Saturday, February 19, 2005

Sara Rimer notes the continued fallout over Lawrence Summers' remarks in today's New York Times

Sara Rimer has an article worthy of the front page that instead is relegated to A10. "Rift Deepens as Professors at Harvard See Remarks" deals with the continued fallout from Lawrence Summers' remarks. The fallout's not going away, my opinion, and needs to be dealt with.

Yesterday's entry "New York Times has one powerful story on the front page to be proud of, otherwise they send in the Elite Fluff Patrol" failed to provide a link to the transcript of the remarks made by Summers.

Frank in Orlando objected to the inclusion of that story in yesterday's entry. He does not want his remarks quoted but he says he has no problem in my quoting from my e-mail reply to him:

Eight members had already e-mailed the site before I logged on this morning to mention that article so it was of interest to some people. I'm sorry that it wasn't of interest to you. You note that there are "many other interesting stories" in today's paper but you do not provide links or your comments on those. You have been quoted in defense of Elisabeth Bumiller in the past and will be quoted again any time you give permission to be quoted. My opinions ("evaluations") do not "trump" your's unless you refuse to share those with the community. Your input is valued and you've been quoted each time you've given permission. If you'd like your e-mail critique to my comments posted, all you have to do is give permission.

Besides the eight members who had e-mailed prior to the post going up, 84 members e-mailed in response to the post to state that they were not pleased with the remarks made by Summers and to ask that we continue to highlight this story. Here are comments from those who gave permission to be quoted:

Judy: It is just like that scene in Baby Boom and you do expect more from the person in charge of one of our leading institutions. There's another point, too, and that's Fritz made his remarks to J.C. [in the movie Baby Boom] in private. Even Fritz possessed enough sense to know that they were not the sort of statements you make publicly.

Shirley: Stay on this story!

Brad: It's embarrassing and Harvard should have stepped in and shown him the door some time ago.

Woody: His racist statements regarding basketball players and farmers should also be registered by people. This man is out of touch with reality. A high school student like me has more sense than Summers.

Brenda: I cannot believe that any woman could come to his defense now and I'm trying to figure out why the walk out that greeted his remarks wasn't larger.

???: Lawrence of Harvard is attempting to colonize the university.

Gore Vidal is God: Since he knew ahead of time what the topic was and since he prepared his remarks ahead of time, exactly why does he think the excuse of not having looked at the research flies? Does he think he's Cokie Roberts who can just spit out any nonsense? He's the president of a university; therefore, he's required to do some work before preparing his remarks. If a student turned in a paper with as little research, he'd receive a failing grade.
You shouldn't fall back on intellectual freedom when you've shown no indication that you've done the work required to earn the title intellectual.

Trevor: Archie Bunker's the president of Harvard? Who would have known?

Cedric: Small minds must not interfere with being appointed by the university. Loved the Baby Boom reference.

Claudia: I've read the transcript. There's no sign of intelligent life in the mind of Summers. He needs to step down now not because of his offensive remarks but because he is supposed to be representing the best of intellectual pursuits yet while speaking at a function he shows no respect for intellectual study or even interest in it.

Eli: He has to step down.

Marcia: Bigots everywhere must take comfort in knowing that there's a place for them at Harvard.

Ben: I'm floored by his statements. I was hoping that it would turn out that he'd been misunderstood. He wasn't misunderstood. He said what he wanted to with no "as this study demonstrates" and I'm left confused as to exactly what his qualifications for becoming president were. He may be qualified for MSNBC but I see no qualification for Harvard.

Maria: He needs to be challenged to come up with the proof in his pudding. He's made his statements and now wants to act as though there was nothing wrong with them. When an educator relies not on the facts but upon conventional wisdom, there's a problem.

Lynda: Hello, my name is Larry Summers and I'm a nonrecovering idiot.

Sam: How big is his ego that he thought he could stand before a conference and deliver a speech without doing any research on the topic?

Charlie: Was he delivering a speech to academics or writing an op-ed for the New York Post?

Susan: Reading his comments, I'm thinking of a song . . . "Mr. Big Stuff, who do you think you are . . ."

Randall: Next on Fox: When Idiots Destroy Ivy League Reputations or Educators Gone Wild.

Doug: Thank goodness some had the sense to walk out on that nonsense.

Trudy: I read the transcript. He does give brief responses except when the topic turns to sports. Suddenly he's interested then. He's shown complete disregard for the real topic and arrogance towards the people attending.

The story struck me as important. In fairness to Frank in Orlando, the story also made me angry (and reading the transcript made me angrier) so it may not have been worded clearly.
While I was pacing around trying to figure out what to say about it, I thought of two things I wanted to include in addition to the Baby Boom ref but time ran out on me and I had to post as is.

One thing I was reminded of was how insulting it was for those in the audience. And I thought of the scene in Tout va Bien where the workers turn on a number of men who refused to join them in a show of solidarity with one man yelling, "Bye bye girls! Have fun gossiping!" This while women are a part of the solidarity? Calling men "girls" because they refuse to take a stand is appropriate how? Addressing a crowd with those remarks was appropriate for Summers? I don't think so. And I can't imagine that (unless you subscribed to the Queen Bee exclusion -- "It's good to be the exception! I'm not like other women! I think like a man!") it would be considered welcoming to hear the remarks he made.

I also thought of this from Tori Amos: Piece by Piece (by Tori Amos and Ann Powers, pp. 179-180):

Yet having a child hasn't lessened my dedication to my work -- if anything, it has grown since the work helped me through so many hard times. What's truly difficult is convincing other people that I can manage it all. . . .

Apparently, Lawrence Summers is one such person Tori Amos would have to convince because he's accepted conventional wisdom (at best, stereotypes at worst) for knowledge.

I know many people who have outside of work committments that speak of work as a thank-God-I-can-get-some-rest place. Apparently the home life demands on Summers have either not been very demanding or they've failed to make an impression. But many people who have to juggle various tasks (child rearing, activism, what have you) will note that there's a calmness and order imposed via the work environment that (on good days) is not present outside of work. Summers can only see non-work tasks as interfering with work which is really a shame because it is often what we do outside of work that makes us better at our jobs. What he sees as a liability (via conventional wisdom) can also be a bonus that leads to greater strides than would be found going the conventional wisdom route of focusing solely on work 24 hours, 7 days a week.

I know that from college, when I had one job, it was easy to put off assignments and studying until the last minute. When I held down three jobs, I was much more focused with regard to college and with regard to my jobs because the time was so limited that I did have set to boundaries and organize my schedule.

This conventional wisdom approach from a university president that we are only of value when our focus is solely on our job goes against everything that I thought a liberal arts education stood for. The point of a liberal arts education (I thought) was to make a person more well rounded. Instead of decrying the conventional wisdom myths of the losses of the "mommy track," Summers, due to his position, should be noting that increased experiences such people can bring to the table and working on solutions to ensure that the universities can benefit from these experiences.

I found his reliance on conventional wisdom (and the worst of conventional wisdom) very distressing for someone who's supposed to be setting the stage for educational development.

From Rimer's article in today's paper:

"My sense of the mood among key faculty is that they're deeply, deeply distressed about the way this entire thing is tearing the university apart, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in particular," said Theda Skocpol, a government professor who spoke out against Dr. Summers at the meeting. "And I share that distress."
. . .
Despite talk of a no-confidence vote, professors said such a vote would be highly unlikely because so many had signed up to speak. As a practical matter, faculty members said, the earliest date for such a vote would be March 15, at the regular meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
. . .
Eric Dhivian, an assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the medical school who shared in the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize, said he did not sign the letter [of support for Summers that some are ciruclating]. Instead, Dr. Chivian said, he reluctantly wrote his own letter to the Harvard Corporation. The letter criticizes what he calls Dr. Summers's pattern of making insensitive, divisive comments and describes reports from numerous facutly members of "Dr. Summers' reputation for abusing his position of power and for vindictiveness towards those who disagree with him."

[E-mail address to weigh in on this or anything is If you wish to be quoted, please note that in your e-mail.]

[Note: This post has been corrected on the spelling of "reputation" in Randall's comments. Thanks to Randall for catching that and my apologies for leaving out the "t." Randall knows how to spell reputation, I'm the idiot. 2-21-05.]

Scott Shane's stuck mopping up after the Elite Fluff Patrol, we help him out by noting Democracy Now! and The Progressive's strong reporting

Scott Shane's on mop-patrol today, having to clean up the mess created by Elite Fluff Patrol members Elisabeth Bumiller and David E. Sanger on the reporting of John Negroponte.

I'll note that Shane's article may or may not have been a stronger article before it was printed.

The article is entitled "Intelligence Nominee Comes Under Renewed Scrutiny on Human Rights."

"Human rights advocates" have "repeated longstanding criticisms" "of John D. Negroponte."

Well imagine that?

