Tuesday, March 14, 2006

NYC: March 14th join Media Channel.org and United for Peace & Justice in protesting corporate media

New York, March 14, 2006: To kick off a week of activities and protests marking the third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, the anti-war coalition United For Peace And Justice, joined by top media reform organizations, are protesting at media outlets throughout the county including the headquarters of TV networks and outlets in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.

"Many media outlets aided and abetted the war, not only in its run-up but for the past three years, by selective coverage and un-critical reporting," says former network producer (ABC, CNN) and MediaChannel.org Editor Danny Schechter, author of two books and an independent film (WMD) on the subject. "Just as media companies aspire to hold the government accountable, the media itself has to be held account for jingoism posing as journalism."
Here are the plans:
NYC Media March planned for March 15th - Noon - 2pm
We will take a tour to the headquarters of major media outlets with signs calling upon them to "Tell the Truth About the War!" There will be a silent vigil later that evening during the evening newscasts.
The March:
At noon we will assemble at CBS (51 West 52nd) and then walk down 6th Avenue to NBC HQ (1230 Rock plaza), cross the street in front of CNN and TIME, walk downtown to Fox (48th and 6th), make a right on West 45th with a quick stop at Bertelsmann Headquarters, make a left down Broadway in front of ABC News, cross over to the Military Recruiters in the center of Times Square and then across 7th Avenue to Reuters (43 and 7th), make a left down 43rd Street to the NY Times, and then, return to Broadway and end at MTV/Viacom Headquarters (1515 Broadway).
At each stop, speakers will appeal to the public and the media executives inside. At 6pm we will have groups hold silent vigils during evening newscasts at CNN (West 58th St), CBS Broadcast Center (West 57th and l0th), NBC (outside where the Today Show broadcasts) and Fox (48th and 6th).

* Planned meetings with media executives were cancelled when no network agreed to hear from delegations of anti-war activists.
For more information visit:

The above is a press release from David DeGraw and MediaChannel.org. The activities are for tomorrow. If you can attend, please do. If you can't, please get the word out. (In fact, try to get the word out regardless.)

Did you note the note? "Planned meetings with media executives were cancelled when no network agreed to hear from delegations of anti-war activists." I have no idea what, if anything, MediaChannel.org and United for Peace & Justice were told but I'll repeat what I was told when I made calls to friends: "it's not time yet." (That was yesterday as well as this morning.)

It's never going to be time. Not if you leave it to them to decide. They're cautious, they're worried about the 'corporate structure' and the half a million other things. The news industry (TV) isn't a news industry. It's part of an entertainment industry that's owned by corporations in other forms of business. But no one at the networks is in the news business. (I'm not trying to insult friends.) There was a time when the wall between entertainment and news was a strict one. That fell away some time ago. But now it's not even just an issue of combined divisions reporting to the head of the network. The head has to answer to people above. No one's in charge. No one wants to step up to the plate because if the decision is wrong, it'll be their head on the plate.

I'm not justifying that. I'm not saying, "Come on, everybody, feel sorry for them." I am saying that's why we have to force the issue.

FAIR, an organization this community embraces, did an alert on an idiot getting a CNN show. (A right-wing idiot.) I was asked then to try to explain. I did an entry and it was late. So I'll note it here. It's not always about "We're right-wing!" (FAIR did not make the claim or suggestion that it was. Though that's how some received it -- people on the defensive.) (FAIR rightly pointed out that despite the crash and burn of Michael Savage, another controversial right-winger was getting a show when a left-wing pundit can't usually even make it on as a guest most months.)

But here was the view: If we make a mistake by going out on a limb, we're asking for unemployment; however, if we make a mistake by going with the trend, it's not our fault if something flops.

People are scared for their jobs. I'm not justifying the behavior. (And I mocked the view when I was being asked to note it -- mocked it openly while on the phone.) But here's what's going on. The "trend" is that the nation turned right-wing. That's not true. But the narrative of the 2004 election results makes that false claim. So it's an accepted belief among some. The people outside of the news department aren't as aware as the people in the news department. (Some of us would question how aware those in the news department are.) You get someone who created a hit show (entertainment) and suddenly they're having input on the news.

That's the feeling. (Please note, those people/suits did not create a hit show. They didn't even nurse it along. What those people/suits do is fight for credit after something's a hit and whomever's last one standing or whomever can kiss up to the business press enough to be hailed as the network suit who steered the show, ends up with an undeserved credit. Those people usually last about five to seven years. Some fail upward, some are out on their rears. But they make no contributions although they do cause every decision be even more cautious because they're "name" rests on an illusion.)

