Saturday, May 06, 2006

Kat's Korner: Neil Young's Living With War -- key word "Living"

Kat: Thank God for Neil Young. He's the first one to give us what we've all been wanting. The one that takes on the Bully Boy.

You buy that crap in the previous paragraph? Sometimes rewritten history is enough to turn you off reality. For instance, revisionist history doesn't note that Neil Young was quite happy to support the Patriot Act at a time when artists like Rickie Lee Jones were raising their voices. Rickie Lee took on the Bully Boy. So did Green Day. So did Pearl Jam (in the past and on their new self-titled CD). And of course Bright Eyes, the Rolling Stones, Cowboy Junkies and many more. In terms of a sense of how America's changed, you need only listen to Tori Amos' Scarlet's Walk to hear a journey across an America rotting from above. Those artists are far from the only ones who have spent time among the living in the last six years.

Is this just another case of White Male Boomer soaking up all the credit others have earned? If this is the case, accepting that myth means overlooking John Fogerty's Deja Vu All Over Again. Guess Fogerty came out swinging too soon? Or someone didn't take their ginco biloba?

So Neil Young's not the first. I think we've established that.

The album?

It's got a lot of things going for it.

Neil Young's pissed off. He's usually more interesting when he's pissed off. ("Helpless" not withstanding.) He's rocking with the kind of noise he hasn't kicked up in some time. Though he's arriving late to the party, he's making quite an entrance.

Living With War is the name of the album. You can currently listen to it in full online.

"After the Garden" is the first track. It's a strong track to kick off the album and you may think it's your favorite.

Won't need no shadow man
Running the government
Won't need no stinking war
Won't need no hair cut
Won't need no shoe shine
After the garden is gone

It features some strong drum work and Yong's lamenting in a manner that suits his voice. The strong drum work is actually a hallmark throughout. Muscially, it rocks better than the best tracks on Sleeps With Angels.

"Living With War" (title track) is next up and it may be time to reconsider your favorite song.

I take a holy vow
To never kill again
To never kill again
And try to remember PEACE

What makes this song for me? Two things: again the drums and the vocals. The vocals sometimes seem to chant and sometimes seem to sing. If that's Young and only Young via overdubs, I'd be surprised but he's been seriously messing around in the studio since the eighties, so who knows?

The song's about how "we kill and we're killed again" as we live with war (in our hearts) day after day. The theme will be carried throughout the album.

"Restless Consumer" is Young's "The Ghost of Tom Joad." Which is actually a good reference not just for the song. Springsteen hangs over the album. Check the musical similarities between "Living With War" and Springsteen's "Working On The Highway." Or between Springsteen's "No Retreat, No Surrender" which "Families" owes a musical debt to. (Corey Hart's "No Surrender" already owes Springsteen a lyrical debt.) Young mixes it up a bit by borrowing from the melody of Bob Dylan's "Chimes of Freedom" for "Flags of Freedom."

That's not nitpicking. Most songs and artists borrow. (It's outright theft that causes problems.)
He's even borrowing musically from his own work for "Roger and Out."

So what have we got here?

He has the most talked about album of his career. Whether he decided to allow people to listen to the album online to force the release (as some rumors say) or to get his songs out quickly, it's worked. There's an interest in his work, an excitement, that's not been present for some time.

At my local Tower, I asked how his catalogue was selling. I was told a number of people have been coming in asking for Living With War and that his Greatest Hits collection has shown a considerable increase in sales. (Living With War can be purchased as a download currently. It hits stores May 8th.)

It was a smart move. Not just in terms of marketing. What he's done is force everyone interested to basically act like a reviewer in the seventies with limited access to an upcoming release. You can listen. Under his conditions. Which means you listen from start to finish (unless you stop the stream). There's no option of picking the track you want to hear (or going back to one when it's finished playing). You hear the entire album in order.

All ten tracks. It's a concept album and the tenth track only works on the first few listens. (It's "America The Beautiful.") It provides the "light" at the end of the tunnel. Whether or not it's "cinematic," it will be the track that has you reaching for the remote in a few months. It's a traditional arrangement and what might have served the album better is a radical reworking of the song such as what Tori Amos did to Young's "Heart of Gold" on Strange Little Girls. Tori's version of "Happiness is a Warm Gun" appears to have had an impact on Young's "Let's Impeach the President."

Lopping off the "light" (final track), you've got Young's strongest album since the seventies. The man who cheered on the Patriot Act (and war with "Let's Roll"); the man who, let's be honest, had nothing to say for years, finally has something to say. There's none of the insulting point of view that marred Sleeps With Angels (where Young truly felt he had went "to heaven" which was apparently defined by a "Trans Am" and a 'cheery' view of the homeless). He's back among the living.

The vocal sneer (sometimes snarl) has allowed him to get away with a great deal over the last two decades. But nothing's been able to rescue his lyrics for some time. As he's repeatedly attempted to play the cowboy, it's been less and less a return the early highs of CSNY and more like Glenn Frey-lite. Pissed off has frequently led to vocals and music that almost saved songs with lyrics that many couldn't relate to. (Unless you, too, were a millionaire looking for a 'Purchase of Gold' -- frequently taking home a "Piece of Crap" or not.)

Neil Young came back down to earth lyrically. Music needs him, we need him. This is a brave album for any number of reasons including theme. But what may be most brave is the refusal to work and rework the songs (there's a reason David Geffen once sued him). There are nods to the work of Springsteen and Amos. The heart may not be gold but it's pumping. So much so that no one need turn to the sixites to give him a shout out (as he does to the year 1963 to shout out to Dylan in "Flags of Freedom" -- sad but true, you do have to go that far back to shout out to Dylan).

May 8th the album comes out in stores. I could download it now but I won't. I'll wait until then and purchase it. I've listened to it repeatedly online. That hasn't weakened my desire to own Living With War which is probably the highest compliment you can give music these days. I'm not sure how it will fare up against Ben Harper's incredible Both Sides of the Gun on my own stereo but, hopefully, they can live side by side, if not in perfect harmony.

Ruth's Public Radio Report

Ruth: Where have all the heroes gone? Long time passing. And what of the heroines? Rarely ever mentioned.

That's what Friday felt like. I heard it and my jaw dropped. My grandchildren Tracey and Jayson came over right after school so, while they watched Elijah, I checked my e-mail account. There were a number of complaints and several that can be summarized as "Ruth, I know it's your favorite program but this needs to be noted."

I agree. Friday on CounterSpin, the show began as always with "recent news." It started off strongly. I will let others apply their own term to how it ended. If it helps, I stopped listening after recent news and headed over to KPFA's The Morning Show.

How did CounterSpin start? By noting the lack of women represented on CBS' Face the Nation as well as the lack of people of color. Sound criticism, in my opinion. How did it end? With the clip of Steve Colbert delivering his monologue before the D.C. press corps.

It was as though he were saying, "CounterSpin listeners, let me tell you about your day. You ___ and then you ___, go home, make love to your wife and ___."

Make love to your wife? Well I do not have a wife. I did have a husband -- who passed away and is sorely missed, God rest his soul. If he had said that to CounterSpin listeners, I would have been outraged. The implication would be that CounterSpin only has male listeners. He would be, to steal from Rebecca, rendering invisble all women in the audience.

He did do that; however, he was addressing the D.C. press corps. I will not get into whether he was funny or not -- I know there is pressure on Ava and C.I. to address that at The Third Estate Sunday Review. I will note that the remark was offensive.

It was the sort of remark that one might have heard in the early sixties. Certainly, forty years later, we have progressed, right?

They played the clip and I waited for Steve Rendall or Janine Jackson to make a comment. They did not. There was nothing stated about the fact that his remark was sexist.

That is how recent news ended. Recent news began with them noting that CBS' Face the Nation had very few female guests. They then play, on a show that has too many male guests, the clip where women aren't just reduced, they are rendered invisible.

Did no one see a problem with that? I am having a hard time understanding why.

Yes, CounterSpin is one of my favorite shows. I would have written "my favorite show" until this happened. I discussed it with Tracey and Jayson (and with C.I., Rebecca, Dona, Elaine, Jess, Jim and Betty). Was anyone not offended by it? No.

The e-mails were very vocal about being bothered by the segment.

Some did stay on and listen. Those e-mails noted that possibly the problem was compounded by the fact that there were no female guests on the program. Repeatedly, I was asked to address it here and sometimes I was implored. I do enjoy the program. I did not enjoy that show.

I am old enough to have seen women go from composing a few press tokens in D.C. to a large, though not large enough, body. As offended as younger listeners were, I think I was even more offended because I lived through that change. I know that women were fighting in every profession for recognition. I am sure many younger listeners, male as well as female, are aware of the struggles that took place -- struggles which are not finished today. However, I believe that if you lived through that moment in time when women really grasped that they would have to storm the barricades for themselves, as well as future generations, you especially found the recent news segment offensive.

It is true that I was planning on a simple entry. I will be leaving later today on a road trip with my best friend Treva. I am packed and ready; however, I was hoping to make this report something light. That all changed when the sound clip was played and it was allowed to pass with no effort made by either Mr. Rendall or Ms. Jackson to critique what we had just heard.

