Saturday, October 08, 2005

CNN's in the midst of a snit fit.

Rush Limbaugh says on air that his "mistress" sent him an e-mail praising Bully Boy's recent speech (aka Operation Try To Scare The Hell Out of America).

Media Matters reports that.

CNN has to rush in with "That's not Daryn Kagan! He's talking about someone else!"

If CNN has a problem, they should take it up with Limbaugh.

Whether or not the news-challenged Kagan sent her rotund boyfriend an e-mail, if there's a misunderstanding on the issue it has to do with Limbaugh, not Media Matters.

If a clarification needs to be made re: Kagan, a little nothing not unlike a certain sitcom hacktress who went straight to nowhere, Kagan and her hopefully in drug addiction recovery boyfriend need to make the clarification.

CNN was once the home of the best televised news in the United States. When you walked through the Atlanta studios, and I did many times, you saw people devoted to finding the news item that would speak to the viewer (and further their own name, let's be honest). That was everyone, not just the person who'd be onscreen. The attitude was one of "we're going to tell you something that no one else is telling you and if we have to cover something everyone else is telling you, we'll do in a way that provides you with a little bit more." There was a dedication and spirit that would give you hope in the future for domestic mainstream media.

These days, CNN can't air a story without worrying first how it will play and whom might attack them for it. It has to do with the 'synergy' and the consolidation as well as the relocation.

As people with vision left (are were forced out), the network's become a hopeless and unreliable cable channel that's never quite sure what it is from one week to the next. A piece gets waived through, then half-way into the vetting process, it's killed for various reasons. (Usually having to do with "image" -- CNN alters its image constantly.)

Now they've got time to bicker with Media Matters over a reasonable interpretation (by Media Matters) of Rush Limbaugh's public, on air remarks. The item reportedly caused a flurry of activity on the part of CNN. I'm told that more time was spent on this item (vetting it and composing the response) then it spent on the average "breaking news" story airing on CNN. (Three friends remain at CNN, none are on air talent.)

Instead of wasting the time to compose their rebuttal, they should be focusing on the news. Rush speaks in code, wink-wink and most of the time CNN isn't bothered. They weren't bothered by this originally, I'm told, but then they started hearing rumbles about Kagan and whether it's appropriate for her to be passing along information (Kagan told CNN she didn't).
It's not appropriate, if it happened.

But the issue isn't Media Matters.

It's easier, however, for them to respond to Media Matters than to Limbaugh (whom they're scared of).

I don't usually do any Saturday evening posts. The reason I'm doing this one is that while working with The Third Estate Sunday Review, my phones won't stop ringing over this. People who worked for CNN eager to point out how embarrassing this is and a further sign of the decline of the network. The three friends still at CNN calling to air their grievances.

I think it's very embarrassing for CNN. It's embarrassing that the statement was made on air (by Limbaugh). It's embarrassing that people outside CNN are loudly questioning what Kagan and Limbaugh might be sharing. (I'm not referring to Media Matters.) It's embarrassing that a shrug of "Rush does what he wants" leads not to seriously addressing this issue on their end but instead devoting all that time to composing their rebuttal to Media Matters.

Most of all the entire incident is demoralizing to CNN. Don't expect them to deal with it. They were quite proud of their "rebuttal."

If you think about it, this is akin to a bully (Rush) stealing lunch money from someone (CNN) and a bystander (Media Matters) pointing that out. Instead of addressing the bully, someone (CNN) wants to scream about what the bystander concluded.

That doesn't deal with the theft of the lunch money and the three friends still at CNN doubt that the lunch money theft will ever be dealt with.

Let's move from the insanity of CNN to reality. At Iraq Dispatches, Dahr Jamail has posted a letter from the Brussels Tribunal (the letter is to Amnesty) regarding Iraq. Here's an excerpt from "Open Letter to Amnesty International on the Iraqi Constitution:"

The following letter was composed by members of the Brussels Tribunal, one of the groups from the World Tribunal on Iraq. For those interested in international law and the upcoming referendum vote on the Iraqi constitution, this is a must read:
We would like to congratulate Amnesty International on its courageous stand against the massive human rights violations inflicted upon the people of Iraq by the US-led occupation forces, as stated in the Amnesty International annual report of 2005. "Armed groups committed gross human rights abuses, including targeting civilians, hostage-taking and killing hostages. Women continued to be harassed and threatened amid the mounting daily violence. The death penalty was reinstated in August by the new interim government.”
The recommendations made by Amnesty International's chief Mr. Schulz in the aftermath of this report were very clear: "If the US government continues to shirk its responsibility, Amnesty International calls on foreign governments to uphold their obligations under international law by investigating all senior US officials involved in the torture scandal," said Schulz, who added that violations of the torture convention, which has been ratified by the United States and some 138 other countries, can be prosecuted in any jurisdiction."
On August 9, 2005, Amnesty International launched a "Call for a human rights based constitution". This action alert calls on people to write to Jaafari, asking him to make sure that the constitution is one that respects human rights. Of course, we embrace the idea that Iraqi's human rights will be much better protected in the future than they are today. Nevertheless, everyone who cares about human rights should question the validity of a constitution that is written under the current situation. A call we received from a well-know human rights activist from Baghdad, who has strong reservations against Amnesty International's action alert, should illustrate our concern. For security reasons we can't reveal the author’s name. We apologize for this, but in our opinion, people in a war zone should still have the right and opportunity to speak out without risking death. It also shows how grievous the situation in Iraq is, and how far the so-called 'Salvador option', the state-directed terror against the population, is now in action.
"I hear Amnesty International is campaigning for Human Rights in the new Iraqi draft constitution? How wonderful that they are concerned about our human rights in the future...

but what about now? Why doesn't Amnesty International campaign or at least say something about the hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis who are held for months, years in the American prisons, without the least rights? The known and the unknown prisons inside and outside Iraq? Why don't they do something about the hundreds of Iraqis, whose bodies are found every day on the garbage piles, with evidences of horrible torture on their bodies after they had been disappeared for a few days? What about the miserable life the Iraqi government is giving the Iraqis for months now, in every field? Does Amnesty International consider the rewriting of the constitution now a legal process? Obviously it does, but on what bases? The war and occupation of Iraq are illegal (even Kofi Annan said it). Who wrote the draft? A member of the writing committee admitted that a draft was sent from the US. So, how far is this legal?
I would like to ask Amnesty International one question: why is it so necessary to write a new constitution for Iraq now? All the political parties, the government, the National Assembly, the media ..etc are preoccupied with the (controversial points) in the constitution for months now, and will be for the next few months. Meanwhile, the country is full of problems: the security, the services, the economy, the environment, the corruption, the Human Rights conduct of the Iraqi government... to mention only few ..two days ago I went to a dentist compound, one of the biggest in Baghdad, where at least 50 dentists work. They could not pull out my tooth because they did not have anesthetic...a very common problem in the Iraqi hospitals for months. Too bad for my teeth, but imagine with emergency cases?
In Tallafar families did not get the food ration, neither any other food since the beginning of this year. In many Iraqi towns, the majority, there is no authority, no law, no police, no courts, only the armed militias and their political parties. Racial cleansing has begun in many parts of Iraq. The government in the heavily fortified Green Zone is very busy working on the constitution.
During the last attack on Haditha, for more than two weeks, all the news programs, the dialogue, the forums were focused on the constitution and in the meantime an Iraqi major city was practically slaughtered. No one said a word about it as if it was happening on the moon. Do you think that this is just a coincidence? And, by the way, it happened and is happening continuously in other places.
There are so many problems in Iraq now, so many crimes committed daily, where innocent people are killed, arrested, tortured... Why is it so important to neglect all these crimes and be busy with the constitution? Why is it so urgent?
Saddam did not write the Iraqi constitution, and if there were some changes or resolutions added to it during the last 30 years, they can be cancelled, simple. We can keep our constitution until we have a proper government and national assembly. After we are done with the most urgent problems, we can take our time writing the most humanitarian and progressive constitution in the world!
Maybe more dangerous is the fact that rewriting the constitution now is deepening the divisions between the Iraqis and pushing them to the verge of civil war, because some of them were given guarantees to participate in the political process, which they refused in the beginning, and after they agreed, the guarantees proved to be untrue.

The above's an excerpt. Click here to read more.