So that's why you can't expect that anything's going to change without pressure. People are scared. They're scared for their jobs. Even though public support has cratered on the war, it's still "smart" to ignore that reality.

So if you can participate tomorrow, please do so. If you can or you can't, please get the word out.

Okay, now for a new topic. Does anyone know the Bat Segundo Show? It's a radio show. Here's some information on this week's broadcast:

Author: Jonathan Ames
Condition of Bat Segundo: Too easily complaisant to charlatan announcers.
Subjects Discussed: The controversial cover of I Love You More Than You Know, self-promotional footnotes, rules for writing, writing originating from unexpected requests, "tossed off" essays, depression and writing, essays which involve the penis, the somber and introspective feel of Ames' latest collection, Ames' lengthy self-asseessment of his book, George Plimpton, Glenn Gould, honesty, "throwaway pieces," graphic novels, fiction, making a living as a writer, Graham Greene, Dean Haspiel and The Alcoholic, comic book scripting, Neil Gaiman, The Extra Man screenplay, upcoming pieces in GQ and Spin, on Ames letting down his guard, comedy vs. tragedy, the audience response to "Midlife Assessment," Tim O'Brien, an odd and paranoid use of coffee, Ames' place as a writer, the financial realities of being a writer, Moby, on getting distracted, the burden of email, writing discpline, chicken soup, San Francisco restaurants, Anthony Trollope, Jonathan Lethem, writers named Jonathan, Jonathan Franzen, living life to write about it later, on Ames bringing pleasure to himself (not the way you’re thinking), what Ames has been collecting from hotel rooms, and a hairy call.
To subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste the following URL into your program:
To listen or to subscribe to the podcasts through Odeo, you can go here:
Please note: You do not have to have an iPod to listen the show! If you go to the main Segundo site, you can save the MP3 to your lovely machine by clicking on the bat picture.

They work very hard at getting the word out and, time after time, I have meant to note them but something comes up in the morning when the Times entries are being done and then something's going on in the community with the next entry and before I know it, it's several days later. But if the above description of The Bat Segunda Show catches your interest, please make a point to check them out. (And maybe you already know about the hourlyprogram -- airs once a week, I believe.)

We'r going through the e-mails (public and private) -- Jess and Ava and myself -- while we're all on a brief break (10 minutes, Gina said) in the midst of a roundtable. Wally said to note this one, because he "cracked up" when Ava read it to him just now. It's from BuzzFlash's editorial "Bush: Locking Horns with Being a Loser:"

Okay, it's no stereotype to say that they love their football down in Texas. High school, college and professional: the Lone Star State is one gridiron crazy place. And the football in Texas is often combined with prayer. In the heavily Baptist state, God is on every team's side....
So this is the bottom line. In football in Texas, both teams believe that God is on their side. But only one team wins. In the case of the Dallas Cowboys in their golden years, it was because they had excellent coaching strategists and a roster of players selected for their outstanding abilities. Yeah, we got a team that prays to God. All of them do in Texas. But what we got with Bush and Cheney is the losing team: bad coaching and lousy players.

Seven different visitors e-mailed on something (some more than once). Here it is:

"Universal mental health screening and treatment for preschool aged children is far beyond the proper role of government, lacks scientific and medical justification and will have dangerous effects on our youngest citizens."

Testimony Against SF 2841 - Preschool Socioemotional Screening
Minnesota Senate Early Childhood Finance Division
March 9, 2006

Karen R. Effrem, MD
EdWatch Board of Directors
Alliance for Human Research Protection Board of Directors
ICSPP Board of Directors

