Saturday, September 24, 2005

Ruth's Morning Edition Report

Ruth: As usual, WBAI's Friday broadcast of CounterSpin was one of the high points of my listening week.

Among the topics addressed were NPR's Morning Edition (which alleged that only terrorists and terrorist sympathizers
drew connections between Great Britain's presence in Iraq and the London bombings), ABC's Good Morning America (which did a long commercial for Disney opening an amusement park in Hong Kong masked as a news story), and John Roberts Jnr.

With guest Elliot Mincberg, they discussed how limited the discussion was and noted that NPR's All Things Considered featured a "debate" between Douglas W. Kmiec and Jeffrey Rosen of The New Republic. The problem with the debate was that, although not revealed to the listeners, both supported Roberts' nomination. [C.I. note: For more on this in text form, check out
this from Media Matters.] Also discussed was the close relationship between reporters and Roberts. It was noted that "a lot of the reporters who cover the Supreme Court have known John Roberts for a while" and that many had his cell phone number. Finally, David Enders discussed Iraq in terms of the problems and dangers of reporting from there (he's almost been kidnapped by the resistance or criminals, he's been shot at by the US military) and the fact that Iraqis want us to leave. Citing a poll done in Iraq prior to last January's elections, Enders noted that "85% of people who said that they were going to vote also said that they wanted to see the US withdraw as quickly as possible."

Friday, I caught Alternative Radio on Pacifica's
KPFK. David Barsamian interviewed Robert McChesney and they discussed how the model for today's media is a problem that goes beyond many other critiques. The discussion was interesting and I felt prepped for it thanks to Dona, among others, addressing the historical topic of partisan media at The Third Estate Sunday Review. Mr. McChesney addressed the ways in which PBS was set up, in terms of funding, has to it's downfall. He addressed how controversial programs would not get funding (and that Charlie Rose could lose Coca Cola as a sponsor), how business programs air repeatedly but there is no effort made by PBS to provide labor reporting, how certain sponsors will support arts programming but there's no thirst for real journalism on PBS. With regard to NPR, Mr. McChesney offered that it was more successful than PBS in serving its purpose because radio programming was less expensive than TV programming. Of special interest to me were the points he made about how the system itself was not "free market" (government subsidies arranged outside the public debate) and how, when people were walked through that, you had the seeds of a movement.

After that, Pocho Hour of Power aired and I will note, as Kyle did in an e-mail, this is another original comedy program created by and for a Pacifica station. It was humerous and reminded me, in every way, of a period when my sons were heavy into their tape recorders and always creating their own programs. There was an excitement in the broadcast as you wondered where they would go next which, I suspect, they did as well. If you enjoy comedy, I do, and have never heard it done live on the radio, you should make a point to check out this weekly show, Fridays on KPFK, 3:00 p.m. Pacific, 5:00 p.m. Central and 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time Zone.

Democracy Now! I always try not to note. That is not because I do not enjoy the show but because I rarely feel that there is much I can add to any discussion other than, "Wasn't it great?" But this week, C.I. and my granddaughter were exchanging e-mails on the Sunday Chat & Chews and Tracey later made a point that led me to browse through the online version of the New York Times. Each week, reporting in their foot slippers and bathrobes, a journalist for the paper will offer a recap of the Sunday Chat & Chews. I was curious as to whether Democracy Now! would be noted.

I certainly think many episodes are worthy of note. But what I was looking for was whether or not the two-part interview done by Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and Margaret Prescod (host of KPFK's
Sojourner Truth) would be noted? It was not.

I enjoyed the interview. But more importantly, here were three journalists interviewing a foreign leader who has been in the headlines, though not interviewed by the Times, for weeks. "
Hugo Chavez: 'If the Imperialist Government of the White House Dares to Invade Venezuela, the War of 100 Years Will be Unleashed in South America'" and "Venezuela's President Chavez Offers Cheap Oil to the Poor...of the United States" were the two parts if you missed it. The Times appears to have missed it.

Each Monday, they feel the need to regurgitate every Republican talking point made on the Sunday Chat & Chews yet somehow Hugo Chavez's comments were not of interest. I do not grasp that. The looney remarks of Pat Roberston, the attempted coup and Venezuela's oil reserves would seem to warrant some interest on the part of the paper of record in what Mr. Chavez had to say. Treva told me that the paper editorialized to applaud the 2002 coup. She says it was left with egg on its face and probably has a short temper and long memory. We also discussed C.I.'s belief that the paper of record gets behind every State Department position of each administration.

It strikes me as strange that the paper of record had no interest in a newsmaker. Whether they, or the State Department, agree with Mr. Chavez or not, he is that: a newsmaker. The New York Times is supposed to be in the news business. Surely readers of the paper who have made due on Associated Press reports within the paper of Mr. Chavez and the occassional piece by the Times' own reporters would also be interested in what Mr. Chavez had to say in a lengthy and exclusive interview?

When I made that statement to Treva, I heard a long sigh and could picture the eye roll that, no doubt, accompanied it.

"Ruthie," she said, "don't you remember All The News That's Fit To Sing?"

What followed was a discussion of the notes on that vinyl album by Phil Ochs, how Phil said he got most of his news from Newsweek and the New York Times but not all because "frankly, there's an awful lot more to his songs than what you'll find in Newsweek, or even the Times."

As Treva said, "So it was, so it is."

NPR? I rarely listened. Mr. McChesney made a point on Alternative Radio regarding declining circulation for papers and declining viewership for news broadcasts that went, and I'm simplifying, when people don't feel that they can make a difference due to the way stories are reported, they aren't interested in following those news sources. That's how I felt about NPR this week. It was the blue pill you swallow if you want to be sedated and wake up pretending everything is normal. (My grandson Levi will groan if I got that wrong. He walks around quoting from The Matrix constantly since his parents finally decided he was old enough to see it.)

Two segments stood out for differing reasons.

The first appeared to be
a corrective for assigning Juan Williams to report on race and poverty with respect to Hurricane Katrina the previous week:

Katrina: Another Example of America's Racial Divide"
by Patricia Elam
Morning Edition, September 22, 2005 · Hurricane Katrina has exposed the hidden issues of race and poverty in the United States. Commentator Patricia Elam says how you see the aftermath of Katrina depends in large part upon who you are.

The second is still in a need of a corrective:

Major Anti-War March Planned in Washington"
by Nancy Marshall Genzer
Morning Edition, September 23, 2005 · Anti-war demonstrators holding a march this weekend in the capital will be comparing the situation in Iraq to the Vietnam era. Supporters of President Bush's policy in the Persian Gulf say the Vietnam comparison is off base, and will stage counter-demonstrations.

In her brief moments, when she was actually allowed to speak, Cindy Sheehan could be heard saying, "We don't want to see the devestation that occurred in Vietnam. We didn't want to see this much devestation and in Vietnam they dawdled and dawled and dawled and finally pulled out. So here why don't we just admit mistakes and get out of there." Those were her remarks in full.

Luckily for NPR, they found Little Willie whom they could give more airtime to speak than they did Cindy Sheehan. Not heard of Little Willie? Not surprising. He is organizing a counter-rally that he has now spent two weeks putting together. The crowd will be much smaller, Little Willie admits. But in the name of "balance," Little Willie's counter-protest is noted not only in the segment but also in Gaskateer Steve's introduction to the segment.

The breakdown is roughly this. Cindy Sheehan, who met with members of Congress in D.C., is given fifteen seconds to speak, Little Willie, who is just now organizing, is given twenty-five seconds.

The segment lasts 4 minutes and 25 seconds. Gaskateer Steve, playing a sound clip of the Bully Boy and explaining this pro-Bully Boy group, which I will call The National League of Men Who Love The Bully Boy, takes up 43 seconds.

That leaves us with 3 minutes and 42 seconds. Historical perspective, with clips from 1967, lasts 26 seconds. That leaves us with 3:16 seconds. the section on Cindy Sheehan herself, as opposed to "Julian Bond says . . .," gets 51 seconds of the report, the section on Little Willie gets 52 seconds.