Are we so desparate for heroes that we will applaud anything? If it was okay to render women's accomplishments and achievements invisible, is it, therefore, okay to do the same with people of color? How about with gays and lesbians? Exactly where is the line?

For me the line is very clear and I regret that it was not clear for CounterSpin. But in playing that clip without comment, they nullified their first critique -- of Face the Nation's problem in finding women. When you lose women in the last clip, you have torn down your own critique of the lack of women on another show.

For me, that is very clear. If it were another program, would I have been so bothered?

I wondered that. Dalia Hashad has just started her new position at Amnesty so she has been on WBAI's Law and Disorder less of late. Heidi Boghosian had only one remark that I remember from this week's broadcast. But were either or both women were present, I do belive if Michael Ratner or Micheal Smith praised the segment without question, they would raise the issue of women being rendered invisible in the "press critique" that has been so generously praised.

I would hope that either Mr. Smith or Mr. Ratner would point it out themselves. But once I got over my shock that CounterSpin was playing the clip, I was excited. Why? I assumed that they would tackle what few others had either had the guts to address or the ears to notice.

I was disappointed. CounterSpin is not off my listening list. I intend to listen again when I return from my vacation. However, I am so disappointed in Friday's broadcast that I may take C.I. up on the offer to take two weeks off and not just one. The idea of two over-sixty year-old women, long time feminists, tearing up the countryside strikes me as the perfect antidote to what I heard Friday.

I was disappointed and still am. I wonder whether or not I can now expect to hear "firemen,"
"newsmen," "Congressman," "policeman," and more noninclusive terms used in clips that we are supposed to be impressed by?

I was not impressed. I know members were not impressed.

I also know C.I. is on the road this weekend and I had set aside one hour to do write this report.
I said I would have it completed by a set time and I will. That means that the Michael Ratner interview from Thursday's KPFA's The Morning Show cannot be addressed. I will note that he feels things are looking much brighter for the prospects of impeaching the Bully Boy. I was going to discuss that and segue into WBAI's Law and Disorder and then note some other shows.

Such as First Voices Indigenous Radio. Tiokasin Ghosthorse will be on vacation this summer. Mattie Harper is hoping to do at least one show during that time with nothing but female guests. That is an idea that excites me and one I would hope CounterSpin would also explore. This listener and longterm feminist has not been impressed with the coverage of abortion on CounterSpin.

I did not need to hear, for instance, a male tell Ms. Jackson that abortion was a side issue and there were more important issues. A woman's body is an important issue to women. Abortion must be important to many or you would not see the rallies and counterprotests. The next time I remember hearing abortion addressed, again in an interview done by Ms. Jackson, the guest was a woman who did not impress me as she argued that women should be allowed to express pro choice and anti-choice opinions on the op-eds pages of the New York Times. The woman's study had concluded that anti-choice positions were well represented, and then some, by males.
Why we needed the "balance" of hearing women trash choice, I had no idea? (Nor did I have any idea why the guest needed to push the noting of experts on an unlevel playing field.)

I will be fighting for this paragraph to stay in, I know. If you read it, I won. For those who wrote in concerned that I would take a pass on this issue because of the fact that I enjoy CounterSpin, you did not need to worry. I know that if I did not address it, the responsibility would fall to C.I. We already all expect C.I. to address the immigration issue, to speak for the Irish and the Irish Americans in the community who feel that the press is slanted against them, to . . . It is a very long list. I would not add to that list by shirking my own responsibility and telling myself, "Oh well, C.I. can cover it."

CounterSpin went a little loopy. I have no problem saying so. It was disappointing. More so when you realize that women's rights are always under attack by some faction but even more so under the Bully Boy and his administration's disregard for medical science that allows them to push as fact any number of hoary myths -- such as nonexistant link between abortion and breast cancer. Well after pushing the nonexistant link between September 11th and Iraq, are any of us surprised that they would also bend science repeatedly to attempt to bully women as well?

I expect that the attacks will come from the administration. I expect that they will be pushed by the mainstream media. I do not expect that I will have to hear them on the programs I enjoy. Stephen Colbert is young enough to know better. "Young enough"?

Yes, young enough. He did not live through the gender quake of the sixties and seventies. He did not have to reconcile old myths with new realities. Many men my age did have to do that. Some succeeded, some failed. The world really did change, there are many who want to change it back, and did so before Mr. Colbert came of age. This is not a case, as some of us would tell ourselves in the late sixties, "Well, he just doesn't know better. This is all new to him."

His statement was offensive. To broadcast it without calling it out was offensive to me.

Mike and Cedric covered WBAI's Law and Disorder, and did a wonderful job, which I wish I had time to add to. Rebecca covered KPFA's Flashpoints on Wednesday. The Third Estate Sunday Review will be covering KPFA's The Morning Show in a feature tomorrow. Mike also covered WBAI's Wakeup Call Wednesday. (Kat's hoping to cover KPFA's Guns and Butter. today). While I am on vacation, they are going to try to cover shows at their sites. I will be off next week for sure and possibly, after Friday's broadcast, the week after. Furthermore, I will be taking the last week in May off for a family vacation with my children and grandchildren.

This was not the report I was hoping to write. But sometimes the thing that needs said the most is not the thing you wish to speak. That is something I am old enough to know.

Heads up for KPFA's Sunday Salon with Larry Bensky: (9:00 am Pacific time, noon Eastern time)
In our first hour...
From the streets, to...where? A look at what's next for three movements, each of which saw major protests this week in the U.S.: Darfur, Peace in Iraq, and Immigrant Rights. How will activists turn protests into votes, legislation, and results on the ground?
In our second hour...

Between 4 and 5.3 million Americans have lost the right to vote due to felony convictions. Some temporarily, others permanently. The majority of them are Black and Latino men. How does this affect the democratic process in America?

NYT plays Goldie Hawn and puts American in the Elizabeth Berkley role (Scott Shane & Mark Mazzetti)

Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who senior administration officials said Friday was the likely choice of President Bush to head the Central Intelligence Agency, has a stellar résumé for a spy and has long been admired at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
But General Hayden, the principal deputy director of national intelligence, would also face serious questions about the controversy over the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program, which he oversaw and has vigorously defended.
His Senate nomination hearing, if he is chosen to succeed Director Porter J. Goss, is likely to reignite debate over what civil libertarians say is the program's violation of Americans' privacy.
Mr. Bush has often reserved decisions about top-level appointments until just before they are announced, but senior administration officials said Friday that General Hayden was the clear leading candidate.

As Goldie Hawn warns Elizabeth Berkley in First Wives Club, "Phoebe, some advice. Be afraid, be very afraid." The above is from Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti's "Top C.I.A. Pick Has Credentials and Skeptics" in this morning's New York Times where they finally put into print what everyone's been whispering about for the last few weeks (Goss' impending departure).

Here's how Hayden's confirmation plays out (if he's confirmed), Bully Boy and underlings say, "Well if there were any problems with the NSA spying, Congress wouldn't have approved Hayden." Translation, Democrats better be prepared to fight. (My apologies to anyone who spit out their coffee. I should have written "HUMOR WARNING" before suggesting the Senate Dems might fight.)

How you liking the briefer, more USA Today-style version of the Times, by the way?

Tom Wright contributes "U.S. Defends Rights Record Before U.N. Panel in Geneva" and one might think the new "shorter! shorter! shorter!" mantra would lead to less mistakes. One might think so. Until the piece is read.

Here's an excerpt:

Mr. Bellinger also responded to questions raised in a committee report late last year by defending the United States' decision not to grant prisoners held in Guantánamo Bay, Afghanistan and Iraq rights under the Geneva Conventions.

The US didn't grant prisoners rights under the Geneva Conventions? Wright might need to do a little research. This is a point Janis Karpinski has made repeatedly (most recently in an interview with Dennis Bernstein on KPFA's Flashpoints Wednesday): the US did grant rights, to some, under Geneva. It granted as it pleased -- which isn't honoring the agreement.

Elsewhere Wright refers to extraordinary rendention with the qualifier "reported." Reported?
Wright writes: "These include Washington's reported policy of sending prisoners to countries with poor human rights records for questioning, C.I.A.-run prisons and the role of controversial interrogation techniques like waterboarding, in which prisoners are led to believe that they are going to drown."

Excuse me. "Reported policy of sending prisoners to countries with poor human rights records for questioning"?

Reported? As in won Dana Priest the Pulitzer for reporting? If so, Wright would be correct. However, that's not what he means. He's suggesting that it's merely "reported" and not "known." Did he miss Alberto Gonzales' remarks this week? Let's clue Wright in:

On Wednesday, US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said the United States had the right to send prisoners to other countries but it also had the legal obligation to ensure they were not despatched to places where they would be tortured.
"We all know renditions, in and of itself, is nothing extraordinary," he said.
"Renditions is an activity that is practiced by the United States and other countries.
"It is a practice that certainly has been exercised or used by this administration and previous US administrations.
"We understand that our legal obligation with respect to all renditions is that we will not transfer someone to another country where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured ... the United States strives to meet that obligation in every case."