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The Laura Flanders Show: Sat. Gitanjali Guiterrez, James Yee, Linda Couch, Brenda Dardar Robinchiaux; Sunday: Jonathan Kozol

As always, Laura Flanders rates her own entry:

This Week on The Laura Flanders Show

This weekend on Air America Radio, 7-10 PM EST
The Bush crew’s running for cover -- and they need it.
We’ll talk about the Miers nomination, and just why the Right’s in such a frenzy.
And consider the administration’s worries:
The hunger strike by 200 Guantanamo detainees -- we'll get a report from Gitanjali Guiterrez from the Center for Consitutional Rights, and Gitmo Chaplain James Yee who was wrongly accused of espionage.
The post-Katrina housing crisis -- we'll speak with Linda Couch, Deputy Director of National Low Income Housing Coalition, and Brenda Dardar Robinchiaux, Principal Chief of the Houman Nation, Louisiana.
And on Sunday we'll speak with educator, civil rights activist, and author, Jonathan Kozol about how school segregation has reverted to a level that the nation has not seen since 1968.
Don't Forget - Now you can listen to the Laura Flanders Show
via podcast on iTunes!
Go to the Laura Flanders Blog

Remember that you can listen over broadcast radio (if there's an AAR in your area), via XM Satellite Radio (channel 167) or listen online.

Two things quickly.

First, the community loves The Laura Flanders Show (as do I). Two Fridays ago, I offered Flanders as the alternative to the Sunday Chat & Chews. But a few members felt Flanders was sullied just be being mentioned alongside the names of the Sunday Chat & Chew hosts. So we'll keep Flanders out of the Sunday Chat & Chews entries even as a "Here's how you do a show about what's effecting America and present a real range of voices and opinions."

Second, Ruth reports that Flanders is focusing on The Laura Flanders Show and is no longer with Your Call. We were going to add that to the permalinks due to requests but I'll put that on hold (I'll use any excuse to avoid getting into the template, true) unless I hear from members that they want the show added. (There were requests for that after Ruth mentioned it in one of her reports. But since Flanders is a community favorite, I'll wait and see if the interest is still there now that Flanders has moved on.) Also remember that some of are members are sight impaired and a good audio link is something they can enjoy (I'm thinking of two members specifically) with their partners, so if you have a suggestion, feel free to provide it. (The community is in the process of figuring out their stance on NPR -- that's Friday's poll in the gina & krista round-robin and you need to reply to that by Tuesday. Whether we take part in the latest efforst re: NPR or not, the link will remain becuase the majority of our links take you to text and we do have sight impaired members.)

There's actually a third. I'm looking at an e-mail from Mia and she went to Borders Friday to browse and found Laura Flanders' Bushwomen. She's half-way through the book and urges everyone to consider picking up the book. (It's a great book and it's also one of Maria's favorite books.) Mia writes that she was very depressed as she looked around the section seeing various "blondes & blowhards from the right" and was about to give up on getting a book "after seeing that Scott Ritter's new book on Iraq focuses on the nineties" when she discovered Flanders' Bushwomen.

Mia: It has the usual blend of humor, insight and common sense that I expect from Laura. This is a great book!

The e-mail address for this site is

Air America Radio this weekend: Joseph Kennedy, James Yee, Loretta Napoleoni, Ralph Neas, Laura McPhee, Jacques Leslie, Gitanjali Guiterrez ..

From the Air America Radio home page, here's the line up for this weekend. Note that Ecotalk has switched to Saturdays.

Saturday 12-1pm ET
We’ll hear from the Alliance To Save Energy’s Lowell Unger on why W’s recent request for Americans to drive less is not going to get us where we need to go, and what you can do about getting CAFÉ standards out of "stall" mode in the legislature. We’ll also meet author Jacques Leslie to hear about his new book,
"Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment" about the destructive power of dams - and the truth about Clean Coal from N.R.D.C. policy expert, Dave Hawkins. And last but not least, meet three young eco-activists, recipients of the David Brower Youth Awards.

Ring of Fire
Saturdays 5pm-7pm ET. Rebroadcast Sundays 3pm-5pm
Yet another dangerous defect in Fords: a cruise-control mechanism that catches fire, even when the car isn't running. After recalling the part years ago, Ford later installed it in other models. Mike talks with attorney
Mark Chalos, who is representing the family of a four-year-old girl killed in a house fire started by one of these defective Fords.
Hope on the automotive horizon: Bobby talks with entrepreneur
Felix Kramer about the plug-in hybrid, which would add a rechargeable battery to the existing hybrid engine. The energy savings would be the equivalent of paying $1-a-gallon at current gas prices. Kramer is founder of the California Cars Inititiative.
Is the oil industry using the hurricanes as a pretext to gouge us at the gas pump? Bobby does the math and follows the money with his brother Joseph Kennedy, chairman of Citizens Energy Corporation, which provides low-cost heating oil to low-income people. Joe notes a little-known fact: the U.S. Treasury is one of the big beneficiaries of oil industry profits, thanks to royalties from drilling on federal lands.
Halliburton isn't the only winner in the Iraq war. Bush's folly has helped Islamic militants unite as never before. Mike talks with terrorism expert
Loretta Napoleoni, author of "Insurgent Iraq: al-Zarwawi and the New Generation."
The Pap Attack: Bush's House of Cards

The Laura Flanders Show
Saturdays and Sundays 7pm-10pm ET
Can Bush bounce back?
JANET ELLIOTT, reporter with The Houston Chronicle on why the Right is in such a frenzy over Harriet Miers. Then GITANJALI GUITERREZ from the Center for Constitutional Rights and CHAPLAIN JAMES YEE, who was wrongly accused of espionage tell us about the hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay. And ROXANNE KAYLOR, who is featured in a PBS documentary called "A Family At War" on how she and her husband Mike, who believes in the war, are coping with the loss of their son, First Lieutenant Jeff Kaylor.

The Kyle Jason Show
Saturdays 10pm-Midnight ET
This Saturday night, join Kyle Jason as he talks to musician, songwriter, and bandleader
JC Hopkins about his new group, The Biggish Band. JC has been a critical darling in the underground scene on both coasts and in several musical incarnations, including guitar-slinging folksinger, frontman for a power-pop trio, pianist and songwriter, and now, leader of The Biggish Band. His songs have been covered by artists such as Norah Jones and Willie Nelson, and following his eclectic and critically lauded solo debut, Athens by Night, Hopkins is back and leading a group of musicians with chops to match his own, including lead vocalist Queen Esther. Be sure to tune in and catch this rising talent as Kyle talks to JC about his background and influences, and plays tracks off The Biggish Band’s debut album, Underneath A Brooklyn Moon. Also, be sure to call in and share your stories of inspiration with us in the Tell Me Something Good segment!

Mother Jones Radio
Sundays 1pm-2pm ET
This Sunday on Mother Jones Radio we're cutting through the blather on the Tom DeLay indictment. What exactly is he charged with? What's the evidence? Is his defense credible? And who IS Ronnie Earle? And: the co-author of
BLACK RAGE is back, with MY AMERICAN LIFE: FROM RAGE TO ENTITLEMENT. Dr. Price Cobbs, on his life, black self-identity, and racism in the post-Civil Rights era.

Politically Direct
Sundays 2pm-3pm ET
It's a topical storm this Sunday on Politically Direct when David Bender welcomes
People for the American Way President Ralph Neas, who offers his insight into Harriet Miers' nomination to the Supreme Court; 2001 New York City Democratic mayoral nominee Mark Green, who handicaps this year's mayor's race; and filmmaker Steve Rosenbaum, whose just-released documentary Inside the Bubble has already sparked controversy for its candid, behind-the-scenes look at John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign.

The Laura Flanders Show
Saturdays and Sundays 7pm-10pm ET
If Bush can’t bounce back, who pays the price? Linda Couch, Deputy Director of
National Low Income Housing Coalition and Brenda Dardar Robicheaux Principal Chief of the Houma Nation in Louisiana on the post Katrina housing crisis. Then, Jonathan Kozol author of the book, The Shame of the Nation: Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, on the racial disparities in our educational system. Plus journalist and activist Laura McPhee tells us how she exposed Illinois Republican Senator Patricia Miller plan to make marriage a requirement for motherhood in her state!

The Revolution Starts...Now
Sundays 10pm-11pm ET
This week on The Revolution Starts Now, Air America's own
Sam Seder talks with Steve and plays some of his favorite tunes from the 1990's and the 1920's. Sam Seder has been a comedian, actor, writer and producer for television and film. He is currently working on a book to be published early next year and is the cohost of The Majority Report right here on Air America Radio.

On the Real
Sundays 11pm -1 am ET
Today On The Real, Public Enemy Founder and Hip Hop Legend, Chuck D and his co-host Giana Garel invite "Dam," the first Arabic Rap Group from the middle east to the Air America Radio studio. The group has been creating and performing hiphop music since 1998. Plus, publisher and editor of Toure Muhammad stops by to tell the dynamite duo about his website and his writing.

