Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Democracy Now: Rachel Corrie's parents, Chris McGreal; Marian W. Edelman, John H. Johnson, Greg Moses & Rita J. King on Cindy Sheehan

At Least 43 Died in Morning Bombings in Baghdad
In Iraq, at least 43 people died this morning when three car bombs exploded during rush-hour in Baghdad. Officials said another 76 people were wounded. Two of the bombs targeted one of the city's main bus stations. A third bomb exploded outside a nearby hospital. Meanwhile the Independent newspaper of London is reporting that the eleven hundred dead Iraqi civilians were counted last month at the Baghdad morgue. That is the highest toll in recent history.

Haitian Priest Gerard Jean-Juste Collapses in Jail
In Haiti, the jailed Catholic priest Gerard Jean-Juste has reportedly almost died after collapsing in his cell on Sunday. Jean Juste's attorney Bill Quigley reported this after visiting Jean-Juste on Tuesday. Jean-Juste is one of Haiti's most prominent supporters of the ousted president Jean Bertrand Aristide. He has been in jail since July 21 but has not yet been charged with a crime.

43 Arrested at Coke Protests in India
In India, police have arrested 43 people during a protest march outside a Coca Cola factory. Organizers reported four activists were hospitalized with severe head injuries after police charged the demonstrators with batons. Coke has faced widespread protests throughout India. "Basically the issues are that Coca Cola is extracting too much groundwater from the groundwater resource and it's leaving the communities without any water all across India," said Amit Shirvasli of the India Resource Center. "And the pressure on Coca Cola company continues to grow in India and it's become one of the most formidable community-led campaigns in the world today." The Coke protest on Monday came on India's 58th anniversary of independence from British rule.

The above are from this morning's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Brady, Charlie and  AbhilashaDemocracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says)
Headlines for August 17, 2005

- Israeli Troops Begin Forced Evacuation of Gaza
- At Least 43 Died in Morning Bombings in Baghdad
- Anti-War Camp in Crawford Texas Vandalized
- Report: UK Police Lied About Shooting of Innocent Man
- Pentagon Analyst & AIPAC Lobbyists Plead Innocent in Spy Case
- Haitian Priest Gerard Jean-Juste Collapses in Jail
- Bush Administration Attempts To Remove Judge in Indian Case
Israel Begins Forced Removal of Jewish Settlers From Gaza as Deadline Expires

Israeli troops began the forced evacuation of thousands of Jewish settlers from the Gaza strip Wednesday after a deadline for them to leave expired last night. We go to Gaza to speak with Chris McGreal, correspondent with the London Guardian, who reports from the settlement of Neve Dekalim.
As Unarmed IDF Soldiers Evacuate Settlers, A Look at the Israeli Bulldozing of the Palestinian Home that Killed Rachel Corrie

As the Israeli pays millions of dollars to Gaza settlers and prepares to demolish their homes after the evacuation, we look back at another home demolition that came with no compensation. American activist Rachel Corrie was crushed by an Israeli military bulldozer as she tried to protect a Palestinian home. We speak with the family that lived in that home and Rachel Corrie's mother.
Debate on Gaza Withdrawal: Palestinian Sociologist vs. the Zionist Organization of America

As Israeli troops began the forced evacuation of thousands of Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip, we host a debate between Morton Klein, the head of the Zionist Organization of America and Rabab Abdulhadi, the head of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn.
Mia e-mails to note Marian W. Edelman's "Where Are the Leaders" (The Chicago Defender):

A lot of people spend a lot of time slamming young people. Many ask: Where are the new young leaders? When are young people going to think about and do something for somebody other than themselves?

Well, I want to turn that question about young people back to the adults. Where are the adults who are mentoring and providing visible and sustained examples of doing something for somebody other than themselves? What lessons are we teaching the next generation about what is important through our lifestyles? Are we showing them by our lives that it is important to get as much as we can for ourselves--the biggest car, house and flashiest clothes--or to share as much as we can with those left behind? Are we standing up for children and young people when those in power assault their health and education and after-school funding, or are we mute when those who are supposed to educate them, provide them care, or rescue them from neglectful and abusive families also neglect, abuse and mis-educate them? 


[Note: We'll also include this: " For more information about how you can begin to engage youths in purposeful advocacy and service for themselves and other children, call 202-662-3502 or visit our Web site at It’s time to stand up for our children and to teach them to stand up for themselves."]

