Friday, September 02, 2005

Other items

A British engineer and his interpreter were kidnapped, and three members of their armed escort were killed Wednesday when their convoy was ambushed in western Afghanistan, a local police official said Thursday.

The above is from "Convoy Hit in Afghanistan" (byline credits "THE NEW YORK TIMES") in this morning's New York Times.

"But the invasion of Iraq was a diversion from the core task of the pursuit and destruction of Al Qaeda," he said. "Indeed, the failure to prepare properly for the aftermath of invasion has left to a horrifying expansion of terrorist activity in Iraq. We must not make such a mistake again."

The quote above is from Alan Cowell's "Would-Be Tory Leader Attacks Both Blair and Bush Over Iraq" and is made by Kenneth Clarke. Pru e-mails "Heaven help us when Tory Clarke makes more sense than leadership in Labour. But, as with [Harold] Wilson before him, Blair will have arrived with promises in abundance and departed with no accomplishments."

Skip e-mails to note an Associated Press article entitled "Typhoon Hits Coastal China, 600K Evacuated:"

Nearly 600,000 people were evacuated as Typhoon Talim plowed into southern China on Thursday, forcing authorities to shut down schools, highways and airports, officials said.
The storm dipped to just below typhoon strength as it moved over land but it remained a powerful tropical storm with winds of 73 mph.

Eli e-mails to note this from Jennifer Bayot's "Economy Was Showing Strain Before Storm:"

Manufacturing was weakening in August, and consumers were going further into debt in July to maintain their spending, propping up retailers.
The Institute for Supply Management's manufacturing index was at 53.6 percent last month, down far more than expected and its lowest level since May.

Erika e-mails to note David D. Kirkpatrick's "Anxious Liberal Groups Try to Rally Opposition Against Supreme Court Nominee:"

In the past week, about 30 groups -- including the N.A.A.C.P., Naral Pro-Choice, the National Organization for Women, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and major Hispanic organizations like the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund -- formally and forcefully called on the Senate to reject Judge Roberts.
But as they scramble to rally grass-roots supporters in the days before the confirmation hearings and the month before the Senate is expected to vote, some opposition groups worried that their efforts had failed to pierce the din of concerns about rising gasoline prices, casualties in Iraq, and, most recently, the hurricane devastation in New Orleans.

Keesha e-mails to note Alison Leigh Cowan's "Hartford Libraries Watch as U.S. Makes Demands:"

Librarians from Stamford, Westport and Bridgeport were observers in the courtroom during an emergency hearing on Wednesday before Judge Janet C. Hall in Federal District Court in downtown Bridgeport as lawyers discussed objections to the nondisclosure order. There, Carlton Greene, a lawyer for the Justice Department in Washington, and Kevin J. O'Connor, the United States attorney for the district of Connecticut, defended the need for secrecy and other powers granted under the Patriot Act to aid in the investigation of terrorism.
Challenging every assertion was Ann Beeson, a lawyer for the civil liberties union. The judge is expected to issue her ruling on the order of silence within the next week.
Among the spectators that day was Alice Knapp, the president of the Connecticut Library Association; she is the director of public services for Stamford's Ferguson Library.
Ms. Knapp said the case provided some validation for librarians who had been complaining that the library provisions in the Patriot Act were a breach of privacy and could be invoked too easily. She said it rebutted comments by some supporters of the Patriot Act, who have said that librarians and their customers have little to fear from the act.
"Here, we have a case where it is, in fact, being used," she said, "and all of the things we were concerned about, about the right of our patrons to have privacy, are justified."

From "National Briefing" here are three items that Belinda, Alec and Jobi wanted noted:

BUSH APPOINTS JUSTICE OFFICIAL Bypassing the Senate, President Bush used a recess appointment on Wednesday to name Alice S. Fisher to lead the Justice Department's criminal division. She had been its No. 2 official. Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, had blocked the nomination until he received answers about claims of abusive interrogations at the United States detention center for terrorism suspects at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. (AP)

CALIFORNIA: SENATE APPROVES SAME-SEX MARRIAGES The State Senate approved legislation that would legalize same-sex marriages, a vote that makes the chamber the first in the country to approve such a bill. The 21-to-15 vote sets the stage for a showdown in the State Assembly, which narrowly rejected a same-sex marriage bill in June. After that bill was defeated, its provisions were added to another bill that had already passed the Assembly and was awaiting action in the Senate. It was that amended bill that the Senate approved and sent back to the Assembly. Same-sex marriages are legal in only one state, Massachusetts, under a 2003 court ruling. (AP)
CALIFORNIA: EX-BLACK PANTHER JAILED A former member of the Black Panther Party has been jailed for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the killings of two San Francisco police officers in a 1970 bomb explosion at a police station. The former Black Panther, Ray Michael Boudreaux, 62, and at least a dozen other people were subpoenaed and offered limited immunity in exchange for their testimony. When Mr. Boudreaux refused to testify, Judge Robert Dondero of San Francisco Superior Court, who is presiding over the grand jury proceedings, jailed him on contempt charges on Monday and ordered that he be held until he accepted the immunity deal. (AP)

Betty noted (at The Third Estate Sunday Review) that playwright August Wilson was dying of liver cancer. Mindy e-mails to note Jesse McKinley's "Theater Is to Be Renamed for a Dying Playwright:"

"I have a robust imagination, but I never imagined anything like this."
The words are those of August Wilson, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for drama, who next month will receive one of the great honors in American theater: his name affixed to the marquee of a Broadway theater.