Now let's not Jane Mayer being interviewed by Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez Feb. 17, 2005 on Democracy Now!:

JANE MAYER: Yes. That is what the story focuses on, which is that there is a secret program that's run by the C.I.A. mostly (though the Justice Department and the Defense Department also do renditions), and it started -- [sneeze] excuse me -- in the mid 1990's, actually, in the Clinton administration, as a way of deporting or extraditing criminal suspects, usually terrorist suspects, back to countries that had some kind of legal claim on them. Most of them were sent back to Egypt, and most of them there were outstanding arrest warrants for; but what happened after 9/11 is the program, according to the people that I interviewed, spun basically in many ways out of control. It expanded exponentially, so that there are now thought to have been anywhere between 100 and many more such individuals who’ve been ‘renditioned,’ as they call it; and, instead of waiting until there are formal arrest warrants for these people and a -- kind of a legal case that's been carefully built up against them, it appears that some of these people have just been basically picked up on kind of untested suspicions, such as Maher Arar, against whom there turned out to be no case whatsoever. The Syrian government eventually released him after Canada pressured the Syrian government to let him go, and the Syrians said, 'Well, we never found anything wrong with him. He seems completely innocent.' So, it, of course, makes one wonder how many other people there might be who are completely innocent, who have been sent by the U.S. to countries where they’ve been interrogated, and in some instances it seems tortured.

Maher Arar was sent to Syria by the US government. It was extraordinary rendention (or, if Alberto Gonzales prefers, just "rendention"). And what did Albert Gonzales say in the previous excerpt:

"We understand that our legal obligation with respect to all renditions is that we will not transfer someone to another country where it is more likely than not that they will be tortured ... the United States strives to meet that obligation in every case."

We sent Arar to Syria. According to Gonzales, we wouldn't send Arar anywhere that it was likely he would be tortured. ("We will not transfer.")

So read the following:

The Government's human rights record remained poor, and the Government continued to commit numerous, serious abuses. Citizens did not have the right to change their government. The Government prevented any organized political opposition, and there have been few antigovernment manifestations. Continuing serious abuses included the use of torture in detention, which at times resulted in death; poor prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention; prolonged detention without trial; fundamentally unfair trials in the security courts; and infringement on privacy rights.

If Wright's unfamiliar with it and thinking, "Damn left wing reporting!" he might want to take a breath. That's not reporting from any journalistic organization. That's from the official report from the US State Department on Syria ("Syria: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices").

Want to toss around "reported" again? That's just one instance, we could do this all day long time permitting.


Putting the "Timid" into New York Timid, ladies and gentlemen, Tom Wright. (Wright also fails to note John B. Bellinger III's role in selling the British government on the illegal war on Iraq.)

C.J. Chivers contributes "Not All See Video Mockery of Zarqawi as Good Strategy." No, it wasn't good strategy. Not for Iraq. It was good press strategy. The press took their eyes off Iraq to giggle and snort (the same way they did over the deck of cards that did not, though the lie maintained they did, go out to the troops). It was good p.r. for the Bully Boy to duck and cover behind a silly press making silly fools of themselves as they giggled over "outtakes" from a video. It didn't have a damn thing to do with what was happening in Iraq, but damned if the Times and the Associated Press and plenty of other organizations didn't run with it as though peace had broken out in Iraq. It was a nonstory, a nonstarter. The US has no influence over the Iraqis thoughts. Mocking anyone is a risk when you're the occupying power. It was a mistake and the Times should have addressed that yesterday instead of the nonsense about "outtakes."

Iraq's not a blockbuster that just came out on DVD. Save the foolish "outtakes" talk for the arts section. Chivers article is worth reading. But it's a damn shame on Friday (the last day many really pay attention to the news), the paper was front paging "outtakes" and Saturday they're trying to clean up. It was feel-good nonsense (did Bruckheimer shoot the video?) that was meant to detract from the very real issues in Iraq. And the Times and others were happy to play along.

Now the news cycle corrects itself. But many news consumers started their weekend believing in the "wonder" of the "outtakes" and they're going to miss the discussion on the liabilites of the "outtakes."

What's coming up here today? Ruth's doing her latest Ruth's Public Radio Report. She is addressing the issue members raised. That's the bulk of her report. It's completed and Dallas is hunting down tags. Ruth may add one more paragraph to it. Kat's going to post one of her reviews.

On that, Kat's plan was five reviews in five days. Two things. One, she realized that Ruth begins a vacation today (at least one week, possibly two and Ruth will be off the last weekend in May as well). With Ruth being off, Kat started rethinking her schedule. She also started adding additional CDs to her review list. She will be reviewing Free Design and Pink (as she's noted). But her reviews will be more than five and they won't run daily. During the week (Monday through Friday), when one goes up, it will do so in the evening/night time. She has four completed and the list has been increased to eight, I believe, with the remaining written in parts thus far. One will run next Saturday. Kat's intent is to blog this morning at her site, Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) and explain what she's planning/aiming for (but she's taking another pass at her review that posts today -- so don't hold her to that). Her review that goes up today could go up as early as this morning but will be up before midnight. (If she decides to radically rewrite the one planned for today she may substitute the review of The Free Design for the one intended.)

Trina is posting today (and in fact working on it right now, I just got off the phone with her). Betty has a chapter that she's working on. So check Thomas Friedman is a Great Man later today. (And if it doesn't go up, blame me and not Betty. She wanted some input and the plan was for her to read it to me last night but due to a vareity of things, including that I'm traveling this weekend, that didn't happen. I think I can block out some time this evening.)

Martha passes on the planned guests for this weekends Radionation with Laura Flanders (from an e-mail heads up that you can sign up for at Flanders' site):

As the Senate prepares for a immigration debate, we look at the backlash some Republicans want to incite and to real solutions. Then, What makes a song dangerous? The newest protest music.
KYRSTEN SINEMA, Democratic Legislator from Arizona, on the latest border clashes in her state.
Dr. ROBERT PASTOR, Vice President of International Affairs at American University on how Europe managed illegal immigration.
JOHN NICHOLS, of The Nation.
FIDEL RODRIGUEZ, host of KPFK-FM’s Divine Forces Radio.
Did coverage the largest protests in US history help us better understand immigration problems and solutions? And what about those anti-war marches? Then, Jane Jacob's urban wisdom and what makes a great neighborhood?
ROBERTO LOVATO, Contributor to The Nation and New America Media.
SIMEON BANKOFF of NYC's Historic Districts Council.
REVEREND BILLY of the Church of Stop Shopping.
Plus a few surprises.

RadioNation with Laura Flanders can be heard over the traditional broadcast airwaves, on XM satellite radio and online -- airs from seven to ten p.m. Eastern time Saturday and Sunday nights.

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, May 05, 2006

Democracy Now: Damu Smith remembered, Ray McGovern . . .

Mass Police Raid On Mexican Town After Farmer Arrests
In Mexico, over 1,000 police officers raided a town on the outskirts of Mexico City Thursday that was the site of a riot a day earlier. On Wednesday, demonstrators clashed with police who tear-gassed them for protesting the arrest of several farmers for selling flowers without a permit. The demonstrators took six police hostages, all of whom were released. At least 30 people were arrested and remain in custody. Two journalists said police beat them to prevent them from filming.

Bush Admin. Accused of Funding Somalian Warlords
In Somalia, the Bush administration is being accused of fermenting unrest through the support of warlords fighting Islamic militants in Mogadishu. A Somali government spokesperson said the US government's backing is helping fuel a civil war that has led to many civilian deaths. Some 90 people were killed during the fighting in March -- the worst violence Somalia has seen in years.

New Israel Gov. Takes Office With Pledge To Annex Settlements
In Israel, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert installed his new government Thursday with a promise to impose permanent borders. Under Olmert's plan, 60,000 settlers living in isolated areas on the West Bank will be moved to Israel's main settlement blocks, home to over 340,000 people. Those settlement blocks would then become part of Israel's permanent borders. Meanwhile, Hamas leader Khaled Meshal has announced Hamas would be willing to move towards peace with Israel if it agreed to give up its West Bank settlements and recognize Palestinian rights.

Damu Smith, 1952-2006
And finally, legendary peace activist Damu Smith died earlier this morning. The founder of Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network, Damu spent years fighting environmental racism, particularly in the south. He was a key leader in the anti-Apartheid movement and fought police brutality in Washington, DC and around the country. Damu was diagnosed with colon cancer last year while on a peace mission in the Occupied Territories. He then not only fought for his life, but against racial disparities in the health care system. Damu is survived by his daughter Aisha and his legacy lives on in all those who fight for justice.

