Saturday, December 18, 2004
They send song lyrics, poetry, short stories. It's just amazing, serious talent.
I've got permission to post two things. I want to say that the authors retain the rights to their works posted. We're under a creative commons lic. on this site but in the works that follow consider that overriden and remember that the copyrights are retained by the authors.
Copyright wasn't an issue for "I." Shyness was. And for a week now I've been wanting to share something by "I." This was the one "I" chose to share. When you read it, you'll note it's very personal and get why "I" wanted to be credited by an initial as opposed to by name. With that in mind, we're crediting the other work by an initial -- "J." "J" was also shy and I'm sorry but neither need to be shy. I (not "I"!) think they're both immensely talented.
I'm using "J"'s title because it's a hopeful title but also because it gets to something that I hope we're working towards addressing. (At least five e-mailers are already on that same page.)
"When Will It End" by "I"
I woke up crying again this morning.
Not because you left me.
But because you stayed.
When will it end?
How far are we gonna drag this dead horse?
My new mantra is divorce, divorce, divorce.
When will it end?
I wish I could walk away from you.
I don't know what keeps me here.
Your promises don't even register anymore
They just float in the right and out the left ear.
I don't argue, don't even say "I don't believe you."
I just look at you . . . and wonder when this will end.
I woke up crying again this morning.
Not because you left me
But because you stayed.
Because you stayed.
"I Was a Child When Things Mattered"
I was a child when things mattered
When dreams embraced and encompassed all
And my visions were day glow
And a better world seemed so close
I was a child when things mattered.
We'd write "make love not war" in our coloring books
And walk barefoot to the park & M.E. Moses -- oblivious to any looks.
And God, he was cool, whoever he was
And we never went anywhere without scoping the fuzz.
I was a child when things mattered
When dreams embraced and encompassed all
And my visions were day glow
And a better world seemed so close
I was a child when things mattered.
We'd play the Beatles, never the Monkees, on the turntable
And we all felt a part of that great folk rock fable
We'd scrawl Indian Power, Black Power, Power to the People across the chalk board
And believed firmly that everyone would get their own cosmic reward.
I was a child when things mattered
When dreams embraced and encompassed all
And my visions were day glow
And a better world seemed so close
I was a child when things mattered.
We'd stick Minnie & Mickey on the mirror and refrigerator
And fringes were cool but love beads were greater
We'd sing Mamas and Papas songs when we'd got the tea jars out
Coz Petulia was a nowhere downer but Mama Michelle was far out
And we felt peace and love and that there was hope above
And a good vibration could get you through a rough ride and there was more than enough
And there was more than enough
And there was more than enough.
Then the war machine took a breather and we put away the white flag and feather
And thought disco, the great equalizer, was going to keep us together
And it did send the racists running with a thumpity thump
But somehow a love-ins an all in, but a bump's just a bump.
Then John Lennon was shot though Nixon was not
And it's hard to watch the flower rot.
I was a child when things mattered
When dreams embraced and encompassed all
And my visions were day glow
And a better world seemed so close
I was a child when things mattered.
Kara: "The most one sided presentation I've ever seen."
Erika: "Do we want to talk about Thimerosal? Do we want to talk about the damage so many of these drugs that have 'hurt' the profit margins of greedy companies have done? I guess we don't!"
[Erika provides two links to stories on Thimerosal and autism from In These Times: http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/autism_in_a_needle/ takes you to "Autism in a Needle?" by Annette Fuentes; http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/eli_lilly_and_thimerosal/ takes you to Eli Lilly and Thimerosal also by Annette Fuentes.]
Brad and Carl both cite "Eli Lilly down 20 percent" and wonder why there's no mention of Thimerosal? "Cheerleading for big money pharm, are we?" asks Trina.
"What about the people hurt by these drugs that are cutting into the profit margin, huh!" wonders Bob.
What about those people?
Alex Berenson has written an article that's dubbed "News Analysis" by the Times and leads readers to expect that this is a complete picture that will discuss the external factors at play and not just how the markets are reading the drug companies.
The Times fails Alex Berenson by dubbing the piece "News Analysis." "Market Analysis" might work. Berenson's story is continues in the paper inside the business section.
As an analysis in the business section, questions might still arise over the story and the incomplete portrait that's painted. But of the forty-three who e-mailed, thirty-two responded that had this run in the business section, they would be less upset by it. It's the front page (of the main section) and the "News Analysis" that bothers them the most.
That's not to dismiss the issue of the consumers and the damage done to some by drugs. When the Times elected to move this piece to the front page (and dub it "News Analysis"), they should have asked that Berenson round out the piece by including other factors that have resulted in the "poor health" of the drug industry.
There's a legal issue that's not even touched on in the story.
Brandon: "We're told how expensive it is to pursue new drugs. But it's not pointed out that many of these drugs are 'lifestyle' drugs. This isn't about health. Male pattern baldness may be irritating but no one's dying because of it. Why do they pursue those drugs? Because they can make money and that's what's left out of this analysis: patents. Drug companies want patents to increase their profits. New patents leads to research for unneeded drugs and then to marketing these unneeded drugs. They're selling us 'better way of life' drugs, not 'save your life' drugs. The government should have stepped in a long time ago and said 'X amount of research each year will go to working for cures for cancer, AIDS, etc.' Instead, the markets have been allowed to focus on drugs that make us better looking, make us last longer at sex, help us drop those ten pounds or get to bed an hour earlier. This should not be the goal of the drug industry when people are dying and chronically ill. But when the government elects to abandon any oversight of this industry, that's what we're left with."
As a "Market Analysis," Berenson's piece would work fine on the business pages since it's limited focus is on the market, how the industry is thought to be doing and what this means to Wall Street. As a front page story dubbed "News Analysis," the Times sets Berenson up for ridicule because that's not what this story provides.
What's especially strange is that the Times has many strong articles inside the main section that are worthy of the front page. I won't fault them for choosing an article from the business section because that's often the most reliable section of the paper. True, it's not geared towards labor, it's not heavily interested in workers (sometimes it's not interested at all). But in terms of journalism, the stories within the business section are usually far more reliable and requiring far less corrections than most of what slips into the main section.
Berenson's includes this paragraph:
In less than 12 hours, Pfizer said that it had found increased risk of heart problems for people taking Celebrex, a painkiller that is one of the world's best-selling medicines. AstraZeneca reported that a trial of Iressa, a lung cancer drug approved in the United States last year, showed that the drug did not prolong lives. And Eli Lilly warned doctors that Strattera, its drug to treat attention deficit disorder, usually in children, had caused severe liver injury in at least two patients.
As a "Market Analysis" that might be suffient. As a "News Analysis" on the front page, that section cries to be further developed.
The outrage this story has resulted in, seems to me, is the fault of the editorial board and possibly the headline writer. Berenson's article is wrongly "marketed" as a general news analysis and it's moved to the front page of the main section which further confuses the issue.
also sought to compare and contrast it with Gardiner Harris's "Drug Trial Finds Big Health Risk in 2nd Painkiller" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/18/business/18celebrex.html) which, they felt, did the job of "news analysis" that Berenson's article failed at.
Susan Sach's "Europe Bloc Says Turks Can Apply; Long Road Seen" is news and belongs on the front page. Marc Lacey's "In Congo War, Even Peacekeepers Add to Horror" is news. It may fall into the pattern of UN bashing, but it's also news. Marc wonders if "Judy Miller's so busy with promoting herself as the victim of an out of control judiciary that she's handed over her UN bashing kit to Marc Lacey who seems to be pulling liberally from Miller's bag of tricks."
I don't enjoy the details in the story, but if true, they are news. "San Quentin Debate" might seem like news (by Dean E. Murphy" deserving of the front page until you bump up against the second part of the title "Death Row vs. Bay Views." That's correct. This is a beautification debate that ignores the whether "death row" itself is "beautiful" enough to belong in our modern society? Instead, we're focused on what upsets the landscape -- not in terms of the environment, but in terms of the view. Aesthetics are important but they don't strike me as front page news when we're not even dealing with such factors as the continued desire to build additions onto existing prisons or the construction of new ones.
What is news? How about John F. Burns' "Iraq's Election, Its Outcome Murky, Is Seen as a 'Jungle of Ambiguity" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/18/international/middleeast/18elections.html)?