It's no shock to anyone outside the Elite Fluff Patrol. It's no shock to some Catholics (in this country and abroad). But Shane's on mop-up duty after the high-gloss treatment the paper gave Negroponte earlier.

To deal with the article, let's note this comment by Democratic Senator John D. Rockefeller (in defense of Negroponte presumably):

People grow and change over 20 years.

Do they? They may. That presumes of course that they are alive. Certainly the vicitims of the death squads haven't been able to grow and change over 20 years. That opportunity for change and growth was taken from them, wasn't it? As Rockefeller hurries over to the sunny side of the street, he apparently doesn't notice that he dropped his common sense along the way.

He was probably in too much of a rush to join the beckoning Democratic Senator Chris Dodd who, according to the Times, "issued a statement on Thursday praising him [Negroponte] and not mentioning Honduras."

From the article:

As the first director of national intelligence, Mr. Negroponte would oversee the C.I.A. and the other 14 agencies that are part of the nation's estimated $40 billion spying enterprise. . . . The C.I.A. and military are also under intense scrutiny because of evidence that detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere have been tortured in questioning and in a few cases have died in custody. Questions have also been raised about whether the intelligence agency has handed over prisoners to third countries, where they might be tortured.

The last sentence? There's no question as to whether the intelligence agency has handed over prisoners to third countries. That's established (and admitted) fact, public record. If the Times wants to waffle (in the face of mounting evidence) that the ones turned over were then tortured (the sunny side of the street is always a popular berth for the Times) they can do so. But the sentence structure needs to be worked on because there's no question that we've turned over prisoners to third countries. (And "where they might be tortured" is a subclause of the sentence, the "questions" reflects, due to the sentence structure, on the turning over -- which again, is established fact, not questions.)

Repube Senator Pat Roberts, apparently going for the comic effect, says of Negroponte, "[he is] a person who has a great deal of credibility." Oh, Pat, you crack us up! As Phyllis (Cloris Leachman) once said to Rhoda (Valerie Harper) on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, "What a treat you must be to the other girls on your bowling team." (Note, paraphrase from memory. If you have the actual quote, e-mail it in and we'll note it in another entry.)

We learn that Jack R. Binns (an ambassador from 1980 to 1991) opposes "the confirmation because he believed that Negroponte had misled Congress in past testimony and because he might slant intelligence to suit administration policies."

Let's turn to Democracy Now!'s report yesterday:

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about Battalion 316? What was its role in Honduras, and what did the U.S. government have to do with it?
PETER KORNBLUH: Battalion 316 was the Honduran military special forces elite unit. It certainly became a death squad, contrary to what Negroponte said. He must have been well aware that the C.I.A. was working extremely closely with this particular unit, and the U.S. special forces were providing extraordinary aid to this particular unit. The Human Rights Ombudsman in Honduras, Leo Valladares, did a major investigation of the atrocities of this unit and concluded it was mostly responsible for the murders of up to 184 people, one of them an American priest working in Honduras, Father Carney. And the C.I.A. worked very closely with this unit, both to fight the left in Honduras, and to sustain the Contra war. I should say that we have many declassified documents from the Iran-Contra scandal, which do show Negroponte's kind of odd role. He stepped out of being U.S. Ambassador and kind of put on the hat of a C.I.A. station chief in pushing for the Contras to get more arms, in lobbying and meeting with very high Honduran officials to facilitate U.S. support for the Contras and Honduran cooperation, even after the U.S. Congress terminated official support for the Contra war.
AMY GOODMAN: I was just watching the Senate Intelligence -- head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts. He was being asked about the confirmation hearings for John Negroponte and asked if he has enough intelligence background. He has diplomatic background, and he said, no, he has both, because as ambassador, he is in charge of the C.I.A. station chief, and so he always knows what's going on around intelligence in his embassy. Of course, I think he was talking about very much Iraq, but what about what Negroponte knew and when he knew it in Honduras?
PETER KORNBLUH: Well, you know, the interesting thing, Amy, is that throughout the years, Ambassadors and the State Department have complained that the C.I.A. has been the stronger force in these smaller countries particularly where major covert operations are going on, and that the Embassy head, the Ambassador, essentially gets cut out of the loop. But in the case of Honduras, it was just the reverse. In fact, the Ambassador was a major player not just in receiving information from the C.I.A. station, but in really being the mover and shaker on C.I.A. covert operations there. So, he was very much in the loop even though those are not the, I think, the official duties. He was in the loop and he was active in running this paramilitary war. I would say that his strongest qualifications for this post were the unofficial duties that he had as Ambassador in Honduras.

. . .
SISTER LAETITIA BORDES: Yes, I went to Honduras in May of 1982 on a fact-finding delegation. As you know, Archbishop Romero had been assassinated in El Salvador in 1980, and there were quite a few members of Christian-based communities who were being picked up and disappearing in El Salvador. So, a group of 32 women -- by the way, these were not nuns. They were lay women, but they were members of Christian-based communities who had been followers of Archbishop Romero, had gone to Honduras to seek refuge from the repression that was taking place in El Salvador at that time. These 32 women -- also included were four children, by the way, in that group -- disappeared in Honduras, and there were witnesses to their disappearance. Vans pulled up in front of the safe house where they were staying, and they were taken and never heard from again. And so, this was -- this happened in April of 1981, and I went to Honduras in May of 1982 and met with John Negroponte to find out what had happened to these 32 women. And John Negroponte said very clearly that the embassy in El Salvador did not know what happened to those women, that we would need to talk to the Honduran government to find out about their fate. We went back. We did speak with the Honduran government. We had meetings there, and they referred us very clearly to our American embassy and sent us back to the American embassy and told us we would need to go through them to find out what had happened to the women. We had two meetings with John Negroponte. The first, and then we went to the Honduran government, and then returned to John Negroponte with the information that we had been given from the Honduran government, and again, he denied clearly the whereabouts of these women. He was very specific in saying that the embassy in Honduras did not interfere in Honduran affairs. That was very, very clear. At the same time, we were talking to different people in Honduras, and it was clear from the people with whom we spoke that John Negroponte was working closely with General Alvarez, who was Chief of the Armed Forces in Honduras at that time. And he was facilitating, really, the training of Honduran soldiers and psychological warfare and sabotage, and many types of human rights violations. And by the way, the co-founder -- the founder and commander of battalion 316, who was General Discua, had been trained at the School of the Americas in Ft. Benning, which is very interesting. So, we see the close connections that there was there between what was going on in Honduras and the American government.
. . .
ANDRES CONTRERIS: Amy it's really good to be with you, and I'm glad that you're really focusing on this very, very important issue. I not only disrupted Negroponte last year in April, but also in September of 2001 when he was having his hearing to become Ambassador to the United Nations. The reason that I stood up on both of those occasions is because I was trying to be a voice for the voiceless in Honduras. The sister of Manfredo Velazquez whose name is Venaida Velazquez, she was the founder of the Committee of the Family Members of the Disappeared in Honduras. She asked me to go to the hearing when Negroponte was to be confirmed to be Ambassador to the United Nations, and to be a presence there on his behalf. I did not plan to do anything at that time, but when Negroponte said in sworn testimony that he had never even heard of Battalion 316 until years after he left the post in Honduras, I couldn't believe this incredible lie that he was committing, which is a crime, and I decided to risk arrest by standing up and telling him that the people of Honduras consider him to be a state terrorist. This was two days after September 11. I was whisked out of the room at that time. Then last year in April, when he was being -- in the hearing to be confirmed to be Ambassador to Iraq, I also returned at that time because it just seems incredible that this man, who we consider to be a promoter of torture, knowing that that's what was going on in Honduras and Central America, this is the man who just before the Abu Ghraib scandal was breaking -- he was being -- he was under testimony then in the Senate, and he clearly went to Iraq having had the experience of covering up U.S. involvement in torture in Central America. So, this is a state terrorist that needs to be confronted. He needs to be accused of war crimes. He needs to be taken to trial.
AMY GOODMAN: Peter Kornbluh, National Security Archive, can you elaborate on what Andres is saying?
PETER KORNBLUH: I think Andres is absolutely correct that John Negroponte misled the Senate in his confirmation hearings about his knowledge of Battalion 316 about his knowledge of death squad activity. The C.I.A. did report to him on various atrocities that took place. There is some evidence in partially declassified C.I.A. Inspector General's report about the Battalion and its atrocities and about the reporting out of the embassy by both the C.I.A. officers and diplomatic attaches there that seems to imply that Negroponte preferred not to see honest, hard reporting going back to Washington on atrocities being committed by our very strong allies in Honduras. People have to remember, and certainly your listeners remember better than anybody, that they -- your audience and many others in this country -- made Reagan's policy in Central America controversial and managed to get Congress -- push Congress to cut off aid to the Contras. So, any negative reporting on our main allies' activities in Honduras would have given further ammunition to the critics of Negroponte's policies, Reagan's policies, et cetera. That's why there are strong indications that he squashed this reporting. He certainly was critical to the Contra war effort. What he had told the sister about not interfering in Honduran affairs is quite frankly laughable, because he was named essentially the Proconsul. He essentially was a fallback to the age of gunboat diplomacy when the U.S. Ambassador ran a Central American country. In the early 1980's, he was in that position in Honduras. I'm holding a declassified White House document which is from 1983, and it's a memo to the President of the United States, Ronald Reagan. It begins, “Ambassador Negroponte, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has recommended that we increase the number of weapons issued to the F.D.N. forces.” The F.D.N., of course, was the leading contra force and the one most strongly associated with massive human rights violations of civilians in Nicaragua. And in his memo, Negroponte has apparently recommended that the United States send 3,000 additional rifles to the F.D.N. forces, and his recommendation is approved by the President. There are two little R.R.'s, Ronald Reagan, and a yes box under the recommendation in his options memo. So, you get a sense from these declassified records of how important Negroponte was and the type of odd role he played, stepping out of his position as ambassador, a diplomat, and essentially putting on the hat of the C.I.A. station chief and pushing forward the Contra war.