The above four items are from today's Democracy Now! Headlines and were selected by Francisco, Brenda, Kara and Susan. Democracy Now! ("always informing you," as Marcia says):

Headlines for May 5, 2006

- 2 Rebel Groups Walk Out of Darfur Peace Talks
- Bush Admin. Accused of Funding Somalian Warlords
- Mass Police Raid On Mexican Town After Farmer Arrests
- Thousands Flee East Timorese Capital
- Indonesian Militia Leader Starts 10-Year Jail Sentence
- Israel Gov. Takes Office With Pledge To Annex Settlements
- FEMA To Close New Orleans Recovery Office
- US Invokes Voting Rights Act To Sue African American
- Damu Smith,1952-2006

Los Titulares de Hoy: Democracy Now!'s daily news summary translated into Spanish

Damu Smith 1952-2006: Legendary Peace Activist Dies After Battle with Colon Cancer

Legendary peace activist Damu Smith died Friday morning in Washington, DC of colon cancer. The founder of Black Voices for Peace and the National Black Environmental Justice Network, he spent years fighting environmental racism, particularly in the South. [includes rush transcript]

Retired CIA Analyst Ray McGovern Takes on Rumsfeld Over Justification for Iraq Invasion

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld comes under fire from retired CIA analyst Ray McGovern at a speech in Atlanta on Thursday. Rumsfeld was interrupted by protesters several times in his address. We speak with McGovern and play excerpts from the event. [includes rush transcript]

FBI Counterterrorism Unit Spies on Peace Group School of the Americas Watch

The ACLU released evidence Thursday showing that the FBI has been monitoring the peace group, School of Americas Watch. The group conducts research on the U.S Army School of the Americas, now renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. SOA Watch is the latest organization that has been found to have been subject to U.S government surveillance in the name of counterterrorism efforts.

FBI Targeted Freelance Journalist Covering FTAA Miami Talks

Newly-released documents reveal that the FBI spied on freelance journalist David Lippman as he was covering the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit in Miami in 2003. The documents indicate Lippman was under surveillance for being a "known protestor w/history." The American Civil Liberties Union is filing a lawsuit on his behalf.

Evo Morales Nationalizes Gas Resources in Bolivia

Leaders from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Venezuela gathered Thursday for an emergency summit do discuss Bolivia's decision to nationalize its natural gas fields and refineries. We speak with Larry Birns of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs.

Bullets in the Hood: Bed-Stuy Documentary Goes on Tour to Raise Awareness About Gun Violence

Downtown Community Television is launching an anti-gun violence tour in New York City and elsewhere featuring the award-winning film "Bullets in the Hood: A Bed-Stuy Story." The film was made by two 19 year-olds, raised in Brooklyn's public housing projects, who had lost 11 friends to gun-violence in the streets of New York.

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue.

Yesterday, KPFA's The Morning Show, Sandra Lupien's newsbreaks, covered the developing story of the US attack on Ramadi. Austalia's ABC notes that at least 13 people died in that attack.

CNN reports that Iraq's Interior Ministry has announced that "army Brig. Gen. Mohammed Abdul Latif was gunned down in the western Yarmouk neighborhood as he drove to work." (That occurred Thursday.)

On Monday, we noted: " FOCUS News Agency notes that Denmark's 539 troops may be reduced to 400 this month (May 18th)." Today, Reuters reports that Denmark has decided to make no reduction, they will switch some to "U.N. duties" ("a small net reduction in the force of 530 of 10 to 40"). Later today, AP reported that Denmark was indeed going to reduce their troops (by 80). Reuters also reports that the issue of Polish troops in Iraq is something Andrzej Lepper (deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture) intends to address: "We are still against out military presence there and if it comes to a vote in parliament, we will oppose (extending the stay)," he said. Meanwhile, Australia plans to send 460 additional troops to Iraq.

Corpses continue to surface in Iraq. China's Xinhua reports that five corpses ("riddled with bullets"; "signs of torture") were discovered in Ramadi. The Associated Press notes the discovery of five more corpses with "four in Baghdad and one on the outskirts of the city."

Explosions also continued in Iraq. The Associated Press reports the death of three American troops in Babil -- resulting from a roadside bombing. In Mosel, KUNA reports, a bomb wounded an Iraqi soldier. In Baghdad, gunfire claimed the life of Maj. Ali Hamid (Iraqi police officer).

On this issue of Iraqi soldiers, John Berman reported for ABC news on the "graduation ceremony for 978 recruits" which quickly dropped to half that figure as "[t]hey began taking off their uniforms when they learned they would not be stationed in their hometowns."

Near Kirkuk (where no one wants to report from -- see oil "blaze" last week), Reuters reports the kidnapping of "six oil engineers for Iraq's Northern Oil company."

Bad news for two blood lusters: Tony Blair's having to juggle his cabinet and Bully Boy's got another poll (AP-Ipsos) to try to spin (poll found only 33% feel he's doing a good job). (Bully Boy will have to juggle as well with Porter Goss stepping down from the CIA.)

Ruth phoned. She's read the e-mails. She says she's not sure how she'll address it but she will address the issue in her report tomorrow. If she's unable to, we'll address it at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Rebecca addressed it earlier this week. That on Friday (later for some areas) we all have to hear that nonsense again is appalling. To quote Mia Farrow, "There must have been nothing going on in the world that week . . . ." (What Falls Away, p. 107.)

This has been a start and stop entry, dictated over several phone calls. Most of what would have been included is being pulled. (I'm referring to my comments, not highlights.) There's a lot of nonsense getting attention, lot of "water cooler topics" eating up news time. Others can do what they want, that's their business. But we won't go into the gutter with them. (And yes, everyone who's e-mailed to complain about ___, I am aware of it. I didn't hear it. But I certainly heard of it in the e-mails. It was one thing when Democracy Now! covers it. That's a news program. That's why we'll note every report they do. There is a difference between what Democracy Now! is doing as a news program as opposed to whatever that was on ___ today.)

That nonsense has taken up more than enough of the community's time and my own today.

What topic could have been covered instead of the nonsense? How about Molly's highlight? From Ellen Goodman's "Granny Power Takes on the War in Iraq" (Boston Globe via Common Dreams):

I went to the grannies for a booster shot of optimism. It's been that kind of week. We just passed the third anniversary of the flight-jacket photo op and its mission unaccomplished. The plunge in the president's approval ratings, down to 33 percent, hasn't translated into a howl of protest but a low-level depression. And the Official Bush Countdown Clock is barely a tick below 1,000 days.
But in Manhattan, 18 women of granny age, full of wit and wisdom, have just won a court case and sent their protest story around the world. I'll take my optimism where I can.
Last fall, these women descended by foot, cane, and walker onto an armed forces recruitment center in Times Square. Inspired by groups such as the Tucson Raging Grannies, they demanded -- ''we insist/ we enlist"-- that the Army take them rather than their grandchildren.
When the soldiers locked them out, 91-year-old Lillian Runyon banged on the door, singing: ''If I had a hammer . . . " The women of the Granny Peace Brigade then staged a sit-down until the police, rather more gently than is their wont, took them to jail in handcuffs.
Their cry against the war's dishonorable conduct came up against the government's claim of their disorderly conduct. But on April 27, a mere whippersnapper of a judge -- 46 years old -- declared them not guilty. Whereupon Joan Wile, lyricist and grandmother of five, promptly then told the courthouse crowd, ''Listen to your granny; she knows best."
Now four of those grannies were sitting around the conference table in their lawyer's office still wearing buttons and the glow of notoriety. Wile was even brushing up the lyrics of her call-to-elder-arms: ''Grandmas get offa your tush/ We've got to go after Bush."
Something about the granniness of the event -- though some were younger than the average senator -- made the coverage read more like a lifestyle story than a gathering political storm. But then again, these protesters have a lightness of spirit that brings a message home: ''Just forget your retirement pursuits/ And get out your old marching boots."

That matters. (And you saw Amy Goodman interview Marie Runyon in
"Raging Grannies Acquitted in New York" -- no fluff at DN!)

Tasha noted "American 'Peace Mom' on cross-Canada tour to protest Iraq war" (China's People's Daily Online):

She camped 26 days outside the Texas ranch of U.S. President George W. Bush to protest the Iraqi war last August.
This April, she and her supporters pitched their tents outside the ranch again, just to demand a reasonable answer as to why the U.S. troops are fighting and dying in Iraq.
But now, she is shifting her mission to a new direction.
Cindy Sheehan, the American anti-war icon, is on a cross-Canada tour. She urges the nation, which once sheltered so many U.S. Vietnam war dodgers, to give sanctuary to more American soldiers who have dodged service in Iraq or Afghanistan.
"I'm just here begging the people of Canada to force your government ... to allow our soldiers to have sanctuary up here," Sheehan, also known as "Peace Mom," told reporters on Thursday during her visit to the Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
The 48-year-old mother has become a leading voice in the American anti-war movement since her son, Casey, 24, was killed five days after he began serving in Iraq in 2004.
On Wednesday, she addressed an anti-war rally at the University of Toronto along with members of the Council of Canadians and the War Resisters Support Campaign. She is also scheduled to speak in Montreal and Vancouver.
Sheehan asked the Canadian government to create a provision allowing military deserters to flee to Canada so they do not need to apply for refugee status on an individual basis.
Canada became a haven for as many as 50,000 U.S. draft dodgers and deserters during the Vietnam war. That should happen again, Sheehan said.
"The peace movement in America has always looked up to Canada as refuge of peace and sanity when our leaders have taken us to insane wars."