We'll note Jesse Jackson's "Johnson Built Empire That Inspired" (Chicago Sun-Times) on John H. Johnson:
The magazines provided blacks with reports of success: of black writers, athletes, leaders, poets, scientists, artists, actors and actresses, businessmen and women. "We wanted to give blacks a sense of sombodiness," Johnson said, "a new sense of self-respect. We wanted to tell them who they were and what they could do." Across America, African Americans eagerly awaited the next issue of Ebony and Jet. They proudly displayed them on their coffee tables. Ebony and Jet were used as supplementary textbooks in many black schools.

Johnson literally transformed the way we saw ourselves, and in doing so, empowered us. He challenged over three centuries of oppression. He showed we had the potential to be what we wanted to be. That, in turn, made the shackles of segregation unbearable. Having created the kindling for the civil rights movement, Johnson helped create the spark in 1955, when Jet published the photo of Chicago teenager Emmett Till's battered face after he was lynched in Mississippi.

Johnson also exposed a market that none believed was there. For 10 years, he sent a salesman to Detroit until finally the auto companies realized it was worth advertising with black models in his publications.

As his fortune grew, so did Johnson's contribution to his people. He created the Ebony Fashion Fair, with gorgeous African-American models displaying the most modern fashions to an appreciative and growing black middle-class. He contributed all of the money generated by these profitable shows to the United Negro College Fund, donating more than $50 million in scholarships to African Americans. Unlike so many, he used his fortune to help give others a helping hand up.

Connie e-mails to note syndicated columnist Leonard Pitts' "Why Ebony? To Tell Stories of Black Success" (Chicago Tribune)

Why is there an Ebony? The short answer is that Johnson created it, taking out a $500 loan secured by his mother's furniture to start his publishing company in 1942. Ebony came out in '45 with an initial press run of 25,000. Sixty years later, it claims monthly circulation of 1.6 million.

As I said, that's the short answer. To understand the long answer, you have to understand 1945. A black man named Jesse James Payne was lynched that year in Florida. A thousand white students walked out of schools in Gary, Ind., rather than integrate. Jackie Robinson joined a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team.

It was, in other words, just another year in that strange half-life between free and not-free where African-Americans had existed since the Civil War--a little progress, a little pain and a whole lot of invisibility. Black life, black striving and black aspiration were conspicuous by their absence from the nation's newspapers and magazines. As far as mainstream media were concerned, the only blacks who existed were "hulking negro brutes" (they were always hulking, and "Negro" was always lowercase) who were forever preying on virginal white women.

For black people, mainstream media were mind poison. Ebony--and the newsweekly Jet, which came along in '51--was an antidote. It emphasized black upward mobility and mainstream success, its stories always illustrated by carefully posed photos of Negroes Doing Well.

Connie also notes James Janega and Charles Storch's "Saluting Pioneer Publisher John H. Johnson" (Chicago Tribune):
In the chapel behind Johnson's casket sat the silver-robed members of the Sanctuary Choir of the Apostolic Church of God, whose songs carried mourners through grief and then filled the chapel with uplifting crescendos.

A single theme wove through the service: At a time when America viewed blacks in negative stereotypes, Johnson forced the country to see them as achievers.

[. . .]

"He put a human face on African people. He changed the face of American journalism," [Jesse] Jackson said. "The media projected us as less intelligent than we were, less hardworking, less patriotic, more volatile, less worthy. But John Johnson affirmed us with a clear mirror and clear water. We were not ugly, the water was dirty, and the dirty mirror gave distorted images of who we really were."

We'll also note Jason George's  "Mourners Reflect On Inspiration" (Chicago Tribune):

Business leaders and media giants paid their respects Sunday to the Chicagoan and creator of Ebony and Jet magazines, but it was the hundreds, if not thousands, of everyday people who waited up to an hour and lined outside Johnson Publishing Co. at 820 S. Michigan Ave. to say goodbye. Johnson, 87, died Aug. 8 of heart failure.

With gray-gloved honor guards, the visitation appeared nothing short of a state funeral--an appropriate comparison for a man who created his own empire that circumvented long-established barriers in society.

Laid out wearing his characteristic ebony red tie, Johnson's body was in a casket draped and surrounded by 1,500 red roses on the buffed travertine lobby floor at the headquarters of Johnson's domain, which extended beyond television and print into cosmetics and fashion.

Howell arrived at 10:30 a.m. Sunday, early enough to make him the first person in line for the 2 to 7 p.m. public visitation. And as he sketched a pencil portrait of Johnson, Howell told of how the man from Arkansas City, Ark., became a driving force in his life.

Born in a house on Chicago Avenue in 1951, Howell grew up in the Cabrini-Green housing project as the son of a truck driver who made the same South-to-Chicago Great Migration that Johnson did with his mother in the 1930s.