That's called news, that's called reporting. (Watch, listen or read that segment, please.) The Times puts Scott Shane on mop-up duty and the article that is printed is filled with waffles and qualifiers. (It's also buried inside the paper.)

Domnick: Does the Times just hate Catholics?

That's from Dominick's morning e-mail. Where he noted that the IRA story seemed less reporting and more editorializing and he also noted the minimizing of Negroponte's "serious role in the deaths of priests, nuns and others in Honduras."

Does the Times hate Catholics? I don't know. I would hope they don't. But the Times (which will have a new nickname starting Sunday) doesn't want to break news. God forbid they lose out on their access (which allows them those TV Guide blurbs passed off as "scoops") by actually addressing the public record.

Oscar Reyes is quoted in the Times:

Oscar Reyes, whom the Honduran military seized in 1982 and tortured along with his wife, Gloria, said he was dismayed to learn of Negroponte's nomination.
"He'll say, 'I didn't know,'" said Mr. Reyes, 69, who now publishes a Spanish-language newspaper in Washington. "But the U.S. embassy knew everything that was going on."

We cited Matthew Rothschild's strong editorial against Negroponte's confirmation yesterday. In that "This Just In," Rothschild provided a link to an article on torture that featured comments from, among others, Reyes:

"I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras," Negroponte testified before Congress in 2001.Oscar Reyes begs to differ. He was living in Honduras at the time. "On July 8, 1982, some military people went to our home, ransacked it, detained us, and brought us to the torture house," he told me last year. "There were a lot of people being tortured that night. You could hear the screaming. They used electrical shock on my body and my genitals, and they hanged me by my hands and were hitting me almost all night long. Then they put me in front of a tree and gave me a fake execution. . . . On my wife, they used electrical shock in her vagina. It was so bad that she had permanent damage to her ovaries, and she had to have a hysterectomy." (See “America’s Amnesia,” The Progressive, July 2004.)

From that article (I'm having trouble pulling up the PDF version but I probably just need to do the Adobe Acrobat update I keep getting reminders on -- I'm working from the print copy in the July magazine):

The United States also was actively involved in torture and assination in Honduras in the early 1980s. The CIA organized, trained, and financed an army unit called Battalion 316, The Baltimore Sun reported in 1995. It kidnapped, tortured, and killed hundreds of Hondurans. It "used shock and suffocation devices in interrogations. Prisoners often were kept naked and, when no longer useful, killed and buried in umarked graves," the paper said.
The U.S. embassy in Honduras, led at the time by Ambassador John Negroponte, knew about the human rights abuses but covered it up. "Determined to avoid questions in Congress, U.S. officials in Honduras concealed evidence of human rights abuses," the Sun reported. Negroponte has denied involvement, and during his confirmation hearing before the Senate for his post as U.N. ambassador, he testified, "I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras."

Please note, the article's worth reading. Upgrade your Adobe if you need to (I apparently do, in the time it took me to hunt down my copy of the July 2004 issue of The Progressive, re-read the article and then type up the section above, the pdf file still hasn't loaded). But make a point to read the article because it details U.S. involvement (historically) with torture.

I want to note the new archive feature of The Progressive before we close this entry. Those who visit the magazine's web site are aware that you can access Ruth Connif's new blog, Amitabh Pal's blog, "Daily Doses of Durst" (Will Durst), Matthew Rothschild's "This Just In," "McCarthyism Watch," his two-minute daily broadcasts (audio only) and radio interviews he conducts once a week (again, audio only). People who visit the site are also aware that highlights from the current and past issues are also available. The Best of the Progressive archive, however, is pdf files of articles not previously available online. Currently there are eleven articles in the archive so please check it out and use it as a resource.

Front page of the New York Times overlooks Lydia Polgreen & Michael Wines' strong reporting

Kara: The front page of this morning's NYT features a photo by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad [Getty Images] that is disturbing. The caption is: "Elite Iraqi commandos detained a suspected insurgent yesterday after raids in Taji, north of Baghdad." The photo shows a man who's arms are restrained behind his back, apparently handcuffed, being led by two Elite Iraqi Bullies. With a drawn gun and the man's hands firmly behind his back, you've got one Bullie grabbing at his shoulder and another one slinging his arm around the man, choke-hold style. This is something to be proud of. I see one of the bullies has a gun in his hand. I'll also note that the paper's own Elite Fluff Patrol squad leader Bumillie [Elisabeth Bumiller] gets a front page piece about the "White House Bond: Teamed by No. 43, 41 and 42 Hit It Off." Is this supposed to begin the healing of the nation? Not likely. By the way, where on the front page is there any real news?

Lydia Polgreen's " Togo President, Installed by Army, Agrees to an Election" should have been front page news. This 'change of heart' came as a result of the neighboring countries in Africa applying "unrelenting pressure." And it seems to indicate that a shift has taken place in what other African countries will allow. That's front page news, even if the Times places the story on A3. (Like Kara, I'm not overly impressed with the front page of today's paper.) I'll also note that the paper provides a map of the region which is helpful and something that they have slacked off doing in recent weeks. I may be the only one who finds the maps beneficial. (If you do or don't and want to weigh in, the e-mail address is

Also on A3, Michael Wines has an important story entitled " AIDS-Linked Death Data Stir Political Storm in South Africa." The South African government has issued a report (that some say was delayed "because of political pressure from President Thabo Mbeki's government, which they say have long played down the dimensions of the AIDS crisis here"). The report finds that "annual deaths increased 57 percent from 1997 to 2003," "the proportion of deaths among sexually active women is rising significantly compared with deaths among men" and that "disorders of the immune system emerged for the first time as one of the 10 leading causes of deaths of children under 15."

Brian Lavery's "Irish Raids Net Vast Sums That Are Tied to the I.R.A." (page A7) suggests that there's a turning away from the IRA in Ireland. After numerous phone calls this morning, I would suggest that Lavery's article is based on what others want and see and not an emerging consensus. Dominick e-mailed the site early this morning asking, "What is the Times problems with the Irish?" I don't know. Here's what I do know based on multiple calls this morning:

The bank robbery may or may not be tied to some in Sinn Fien but those citizens of Ireland who have supported the it and the IRA aims in the past continue to do so. There is an attempt to turn these allegations into a scandal that will drive support away but this has been tried before in the past and it didn't work then either. Lavery may be reflecting official opinion (as tendency with the Times) but it's "silly" for Lavery to imply that he's got "a finger on the pulse of the average Irish citizen." This reads "as though it was written by the State Department" (another tendency with the Times). The suggestion that "the Irish public now seems to be turning against the party [IRA]" is beyond silly and suggests that Lavery needs to stop printing summaries of press headlines and comments from officials and actually start speaking to the Irish.
[Note: "the Irish public now seems to be turning against the party" is a quote from Lavery's piece. All other items in quotes in the italicized paragraph are quotes from the people I spoke to. Those included three American reporters, one British, one Canadian, and five university professors.]

Mark Lander, on the same page, attempts to predict the size of the turnout for protests of the upcoming Bully Boy Goes to Germany in "As Germans Prepare for Bush Visit, City Braces for Security Lockdown." He apparently does so without contacting any of the "Web sites [that are] urging people to turn out to protest." He does speak to "local authorities" and run with their estimate which is strange unless he's suggesting that "local authorities" are spying on "Web sites" and doing such a marvelous job that it's somehow not incumbent upon him to speak to "Web sites."

There are two more articles we'll highlight in individual entries. After that, as has become a pattern on Saturdays, there will be the Black History Month entry sometime tonight and that may be it because I will be assisting The Third Estate Sunday Review by offering another pair of eyes as they prepare their Sunday edition.

