Friday, October 14, 2005

Democracy Now: Michael Eric Dyson, Russell Simmons, Larry Hamm, Julianne Malveaux; Margaret Kimberley,

Apparently, we need a little house cleaning.
First of all we'll start with Rod because a) he is a member and b) he didn't complain.
Rod wrote this morning to note Amy Goodman's Un-embed the Media tour.  Here are appearances for tomorrow and Sunday:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Sat, Oct 15
NewLife Expo
New Yorker Hotel
34th St. and 8th Ave.
New York, NY
Keynote speech
For tickets and more information, visit:

* Amy Goodman in New York, NY:
Sun, Oct 16
2005 Annual Fall Party
Dos Pueblos:
NY-Tipitapa (Nicaragua) Sister City Project
503 West 120 Street (between Amsterdam Avenue and Broadway)
New York, NY
Music by John Fisher, Jim Rogers, and Ben Silver
For more information:
(mail) Dos Pueblos, 2565 Broadway, #173; New York, NY 10025
This morning was ringing phones and madness so this got overlooked.  My apologies to Rod.
Where next? Let's deal with morning calls while I was attempting to do this morning's entries.
One thing taking up time this morning was in the Times.  A number of friends called feeling that Dean E. Murphy short changed Warren Beatty in a front page story.  I agree.  You're talking about a lifetime of activism and committment and Deanie (again, am I the only one who thinks Splendor in the Grass due to that byline?) can't recognize it.  But that's the issue with the Times.  If this were Bill Gates, they would have bent over backwards to list everything.  They don't grasp the way the entertainment industry works or that their slight (if they even grasp it) of Beatty today will cause problems.  (And should.  There's no excuse for it.)  It's their grave, they're just determined to dig it deeper and deeper. 
There was a second topic of this morning's calls.  I need something confirmed on that so we'll postpone it for now.
Jess was dealing with the public e-mail account today.  He advises me that apparently not everyone reads well.  So I guess I need to speak very slowly.
If someone else writes something about you and you are unhappy, take it up with them.
If there's something up at this site (The Common Ills), you can gripe all you want.  But I have no interest in your whining about something someone else posted somewhere else.  I'm not responsible for it.
That seems pretty clear to me.  It seems clear to Jess.  But it's not clear to someone who writes today.  (Or late yesterday -- Jess found it this morning in the public e-mail account.)
One more time, if someone writes something that offends you or hurts your feelings, if I didn't write it, it's not my concern.  Use the e-mail option at the site you read and respond to that person via e-mail.
Antiwar Playwright Wins Nobel Prize for Literature
An Antiwar British playwright has won the 2005 Nobel Prize for literature. Harold Pinter is known for his activism and writing against the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. He has called British Prime Minister Tony Blair a "deluded idiot" and President Bush a "mass murderer."
Civil Rights Activist Vivian Jones Dies
Vivian Malone Jones has died. She is best known for being one of two African-American students who challenged segregation in Alabama with their effort to enroll at the state University in 1963. The move led to then-Gov. Wallace's infamous stand in defiance of orders to admit black students. Jones and James Hood, accompanied by a Deputy U.S. Attorney General enrolled after Wallace finished his statement and left. Jones went on to become the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama. She died at the age of 63.
Bush Approval at All-time Low--2% Among African-Americans
Meanwhile, the latest poll on President Bush shows what some analysts are saying may turn out to be one of the biggest free-falls in the history of presidential polling. According to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, Bush's job-approval rating among African Americans has dropped to 2 percent. That drop is thought to be key in Bush's overall approval ratings falling to an all-time low of 39 percent. A few months after 9/11, the NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found Bush's approval rating among Blacks at 51 percent. As recently as six months ago, it was at 19 percent. The latest numbers are attributed in part to the government's handling of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. The poll also found that just 29 percent of people think Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers is qualified to serve on the nation's highest court.
The above three items are from Democracy Now!'s Headlines and were selected by Liang, Amanda and Brady.
Headlines for October 14, 2005

- Bush Videoconference With Troops Staged
- McClellan Says Helen Thomas Against War on Terror
- Bush Approval at All-time Low
- Russia Raids Kill Scores
- Antiwar Playwright Wins Nobel Prize for Literature
- New Spy Agency in US
- Jeb Bush Promotes Judge From 2000 Recount
- Civil Rights Activist Vivian Jones Dies
Russell Simmons, Larry Hamm and Julianne Malveaux on the Millions More Movement