This is Morning Edition's idea of balance. Reduce Ms. Sheehan's story to one of the press, we are given a sound clip of reporters shouting questions but are not allowed to hear answers, and let her speak for 15 seconds, then devote equal time plus one second to someone organizing what he admits will be a small "rally" which he is rushing to assemble and suddenly the report has "balance."

This is the reason I have lost interest in Morning Edition and an example of why I will not be pledging in my late husband and my name to NPR when it is time to renew the membership. That saddens me. If only because I am used to seeing my husband's and my name on the envelopes that are sent out. I finally changed the phone listing to my name only about six months ago and did so only because I grew tired of telemarketers calling, breathlessly asking to speak to him by his first name. Before Christmas, as the subscriptions to his magazines began lapsing, I did not renew them. But each pledge cycle, I could count on the form letters addressed to the both of us from NPR. It saddens me to let go of that tie to him but I do not see a justification for supporting this kind of "balance."

It was as though Janis Joplin just sold out the Winter Garden and, while reporting on that, NPR decided to "round out" the story on the huge attendence expected for Janis by giving "equal time" to Vikki Carr appearing at a hole in the wall. One is a news, one is a joke.

I was able to finally listen to
WBAI's Wakeup Call, much to my granddaughter's delight. I hope Howard Zinn fans were able to hear him on Wednesday. Jennifer Harbury, whom I have seen on Democracy Now!, was also a strong guest on Wednesday.

As the week began on Sunday, I had no plans to participate in the protests in D.C. I was hopeful that the turnout would be strong but I had not even thought about attending. Then members started e-mailing and my friend Treva phoned to say she would be there. By mid-week, when my granddaughter Tracey had permission from her parents to go if I accompanied her and Tracey had an offer for her and I to stay with C.I. and other members in D.C., it was decided. As my excitement grew, the soothing tunes and "balanced" stories of Morning Edition rarely held my interest. It felt, as Mr. McChesney noted about much of the media in general, as if it were reporting on issues that were beyond me, not issues that effected me.

As Mr. McChesney pointed out, of PBS, they do arts programming fairly well. If you are looking for something to listen to on NPR next week, I will suggest this:

NPR Live Concert Series
The White Stripes Live: September 27" to Web Cast Full Concert, September 6, 2005 · Hear the rock duo The White Stripes in a live, audio webcast from the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD September 27. The full concert will stream on along with opening acts by M. Ward and The Shins. It's the latest in NPR Music's live concert series from All Songs Considered.
Currently on tour to promote their latest album, Get Behind Me Satan, The White Stripes are from Detroit with a minimalist sound built on basic drums (Meg White) and guitar (Jack White). The band's inspired mix of classic rock, blues and punk is stripped bare but intense. It's been a wildly successful formula, earning a legion of fans worldwide and nearly universal praise from critics.
M. Ward writes quiet, introspective folk and sings with a wisp of a voice. His music is often processed to give it a distant, creaky feel, as though it were coming from an old radio in another time. His latest CD is, in fact, called Transistor Radio, a delicate tribute to a forgotten era.
The Shins write smart, catchy pop tunes. They first reached a major audience when their song "Caring is Creepy" was featured in the soundtrack for the film Garden State. The band's most recent album, Chutes Too Narrow, was released in 2003. They're currently at work on new material.

Tracey has been a huge fan of The White Stripes for some time, so much so that I can sing along with every song on Get Behind Me, Satan. "Forever For Her (Is Over For Me)" and "As Ugly As I Seem" are probably my favorited. But now Levi and my other grandchildren have been turned on to The Stripes by Tracey and when I noted the upcoming broadcast of the concert Sunday at lunch, I saw the wild enthusiasm that Dick Clark must have spent two-thirds of his life being greeted with.
Kat had strong praise for The White Stripes' Get Behind Me, Satan so I will assume that others in the community may be interested in the concert as well.

Kat's Korner: Stones Keep Rolling

Kat: Rolling Stones. Yawn. New album. Bigger yawn. That's the general reaction in my crowd to the release of A Bigger Bang. Well your ennui is tres cool and, honestly, almost convincing. But we both know you're choking on the churned out crap shooting up the charts and longing for something real. So drop the pose already and listen to the Stones' latest.

This isn't a classic along the lines of Exile on Main Street but it lives up to the energy of Some Girls. First song coming up is "Rough Justice." The band plays it like they've got another "Sympathy for the Devil" on their hands. They don't. But with the playing and Mick Jagger's vocals, they have a solid opener that telegraphs instantly this isn't the usual "We've got a tour, let's put out product" that Stones fans have gotten used to (and burned by) in the last two decades.

"Let Me Down Slow" is one of their stronger numbers that will probably be loved only by true Stones devotees. (The way "Out of Time" is.) Let me explain that because it's been so damn long since the Stones mattered that the remark may confuse some. "Let Me Down Slow" is the sort of tune Stones lovers long for but rarely receive. Mick's got the snarl, the band's got the fire. Your head bobs along and you know this is one of the better moments. They aren't trying to be "with it" and embarrassing themselves in their desperation for a hit ("Harlem Shuffle"). The song's nothing that will convert a reluctant listener. But for those who love the band, this is heaven.

Say "Out of Time" to a non-Stones fan and you'll get a blank look. Say it to one of the faithful and you'll get a dissertation. "Let Me Down Slow" will excite the base because it shows the group's got it up and wagging it.

There are sixteen tracks on A Bigger Bang. The album would benefit from better sequencing. Had they opened with "Let Me Down Slow" and gone straight into "Streets of Love" this would be hailed as "genius." Instead the first is the second track and "Streets of Love" is track five.

"Streets of Love" is "Fool to Cry" and "Angie" rolled into one. This is what the nineties Aerosmith tried desperately to achieve but never really managed because there's ballad in the rock genre and then there's "power ballad" trying to invade the genre.

A power ballad, for those scratching their heads, is bound and determined to show you it's power and it is to rock what Whitney Houston is to pop. Those prone to melodrama are knocked out, those prone to music are appalled by the excess as every moment adds yet another layer of hand wringing and pathos. It's the difference between feeling and being guilt-f**ked.

Once "Streets of Love" fades, there are no more starts and stops, just a full blown Stones album. The blues tripping of "Back of My Hand" demonstrates that the last tour was a relearning experience for the group. (Maybe they doubted that their core still responded to blues numbers until they saw the live reaction?) "She Saw Me Coming" follows with the usual tongue flowing out of cheek machismo that no one else seems to have learned how to pull off.

"Kat, talk about the song."

Yeah, yeah, I know you're all waiting for that. I could talk about how great it is just to listen to the band and Mick lay down "Biggest Mistake" or talk about how "Laugh I Nearly Died," in a just world, would blast across the airwaves of every pop radio station in the country. But all you want to know is "Sweet Neocon."

How come you're so wrong
My sweet neo-con
Where's the money gone
In the Pentagon

It's not about the Bully Boy the same way Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" wasn't about a single person. While the latter was about vanity, the former is about insanity.

The insane administration includes, but is not limited to, the Bully Boy and you'll find that reflected in lyrics that speak of "a hypocrite" who thinks they are "a patriot," "democracy our style," "prison without trial" and a litany of other items via an administration determined to reject every notion our country is supposed to rest upon.

Mick's vocal choice is interesting on this song. He's never sounded more foreign. Which isn't to suggest more British. It's as though he's channeling the globe in this song which, considering the topic, he just may be.

All the talk over "Sweet Neocon" seems to have allowed "Dangerous Beauty" to slip under the radar. Though Lynndie England's more likely to be compared to Scott Baio's Chachi than to a "Dangerous Beauty," this song has ref points to Abu Ghraib:

Who you got there in that hood
You look so fancy in those photographs
With your rubber gloves on
But you're a favorite with
the Chiefs of Staff
You're doing such a wonderful job
You're a natural at working with dogs
Keeping everyone awake at night
With a touch of the prods

That's the Stones having the guts Bob Dylan's lost somewhere down Highway 61 which truly can't be revisted.