Remember, you can listen over broadcast radio (if there's an AAR in your area), via XM Satellite Radio (channel 167) or listen online.

The e-mail address for this site is

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: CounterSpin will be our lead. I am glad to know that many of you enjoy the program. Trina e-mailed to say she had gotten so busy in the last year that she had begun missing episodes of FAIR's weekly show but that the talk of the critiques and the humor had her making time in her schedule again. She also asks that I note Extra! which is a magazine that FAIR publishes. Extra! is a bi-monthly magazine and the latest issue, which I picked up after reading Trina's e-mail, features a cover story by CounterSpin's Peter Hart and Steve Rendall entitled "Saving PBS: Time to Unplug the CPB."

At the start of CounterSpin, listeners are offered a critique of recent news.

This week Peter Hart began this section by stating, "On September 28th House Majority Leader Tom DeLay was indicted and charged with illegally funneling money to Texas Republicans in an effort to win Congressional elections and redraw the state's congressional districts." That is such a clear, concise statement but it that sort of clarity is lacking in most of the mainstream coverage of Mr. DeLay's current 'problems.'

Mr. Hart notes that as he begins to address CBS's Face The Nation, a weekly Sunday Chat & Chew, that October first's roundtable featured three Republicans discussing Tom DeLay. Host Bob Schieffer excused the lack of inclusion for Democrats by saying, "Let me just point out, I didn't invite any Democrats to be on this morning because I thought this was a Republican problem and wanted to give you a chance to talk about it." To which Mr. Hart responds, "But how could charges suggesting DeLay was illegally scheming to make the U.S. House of Representatives more Republican be considered merely a Republican problem?"

Mr. Hart also noted that in November, following the election, Mr. Schieffer also had a need to moderate an all Republican panel and concludes: ". . . it doesn't matter whether it's a good news week or a bad news week for the G.O.P., any news is an excuse enough for an all Republican panel."

Janine Jackson then addressed the New York Times' October 5th report by Joel Brinkley on Nicaragua which allowed an unnamed "senior administration officials" to liken Sandinistas and the liberal party to "formely competing mafias." Ms. Jackson pointed out that the paper's policy is supposed to prevent reporters from "granting anonymity for a personal or partisan attack."

Further critiquing Mr. Brinkley's article, Ms. Jackson notes this statement from the article which is not credited to anyone so is presumably Mr. Brinkley's own statement: "Their goal is to regain power without holding an election that neither man could win."

Ms. Jackson: Now they teach in journalism school that you're not supposed to read minds. Like declaring what 'their goal' is without ever quoting them. And you're certainly not supposed to predict the future by declaring the outcome of elections in advance. More evidence that if you're writing about someone that the U.S. government considers 'bad,' the most basic rules don't matter.

Peter Hart then noted Gloria Borger and Ms. Borger's fondness for "Republican talking points. Janeane Jackson spoke of a former Fox "News" reporter now at MSNBC who had gone on the record complaining that while he was allowed to pursue stories on the Clinton administration with vigor, he was not allowed to do the same at Fox "News." Peter Hart noted more stretching, spinning and revisionist tactics from Bill O'Reilly.

The next section dealt with the coverage of attacks on the Endangered Species attack and the guest was Natural Resources Defense Council's Andrew Wetzler. Mr. Hart and Mr. Wetzler spoke of how the he said/she said coverage hurts the actual reporting on the bill coming out of the House of Representatvies and the bill itself.

Mr. Wetzler: First, the bill that was passed through the House of Representatives would completely repeal the protection for so called critical habitat for various species listed as threatened or endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The second thing the bill would do is give an enormous exemption to the pesticide industry effectively completely exempting pesticide regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency from the Endangered Species Act. And finally, the bill creates an enormous new entitlement program that would funnel tax payer dollars from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Department of Interior's budget to big developers, oil and gas companies and other land owners in exchange for those land owners promising not to kill or injure endangered species on their land.

Peter Hart: So they'll be compensated for following the law?

Mr. Wetzler: Well we don't like to use the word compensated although the media often does. They will be paid by tax payers for following the law which really violates a fundamental premise of American environmental law which is that we don't pay people not to pollute and killing endangered wildlife is no less pollution than polluting the air or polluting the water.

Janine Jackson then spoke with WBAI's Bob Lederer regarding the coverage of the death of Filiberto Ojeda Rios and how "it hasn't been much of a story for the U.S. press."

Mr. Lederer: Filiberto Ojeda Rios was someone who in his younger days was a salsa musician, trumpeter, guitarist, and went on to spend the bulk of his life, more than five decades, actively involved in the struggle for making Puerto Rico an independent country. He became a founder and leader of Los Macheteros, as you mentioned, also known as . . . the people's army and this is an organization that not only engaged in armed resistance against the U.S. military occupation of Puerto Rico through such actions as an attack on seven U.S. Air Force planes that were destined for El Salvador in the late seventies that were blown up and other operations against U.S. installations but also political organizing on issues such as the role of the U.S. Navy in carrying out target practice bombing . . ., labor struggles, environmental battles to fight against U.S. pharmecutical companies and a whole range of other issues. And he became known, even while he was underground as somebody who called for unity among the different groupings within the independence movement and became someone who was highly respected.

Ms. Jackson: While we use the term 'underground' one of the accounts that I read said that basically in Puerto Rico everyone knew where Ojeda was except the F.B.I. in the sense that he was underground but he would make his presence known and issue statements now and again and was very much felt as a living presence in the independence movement, is that right?

Mr. Lederer: No question. What had happened was that in 1985 the F.B.I. was able to track him down and moved in in a very similar operation to the one that we just saw last month to try to arrest him and perhaps to kill him at that time and so he was, by his own account, forced to shoot back in self-defense. He was arrested, an F.B.I. agent was wounded, and he was tried by a Puerto Rican jury for the assault on the F.B.I. officer and he was aquitted. The jury believed his argument of self-defense. And ultimately, in 1990, while he was on bail awaiting trial for the Hartford robbery he cut off his electronic bracelet and went back underground and, as you said, continued to stay in touch with the movement through annual statements actually granting journalistic interviews and as many U.S. military experts have said over the decades that a guerilla movement can only really maintain itself if it has popular support, people to shelter and protect those who are underground. So indeed, that was the role that he clearly played until the moment of his killing.

Ms. Jackson and Mr. Lederer then addressed the things missing from the coverage in the United States such as the ACLU and Amensty International's calls for an independent investigation. Ms. Jackson inquired as to general themes missing from the accounts?

Mr. Lederer: First you have the U.S. dominated accounts of everything. The criminalization of, in this case it was Filiberto Ojeda Rios, but in general of anyone connected to the independence movement. Some of the headlines from the AP stories, and these either came from AP or they were rewritten, by local newspapers that I found. "Puerto Rican Rebel Dies in F.B.I. Shoot Out." "Man Sought By F.B.I. Dies in Stake Out." "Puerto Rican Man Wanted In Heist Dies." "Wanted Fugitive Is Killed." Now all of these both treat Ojeda as a criminal and also assume the F.B.I.'s side of the story, that it was a "shoot out" rather than an effort to kill him, really, by one side shooting in, which there may have been some shots back in self-defense just as the jury found in 1985. So that was a very consistent trend. You've also mentioned the aspect of focusing on such issues as the F.B.I. beefing up security rather than the question of why is there such mass outrage that even the most conservative sectors of soceity are calling for very stringent measures against what they're considering an assassination, really a death squad type of activity by the F.B.I. The other problem with the media coverage is that there is an utter lack of any historical context being given. Even something directly relevant as the case I mentioned in the late eighties when the Puerto Rican jury aquitted him of self-defense, very similar scenario, would certainly cause some questions about the F.B.I.'s current claim that Ojeda shot first and that they were just defending themselves never mentioned even when they do recite his legal history through the eighties and nineties. And then there's the larger history that's always missing from Puerto Rico's coverage which is the fact that under international law as found through United Nation's resolutions repeatedly, Puerto Rico is a colony of the United States. It is illegally held. The U.S. is required to disgorge its colony and also under U.N. conventions, acts of resistance are legal against illegal colonization.

I will note that Ava gave a rundown of the events of Filiberto Ojeda Rios' death at the end of last week's "The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-02-05" for those needing additional information and that you can also utilize the archives of Democracy Now! to find out more as well as listen to this week's edition of CounterSpin.