With the Janurary 30th election looming, Burns is on the ground in Iraq trying to provide readers with a picture of what might happen (speculation, granted) but this issue, the impending election in a country we chose to go to war with, is inside the paper news? This doesn't qualify as front page news?
The election, the official said, was the most ambitious democratic exercise ever attempted in an Arab country, one in which 14 million eligible Iraqis will choose from more than 7,700 candidates seeking seats in a provisional national assembly, 18 provincial councils and a regional Kurdish parliament. He invited comparisons with a clumsily rigged referendum two years ago, when Mr. Hussein declared himself re-elected president with 100 percent of his countrymen's 12 million votes.
And Burns doesn't just say "official." This isn't "executive" that might or might not be a "real estate executive" (as we saw this week in the Kerik 'love nest' Times article) or the usual "administration sources" or "administration officials."
Burns fleshes it out as much as possible "a senior Western official with decades of Middle East experience" while noting that this official is "guarded by the anonymity commonly demanded when reporters are briefed in the Green Zone command compound here." Whether you agree that the official should or should not by left unnamed, you're given some detail about the anonymous source -- detail that is too often missing in most Times' articles.
And on the ground, outside the Green Zone?
The only rally so far was held Friday at a Baghdad sports stadium, where 2,000 Communist Party supporters, their ranks decimated under Mr. Hussein, met to chant slogans that would have provoked executions before his downfall.
Otherwise, the only sign in the capital of an impending election have been giant posters showing the country's most powerful Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, and his recent decree declaring it a religious duty for all Shiites to vote.
. . .
When the interim prime minister, Ayad Allawi, began his campaign on Wednesday with an appearance with members of his slate at a Baghdad sports club, the Americans who form the core of his security team judged the risks so great that they ordered a large area of central Baghdad closed to traffic for several hours.
I'd say we're in the front page territory but that's my opinion.
Stephanie Strom's front page "A.C.L.U.'s Search For Data on Donors Stirs Privacy Fears" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/18/national/18aclu.html) is distrubing. More than any other organization, the A.C.L.U. should not be participating in data mining. If they wanted information on donors, they could ask. They're probably aware that most donors would refuse to answer inquiries about their personal information and the A.C.L.U. should respect that and not go through a third party to data mine.
They have no response to the Times' article posted on their web site. If they do post a response, we'll be happy to link to it. The A.C.L.U. does strong work and is a positive force in our society. That doesn't change the fact, however, that, if Strom's article is accurate, the A.C.L.U. needs to strongly apologize for both hiring Grenzebach Glier & Associates and for the actions GG&A undertook at the direction of the A.C.L.U.
I support the A.C.L.U. so this story was news to me. But why is it on the front page? Is it the "contrast" element -- organization that fights for privacy rights and liberty caught with pants down?
What I'm getting at is that the A.C.L.U. apparently conducted data mining on their donors. That is news. But on a day where inside the paper we find two other secrecy stories, I'm not sure this is the front page one. (Had this run with the other two all on the front page, the Times could have had a very strong front page today.)
David Johnston & Neil A. Lewis' "Officials Describe Secret C.I.A. Center at Guantánamo Bay"
(http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/18/politics/18gitmo.html) seems a much more pressing front page story.
The Central Intelligence Agency secretly operated a holding and interrogation center within the larger American military-run prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, current and former government officials said on Friday.
. . .
The existence of the center was disclosed on Friday by The Washington Post, which described it as related to a network of holding centers operated by the C.I.A. at undisclosed locations around the world since the American authorities began capturing operatives of Al Qaeda after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
. . .
So far, the Bush administration has not said how it plans to deal with these detainees. They might someday be tried before a military tribunal or could be held indefinitely. One official described the high-value detainees as a long-term problem "without an endgame."
. . .
In addition, the use of Guantánamo has raised the possibility of legal problems for the C.I.A., which has sought to keep its detention operation outside the United States to deny detainees rights under American law. The Supreme Court has ruled that prisoners at Guantánamo are entitled to some legal rights.
That's front page news. (Please read the article.)
So is Eric Lichtblau's "2 Agencies in Accord on Inquiries Into Spying" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/18/politics/18fbi.html) :
The statement grew out of concerns by some domestic security investigators about what they viewed as a power grab by the bureau after the publication on Nov. 15 of a new rule by the Justice Department in The Federal Register.
The rule, signed by Attorney General John Ashcroft and first reported by Newsweek, sought to "eliminate confusion" about possible limitations on the authority of the bureau.
Officials at the Homeland Security Department said they were given no formal notice about the rule change before publication, and it caught some officials there off guard because of what they said could be interpreted as an expansion of the F.B.I.'s powers.
The Times needs to hold the A.C.L.U. accountable and shine a light on them if they were conducting data mining, no question. But when these two stories are buried in the main section and the A.C.L.U. story is highlighted, there's a problem. I hope the A.C.L.U. has many donors (disclosure, I donate to the A.C.L.U.) but this is a story that concerns them largely. The other two stories have domestic and global implications. They trump the A.C.L.U. story for that reason and should have been featured along with the A.C.L.U. article on the front page or in place of the A.C.L.U. article.
And I'm going to harp one more time on the issue of the Times needing an op-ed columnist (such as Nancy Chang or David Cole) with a firm grounding in civil liberties. [See http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2004/12/safire-wants-out-times-wants-photostat.html.] The
events that are going on and as well as the events of the last four years speak to the need for the Times to replace William Safire with a columnist who can address these issues. The paper
and the country will not benefit from yet another standard party bearer for the GOP (the
echo chamber is quite crowded enough as it is). But by hiring someone that can speak to the issues of civil liberties and privacy rights, the Times could increase our national dialogue. That would be a service to the country and one hopes this will factor that into the selection process.
[Note: This post has been edited to include a link to "The Times fails reporter Alex Berenson."
That post was done first. But for whatever reason, this post appears beneath it. That might straighten itself out. I have no idea why the first post today is at the top and the second post of today is currently below it. Nor do I know why the time signature indicates that this post was created before "The Times fails reporter Alex Berenson."]
Friday, December 17, 2004
Elaine: "It's that Tommy Wolfe electric koolaid kind of thing passing for reporting."
Brad concurred: "All these decades later, the Times discovers 'new journalism?' Talk about institutional inertia!"
Toby: "Is this 'new journalism' by way of retro? Is that the reason for the Dragnet tone throughout this article? It's obvious the writer knows how to ape a tone, but can he write in his own voice? And does this imitation belong on the front page? No! And no!"
Keesha: "It's a mess, a complete pileup on the front page. It's as though Mariah Carey decided to put her usual vocal gymanstic workout into 'Frere Jacque.' You're left scratching your head and feeling that the voice overwhelmed the song or in this case the story."
Frank in Orlando, who usually finds something to defend in the Times: "An embarrassment to a great paper. That's all I'll say."
Sherry wonders whether the editors read these stories (she uses a stronger term) before printing them. Rory thinks Wilson's attempting to audition for William Safire's op-ed space via the front page. Geneva says no one read it before it was printed "because an editor worth his salt would have crumpled it up and tossed into file thirteen."
Gore Vidal Is God: "I read __ like this and wonder if the paper is just giving up. It's been a long time since it's featured strong writing. Wilson attempst a star turn that overwhelms the story."
Abhilasha: "Articles like this make me wonder why I even bother picking up NYT."
Inez in New Mexico: "Gun porn! Just like Erika said! Why Times is pushing this on the front page is well beyond me but it doesn't belong on the front page. It's badly written and the sort of 'let me prove I'm a real man' trash that falls into the same category as the wet dreaming over sports that too often graces the front page of Times."
Brandon: "NY Times is in the midst of a sexual panic after realizing it's not middle of the road but middle aged and so it pops Viagra by the fistful and stories like this spring up on the front page. It's been called the 'gray lady' one too many times and is bound and determined to prove virility ... masculinity ... potency! It's the slightly tipsy 50 y.o. neighbor who shows up at your graduation party as a favor to your parents and tries to be 'hip' by asking 'so you kids still listening to that neato Guns & Roses?' You end up being embarrassed and wish he'd act his age."
Trina: "I'd say it damages the paper but [Judith] Miller's already taken care of that. Remember when you felt like you could trust the paper? Be proud you read it? Those days get more distant."
No one wrote in (email@example.com) to defend the article or Wilson's writing style.