New York Times breaks shocking industry story: Jane Mayer is the New Yorker!

In this morning's New York Times (A28) we need to note one editorial, "Time for an Accounting."

The first paragraph:

Of all the claims of an electoral mandate made by President Bush's supporters, none were as bizarre as the one offered by John Yoo, a former Justice Department lawyer who helped draft the cyncial justifications for the illegal detention and torture of "unlawful combatants." "The debate is over," Mr. Yoo told The New Yorker, adding: "This issue is dying out. The public has had its referendum."

No, we're not going to comment on the opinion expressed in the editorial.

We are going to comment on the fact that Jane Mayer is not The New Yorker.

At this site, I frequently refer to the Times as though it were a person (e.g. "The Times misses the point . . .") The paper does the same ("____ told Meet the Press . . .") and I'll assume it's shorthand resulting from space demands and limitations in their reporting. (On my end, it's just half-assed, hurrying through an entry or a "systematic" problem that I'm noting.)

But I do take offense to the issue of crediting in this morning's editorial.

The editorial takes the time to pull quote (twice) from Mayer's article so apparently someone had access to it. And there is certainly space to add "Jane Mayer of" between "told" and "The New Yorker."

[Hint "way beyond" later in the editorial can be reduced be eliminating "way." The last paragrah's first sentence can find room for two more words by changing "can begin to heal the nation's image in the world" in many ways. Such as "can beging to heal the nation's world image" which drops "in the." Three words can easily be dropped from this editorial in a variety
of places. And three words pulled out allow for "Jane Mayer of" to be insterted.]

Jane Mayer is not The New Yorker. I'm glad the editorial board is apparently paying attention to The New Yorker. (It would be great if reporters working on stories already covered by The New Yorker would do the same -- as we frequently note here.)

But this is an issue of crediting people for their work.

As the Oscars approach, we'll see the usual coverage/exploration of the nominations in a variety of media, not just in the Times. And if you follow it (there's no real reason you should or shouldn't) note that best picture, the acting categories and directing will receive round table discussions and commentaries. But somehow, journalists will overlook adapted and original screenplay nominees. That's really sad, especially in the print world where one would expect writers to at least be aware of the importance of writing.

But that ingrained attitude that the picture wrote itself is something that's apparently going to be with us for years to come. Fine. Hollywood reporting is largely puff pieces and sloppy writing. (Note to Dallas, they finally do their correction to last Saturday's Andy Garcia story and note that an "editing error" is responsible for Godfather II being used -- twice, though the correction doesn't point that out -- when the film in question was Godfather III. Also note, there has still been no correction for referring to Sinead O'Connor as "Mr. O'Connor.")

The unsigned editorials, regardless of what views or opinions they offer, are supposed to be among the finest writing in the paper. I'm not addressing the issue of reporting, I'm speaking merely of the grace/style present in the editorial.

Jane Mayer's article for The New Yorker ("Outsourcing Torture") is one that many have noted.
We've noted it, Democracy Now! has noted it, BuzzFlash has noted it, Janeane Garofalo and Sam Seder have noted it on The Majority Report, Common Dreams has posted the article, Truth Out has posted the article, noted it, Talk Left (either Jeralyn Merritt or T. Christopher Kelley) has noted it, Adam Miles has noted it at San Francisco Bay Area IndyMedia has noted it, Jaypeesmith of Black...MyStory has noted it, Gregory Pratt has noted it at The Liberal Igloo (and Offshoring Digest has noted Pratt's noting of the article), G-J of Democratic Underground has noted it (that's actually "G_J" but with the link the underscore won't appear so it's "G-J" outside of the parenthetical), Peninsula Peace and Justice Center has noted the article, redjade has noted it at Ireland's Independent Media Centre, The Editors at The Poor Man have noted it, Robyn E. Blumner (in her op-ed at the St. Petersburg Times) has noted it, Bob Herbert has noted in his op-ed for the New York Times (Feb. 11th), Jude Nagurney Camwell has noted at Iddybud, artappraiser at The Agonist has noted it, . . .* There's a reason it's been widely noted: it's an important article. And everyone noting it has been able to note the author of "Outsourcing Torture." That the New York Times editorial board feels they can pull quote twice from it but not credit the journalist who wrote the piece is very sad.

The practice of using a periodical's title (and ommitting the name of the writer) is widespread (and again, it's done here all the time). But I honestly expect a little more from the editorials in the New York Times.

Jane Mayer's work deserves to be noted and the Times (see, I did it again) deserves credit for noting that an important piece of reporting ran in The New Yorker. They also deserve a slap on the wrist for not noting the author. In terms of practical use, they've done their readers a disservice since, if the reader is unfamiliar with "Outsourcing Torture," there's no way for a reader to look up the article (twice) quoted. I've checked the online version of the editorial and assumed that possibly they provided a hyperlink to Mayer's article. They don't.

Someone who is fresh to the article and coming across it in today's editorial for the first time will have no idea to which article the paper is referring. Since the editorial twice quotes the article, a reader might feel this article is worth reading. (It is.) But how they're supposed to locate it from the information provided in the Times is a mystery.

By omitting Jane Mayer's name, they not only strip her of the credit she deserves, they fail to provide the reader with the information they may need. It's lose-lose. The Times (I did it again) needs to better serve their readers and they also need to give credit where it is due.
For the record, Jane Mayer, of The New Yorker, wrote "Outsourcing Torture."

[*The use of ". . ." is to suggest that others have noted it. If you saw it somewhere not listed, please e-mail the site and we will credit it -- provided it's not some right-wing attack on the article or Mayer. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Unfiltered has noted it because they do a great job -- my opinion -- of calling attention to articles for their listeners. However, I've not been able to listen to Unfiltered, due to work demands, lately. But many people and organizations have noted this article and they've been able to credit Jane Mayer for writing it. Why the editorial board of the Times doesn't is a mystery.]

Friday, February 18, 2005

"The conviction of Lynne F. Stewart . . . is another perverse victory in the Just. Dept.'s assualt on the Constitution"

The conviction of Lynne F. Stewart for providing material aid to terrorism and for lying to the government is another perverse victory in the Justice Department's assault on the Constitution.

So begins Andrew P. Napolitano's op-ed ("No Defense") in today's (Friday) New York Times. Terry e-mailed this in which is why we're highligting an op-ed from the Times. From the op-ed:

But if the federal government had followed the law, Ms. Stewart would never have been required to agree to these rules to begin with. Just after 9/11, Attorney General John Ashcroft gave himself the power to bypass the lawyer-client privilege, which every court in the United States has upheld, and eavesdrop on conversations between prisoners and their lawyers if he had reason to believe they were being used to "further facilitate acts of violence or terrorism." The regulation became effective immediately.
In the good old days, only Congress could write federal criminal laws. After 9/11, however, the attorney general was allowed to do so. Where in the Constitution does it allow that?

. . .
Ms. Stewart's constitutional right to speak to the news media about a matter of public interest is absolute and should prevent the government from prosecuting her. And since when does announcing someone else's opinion about a cease-fire - as Ms. Stewart did, saying the sheik no longer supported one that had been observed in Egypt - amount to advocating an act of terrorism?
In truth, the federal government prosecuted Lynne Stewart because it wants to intimidate defense lawyers into either refusing to represent accused terrorists or into providing less than zealous representation. After she was convicted, Ms. Stewart said, "You can't lock up the lawyers, you can't tell the lawyers how to do their jobs."

We'll note that I was wrong while we're at it. I'm not sure whether or not I noted this here, but I had shared my hope with Rebecca and she blogged on it Saturday. My hope was that the New York Times would have to weigh in with an editorial. The verdict came down on a Thursday. So I'd assumed Friday was out of the question. But surely, as the next week moved along, we'd see something. The Times has many faults. And the editorial board is far from perfect. But I am honestly surprised that they elected not to weigh in on this verdict.

I was wrong. And it won't be the first time. The Times has done many things wrong (and continues to do so) but I had honestly believed that on the editorial page, they would have no problem championing Lynne Stewart since the issue did revolve around a press release, a trial in their own immediate area and the First Amendment -- something they can't stop editorializing about with regards to Judith Miller.

They're silent. It's shameful. And leaves them open to charges of hypocrisy.

I haven't heard The Majority Report yet. I was still doing work duties when it was on. (Which is why the entries tonight have posted so late.) But Tony e-mailed that Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis raised some strong and amazing points tonight on The Majority Report.

I'm listening to The Laura Flanders Show tomorrow night, so I'll try to grab The Majority Report on Sunday and we'll highlight some of the remarks Bill Scher made regarding the Times' attitude towards the outing of Valerie Plame.

I'll also note that Wednesday, The Third Estate Sunday Review completed an article on this topic that Rebecca (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude) and I worked on.