The death of Filberto Ojeda Rios was also noted on WBAI's Law & Disorder. This is a program that both Micah and Elizabeth have e-mailed to suggest that I sample. One of the guests was a former attorney of Ojeda's named Linda, I wasn't able to catch her last name, and she drew comparisons to the murder of Fred Hampton. She spoke of the "disrespect for the rule of law and fundamental human rights by the government of the United States" and saw the actions against Ojeda as "a really strong message about who is boss." She noted that the F.B.I. taped Ojeda's wife's face, the fact that he had a pacemaker and a limp. This was noted to underscore that Ojeda was not the person portrayed in the domestic press via official F.B.I. statements.

Another topic addressed on Law & Disorder was the continued hunger strikes at Guantanamo Bay and how little press coverage there has been on this topic. The prisoners have "no family to speak to, no religious counselor to speak to." The only protest, the only control, they have at this point in their lives is the hunger strike. Despite the fact that in June of 2004, the Court's verdict was that the prisoners did have a right to a trial, none of them, one year and four months later, have been given a trial. "The men in Guantanamo know that, they know that over a year ago they should have had a trial." The names of those striking has not been released. The Defense Department originally denied the existance of the hunger strikes, which are said to have begun in June of this year.

For more on this issue, you can go to the Center For Constitutional Rights.

Michael Ratner is one of the hosts of Law & Disorder and members may know him from his appearances on Democracy Now! Mr. Ratner is the President of the Center for Constituional Rights . Dalia Hashad, the ACLU's South Asian Advocate and Michael Steven Smith and Heidi Boghosian, both of the National Lawyer's Guild with Ms. Boghosian being the Director of the NLG, are the three other hosts. Law & Disorder, an hourly program on WBAI, airs alternate Mondays from ten a.m. to eleven a.m. EST.

I do not believe it will air again until November 3rd due to WBAI's pledge drive.

I read C.I.'s Wednesday entry that mentioned Dead to the World and had to listen since Paul Kantner and Jefferson Airplane take me back to my college days. It was a real treat to listen to the program and I will use that as an opportunity to note that most of the Pacifica stations are archiving their broadcasts.

Dead to the World airs on Pacifica's KPFA Wednesday nights from eight to ten p.m. Pacific Time. David Gans is the host but the interview with Mr. Kantner was conducted by Wired magazine's Steve Silberman. During the two hours, Mr. Kantner's life and career were discussed with an emphasis on all areas. Throughout the interview, we were provided with sound clips so if you are someone my age who thinks you might want to share this program with your children or grandchildren (Tracey, Jayson and my eldest son came over to listen the program), rest assured that anyone new to Kantner or the Airplane, or Starship, is given plenty of context and will be able to follow along.

Now for some housekeeping. I did not realize that the Christmas Coup Players would not air Thursday on WBAI due to the pledge drive WBAI is conducting. My apologies for anyone who attempted to listen due to my heads up. Billie wrote that she did listen to see what had tickled me so much but that she enjoyed the documentary The Oil Factor narrated by Ed Asner. Second, on Thursday, Jess read an e-mail to the public address for this account ( to C.I. and C.I. ended up responding to that e-mail. The visitor, unidentified, e-mailed to protest that neocon Robert Kagan was criticized for his NPR commentary on Hurricane Katrina by C.I. As C.I. noted in the response, I am the one who now covers NPR. I have gone through my reports posted here and at no point in any of them have I stated that Mr. Kagan gave a commentary on Hurricane Katrina. During Hurricane Katrina, I did note NPR's coverage which I found appalling at the start and better as the week went on. That is one report and Mr. Kagan is not critiqued for any commentary on Hurricane Katrina nor did I hear him give a commentary.

I asked C.I. about the e-mail and was forwarded it by C.I. because it refers to "you." Presumably that e-mail was meant solely for C.I. (I will abide by the confidentiality guidelines and not name the visitor). My reports are labeled "Ruth's Morning Edition Report" so it should be clear to anyone reading them that a woman named Ruth wrote them. Just as when Kat does a review of a music album, the entry is labeled "Kat's Korner." So I will guess, as C.I. did, that the e-mail was to C.I.

Each morning, as I drink my first cup of coffee and wait for my grandson Elijah to be dropped off, I boot up the computer and read through The Common Ills. C.I. did not make a comment on Mr. Kagan's alleged commentary of Hurricane Katrina. I will also state firmly that no memeber did nor was their any article, entry or posting quoted from outside the community about it. Had there been a mention, I would have noticed it and wondered how I could have missed Mr. Kagan's commentary because I do not care for Mr. Kagan and, if he had given a commentary, I would probably have disagreed with his commentary which would lead me to want to comment on it.

The visitor is clearly mistaken. There was no mention of a commentary on Hurricane Katrina by Mr. Kagan anywhere, in any entry, at this site. If a critique had occurred during that time period, it would have either come from me or from a member and that did not happen.

Rove afronta Gran Jurado por cuarta vez (Democracy Now!)

Maria: Hola. De parte de "Democracy Now!" quince cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Rove afronta Gran Jurado por cuarta vez
Washington está hoy colmado de especulaciones sobre posibles acusaciones contra numerosos funcionarios administrativos de alto rango, en relación con el caso de la agente secreta de la CIA Valerie Plame, El jueves, el fiscal a cargo de la investigación citó al asesor de Bush, Karl Rove, a comparecer ante un Gran Jurado por cuarta vez, lo que es inusual. Rove se presenta ante el Gran Jurado sin ninguna oferta de inmunidad, y el fiscal, Patrick Fitzgerald, informó a Rove por escrito que podría afrontar acusaciones más adelante. Mientras tanto, el LA Times informa: "En Washington, se oía hablar en los pasillos del FBI, del Departamento de Justicia y de la Casa Blanca sobre inminentes acusaciones, contra Rove solamente o junto con otros como parte de una conspiración". El New York Times informa que el fiscal Fitzgerald probablemente citará a otros funcionarios de la Casa Blanca para que vuelvan a presentarse ante el Gran Jurado y testifiquen sobre su participación en el caso. El Gran Jurado tiene plazo para decidir hasta el 28 de octubre. También se informa que Fitzgerald está examinando el testimonio que el jefe de personal de Dick Cheney, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, dio ante el Gran Jurado.

Informe: 700 iraquíes murieron en septiembre
Otra noticia de Irak. La agencia de noticias France Press informa que obtuvo estadísticas gubernamentales de Irak que indican que 700 iraquíes, en su mayoría civiles, fueron asesinados en ataques durante septiembre. En agosto, los iraquíes asesinados fueron 526.

Estados Unidos confirma que francotirador mató a periodista de Knight Ridder
Un informe militar de Estados Unidos confirmó que el periodista Yasser Salihee, de la empresa de comunicaciones Knight Ridder, fue asesinado en junio por un francotirador estadounidense, pero afirmó que se justificaba dispararle. A Salihee le dispararon mientras manejaba en el oeste de Bagdad. Fue abandonado muerto y cubierto de sangre en su auto. Según el Comité para Proteger a los Periodistas, soldados estadounidenses mataron a por lo menos 13 periodistas en Irak desde que comenzó la guerra.

El ejército afronta el peor año de reclutamiento desde 1979
Este año ha sido el peor para el reclutamiento del ejército desde 1979. La meta era haber logrado 80.000 nuevos reclutas el 30 de septiembre, pero faltaron 7.000 para alcanzar esta cifra. La Guardia Nacional del Ejército y la Reserva del Ejército tampoco alcanzaron sus metas anuales. Mientras tanto, las Fuerzas Armadas buscan nuevas formas de llegar a los jóvenes de la nación. La Guardia Nacional del Ejército ofrece regalar tres descargas gratis del sitio de música iTunes a quienes se inscriban mediante Internet para ser contactados por los reclutadores.

460 inmigrantes indocumentados murieron al cruzar la frontera
Al menos 460 inmigrantes indocumentados murieron en los últimos 12 meses al intentar cruzar la frontera entre México y Estados Unidos, es decir que la cifra aumentó veinte por ciento con respecto al año anterior. La Patrulla de la Frontera dijo que la mayor parte de las muertes ocurrieron en la frontera entre Arizona y México.

Bush no respondió preguntas sobre la CIA
Durante la misma conferencia de prensa, se preguntó al Presidente Bush sobre la investigación en curso sobre la filtración de que Valerie Plame era agente de la CIA. El domingo, George Stephanopoulos, presentador de ABC News, dijo que sus fuentes le informaron que el Presidente Bush y el Vicepresidente Dick Cheney estaban involucrados en conversaciones acerca de Plame. Mientras tanto, el Washington Post informó que el fiscal Patrick Fitzgerald podría estar planificando la presentación de cargos de conspiración contra funcionarios de la Casa Blanca, posiblemente Karl Rove y Lewis Libby. El martes, Bush se negó a responder si había discutido el caso con Rove o Libby.