There's something about a Stones album, or a Dylan or a Diana Ross. Fans feel burned. You started off in this strong partnership with the artists, convinced they could do no wrong and then you come across an album that you try to defend, then one you can't but you're willing to keep silent, then another and you're just sick of it. The (early) catalogue that makes them can also be the (later) catalogue that breaks them. This is especially true when they team up with "star producers" who try to add "modern" touches. (Didn't anyone heed Dionne Warwick's cry "Don't Make Me Over"? Apparently not, including Warwick.)

After awhile, you start to feel as though you're in it for the music but the artist is in it for the money as they coast from one album to another and you ponder how much you can get for the now used CD you're embarrassed to have in your collection.

It's a tough road to walk down. As Joni Mitchell's often noted, you change and you're tossed on the cross for that, you stay the same and you're still crucified. But it's also true that when you go from exploring to putting out product, old friends have a right to look at you and note you've changed. (Until the mid-nineties, Mitchell avoided product. Recent releases indicate she's hell bent to make up for that.)

So I can understand fans being leery. This is a pricey purchase especially for a group that's biggest claim to an honest moment in recent years is probably "Mixed Emotions." But let me pull a page from the Carly Simon (song) book and act as older sister for a moment. Step into my room. It's okay, you don't have to stand in the hall. I won't yell at you to get out or scream, "Mom! The brat won't stop bothering me!"

I want to share the joys of this album, that's how strong it is. Hell, "This Place Is Empty," the Keith Richards sung song, is good enough to make you forgive, if not forget, his solo work. "Oh No Not You Again" will get your heart pumping but, road ragers beware, don't listen while stuck in a traffic jam.

"But Kat, my friends have written off the Stones!"

Their mistake. Look if you want what every other person is listening to, go buy Mariah. She's ripping off Karyn White and no one's calling her on it, so you can be one of the (dull) pack with that purchase. You can jaw about how she's come back from the crackup and how it's so hard being rich and toss in that owning Marilyn Monroe's piano makes her a victim by proxy. Or maybe one of the American Idols is gearing up for another product of filler, oversung and under thought.

But take it from your older sister Kat, those moments will haunt you later on in life -- the way Maggie's still bothered that she knows the words to "I Write the Songs." I agree "Superwoman" was an incredible song. In the eighties. Giving it new lyrics and a new title doesn't make it new, no matter how many high notes Mariah manages to molest.

Looking over the year thus far, what's emerging to me is that the artists who've earned that term and distinguished themselves (whether it's
White Stripes, Joan Baez or whomever) have all managed to ride the music, not to overpower it or be overpowered by it. Judy Collins set a standard with an album that truly breathed and the strong ones that have followed have repeated that trick. (Maggie, I'm not joking about wanting the Judy Collins CD returned now. It was a loan, not a gift.)

The Stones last tour, with no new songs to promote, may have given the band time to appreciate what exactly drew people to them in the first place. No screams for "Sex Drive" and no attempt to work new (weaker) material into the show appears to have forced the band to ask, "Who are we today?" Best damn rock group around is the answer A Bigger Bang can provide.

That's not an answer anyone's given about the studio version of the Stones in years. But it's the answer that one listen to A Bigger Bang demands. The passion's back in the music, the life is back in the lyrics.

At the protests later today, a worthy chant would be:

How come you're so wrong
My sweet neo-con
Where's the money gone
In the Pentagon

They've sporting their ya-yas again. It truly is "A Bigger Bang."

The Laura Flanders Show live from the Washington Mall Sat & Sun; Sat: Sharon Olds, Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell (Sweet Honey in the Rock)

Repost from Friday:

The Laura Flanders Show live from the Washington Mall Sat & Sun; Sat: Sharon Olds, Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell (Sweet Honey in the Rock)

Martha e-mails to give us a heads up to The Laura Flanders Show (thank you, Martha):

This Week on The Laura Flanders Show
This weekend on Air America Radio, 7-10 PM EST
Saturday, September 24We're live from the Washington Mall with sights, sounds, speeches and speakers from the historic anti-war march and concert.
We'll also have:
Live reports from Texas on Hurricane Rita
Poet Sharon Olds, who declined Laura Bush's invitation to join her at a big book fair
Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock and More!
Sunday, September 25
What's next for progressive Democrats? On Sunday we'll check in with the Progressive Democrats of America's strategy session.
Watch out, tune in!
Laura will be co-hosting with Amy Goodman, Free Speech TV's live broadcast from the DC march and concert. Saturday, 3-6 pm ET, Dish Network 9415.
NEW - Now you can listen to the Laura Flanders Show via podcast on iTunes!Go to the Laura Flanders Blog

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

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT: "3 in 82 Airborne Say Beating Iraqi Prisoners Was Routine" (Eric Schmitt)

Three former members of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division say members of their battalion in Iraq routinely beat and abused prisoners in 2003 and 2004 to help gather intelligence on the insurgency and to amuse themselves.
The new allegations, the first involving members of the elite 82nd Airborne, are contained in a report by Human Rights Watch. They have also been reported by one of the soldiers, a decorated Army captain, to top aides of two senior Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, John W. Warner of Virginia, the chairman, and John McCain of Arizona.
The captain approached the aides after he tried to report the allegations to his superiors for 17 months, the aides said. The aides also said they found the captain's accusations credible enough to warrant investigation.

The above is from Eric Schmitt's "3 in 82nd Airborne Say Beating Iraqi Prisoners Was Routine" in this morning's New York Times. It's rare that a spotlight story makes the front page of the paper.

Richard A. Oppel, Jr. has "Bus Stop Blast Kills 6 Iraqis; 3 G.I.'s Die in Other Attacks" which runs down the fighting in Ramadi, the assassination of two Iraqi officials (both with the Interior Ministry), the death of an Iraqi man held by the American military who is said to have been fighting a guard when called for questioning (he was shot in the chest), and the death of three American soldiers (Ramadi on Thursday -- "small-arms fire"; Al Taqaddum on Thursday -- roadside bomb; near Baghdad on Friday -- roadside bomb). In addition, a bomb in Karbala killed a child, and a bomb in Baghdad killed six people. The totals from the official count of US military fatalities in Iraq stands at 1914 since the beginning of the invasion and 30 for the month.

In a seven paragraph story, noted in an e-mail by Joan, the Times takes five paragraphs before using, once, the term "genocide." And then they says "recognized as genocide by several European governments." The article's by Sebnem Arsu and the issue is one that's plauged the Times for some time, the genocide of Armenians in Turkey in 1915. The article's entitled "Seminar on 1915 Massacre of Armenians to Go Ahead." The seminar has had to switch locations due to court actions attempting to block it. "The conference is to be the first time in Turkey that the killings have been publicly examined. More than 50 intellectuals, scholars and writers are to analyze the massacres, which took place from 1915 to 1917 and have been recognized as genocide by several European governments."

Though the editorials have yet to address the Pentagon's attempt to circumvent the public (wanting secret hearings on Able Danger everyone will no doubt feel safe and informed to know that the editorials take on the pressing, public safety issue of "public toilets."

Meow-Meow (Rebecca's name for Bill Frist) is trying to justify his sale of stocks (in a family owned hospital) before the values plunged. Subpoenas may or may not be about to be served.
Don't fret Meow-Meow, NBC can always hold a spot for you on a future spin-off of The Apprentice. (David D. Kirkpatrick is the Times reporter trying to make sense of a story -- one where an "aide" to Meow-Meow seems less than forthcoming.) Lawrence K. Altman answers the question that absorbed much discussion between Rebecca and Mike yesterday, "Where is Dick Cheney?" Set to have "minimally invasive" surgery (the Times calls it a "procedure" in Lawrence K. Altman's article) today. Which can only mean one thing -- more debate and battles between Rebecca and Mike as they both attempt to seize the title of President now that the Bully Boy has fled the coop to avoid the protests. (Actually, some would argue that the title's up for grabs due to the elections of 2000 and 2004. ) Who will be the last one standing? Rebecca? Mike? (For those who missed it, both have jokingly announced that with cut & run Bully Boy hightailing it out of D.C., they are the President of the United States. What? You really wanted Geena Davis? The Accidental Tourist really wasn't that good.) (And Pfeiffer should have won for Dangerous Liasons.)