As Keesha wrote, suggesting a highlight, "Let's make it about the women since no one else seems to give a ___ about women this week." It does feel like that, doesn't it? From CODEPINK:

Declare peace on Mother's Day with CODEPINK! We will be gathering in Washington DC for a 24-hour vigil outside the White House on May 13-14, and will be joined by amazing celebrity actresses, singers, writers, and moms, including Cindy Sheehan, Patch Adams, and Susan Sarandon! Bring your mother, children, grandmothers, friends, and loved ones. We will be honoring the mothers of the fallen by sending them organic roses. Click here to send your rose! We're also writing letters to Laura Bush to appeal to her own mother-heart, turning them into a book, "Letters to Laura." For event info click here, read our blogs and check out our online store for gift ideas.

Great highlight from Kevin. (And fits with Keesha's suggestion.) We'll probably note this again (remind me). From Kim Gandy's "Marching for Peace, Working for Peace" (NOW):

On this important day, as we prepare to march for peace, justice and democracy, I want to echo some of the voices of women--diverse voices that have been largely absent in the media coverage of peace and justice issues.
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, "It isn't enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn't enough to believe in it. One must work at it." And one of my favorite comics, Elayne Boosler, famously commented that, "When women are depressed they either eat or go shopping. Men invade another country." Have you noticed that when something is really funny, it's often because there's a grain of truth in it?
Around the world, women are the peacemakers in every culture, perhaps because we are thinking about the future of our children--and the future of other women's children. We're not the ones who solve our disputes, be they small or large, with fists and guns.
That's why the National Organization for Women is marching today, joined by many thousands who care about equality, justice, democracy, and peace. Women cannot stand by while our daughters and sons are dying--whether our own, sent across the ocean to fight, or the children of Iraqi mothers, whose hearts bleed just the same. We cannot stand by while Katrina survivors, who have endured so many broken promises from this government, continue to wait for the help every one of us would expect. And we cannot ignore the threats to our democracy that are coming from within: the voter purges, the intimidation, the dirty tricks, the riggable voting machines. And that's just the beginning.

It really is a matter of emphasis. What gets praised and what gets noticed. This deserves to be noted.

Via Martha, we have some history (peace is a feminist issue as NOW points out) from Blanche
Wiesen Cook's "Women and Peace: The Legacy" (Ms. Magazine):

The extraordinary journey of the American women to join British, German, Belgian and neutral-country women to discuss the causes of war and the future of peace was unprecedented. Courageous and bold, they crossed mine-filled Atlantic waters in April l9l5 to join nearly 1,500 others, many of whom defied their families to attend. The British government held up their ship for four days in the English Channel, and ridiculed them as "Pro-Hun Peacettes." But the women were convinced that war was "a denial of the sovereignty of reason and a betrayal of the deepest instincts of the human heart." Unbound by nationalism, they declared themselves citizens of the world, in solidarity against the slaughter of war, committed to a future of sanity and cooperation.
On her return, Jane Addams presented Woodrow Wilson with their deliberations, which became a source for Wilson's Fourteen Points (his l9l8 statement of principles for a just and lasting peace) and the League of Nations. But the U.S. refused to join the World Court or the League, and the punitive Treaty of Versailles ending World War I led directly to World War II.
The grim events of l9l4 through l9l8 unleashed a century of violence, and transformed the nature of war. Airplanes, missiles, chemical weapons, poison gases and the bombing of cities ended the myth of men at war on isolated battlefields. The genocide of the Armenian people by the Turks in l9l5 introduced a new awareness of the need for human rights.
Eleanor Roosevelt was profoundly influenced by these events, and by her friends Jane Addams and Lillian Wald. She joined their peace efforts, campaigned from l923 to l935 for America's entry into the World Court, joined famed suffragist Carrie Chapman Catt's Committee on the Cause and Cure of War, became a lifetime member of WILPF, and spoke and wrote vigorously for peace.

That's from the Winter issue of Ms. (summarized here).

Remember Democracy Now! s Amy Goodman is in California today:

* Amy Goodman in Davis, CA:
Fri, May 5
A Conversation About Guantanamo
Freeborn Hall, University of California, Davis
For more information: 530-752-1915
For Detailed Directions:
Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas
5211 Social Science and Humanities
University of California at Davis
Davis, CA 95616

Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) and James Yee will be among those speaking.

Another event going on in that area today? Matthew Rothschild and Will Durst will be addressing the issue of impeachment this evening:

Where: Mill Valley, CA
142 Throckmorton Theatre,
Reception at 7:00
Event starts at 8:00

"All about the women!" Well Andrea Lewis will be there (co-host of KPFA's The Morning Show ) and it's a fundraiser for The Progressive (which publishes Molly Ivins, Anne-Marie Cusak, Ruth Conniff, Kate Clinton, Barbara Ehrenreich and more).

The e-mail address for this site is

Jess note: Post corrected to add link to Denmark story "later today."

Other Items (Matthew Rothschild on KPFA's The Morning Show this morning)

A former Marine security attaché who worked in the White House in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations pleaded guilty in federal court to passing top-secret information and documents to political opponents of the current Philippine government.
The former marine, Leandro Aragoncillo, 47, a naturalized American citizen who came to the United States from his native Philippines in 1983, also confessed that he had continued mining top-secret and classified material after leaving the Office of the Vice President in the White House in 2003. He took a job as an intelligence analyst for the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2004.

The above, noted by Brenda, is from Ronald Smothers' "Former Marine Admits Passing Secret Documents" in this morning's New York Times. Not a whole lot in the paper this morning.

Trey notes David Cay Johnston's "Analysis of Tax Bill Finds More Benefits for the Rich:"

The tax cut bill that Senate and House leaders have generally agreed upon is expected to save Americans at the center of the income distribution an average of $20 each, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, a nonprofit research organization in Washington.
The top tenth of 1 percent, whose average income is $5.3 million, would save an average of $82,415. Those in the top group would see their tax bill cut 4.8 percent, while Americans at the center of the income distribution -- the middle fifth of taxpayers, who will earn an average of $36,000 this year -- could expect a 0.4 percent reduction in their tax bill, or about $20.
Those who make less than $75,000 -- which includes about 75 percent of all taxpayers -- would save, at most, $110 each. Those making more than $1 million would save, on average, almost $42,000.

I hadn't seen the article and thought I'd read it because Johnston (rumored to be among those trashed in Daniel Orkrant's upcoming "book" -- stringing together columns with a wrap around text) is a facts and figures person. I don't shy from dry and the paper really needs an article that amounts to something this morning. Look closely for it. It's on page C11. The business section. There's a pull quote that makes it look like it's larger than it is.

You have to wonder how long reporters for the paper are going to put up with the "briefer!" dictates? Does it really want to resemble USA Today in terms of layout and story length? At another time, Johnston's piece would have been twice the length and began on the front page (whether it continued in the main section or the business section). Today, they're really not interested in it. Johnston's a "name" for the paper. His reporting is noted, he's a best selling author. When even the "names" are treated this way, it may be time for readers to really start noticing the changes Keller's implementing.

As for the Okrent "book," we'll side with Johnston. There was nothing "public" about public editor Daniel Okrent's tenure. (Consider what he did to one reader, it truly could be called Enemy of the Public and no one would bat an eye.) A few e-mails have asked whether we'll review it at The Third Estate Sunday Review? The answer is no. Those are books worth highlighting and there's also another issue at play. If it's noted at all, between the two sites, it would be here. Although we might work up a nice parody of it at The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Remember that the gina & krista round-robin is in inboxes this morning. And Lucy wondered if Trina was posting this weekend? Yes. She plans to post Saturday. (She took last Saturday off, as did many, because we were all in NYC for the protest and march.) I should have noted that last night but forgot so thanks to Lucy for asking.

Also remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts of) Democracy Now! today. And an Amy Goodman event today:

* Amy Goodman in Davis, CA:
Fri, May 5
A Conversation About Guantanamo
Freeborn Hall, University of California, Davis
For more information: 530-752-1915
For Detailed Directions:
Center for the Study of Human Rights in the Americas
5211 Social Science and Humanities
University of California at Davis
Davis, CA 95616

Taking part in the event is Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights, et al). One of two events in that area today.

Lloyd notes Matthew Rothschild's "Impeachment Momentum Builds" (This Just In, The Progressive):

Slowly and steadily, the drive for the impeachment of George W. Bush is building.
Neil Young's song, "Impeach the President," has given the effort increasing visibility.
And a story in the
Boston Globe by Charlie Savage on April 30 showed just how necessary the impeachment drive is.
"President Bush has quietly claimed the authority to disobey more than 750 laws enacted since he took office, asserting that he has the power to set aside any statute passed by Congress when it conflicts with the Constitution," Savage wrote. Bush has done so by issuing so-called signing statements on "more than one out of every ten bills he has signed."
Administration spokesmen told Savage that Bush "will faithfully execute the law in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution."
But there's the rub.
It's not up to him to judge that.
It's up to the courts.
He is sworn to execute the laws, not to sit on them.
Fortunately, Americans all over the country are rising up against this imperial President.