Democracy Now's exclusive interview with Aidan Delgado -- Abu Ghraib witness; and DNC debate: Donna Brazile & Manning Marable
AIDAN DELGADO: Well, by the time I got into Abu Ghraib, I had made it clear to the command that I was very critical of the war, that I was a pacifist, virtually, that I had no interest in doing what they were doing. So they knew I was not going to play ball. They knew I was not going to tow the party line. So they tried to keep me as far away from prisoners, prison operations as possible. Ultimately, they relegated me to the very undesirable duty of working in the battalion headquarters. It was a long shift, and it was far away from my company. But there I got a good inside view of sort of the running of the prison and I got to know a lot of what was going on there. I was working in the command with bunch of officers and with sort of all of the key paperwork. That's where I found some things that really disturbing like I discovered that the majority of prisoners at Abu Ghraib weren't even insurgents. They weren't even there for crimes against the coalition. They were there for petty crimes: Theft, public drunkenness. And they were here in this horrible, extremely dangerous prison. That's when I began to feel, oh, my God, I can't believe I'm even participating in this. Then there was sort of a series of demonstrations or prisoner protests against the conditions, against the cold, against the lack of food and the type of food. And the military's response to these demonstrations was, I felt, extremely heavy-handed. I'm not going to say it was illegal. I don't have the background to bring a legalistic challenge, but I will say that it was immoral, the amount of force they responded with. And I think I shared some images of prisoners beaten to within an inch of their life or dead, by the guards. And five prisoners that I know of were shot dead during a demonstration for what amounted to throwing stones. I just felt it was extremely heavy-handed. I was very disillusioned with how the military handled it.
MANNING MARABLE: It's a pleasure to be on Democracy Now! this morning and especially with Donna Brazile. Many things that Donna has said this morning I agree with. I think that clearly mainstream democrats represent, both ideologically and in terms of public policy, positions that are clearly centrist and relatively speaking to the left of the Republican Party. Unfortunately, it's not very hard to be to the left of the Republican Party these days. I think that two things concern me. One: Voter mobilization, or the lack of it, in 2004 in central cities. Any veteran voter organizer knows the five-touch rule. You have got to individually touch Â and Donna, I'm sure, knows this, a prospective voter five times with literature, face-to-face contact, to insure that that voter is truly motivated to turn out at the polls. And despite the leftÂs mobilization of voters in central cities, and unprecedented voter mobilizations and as Juan says correctly, in certain suburban areas, in our central cities, we did not adequately see the Democratic Party put major resources, sufficiently to insure that those who are -- have less than high school education, those who are unemployed, those who are immigrants or recent immigrants, racialized minorities, Latinos and Blacks, truly have the turnout rates we needed to have in order to win this election. Secondly, I think that the media's done a disservice not just to the Democratic Party, but more broadly to working Americans by making the case that the right wing somehow has a magical mandate in 2004. It just isn't so. If you had a switch of 150,000 votes in Ohio. You will have President Kerry right now. Now, we don't have a real democracy in the United States because we still have an electoral college, and constitutionally, it's going to be extremely difficult to get rid of it.
DONNA BRAZILE: Well, let's put something on the table, and I said it publicly and I have written about it. Karl Rove and the republicans had one focus, and that was to energize and to enlarge their base. That was the key to their success. They understood the electorate was deeply polarized and that the goal was to insure that they -- you know, got their base out. The democrats had a different approach. If you look at how the money was spent, both at the 527's, the MoveOn.org, the Democratic Party the formula was the same. And the formula was to reach 'tweens, persuadables, independents. Base voters, and I saw it -- Move On did ads in the last two months of the campaign, the Kerry people did them, the last two, the 527's, they didn't go after the base, two, three months out. They went after the base, you know, just a couple of weeks out. That was a strategic error on the party of the Kerry Campaign, and I have criticized them for having leftover money, money that could have been used to reach people. You know, you reach them where they live, where they eat, where they play and where they pray. You reach them multiple times. But In the inner cities, as I said some months ago, Send my dad a bumper sticker! We donÂt do it, and thatÂs a strategic flaw in the Democratic party and thatÂs why this fight for the party chair is a very important strategic struggle for the left and for progressive forces. And I am not going to allow the D.L.C. and the more centrist conservative leadership to determine and dictate who the next chair will be based on the fact that they want somebody who can go out and speak on Sunday shows. I want somebody who can go out and organize in the inner cities as well as the suburbs and ex-urbs, and go out and enlarge our base and to be able to make our party more competitive across the -- across the country.
AMY GOODMAN: Donna Brazile, you said D.L.C., Democratic Leadership Council. Who do you mean by the D.L.C.?
DONNA BRAZIL: What I mean by that -- because I have seen several stories written, and often when democrats lose, I saw this in 2000 and 2002 and some other years, they constantly blame it on the -- you know, the party focused too much time on the base. That's ludicrous. Look at the money. I have run a presidential campaign, so I can speak from experience. 85% of the resources in a presidential campaign is spent on persuadables, of swing voters which is -- they're important, don't get me wrong, but I often believe we need a parallel strategy.
The transcripts are up and these are topics that on this blog that we are talking and talking about. Who will head the DNC? Where is the humanity with regards to our actions in Iraq? These are stories worth reading, listening and/or viewing.
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Bill Moyers Calls for Vigilant, Independent Press
And in TV news, Bill Moyers is retiring tonight from his show Now on PBS. Over the past three decades, Moyers has won over thirty Emmys and produced a string of groundbreaking documentaries. Upon his retirement from Now, Moyers told the Associated Press, "I'm going out telling the story that I think is the biggest story of our time: how the right-wing media has become a partisan propaganda arm of the Republican National Committee." He went on to say, "We have an ideological press that's interested in the election of Republicans, and a mainstream press that's interested in the bottom line. Therefore, we don't have a vigilant, independent press whose interest is the American people."
Some PBS stations air Now on Saturday or Sunday, so check your own listings (http://www.pbs.org/). Last chance to see Now with Bill Moyers with Moyers at the helm. (It will continue as a half hour show anchored by David Brancaccio.)
What will Moyers' last show focus on? From PBS's web site:
Bill Moyers looks inside the right-wing media machine that the conservative NEW YORK TIMES columnist David Brooks called a "dazzlingly efficient ideology delivery system." The program examines how a vast echo chamber that is admittedly partisan and powerfully successful delivers information Â and misinformation Â with more regard for propaganda than fact. Founding father to the conservative movement, Richard Viguerie tells Moyers, ÂThatÂs what journalism is, Bill. ItÂs all just opinion. Just opinion.Â
Since 9/11 and the start of the war on terror, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has been one of the leading voices in the fight for the protection of civil liberties. They have taken on cases when no one else would touch them, cases involving foreign nationals living in our country whose rights were violated in the early round-ups post 9/11, or cases where law enforcement infiltrated groups of U.S. nationals in our soil, only because they disagreed with our government's policies. Most recently they have been in the news for making public a series "of U.S. Navy documents that reveal that abuse and even torture of detainees by U.S. Marines in Iraq was widespread." Bill Moyers speaks with Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU, who will talk about life amidst an ongoing war on terror and the delicate balance between protecting civil liberties and national security (http://www.pbs.org/now/thisweek/index.html).
From The Nation:
Week after week, NOW has offered consistently bold and revealing examinations of issues ranging from the threat to environmental protections posed by international trade agreements, to the damage done to basic liberties by the Patriot Act, to the abuses of politics by special interests. Moyers, who is 70 and wants to turn his attention to writing, has every reason to be proud as he prepares for his last broadcast on December 17. At a time when TV networks--including PBS--were bowing to commercial and ideological pressures that were antithetical to journalism, Moyers created a program that many viewers recognized as the only reason to turn on the TV in the Bush era (http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i=20041227&s=editors2).
Matthew Rothchild weighs in on social security:
At Bush's so-called economic summit, which was more like a valley, he did what he does best: instill fear about a false threat.
And he made clear who his constituency is: the financial markets.
Even before the gathering of rightwing economists began, Bush set the tone in his weekend radio address when he said, "The system is headed toward bankruptcy down the road. If we do not act soon, Social Security will not be there for our children and grandchildren" (http://www.progressive.org/webex04/wx1217a04.html).