No one e-mailed on this and I would have missed it if Ty wasn't looking at an ad on the page (we've ripped the paper apart amongst all of us) (those of us who are awake anyway), David S. Cloud's "Psychologist Calls Private in Abu Ghraib Abuse Photographs 'Overly Compliant' (page A28 -- the arts section begins on A20 so some readers of the print version may not make it to A28, talk about burying a story). Okay, here's the gist. The judge has stated that no to whether Lynndie England could determine right and wrong. And her lawyers aren't copping a plea of "criminally insane" . . . they're trying to argue "partial mental responsibility."

I'm no Star Jones (for which I am thankful each and every day), but if I'm remembering correctly, this is something floated in 2002. Back then, when the change was being discussed, the defense would have to give advance warning to the judge, either of the argument or the calling of expert witnesses to advance the argument. The judge is quoted explaining it (a fuzzy explanation and, not being Star Jones or shopping at Payless, I can't offer anyone further help there) so one could guess that the judge (Colonel Pohl) was given the heads up, but it's a guess because the article doesn't nail that point down. Presumably, the judge made the statement to jurors of the court-martial, in instructing the jurors; however the way it reads, he could have offered it to Cloud. The whole thing strikes me as the Nussbaum defense of the eighties.

So what's coming up? Cedric didn't e-mail to ask that, he's sitting here fighting over the paper with everyone. (I guess I'm the only one in the room who's wondering why we're in D.C. but reading the Times and not the Post? Washington Post. I mean, I have no choice, what's the others' excuse?) (Have no choice due to these entries.) Here's what's coming up (before I am lost in the parentheticals, sung to the tune of The Clash's "Lost in the Supermarket"), we'll repost what's coming up this evening and tomorrow evening on The Laura Flanders Show to make sure everyone's aware (note in that the mid-day appearance by Flanders and Amy Goodman as they give coverage of the rallies on Dish TV), Kat's got an album review to go up, Ruth has Ruth's Morning Edition Report and there may be dictated entries from the protests. Ideally, there will be the latter, but no promises.

Mike, who's crowding me as he reads from the laptop screen over my shoulder, says to say who's here. Ruth and her granddaughter Tracey, Mike of Mikey Likes It! and his parents and girlfriend Nina, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man and her children, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, Jess and his parents, Ty, and Jim and his father. Isaiah is supposed to be here but no word from or sight of him yet. I'm tired so let me call that out to make sure I didn't forget someone. Ava says to note that our TV review will be in tomorrow's edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review but it may be a mixed bag. (Meaning it may be the usual length but covering several items. The show we watched for our review, only the first half thus far, hasn't left us with a great deal to write about.)

We're going to be late, this is going up as is. No additional entries on things to supplement your Times readings with.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Arrestan a alto funcionario de la Casa Blanca

Francisco: Hola mi amigos. De parte de "Democracy Now!" trece cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana.

Arrestan a alto funcionario de la Casa Blanca
En Washington, el funcionario de la Casa Blanca con más rango para compras federales fue arrestado el lunes, por cargos de realizar falsas declaraciones y de obstruir una investigación federal de sus negocios con el lobbista Jack Abramoff. Hasta la semana pasada, David Safavian se desempeñaba como director de política de Gasto en la Oficina de Administración y Presupuesto. Es ex funcionario de la Administración de Servicios Generales. El Departamento de Justicia lo acusa de ayudar a un lobbista no mencionado de Washington D.C. en la compra de bienes controlados por el gobierno y de haber realizado un viaje a Escocia con ese lobbista. A pesar de que Jack Abramoff no es mencionado por su nombre, fuentes de Washington dicen que sería el lobbista no nombrado al que se hace referencia en la demanda. Se trata de la primera demanda penal presentada contra un funcionario del gobierno en el marco de una investigación de corrupción en curso, relacionada con las actividades de Abramoff en Washington.

Funcionarios iraquíes rompen relaciones con británicos en Basora
Funcionarios iraquíes dicen que romperán relaciones con las fuerzas de la ocupación hasta que los militares y el gobierno británicos pidan disculpas y paguen una indemnización por el ataque a una prisión iraquí. La noticia surge en medio de manifestaciones populares contra la presencia de las tropas británicas en Basora. Mohammed Al-Ubadi, el jefe del Consejo de Gobierno de Basora, dijo que el jueves se realizó una reunión entre 41 miembros del Consejo de Gobierno de Basora y representantes del gobierno británico. Ubadi señaló que la decisión de romper relaciones fue tomada luego de esa reunión. Funcionarios iraquíes dicen que cinco civiles iraquíes murieron y 44 resultaron heridos debido al combate iniciado por el ataque británico.

Estados Unidos destina más de mil millones a mejorar bases militares en Medio Oriente
Esto sucede mientras Estados Unidos invierte más de mil millones de dólares en importantes mejoras de las bases militares en Afganistán y la región. El New York Times informa que Estados Unidos está gastando más de 100 millones de dólares en la Base Aérea de Bagram, cerca de Kabul, para instalar sistemas permanentes de energía eléctrica, agua y saneamiento. Además, Estados Unidos está renovando la pista de la base aérea y construyendo un hospital y viviendas para 1.000 soldados. En Irak, las Fuerzas Armadas están gastando más de 100 millones de dólares para reparar una base aérea cercana a Balad, al norte de Bagdad. Y en Qatar, Estados Unidos está construyendo un centro regional de operaciones aéreas fortificado, de 30.500 metros cuadrados y con tecnología de última generación.

Informe sobre robo de mil millones de dólares al Ministerio de Defensa de Irak
Pasamos a otra noticia de Irak. El periódico Independent de Londres informa que al Ministro de Defensa le robaron mil millones de dólares. Se espera que el gobierno de Irak expida una orden de arresto contra Hazem al-Shaalan, que fue ministro de Defensa del primer ministro interino Ayad Allawi, respaldado por Estados Unidos.

Bush promete permanecer en Irak
En un discurso de importancia en el Pentágono el martes, el Presidente Bush dijo claramente que las fuerzas estadounidenses no se retirarán de Irak: "Desde mi punto de vista, decir eso le daría a los terroristas la oportunidad de proclamar una victoria histórica sobre Estados Unidos". Bush atacó también al creciente coro de estadounidenses y personas de otros países que piden que Esados Unidos salga de Irak.
"Su posición es equivocada. Retirar a nuestros soldados haría al mundo más peligroso y a Estados Unidos menos seguro. Abandonar Irak ahora sería repetir los costosos errores del pasado que llevaron a los ataques del 11 de septiembre de 2001."
El discurso de Bush fue pronunciado días antes de lo que se espera que sea una de las más grandes manifestaciones en contra de la guerra en la historia de Estados Unidos, programada para este sábado. Mientras él hablaba, se dio a conocer una encuesta de CNN/USA Today/Gallup, en la que el 55 por ciento de los estadounidenses consultados dijeron creer que el gobierno debe acelerar planes de retirada, mientras que sólo el 21 por ciento dijo que Estados Unidos ganará la guerra en Irak sin lugar a dudas, y más de la tercera parte de las personas encuestadas dijo que era imposible ganar la guerra. En su discurso, Bush también reconoció públicamente que más de 1.900 soldados estadounidenses fueron asesinados en Irak, y dijo que alrededor de 18.000 que están en Afganistán aún no han terminado su misión.

Número de muertes estadounidenses en Irak alcanzó los 1.900
Mientras tanto, el número de muertes de estadounidenses en Irak desde la invasión a ese país superó 1.900.

Presidente Clinton: La guerra de Irak es un "error"
El sábado, el ex presidente Clinton dijo durante una entrevista en el programa Meet the Press, de NBC, que la guerra en Irak es un error. El presentador del programa, Tim Russert, le había preguntado si consideraba que la guerra había dañado la imagen de Estados Unidos en el mundo.