The second event features Matthew Rothschild. Andrea Lewis of KPFA's The Morning Show will be the moderator/host. Details will be noted on The Morning Show on KPFA this morning. (Which airs from seven to nine a.m. Pacific time.) We'll note those details in today's next entry. (Will Durst will be there and it will be in Mill Valley, that's all I can think of right now.)

The New York Times offers a brief on Rumsfeld in the print edition, page A21, "National Briefing:"

RUMSFELD INTERRUPTED Prostestors repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech in Atlanta. In a question-and-answer session, a former C.I.A. analyst, Ray McGovern, asked, "Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" "I did not lie," Mr. Rumsfeld replied. Three other protestors were escorted away by secruity after interrupting the speech. (AP)

That's it, in full. Again, maybe they're working on a "news analysis" for this weekend?

Billie notes "Saber Rattling Over Iran" (The Nation):

In the run-up to the Iraq War, the Bush Administration proved remarkably adept at the art of "diplomacy" for war. Now the White House seems to be using the same game plan for Iran. It is exaggerating the threat Iran poses, is making demands that go beyond Iran's treaty obligations and is now pushing for a UN Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions and other punishments. The Administration has created a premature crisis that is distracting public attention from Iraq but is also stiffening Iran's defiance and maybe even accelerating its efforts to enrich uranium.
The White House strategy so far has played into the hands of Iran's radical regime. It is not clear how much power President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad actually has. But the Administration's threats against Iran--including talk of "regime change" and its refusal to rule out using tactical nuclear weapons--have helped Ahmadinejad distract attention from his broken economic promises and have bolstered his sagging popularity. The leaders of both countries seem to be pursuing, for their own political and ideological purposes, a reckless game of chicken that could end in disaster not only for the two countries but for the Persian Gulf region, perhaps even the world.
Some Democrats may be tempted to run to the right of Bush on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. If they do, they will only deepen the unfolding crisis and make it hard to resist a future White House request to Congress for the authority to use force. The better strategy would be to return the question of Iran's nuclear program to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to engage Iran in regional diplomacy to prevent a widening civil war in Iraq. Engaging Iran would not be an endorsement of its regime but would appeal to its interest in bringing more stability to the region. There are three reasons for pursuing this diplomatic approach.

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: Doesn't cover Rumsfeld's Atlanta appearance

Antiwar protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday, and one man, a former CIA analyst, accused him in a question-and-answer session of lying about prewar intelligence on Iraq.
"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst.

"I did not lie," shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies.
With support for the war in Iraq remaining low, it is not unusual for top administration officials to encounter protests and hostile questions.
But the outbursts Rumsfeld confronted on Thursday seemed beyond the usual.

Three protesters were escorted away by security as each interrupted Rumsfeld's speech by jumping up and shouting antiwar messages. Throughout the speech, a fourth protester stood up in the middle of the room with his back to Rumsfeld in silent protest.

Yes, the above is from Shannon McCaffrey's "Rumsfeld Is Confronted by Antiwar Protesters" (Associated Press) and we noted a version of it last night. But it's just so good you have to note it again! Seriously, Martha saw this version of McCaffrey's article online at the Washington Post and noted that the New York Times, which does carry AP stories, elected not to provide this online. Was it too much for the Grey Lady or are they working up a "news analysis" of the event to run this weekend?

Brady pairs two articles from the Times and we're not noting them. Brady take it just a little further and you've got the promised feature for The Third Estate Sunday Review. Otherwise what does the Times offer? Not much, as Martha pointed out in her e-mail. Juan Forero plays "Let's All Talk To The Neoliberals" (which CounterSpin may take up this morning -- may not but it's a good way to plug the show -- new episode airs in some areas today and is available at their website).

In the Times, Kate Zernike's "Use of Contraception Drops, Slowing Decline of Abortion Rate" is a really bad article. How much of that is Zernike's fault, how much is due to the paper's jitters around issues of class and how much of that is due to Bill Keller's desire for short-breezy-pieces is anyone's guess. But it's a bad article -- or bad mini-article since it is so brief. As the Times gears up for it's move to being the text version of CNN's Headline News, will readers stick with the paper/bulletin?

Denise noted, on the same topic, Marc Kaufman's "Unwanted Pregnancies Rise for Poor Women: Rate Drops for Those Well Above Poverty Level, Report Indicates" (Washington Post):

Poor women in America are increasingly likely to have unwanted pregnancies, whereas relatively affluent women are succeeding more and more in getting pregnant only when they want to, according to a study analyzing federal statistics.
As a result of the growing disparity, women living in poverty are now almost four times more likely to become pregnant unintentionally than women of greater means, the study found.

Based on nationwide data collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and other sources, the researchers found that from 1994 through 2001, the rate of unplanned pregnancies increased by almost 30 percent for women below the federal poverty line -- now defined as $16,000 annually for a family of three. For women in families comfortably above poverty, the rate of unplanned pregnancies fell by 20 percent during the same period.
The abortion rate also rose among poor women while declining among the more affluent.

[. . .]
For women earning between $16,000 and $32,000 a year, the number of unintended pregnancies increased from 65 per 1,000 in 1994 to 81 per 1,000 in 2001. But for women in families earning more than $32,000, the number of unplanned pregnancies declined from 37 to 29 per 1,000 women.

The Times, suffering from affluenza, appears to have a difficult time noting hard data or exploring the issues of economic class. (We're all supposed to pretend they don't exist.) Again, that's the paper as a whole so how much to blame on Zernike is anyone's guess. (And Keller wants shorter articles. The editor who hates writing is what he's being dubbed by some.)

And, addition to the opening, a friend's just called to say the Times ("15 minutes ago") did add the AP story (headline with link) to their website, the one on Rumsfeld. (Also see next entry for the one paragraph AP brief in print edition.) Apparently it wasn't "news" until it was a briefer version. (Does Bill Keller really hate writing or is it reading he loathes?)

Remember to listen, watch or read (transcripts) Democracy Now! today.

The e-mail address for this site is

Thursday, May 04, 2006

And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)

Protesters repeatedly interrupted Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld during a speech Thursday and one man, a former CIA analyst, accused him of lying about Iraq prewar intelligence in an unusually vociferous display of anti-war sentiment.
"Why did you lie to get us into a war that caused these kind of casualties and was not necessary?" asked Ray McGovern, the former analyst, during a question-and-answer session.
"I did not lie," shot back Rumsfeld, who waved off security guards ready to remove McGovern from the hall at the Southern Center for International Studies.
With Iraq war support remaining low, it is not unusual for top Bush administration officials to encounter protests and hostile questions. But the outbursts Rumsfeld confronted on Thursday seemed beyond the usual.
Three protesters were escorted away by security as each interrupted Rumsfeld's speech by jumping up and shouting anti-war messages. Throughout the speech, a fourth protester stood in the middle of the room with his back to Rumsfeld in silent protest. Officials reported no arrests.
Rumsfeld also faced tough questions from a woman identifying herself as Patricia Roberts of Lithonia, Ga., who said her son, 22-year-old Spc. Jamaal Addison, was killed in Iraq. Roberts said she is now raising her young grandson and asked whether the government could provide any help.
Rumsfeld referred her to a Web site listing aid organizations.

The above is from Shannon McCaffrey's "Rumsfeld Heckled by Former CIA Analyst" (Associated Press). Bring the war to Atlanta. Wally called and asked if it could be included in the indymedia roundup? It's not indymedia but it is news and we'll include it. The war is coming home. Americans aren't just expressing their distaste for the war, they're making connections and this will only increase. It's why (as Democracy Now! pointed out this morning) Condi Rice finds that sometimes an 'honorary' isn't really an honor.

The connections are being made and will continue to be. The lie's been exposed (as most have realized) and once that sinks in, people start looking at what's happening now. Which is at the heart of Jonah's highlight, John Nichols' "Mission (Really) Not Accomplished" (The Online Beat, The Nation):

President Bush and his acolytes continually suggest that the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are "success stories" that just have not receiving proper attention from the U.S. media.
Unfortunately for the spin doctors who dressed the president up in flight-suit drag and made their Iraq "mission accomplished" declaration three years ago are having a hard time convincing serious observers of global affairs that they have achieved anything but disaster.
According to the The Failed State Index, an authoritative annual analysis produced by Foreign Policy magazine and the Washington, DC, based Fund for Peace, both Iraq and Afghanistan are in serious trouble.