Yes, (as Kara and Ben have pointed out) Paul Krugman is dealing with social security in today's NY Times' op-ed and in addition to that, you can check out The Daily Howler today http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh121704.shtml.
Shirley has pointed out that a blog entry from Thursday has vanished. I don't know what happened or where it is. I'll add it right after this and then later tonight try to edit it into Thursday (unless it reappears on it's own between now and tonight).
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Reading this front page story (which is continued inside the business section) you'll learn about how the company came to be and how Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky "took oil assets won at a state auction in 1993 and developed Yukos into the country's most prominent and profitable enterprise." This is a good overview to the story (and the Times' business section has covered developments in Yukos, including the imprisonment of Khodorkovsky, very well for some time) but there's another part of the story that's not getting focused on, I'd argue.
Yukos' story isn't that different from TV-6, a non-state owned television channel in Russia that Putin went after. This is part of a larger story and, if there's a fault in this front page story, that's left unsaid.
I agree with Kara regarding William Neuman's "Murdoch Set to Pay Record $44 million for 5gh Ave. Triplex" -- what's this doing on the front page? (Kara calls it "real estate porn.)
Charlie LeDuff's "Parked in a Desert, Waiting Out the Winter Life" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/17/national/17slab.html?oref=login) offers a snapshot of a sad story that, Ben writes, "Does more to make me want to donate to a charity than the dopey story yesterday about buying braclets at the Gap."
Keesha points out that the carrots being "waved and dangled" in Steven R. Weisman's "Donors Consider Large Rise in Aid to Palestinians" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/17/international/middleeast/17diplo.html?hp&ex=1103346000&en=4627d678caf1c086&ei=5094&partner=homepage). Read it and see if you share Keesha's belief that the carrot "will soon turn into a stick our administration uses to bash with."
Inside the paper, Richard W. Stevenson's "Bush Says Social Security Plan Would Reassure Markets" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/17/politics/17econ.html?hp&ex=1103259600&en=025981bf94adb0de&ei=5094&partner=homepage) already has some very vocal e-mails coming in to this site. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I feel their frustration and share it when I read something like this paragraph:
President Bush said on Thursday that addressing the long-term problems in Social Security would reassure the financial markets, offering a rationale to offset criticism that his plan to add personal investment accounts to the retirement system would require up to $2 trillion in new government borrowing.
Guess what else would reassure the markets? A sound economic policy. Neither Bush or the Congress has felt the need to address that. But now they want to take a social service, a public good, and revamp it to "reassure the markets?"
We're not, in our most basic form, a nation of markets. We are a nation of people. The president of the United States is supposed to serve the people.
But let's trash social security, let's gut it, just so the markets can be reassured? Not even to save the markets, mind you, just to reassure them.
As he did throughout his re-election campaign, Mr. Bush largely avoided talking about the specific steps to assure the long-term solvency of Social Security. Social Security trustees estimate that if no changes are made, the system will start running short of money to pay full benefits to retirees in 38 years.
Yeah, the press gave him a pass then, they let him off the hook, and they continue to let him off the hook.
The Daily Howler:
According to that recent CBO report, the shortfall begins in the year 2052; at that point, SS will only be able to pay 81 percent of promised benefits. Using gloomier assumptions about economic growth, the SS trustees say the shortfall will begin in 2042.
Sitting with him at a panel discussion on Social Security and other budget questions, Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at the Charles Schwab brokerage firm, said a plan to address long-term fiscal imbalances was "absolutely what the market wants to see."
Well you know Liz Ann, it's all about you and what you, Charles Schwab and the markets want. Robert e-mails: "Liz Ann, thanks to your comments, no monies here go to Charles Schwab while you remain at the firm." Shondra wonders: "What kind of a name is 'Liz Ann?' She didn't want to be 'Elizabeth' but felt just 'Liz' wasn't professional enough? 'Liz Ann' sounds like a beauty contestant, not a broker!"
When the story continues, Stevenson does begin raising issues and that deserves to be noted. However, why is the section on the front page so void of serious discussions when it comes to social security?
Too often, there's a pattern that allows any dissent to be absent from the top of the story and, if it's there, it's to be found inside the paper where the story is continued.
Stevenson's inside the paper story follows the general pattern on dealing with "issues."
Start with Bush's remarks. Throw out someone (often a woman) (apparently the administration thinks it humanizes the "issue") who supports Bush for a paragraph or two. Then maybe move on to what a right wing or right leaning for a quote or "figure." After that, we may get into facts.
(The Daily Howler, www.dailyhowler.com, has demonstrated that the press either lacks the ability or the desire to grasp the basic concepts when it comes to social security.)
Stevenson does try to address the facts . . . in the usual pattern. Well after we've heard the spin, heard the spin, heard the spin. At that point, how many readers are still around?
Why would most readers still be around? You've heard:
a) Bush, first paragraph
b) Bush, second paragraph
c) Bush, third paragraph
d) fourth paragraph? "As he did throughout his re-election campaign, Mr. Bush largely avoided talking about the specific steps to assure the long-term solvency" and the estimates by trustees of SS that with no changes full benefits will cause the program to run short (in 38 years).
e) no mention by Bush that without a tax hike social security will "include a reduction in the guaranteed retirement benefit", fifth paragraph (if that's correct)
f) Bush aides say "no guaranteed benefit in the long run" and the program "not be able to afford to meet its promises," sixth paragraph
g) Bush is using the event to build public support for his program that will "require borrowing hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars," seventh paragraph
h) Bush & company argue dealing with this now may mean new confidence for the markets, eighth paragraph
i) the administration's argument that borrowing now helps in the long run, ninth paragraph
j) administration claims this is way to deal with fiscal responsibility, tenth paragraph
k) how this will bring about fiscal responsibilty is not known, eleventh paragraph
l) Bush says his program sends a message to the markets, twelveth paragraph
m) the unpopular (with readers of this site) Liz Ann Sonders shows up to with an "absolutely" -- speaking for the "markets," thirteenth paragraph
m) Bush mouthpiece is brought in to back up Liz Ann, fourteenth paragraph
n) Gary Gensler, the first voice of dissent, is brought in, fifteenth paragraph
Get the picture?
A reader has to wade through fourteen paragraphs before a dissenting voice is heard. This is journalism? This is informing the readers?
This is the pattern we get on a serious issue. Bush makes claims, Bush's claims are backed up with individuals (named and unnamed) and only in the fifteenth paragraph can a journalist for the New York Times get around to addressing these claims?
This is reporting? This is informing?
Stevenson and his immediate editor are pleased with this? The Times is pleased with it?
I want you to picture yourself getting through the day with the various demands upon you. You're reading an article in the Times that basically repeats the same thing over and over for fourteen paragraphs. Do you think you make it to the fifteenth paragraph?
Some of us do. Most of us don't. Most of us have already felt "I get the point" and moved on.
Reporters (and editors) know this. That's why they pack what they consider the important information up front.
By running with fourteen paragraphs that softball the issue what message is the Times sending to the readers?
If Bush is making a claim, drop the fan club right away. This isn't Teen Beat. Bush is making a claim. You've printed the claim so now start dealing with it -- third paragraph at the latest.
Am I missing something here or is the actual news the social security program and not what Bully Boy Bush or his cheerleaders want? The issues raised later on in the story should have made it into the front of the story much sooner.
For instance, skimmers and most readers miss this:
Gary Gensler, a former top executive at the Goldman Sachs investment firm and the official in the Clinton administration who oversaw government borrowing, said Mr. Bush and his team were wrong in saying the markets would forgive additional borrowing in the short run to ease the need for borrowing in the long run.
"Their politics are overwhelming their economic reason," Mr. Gensler said in a phone interview, referring to the Bush administration. "They have to diffuse the issue of the $2 trillion. So they're saying that we already have this obligation and we're just changing it from an actuarial imbalance into a legal debt."
That's paragraph fifteen and sixteen of a twenty-three paragraph story. It belongs near the top, not buried after the mid-point.
Lizette Alvarez's "Britain's Highest Court Overturns Anti-Terrorism Law"
is a must read. Our strongest European ally just found cracks in the foundation.
In its powerfully worded decision, the court said that the government's "draconian" measures unjustly discriminate against foreigners since they do not apply to British citizens and constitute a lopsided response to the threat of a terrorist attack.