Activistas pacíficos contra la guerra afrontan cargos de conspiración
Pasamos a una noticia de Estados Unidos. Cuatro activistas contra la guerra afrontarán hoy un juicio federal en Binghimont, Nueva York, acusados de conspiración por haber participado en una manifestación pacífica de desobediencia civil en contra de la guerra de Irak. Los activistas, conocidos como Los Cuatro del Día de San Patricio, podrían recibir hasta seis años en prisión con un período posterior de libertad condicional y multas de 275.000 dólares. Este es el primer juicio federal por conspiración debido a protestas antibélicas desde la Guerra de Vietnam. El 17 de marzo de 2003, dos días antes de la invasión de Irak, Daniel Burns, Clare Grady, Teresa Grady y Peter De Mott fueron arrestados dentro de la estación de reclutamiento del ejército en Lansing, Nueva York, después de que derramaron sangre sobre paredes, ventanas y banderas de Estados Unidos. En principio fueron acusados de vandalismo ante un tribunal estatal, y el juez declaró un jurado sin veredicto luego de que nueve de los doce integrantes del jurado votaran por absolverlos. Luego el gobierno federal aumentó los cargos, y acusó a los cuatro de conspiración para obstruir a un funcionario de Estados Unidos "mediante fuerza, intimidación y amenazas", además de otros cargos menores. El profesor de derecho William Quigley, que asesora a los cuatro activistas, dijo que le preocupa que este caso marque un precedente nacional de acusación federal de conspiración contra manifestantes pacíficos. Para coincidir con el juicio, activistas en Binghamont están formando un Tribunal Ciudadano sobre Irak.

Comienza juicio a Los Cuatro del Día de San Patricio
En Binghimton, Nueva York, comenzó el juicio a Los Cuatro del Día de San Patricio, cuatro activistas contra la guerra que afrontan cargos federales de conspiración contra el gobierno, por haber volcado sangre dentro de una estación de reclutamiento militar, para protestar contra la guerra de Irak. Uno de los acusados, Daniel Burns, dijo en el tribunal el martes, "Queríamos hacer visible la verdad acerca de la guerra. Actuamos movidos por nuestra fe, el derecho y nuestras creencias morales, para protestar contra la guerra en forma pacífica". Los cuatro activistas pueden ser condenados a un máximo de seis años en prisión y multas de 275.000 dólares.

Más de un millón de personas huyen mientras Rita se cierne sobre Estados Unidos
Se calcula que más de un millón de personas están abandonando sus casas y comunidades debido al huracán Rita, el tercero más poderoso registrado. Rita avanza a casi 322 kilómetros por hora y se espera que azote la costa de Estados Unidos en el correr de este sábado. El huracán ya fue clasificado como de Categoría 5. Varias ciudades en Texas, incluyendo Galveston y Corpus Christi, han ordenado evacuaciones totales. Lo mismo sucede en la costa sureña de Estados Unidos. Galveston, que fue destruida en 1900 por el huracán más letal en la historia de Estados Unidos, está ubicada nuevamente en el centro del camino proyectado del huracán. En Houston, la cuarta ciudad más poblada de la nación, las autopistas estaban congestionadas por el tráfico a medida que los residentes se apresuraban a irse. El Presidente Bush declaró a Texas y Louisiana en estado de emergencia. Se pronostica que Rita estará sobre el continente este viernes, en algún lugar entre el norte de Mexico y Luisiana, y lo más probable es que sea Texas. En Nueva Orleans, los ingenieros se apresuran a reparar varios muros de contención de aguas dañados por el huracán Katrina. Algunos cálculos sugieren que incluso tres pulgadas de lluvia causarían el desborde del sistema de protección contra inundaciones.

Greyhound echará a quienes vendan boletos a migrantes sin papeles
Greyhound, la mayor compañía de autobuses interurbanos del país, amenazó con despedir a sus empleados que vendan boletos a inmigrantes indocumentados. La política de la compañía sobre lo que llama "Transporte de extranjeros ilegales" advierte a los empleados del servicio de atención al cliente de Greyhound que estén alerta ante grupos numerosos de personas, que se muevan en fila y viajen con poco o ningún equipaje. El reglamento indica también, como indicios reveladores, que las personas "intenten ocultarse o permanecer fuera de la vista", y que grupos numerosos sea dirigidos por un "guía" que lleve los boletos de todos. Greyhound también dice que los traficantes de inmigrantes se delatan cuando llaman a las terminales de ómnibus para preguntar si hay autoridades de inmigración presentes, y cuando merodean, compran grandes cantidades de boletos para otras personas y emplean frases como "estos sujetos acaban de cruzar la frontera", "mi cargamento", y "tengo que trasladar a mi gente". El reglamento advierte que en caso de incumplimiento, los empleados podrían ser despedidos e incluso arrestados. El reglamento era desconocido hasta que el diario La Opinión de Los Angeles informara sobre él a principios este mes.

Treinta manifestantes por derechos de los discapacitados arrestados en Capitol Hill
Esta noticia también proviene de Capitol Hill, donde al menos 30 activistas asociados con ADAPT, grupo nacional de defensa de los derechos de los discapacitados, fueron arrestados el lunes por negarse a abandonar las oficinas de la Cámara de Representantes y del Senado. Realizaban una manifestación contra los planes del Congreso de disminuir en 10 mil millones de dólares el crecimiento del gasto del plan de asistencia de salud Medicaid en los próximos cinco años. El domingo, alrededor de 100 activistas, mayoritariamente en sillas de ruedas, se manifestaron fuera de la casa del líder de la mayoría del senado, Bill First, en Washington.

Coretta Scott King fue dada de alta en el hospital
Y por último, Coretta Scott King regresó a su hogar luego de pasar más de un mes en el hospital debido a un ataque de apoplejía y un leve infarto. El ataque inicialmente dejó a Scott King, de 78 años y viuda del líder de derechos civiles asesinado Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., incpaz de hablar y de mover el lado derecho de su cuerpo. Pero los médicos dicen que ha logrado recuperarse un poco en las últimas cinco semanas.

Francisco: Hello, in English, here are 13 headlines from Democracy Now! Pass on to a friend.

Top White House Aide Arrested
In Washington, the White House's top federal procurement officer was arrested Monday on charges of making false statements and obstructing a federal investigation into his dealings with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Until last week David Safavian was the head of Procurement policy at the Office of Management and Budget. He is a former official with the General Services Administration. The Justice Department accuses him of aiding an unnamed Washington D.C. lobbyist to acquire government-controlled property and that he took a golf trip to Scotland with the lobbyist. While Jack Abramoff is not mentioned by name, sources in Washington have said he is the unnamed lobbyist referenced in the criminal complaint. This marks the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington.

Iraqi officials Cut Off Relations With British in Basra
Iraqi officials in Basra say they are cutting off relations with the occupation forces until the British military and government apologize and provide compensation for the British attack on an Iraqi prison. This comes amid popular anti-British demonstrations in the city with many calling for the British to leave Basra. Mohammed Al-Ubadi, the head of the Basra Governing Council said that a meeting was held Thursday between the 41 members of the Basra Governing Council and British government representatives. Ubadi said the decision to sever relations was made after that meeting. Iraqi officials say five Iraqi civilians were killed and 44 wounded as a result of fighting that happened because of the British raid.

U.S. Invests Over $1B to Upgrade Middle East Bases
This comes as the U.S. is investing over one billion dollars in major upgrades at military bases in Afghanistan and the region. The New York Times reports the U.S. is spending over $100 million at the Bagram Air Base near Kabul to build permanent electrical, water and sewer systems. In addition the U.S. is replacing the air base's runway and building a hospital and housing for 1,000 service members. In Iraq, the military is also spending over $100 million to upgrade its airfield near Balad, north of Baghdad. And in Qatar, the U.S. is building a 100,000-square-foot fortified state-of-the-art regional air operations center.