From the Air America homepage, here's tomorrow schedule for three shows:

So What Else Is News
Coming up on So What Else Is News? Analyst Ben Barber on the ABC's of Bush's Social Security Disaster, NBC News Anchor turned GOP mouth piece Brian Williams, Cuban Rapper Pitbull on a new generation of Cuban Americans peeved at Bush and armed with words, and a goggle epic on the dangers of media inbreeding makes its radio debut. Plus, is enlightenment just a double click away? Wikipedia Creator Jimmy Wales speaks on the latest internet information explosion. Slate Writer Anne Bardach reveals a side of Fidel Castro so revealing even PBS won't scoop it up, our Onion AV Club trumpets their Oscar picks coupled with some alternative Oscar buzz from Melanie McFarland of the Seattle Post Intelligencer, and Rapper Tupac is resurrected in film with Producers Lauren Lazin and Karolyn Ali. Lastly, learn a new way to pick that hottie up; it's called toothing and Toothy Toothing gives listeners the 411. [permalink]

Ring of Fire
James Wolcott is one of the alpha dogs of the American media and he has no patience with the yapping lapdogs of right-wing punditry. Mike talks with James about his hilarious and hard-hitting book titled, "Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants: The Looting of the News in a Time of Terror." Washington, Lincoln, Jefferson . . . Bush. The U.S. Presidency has had its ups and downs. On this President's Day weekend, we focus on one President who gets precious little attention -- even though he founded the Democratic Party. Bobby talks with Ted Widmer, biographer of "American Presidents: Martin Van Buren." In the movie A Civil Action, John Travolta played trial lawyer Jan Schlichtman in his dramatic uphill battle against corporate polluters in Massachusetts. Now Jan is using the radio airwaves to take on an even more powerful foe, the Bush administration. Mike and Jan discuss the Legal Broadcast Network – a new online radio service for lawyers and laypeople.[permalink]

The Laura Flanders Show
Shining a bright light on the White House's blind eye. Exhibit A: the Kyoto treaty, featuring GreenpeaceUSA director JOHN PASSACANTANDO. Exhibit B: F.A.A. whistleblowers BOGDAN DZAKOVIC and STEVE ELSON, former leaders of the super-secret "Red Team" that snuck guns onto planes - before 9/11 - and couldn't get the F.A.A. to change its security procedures. Exhibit C: LESLIE KAGAN, of United for Peace and Justice, on the peace movement's next steps. They were right about no Iraqi WMD, spilling blood for oil. What's next? Finally, MARTHA REDBONE, in the studio on her new CD blending African American and Native American rthymn and soul. [permalink]

There's no heads up to what will be on The Kyle Jason Show Saturday. The Kyle Jason Show immediately follows The Laura Flanders Show. Here's how it's described on the homepage for the show:
Saturday nights, Kyle Jason invites you to cross "The Bridge". "I believe there is a direct correlation between what we are being fed artistically and how we act. Today, there is too much music being fed to the masses that leave us with nothing to build on but negativity. These artists, and companies that sponsor them, are doing the people a terrible disservice." Join us each week, as Kyle profiles classic albums from some of our most prolific artists. Learn about everything from the musicians, the studios, the message, and the social impact of some of the finest recordings ever made. Once a month, he also profiles new artists and examines their contributions. Kyle caps the night off with a very special surprise from the "Round Peg Lounge". Tune in each week for an evening that will stimulate your mind, move your soul and lift your spirit. Don't miss the next Kyle Jason Show!

Krista Highlights Dr. Rebecca Cole for Black History Month

Krista: I want to highlight someone that we learned about in class this week, Dr. Rebecca Cole. She was the second African-American woman to get a degree in medicine and become a licensed doctor.

The year was 1867 and she was born in 1946. Dr. Cole went to New York where she went to work at New York Infirmary for Women and Children as a resident. Dr. Cole would travel to impoverished areas and educate people about hygene and child care.

She also practiced in South Carolina and Philadelphia. In all, she practiced medicine for fifty years.

Dr. Cole practiced medicine in Columbia, South Carolina for a time and returned to Philadelphia to open an office in the South Philadelphia section of the city. In 1873, with assistance from fellow woman physician Charlotte Abbey, Dr. Rebecca Cole started a Women's Directory Center to provide medical and legal services to destitute women and children in Philadelphia. Dr. Rebecca Cole practiced medicine for fifty years.

Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to graduate with a medical degree and become a doctor. James Durham is thought to be the first African-American male doctor (he was born in 1762). And also of note is Daniel Hale Williams who was the first doctor of any race to perform open heart surgey. (Dr. Williams was born in 1856 and performed open heart surgery for the first time in 1893.)

Democracy Now: Examing Negroponte, Ward Churchill; BuzzFlash's hypocrite of the week; Matthew Rothschild; Media Matters

Democracy Now! does another excellent show today. And unlike the Times, they don't treat Negroponte's known past as something to be tipped around or mentioned as an aside.

Editorial comment (mine): Negroponte's actions are not a sidebar or an aside. They never should be treated as such. But when we have torture going on, Negroponte is the last person that should be put in the cat bird's seat over the intell agencies.

Headlines for February 18, 2005
- Large Blast at Shiite Mosque Kills 30 in Baghdad
- Bush Nominates Negroponte As Intel Czar
- Iraqi Prisoner Died in Handcuffs During CIA Torture
- ACLU Releases New Torture Docs on Afghanistan
- Crisis in Brazil Worsens After Killing of U.S. Nun
- U.S. Soldiers to Be Given Ecstasy

Promoting the 'Ambassador of Torture': Bush Nominates Negroponte for Intel Czar
As President Bush nominates Ambassador John Negroponte, current U.S. ambassador to Iraq, as the first Director of National Intelligence, we look back at Negroponte's bloody history in Central America in the 1980s. [includes rush transcript]

The Justice of Roosting Chickens: Ward Churchill Speaks
The Governor of Colorado has called for his "termination." Fox's Bill O'Reilly has attacked him consistently for weeks. He says he won't apologize and he won't back down. We speak with Ward Churchill, the professor at the center of the controversy over free speech and academic freedom on college campuses. [includes rush transcript]

If you haven't checked BuzzFlash yet, please note: "Saturday Preview: The BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week is Wolf Blitzer. He's the GOP Howlin' Wolf."

We're spotlighting two items from Matthew Rothschild (editor of The Progressive). First, from his "This Just In:"

If you wink at torture, if you don't mind mass slaughter, if lying is of no concern to you, you can go far in this world.
Just ask John Negroponte.
He served as a political officer in Saigon from 1964 to 1968, and then he headed up the Vietnam desk at the National Security Council from 1971 to 1973. During that decade of time, the Johnson-Nixon war was killing two to three million Vietnamese, along with 58,000 U.S. soldiers.
But Negroponte did not want the war to end. In fact, as an aide to Henry Kissinger at the Paris Peace Talks, he urged Kissinger not to come to terms so readily.
A decade later in Central America, Negroponte essentially ran the illegal Contra War against Nicaragua from his post as U.S. ambassador to Honduras.
This war cost the lives of some 30,000 people.
. . .
"I do not believe that death squads were operating in Honduras," Negroponte testified before Congress in 2001.
Oscar Reyes begs to differ. He was living in Honduras at the time. "On July 8, 1982, some military people went to our home, ransacked it, detained us, and brought us to the torture house," he told me last year. "There were a lot of people being tortured that night. You could hear the screaming. They used electrical shock on my body and my genitals, and they hanged me by my hands and were hitting me almost all night long. Then they put me in front of a tree and gave me a fake execution. . . . On my wife, they used electrical shock in her vagina. It was so bad that she had permanent damage to her ovaries, and she had to have a hysterectomy." (See “America’s Amnesia,” The Progressive, July 2004.)

Now from Rothschild's latest "McCarthyism Watch:"

Ward Churchill is under attack.
But it’s not about him.
It's about free speech and academic freedom.
And it's about the ability to criticize U.S. foreign policy in the context of 9/11.
As you've probably heard, Ward Churchill is a professor at the University of Colorado who wrote some regrettable words in an essay after 9/11, comparing what he called "the technicians" in the World Trade Center to "Little Eichmanns." That unfortunate comparison was outrageous and insensitive, and I wish he hadn't made it.
But that doesn't mean he didn’t have the right to make it.
He has the right that all Americans have: the right of free speech.
And he has the right that all tenured faculty have: the right to express themselves and their ideas freely so that in the free exchange of ideas, truth will eventually win out.
Now, more than three years after his essay, the snarlers and growlers of the right have come after Churchill, led by Bill O’Reilly and the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
Churchill has received many death threats, his car has been vandalized with swastikas, a Denver talk show host said he should be executed for treason, and now Churchill's job is on the line.
The Board of Regents is undertaking a 30-day review of all of Churchill’s writings and statements.
The governor of Colorado has called for his dismissal.
. . .
I have read Churchill’s offending essay, " 'Some People Push Back': On the Justice of Roosting Chickens." (To read it and Ward Churchill's response to the controversy, go to
And there is much in there that offends me: his indelicate and imprudent and historically inaccurate comparisons to Nazi Germany, his callousness to those who lost their lives on 9/11, his romanticized treatment of the terrorists and their motives on 9/11, his lack of appreciation for the dangers of Islamic fundamentalism, and his disdain for pacifists.
But my strong disagreements with Churchill are beside the point. As are Bill O'Reilly's or the editors' of the Wall Street Journal or the regents' of the University of Colorado or Governor Owens's.
Ward Churchill has the right to express himself freely.
. . .
We've been down this ugly road before.
We need to defend Ward Churchill.
We need to defend free speech.
We need to defend academic freedom.
And we need to defend the right to criticize the U.S. empire.
For the attack on Churchill is an attack also on anyone who dares to question the myth of American imperial innocence.