The judges deemed it a clear violation of the European Convention on Human Rights, a declaration that complicates the British government's strategy on combating terrorism.
The ruling by the Law Lords, a panel of senior judges who sit in the House of Lords and act as the country's highest court, parallels a June decision by the United States Supreme Court that said "a state of war is not a blank check for the president."
And don't miss:
In the latest signs of strains on the military from the war in Iraq, the Army National Guard announced on Thursday that it had fallen 30 percent below its recruiting goals in the last two months and would offer new incentives, including enlistment bonuses of up to $15,000.
Which begins "Guard Reports Serious Decline in New Recruits" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/17/politics/17reserves.html?hp&ex=1103259600&en=ba6801121d30fa22&ei=5094&partner=homepage) by Eric Schmitt.
The sharp decline in recruiting is significant because National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers now make up nearly 40 percent of the 148,000 troops in Iraq, and are a vital source for filling the ranks, particularly those who perform essential support tasks, like truck drivers and military police.
General Blum said the main reason for the Army National Guard's recruiting shortfall was a sharp reduction in the number of recruits joining the Guard and Reserve when they leave active duty. In peacetime the commitment means maintaining their ties to the military with a weekend of service a month and two weeks in the summer.
Over the last 30 years, General Blum said, the Guard has counted on these soldiers with prior military service for about half of its recruits. Since the Sept. 11 attacks, however, many of these soldiers have been hesitant to join the Guard because of the increasing likelihood that America's citizen-soldiers will be activated and sent to Iraq or Afghanistan for up to 12 months. Indeed, many of the active-duty soldiers the Army would like to enlist in the Reserves have recently fought in Afghanistan or Iraq, and some have no inclination to do so again.
Do you have prior military experience and, if so, will you gamble your life for $15,000? The Army National Guard is hoping you will. $6,000 signing bonus not enough? How about $4,000 more? The Army National Guard is willing to offer you that.
[Note: This post has been added to. Thanks to Shirley for, as always, pointing out where further clarification was needed. "Kremlin" has also been corrected from the earlier wrong spelling of "Rkemlin!"]
Thursday, December 16, 2004
New Questions Raised About Secret U.S. 'Torture Jet'
Meanwhile more questions are being raised about a US practice of secretly detaining wanted men around the world and then flying them to other countries to be interrogated and jailed.
Just weeks after the press revealed that the U.S. government was secretly leasing a Gulfstream jet from a little known Massachusetts company for such a purpose, the company has sold the plane. The Boston Globe reports Premier Executive Transport Services sold the jet to an Oregon company called Bayard Foreign Marketing two days after an article about the jet appeared in the Sunday Times of London. Almost nothing is known about either company.
The Sunday Times reported the CIA and other government agencies leased the plane and used it over 300 times to pick up detainees around the world and then secretly deliver them to countries inclyding Egypt, Syria and Uzbekistan that have poor human rights records and practice torture in their jails.
The plane first gained attention in Sweden. In December 2001 the US government requested Swedish officials detain two Egyptian born men. After the men were detained, the men were secretly flown aboard the Gulfstream to Egypt where they claimed they were drugged by US agents and tortured with electric shocks.
There has been speculation that the plane was sold from one government front company to another. The CIA has a long history of secretly owning airlines. Starting in the 1950s the agency began building up a large network of airlines that eventually included about 200 planes and nearly 20,000 employees, making the agency one of the world's largest airline operators at the time. Among the CIA operated airlines were Air America, Air Asia and Intermountain Aviation.
All of the segments have rush transcripts so if you're unable to listen or view due to using a computer without speakers, you can still read the transcripts.
New Documents Show Marines Tortured Iraqis, Pentagon Admits 8 Detainees Died in U.S. Custody in Afghanistan
Excerpt from the above:
AMY GOODMAN: Amrit Singh, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, you have also learned, obtaining documents under the Freedom of Information Act, that in Iraq a number of U.S. soldiers–What is it, thirteen marines?– have been court-martialed for taking part in abuse of detainees. What exactly do you know at this point?
AMRIT SINGH Well, what we received was a summary chart relating to allegations that were, quote, unquote, substantiated. It's hard to tell exactly what happened in each case in great detail. But we know that, dating back to April of 2003, there were specific documented incidents of torture and abuse by United States marines. And the incidents including: The ordering of four Iraqi juveniles to kneel while a pistol was discharged in a mock execution; the burning of a detainee's hands by covering them in alcohol and igniting them; and the shocking of a detainee with an electric transformer, causing the detainee to, quote, dance as he was shocked. And all of these incidents happened at varying times in Iraq at places other than Abu Ghraib, dating back to April of 2003, before the alleged incidents at Abu Ghraib took place. There are also incidents -- we also know of incidents that happened in Iraq after the Abu Ghraib incidents took place from documents turned over by the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Goodman's guests for that segment are Amrit Singh (quoted above) with the American Civil Liberties Union and John Sifton with Human Rights Watch.
Unocal Settles Landmark Human Rights Case with Burmese Villagers
For this segment, Goodman's guest is the Center for Justice and Accountability's Sandra Coliver.
AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about the people that they brought the lawsuit on behalf of, these 15 Burmese villagers?
SANDRA COLIVER: The suit is brought by these villagers who were among those who were enslaved by the Burmese military as the Unocal and its partners were building this pipeline. In addition to being enslaved and conscripted into clearing the dense forest around which the pipeline had to be built, the Burmese military also terrorized the villages if the young men refused to work for free, under very harsh circumstances. The terror included raping the women, killing people, and insuring that the men could not run away from this enforced labor. Now, none of this is directly attributed to Unocal employees. Rather, what the district court found is that there was substantial evidence that Unocal knowingly assisted the perpetration of these crimes. That was the key issue -- was Unocal as a corporation aiding and abetting the commission of human rights violations.
Inuits to Sue U.S. Over Global Warming
For this report, the guest is Earth Justice's Martin Wagner.
AMY GOODMAN: So, how does this proceed forward?
MARTIN WAGNER: Well, we are putting together a petition that will go to the Inter-American Commission. The Commission will receive the petition. It will forward it to the United States, which is the respondent, the Inuit are arguing that because the United States is responsible for 25% or more of the greenhouse gas emissions that are contributing to this climate change, that the United States has an international obligation to prevent these human rights violations. So, the Commission would forward the petition to the United States, and they would then begin a period of hearing testimony from the Inuit and from lawyers speaking on their behalf, hearing responses from the United States and then ultimately leading to some sort of a determination by the Inter-American Commission about whether this constitutes a violation of human rights. And you rightly noted that the Commission then does not have the authority to order the United States to take any particular action. But the finding by this Commission, which is one of the world's most authoritative bodies on the question of human rights, can have great impact.
Senate Democrats Protest Top Secret Spy Satellite Project
National Security Archive's Jeffrey Richelson (also author of The Wizards of Langley: Inside the CIA's Directorate of Science and Technology") is Goodman's guest. This topic is one that's gotten a lot of e-mail this week when it's popped up in an entry. This weekend, we'll pull from those e-mails.
AMY GOODMAN: And, shouldn't this be a public discussion? I mean, we're talking about $9.5 billion?
JEFFREY RICHELSON: Yes. I mean, that's one of the problems with the whole -- with the secrecy and concerning the intelligence budget and both -- both for the community as a whole and specifically agencies, is that you can have enormous expenditures of public funds without any real public oversight, and you can see in this case the difficulty even of a major oversight committee in getting a proposal killed if there -- if there are significant forces supporting it who can do so sort of under a veil or behind a veil of secrecy.
CIA Agent Says Bosses Ordered Him To Falsify WMD Reports
Goodman interviews Roy Krieger, the lawyer for the unnamed CIA agent.
ROY KRIEGER: Well, we're talking about events that occurred three years ago, but the harm really occurred just a few months ago. That's in fact when he was fired from the CIA, and the lawsuit is actually -- we filed it fairly quickly after he had been officially notified of his termination. First we had to submit it to the CIA so they could make all of their redactions that you see in it. And then as soon as we got it back, we filed it with the federal court here in Washington D.C., and we had to file it along with a motion seeking permission to proceed in pseudo, that is, not in true name because ordinarily when you file a suit in federal court, you can only sue in your true name and true address, and here his true name is classified.