Rocco Landesman, the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, which owns five Broadway theaters, said yesterday that his company would change the name of the Virginia Theater, at 245 West 52nd Street, to the August Wilson Theater. The new marquee, with a giant neon sign bearing the writer's signature, is to be unveiled on Oct. 17.
Mr. Wilson, 60, will be the first African-American for whom a Broadway theater is named. He will take his place beside such theatrical figures as the playwright Eugene O'Neill, the composer George Gershwin and the actress Helen Hayes.

Brenda e-mails to note Katha Pollitt's "Theocracy Lite" (The Nation):

So now we know what "noble cause" Cindy Sheehan's son died for in Iraq: Sharia. It's a good thing W stands for women, or I'd be worried. The new Constitution, drafted under heavy pressure from the Administration, sets aside the secular personal law under which Iraqis have lived for nearly half a century in favor of theocracy lite. "Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation," Article 2 begins--the spin is that this language is a victory because Islam is not the source. "(a) No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam." On the other hand, "(b) No law can be passed that contradicts the principles of democracy" and "(c) No law can be passed that contradicts the rights and basic freedoms outlined in this constitution"--as in, for example, Article 14: "Iraqis are equal before the law without discrimination because of sex," religion, ethnicity and so on.
There's enough right here to keep a conclave of political theorists busy for years. Equal before which law? How can women be equal before Islamic law, according to which they are unequal? How can a non-Muslim be equal in a Muslim state? Who decides which Islamic rules are undisputed and which are, well, disputable? As with our own multiple versions of Christianity, doesn't that depend on which imam is holding the Koran? And what happens when (a) (Islam) conflicts with (b) (democracy) or either (a) or (b)--or both--conflict with (c) (human rights)? Don't laugh, it could happen. Fortunately, the Constitution has come up with just the thing to settle those knotty questions--a Supreme Federal Court "made up of a number of judges and experts in Sharia (Islamic Law) and law." As prowar pundits are quick to remind us, it's a lot like our own Constitution--except for the official religion part, and that's not for lack of effort by Justice Scalia.

Kyle e-mails to note this "excellent commenatry" from Danny Schechter's News Dissector yesterday:

You sit there watching the TV reports and staring in disbelief and then you start boiling as disgraced former GOP House leader Robert Livingston on FOX ventilates his frustration by denouncing the looters--how could they?--That is what he seems most upset about in all the carnage....
Click. On MSNBC, there's a phone call from an aide in a State Hospital who reports that while the Tulane hospital across the street has been evacuated, no one has come to help the chronically sick people in his hospital.They are the poor. They are forgotten.
Click: Back to Fox: An articulate young doctor warns the worse is yet to come with public healh officials fearing that water-borne diseases can lead to an epidemic. What is being done about that? So far this next crisis is largely unreported!
Click. The Mayor was furious on Good Morning America denouncing the "friggin" people who let him and his city down by not fixing the levees and stopping the floods. Mayor disappointed was the graphic.
Click. Larry King is looking for good news in a story of the first baby being norn.
Click: On NBC , GE brings good things to life. At least one network is running a a prime time special. Brian Williams in shirtsleeves or Dateline.. Heartbreaking reports. People have no homes, no food. Are the other networks silent in prime time?
Cut to commerical for spicy shrimp. Yum. Flip the Dials: TV as usual, very different from the 9/11 no business as normal approach.

Kyle just watched Schechter's film ("incredible" is Kyle's one word description -- I'd agree) and wonders if we could note the review that ran at The Third Estate Sunday Review "Must see DVD: Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception:"