Ten years after the Million Man march, the Millions More Movement is heading to Washington DC. This time around the event is open to women and is supported by a broad coalition of groups. We speak with grassroots organizer Larry Hamm, economist Julianne Malveaux and Russell Simmons, founder of Hip Hop label Def Jam records. [includes rush transcript - partial]
Professor Preacher Michael Eric Dyson on the State of the Country: "Some of Us are In First Class, But The Plane Is In Trouble"

We play an address by professor and preacher Michael Eric Dyson speaking at the first annual Unvarnished Truth Awards in Washington D.C. Dyson says, "If you're in the plane, being in first class ain't going to stop you from going down with the rest of us. When there is turbulence, there is turbulence everywhere. Everybody be shaking. If that plane goes down, you might die first in first class. Yes, some of us are in first class, but the plane is in trouble."
Keesha e-mails to note Margaret Kimberley's "Porn in High Places" (The Black Commentator):

Occupations are inherently oppressive. You can't take over someone else's country without breaking bodies, homes and dignity. We saw a brief glimpse of the humiliation and violence waged against Iraqis when photos of abuse and death at Abu Ghraib prison were first made public. As awful as those images were, there are more to come that are apparently much, much worse.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued the federal government to force the release of an additional 87 photographs and 4 videos. The feds took the position that the images will ruin America's image abroad and increase the likelihood of terror attacks. That is quite an admission of guilt.

It has been reported that these new photos may depict the sexual abuse of women and minors. If that is true it will be further proof that the U.S. is in fact the infidel, the great Satan and anything else that will cause aggrieved people to want to kill us all.

Speaking of photos and Iraq, the mixture of violence and sex recently exposed yet another incident that goes under the heading of "scandals that should have been but were swept under the rug." A patriotic porn meister offered access to his web site to anyone who submitted photographic evidence of military service in Iraq or Afghanistan. Some soldiers sent humdrum shots of Baghdad while others felt compelled to use gruesome images of bodies blown to bits.

Billie e-mails to note that The Progressive has posted an interview with Harold Pinter from 2001.  Here's an excerpt of "Harold Pinter Interview" by Anne-Marie Cusac:

Question: Early on, you didn't talk about some of your plays, like The Birthday Party, The Dumb Waiter, or The Hothouse, as political. But more recently you've started to talk about them that way. Why?

Harold Pinter: Well, they were political. I was aware that they were political, too. But at that time, at whatever age I was--in my twenties--I was not a joiner. I had been a conscientious objector, you know, when I was eighteen. But I was a pretty independent young man, and I didn't want to get up on a soapbox. I wanted to let the plays speak for themselves, and if people didn't get it, to hell with it.

Q: Did you feel that if you got up on a soapbox it would take away from the art?

Pinter: Yeah, I thought it would, really. As I said, I thought the plays would speak for themselves. But they didn't.

Q: What was your experience like as a conscientious objector?

Pinter: I was quite resolute. This was 1948, I remind you. And I was simply not, absolutely not, going to join the army. Because I had seen the Cold War beginning before the hot war was over. I knew the atom bomb had been a warning to the Soviet Union. I had two tribunals and two trials. I was prepared to go to prison. I was eighteen. It was a civil offense, you know, not a criminal offense. I had the same magistrate at both trials, and he fined me twice. My father had to find the money, which was a lot of money at the time, but he did. But I took my toothbrush with me to court both times. I was prepared to go to prison.

And I haven't changed a bit, I have to say.

Q: And your family?

Pinter: They were very upset by it. My God, yes. I mean it was a disgrace. But they stood by me, nevertheless. You know, in those days, one did what one was told. This was national service; it was conscription. And that was that. You went into the army.

Q: What changed your way of approaching your plays?

Pinter: I changed myself. I became less and less reticent about saying what I felt, and therefore I was able to talk about the plays in a slightly different way, too.

I really did have a great jolt in 1973, when the Pinochet coup overthrew Allende. It really knocked me, as they say, for six. I was appalled and disgusted by it. And I knew how the CIA and the U.S. were behind the whole damn thing. And of course now, surprise, surprise, the documents come out confirming this.

So, anyway, in '73, that really jolted me into another kind of political life. Now what happened to my plays, I don't know. I've written plays which have nothing to do with politics, during the seventies, one or two. I've always had a number of lines going in my life. And I don't write plays, you know, to do with party politics.

You'll have to ask one of those professors how to define what I'm doing because it's difficult for me.


In June the Supreme Court started the clock ticking on a potential political time bomb. In Kelo v. New London, the Court ruled five to four that local governments could use their power of eminent domain to take private property, including homes, to promote economic development. The decision broke no new legal ground, but it did stir up opposition across the political spectrum, yielding a potential windfall for the right-wing libertarian movement for "property rights."