Charlie wanted me to share his story. His computer access is via a public library and it's open three days during the week and on Saturdays & Sundays. He gets off a little after five each week day and is usually able to arrive at the library before six. He signs up to use on the eight computers his library provides for web usage and, if he's lucky, that means he just has to wait 30 minutes. Some days, it can be an hour. Once he's logged in to the terminal, he has 25 minutes only. A tiny clock displays on the screen and he's reminded when he has ten minutes left and, again, when he has five minutes left.
If the library's not crowded, he'll then sign up again and wait for thirty minutes to an hour. ("Lucky right now, it's getting colder and that means less people.") There are days when he only has the 25 minutes due to the library being crowded or his own schedule. He says he can read the New York Times while he waits his turn for the computer. His niece had told him about this site and he reads it to find out "what the Times isn't covering or isn't getting right." The Democracy Now! transcripts are his favorite links because he hears on Democracy Now! a voice that "I'm just not hearing anywhere else."
Democracy Now! and Buzzflash were the first two links we did on this site. And I realize that many of you are able to go to those links at your leisure. But if highlighting certain stories from Democracy Now! and noting when they have transcripts helps Charlie, we're glad to do it.
Charlie wrote a really nice e-mail yesterday when it was raining "so the library is pretty much empty and I can get on as often as I want." Anytime you're able to write, we enjoy hearing from you and this site will continue to note Democracy Now! stories so don't worry about that. It's a great news source. Charlie used to live in area that carried Laura Flanders' radio program and he asked if I could note what topics she's discussing so we'll try to do that this weekend as well. (The Laura Flanders Show airs on Air America radio Saturday and Sunday nights.) And, Charlie, I'll also try to find another funny Lizz Winstead (Unfiltered) monologue to share this weekend. (If anyone has any ideas or picks for that from this weekend, please e-mail email@example.com.) [Air America's web site is http://www.airamericaradio.com/.]
Alert: Americans who honor the U.S. Constitution’s strict separation of church and state are now genuinely alarmed. Agnostics and atheists, as well as observant people of every faith, fear — sensibly — that the religious right is gaining historic political power, via an ultraconservative movement with highly placed friends.
But many of us feel helpless. We haven’t read the Founding Documents since school (if then). We lack arguing tools, “verbal karate” evidence we can cite in defending a secular United States.
For instance, such extremists claim — and, too often, we ourselves assume — that U.S. law has religious roots. Yet the Constitution contains no reference to a deity.
The Declaration of Independence contains not one word on religion, basing its authority on the shocking idea that power is derived from ordinary people, which challenged European traditions of rule by divine right and/or heavenly authority. (Remember, George III was king of England and anointed head of its church.)
The words “Nature’s God,” the “Creator” and “divine Providence ” do appear in the Declaration. But in its context — an era, and author, Thomas Jefferson, that celebrated science and the Enlightenment — these words are analogous to our contemporary phrase “life force.”
I'm highlighting that because I know a number of people who were putting off buying that issue and then, after the election, didn't want to be reminded of the election so they skipped the issue. So if you've missed Robin Morgan's "Fighting Words For A Secular America: Ashcroft & Friends VS.George Washington & The Framers" please consider reading it. It's available online at http://www.msmagazine.com/fall2004/fightingwords.asp.
For those who wrote in regarding The Majority Report, I agree that Naomi Klein did an incredible job. Klein's web site is http://www.nologo.org/ and I'll try to make it a permanent link this weekend. I also intend to add Bob Somerby's The Daily Howler this weekend as a permanent link.
Somersby did address the New York Times article in today's Daily Howler (in great detail) so if you missed that, pleace click http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh121604.shtml. This issue is only going to become bigger -- Bush will be pulling out all the big names he can to try to force this off on America so arm yourself with knowledge now.
WARNING: All links below you click on at your own risk. Nothing stood out to me in them in terms of language that might get you into trouble in the work place but I may have missed something.
For social security, I'd also recommend Bill Gallagher "BUSH'S SOCIAL SECURITY C---SHOOT"[me: I've edited "C---" so if that's a word that will get you in trouble, don't go there on a work computer) in the Niagra Falls Reporter (http://www.niagarafallsreporter.com/gallagher193.html) where Gallagher contrasts Bully Boy Bush with Tupac Shakur:
Shakur, while claiming to dismiss reality, actually had a better grasp of it than Bush is now demonstrating in his clouded vision and plan to increase dramatically government borrowing and indebtedness in order to finance a transition to add personal retirement accounts to Social Security.
Bush essentially wants to borrow money -- experts estimate $2 trillion over the next 10 years -- and gamble your money on his bet that government speculating on stocks will "fix" the system. Much of Bush's plan, projections and assumptions are kept deliberately vague. But he's clear in the promise no taxes will increase, no benefits will be reduced for this generation of retirees and that the best road to privatizing Social Security investments is paved with public debt.
We can only dream how this will work.
Rhonda has risen to orders and followed rules for the past six years at Milledgeville's Central State Hospital, Georgia's largest mental institute. Diagnosed with schizophrenic affective disorder and borderline personality disorder, the 33-year-old retains the mental capacity of a fourth-grader. She's never gone swimming. She rarely receives hugs. She's told what to eat, what to wear, when to wake and when to sleep. She perpetually enters and exits the locked doors of the Freeman building, which houses long-term mentally ill patients. She only gets to leave the isolated, 1,125-bed, 1,750-acre property for special occasions. On Thursdays, she can take a bus ride around downtown Milledgeville, but she can't get off the bus. She just stares out the window at the shops, restaurants, office buildings and gas stations.
She wonders when she'll be able to escape the strange place that serves as her home. She wonders if she'll always live with two roommates in a stark room. She wonders if she'll ever get to play in a creek, buy a sweater at the mall or eat pancakes on a Saturday morning.
In December 2002, Rhonda's chances of leaving the institution seemed to have improved. Her doctor deemed her capable of living in the community, an evaluation that by law gives her the option to leave a state institution and live in a community-based setting. The law that granted Rhonda that right, an amendment to the Americans with Disabilities Act, was prompted by a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision. The case involved two mentally retarded women who fought for the right to leave Georgia Regional Hospital Atlanta in Decatur and move to a setting where they could interact with the outside world.
Called the Olmstead ruling, because the women's case began as an action against Georgia's then-commissioner of the state Department of Human Resources, Tommy Olmstead, the 6-3 opinion found that "unjustified institutional isolation of persons with disabilities is a form of discrimination."
. . . .
Advocates thought Georgia -- the birthplace of the case -- would be among the first to implement the monumental change.
But it hasn't been.
More than five years have passed since the decision was handed down, and today Georgia ranks among the slowest states to de-institutionalize those capable of living outside institutions. More than 4,000 Georgians living in institutions and nursing homes have expressed a desire to live in the community, and that number only represents those people whom advocates have reached so far.
That's from Alyssa Abkowitz's "Trapped" (http://atlanta.creativeloafing.com/cover.html) in The Creative Loafing Atlanta.
Thinking "Poor Rhonda" but that it just applies to her? Today.
In its rush to pass an omnibus federal budget, the U.S. Congress recently approved measures to possibly promote the involuntary screening and consequent medication of students for suspected mental illnesses. The legislation, which passed both the House and Senate, conjoins with two Bush administration pet projects: the president’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health and No Child Left Behind.
In a telephone interview, lobbyist Michael Ostrolenk, M.A., explained that the Mental Health Commission’s recommendations for universal and mandatory mental illness screening remain just that: recommendations. Individual states remain free to decide how or if they would implement them. Ostrolenk cites the example of the state of Illinois, which attempted to force screening protocols on all pregnant women and public school children. Public outcry forced that state to retreat. Nevertheless, President Bush and the Senate requested $44 million toward block grants to states to support universal and mandatory measures, although the House cut the allocation down to $20 million.
Boise Weekly's "Push It to the Kids" (http://www.boiseweekly.com/more.php?id=5085_0_1_0_M) by Peter Wollheim . In the Ithaca Times, Mary Bulkot's "Military Ban"
(http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=13558989&BRD=1395&PAG=461&dept_id=216620&rfi=6) covers the court case four of you have written in about:
A federal appeals court recently ruled that the Department of Defense cannot withhold funds from colleges and universities that bar military recruiters from campus. Although the immediate impact of this ruling on area schools is questionable given the limited jurisdiction of the Philadelphia-based, third Circuit Court, its long-term implications bear watching.
