Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Other Items

In 1995 Ms. Butler was awarded a MacArthur fellowship, the first science fiction writer to be so honored. She received two Hugo Awards from the World Science Fiction Society and two Nebula Awards from the Science Fiction Writers of America.
Throughout Ms. Butler's career, the news media made much of the fact that she was an African-American woman writing science fiction, traditionally a white male bastion. But in interviews and in her work itself she left no doubt that her background equipped her spectacularly well to portray life in hostile dystopias where the odds of survival can be almost insurmountable.
"I'm black, I'm solitary, I've always been an outsider," The Los Angeles Times quoted Ms. Butler as saying in 1998. She leaves no immediate survivors.

[. . .]
Concerned with empathy and with the need to build community, Ms. Butler's work attracted an audience beyond its genre and was widely praised by critics. Translated into 10 languages, her books have sold more than a million copies altogether, Ms. Heifetz said.
One of Ms. Butler's best-known novels, "Kindred" (Doubleday, 1979), told the story of a modern-day black woman who must travel back to the antebellum South to save the life of a white, slaveholding ancestor and, in so doing, save her own. Frequently assigned in black-studies courses, the book was rooted in the experience of the author's mother, who worked as a maid.
"I didn't like seeing her go through back doors," Ms. Butler once told Publishers Weekly. "If my mother hadn't put up with all those humiliations, I wouldn't have eaten very well or lived very comfortably. So I wanted to write a novel that would make others feel the history: the pain and fear that black people have had to live through in order to endure."

The above is from Margalit Fox's "Octavia E. Butler, Science Fiction Writer, Dies at 58" in this morning's New York Times and Brad saw it and noted it. Thank you, Brad. I usually don't read the obits in the paper so I would've missed this and, as members know, Butler was one of Ty's favorite writers (and I intended to note her passing, at Ty's request, in a morning entry on Monday but forgot until Monday evening).

Cindy's highlight takes us to the topic of Iraq and we'll stay there for a few more highlights. First up, Demetri Sevastopulo and Edward Alden's "Most Troops Want Swift US Pull-Out from Iraq" (The Financial Times of London via Common Dreams):

Most American troops in Iraq believe that the US should withdraw within the next year, according to the first poll of US military personnel in Iraq.
President George W. Bush, whose overall approval rating fell to a new low of 34 per cent this week, has repeatedly said the US would finish the mission in Iraq. But a Zogby International/Le Moyne College poll found that only 23 per cent of US troops believed that they should stay “as long as they are needed”.
Seventy-two per cent of troops said the US should withdraw within 12 months; 29 per cent said they should pull out immediately.
Meanwhile a CBS News poll recorded another record low for the president this week: only 30 per cent of respondents approved of Mr Bush’s handling of Iraq.
John Zogby, the president of Zogby International, said US commanders in Iraq unofficially approved the poll of 944 respondents, which was conducted before the escalation in violence that followed last week’s bombing of the Golden Mosque.

Keesha notes Katrina vanden Heuvel's "The Costs of War" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):

As we approach the third anniversary of Bush's invasion of Iraq, with domestic spending being gutted, tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans being extended, and the Bush administration submitting a request for an additional $72.4 billion in war-related funding, the National Priorities Project (NPP) has issued an invaluable new report demonstrating the financial impact of the war on taxpayers in every state.
Upon approval of the supplemental funding bill, total spending on the war and occupation in Iraq will exceed $315 billion. Nobel Prize-winning economist,
Joseph Stiglitz, estimates that when all is said and done the final price tag will reach somewhere between $1 trillion and $2 trillion.
The NPP highlights the unfathomable trade-offs our nation is making in order to continue funding the Iraq occupation -- other spending priorities that are being missed -- both at the state and national levels.

KvH notes many additional costs but I'm not seeing $19,600 among them. What's that? From Rebecca's "russ comes out swinging, you just wish joe would finish and get off of you" (Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude):

here's a fact for you: total projected cost of the war per u.s. household, based on a january estimate: $19,600.
how's that feel? it's from the 'harper's index' page nine of the current issue of harper's magazine. c.i. did an excerpt from lewis lapham's 'The Case For Impeachment' and that hooked me on getting this issue. $19,600. if you live in apartment complex, think about how everyone unit is paying $19,600. if you live in a home in a residential area, look up and down the block and realize that every home is paying $19,600. not putting it away for a child's college tuition or using it to pay the bills right now, but for an illegal war.
bully boy took a gamble (an illegal 1) and now we're all paying his debt.