$1 Billion Reported Stolen from Iraq Defense Ministry
In other news from Iraq, the Independent of London is reporting one billion dollars has been stolen from the Defense Ministry. The Iraqi government is expected to issue an arrest warrant for Hazem al-Shaalan, the former Defence Minister. Al-Shaalan served under the U.S.-backed Ayad Allawi.

Bush Vows to Stay in Iraq
In a major address delivered at the Pentagon on Thursday, President Bush said clearly that US forces would not withdraw from Iraq "on my watch, saying that would give terrorists the chance to "claim an historic victory over the United States". Bush also attacked the growing chorus of people in the US and across the world calling for the US to pull out of Iraq:
"Their position is wrong. Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous and make America less safe. To leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001".
Bush's speech comes just days ahead of what is expected to be one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in US history, planned for this Saturday. And as he spoke a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll was released showing that 55 percent of Americans believe the US should speed up withdrawal plans, while only 21 percent say the United States definitely would win the war in Iraq, while more than a third of people say they considered the war unwinnable. In his address, Bush also publicly acknowledged that more than 1,900 US soldiers had been killed in Iraq and he said that some 18,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan had not yet finished their mission.

U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Tops 1900
Meanwhile the U.S. death toll since the invasion has now topped 1,900.

President Clinton: Iraq War A "Mistake"
On Sunday former President Clinton described the war in Iraq as a mistake during an interview on NBC's Meet the Press. The show's host Tim Russert asked him if he thought the war had hurt the U.S. image in the world.

Non-Violent Anti-War Activists Face Conspiracy Charges
Here in this country, Four anti-war activists go on trial today in Binghamton New York on federal conspiracy charges for taking part in a non-violent act of civil disobedience protesting the Iraq war. The activists - known as the Saint Patrick's Day Four - face up to six years in prison, a period of probation and $275,000 in fines. It marks the first federal conspiracy trial of antiwar protesters since the Vietnam War. On March 17, 2003, two days before the Iraq invasion, Daniel Burns, Clare Grady, Teresa Grady and Peter De Mott, were arrested inside the Army recruiting station in Lansing New York after they had poured vials of blood on the walls, windows and American flags. They were originally charged in state court with criminal mischief but the judge declared a hung jury after 9 of the 12 jurors voted for acquittal. The federal government then upped the charges to conspiracy to impede an officer of the United States "by force, intimidation and threat" as well as three lesser charges. Law Professor Bill Quigley, who is advising the four protesters, said there is concern that this case will set a precedent for nonviolent protesters across the country to be charged with federal conspiracy. To coincide with the trial, activists in Binghamton are staging A Citizens' Tribunal on Iraq.

St. Patrick's Four Trial Opens
In Binghamton New York, the trial has begun for the Saint Patrick's Four - the four anti-war activists facing federal conspiracy charges for spilling their own blood inside a military recruiting station to protest the Iraq war. One of the defendants, Daniel Burns, said in court on Tuesday, " We wanted to make visible the truth of war. We were called by our faith, the law and our moral beliefs to peacefully protest the war." The four protesters face up to six years in prison and $275,000 in fines.

Greyhound to Fire Employees Who Sell Tix to Undocumented Immigrants
The Greyhound bus company, the nation's largest intercity bus company, has threatened to fire employees who sell bus tickets to undocumented immigrants. The company's so-called "Transportation of Illegal Aliens" policy warns Greyhound's customer service employees to beware of people in large groups, moving in single file and traveling with little or no luggage. It says other telltale signs include people "trying to hide or stay out of plain view" or large groups led by a "guide" who holds everyone's tickets. Greyhound also says immigrant smugglers give themselves away by calling bus stations to ask if immigration authorities are present, and by loitering, repeatedly buying large numbers of tickets for other people and using phrases like, "These guys just crossed the line," "my cargo," and "I've got to move my people." The policy warns that failure to comply could result in the employee's firing and possibly arrest. The policy was largely unknown outside the company until La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper in Los Angeles, reported on it earlier this month.

More Than a Million Flee as Rita Bears Down on US
More than a million people are estimated to be fleeing their homes and communities as the 3rd most powerful hurricane on record. Hurricane Rita is traveling at nearly 200 miles per hour and is expected to hit the US coast sometime on Saturday. The hurricane is already classified as a Category 5. Several communities in Texas, including Galveston and Corpus Christi, have ordered total evacuations. That is also happening across the southern coast of the US. Galveston, which was destroyed in 1900 by the deadliest hurricane in U.S. history, is once again in the center of the storm's projected path. Around Houston, the nation's fourth most-populous city, highways were clogged with traffic as residents rushed to leave. President Bush declared states of emergency in both Texas and Louisiana. Rita is forecast to hit land on Friday, somewhere between northern Mexico and Louisiana but most likely Texas. In New Orleans, engineers are rushing to repair severely damaged levees. Some estimates suggest that even three inches of rain would overwhelm the flood protection system.

30 Disability Rights Protesters Arrested on Capitol Hill
In other news from Capitol Hill, at least 30 activists associated with the national disability rights group ADAPT were arrested Monday for refusing to leave House and Senate offices. They were protesting Congressional plans to slow the growth of Medicaid spending by $10 billion over the next five years. On Sunday about 100 protesters - most of them in wheelchairs - rallied outside Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's Washington home.

Coretta Scott King Released From Hospital
And finally, Coretta Scott King has returned home after spending more than a month in the hospital after suffering a stroke and a mild heart attack. The stroke initially left the 78-year-old-widow of slain civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. unable to speak or move her right side, but her doctors say she has made some recovery over the past five weeks.

Sunday Chat & Chews

Cause there ain't no cure for the Sunday Chat & Chews

NBC's pushing the new premium content of the New York Times. That's the only "wrinkle." Otherwise the topic remains Hurricane Katrina with an eye on Hurricane Rita.

Let's start with NBC's Meet the Press because they have their act together in terms of booking. (ABC and CBS are still scrambling.)

NBC's running an ad for the New York Times and calling it a "roundtable." The calling card for this community would probably be the inclusion of Maureen Dowd. Don't get your hopes up too high, though.

You can have Dowd, but there's no ordering a la cart. The meal comes with David Brooks (ugh, those teeth) and Thomas Friedman (who will bring along his mythical fan base).

Betty wrote a hilarious thing about David Brooks trying to wear a sock (we're not speaking of footwear). But I think her funniest moment worth quoting here (due to Meet the Press' guest list) is this:

Thomas Friedman makes up many things. He makes up cabbies, street vendors and assorted other characters who all claim to have read him. He makes up original feelings regarding the Bully Boy and how he said "all along" that the Bully Boy would destroy the nation despite the fact that Thomas Friedman yelled louder, tossed the pom-poms higher and, in the words of Maureen Dowd, spread his legs far wider than one would assume a backseat in a Chevy would allow.

So let's look at this roundtable. I'm sure the community would have gone with Dowd, Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman as their choices. Instead, you've got Thomas Friedman and that hideous mustache sitting through the interview, looking as though he's taking great pains to consider his every word (or else just looking like he's suffering from a really bad case of gas and waiting for the moment when the segment ends). You'll also get Davey Brooks doing that nervous laugh (it's practically Bully Boy-ovian) and putting his tongue to his upper teeth (ugh, those teeth) every time he's nervous which is every time he speaks which means you'll get that weird tic Brooks has which might work well for a supporting actor playing a "wacky inventor" but is it really chat & chew material?

I ask you, is it really?

Watching the Sunday chat & chews, in years past, a friend and I used to play a game where we'd attempt to figure out which pundit would be what in the animal world? William Safire was obviously an otter. (Apologies to otters.) Applying that game to the Times roundtable, Dowd would be a fox (a fox meaning the animal, we're not evaluating her looks), Thomas Friedman would be a sea lion. What would Davey Brooks be? Who has that kind of nervous energy in the animal kingdom? Not even a humming bird. Maybe Brooks results from some cross-breeding?