"It may have little impact initially. The more interesting thing will be to see whether the third Circuit Court tries to extend it nationally and whether the Supreme Court ends up hearing it," said Mathew dos Santos, a second-year law student and co-president of LAMDA, a gay and lesbian student group at Cornell's Law School. "There's a lot of legal wrassling to go." The lawsuit was brought by a coalition of more than a dozen law schools, including Cornell's, who argued that the government's threat to withhold funding amounted to compelling the schools to take part in speech they didn't agree with. The military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is inconsistent with the schools' own policies of non-discrimination.
The case has been sent back to the district court to be reheard.
For Martha who considered Gary Webb a friend, the LA Weekly has a piece on Webb by Marc Cooper entitled "DissonanceGary Webb, RIP" (http://www.laweekly.com/ink/05/04/dissonance-cooper.php). If you knew or knew of Webb, you should enjoy the piece. If you're unfamiliar with Webb, it's a piece that will underscore the power of the press when someone gets on the wrong side of the big guns:
First the L.A. Times helped kill off Gary Webb’s career. Then, eight years later, after Webb committed suicide this past weekend, the Times decided to give his corpse another kick or two, in a scandalous, self-serving and ultimately shameful obituary. It was the culmination of the long, inglorious saga of a major newspaper dropping the ball journalistically, and then extracting relentless revenge on an out-of-town reporter who embarrassed it.
Webb was the 49-year-old former Pulitzer-winning reporter who in 1996, while working for the San Jose Mercury News, touched off a national debate with a three-part series that linked the CIA-sponsored Nicaraguan Contras to a crack-dealing epidemic in Los Angeles and other American cities.
A cold panic set in at the L.A. Times when Webb’s so-called Dark Alliance story first appeared. Just two years before, the Times had published a long takeout on local crack dealer Rickey Ross and no mention was made of his possible link to and financing by CIA-backed Contras. Now the Times feared it was being scooped in its own backyard by a second-tier Bay Area paper.
The Times mustered an army of 25 reporters, led by Doyle McManus, to take down Webb’s reporting. It was, apparently, more important to the Times to defend its own inadequate reporting on the CIA-drug connection than it was to advance Webb’s important work (a charge consistently denied by the Times). The New York Times and the Washington Post also joined in on the public lynching of Webb. Webb’s own editor, Jerry Ceppos, also helped do him in, with a public mea culpa backing away from his own paper’s stories.
Nüz also addresses Webb's death in the Santa Cruz Metroactive News (http://www.metroactive.com/papers/cruz/12.15.04/nuz-0451.html):
Webb's work also unwittingly revealed another grave and ongoing problem--the callous and cowardly incompetence of the major U.S. news media. Indeed, the best we can hope to come of his death is that other journalists will (a) be inspired to investigate his "suicide" and (b) be inspired to live up to his standards of journalism.
Tim Redmond also weighs in on Webb:
When I met Webb, he was just starting to feel the heat. What he told me – and he often repeated later – was that an old Air Force pilot he'd befriended had warned him that "you get the most heavy flak when you're right over the target."
You can argue that Webb fell a half millimeter short of proving his point. But nobody with any sense can claim there wasn't a huge amount of truth to what he wrote. Yes, the CIA had close links to narcotics kingpins in Central America; yes, drug money was used to support the Contras. Yes, the CIA knew that was going on.
That's from The San Francisco Bay Guardian (http://www.sfbg.com/39/11/x_in_this_issue.html).
New York Press provides some startling information:
With everyone focused on a few spots on the Supreme Court, over a third of the Environmental Protection Agency's staff will become eligible for retirement during the next four years. Future Bush appointees will dismantle the agency from the inside while a Republican Congress hacks away from the outside, teamwork that could very well result in the disappearance of the EPA as we know it by 2008. If this happens, there will simply be nothing left to save; the rebuilding will have to begin from scratch.
The party will pursue this scorched-earth policy as if there were a mandate behind it. As the current EPA head Mike Leavitt recently told the UK's Independent, "The election was a validation of the philosophy and the agenda." Bush and Cheney were smart enough not to discuss this agenda in their campaign speeches, but it's known to include fiercer attacks on such landmark legislation as the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act, the prying open of protected lands to mining and drilling—in the new Senate, the ANWR fight is all but lost—and the weakening or elimination of mandatory emission controls on a range of pollutants. On climate change, the administration will feel free to ignore even the tepid action recently recommended by the bipartisan National Commission on Energy Policy. In short, the agenda is radical and sweeping, with the last four years offering an aftertaste of what's in store. Given the impact this will have on millions of American families and upon creation itself, you might expect at least a few words of concern from influential pro-family Christian Right groups like Eagle Forum.
That's from "JESUS WORE BIRKS: Pro-life, pro-Federal Marriage Amendment—and pro-Kyoto" (http://www.nypress.com/17/50/news&columns/feature.cfm) which finds reporter
Alexander Zaitchik looking into the Christian right to determine where they stand on the environment.
In Las Vegas City Life, Ryan Slattery weighs in on tasers (and no, the story has nothing to do with Kerik):
Amnesty International says the use of Taser guns on pregnant women, children as young as 6, handcuffed suspects, a female skinny-dipper and at least one foul-mouthed tree-climber is proof that police officers nationwide are abusing stun-gun technology.
These cases and the documented deaths of more than 70 people who died after being "tased" have the human-rights organization calling for a ban on the use of electronic Tasers in the United States and Canada, until an independent study concludes the guns are safe and law-enforcement agencies adopt strict policies regarding their use.
To read more of "Stunned" clik http://www.lvcitylife.com/articles/2004/12/16/local_news/news01.txt.
For those wondering about possible directions for rescuing the country, Matt Smith's "Housing Democrats" (http://www.sfweekly.com/issues/2004-12-15/news/smith.html) argues Democratic mayors are the hope for the future. (From the San Francisco Weekly.)
Zach Dundas writes about Oregon's delegation that attended the Orlando DNC meetup last weekend where various people vied for DNC chair in "Dean's Revenge" (http://www.wweek.com/story.php?story=5825) in Willamette Week.
[David] Miller gets straight to the point in his memoir, relating the draft card burning in the first chapter: "I said the first thing that came to mind," he told an anti-war assembly in Battery Park. "'I am not going to give my prepared speech. I am going to let this action speak for itself. I know that you people across the street really know what is happening in Vietnam. I am opposed to the draft and the war in Vietnam.' "I pulled my draft classification card from my suitcoat pocket along with a book of matches brought especially for the occasion since I did not smoke. I lit a match, then another. They blew out in the late afternoon breeze. As I struggled with the matches, a young man held up a cigarette lighter. It worked just fine.
"The draft card burned as I raised it aloft between the thumb and index finger of my left hand. A roar of approval from the rally crowd greeted the enflamed card."
Though almost 40 years old, David Miller's action relates to what is going on today in Iraq. Thousands in the United States and millions of people around the world have marched in protest against the Bush administration's invasion of that country, and many continue to perceive it as an unnecessary and immoral action.
That's from John P. Griffin "Fire Starter: Syracusan David Miller was the first activist to defy the law and burn his Vietnam War draft card" (http://newtimes.rway.com/2004/121504/cover.shtml) in The Syracuse New Times.
And Dan Frosch and Peter Gorman write of the problems and new realities greeting troops returning from combat in "Soldier’s Heart":
There are thousands of Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers across the country like Matthew Williams and Joshua Peterson. A December 2003 Army study, published in The New England Journal of Medicine, found that about 16 percent of soldiers returning from Iraq were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a psychologically debilitating condition causing intense nightmares, paranoia, and anxiety. Now, after a particularly bloody summer and fall, many military and mental health experts predict the rate of PTSD will actually run nearly twice what the study found, approximately the same level suffered by Vietnam veterans. Others think it could go even higher and note that rarely before has such a dramatic rate of PTSD manifested itself so soon after combat.
Those troubled veterans, by and large, will go knocking on the door of the Department of Veteran Affairs. And many will find that, just like the military that often couldn’t adequately equip them in Iraq, the VA, according to numerous studies, does not have many of the essential services the veterans desperately need.
This article is many weeklies but it was sent to this site (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Billie from her local Fort Worth Weekly and can be found at http://www.fwweekly.com/issues/2004-12-15/feature.asp.
