workers decided it was time to demand a travel allowance. The owners, pleading poverty, told the workers to wait at the factory while they looked for the money. "We waited for them until evening. We waited until night," Martinez says. "No one came."

After getting the keys from the doorman, Martinez and the other workers slept at the factory. They have been running it every since. They have paid the outstanding bills, attracted new clients and, without profits and management salaries to worry about, managed to pay themselves steady salaries. All these decisions have been made democratically, by vote in open assemblies. "I don't know why the owners had such a hard time,"Martinez says. "I don't know much about accounting, but for me it's easy: addition and subtraction."

Brukman has come to represent a new kind of labour movement here, one that is not based on the power to stop working (the traditional union tactic), but on the dogged determination to keep working no matter what. It's a demand that is not driven by dogmatism, but by realism: in a country where 58% of the population is living in poverty, workers know that they are a pay cheque away from having to beg and scavenge to survive. The spectre that is haunting Argentina's occupied factories is not communism, but indigence.

But isn't it simple theft? After all, these workers didn't buy the machines, the owners did - if they want to sell them or move them to another country, surely that's their right. As the federal judge wrote in Brukman's eviction order: "Life and physical integrity have no supremacy over economic interests."

Perhaps unintentionally, he has summed up the naked logic of deregulated globalisation: capital must be free to seek out the lowest wages and most generous incentives, regardless of the toll that process takes on people and communities. The workers in Argentina's occupied factories have a different vision. Their lawyers argue that the owners of these factories have already violated basic market principles by failing to pay their employees and their creditors, even while collecting huge subsidies from the state. Why can't the state now insist that the indebted companies' remaining assets continue to serve the public with steady jobs?

Dozens of workers' cooperatives have already been awarded legal expropriation. Brukman is still fighting. Come to think of it, the Luddites made a similar argument in 1812. The new textile mills put profits for a few before an entire way of life. Those textile workers tried to fight that destructive logic by smashing the machines. The Brukman workers have a much better plan: they want to protect the machines and smash the logic.

Naomi Klein 's latest book is Fences and Windows (Flamingo)


This message has been brought to you by ZNet ( http://www.zmag.org ). Visit our site for subscription options. 30.04.2003


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