Thank you Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee. My name is Dr.
Karen Effrem. I am a mother of three wonderful children, a pediatrician, and
a policy analyst that serves on the boards of several national organizations, including EdWatch, the Alliance for Human Research Protection, and the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. I am here in vigorous opposition to SF 2841 that would implement mental health screening for three-year-old children entering public school.
Government sponsored and controlled universal mental health screening, no matter how sweetly wrapped in the fig leaf of parental consent, should never, ever be implemented. It is never, EVER, the proper role of government to set norms for, assess or intervene in the thoughts and emotions of free citizens, much less innocent, vulnerable, and still developing children. It is our thoughts and emotions that make each of us uniquely and individually human, and we use these thoughts and emotions to understand the world and maintain our inalienable right to liberty.
We are all well aware that the parental consent or opt-out language referred to for this bill is just a way to assuage concerns long enough to put this dangerous system into place. Once it is passed with parental consent, that language will either be changed by future legislators, not enforced, or side stepped in some other way. The non-existent enforcement of the federal Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment on invasive surveys is a classic example of this phenomenon. Another is the lack of parental notification of their rights in current Minnesota statute 121A.17 to decline to answer the part of the screening that involves invasive and subjective assessment of
family risk factors, or that parents may have their child's screening administered by private providers, or that no preschool screening is required if it is against the conscientiously held beliefs of the parents.
SF 2841 is proposed as part of the Roadmap for Mental Health System Transformation in Minnesota, which is an outgrowth of the federal New Freedom Commission report and the federal Mental Health Action Agenda. The Minnesota Roadmap clearly states what that plan is for young children. It proposes to, "integrate early childhood screening systems to assure
that all children ages birth to five are screened early and continuously for the presence of health, socioemotional or developmental needs" and then to implement, among other things, "mental health services and early care and education."
Members of the New Freedom Commission as well as groups advocating the Minnesota Roadmap plan have inherent financial, professional, and policy conflicts of interest and do not mention any scientific or medical problems with screening or treatment. For example, Michael Hogan, the chairman of the New Freedom Commission, was paid by the Janssen Pharmaceutica, the manufacturer of one of the drugs advocated in the model psychiatric drug treatment program (TMAP) in the commission's report. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the National Mental Health Association, both supporters, of this legislation and the Minnesota Roadmap received tax dollars from the federal mental health agency, SAMHSA, to help
implement the New Freedom Commission's recommendations, including universal screening
and TMAP.
Even if mental health screening did not have these fatal policy and philosophical flaws, the medical and scientific justification for this idea is equally lacking. Proponents tell us that mental illnesses are biological brain disorders due to chemical imbalances of neurotransmitters, and
that mental health screening is therefore scientific and objective and fully equivalent to hearing or blood pressure screening. They also tell us that children who screen positive will merely be sent for further evaluation, that screening does not yield a diagnosis, and that services do not
necessarily mean drugs. Here is but a small sample of facts and statements from experts and the medical literature that contradict that view:
a.. Not a single peer reviewed study exists to support the theory of a neurotransmitter (chemical) imbalance as the cause of mental illness or the means of treatment.
b.. There are no structural, functional, or laboratory tests or chemical markers that can consistently identify any of the mental illnesses.

c.. Experts like the US Surgeon General, the World Health Organization, the chief of child psychiatry at the National Institutes of Mental Health, psychiatric textbook authors, and the authors of psychiatry's Diagnostic and Statistical manual, considered the gold standard of psychiatric diagnosis, call these criteria "subjective," "impressionistic" and "social constructions." d.. These same experts also state that it is very difficult to accurately diagnose children due to rapid developmental changes.
e.. The screening instruments are based on these highly subjective diagnostic criteria and are not at all like medical screening tests, such as for hearing or vision.
f.. In fact, the technical data for the Ages and Stages questionnaire being promoted for this legislation admits that its overall positive predictive value is only 27%. That means that for every 27 children that are supposedly correctly identified by the admittedly subjective DSM or
other impressionistic screening instruments, 73 are falsely told that something is wrong with them and referred for further evaluation. That is three times the rate of false positives to putative true positives and worse than a coin flip. Any other screening procedure with that large a false positive rate would be eliminated from consideration with hysterical laughter.
g.. A movement already exists within organized psychiatry to label and drug people mentally ill based on highly controversial political and religious criteria, such as "intolerance."
h.. Due to reimbursement patterns, government promotion, and pharmaceutical industry influence, treatment almost always means use of psychotropic drugs.
i.. According to a survey of members of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 9 out of 10 children that see a psychiatrist receive a prescription for psychoactive drugs.