From Media Matters we offer this item (that Donnie, Kara, Jim, Woody and Brad all e-mailed into this site) -- "CJR Daily's critique doesn't register:"

As CJR Daily noted, "All Iraqi citizens over the age of 18 were eligible to vote and those holding a valid ration card for the UN 'Oil for Food' program were considered registered." In order to conclude, as CJR Daily does, that "the set of registered voters and the set of eligible voters ... were virtually identical," one must assume that virtually every Iraqi citizen over the age of 18 holds a valid ration card for the oil-for-food program.
Given the fact that the oil-for-food program
ended in November 2003; that the program's efficiency and efficacy have been widely questioned; that only those residents of a war-torn nation who still hold ration cards for a long-defunct program and whose ration card information is correct were considered "registered"; and that nobody even knows how many eligible voters there are in Iraq since the country does not conduct a census, we have no idea why CJR Daily would assume that the universe of eligible voters and that of registered voters were "virtually identical."
CJR Daily even noted that "the list of registered voters was just as unreliable as the estimate of eligible voters." If both lists were "unreliable," how can CJR Daily possibly conclude that the numbers are "virtually identical"?

. . .
It seems that the real issue here is that too many are making a curious assumption that every eligible voter in Iraq was registered to vote. And that includes CJR Daily.

All five who e-mailed the item voiced their concern that Media Matters was (Brad's words) "getting the shaft" and wanted this highlighted. Three were concerned that we wouldn't highlight it here because of CJR Daily being involved. CJR Daily is supposed to be a mainstream source (not a partisan one). Of course Media Matters deserves highlighting, they are partisan and working towards the same goals (or many, let me not try to speak for Media Matters) that we're working towards. We've cited Media Matters before but if there's a tendency not to highlight their items that's largely because fair use makes me skittish about highlighting their entries in full and since they are short entries, it's hard to pull quote and do justice to their writing.

[With Matthew Rothschild's latest "McCarthyism Watch" we may be pushing fair use. But I wanted to be clear about what Rothschild was saying and what he wasn't.]

Kara: I'm just really concerned that there will be this 'Oh, CJR Daily . . . well, I won't question them" attitude and Media Matters will be left to stand alone.

My opinion is Media Matters more than made their case. And with regard to CJR Daily . . . CJR the magazine? I think it's wonderful. CJR Daily? The Third Estate Sunday Review has weighed in on problems with them (and are working on a story -- yes, I'm providing input -- for Sunday's edition). I agree with the problems The Third Estate Sunday Review has cited. As someone who looks forward to each issue of CJR, I agree that CJR Daily needs far more oversight.

A number of members had requested a "Mag Report" and the reason we're doing that is because they feel (and I agree) that CJR Daily does not cover the magazine beat well in their own "Magazine Report." We are a left site so we cover the left magazines and stories in general magazines that apply to issues we care about. CJR Daily is not supposed to be partisan and why they have felt the need to do general interest mags with The Weekly Standard tossed in (that's a right wing magazine) is beyond me. This issue will be addressed in this Sunday's Third Estate Sunday Review.

Our sympathies and support go to Media Matters. They were not wrong and they got slapped down by CJR Daily in an item that shouldn't have been posted at CJR Daily as written (and researched).

There is no fear here that if CJR Daily is offended they won't link to us. (A fear Woody voiced.) That's more than fine with me, no one ever needs to link to us. We're a growing community that's really much bigger than I would have ever expected us to become. And we don't curry favor here. We don't do trades for acknowledgement or silence ourselves to avoid being noted by someone.

We did link to a CJR Daily piece on Elisabeth Bumiller that was making a point similar to what we were making at that time. Someone e-mailed that in (I'm sorry I don't remember who and I'm too tired to look it up). I'm sure we'll link to something of their's again before the year's over. But we're not concerned with losing a link. If we were print and took advertisements, we wouldn't worry about losing ads. To me, it's the same thing. Blah, blah, blah.

Let's note that Rush Limbaugh is now attacking a voice we've identified as one that speaks to us (Katrina vanden Heuvel) and you can read about it at Media Matters: 'Limbaugh called Nation editor, husband "well-known communist[s]" .'

New York Times has one powerful story on the front page to be proud of, otherwise they send in the Elite Fluff Patrol

Let's start by noting a worthy story on the front page of this morning's New York Times -- Sharon LaFraniere's " AIDS and Custom Leave African Families Nothing:"

There are two reasons 11-year-old Chikumbutso Zuze never sees his three sisters, why he seldom has a full belly, why he sleeps packed sardinelike with six cousins on the dirt floor of his aunt's thatched mud hut.
One is AIDS, which claimed his father in 2000 and his mother in 2001. The other is his father's nephew, a tall, light-complexioned man whom Chikumbutso knows only as Mr. Sululu.
It was Mr. Sululu who came to his village five years ago, after his father died, and commandeered all of the family's belongings - mattresses, chairs and, most important, the family's green Toyota pickup, an almost unimaginable luxury in this, one of the poorest nations on earth. And it was Mr. Sululu who rejected the pleas of the boy's mother, herself dying of AIDS, to leave the truck so that her children would have an inheritance to sustain them after her death.
Instead, Chikumbutso said, he left behind a battery-powered transistor radio.
"I feel very bitter about it," he said, plopped on a wooden bench in 12-by-12-foot hut rented by his maternal aunt and uncle on the outskirts of this town in the lush hills of southern Malawi. "We don't really know why they did all this. We couldn't understand."
Actually, the answer is simple: custom. Throughout sub-Saharan Africa the death of a father automatically entitles his side of the family to claim most, if not all, of the property he leaves behind, even if it leaves his survivors destitute.
In an era when AIDS is claiming about 2.3 million lives a year in sub-Saharan Africa - roughly 80,000 people last year in Malawi alone - disease and stubborn tradition have combined in a terrible synergy, robbing countless mothers and children not only of their loved ones but of everything they own.
"It is the saddest, saddest story," said Seodi White, who heads the Malawi chapter of Women and Law in Southern Africa, a nonprofit research organization. "People are cashing in on AIDS. Women are left with nothing but the disease. Every time you hear it you get shocked, but in fact it is normal. That's the horror of it."

And that's pretty much it on the front page that's praise worthy. You have some okay writing elsewhere but you also have the Elite Fluff Patrol running manuevers to ensure that John Negroponte get the full spin treatment. Squad leader Elisbeth Bumiller's teamed up with Douglas Jehl (a non squad member so one can only assume she's there to ensure that the Fluff Patrol control the dialogue). Those who remember the Honduran death squads damage will never forget it, no matter how much Elite Fluff Patrol members Bumiller and David E. Sanger attempt to spin and minimize.

Sanger's pulling double duty on the front page. With Jaques Steinberg, his byline runs on "Schieffer Brothers' New Jobs Won't Strain Bonds, They Say" which attempts to act as though Tom Schieffer's nomination by the Bully Boy is being handled among Tom and brother Bob (useless host of Face the Nation and due to briefly sub as anchor for CBS's Evening News after Rather steps down) in such a way to make sure there's no appearence of conflict of interest for "news" personality Bob.

There's never been a conflict for Bob Schieffer -- he's always been firmly in the Bully Boy's camp. Let's go to The Daily Howler on Bob Schieffer:

The person running tomorrow's debate comes from Texas, just like Bush. In the past, he and Bush went to ball games together. He and Bush played golf together. He and Bush even took in spring training together! And not only that -- his brother was Bush’s close business partner; later, Bush named him ambassador to Australia. And not only that -- the moderator roots for people from his part of the country, and roots against those northeastern snobs! It's hard to believe that a man as accomplished as Schieffer would say some of these silly things in public. But this is a partial profile of the "liberal journalist" who will be hosting Wednesday's crucial debate. Would you want to be John Kerry faced with this boo-hooing Sun Belter? Poor Schieffer! He had to go to Texas Christian! Forty years later, he still cries in his beer, humiliated by the cruel slight.
Schieffer is old, close friends with Bush. And yes, despite what he said to Kurtz, he has given "favorable treatment" to Bush. At times, he's given very favorable treatment, a point we'll incomparably revisit tomorrow. Is your press corps driven by liberal bias? Who knows? In a world where George Will represents liberal bias, we suppose that Bob Schieffer does too.