It was not an easy life, he said, but running to the newsstand every week for his copy of Jet became an activity he looked forward to.

He'd dog-ear pages featuring articles about African-American professionals. He'd highlight others from the civil rights struggle.

In the end, the magazine, with its various bookmarks, took on the appearance of a family Bible, which it was in a way, he said.

It was a manual for how to live right.

"I thought it was real wonderful what he did for us as a people. He gave us the idea that you can do something," he said. "We've got lawyers out of Cabrini-Green. We've got men in the Navy in charge of big ships.

"I think it's still possible to do something good. He's the proof."
Brenda e-mails to note an Associated Press story posted at CBS' web site and entitled "John Johnson: Imprint on History:"
The funeral had lighter moments as well - such as when a friend of the family reminisced about Johnson's love of bubble gum ice cream, and broadcaster Tom Joyner's frustration at never being able to catch his former boss out of a suit and tie - even on weekends.

When Johnson's casket - covered in red roses - was taken out of the church, the orchestra played the jazz classic "Take the 'A' Train."

Johnson is survived by his wife, Eunice, a daughter, Linda Johnson Rice, president of Johnson Publishing Company Inc., and a granddaughter, Alexa Rice.

"John, your legacy will never die," said former President Clinton. "It lives on because you became great by showing the greatness and the goodness in others."
CNN also makes do with an Associated Press story, this one entitled "Hundreds Remember Pioneering Publisher John Johnson:"
"I never saw pictures of black people portrayed in a positive vein -- of young black people going to college or buying homes -- until I bought an Ebony magazine," said Zakiyyah Muhammad of Chicago, who remembers buying her first issue in 1959.
And in what Donita calls the "Suck on it Howie" pull quotes, we'll note "John H. Johnson 1918-2005" from Johnson Publishing Company:
In 1972, Johnson was named Publisher of the Year by the Magazine Publishers Association. In 1974, the National Newspaper Publishers Association named him the "Most Outstanding Black Publisher in History." In 2003, Baylor University named him the "The Greatest Minority Entrepreneur in U.S. History." In that same year, Howard University named its communications school the John H. Johnson School of Communications.
In 1995, on the 50th anniversary of the founding of EBONY magazine, the publisher received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton, who said Johnson gave "African-Americans a voice and a face, in his words, 'a new sense of somebody-ness,' of who they were and what they could do, at a time when they were virtually invisible in mainstream American culture."

Johnson's business acumen and commitment to the community won him directorship of major American corporations. He served first on the board of Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation and later on the boards of companies such as VIAD, Chrysler, Zenith, Conrail, Bell & Howell, Continental Bank, and Dillard Department Stores. He served as a trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, the UNCF and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Johnson is credited as one of the trailblazers in business and international media and is acknowledged as the first entrepreneur to recognize the colossal buying power of Black America.

"He virtually invented the Black Consumer Market," says historian Lerone Bennett Jr., EBONY executive editor emeritus. "And he almost single-handedly created the foundations--the stratum of Black writers, photographers advertising and circulation specialists--for the Black magazines and Black media stars of today."

Donita: Suck on it Howie Kurtz.
Trey e-mails to note Greg Moses "Mona in a Field of Crosses, at Camp Casey, Texas" (CounterPunch):

"Every voice that comes behind Cindy Sheehan sparks a new voice, and someone else stands up. Someone else is not afraid anymore." Mona is speaking from the back seat of a Camp Casey shuttle as the Texas prairie speeds past. Today Mona is not afraid what the President will think. But she is worried to death about her son, who is headed for Iraq next month. Mona's anti-war movement is on a tight schedule indeed. Even the national protests scheduled for Sept. 24-26 in D.C. may be too late.

"I was on Air America earlier this week," says Mona, answering to the usual round of "where you from?" She called the radio station from Ohio to defend Cindy Sheehan's protest action, and someone asked her if she was planning to go. "Well, if I can arrange it, I'll go," Mona recalls. After she hung up, the station got calls. Someone offered a plane ticket from Ohio to Texas. Another offered the rent car. "So I'm here for at least a week, but I can always just turn in the rent car and stay longer."

As we debark the shuttle on a recent afternoon, Deputy Kolinek from the McLennan County Sheriff's Department is looking jovial. "You've got a question written all over your face," says the khaki starched Kolinek to a t-shirt clad protester. "What is it?" As Kolinek listens to the question, a woman hands the deputy a chilled bottle of water which he opens right away.