Gina notes Matthew Rothschild's "Bush’s Support Finally Peels Off" (This Just In, The Progressive) and we're highlighting the section on Iraq:

Even the troops want the U.S. to get out of Iraq.
According to a
Le Moyne College/Zogby International poll, 72 percent of them think the U.S. should pack up within a year. More than half think we should get out within six months: 29% said "immediately," and 22% said in the next six months.
(Those serving in Iraq remain confused about why Bush put them there. An astronomical 85% said they were there "to retaliate for Saddam's role in the 9/11 attacks," though he played no role. And 77% said they were there "to stop Saddam from protecting Al Qaeda in Iraq," though there were no operational links between Saddam and Al Qaeda, according to the 9/11 Commission.)
With discontent in the ranks and among the public, Bush is fast losing the popularity needed to govern and command effectively, though he never had the ability to do so in the first place.
Only 17% of the American public says Bush cares about people like them, according to the CBS poll. And his unfavorable to favorable rating is at a dismal 53% to 29% level. (Cheney's is also abysmal: 46% unfavorable to 18% favorable.)

And where does the waking up leave this? With an awakening public but a sleeping corporate press. Zach notes Robert Parry's "The U.S. Disconnect on Bush Abuses" (Consortium News):

The U.S. news media is experiencing a cognitive meltdown as it tries to hold onto the traditional view of the United States as a beacon for human rights while facing the new reality in which George W. Bush has plunged the nation into the dark arts of torture, assassination and "disappearances" more common in "death-squad" states.
Rarely has that disconnect been more clearly on display than on the Feb. 28 editorial page of the Washington Post.
The lead editorial, entitled "
Homicide Unpunished," criticizes the Bush administration for letting off U.S. interrogators implicated in murder and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the page's final editorial hails the Bush administration for demanding that the United Nations purge its human rights organization of human rights violators.
That final editorial, entitled "
Prodding the U.N.," reads like something written from the not-so-distant past when the United States could credibly point fingers at nations with poor records for respecting civil liberties and human rights.
"The administration refused to accept a proposed structure for this new (U.N. human rights) body, reasonably fearing that it would protect human rights abusers rather than put pressure on them," the Post said, listing those offending nations as Zimbabwe, Sudan, China and Cuba.
The Post added that Washington should confront allies, such as Pakistan and Egypt, and tell them "that relations with the United States will be affected if they resist a serious U.N. human rights body."

The Big Elephant
Leaving aside the question of whether some of these U.S. allies have appreciably better human rights records than the countries on the Post’s list, the editorial also ignores the bigger elephant in the room, whether Washington retains the moral standing to lecture anybody about respect for human rights and international law.
After all, just six inches above the editorial praising Bush’s human rights position at the U.N. is the other editorial describing how the Bush administration gave only slaps on the wrist to interrogators implicated in torturing detainees to death since 2002.
Indeed, the hypocrisy within this hypocrisy is that the only serious jail time has been meted out to the Abu Ghraib guards who were photographed posing Iraqi prisoners naked in humiliating postures but didn’t kill anyone.
The lead Post editorial notes that Corporal Charles A. Graner Jr., who supervised Private Lynndie England and other guards on the Abu Ghraib night shift, did appear in one photo with a dead Iraqi prisoner, but Graner wasn't responsible for the man's murder.

Nevertheless, the sexually-oriented photos of naked Iraqis had infuriated President Bush and many Americans in his Christian Right base, so Graner got 10 years in jail and seven other low-level guards, including England, also were sentenced to prison.
By contrast, the Navy SEAL and CIA interrogators who tortured to death Iraqi Manadel al-Jamadi (the victim in the Graner photo) were spared any serious punishment. On Nov. 4, 2003, the interrogators had taken turns punching and kicking Jamadi before shackling him and hanging him five feet off the floor, where he died of asphyxiation.

The e-mail address for this site is And don't forget to listen, watch or read (transcripts) of Democracy Now! today.