Before we get to the next highlight, a word of caution. This is indymedia roundup. That may not be clear since we opened with the Associated Press and are now about to move to an elected official. However, senator or not, in today's climate, he's "alternative." That's the set up to
Brad's highlight, Russ Feingold's "Our Presence is Destabilizing Iraq" (CounterPunch):

This Administration has compounded its misguided decision to wage war in Iraq by refusing to recognize the consequences of its actions--the tremendous cost to our brave troops and their loved ones, the drain on our financial resources, and the burden on our nation's national security resources and infrastructure, which are unable to focus on new and emerging threats to our country. I don't have to point very far to show how imbalanced and burdensome our policies in Iraq are. While we have spent, according to the Congressional Research Service, upwards of $6 billion dollars per week during Operation Iraqi Freedom, and $1.3 billion per week during Operation Enduring Freedom, we are spending a little more than $2 million annually--not weekly -- in Somalia, a known haven for terrorists and criminals and a true threat to our national security. This supplemental appropriation, if passed, will increase the cost of this war to $320 billion and rising. Mr. President, this is simply unsustainable, and because the President has failed to provide us with any semblance of a vision for when our troops will be redeployed, we can expect more of the same for years to come. That is, unless the Congress finally requires the Administration to develop an Iraq strategy that includes a flexible timeline for redeploying our troops by the end of 2006. My amendment recognizes the need to maintain a minimal level of U.S. forces in Iraq beyond 2006. Those forces will be needed for engaging directly in targeted counter-terrorism activities, training Iraqi security forces, and protecting essential U.S. infrastructure and personnel.
It is time for Members of Congress to stand up to an Administration that continues to lead us astray in what has become an extremely costly and mistaken war. We need to hold this Administration accountable for its neglect of urgent national security priorities in favor of staying a flawed policy course in Iraq. And we need to tell the Administration that they it can't continue to send our men and women in uniform into harm's way without a clear and convincing strategy for success.

Will they stand? (See "Why They Crawl.") Fortunately, unlike the junior senator from New York, Feingold's not afraid to take a stand or to stand alone. He seems to grasp what's at stake with regards to Iraq.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.

-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American military fatality toll in Iraq stood at 2395. Today? 2412. You read that correctly and I didn't mistype. 2412. Remember when we were shaking our heads that the toll had reached 2400? It keeps climbing. As the war drags on.

We get it, but for any stray visitors, let's break it down slowly. You're home. Maybe you've got the TV on. And someone kicks down your door. They say, "I'm moving in." And they do. You attempt to have them removed but your local police are controlled by the invader. You appeal for help to the outside world. But you hear, "Oh, well maybe this can work out. Maybe you two can get along?" As though, after the home invasion, you can ever live with this person? The crime was the invasion. Attempting to make you welcome and embrace the invader? All that's missing if Phyllis George saying, "Come on, give us a hug."

But just as some still can't face the fact that the occupation breeds more conflict, chaos and violence, they can't grasp that the invasion itself (illegal) means that there is no way a corner will be "turned." It's not happening.

What is happening in "liberated" Iraq? Well news to please Focus on Fool Jimbo Dobson comes via Polly's highlight, Jerome Taylor's "Iraqi police 'killed 14-year-old boy for being homosexual'" (Independent of London):

Human rights groups have condemned the "barbaric" murder of a 14-year-old boy, who, according to witnesses, was shot on his doorstep by Iraqi police for the apparent crime of being gay.
Ahmed Khalil was shot at point-blank range after being accosted by men in police uniforms, according to his neighbours in the al-Dura area of Baghdad.
Campaign groups have warned of a surge in homophobic killings by state security services and religious militias following an anti-gay and anti-lesbian fatwa issued by Iraq's most prominent Shia leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.
Ali Hili, the co-ordinator of a group of exiled Iraqi gay men who monitor homophobic attacks inside Iraq, said the fatwa had instigated a "witch-hunt of lesbian and gay Iraqis, including violent beatings, kidnappings and assassinations".

On that note, it's a good time to highlight this week's musical pick:

What kind of father would take his own daughter's rights away?
And what kind of father would hate his own daughter if she were gay?
I can only imagine what the first lady has to say . . .
You've come a long way from whiskey and cocaine!
-- "Dear Mr. President" words and music by Pink and Billy Mann (available on Pink's I'm Not Dead)

"Liberation" . . . ah, the smell of it? It certainly smells like something. Free reign for gay bashing. Jimbo Dobson may see it as "democracy."

Cindy Sheehan's slammed this week in indymedia by the Republican, war luster who apparently couldn't find a nice FBI agent to i.m. While he's working out whatever he's working out, Cindy Sheehan never stops. She keeps going and going, fighting enough for 40 people. (At least.) While he plugs his book, she's out there doing something. Vince notes "Accept U.S. war deserters, 'Peace Mom' pleads" (Canada's CBC):

American anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan wants the Canadian government to grant sanctuary to U.S. military deserters.
"I'm just here begging the people of Canada to force your government, because your government works for you … because your government does not work for war profiteers, to allow our soldiers to have sanctuary up here," she said.
[. . .]
Two American military deserters who arrived in Canada in 2004 -- Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey -- have been denied refugee status in Canada. They argued that the occupation of Iraq violates international human rights and is illegal.
Hinzman has appealed and the Federal Court is reviewing the decision.
Many others are anxiously watching the case. There are 20 active refugee claims by American military deserters.
About 150 deserters are known to be living in Canada, according to the War Resisters Support Campaign, though the organization believes the number could be as high as 1,500.

That is amazing because there's been more coverage of this topic recently in mainstream media than there has been in indymedia. The war resisters need support and their story needs highlighting. Only the spotlight of the world (via the press) can help them now. Sheehan's there being counted (once again). Whatever the war luster's problem is, he needs to find a new target.
He's not needed for analysis of the peace movement since he's never shown that he grasps the peace movement. He wants to militarize it. And a lot of people are shocked by this "recent" development. Ruth noted it months ago. Ruth, like many, had enough of hearing him sneer at the peace movement while speaking to presumably anti-war audiences. She wrote about it in her report that week.

His Republican buds didn't want to hear him speak. All he had was the anti-war community at this point. But for months and months he pissed on them. Short of him being arrested, we don't mention him by name. (The only exception to that is if he's a guest on Democracy Now! -- we highlight everyone of the reports they do. We can avoid him as a headline but he may pop in as a guest on that show.) If he had any value, it was speaking of what he knew of. There was no need to turn him into a hero. But we seem to do that a lot, get behind people who make no bones about the fact that they're not of the left and really don't care for the left. We don't do that here. There are good people and actual heroes on the left. We don't need to build the name (or ego) of someone who's had a falling out with CNN and the rest and is seeking a new platform.
It's why, outside of Democracy Now!, we haven't noted an author. He's not of the left. We need to be getting the word out on the left and getting the word out on objectives that matter, not allowing some man (are we suprised it's a man?) to trash Cindy Sheehan.

An objective of the left? Gavin notes Shay Totten's "Vermonters deliver impeachment resolutions to Congress" (Vermont Guardian):

An effort that began in March culminated Monday when three Vermont communities delivered a message to House Speaker Dennis Hastert: Start the process to impeach Pres. George Bush.
Six Vermont towns passed resolutions on Town Meeting Day calling for Bush’s impeachment. On Monday, Ellen Tenney, a bookstore owner from Rockingham, hand delivered petitions to Hastert, an Illinois Republican.
Neither Hastert nor his chief of staff was there when the office opened, as many members of Congress are not in Washington on Mondays. Tenney described the meeting with Hastert's staff members who were in the office as "bland and not very friendly."
She said it should have been no surprise that the petitions would be delivered.
"I had called and told him that we were coming, but I couldn't get anyone to call me back to set up an actual appointment," said Tenney, who was joined by representatives from and, two web-based organizations that have been encouraging Bush's impeachment. She was also joined by Julia DeWalt, daughter of Newfane Selectman Dan DeWalt, and a chief author of that town’s resolution, which sparked interest by other towns in Vermont.
Julia DeWalt handed the first of the petitions, that of Newfane's, to Hastert's staff. "It feels like my child's first steps," Dan DeWalt told the Guardian, "simultaneously a huge event, and painfully reflective of the enormous distance yet to go."

Can we impeach the Bully Boy? There's a lot of talk of the balance in Congress -- as though this has been something Congress would lead on if they only could. This has come from outside the Senate. (John Conyers and a few others have led the fight in the House.) Congress doesn't give anything. They respond to what the people demand. And there's a lot at stake as the war drags on. Oliver notes this section (picked to "put a face on what's happening") of Marilyn Bellemore's "Soldier's mother, moved to tears is opposed to the war" ( via Military Families Speak Out):