Analista del Pentágono se declara culpable en caso de espía israelí
Un alto analista del Pentágono se declaró culpable de proporcionar información confidencial a miembros del Comité de Relaciones Públicas Estadounidense-Israelí (AIPAC, por sus siglas en inglés), grupo lobbista pro israelí. El funcionario, Larry Franklin, también admitió por primera vez que filtró información secreta de Irán directamente a un funcionario del gobierno israelí en Washington. Franklin dijo que se había encontrado personalmente ocho veces con un funcionario de la Embajada israelí en Washington. El Washington Post informa que la declaración de Franklin pone en duda las afirmaciones de funcionarios israelíes que aseguran, desde hace tiempo, que ya no están vinculados con actividades de inteligencia en Estados Unidos. En 1987, Jonathan Pollard, funcionario de la Inteligencia de la Marina, fue sentenciado a cadena perpetua luego de que admitió ser espía de Israel. Franklin aceptó declararse culpable de dos cargos de conspiración y otro de poseer documentación confidencial, y acordó testificar contra los dos ex funcionarios de AIPAC que son juzgados actualmente. Puede ser condenado a pasar hasta 25 años en prisión.

Ex funcionario arrestado por caso de espía filipino
Mientras tanto, otra posible historia de espionaje se desarrolla en Washington. El Departamento de Justicia investiga si un infante de marina estadounidense que trabaja en la oficina de Dick Cheney entregó documentos confidenciales sobre Filipinas a figuras de la oposición en Manila. El empleado fue descubierto el año pasado y arrestado hace un mes.

Ex funcionario de Bush acusado en relación con el caso Abramoff
En Washington, un Gran Jurado federal acusó a David Safavian, el ex funcionario con más rango para compras federales del gobierno de Bush, de realizar falsas declaraciones y obstruir las investigaciones sobre el lobbista republicano Jack Abramoff. Safavian afronta cinco acusaciones por delitos graves.

Tom Delay acusado nuevamente por lavado de dinero
Por segunda vez está semana, un Gran Jurado de Texas decidió que corresponde acusar a Tom Delay, el influyente legislador del Partido Republicano que hasta la semana pasada era el líder de la mayoría de la Cámara de Representantes. El lunes, Delay fue acusado de lavado de dinero. Si es declarado culpable, podría ser sentenciado a cadena perpetua. Delay está acusado de canalizar hacia políticos de Texas 190.000 dólares donados por empresas. La semana pasada, otro Gran Jurado resolvió acusarlo de conspiración. Mientras tanto, el gobierno de Bush confirmó que el Departamento de Justicia pidió a la policía británica que interrogara a la ex Primera Ministra británica, Margaret Thatcher, sobre una reunión que mantuvo con Delay en 2000, organizada por Jack Abramoff, lobbista de Washington. Abramoff, a quien Delay llamó uno de sus "amigos más cercanos y queridos", es blanco de otra amplia investigación del Departamento de Justicia por corrupción. Según el New York Times, el pedido de interrogar a Thatcher es la primera evidencia del Departamento de Justicia revelada públicamente de que Delay estaba bajo escrutinio en la investigación sobre Abramoff.

El Departamento de Justicia investigará asesinato de Ojeda Ríos
El Departamento de Justicia confirmó el lunes que investigará el asesinato del líder independentista puertorriqueño Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, cometido por el FBI. Ese asesinato suscitó indignación generalizada en Puerto Rico. El 23 de septiembre, más de 100 agentes del FBI rodearon la casa de Ojeda Ríos, que tenía 72 años de edad. Luego de dispararle, el FBI lo dejó herido en su casa durante casi un día, mientras moría desangrado. El FBI afirmó que Ojeda Ríos disparó primero, pero su esposa dijo que eso no es verdad. Ojeda Ríos había estado en la lista de las personas más buscadas por el FBI, por su participación en el robo de siete millones de dólares a un banco, pero era una figura legendaria en Puerto Rico, debido a que resistió durante toda su vida contra el colonialismo de Estados Unidos. Decenas de miles de puertorriqueños asistieron a su funeral la semana pasada.

Informante: El FBI conocíó durante un año el paradero de Ojeda Ríos
Y por último, esta noticia acerca del asesinato de Filiberto Ojeda Ríos, el líder independentista puertorriqueño que fue asesinado por el FBI hace dos semanas. En una columna escrita por Juan González, publicada hoy por Daily News, se señala un ex funcionario de inteligencia naval dijo a ese periodista de DN! que sabe con certeza que la muerte de Ojeda pudo evitarse. El funcionario dijo que lo sabe porque él mismo informó hace un año a agentes del FBI dónde podían encontrar a Ojeda , que era un fugitivo buscado. El informante, que pidió no ser identificado, dio su versión de los hechos a la oficina del inspector general del Departamento de Justicia, que inició una investigación independiente del asesinato la semana pasada. Pero el FBI no tenía intenciones de capturar a Ojeda hasta el 23 de septiembre, el aniversario del Grito de Lares. Ese feriado conmemora la revuelta independentista fallida de Puerto Rico en 1868 contra el colonialismo español. Es una fecha que el movimiento independentista conmemora todos los años con una marcha hacia la localidad de Lares. El informante del FBI dijo: "Defiendo que Puerto Rico sea parte de Estados Unidos, pero veo que el FBI pretendía humillar a todos los puertorriqueños al ir tras él en El Grito de Lares. Siento que fui utilizado. Quería que lo arrestaran, no que lo asesinaran".

Se publicaron nuevas fotos de ahorcamiento de homosexuales iraníes
Esta noticia proviene de Irán. La Asociación de Noticias de Estudiantes Iraníes ha publicado recientemente una nueva foto que muestra el ahorcamiento de dos adolescentes homosexuales, de 18 y 17 años de edad. El periodista independiente Doug Ireland informa que los jóvenes fueron acusados de violación, pero de hecho fueron víctimas de la creciente represión a la población homosexual de ese país. Antes de su ejecución, los adolescentes estuvieron durante más de un año en prisión, donde fueron torturados. Ireland informa que la represión contra los homosexuales es parte de la campaña contra la "corrupción moral" que el nuevo presidente Ahmadinejad prometió en su campaña electoral. El mes pasado, Ireland entrevistó a un iraní homosexual de 22 años de edad que buscaba asilo en Turquía. El joven dijo que mientras permaneció bajo custodia policial iraní fue golpeado, torturado, amenazado de muerte y azotado 100 veces.

Deslizamiento de tierras mata a cientos de personas en América Central
Una operación masiva de rescate se realiza en América Central y el sur de México, donde un deslizamiento de tierras provocado por una tormenta tropical causó la muerte de por lo menos 250 personas. Se prevé que esa cifra aumentará, a medida que los servicios de emergencias continúan encontrando cadáveres sepultados en el barro, cuando llegan a las aldeas más aisladas. La tormenta tropical Stan ya concluyó, pero todavía hay fuertes lluvias y el nivel de las aguas de los ríos es peligrosamente alto. Los países más afectados, El Salvador y Guatemala, luchan para evacuar a las personas en peligro. Los refugios en ambos países albergan a miles de personas, mientras que los caminos rurales están cortados. En México, se informa que docenas de personas están desaparecidas. Las muertes registradas hasta el momento son 79 en Guatemala y 62 en El Salvador. Al menos 19 muertes fueron informadas en México, Nicaragua, Honduras y Costa Rica.

Estados Unidos amenaza a Nicaragua
Estados Unidos amenaza a grupos y figuras políticas de Nicaragua con suspender millones de dólares de ayuda de Washington si realizan cualquier maniobra para derrocar al presidente Enrique Bolaños, que cuenta con apoyo estadounidense. En un acto que hizo recordar la intervención de Estados Unidos en Nicaragua en los años 80, el subsecretario de estado estadounidense, Robert Zoellick, se encuentra esta semana en la capital nicaragüense, Managua, para impedir la posibilidad de que el líder sandinista, Daniel Ortega, regrese al poder. La Asamblea Nacional nicaragüense ha debatido una propuesta para realizar un juicio político a Bolaños por violaciones a las normas de financiamiento de campañas. Bolaños fue elegido en 2001. Zoellick dijo que Estados Unidos dejaría en suspenso el perdón de 4 mil millones de doláres de deuda y un préstamo de 175 millones de dólares a Nicaragua si Bolaños es llevado a jucio político. Luego de la revolución sandinista en 1979, Estados Unidos organizó, armó y financió escuadrones de la muerte en Nicaragua conocidos como Contras.

Maria: Hello. Here are fifteen stories from Democracy Now! Peace.