Daily Howler readers learned of that on October 12, 2004. Months later, the Times is kind-of-sort-of-maybe aware that there might be some sort of special relationship between a Schieffer and a Bush. Days late, dollars short and always sucking up, the New York Times: more useless every day.

There's much to know about Bob Schieffer, you just won't find it in the Times. Check out The Daily Howler for what the New York Times isn't interested in telling you.

Sara Rimer and Patrick D. Healy weigh in on Lawrence Summers remarks in "Furor Lingers as Harvard Chief Gives Details of Talk on Women." From the article:

Bowing to pressure from his faculty, the president of Harvard University, Lawrence H. Summers, on Thursday released a month-old transcript of his contentious closed-door remarks about the shortage of women in the sciences and engineering. The transcript revealed several provocative statements by Dr. Summers about the "intrinsic aptitude" of women, the career pressures they face and discrimination within universities.
Dr. Summers's remarks, which have only been described by others until now, have fueled a widening crisis on campus, with several professors talking about taking a vote of no confidence on the president next week. That idea alone is unprecedented at Harvard in modern times.
Among his comments to a conference of economists last month, according to the transcript, Dr. Summers, a former secretary of the United States Treasury, compared the relatively low number of women in the sciences to the numbers of Catholics in investment banking, whites in the National Basketball Association and Jews in farming.
He theorized that a "much higher fraction of married men" than married women were willing to work 80-hour weeks to attain "high powered" jobs. He said racial and sex discrimination needed to be "absolutely, vigorously" combated, yet he argued that bias could not entirely explain the lack of diversity in the sciences. At that point, the Harvard leader suggested he believed that the innate aptitude of women was a factor behind their low numbers in the sciences and engineering.
. . .

Several Harvard professors said they were more furious after reading the precise remarks, saying they felt he believed women were intellectually inferior to men.
Everett I. Mendelsohn, a professor of the history of science, said that once he read the transcript, he understood why Dr. Summers "might have wanted to keep it a secret."
"Where he seems to be off the mark particularly is in his sweeping claims that women don't have the ability to do well in high-powered jobs," said Professor Mendelsohn, part of a faculty group that sharply criticized Dr. Summers's leadership at a meeting of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on Tuesday. "There's an implication that they've taken themselves out of that role. But he brings forward no evidence."

Summers' remarks are certainly to gather more attention now that the transcript has been released. There's much to raise an eyebrow over. At one point, sounding very much like the aged relic advising J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) in the movie Baby Boom, Lawrence Summers declared (among other things):

And the relatively few women who are in the highest ranking places are disproportionately either unmarried or without children, with the emphasis differing depending on just who you talk to. And that is a reality that is present and that one has exactly the same conversation in almost any high-powered profession. What does one make of that? I think it is hard-and again, I am speaking completely descriptively and non-normatively-to say that there are many professions and many activities, and the most prestigious activities in our society expect of people who are going to rise to leadership positions in their forties near total commitments to their work. They expect a large number of hours in the office, they expect a flexibility of schedules to respond to contingency, they expect a continuity of effort through the life cycle, and they expect-and this is harder to measure-but they expect that the mind is always working on the problems that are in the job, even when the job is not taking place. And it is a fact about our society that that is a level of commitment that a much higher fraction of married men have been historically prepared to make than of married women. That's not a judgment about how it should be, not a judgment about what they should expect. But it seems to me that it is very hard to look at the data and escape the conclusion that that expectation is meeting with the choices that people make and is contributing substantially to the outcomes that we observe.

Is it really all that different from what the relic Fritz says to J.C. in Baby Boom? "Do you understand the sacrifices? A man can be a success. My wife is there for me whenever I need her. I'm lucky. I can have it all." Don't we expect more than acceptance of bias tossed off as convention wisdom from people running institutions like Harvard?

And what's Fritz, er Summer's answer (he says he'll deal with his three theories later in the speech)?

What should we all do? I think the case is overwhelming for employers trying to be the [unintelligible] employer who responds to everybody else's discrimination by competing effectively to locate people who others are discriminating against, or to provide different compensation packages that will attract the people who would otherwise have enormous difficulty with child care. I think a lot of discussion of issues around child care, issues around extending tenure clocks, issues around providing family benefits, are enormously important. I think there's a strong case for monitoring and making sure that searches are done very carefully and that there are enough people looking and watching that that pattern of choosing people like yourself is not allowed to take insidious effect. But I think it's something that has to be done with very great care because it slides easily into pressure to achieve given fractions in given years, which runs the enormous risk of people who were hired because they were terrific being made to feel, or even if not made to feel, being seen by others as having been hired for some other reason. And I think that's something we all need to be enormously careful of as we approach these issues, and it's something we need to do, but I think it's something that we need to do with great care.

Great care, he wants. No rushing. He cribs from Baby Boom and that's the best he can come up with? Here's Susan Faludi in Backlash commenting on the notions in Baby Boom:

[O]ne might expect that the film would set out to challenge this unjust arrangement -- and argue that the corporation must learn to accomdate women, not the other way around. [p. 129]

Yes, according to Summers, "with care."

Note the question and answer section. Note the topic of the speech. Note that the only time he goes into great length (his longest response) is when he talks about basketball players. Anybody else got a problem with that? Anyone else bothered?

Note the basic comments of: Here are my prepared remarks on the topic now I'll take questions and answers. Here's a short reply, here's another, oh basketball! Let me talk about this!

To put it bluntly, the response suggests where his interests lie and where they don't. To underscore it, he goes through the motions on the designated topic but comes alive when he can discuss sports.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Rolonda Highlights Lena Horne for Black History Month

Rolonda: Tamara's entry on Harry Belafonte was really good and when she mentioned how many famous people played the go-along-to-get-along, it made me think that Belafonte and Eartha Kitt were brave but that someone else was as well and I want to highlight her.

Lena Horne was born in 1917 and by the time she was a teenager, she was a dancer at Harlem's Cotton Club. With her beauty and voice (and she was a graceful dancer too though that's often forgotten), Horne had everything needed to be a star and quickly became just that in the forties.
"Stormy Weather" remains one of the classic songs of American music and her version of it remains the standard. The silky way she navigates the melody still thrills.

And you can't be that talented and that beautiful without Hollywood coming to knock on your door, even if you are black and the civil rights movement is just getting started. But no matter how talented you are, you still hit the race wall. And Lena Horne was no exception.

Taking a brave stand, one that elevated the role of blacks in in movies, Ms. Horne refused to play the stereotypical roles. That meant that she had two significant films to her credit that were performed by an all black cast: the classic Cabin in the Sky and the sentimental and moving Stormy Weather. Otherwise, her roles were small and easily cut out of the film when it played to white audiences in the south.

Lena Horne was active in the civil rights movement. As a woman trying to establish herself in Hollywood as something more than a maid or nanny, Horne could have played it safe and gone the go-along-to-get-along route. She didn't. She spoke her mind and said her peace.

And the result was that a career (three film appearences in 1946 alone) were followed by the fifties blacklisting which found her unable to work in movies or TV. Ms. Horne was lucky and brave. She could always make a living thanks to her singing voice.

But think about the fall from being the highest paid black actor in Hollywood to being blacklisted.
Ms. Horne handled it with her usual grace and dignity. She kept working, giving great performances in night clubs and recording amazing albums.

She's left a legacy that says you can be proud on your terms. Lena Horne demonstrates the power of believing in yourself. ("Believe in Yourself" is a song she performs in 1978's The Wiz and it's one of my favorite of all her songs.)

The first time I ever saw Lena Horne was when I was eight years old and she was on Judy Garland's TV show. Among other songs, she performed "Mad Dogs and Englishmen" with Garland (who my mother kept saying was Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz but I wouldn't believe her until Judy started singing) and Noel Coward (who wrote the song). I felt awful, I was covered with pink lotion to keep from scratching (I had chicken pox) and my mother was frantic that I not scar myself by scratching at the pox. Lena Horne came on and I was spellbound.

After the show went off, I was dancing around and singing "Mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun" which was the only line I could remember. My poor mother had to hear that one line over and over until I exhausted myself and fell asleep.