That's what had me thinking about the post. A number of you have written about about how expensive print editions of papers are. (And they are expensive.) But there's some strong work being done in the alternative weeklies, many of which are free. We're all scanning the net for news and trying to stay informed. On this site, we're focusing on The New York Times daily.
But there are other news sources and hopefully, if anyone was unaware of these, we'll be more likely to check them out in the future. (And should the major dailies ever decide to charge people to view stories on the web, we may all be reading weeklies.)
Ideally, once a week, we'll highlight some of the stories from the weeklies. Feel free to send in something you'd like included or that you feel was overlooked. A big thanks to Billie for sending the article from the Fort Worth Weekly which kick started this idea.
Reaction to "In New York, Only Older Officers Pack the Old .38" by Michael Wilson is still coming in so I'll grab that as an excuse to wait another day. If you've read the article and want to weigh in you've got about seventeen hours. Or, to put that in simpler terms, I'll probably start working on it during the second hour of The Majority Report tomorrow.
Rachel Maddow & Lizz Winstead obviously do as well, they devoted a large segment to this on Unfiltered this morning. Lewis' has written a strong story so please check it out.
Mr. Gonzales, as White House counsel, oversaw the drafting of several confidential legal memorandums that critics said sanctioned the torture of terrorism suspects in Afghanistan and GuantÃ¡namo
A memorandum prepared under Mr. Gonzales's supervision by a legal task force concluded that Mr. Bush was not bound either by an international treaty prohibiting torture or by a federal antitorture law because he had the authority as commander in chief to approve any technique needed to protect the nation.
The memorandum also said that executive branch officials, including those in the military, could be immune from domestic and international prohibitions against torture for a variety of reasons, including a belief by interrogators that they were acting on orders from superiors "except where the conduct goes so far as to be patently unlawful." Another memorandum said
Mr. Hutson, who is dean and president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, N.H., said that Mr. Gonzales "was not thinking about the impact of his behavior on U.S. troops in this war and others to come."
"He was not thinking about
. . .
Brig. Gen. James Cullen, retired from the Army, said on Wednesday that he believed that in supervising the memorandums, Mr. Gonzales had purposely ignored the advice of lawyers whose views did not accord with the conclusions he sought, which was that there was some legal justification for illegal behavior.
"He went forum-shopping," General Cullen said, saying Mr. Gonzales had ignored the advice of military lawyers adamantly opposed to some of the legal strategies adopted, including narrowly defining torture so as to make it difficult to prove it occurred. "When you create these kinds of policies that can eventually be used against your own soldiers, when we say 'only follow the Geneva Conventions as much as it suits us,' when we take steps that the common man would understand is torture, this undermines what we are supposed to be, and many of us find it appalling," he said.
The other one is via Keesha and it's Douglas Jehl's A30 story "It's Planes vs. Satellites in Debate on Spying: Critics of Secret Program Say Aircraft Will Be More Effective" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/politics/16intel.html)
This article opens with the following:
An alternative to a new, highly classified $9.5 billion stealth satellite program that is the subject of a Congressional dispute calls on the
That alternative is part of a classified proposal endorsed by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which has tried since September 2003 to kill the new satellite program, the officials and experts said. The Senate panel has portrayed the program as too expensive and unnecessary, but backing from the House, the Bush administration and Congressional appropriators has sustained the program, which is designed to create a new generation of reconnaissance satellites that could orbit undetected.
Three other things.
1) Naomi Klein will be co-hosting The Majority Report with Sam Seder tonight (Thursday) on Air America.
2) The Times runs a correction today that effects last night's blog entry [see http://thecommonills.blogspot.com/2004/12/judith-regan-zellers-writing-for-times.html].
According to the correction, the story did run in Weds. print edition. I've gone through Weds.' paper again and can't find it but I must be missing it. (Unless it didn't make all editions of yesterday's papers.) My apologies for that.
The Times corrects the way in which they billed an unnamed source -- an "executive" should have been identified as that and not as "a real estate executive." We typed -- last night --"(That person is unnamed and identified as "the person who spoke to Mr. Kerik about the matter.")" so there's no need for last night's post to be edited for correction.
3) On the subject of Alberto Gonzales. Is there a reason Diane Clemens is ommitted from the coverage on him? Billie e-mailed asking that. Clemens was Gonzales' first wife (they divorced). Billie wasn't sure anyone would know -- she says she just wanted to "put that out there."
[Note this post is being edited to add to it the blog entry that has apparently just vanished. This entry was originally posted between this post and the blog entry before. I'm adding it below. ]
Allawi Can't Leave the Green Zone Without Protection; Macaca munzala; In China, workers take on Wal-Mart supplier; Rumsfeld facing criticism from his own party
Four stories that could have easily replaced the two weaks ones that made the front page of this morning's New York Times.
With most groups acknowledging that the insurgency will make it largely impossible to hold Western-style rallies, campaigning is expected to consist mainly of television pitches. That arena may favor Dr. Allawi, with easier access to the country's two main broadcast television channels, one of them government-operated and the other American-financed.
Dr. Allawi's campaign started on an unpropitious note, when American and Iraqi forces closed off sections of central Baghdad so he could leave the Green Zone and cross the Tigris River to declare his candidacy at a sports club. But Western reporters judged the three-mile journey to be too hazardous in the bus provided by Allawi aides, and remained behind.
Five hours later, he stood before fewer than 60 people, about half of whom were his own aides. With American bodyguards in flak jackets and cradling automatic weapons patrolling the club's auditorium, Dr. Allawi read a brief statement and returned hastily to the Green Zone.
Cornelia Dean's "Stocky Monkey in Himalayas Is a Shy Rarity: A New Species" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/science/16monkey.html) details the sighting of Macaca munzala ("or Arunachal macaque") which is news because:
Though new species of insects and other tiny creatures turn up frequently, discoveries of primate species unknown to science are far more unusual. The last macaque monkey species to be identified, the Indonesia Pagai macaque, was discovered in 1903, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the parent organization of the Bronx Zoo. The society was a supporter of the expeditions, this year and last, in which the monkeys were observed.
Howard W. French's "Workers Demand Union at Wal-Mart Supplier in China" (http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/16/international/asia/16china.html) details the struggle of "12,000 workers" in China as they attempt to take on a Wal-Mart supplier. Strong writing, strong topic:
Asked if they were afraid of losing their jobs, they scoffed at the idea, saying workers were in short supply in Shenzhen's vast manufacturing zone.
"If we were men, there would have been a strike a long time ago," one woman said. "Women are easier to bully, but we have hearts of steel."
"I think there are increasing concerns about the secretary's leadership of the war, the repeated failures to predict the strengths of the insurgency, the lack of essential safety equipment for our troops, the reluctance to expand the number of troops," Senator Susan Collins of Maine said Wednesday.
Ms. Collins, a member of the Armed Services Committee and a leader in the recent successful fight to pass a bill overhauling intelligence-gathering, over the objections of some in the Pentagon, added that "all of those are factors that are causing people to raise more questions to the secretary."
The sharp comments by Ms. Collins, together with other recent statements Senator John McCain of Arizona, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska and Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf, who led American forces in the Persian Gulf war in 1991 and, after his retirement, twice campaigned for President Bush, suggested that the ground might well be shifting a bit under Mr. Rumsfeld.
Mr. Rumsfeld has been the subject of criticism and the butt of jokes on late-night television since he answered a complaint by Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard about a lack of armor on vehicles bound for Iraq by asserting, "You go to war with the Army you have." But several Republican aides on Capitol Hill, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it was an op-ed article in The Washington Post on Wednesday by William Kristol that distilled the criticism. Mr. Kristol, the editor of The Weekly Standard, had long been one of the war's most ardent supporters among intellectuals, but he cast Mr. Rumsfeld's comments as part of a broader pattern of misjudgments and buck-passing and concluded that Mr. Rumsfeld was not up to winning the peace. "Surely Don Rumsfeld is not the defense secretary Bush should want to have for the remainder of his second term," he wrote. American soldiers "deserve a better defense secretary than the one we have."
Rachel Maddow just mentioned Common Cause on Unfiltered. The web site is http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=186966 and they're addressing the issue of the sort of revolving doors that lead Billy Tauzin from Congress to becoming the president of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
I'm not finding that issue but Comon Cause is worth checking out.