Under the Constitution, government can take property for "public use"--for projects like roads, schools and hospitals--if it pays "just compensation." For more than a century, courts have interpreted "public use" to include public purpose or benefit, like clearing a slum or helping a utility or railroad obtain right-of-way.

Over the past half-century or more, local governments have used eminent domain to promote local economic development, creating more jobs and generating needed revenue. While everyone agrees that government can't arbitrarily transfer one owner's property to another owner, the controversy arises over what kind of public benefits, if any, can justify such a transfer. From both left and right, critics have accused government of abusing its power of eminent domain by taking homes and small businesses from the less affluent or less powerful and transferring them to big corporations--much as Detroit did in 1980 when it razed the working-class Poletown neighborhood and displaced more than 3,400 people to clear land for a new General Motors factory. On the other hand, it's rare when eminent domain is even proposed to take over, say, a factory being shut down by a corporation and turn it over to community-worker ownership.

In Kelo, the court ruled that the economically depressed city of New London, Conn., had the power to take and pay for the property of a group of homeowners for a planned development that included a waterfront conference hotel, a marina, housing, and commercial and office space. But the majority also emphasized that the government’s power was legitimate because there was a deep public need and a well worked-out plan.

Troy e-mails to note Ron Jacobs' "The Black Panters Revisted" (CounterPunch):

If a single date can be assigned to an historical event that developed over the course of a decade, then October 15, 1966 would be the date given as the day that the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was formed by two young men in Oakland, California. Bobby Seale and Huey Newton--two Black brothers attending community college who were frustrated with the existing rights groups on campus, in large part because they did not speak to the concerns or emotions of African-American on the streets. It's not that they didn't want those groups to exist, it was that they needed to be more radical and address the issues of those black-skinned residents of the United States who lived in situations that not only put them at the mercy of the landlord and the welfare system, but turned their daily existence into a struggle (sometimes armed) with the police force. Of course, the police were (and are) nothing but the most obvious brutality of the system built on the enslavement of a people in the pursuit of profit and power that we know as the American way.

Contrary to popular myth, the Black Panther Party did not come out of their clubs and homes in the black communities of Oakland, California with their guns a-blazing. In fact, their first actions involved working with church and neighborhood groups to get a traffic light at an intersection near a school in East Oakland after a series of traffic fatalities involving young children and suburban Californians speeding through the neighborhood on their way home from work. The Oakland city government had consistently ignored the requests of these very same church and neighborhood groups for years, telling them that while that intersection was on their list, it would be a while before the city could afford to install a traffic light. The Panthers disagreed with that assessment and took direct action. They began directing traffic, stopping cars so that children and their parents could cross the street. At first the Oakland Police Department (OPD) attempted to shut down the traffic control operation, but when many church members and leaders joined in with the Panthers and their supporters, the OPD backed off. Soon afterwards, the city installed a traffic light at the intersection.

If one reads the Ten Point Program of the Panthers, they will not see a radical document that calls for the installment of a dictatorship of the proletariat or a program to install a racially designed anti-white regime. No, the demands merely demanded fairness and some reparations for the historic enslavement of African-Americans by the white-skinned rulers of the American colonies and the early United States. Sure, the Panthers saw the situation of black people in the US as comparable to that of a colony, but that perception is still not that much of a stretch even today, thirty-four years after the founding of the Party. One can argue the various theoretical inadequacies of this perception, but the general truth of the economic status of most African-Americans in today's world is this: they own little property; they are subject to the whims of the major capitalist and political powers that work hand in hand to keep power among the rich who are also mostly white skinned; in those arenas where they do produce goods or services, the control remains with the colonial (or neocolonial) power; and in terms of the culture of the colonized, it is expropriated, manipulated, and exploited.

Susan e-mails to note "In Memoriam: C. DeLores Tucker" (NOW):

Our movement lost a visionary leader yesterday, with the passing of Dr. C. DeLores Tucker, a tireless activist for women's rights and civil rights. "She had as heart as big as Pennsylvania, yet she was absolutely determined and unflappable. Whatever the issue, she had a laser-like focus on what needed to be done and you just couldn't say 'no' to her," said NOW President Kim Gandy.

Dr. Tucker marched from Selma to Montgomery, Ala., side-by-side with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1965 and soon became the first African-American women to serve as a Secretary of State (Pennsylvania, 1971-1977). Her efforts helped make Pennsylvania one of the first states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. As a member of the Democratic National Committee, Dr. Tucker was deeply involved in efforts to ensure that women were equally represented at all levels of the Democratic party, and she was a primary organizer of the women's caucus.


I'll close by noting that Kat's addressing a mistake by the New York Times Thursday as well as toys from her youth. 
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