Rove Faces Grand Jury for Fourth Time
Washington is abuzz with speculation today about possible indictments coming down against multiple senior administration officials over the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. On Thursday, the special prosecutor heading the investigation summoned senior Bush advisor Karl Rove to appear before the grand Jury--for a rare 4th appearance. Rove appears before the Grand Jury with no offer of immunity with the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, informing Rove in writing that he could face indictment later. Meanwhile, the LA Times reports: "In Washington, talk of imminent indictments -- of Rove alone or with others as part of a conspiracy -- was overheard in the corridors of the FBI, Justice Department and White House." The New York Times is reporting that prosecutor Fitzgerald will likely call on several other White House officials to return to the grand jury to testify about their actions in the case. The Grand Jury expires October 28. In addition to Rove, Fitzgerald is also reportedly re-examining grand jury testimony by Dick Cheney's chief of staff, Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Report: 700 Iraqis Died During September
In other news on Iraq, the news outlet Agence France Press reports it has obtained Iraqi government statistics that shows 700 Iraqis - mostly civilians -- were killed in attacks in September. In August, 526 Iraqis were killed.

U.S. Confirms Sniper Killed Knight Ridder Journalist
A U.S. military report has confirmed that Knight Ridder journalist Yasser Salihee was killed by an American sniper in June but claimed the shooting was justified. Salihee was shot as he was driving in western Baghdad. He was then left lying dead in his car, splattered with blood. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists U.S. troops have killed at least 13 journalists in Iraq since the war began.

Army Suffers Worst Recruiting Year Since 1979
The Army has suffered its worst year for recruiting since 1979. The Army had set an annual goal of 80,000 new recruits by September 30 but fell 7,000 recruits short. The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve also fell short of their annual goal. Meanwhile the Armed Forces is trying new ways to reach the nation's young. The Army National Guard is now offering to give away three free music downloads from Itunes to individuals who sign up online to be contacted by recruiters.

460 Undocumented Immigrants Die Crossing Border
At least 460 undocumented immigrants have died over the past 12 months trying to cross the Mexican-U.S. border - a 20 percent increase over the previous year. Border Patrol said most of the deaths occurred along the Arizona-Mexico border.

Bush Fails to Answer Questions About CIA Leak
At the same press conference President Bush was questioned about the ongoing investigation into the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. On Sunday, ABC News host George Stephanopoulos said his sources told him that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney were involved in the discussions about Plame. Meanwhile the Washington Post has reported special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may be planning to bring criminal conspiracy charges against White House officials, possibly Karl Rove and Lewis Libby. On Tuesday Bush refused to answer whether he had discussed the case with Rove or Libby.

Pentagon Analyst Pleads Guilty In Israeli Spy Case
A top Pentagon analyst has pleaded guilty to handing over highly classified intelligence to members of the pro-Israeli lobbying group AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. The official, Larry Franklin, also admitted for the first time that he handed over top secret information on Iran directly to an Israeli government official in Washington. Franklin said he personally met with an official from the Israeli Embassy in Washington eight times. The Washington Post reports that Franklin's guilty plea casts doubt on long-standing claims by Israeli officials that they no longer engage in any intelligence activities inside the United States. In 1987, U.S. Navy intelligence officer Jonathan Pollard was sentenced to life in prison after he admitted to spying for Israel. As part of a plea agreement Franklin pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy and a third charge of possessing classified documents. He faces up to 25 years in prison. As part of the plea agreement, he has agreed to testify against the two former AIPAC officials, who are facing trial.

Ex-Official Arrested in Philippines Spy Case
Meanwhile another possible espionage story is developing in Washington. The Justice Department is investigating whether a U.S. Marine working in Dick Cheney's office gave classified documents about the Philippines to opposition figures in Manila. The employee was caught last year and arrested a month ago.

Ex-Bush Official Indicted in Abramoff Case
In Washington, a federal grand jury has indicted the Bush administration's former chief procurement official for making false statements and obstructing investigations into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The official - David Safavian - is facing five felony counts.

Tom Delay Indicted Again For Money Laundering
For the second time in a week, a Texas Grand Jury has indicted Tom Delay, the influential Republican lawmaker who up until last week served as House Majority Leader. On Monday, Delay was indicted for money laundering. If convicted Delay could be sentenced to life in prison. Delay is accused of illegally funneling $190,000 in corporate campaign donations to local candidates. Last week a different grand jury indicted him for conspiracy. Meanwhile the Bush administration has confirmed that the Justice Department has asked British police to question former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher over a 2000 meeting she had with Delay that was organized by Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Abramoff - who Delay has called one of his "closest and dearest friends" - is the target of a separate wide-ranging Justice Department investigation for corruption. According to the New York Times, the interview request of Thatcher is the first publicly disclosed evidence from the Justice Department that Delay was under scrutiny in the Abramoff investigation.

Justice Department to Investigation Ojeda Rios Killing
The Justice Department confirmed on Monday that it will investigate the FBI killing of Puerto Rican independence leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. The killing has sparked widespread outrage in Puerto Rico. On Sept. 23, over 100 FBI agents surrounded the house of the 72-year-old Ojeda Rios. After he was shot, the FBI let him lie wounded in his house for nearly a day during which time he bled to death. The FBI claimed Ojeda Rios fired first, but his wife said this is not true. Ojeda Rios had been on the FBI's most wanted list for his role in a $7 million bank heist but he was a legendary figure in Puerto Rico for his lifelong resistance to U.S. colonialism. Tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans attended his funeral services last week.

Informant: FBI Knew Ojeda Rios' Location For A Year
And finally this update on the FBI killing of Filiberto Ojeda Rios - the Puerto Rican nationalist leader who was shot dead two weeks ago. In a column I wrote in today's Daily News, a former naval intelligence officer told me that he knows for a fact that Ojeda didn't have to die. The officer says he knows this because he told FBI agents a year ago where they could find Ojeda, who was a wanted fugitve. The informant, who asked not to be identified, has given his account to the Justice Department's Inspector General's Office, which opened an independent review of the shooting last week. But the FBI did not seek to go after Ojeda until Sept 23 - the anniversary of El Grito de Lares. The holiday marks Puerto Rico's failed 1868 independence revolt against Spanish colonialism. It is a date commemorated each year by the independence movement with a march to the town of Lares. The FBI informant told me, "I'm a statehooder, but I see the FBI was trying to humiliate all Puerto Ricans by going after him on El Grito de Lares. I feel I was used. I wanted him arrested, not killed."

New Photos Released of Hanging Of Gay Iranian Teens
This news from Iran - the Iran Student News Association has just released a new photo showing the hanging of two gay teenagers, ages 18 and 17. Independent journalist Doug Ireland reports the boys were charged with rape but that they were actually the victims of an increasing crackdown on the country's gay population. Prior to their execution the boys were held in prison for over a year and tortured. Ireland reports this anti-gay crackdown is part of the crusade against "moral corruption" promised by Iran's newly-elected President Ahmadinejad in his election campaign. Last month Ireland interviewed a 22-year-old gay Iranian man who is seeking asylum in Turkey. While in Iranian police custody, he was beaten and tortured, threatened with death, and lashed 100 times.

Mudslides Kill Hundreds in Central America
A massive rescue operation is under way in Central America and southern Mexico, where mudslides caused by a tropical storm have killed at least 250 people. That number is expected to rise as emergency services are continuing to find buried bodies as they reach more isolated villages. Tropical Storm Stan has passed, but heavy rain is still falling and river levels are dangerously high. The worst affected countries, El Salvador and Guatemala, are struggling to evacuate everyone at risk. Shelters in both countries are holding thousands of people, while road links have been cut off. In Mexico, reports are now coming in that dozens of people are missing. The death toll so far has been put at 79 in Guatemala and 62 in El Salvador. At least 19 deaths have been reported across Mexico, Nicaragua, Honduras and Costa Rica.

US Threatens Nicaragua
The United States is threatening political groups and politicians that Nicaragua will lose millions of dollars in aid from Washington if any moves are made to bring down the US-backed president, Enrique Bolaños. In a move reminiscent of US intervention in Nicaragua in the 1980s, the US deputy secretary of state, Robert Zoellick, is in the capital Managua this week to head off the possibility of the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, returning to power. The Nicaraguan national assembly has been debating a proposal to impeach Bolaños over campaign finance violations. He was elected in 2001. Zoellick said that $4billion in debt forgiveness and a $175million grant to Nicaragua would be withheld if Bolanos is impeached. After the 1979 Sandinista revolution, the US organized, armed and funded death squads in Nicaragua known as the Contras.