j.. Dr. David Willis, medical director of the Northwest Early Childhood Center said, "Psychopharmacology is on the horizon as preventive therapy for children with genetic usceptibility to mental health problems."
k.. Rates of psychotropic drug use in children, often in unapproved, unstudied multi-drug cocktails, as young as age two, have already skyrocketed and will only increase with widespread mental health screening. Psychiatric drugging coerced by schools has resulted in several deaths and has prompted at least 7 states and the US House of Representatives to pass legislation against it.
l.. No psychiatric drug has been found to be effective in the long term for treating ADHD or depression in children.
m.. Every class of psychotropic drug is either under the FDA's most stringent black box warning short of a ban for serious or fatal side effects or is being so considered. These side effects include suicide, violence, psychosis, diabetes, and cardiac sudden death. There are no studies available of long-term safety or effectiveness or the effects on the brains and bodies of growing children.
n.. Government and pharmaceutical industry promoted drug regimens are rapidly depleting Medicaid budgets.
o.. Even if psychosocial or educational programs were used instead of medications, Dr. Benedetto Vitiello, head of child psychiatry at NIMH said in 2002, "Little research has been conducted to study the effectiveness of psychosocial interventions in young children, and the long-term
risk-benefit ratio of psychosocial and pharmacologic treatments is basically unknown."
p.. In November of 2005, researchers at the University of California and Stanford released a study that said, "Attendance in preschool centers, even for short periods of time each week, hinders the rate at which young children develop social skills and display the motivation to engage classroom tasks, as reported by their kindergarten teachers.... Our findings are consistent with the negative effect of non-parental care on the single dimension of social development first detected by the NICHD research team [in 2002]" This data is suggesting that not only is there no scientific justification for psychosocial interventions including preschool
education, but that these interventions may be causing some of the very problems that
supposedly justify screening and that they are purported to treat.
In summary, universal mental health screening and treatment for preschool aged children is far beyond the proper role of government, lacks scientific and medical justification and will have dangerous effects on our youngest citizens. The premier dictum of medicine is "First, do no harm." Both the psychiatric profession and policymakers would do well to heed that advice.
For more information, link to these resources:
Minnesota's Mental health screening bill "ethically challenged"
Infant mental health (11/23/05)
Myths and Facts Regarding Mental Health Screening Programs and
Drug Treatment for Children (pdf)
Dangers of Universal Mental Health Screening, Briefing Book (Newly

Background can be found here at Nashville's City Paper. Again, the above was sent in by seven different women. Some added nothing to it and it would've gone in the trash. We have enough to note here; however, one woman added her personal statements in two paragraphs which is why Jess noticed it. (All seven women sent out their e-mails to about 15 people each time.) We will note this due to those two paragraphs. (That's not implying the above isn't worth noting. It is stating that it's non-verified and presented as someone's public testimony -- which it was. I'm opposed to the testing. I'm not big on standardized testing of any sort. But we have a lot going on and everything can't be noted. Jess says to put in that the woman who wrote the personal paragraphs reminded him of his mother when she was fighting an uphill battle. If members are interested in the above, we'll try to provide more on it. If not, the woman's comments would have moved any member enough to agree to include it. I say all that because I'm fully aware that Nepal is only one of the topics we're not addressing this month. Nor are we noting women's history month. There's a lot going on. In calmer times, we would be doing a lot more. This is the third anniversary of the invasion and that's where our main focus is.)

Okay, the discussion we're about to do is for the gina & krista round-robin which is going into special editions, daily editions, due to the anniversary of the invasion. Mike said he wrote about this tonight, so check out his site if you want to know some of what will be featured in the round-robins. For the roundtable tonight, we're discussing the importance of Danny Schechter's documentary Weapons of Mass Deceptions. This was planned to be a Third Estate Sunday Review entry but plans rarely work out in the marathon sessions. The idea was tossed around of doing the Sunday edition on Saturday so that it could be up. (We're advising members not able to take part in rallies and demonstrations to do something in their own residences and for films, we're suggesting Schechter's documentary.

Tomorrow night, we'll be focused on music. I have no idea on Friday. But there are members who will not be able to participate outside the home -- some due to small children, some for other reasons -- and we want to provide options before Saturday. It's easy to say, "Rent or buy Danny's film!" But if you're not seeing that until sometime on Saturday, it may be too late for you to plan anything. So big thank yous to Gina and Krista -- always, but this time for doing their special editions.) Yes, the community knows about the film. For those who just know of it, we're going to be highlighting what stood out to each of us. Mike said Beth and Eli weren't confirmed when he wrote so let me add that Beth and Eli are participating and Keesha is as well. And, sh, we're actually ending the break right now so I need to wrap up. (But credit Mike with rounding up everyone for the roundtable discussion.)

The following sites posted today:

Rebecca's Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty's Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
Kat's Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric's Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike's Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine's Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally's The Daily Jot

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.