We're pushing another BuzzFlash premium, Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception which BuzzFlash is offering on DVD. This is the third time we've alerted you to a BuzzFlash premium (Anais Mitchell's CD Hymns for the Exiled and Robert Kane Pappas' DVD Orwell Rolls In His Grave). We get no money from BuzzFlash, we don't know anyone at BuzzFlash.
We do visit BuzzFlash and think it's a great site and one that's taken over the old slogan ("Give us five minutes, we'll give you the world") that broadcast media long shoved aside. When we reviewed Anais Mitchell's excellent CD and Robert Kane Pappas' moving documentary, we got e-mails from people expressing their disappointment that they didn't have the funds to purchase either. We're not trying to guilt trip anyone.
We decided upfront not to review any TV offering on cable because a lot of our readers don't have cable. We only review broadcast TV (and realize that some remote areas may not get all broadcast signals). When we review movies on DVD (like the current series we're doing on Jane Fonda's comedy roles), we make a point to avoid video rental stores and instead check out various local libraries (campus and public) for what we review.
We're college students on a budget so we do understand the economic crunch many of you are in. (Usually in a far worse crunch than we are.) We understand that the economy sucks and finds a new way to suck each day. (Though we keep being told hope is just around the corner. That's got to be the longest corner anyone's ever driven around.)
We're not telling you "Go to BuzzFlash right now and buy this product! You're kids braces can wait!" But while providing you with reviews that hopefully everyone can utilize, we also think there are certain things that need highlighting.
In the case of Anais Mitchell, if you read the review but weren't able to buy the CD, you know about Anais now. You know about the topics she writes, you saw some of her lyrics, you heard about her album. You know a voice is out there commenting on reality.
In the case of Robert Kane Pappas' Orwell Rolls In His Grave, even if you weren't able to buy the DVD, you know some of the criticicsms and points he makes in his film. You know that film is out there. You could even request that your library purchase a copy of it.
Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception is another film you need to know about. This isn't "bad Fox 'News!'" Fox "News" is hideous. But they're far from alone.
And if you got your coverage of the start up of the war from domestic TV, you got seriously f**ked up coverage. You didn't have to turn to Fox "News" for that because it was everywhere.
And this film examines that coverage.
It shows you how CNN broadcast one "reality" to American viewers and another to international viewers. You learn about how the embed process bonded reporters with the troops they traveled with and objectivity went out the window. Let's be really clear, reporters are supposed to cover what happens. You didn't see that.
Ashleigh Banfield was fired from MSNBC/NBC and it happened after a dry spell that appeared at the time to be imposed on her in retaliation for a speech she gave. (The Times chuckled about how she'd been "taken to the woodshed" for that speech by network honchos.) You get a sample of that speech in WMD.
What was Banfield's point? That you saw the bombs go off . . . from a great distance. It was fire power and shock and all that allowed for shock and jaw reporting. But you didn't see the damage of the bombs. You didn't see where they hit. The whole thing was like a video game with impressive explosions and no messy casualities to confront you with reality.
You get more in the film including footage of the attack on the the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad. That includes footage that demonstrates there was no attack on a US tank that prompted the tank's firing at the hotel. But the hotel was occupied by unembbeded journalists.Footage you didn't see on your TV. Including the bloody aftermath. And we don't mean, "You didn't see it on Fox!" We mean that you didn't see it anywhere.
Was it an accident as the Pentagon claims? If you haven't seen the footage you may believe it was. If you've seen the footage, you'll doubt that. The attacks on journalists in Iraq were not infrequent and Schechter's film explores that. The same topic that Eason Jordan spoke on at a conference. The topic that, when his remarks leaked out, he ended up leaving CNN over.
You'll learn about the silencing of dissent, the muzzling and manipulation of thought. This is an important film to see.
The film addresses the need to restore democracy to the airwaves. Is that a topic we shouldn't all be interested in?
There is strong footage and strong criticism in this film. And Schechter has a strong and steady touch throughout. With most of us hungover from too much infotainment and not enough real news, Schechter wisely decides to start the film presenting himself as a dazed victim of shock and jaw. It's a wonderful decision to open the film and engage the viewer.
It's a film you need to share with friends and pass on. If you're unable to purchase the film, we think it's still one you should be aware is out there. Something to toss in at the mythical water cooler, if nothing else. But if you're able to afford the DVD, this is one you should check out.

Two notes. 1) BuzzFlash changes premiums quickly (so if they have something you want right now, you should order it). Weapons of Mass Deception can be ordered online by clicking here.
2) Disclosure, I helped with the review above. It's a great film. Take The Third Estate Sunday Review's word for it or take Kyle's word for it, but if you still haven't seen it, you're missing an incredible movie.

Kara wanted the Dateline review Ava and I did ("Datline New York . . . Warm Fuzzy") Sunday posted here and all week long I've run out of time. This morning, same story. But it will go up Sunday (to pad out the morning's entry if I'm tired) or Monday. In the meantime, Mike (Mikey Likes It!) interviewed Jess (The Third Estate Sunday Review) Wednesday in case you missed it.


And watch [Katrina] vanden Heuvel TOMORROW morning, Friday, on CSPAN's Washington Journal at 9:00am taking viewer questions on Hurricane Katrina, Iraq and other topical issues. The program airs at different times nationwide so check local listsings or the website below for confirmation.

Click here to watch live online.

The e-mail address for this site is