Here's the thing to watch for, for those watching Meet the Press (you have had your flu shots, right?): how much will Dowd speak? Friedman, if he's feeling really "weighty" (say if he wants his words to reflect the pounds), will eat up time with his pace. Since Brooks rate of speech (like his tics) screams speed addict, he'll almost make up for the glacial pace of Friedman. So watch and see when Dowd gets to speak, when she's cut off, when she's spoken over.

Russert will probably toss to Dowd because, unlike many of the female guests he has on, he's comfortable with her. But watch and see if Thomas Friedman attempts to turn the segment into his own personal op-ed and treat Dowd (and Brooks) as so many unnamed cabbies in his columns.

If you're going to watch (really, you have had your flu shots, right?), that's a game you can play. Or, you can fall back on the animal kingdom and attempt to crack The Davey Brooks Code.

Who are the other guests?

Silly question, when you've got three op-ed columnists for the Times, you apparently don't need to announce! (A murky pool of federal, state and local officials to comment on the hurricane/s.)

ABC's This Week is playing their hurricane coverage murky as well. (Reporters from the area -- unidentified -- will take part.) Their declared guests will . . . send viewers over to Meet the Press. (I'd like to say, "cause people to turn off the TV sets." But week after week some people delude themselves that they're really getting honest discussions on a broad range of topics from a wide range of voices and perspectives so . . . .) Atoning for Bill Clinton's appearance last week (not for his statements, just for bringing him on), they feel the need to provide "balance" this week on This Week.

What's "balance" without an effort to prop up John McCain as "centrist" and "knowledgable."
He plays The Good Son so well. So much better than Macaulay did. I'm waiting for the transformation scene that takes place when the air kisses stop. (I know, I'm waiting in vain. He's Saint McCain of the Conventional Wisdoms to the press corp.)

Child stars seems to be This Week's theme this Sunday. You also get Shirley Temple all grown up, Kay Bailey Hutchison. The best that can be said of KBH (a popular photo subject for the New York Times) is that she's the Priscilla Owens who remembers to wash the cream rinse out of her hair. (Someone should really talk to Prissy Owens about that.) KBH graduated from The Mary Matalin School of Charm. Which means she smiles a lot when planning to smite small villages, and winces when topics like poverty arise. George Steph will throw her many softballs so don't expect questions about Karl Rove to arise.

Considering the close relationship (professional, in the words of Mama Cass, "Shhh, no rumors.") between the two, KBH should always be asked about Karl Rove. If he comes up at all, it will be from KBH who'll swear that golly gee, one time they were all having Hurricanes and the booze ran out, Karl knew just where to find more, so he's perfectly suited to handle the relief effort! (Said with the trademark, blank smile that Matalin's taught so well to the Polyester Crowd.)

Which brings us to Face. CBS's Face the Nation. They've got a topic. They just don't have any guests. They advise you to "check back Saturday."

Ladies & gentleman, Bob Schieffer, the Dean Martin of the Sunday Chat & Chews. Playing it by ear.

On Schieffer, rumors abound that a replacement for the replacement may soon be announced by CBS Evening News. I'm not fond of Schieffer but I will pass on that he's credited with raising the morale in the CBS news department and won over detractors (even those who were calling him "Blinky" when he began his replacement duties).

If negotiations fall through, plan B is for Schieffer to remain in place while they wait for the other main choice to be free. (Plan C is just plain crazy.)

I'm not fond of Schieffer (I do think he's the only adult hosting a chat & chew) but I'm getting pressure from friends to pass on the good things he's accomplished at CBS Evening News. Earlier, long ago, we'd noted the difficulties he was having in the role as well as the people being considered for the anchor (the real anchor, not the person temporarily filling Cinderella's shoes). He had bumps in the road and suffered a lot of internal criticism but he's won the respect of some of his loudest detractors so we'll note it here. A few of the people he's won over feel he should be in place for when "the book" (as they're calling it) comes out and CBS faces criticism. But the opinion from above the CBS news department is that the best way to counter "the book" is to have a clean slate on The Evening News.

How worried are they about "the book"? Statements are already being prepared. Along the lines of "Look, I don't want to talk about the past. Mistakes were made, we dealt with them and moved on, obviously she hasn't." They're up against the time clock with "the book" due to be released the second week of November. Calmer heads are attempting to point out that a "fresh face" may allow for "we've moved on statements" but a "fresh face" may not be able to defend the news department as well as they now think Schieffer could.

(For the record, the sources above hope "the book" lets individuals at CBS have it. With a special emphasis on the invasion of the news department by outsiders and the "colonization" -- as one wag describes the marriage no one likes to talk seriously about to the press. And, sidebar in a sidebar, weren't they pathetic trying to yuck it up last Sunday? And whether they'd fought on the way or not, the tension between them was also remarked on. Repeatedly. Best line that can be noted here in full: "Oh, that's why CBS keeps Yes, Dear on air.")


The e-mail address for this site is

(*Prediction that one friend at CBS wanted put in. If it comes true, we'll note it and decode it then.)

(NOTE: Typos corrected by Shirley.)

Democracy Now: Naomi Klein, Jeremy Scahill; Katrina vanden Heuvel, Matthew Rothschild, Dave Lindorff


Bush Vows to Stay in Iraq
In a major address delivered at the Pentagon on Thursday, President Bush said clearly that US forces would not withdraw from Iraq "on my watch, saying that would give terrorists the chance to "claim an historic victory over the United States". Bush also attacked the growing chorus of people in the US and across the world calling for the US to pull out of Iraq:

"Their position is wrong. Withdrawing our troops would make the world more dangerous and make America less safe. To leave Iraq now would be to repeat the costly mistakes of the past that led to the attacks of September the 11th, 2001".

Bush's speech comes just days ahead of what is expected to be one of the largest anti-war demonstrations in US history, planned for this Saturday. And as he spoke a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll was released showing that 55 percent of Americans believe the US should speed up withdrawal plans, while only 21 percent say the United States definitely would win the war in Iraq, while more than a third of people say they considered the war unwinnable. In his address, Bush also publicly acknowledged that more than 1,900 US soldiers had been killed in Iraq and he said that some 18,000 US troops serving in Afghanistan had not yet finished their mission.


Bully Boy vows to stay in Iraq . . . provided it's Thanksgiving, he's heavily guarded, and he's allowed to serve the turkey and not be the turkey. (Something's he can only dream.)


Democracy Now! ("always worth watching," as Marcia says):


Headlines for September 23, 2005

- Rita 24 Hours Away, Millions Flee
- Bush Vows to Stay in Iraq
- Roberts Nomination Moves Forward
- SEC Investigates Frist
- Greyhound to Fire Employees Who Sell Tix to Undocumented Immigrants
- Iraqi officials Cut Off Relations With British in Basra
- Ohio Puts Anti-Choice Law on Hold
- Carter Says Gore Won in 2000
Disaster Profiteering: Purging the Poor in the New New Orleans

We speak with writer and author Naomi Klein about what some are calling the real looting of New Orleans. In this week's cover story in The Nation magazine, Klein reports on how the city's poorest evacuees are being kept out of thousands of perfectly livable empty homes. [includes rush transcript]
Blackwater Down: Fresh From Iraq, Private Security Forces Roam the Streets of an American City With Impunity

In this week's cover story in The Nation, Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill reports on how mercenaries from private security firms like Blackwater USA and BATS are patrolling the streets in New Orleans.
Big, Easy Iraqi-Style Contracts Flood New Orleans

As Katrina's flood waters recede, government contractors are flowing into the Gulf Coast and reaping billions of dollars in pre-bid, limited bid, and sometimes no-bid contracts. We speak with Pratap Chatterjee, managing editor of, about his latest article titled "Big, Easy Iraqi-Style Contracts Flood New Orleans." [includes rush transcript]
Pacifica Station KPFT Weathers Hurricane Rita

As hurricane Rita bears down on the Gulf Coast, we go to Houston to speak with the staff of Pacifica Radio station KPFT - one of the few radio stations still broadcasting in the city.