NYT phones it in this morning

I'm trying to remember what Nora Eprhon once wrote about the New York Times but failing. It's something along the lines of you read out of fear that if you don't, it will be that one day where the Times actually has something worth reading -- paraphrase, "Fortunately that rarely happens."

Though I can't remember Ephron's wording, today is a must-miss paper. When even Douglas Jehl has misteps, what's to read? (Jehl addresses the move by the Defense Department to allow military intel to investigate 'more freely' Americans on domestic soil. Jehl never explains why the rules currently in place are in place and that's a very key part of the story that should not be missed or "set aside" as a change is considered.) Jehl's actually got three bylines in this morning's paper that I'm seeing so maybe he was overtaxed. (Scott Shane's nowhere to be found which either suggests he's been given the really big mop to address one of the more glaring mistakes of the last week or he's cracked from the strain of always having to fix too many reports by fluffers.)

We'll note Craig Smith's "Atomic Agency And Chief Win The Peace Prize:"

The award was a vindication of a man and an agency who have long sparred with President Bush and his administration over how to confront Iraq and Iran. It could strengthen the agency's position as conflicts loom over preventing Iran from obtaining fuel it could use for nuclear weapons and disarming North Korea.

Gardiner Harris is presumably on the avian flu/bird flu beat. Presumably, the article was filed early and that explains why he is unaware of (as noted in World Briefing) the fact that Romania is testing ducks after "[t]hree domestic ducks have died of avian influenza in the easter village of Ceamurlia." (This briefing is sourced to the AP.) Despite Rebecca's rightly stating that the nation needs to have a serious discussion on whether or not to turn the country over to the military in the case of an outbreak, Harris' article has no mention of it. The failure to note Romania might be countered with, "He's running down a plan!"

Does the plan exist in isolation? Does the plan not have something to do with a perceived crisis? It's called perspective and it's missing in Harris' article. Book reports (the Times has a sneak peak at a forthcoming report) are not news reporting.

Eric Lichtblau tells us that Timothy Flanigan has withdrawn as a nominee for deputy Attorney General due to issues arising from Tyco and a relationship with Jack Abramoff. This reads like a lengthy headline. You expect that a paper will already be exploring nominees so that even if an "abrupt" withdrawal catches them by surprise, they will have leads that will pay off. That's not the case here. It's public statements by Flanigan and what appears to have been twenty minutes of phone calls asking for statements.

In fairness to Harris and Lichtblau, the Times isn't interested in investigative journalism and is just happy to go with headlines. But it doesn't make for an interesting paper or an interesting read.

Let's leave the Times for a moment to note the latest from Dahr Jamail's Iraq Dispatches, "Violence leads only to more violence:"

Ongoing military operations continue unabated in Al-Anbar province. With names like 'Operation Iron Fist' and 'Operation Iron Gate' which was launched just days after 'Iron Fist,' thousands of US troops, backed by warplanes, tanks and helicopters, began attacking small cities and villages primarily in the northwestern area of Al-Anbar.
According to the US military and corporate media, the purpose of these operations is to "root out" fighters from al-Qaida in Iraq, along with so-called insurgents.
An Iraqi journalist writing under the name Sabah Ali (due to concerns of retribution from US/Iraqi governmental authorities) recently returned from the Al-Qa'im area of Iraq. Her report tells quite a different story.
Venturing into the combat zone at the end of September/beginning of October, Sabah visited the village of Aanah, 360 km west of Baghdad, accomplishing a feat no non-embedded western journalist has dared undertake. The following is the report from Sabah, with photos, which shows the effect of these operations on civilians in the area:
There are 1,500
refugee families located now in this very new and modern city of Aanah (the old Aanah was drowned under the Euphrates when a dam was constructed in the eighties). The Aanah Humanitarian Relief Committee (AHRC) said that there are 7,450 families from Al-Qa’im and surroundings areas scattered in different western cities, villages and in the desert. The AHRC report said that a few hundred families are still being besieged in A-Qa'im; they could not leave for different reasons. Some have disabled members (there are many now in Al-Qa’im), or have no money to move, or they prefer to stay under the bombing rather than living in a refugee camp.
Many families could not leave. Abu Alaa', for example, whose house was damaged earlier this year, whose wife lost her sight in that attack, could not leave because his wife and his father in law were shot again last week, injuring his wife again in abdomen; she is still in the hospital, and he could not leave. We call upon the international society to demand that these families are given the chance to leave before the city is devastated. People who stay behind are not necessarily fighters. They simply could not move.Families remaining in the area are in the following towns/villages/locations: The Projects area (2,500 families), Okashat, (950 families), Fheida (500), Phosphate factory (400), Cement factory (350), Tiwan (400), Aanah (1,500), Raihana (100), Hasa (200), Jbab (125), Nhaiya (100), and Ma'adhid (75).
People are squatting in schools, public buildings, offices and youth centers. Many are in
tent camps, living in tents donated by various local relief committees.
The luckiest are those who have friends or relatives to stay with in proper houses. Many of them need medical help, the children and the youth do not go to schools, they already lost a year last summer, and the women are having unbelievable difficulties trying to keep the families in impossible conditions. Aanah
youth center is turned into a refugee camp. Here there are 45 families who live in tents, 17 families in the building.

That's what is known as news. The Times can't find it this morning. They're off in the land of "Maybe the threats were real, maybe they weren't, but we'll provide mulitple stories and act like we're flooding the zone when really we just want to be sure we have enough to point to when Bloomberg calls again to complain about the coverage!"

The Times continues to be scooped by every other paper in the nation (probably including the weeklies) on Plamegate. (It's more embarrassing than Van Fair scooping Wash Post on Deep Throat because this story is active.) Arts Briefing." ER's ratings are tanking. Lori asks that we note Ava and my "TV Review: Time to pull the plug on ER" (The Third Estate Sunday Review). Happy to if only to make sure everyone's awake. (The Times will put you to back to sleep this morning if you stumble through the "hard news.")

