Saturday, May 14, 2005

A Winding Road, Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat's Korner, Ruth's Morning Edition Report . . .

Just a reminder for things I would have called the community's attention to if I'd been posting yesterday afternoon, evening or night.

Over at A Winding Road, Folding Star addressed "An Uprising in Uzbekistan:"

If you hadn't heard, thousands of Uzbek citizens rose up in protest against the authoritarian rule in their country and stormed a prison, releasing many of the prisoners inside, whom they regard as political prisoners. Troops attacked the protesters, resulting in a violent, bloody scene.

Like many people, I read the news of an uprising in Uzbekistan and I really don't have the first clue as to the history of it. The articles all give you a quick sketch- former Soviet Republic, bordering Afghanistan, same man in power since 1991, etc. Only hints at why people might be moved to protest in the first place, let alone storm a prison.

Many also mention what a key ally the country and its President- Islam Karimov- have been to the United States, offering the use of bases immediately after the attacks of September 11th, bases that obviously came in handy, and no doubt continue to do so, in the US's invasion of Afghanistan.

I've taken a crash course in Uzbekistan today, and what I've learned is that the articles don't stress that those bases are being offered by dictator in a country that, for all it's Democratic trappings, is essentially a brutal police state. Moving beyond the press reports, it quickly becomes all too apparent that the protesters have quite a lot to protest against.Karimov has set himself up in a way that Saddam Hussein would find all too familiar. Yet while the United States went to great lengths to remove one dictator, they're frightfully cozy with another when it suits their purposes. What a shock!

Karimov has held on to power since 1991 through two referendums that are widely viewed to have been fraudulent. Though the country has the trappings of Democracy- division of powers, the right to freedom of speech-, it's all just on paper. It reality, the President holds all the power, with a nearly powerless Judiciary and a Legislative branch that only meets a few times a year, with no real power to effect changes in the law.

Karimov has cracked down on political dissent, sending some opponents fleeing the country and imprisoning many others. Many are also imprisoned for religious beliefs, since only state sponsored Islam is allowed to be practiced. Much of this cracking down on dissent is done under the guise of fighting Islamic extremism.The country is a Human Rights nightmare. Just last year, the British Ambassador, Craig Murray, came forward with the allegation that dissidents and political prisoners were being subjected to extreme torture. What's more, Murray alleged that countries like the United States and Britain, far from opposing these methods, were taking advantage of them by benefiting from the information gained during these torture sessions, even moving prisoners there specifically for that purpose.

The picture in Uzbekistan is bleak. Trials that are no more than public farces sentence anyone who dares oppose the country's President to torture, imprisonment, and death.

In the face of all of that, the protestors who stormed the prison yesterday clearly knew they were taking their own lives in their hands, in more sense than one.

Over at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Rebecca offered a mini-review of Monster-in-Law:

jane fonda is hilarious in monster-in-law. i saw it this afternoon with some friends and will be see it again this evening with some more friends. don't believe the bullsh**ters, it's f**king funny. you'll laugh your ass off. the theater this afternoon was packed and everyone was laughing like crazy. there's not a bad performance in the entire cast.
jennifer lopez has never been better. jane fonda and wanda sykes make a hilarious team riffing off 1 another.
[. . .]
see the movie. it's hilarious. jane fonda is amazing. and i'm seeing now why ava and c.i. highlighted things in their reviews of 9 to 5 and their reviews of the electric horseman. they had bulls**t critics nailed and they prepared you for the bulls**t that was coming down the pike out of the droll mouths of idiots who review movies for the new yorker and entertainment weekly.

I'm still going through the e-mails playing catch up (and apologies to Luke, all of your e-mails this week went into the bulk e-mail folder for some reason and I've just checked that this morning). But Ava said that a number of e-mails have noted what Rebecca does so we may or may not work on something for The Third Estate Sunday Review about that.

Speaking of The Third Estate Sunday Review, before their next edition goes up, let me note that there's a great article on Ruth from this past Sunday. Members who haven't yet checked out that edition would probably also be interested in their editorial regarding PBS & NPR.

I think everyone saw Ruth's latest Ruth's Morning Edition Report (but I'll provide the link just in case anyone missed it). There were two questions regarding Ruth's contributions. The first was about it's appearence. I once posted her commentary at night and there were complaints from some that they'd prefer it go up in the morning which we've done. (It will not go the morning the segment airs because there would be no links for it.) The second question was regarding a translation of the Yiddish words. When Francisco adds some Spanish words to his comments posted here or Ruth adds Yiddish (or any member adds anything), if you don't know them but are curious, look them up. I'm glad members are comfortable speaking in the way they naturally speak when they offer something to the community and I'm not going to request that they footnote. If you don't know the word and can determine the meaning via a contextual analysis, look it up.

Kat's Kat's Korner last night was the last post for the night so I'm assuming most people saw it but I love Judy Collins Portrait of an American Girl and we all love Kat, so I'll note the link to it.
I'll also say thank you to Kat who wrote an early version of the review earlier in the week but agreed to hold it until Friday (and pretty much reworked it) so that the community would have something while I was out of pocket. As always, Kat's contributions are appreciated and enjoyed.

For those wondering, Isaiah will have a new illustration for the community that will go up this Sunday. (And the last I heard, I was out of pocket for almost all of yesterday, The Third Estate Sunday Review intends to do an article on him in their upcoming edition.) Whether it's a stand alone drawing or part of his series The World Today: Just Nuts, members (including myself) are greatly enjoying his contributions so thank you to Isaiah.

And we'll close by noting Betty has new post up at her site Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man that's entitled "8 Days on the road to hell and heartland." Due to one of her kids getting sick, Betty's not been able to post for eight days. Instead of playing catch up, she's explained the absence by having "Betinna" travel with her "husband" Thomas Friedman on his book tour during the last eight days. We'll note the first two paragraphs of Betty's latest (and hopefully won't spoil anything in doing so):

For the last eight days, I've been in every flea ridden, cheap motel room you can imagine. The kind of rooms where the glasses, plastic, in the bathroom have spots on them even before you take them out of the plastic. My husband Thomas Friedman's latest book isn't doing as well as it should be doing or as well as he expected it to be doing. So we've gone from one city to another, with him doing multiple signings in each city. The crowds have been rather sparse. In fact, only my husband Thomas Friedman refers to them as "crowds."
I refer them to as "couples" and the occasional "threesome." Or rather I did until I noticed how the latter got Thomas Friedman's bushy eyebrows wagging. As if his libido needs any more excitement right now. Most night's it's like he's snorting or mainlining Viagra. I don't mind all that much, the five to six minutes give me a period to reflect and organize my plans for the next day. Right about the time that he's crying out, "Gut check time!" I've finished my personal inventory.

The plan is for additional posts throughout the day but, as John Lennon once sang, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."*

The e-mail address for this site is

*"Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)," word and music by John Lennon, originally appeared on John Lennon & Yoko Ono's Double Fantasy. It's been on many collections since including The John Lennon Collection.