A mist of cool water hits me in the face. It's Fran, one of my traveling hosts. She has grabbed this delightful contraption from a CodePink bag of tricks. It's a spray-gun mini-fan combo in bright plastic colors. All I can say is "do it again!" Days out here are like this. Juxtapositions of worry and joy, anger and delight, water and tears.

Shirely checked out Ruminations on America, which is a site run by journalist Rita J. King, and notes this entry "Cindy Sheehan and the Mainstream Media:"

Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin has sealed her fate by referring to Cindy Sheehan as a "grief pimp," and talking head Bill O'Reilly has once again made it clear that he has a limited understanding of democratic freedom by accusing her of behavior that borders on treason. May they never lose a child.

Freedom, as Janis Joplin once sang so passionately, is just another word for nothing left to lose. Cindy Sheehan, by that definition, is free, and that makes her dangerous to those who want to paint an illusion of liberty while ostensibly sending our young people to die, and to kill, in the name of preserving our "freedom" and spreading it to the Middle East.

Cindy Sheehan might well be the catalyst that shakes off the stupifying apathy and blind acceptance of lies riddling our culture. The anti-Vietnam protests didn't start with that war, either. So far, those who are willing to exploit the grief and pain of 9/11 to fatten corporate coffers haven't met their match because too many Americans have become convinced that it is unpatriotic to express dissent, when in fact that is the very backbone of democracy.

Let me do a quick note (I put it in last night's entry but ended up not posting that because it didn't seem complete -- it'll go up tonight).  Thanks to Ava (always but for posting yesterday's mid-day entry that wouldn't hit the site via e-mail).  And Mike interviews Dona (Third Estate Sunday Review) at his site Mikey Likes It! today.

And before I forget, let me note Cedric's latest at Cedric's Big Mix:
Before getting into anything else, I want to talk about the four guys at the retirement home that I'm now visiting twice a week.  As readers know, this started because my preacher wanted us to be reaching out to people in our church.  If you have a place of worship, you may notice that some people come in and they've been coming for years.  My preacher was concerned that some people, due to age or handicaps, didn't get the attention that they should.  He also spoke of how we had groups that knew each other and supported each other within the congregation but we needed to reach beyond those groups and support the entire congregation.

When he first addressed the issue, I was one of the few people under forty who agreed to assist.  There's a group of twins, 26, that are now taking part too.  But still there's not a lot of committment from the younger congregation members.  I get asked questions like,  "But it's weird, right, talking to those old guys?" 

It's not weird at all.  I've probably had better conversations and more fun talking to them than most of my conversations since I started doing this.  I've also found out that one of the men isn't just sick with a cold.  I'm pretty sure my preacher knew that and that might be part of why he wanted us to get out and make real efforts.  When this man passes, the group will be down to three.  They're already isolated because they have very little family that lives remotely near.  They get on the bus each Sunday morning to attend church and the rest of the time they're pretty much at the retirement home where they at least have each other. 

But I keep thinking about how we are all in groups and we get our support and feedback and acknowledgements from that set of peers.  Probably thirty years ago, this group of men were part of a larger group in the congregation.  Illness and age and mobility has decreased the size of their group and now it's down to four.  I don't know why it is that we all carve out our places to sit, we all have the pews we've got to sit in and the nods and hellos we make a point to always do. 

Some of us will get married and/or have kids and some of us won't but having kids doesn't mean you're set in old age in terms of not being left alone.  One of the guys has six kids.  They visit at holidays for a few hours.  One son, who lives in another state, calls twice a month and his daughter writes him regularly.  But I don't think that's how, when he was my age, he saw his old age - kids keeping in touch via phone and mail, living in a retirement home.

These guys are great guys and I don't want to make it sound like they sit around staring at paint peeling.  Just the four of them together is filled with loud laughter and warm memories.  But this isn't how they saw their later years. 

That's not something that came up at the start of this.  It's nothing I asked about it.  But it is something that they now bring up in a sentence here or there now that they know I'm coming by at least twice a week. 

I go to a big church but I always thought we were a pretty tight group that really knew each other.  So I could let doing my part slide.  If I saw guys their age I'd just assume that there were other people at the church that really knew them and were stopping by and checking on them and just go about my business.  But that's really not been the case and that's what others are finding out if they're taking part in this.

If you don't go to church then think of it as your neighborhood.  What I'm getting at is that there are a lot of connections that we could be making with one another but aren't.  If you need a "self" reason for thinking about this and maybe doing something, here it is, that could be you.  You can have six kids, you can have a ton of friends, but as time progresses, things get thinned out.
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