The next day, my mother pulled out some of her vinyl records and kept me busy (and not scratching) by letting me listen to Lena . . . Lovely and Alive, Porgy & Bess (with Harry Belafonte), Stormy Weather and Give the Lady What She Wants. Like most girls my age, I would later sing along with Diana Ross and Aretha Franklin (using my brush as a microphone) but Lena Horne always held a special place in my heart and there wasn't an album she put out that didn't quickly get put on my mother's record player. And in 1994, she released my all time favorite album, We'll Be Together Again (all time favorite by anyone).

She's conducted herself with professionalism, style and grace and she's recorded some amazing albums while elevating the public's notion of what a black woman (now we say African-American) can do. She's a trailblazer. I'll always be a fan of the singer but to the woman I owe a gratitude and admiration because she carved out a place that didn't exist before her. That's why I wanted to highlight Lena Horne and publicly say, "Thank you."

The prosecution admitted in its closing argument that Ms. Stewart played no role in the fatwa issued in the Sheik's name

NYC Indy Media has a commentary on the Lynne Stewart verdict by Ann Schneider that's (my opinion) a must-read:

The prosecution admitted in its closing argument that Ms. Stewart played no role in the fatwa issued in the Sheik's name that called for the killing of Jews everywhere in revenge for Sharon's visit to the Al-Aqsa mosque. Instead, they blamed Abdel Sattar for issuing that without the Sheik's permission.
Ms. Stewart testified her aim was to get the Sheik transferred to Egypt, despite the lack of a treaty between the two countries. In this, she was following in the role established by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark who also issued many press releases on behalf of the Sheik after his conviction without running afoul of the SAM. Clark testified that he had traveled to Egypt several times on the Sheik's behalf, working in diplomatic circles for the Sheik's return. Apparently, Ms. Stewart believed that informing the Arabic press about the Sheik's reconsideration of the cease-fire might influence the Egyptian authorities to take him back. In his summation, her attorney Michael Tigar said "What makes sense is that you want your client to have constructive engagement with somebody on the other side."
The weakness of the government's case is shown by their repeated reference to Ms. Stewart's "consciousness of guilt" as shown by her June 2000 confession to Sattar's spouse that (taped on Sattar's phone- her office was never tapped, they say), "I don't think I can hide this [press release] from Pat Fitzgerald." Fitzgerald did withdraw Ms. Stewart's visiting privileges when he learned about the press release. But her visiting privileges were restored six months later after she signed a new SAM, negotiated on her behalf by her attorney Stanley Cohen. If her conduct in issuing the press release was criminal, why was she not arrested until 2002, and why did the government restore her right to act as the Sheik's attorney? And where is any evidence of harm coming to any person as a result of the Sheik's statement?

Danny Schechter's Weapons of Mass Deception (theater locations and times for this weekend)

So what's all this talk about Weapons of Mass Deception, you may be asking? You're a new member or an old member or just someone visiting, and you're wondering why this film is getting two mentions on one day.

Well besides members and myself bragging about this film, you might want to remember the New York Times' review slammed it. When the Times starts doing their gatekeeping moves, you know the film is worth seeing. Anything that turns the Grey Lady pale is something worth seeing.

But check out this review from Buffalo News Review by Mark Sommer:

"WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception" is a powerful expose that shows how TV news helped the Bush administration, and the Pentagon, manufacture consent for the Iraq war.
. . .
The Pentagon's manipulation of war coverage is examined through how it used embedded reporters to largely tell the story it wanted to get out, turning the Fourth Estate into - in the words of Gen. Tommy Franks - "the Fourth Front."
Schechter contrasts the sanitized view of the war seen by Americans with graphic depictions shown overseas, especially on Arab TV. Unlike Americans, foreigners learn about such controversial weapons in the U.S. arsenal as depleted uranium and napalm-like Mark 77 fire bombs.
The film also examines the pressure felt in TV newsrooms to appear super-patriotic and avoid tough questions of the administration.

. . .
Debate and dissent were early casualties of the TV war, Schechter says, despite millions who protested against the war before it even started.
"Mainstream media sort of ghettoizes this kind of coverage and doesn't allow it to enter into the main discourse," he said.
The film also explores allegations U.S. troops intentionally shelled non-embedded journalists on two occasions, resulting in the deaths of Arab reporters.

Note: Weapons of Mass Destruction is playing in various cities.

Bijou Art Cinemas 492 East 13th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401
Show times:
Nightly: 4:50pmFri/Sat/Sun: 11:45pm
Sat Matinee: 2:50pm
Please call to confirm times:541.686.2458

FEBRUARY 20, 2pm:
Manhattanville College:
Connie Hogarth Center for Social ActionPiusx Theater
2900 Purchase St.Purchase, NY 10577
This screening is sponsored by No War Westchester Coalition and WMD director Danny Schechter will be doing a Q&A.
WMD will be featured in the Grassroots Theatre Network's national tour!
"WMD is a tremendous film. It was our Board of Directors' first choice to be included in our Grassroots Theatre Network screenings at commercial theatres across the country. Our screenings start in Bethel, Connecticut and Larkspur, California on February 9, and continue across the country during February and March. Supporters interested in seeing the film can inquire at to check for additional venues." -- Dr. Sandy Martin, founder of the Grassroots Theatre Network
. . .

February 23
San FranciscoThe Landmark Bridge Theatre
Reception at 6:45.
Film at 7:15.
Film will be introduced by Professor John McManus of

Information about the film, interviews with Danny Schechter and reviews of the film can be found at the Weapons of Mass Deception web site.

The Lynne Stewart Verdict -- Terry Gilbert: "It is an ominous sign for the future."

The Cleveland Indy Media Center has "Interview with Terry Gilbert In Response to the Lynne Stewart Guilty Verdict" by elle ross:

Cleveland Indymedia Center interviews renowned Cleveland Attorney Terry Gilbert in response to the guilty verdict in the Lynne Stewart trial. The National Lawyers Guild condemns the message the government is sending to defense lawyers who choose to represent unpopular clients. After deliberating for 13 days, a jury convicted Lynne Stewart, veteran civil rights attorney.
Terry Gilbert Biography
Interview with Cleveland Attorney Terry Gilbert regarding the Lynne Stewart guilty verdict. 2/15/04
elle ross = ER

ER:What are you initial thoughts with the guilty verdict in the Lynne Stewart Trial?

TG:Well, I think it's disturbing because the relationship between a lawyer and a client should be held with great sacredness in our justice system. The fact that she might have echoed some positions to her lawyer that her client expressed certainly should not be accepted as providing material support to terrorism. I think that the way it was spun was successfully done because of the prosecution because of the climate of fear that exists in this country that anybody who could even be perceived to be helping somebody who is a terrorist regardless of their role, in this case being a lawyer, should not be considered to be afforded protection under our law. I think that is scary and alarming.

ER:The National Lawyers Guild has stated with the verdict of this case the government is bent on intimidating attorneys from providing representation to unpopular clients. That is similar to what you were just saying. Do you agree with this?

TG:yeah I think it does. I don't think that lawyers in general, even criminal defense lawyers are breaking down doors to represent people who are being investigated for terrorism-related crimes, but those few who have been committed to the principal that everyone deserves a defense, a vigorous defense, may think twice before they decide to represent somebody knowing that every move you make, every discussion you have with your client, every strategy decision you may develop could be under scrutiny by the government. This is very intimidating. It is an ominous sign for the future.

ER:In your career you have represented what is termed unpopular clients. Do you think this effects you personally or how do you feel this may effect attorneys in general?

TG:I am pretty solid in my career, it is probably winding down at this point. So I am not going to waiver in my principals at this point. I don't feel intimated by the government. But I feel bad for the younger lawyers who are starting out who need to uphold the principals of zealous advocacy. I am wondering about those people who have young families, who are looking toward building their careers in law may think it's not worth it to get involved in this kind of dilemma. You know, we always are concerned about the government snooping in regarding our relationship with our clients particularly with respect to who is paying fees and that kind of thing. You know, the mob lawyers were always being intimidated by the government because of where money was coming from. So this is nothing new. But now it's a whole different scope of scrutiny and monitoring. This war on terrorism has so many tentacles of consequences, and now we have to worry about the attorney client relationship. Now, maybe Lynne Stewart, who is a firebrand lawyer, who I know by the way, and who has stood up against the government for many years and is not afraid to put herself at risk, maybe she did some things in this case that might have been done more discreetly and not broadcast to the world, but I don't think that takes away from what may be the insidious scope of the investigation against her. Had she had just represented somebody else they probably wouldn't even have cared, but because she was representing a high profile client they have made an example out of her.

ER: How do you think the Lynne Stewart case will effect a citizens 6th amendment right to an attorney?

TG:Well, I think it drives to wedge, in some sense, between the lawyer and the client. Because if the lawyer wants to feel comfortable confiding in a confidential manner with his or her lawyer, knowing that the government may be watching what goes on between the lawyer and the client, what communications take place, whether in the open area or in the prisons, they may not be willing to put their trust in the lawyer. And that's a scary proposition.