When Major Christian M. Neary, Field Artillery Battalion S-3, Army National Guard, stepped out of a tent at Camp New York, Kuwait, he spotted something in the distance about 300 yards away. It was late afternoon and the hot desert sun beat down on him. He was wearing a 66-pound vest -- consisting of body armor, water, ammunition and survival gear -- and was on his way to the medical station for Motrin to ease this unrelenting lower back pain he'd had.
As Neary walked in the direction of what appeared to be a crowd, he realized it was a Roman Catholic priest saying Mass on the hood of a Humvee. Literally, it was in the middle of nowhere.
The priest wore a green camouflage stole around his neck, which contrasted with tan fatigues. He was surrounded by 300 soldiers who, like Neary, would in the next few days cross the border to Taji, Iraq -- nearly 600 miles away.
It was like out of a movie, recalled the 33-year-old soldier. He was concerned because you don't usually see that many soldiers waiting around in a group like that, since one bomb could kill everybody.
Helicopters were landing behind them, taking away casualties and bringing in food and water. Every thing was "brown out" -- when dust and dirt gets blown around from the helicopter and for three or four minutes you can't hear or see a thing.
"Everything kind of stops and you get dust and crap in your mouth, everything pauses," said Neary. "Most of us were getting ready to cross the line at night. A huge no man's land of bombed-out buildings. The sermon was focused on keeping the faith. If anyone says they weren't afraid, they're lying. He told us to pray when you can, trust in your training and ultimately God will protect you. I reflected on that moment a lot."
There were too many confessions to hear, so the priest gave general absolution to everyone in attendance, which is allowed in times of dire emergency.
Neary's story, which he said represents that of the 85 soldiers he commanded, is told in detail in Trinity Repertory Company's "Boots On The Ground." The 90-minute play delves into the war in Iraq's affect on Rhode Island families. Neary said he was interviewed last year knowing that there was a movement to capture some of the untold stories — those that weren't being revealed in print, radio and television media. His only requirement was that he be allowed to read the transcript of his interview because he didn't want to be misrepresented.
But it wasn't until last Thursday night, when Neary and his wife, Amy, went to see "Boots On The Ground" that he knew his words had played such an important part.
Joe Wilson Jr., who played Neary, said to Wednesday night's audience after the play, "No matter how you feel about the war, there is a human toll and lives are changed. In a community as small as this, it's all connected. We told stories that people weren't aware of. I'm moved by seeing how much you don't know. It's my job to illuminate their truths."
Neary said he couldn't believe how accurate Wilson was in his portrayal — the facial expressions (although Wilson had never seen Neary), the body language, the way he looked back and forth, and most importantly, the rate of dictation.
"The story has to be told for the sake of the soldiers who did it," Neary said. "I did it for the 85 guys and the two guys that died in my command. My hope is that this will be somewhat of a story of the things we didn't read about."

Stories have to be told (and retold) for us to hear them. (True always but especially in the age of increasingly fewer independent outlets. Hank notes a highlight on one storyteller. From John W. Whitehead's "When Will They Ever Learn? An Interview with Pete Seeger" (Hudson Mohawk):

Before the Byrds or Joan Baez or Peter, Paul and Mary, there was Pete Seeger. With his five-string banjo in hand, Seeger helped to lay the foundation for American protest music, singing out about the plight of everyday working folks and urging listeners to political and social activism.
Born in New York City on May 3, 1919, Seeger, whose father was a pacifist musicologist, was plunged into the world of music and politics from an early age. He studied sociology at Harvard University until 1938, when he dropped out and spent the summer bicycling through New England and New York, painting watercolors of farmers' houses in return for food.
Looking for but failing to get a job as a newspaper reporter in New York City, he then worked at the Archives of American Folk Music at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In 1940, Seeger met Woody Guthrie at a Grapes of Wrath migrant-worker benefit concert. Seeger, Guthrie, Lee Hays and Millard Lampell joined together to form the Almanac Singers, which became known for its political radicalism and support of communism. In 1942, Seeger was drafted by the U.S. Army and sent to Saipan in the Western Pacific. After the war, he helped start the People's Songs Bulletin, later Sing Out! magazine, which combined information on folk music with social criticism.
In 1950, Seeger formed The Weavers with Lee Hays, Ronnie Gilbert and Fred Hellerman. Targeted for the political messages behind some of their songs, the group was blacklisted and banned from television and radio. In 1955, the House Committee on Un-American Activities subpoenaed Seeger to appear before them (read his testimony here). During the hearings, Seeger refused to disclose his political views and the names of his political associates.
When asked by the committee to name for whom he had sung, Seeger replied, "I am saying voluntarily that I have sung for almost every religious group in the country, from Jewish and Catholic, and Presbyterian and Holy Rollers and Revival Churches, and I do this voluntarily. I have sung for many, many different groups--and it is hard for perhaps one person to believe, I was looking back over the twenty years or so that I have sung around these forty-eight states, that I have sung in so many different places."
He was sentenced to one year in jail but, quoting the First Amendment, successfully appealed the decision after spending four hours behind bars. However, he has been blacklisted most of his life from normal radio and television work. During the 1960s, Seeger traveled around the country, continuing to play his folk songs for the peace and civil rights movements. Deeply offended by the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, Seeger, along with other folk singers such as Joan Baez, led many protests.
"Wherever he was asked, when the need was the greatest, he, like Kilroy, was there. And still is," said his long-time friend, Studs Terkel. "Though his voice is somewhat shot, he holds forth on that stage. Whether it be a concert hall, a gathering in the park, a street demonstration, any area is a battleground for human rights."
In 1963, Seeger recorded the now-famous gospel song "We Shall Overcome." In 1965, he sang it on the 50-mile walk from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, with Martin Luther King, Jr. and 1,000 other marchers. That song would go on to become the anthem for the civil rights movement and be translated into many languages. Seeger also turned his attention to cleaning up the Hudson River that ran past his home.
In 1966, he helped form the Clearwater, an organization dedicated to educating the public on environmental concerns such as pollution and protecting the river. The group offers educational programs for children on a 76-foot replica of a traditional Hudson cargo sloop and holds a two-day festival on the banks of the Hudson River every June. Seeger was awarded the Presidential Medal of the Arts and the prestigious Kennedy Center Award in 1994. In 1996, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for his contribution to music and to the development of rock and folk music. In April of that year, he received the Harvard Arts Medal, and after decades of creating songs, in 1997, Seeger won a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album for his album, Pete.

Hank wondered if that was an okay suggestion? Susan's going to love it. She's going to read it and love it. She won't be the only one. But a younger member e-mailed asking about Seeger this week so besides the members who know his art enjoying it, it also acts as a nice intro the artist Bruce Springsteen's saluting on his latest album.

Now, for those wondering about Sunday's The Third Estate Sunday Review, Cedric has a rundown in "Coming up at Third." As he notes, I've been glad (and not guilty) for a change not to post in the evening. I'm afraid I'll let it slip out. Betty's latest chapter goes up tomorrow. (She's fearful Thomas Friedman may steal one of the things we're noting. Not likely. He could come up with the idea, he knows the history, but he's too focused on preaching globalization and his long term memory appears to have left the building.) Before that goes up, read her chapter from earlier in the week, "Thomas Friedman's Trash Dump Psuedo Politics." Please check out Mike's "Law and Disorder and lots of other stuff." Ruth will have a report this weekend. Then she'll be on vacation for at least one week. For those wondering about Kat, she's a) been working on five album reviews, b) had a surprise party last night and c) has been trying to think what's the best schedule for the reviews? When she planned to tackle five, her plan was one in a row (posting one each day). However, now she's factoring in Ruth's vacation and wondering if she needs to hold any and start while Ruth's on vacation? (She has one finished and another one that needs a concluding paragraph. The other three are in various states of completion).

I think that brings us up to speed on community news. Our final highlight was noted by Mia,
Cindy Sheehan's "Pro-American=Anit-BushCo" (Gold Star Families for Peace):

I (and every single other individual on this planet working for peace and justice) am often accused of being "anti-American" for dissenting against my feral government that has gone wild with lawlessness and greed; even though dissent from our government is as American as apple pie. Some people believe that if one is critical of the Bush criminal regime, then one is anti-American.
I steadfastly believe that to be anti-BushCo means being pro-American; pro-life; and most of all: pro-peace.
In a recent editorial in the Boston Globe (Sun, April 30) the Bush regime is blamed for breaking or giving itself permission to break over 750 laws. George is the only sitting president to have admitted to breaking laws and for openly disdaining the constitution as an "old scrap of paper." How can we peaceniks be accused of being anti-American when the squatter in the Oval Office has no respect for the supreme law of the land? But of course, 9/11 changed the world and we are a nation "at war" so George thinks he can do whatever he wants even though he is the one who made us a nation at war with his lies and deceptions. I will stipulate that the constitution is a deeply flawed document, but the founders realized this and gave we future generations ways to amend it and one of the ways to amend it is not just "cuz the president says so." He may be the decider but he is not the amender.
Extreme rendition and torture are being authorized from the top and carried out in the name of the American people. A recent Amnesty International report calls torture "widespread" for people in US captivity. CIA trained black operatives have even bragged how inhuman and brutal that water-boarding is and gave a high level terrorist his persecution props for being able to last over two minutes. In this particularly lovely form of torture, a person has cellophane wrapped around his mouth and nose and tipped at an angle so water pours over his face--thus creating the feeling of drowning--so to avoid choking, the prisoner succumbs. Our own torturers, who have to go through the ropes, can last for only a few seconds in this torture. Add the sexual depravation practiced on the prisoners with the tormenting of some prisoners by flushing the Koran and so forth: then not only is the humanity of the tortured broken, but the torturer also becomes lower than an animal. I used to watch a lot of Animal Planet but I have never seen nor heard of a four legged creature torturing another four legged creature. However, as long as we Americans condone this behavior from the ones who authorize such viciousness from the top, we are the torturers also. We become the thing that we abhor.

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