Thursday night's uninvolving ER episode had us reflecting on a time when the show actually mattered and wondering what could be done about ER at this late date.
In it's first year, ER was a heavily praised drama. We weren't too impressed. One of us watched the Quentin Tarention directed episode that year, the other made do with the crossover on Friends. We didn't feel we were missing much.
Then Julianna Margulies became the heart of the show as Nurse Carol and we were hooked. We didn't mind that Noah Wylie never learned to act. Oh sure, we laughed at the attempts to "butch up" his Dr. Carter, his bad acting, his George Jetson hair -- we just ignored him.
We watched for Carol and Doug. Doug was played by George Clooney. They had chemistry and Thursdays weren't Thursdays if you couldn't check in on Carol and Doug. Carol got pregnant. Doug split. Not 'cause he didn't dig Carol, you understand. He dug Carol. He really dug her. Dug her like to the bottom of his heart. But, man, this whole concept of hospital rules and regulations was just too much for a renegade like Doug.
That plot development might have made sense in 1963. It didn't in the nineties. But Clooney had a movie star career to get to so everyone pretended that it made sense. We wondered how Carol and the twins (yes, she had twins) would make it through. We took comfort in the fact that despite the hassles of being an ER nurse, a single mother of two and remaining on the show while other regulars checked out (and some back in) like it was a hotel and not a hospital, Margulies continued to have the most amazing skin on television.
When Carol left, the powers that be were smart enough to send her off with a brief scene reuniting her with Doug. We didn't care that Clooney had needed a shave at least five days before the scene was shot, that the Don Henley song was so loud it drowned out what little dialogue there was, or that living so close to the sea probably wouldn't be good for Carol's skin.
We were happy for Carol. We were happy for Doug. We were happy for the twins.We might have stopped watching then. But they'd added the character of Abby played by Maura Tierney and Maura could act. She wasn't the heart of the show, she wasn't ethereal enough for that. But she quickly became the soul of the show.
We watched as Abby became involved with Luka, as she dealt with a her brother who was struck with the family illness, as she sought to leave nursing behind and become a doctor, we even watched, without laughing mind you, when Abby and Dr. Carter did their slow flirtation dance.
Sally Field did a turn on ER and she was one of the few guest stars that actually worked within the framework of the show. (All get praised by critics, few deserve it.) As Abby's mother, she was allowed to touch on emotions she hadn't been able to do in films. She was a powerhouse and riveting. Somehow Tierney held her own next to Field.Goran Visnjic's Luka, who always seemed way too slick with the whole "my wife just died" as a pick up line, even became semi-tolerable once he hooked up with Abby.
And let's be honest, we really started to care about the supporting characters. Not the new ones. The new ones dropped faster than the Bully Boy's poll numbers. (Think Kellie Martin who had the impossible task of humanizing Wyle's Carter.) But hospital enforcer Kerry, we really grew to enjoy her scenes. Not the character because she was so impossible. Until it was revealed that she was a lesbian. By the time she let "Deb" take the fall for her own screw up, we were having complex emotions about Kerry.
And what of Mark and Elizabeth? His daughter from a previous marriage was a frightmare. Always showing up at the worst time and doing the most damage. Who couldn't watch? Then we learned Mark had cancer . . . before Elizabeth did. Then we watched as Elizabeth prepared for the end that we the viewers already knew was coming because Anthony Edwards' contract was up. It was one thing after another for poor Elizabeth. She must have woken many a morning and wondered why she ever crossed the Atlantic. Then her mother would pop up, visiting from England, and she'd remember why.
But Mark died and, suddenly, they didn't know what to do with Elizabeth. Around the same time, Luka started dating a lot of skanks (including the miscast Julie Delpy). He got drunk and had a nasty car accident with one of them. The sort of thing that made Doug's mini-rebellions look like conformity.
Somewhere along the way, Elizabeth left. Sherry Stringer and Ming Na went the way of Gloria Rueben and Erica Gimpel as well. Pretty much everyone you cared about is now gone. As consolation, the departure list also includes Noah Wylie who never "matured" onscreen. The only thing worse than seeing him strike poses with regulars like Stringer and Tierney and guest stars like Rebecca de Mornay was the show's attempts to show case Carter in a different locale that found him surrounded with new characters you didn't know and few you could care about.(When an actor can't can't find some onscreen connection with Thandie Newton, a very generous actress who draws out the best in most performers on screen, there's a problem.)
The show debuted in the fall of 1994. It's fall of 2005 now. Eleven years on and the show hasn't learned much. The lessons of Noah Wylie should be quickly applied to Shane West who has yet to be given an ER character (or to create his own) but still takes up a lot of space and wastes a great deal of time. Bland as any hospital food, West sinks every scene he was in Thursday night as he came off like a little boy whose Mommy just took away his Playstation.
There may not be anything to do with West at this point. They've covered every story, medical and soap opera, several points over. Watching Tierney and Parminder Nagra deal with a self-involved patient brought a gentle smile, nothing more. ER's been there (many times) and done that (many times).
On Thursday night, we learned that Luca's broken up with a character we've never cared about and that the breakup is effecting her son (whom we never cared about). We learned that throughout the show. In multiple scenes. It dragged on and dragged on to the point that you looked around for the mangy mutt that had to be responsible before realizing that the dog is in fact ER. The show's tempo was so slow that Abby and Neela's leisurely stroll at the beginning may have been the most fast paced things ever got.
A woman, a surrogate, wanted to give birth naturally. While the parents-to-be bickered and whined ("It's my last egg!" or some such nonsense the woman cried) and the father-to-be made noises about a court order, the baby was born brain damaged. There's a time when that moment might have carried weight. We could see Carol quietly going about the business of taking inventory of the supplies after that incident -- the sort of moment where the show would have breathed and you would have realized that the heart of the show was yet again grieving. Instead we got one chatter box scene after another. Nothing carried weight. Moments came and went. It was as though the only goal was to fill up an hour's time minus commericals.
As season eleven begins, we've truly seen it all. The show could do something about that. They could, for instance, make a gay or lesbian character a real lead. That might shake things up a bit. They could realize that Shane West currently has nothing to offer but his looks and play that up. Let him be half-dressed and seducing every woman in sight in scene after scene so that when he finally falls for one of the female doctors or nurses (as we know he will if he hangs around long enough), there's conflict because we've seen him as a player. They can probably set West up with a revelation scene at that point where we find out the reason for his behavior and feel like we've made a discovery.
But this is a show that fails to realize that Kerry without someone to really knock against is a waste of both the show and Laura Innes. It's as though everyone's just collecting paychecks and marking time at this point. Luka's little nothing he just broke up with wouldn't have rated as more than an illness of the week five years ago. Instead she's hanging around, dragging down the show with her low energy levels and glum face.
Worst of all there's Abby. It's not that Tierney's become a bad actress. It's just that we've seen it all before. She makes the retreads of the-ghosts-of-ER's-past watchable but even she can't make them fresh.
Somewhere along the way Abby stopped smoking and that was around the time the show started really going for a high gloss soap opera feel. (Think Marcus Welby meets Melrose Place.) It's hard to be the soul (smoking or not) of such a hollow show.
One that wants you to care about characters even though it gives them nothing to do and it doesn't provide any evidence that the writers think, "How would ___ react in this scene?" Instead, they just try to do the storyline equivalent of a mix tape and there's no weight to it and no reason to care.
Thursday night, catching up with the gang from St. Elsewhere . . . Oops. ER. They only look like the cast of St. Elsewhere these days (and no, that's nothing to strive for).
But watching Thursday we thought of how the female lead in Smallville is contractually bound from cutting her hair short (call it the Felicity rider) and how strange, by contrast, it was that supposed dream boat Goran Visnjic was allowed to sport a hair style with a flip in the back that Florence Henderson couldn't have carried off at the height of The Brady Bunch.
The writers don't pay attention so why should anyone else? Why should a producer pull Visnjic aside and tell him the hair style looks ridiculous when everyone's just collecting another year of paychecks? Even the Warner Bros. website that tracks each episode hasn't felt the need to start up this year. That's how little energy there is in the show and around the show.
Some are hoping that Kristen Johnston will manage to shake things up (her first episode airs this Thursday). We have nothing against Johnston, we think she's funny and are sure she can handle drama; however, when a Third Rock From The Sun cast member is being hailed as the potential savior of a medical drama, that gives you an idea of how bad things are.
Here's the hard diagnosis no one wants to hear. There's no quick fix for the show. They've attempted that in years past and its kept the audience around but done little to advance the show.
Here are our recommended treatments.
1) Johnston and Innes will be at odds. It's time to sacrifice Abby. She's got to get her hands dirty. The only reason anyone will care about the story is if Abby's involved in it. Johnston and Innes should both appeal to her and, in this no-win situation, Abby will choose a side and live to regret it.
2) Shane West. We've seen the young lothario a million times on ER already. Keep him shirtless because that's the only reason anyone's going to look when he's onscreen at present. But how about something really radical? Instead of making the token overture to the gay community, how about letting West play a gay lead? Kerry's not been a gay lead character, not when she's unable to have a love life and a career (partly due to her own disposition). How about giving the audience a real gay storyline with gay leading characters? Ray can keep it on the down low for a brief time but when Pratt finds out, there should be an explosion. The ER chooses sides and the audience waits to see who's left standing.
3) Luka's done everything the character can. Send him out of town with the little nothing Sam or else give him a death scene with Abby by his bedside early on in the season. This isn't Doug & Carol. There's too much between them for this to be a reunion. But give Tierney something to tear into. She's watching a man she once felt something for die.
4) Neela and Archie in bed immediately. And for the twist, Neela's not the one who regrets it. The experience awakens Neela who's ready to start living as a functioning adult with or without Archie.
5) Having watched Luka die and got caught in the crossfire between Kerry and Eve (Johnston's character), think seriously of sending Tierney's character off at the end of the season. She's given all that a character can be expected to give to the show. The future that awaits Tierney (if the show's renewed for next season) is what Sherry Stringer returned to: audience favorite abused by writers who don't know what to do with her.
6) New blood comes in during the month of January. Character are introduced and given ample time so that when fall of 2006 rolls around there's not the usual let down of "Who's left to watch?"
Will ER implement any of the above medical recommendations? No. They won't. Visnjic is thought to be popular. Ratings should prove otherwise to any sane person but sane people don't usually run networks. (Fred Silverman, anyone?) Sane people wouldn't allow Tierney to be trapped in one "cute" scene after another as though, just because Sally Field played her mother, she's now Gidget Goes To The ER. Sane people would grasp that a character like Samantha, who is hopeless and a do nothing, is not exciting to watch. Sane people wouldn't have fired Alex Kingston (Elizabeth). Sane people would have found a way to keep Erica Gimpel on the show.
So we're dealing with the chronically insane. They're not fit to make decisions at this point. You've got ER on life support. It's up to the audience to find the living will to pull the plug.

Coming up will be Ruth's Morning Edition Report and we'll note The Laura Flanders Show. Maria wasn't planning to do the Democracy Now! highlights this weekend but she's agreed to fill in (thank you, Maria) at the last minute so that will be up at some point as well. We're also on a break from The Third Estate Sunday Review because a group of us got together last night to try to get some ideas tossed around and prevent an all nighter tonight. (I'd prefer a Friday all nighter myself to a Saturday one.) (The reality will probably be two all nighters, but there's always hope.)

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