Trina e-mails to note Katrina vanden Heuvel's "Sweet Victory: Cities Push for Pullout" (Editor's Cut, The Nation):


Last week, a New York Times poll showed that 52 percent of Americans want immediate withdrawal, and that only 44 percent now feel that the United States "made the right decision in taking military action against Iraq." Yet, aside from a select group of representatives--like Progressive Caucus chair Lynn Woolsey, who convened an unofficial hearing on withdrawal last Thursday--calls for real change have been met with deaf ears on the part of the political class.

But, as tens of thousands of citizens are set to converge on the Mall this weekend for what could be the largest US protest yet against the Iraq war, and with some of America's largest cities having passed resolutions calling for a pullout, ignoring the public may no longer be politically tenable. Last week, the Chicago City Council voted 29 to 9 to become the largest US city to pass the "Bring Them Home Now" resolution. The Windy City joins Philadelphia, San Francisco, and more than fifty other municipalities that have called for withdrawal.

"When you have a city as diverse and as large as Chicago weighing in on this important issue, I think it will have real impact," Ald. Joseph Moore (49th), a leading sponsor of the resolution, told the Chicago Tribune. "We are from the heartland."

The nationwide push for local resolutions is being led by Cities for Progress, a project of the Institute for Policy Studies, which also works towards passing local bills on extending health care benefits, establishing living wages and opposing the Patriot Act. The movement has grown considerably since its inception last March, when dozens of towns and cities in Vermont called for withdrawal. Organized labor has joined in too: in July, the AFL-CIO called for "the rapid return of US troops" and scores of local, state, and national labor organizations have passed similar resolutions.


I caused confusion this morning with "NYT: 'Brazil's Lofty Promises After Nun's Killing Prove Hollow' (Larry Rohter)" by saying that the second entry would be up but would be delayed.  "Other Items" is up but it's posted before the first item.  Sorry, I didn't think to check the time stamps on the entry.  (Usually the spotlight always is the first window I open, but there was a great deal of activity with people arriving and I obviously wasn't paying attention -- or was paying even less attention than usual.)


Sorry for the confusion that created.


Lynda e-mails to note Dave Lindorff's "Frances Newton Died For Bush's Sins" (CounterPunch):


Newton insisted on her innocence of the crime right up to her death, and offered an alternative theory-that her husband and 7-year-old had been killed over a debt to a drug dealer-a theory that her notoriously inept and subsequently suspended attorney Ronald Mock never bothered to investigate. Newton claimed she had removed a gun from the house after hearing her husband and his brother talking about "some trouble," and she thought it better to get the weapon out of the house.

The trial was rife with improprieties and prosecutorial misconduct-the most egregious of which was that investigators had recovered not one but three identical .25 cal. Pistols during their investigation of the case, while the prosecution pretended there had been only one pistol recovered and hid the other two from the defense. It was also rife with the standard neglect and incompetence we've come to expect from underpaid, unmotivated and incompetent public defenders provided to poor and black defendants in such cases-Mock never even brought in Newton's husband's parents, who had volunteered to testify on her behalf, and who have steadfastly opposed her execution!

Ironically, when there was more attention being paid to the case back in December 2004, Gov. Perry granted a 120-day stay from execution because of evidentiary questions in the case that raised some doubt about her guilt. Yet the matter of the multiple guns and the outrageous hiding of important exculpatory evidence from defense-which raised much more serious questions about her guilt and about the fairness of her trial--came up subsequent to that stay. In other words, doubts about Newton's guilt were much greater the day she was executed than they were last year when Perry granted a stay.

So what was different between December '04 and September '05? The lack of public and media attention to the case.

Katrina and the disastrous Bush response to the deadly flooding of New Orleans simply trumped the story of the first execution of a black woman since the Civil War.

Of course, Newton also got less media attention all along because of her race. The execution of an admitted female killer, Karla Faye Tucker, by Texas only seven years ago, was page-one news for weeks leading up to her execution. What was different? Certainly not the depravity of the crime, as her bloodthirstiness was stunning. The real difference was her race-Tucker was white--and the fact that Tucker had "found God" while on death row.

Lloyd e-mails to note Matthew Rothschild's "Bush Takes Cover from Katrina under 9/11" (This Just In, The Progressive):
I suppose it was bound to happen. Whenever Bush is in trouble, he conjures up 9/11.

And so, after his disastrous performance on Katrina, he has now managed to take shelter under the overstretched awning of 9/11.

At a speech before the Republican Jewish Coalition, which ought to have been a very small crowd, Bush made the link: "I've been thinking a lot about how America has responded [to Katrina], and it's clear to me that Americans value human life, and value every person as important. And that stands in stark contrast, by the way, to the terrorists we have to deal with. You see, we look at the destruction caused by Katrina, and our hearts break. They're the kind of people who look at Katrina and wish they had caused it. We're in a war against these people. It's a war on terror. These are evil men who target the suffering. They killed 3,000 people on September the 11th, 2001. And they've continued to kill."

Not exactly a smooth segue, but Bush used it anyway. And he extended it to Iraq, saying for the umpteenth time that "Iraq is the central battlefront in the war on terror." Again, Bush said, "We value every life," unlike the suicide car bombers. But I've never heard Bush speak about the 25,000 to 100,000 Iraqi civilians that his war has cost. He sure doesn't appear to place much value on them.


Read closely the excerpt above and you'll realize why Rothschild's a community favorite.  This is a critique, a strong one, that expresses itself clearly.  But if you read closely, you'll notice the humor in the critique as well.  (Lloyd noted one laugh, I'm seeing two.)  Rothschild can make a hard hitting critique (like above) and also make you laugh as he pops the air out of the gas bag known as the Bully Boy.

Zach e-mails to note Andrew Stelzer's "Ready For Dialogue" (In These Times):

"I'm afraid that if I watch a lot of TV, I will start to hate myself as an Arab, or as a Muslim or as a Palestinian," says Samar Dahmash-Jarrah, "because there is nothing out there except bias and stereotyping and hatred."

Jarrah, 42, is a long way from her year-and-a-half stint as a contributor to CNN's "World Report" in the late '80s, when she was filing three-minute spots every week from Jordan. Back then, she had hope that the fledgling world news network could bridge gaps of understanding between nations and cultures. Now, she's given up on the mainstream press, and has decided to personally act as a medium for the two cultures she calls home.

Since moving to the States more than a decade ago, Jarrah, a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian-American, has taught classes on Islam, history, media and international relations at the University of South Florida. "I ask my students to read books by Arabs before they go and read books by non-Arabs to explain the Arab mind," says Jarrah.

After 9/11, Jarrah found herself having to walk what she taught. She was asked to speak to church and community groups in her Port Charlotte, Fla., community. She earned praise and more invitations to speak with each appearance, but she soon realized that having lived in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan did not make her an expert on the post-9/11 Arab world.

Cindy e-mails to note that GNN has Tom Regan's "Report by US think tank says only '4 to 10' percent of insurgents are foreigners" (Christian Science Monitor's headline, GNN gives it the more specific "The 'Myth' of Iraq's Foreign Fighters"):

The US and Iraqi governments have vastly overstated the number of foreign fighters in Iraq, and most of them don't come from Saudi Arabia, according to a new report (PDF) from the Washington-based Center for Strategic International Studies (CSIS). According to a piece in The Guardian, this means the US and Iraq "feed the myth" that foreign fighters are the backbone of the insurgency. While the foreign fighters may stoke the incurgency flames, they only comprise only about 4 to 10 percent of the estimated 30,000 insurgents.

The CSIS study also disputes media reports that Saudis comprise the largest group of foreign fighters. CSIS says "Algerians are the largest group (20 percent), followed by Syrians (18 percent), Yemenis (17 percent), Sudanese (15 percent), Egyptians (13 percent), Saudis (12 percent) and those from other states (5 percent)." CSIS gathered the information for its study from intelligence services in the Gulf region.

The CSIS report says: “The vast majority of Saudi militants who have entered Iraq were not terrorist sympathisers before the war; and were radicalized almost exclusively by the coalition invasion.”

The average age of the Saudis was 17-25 and they were generally middle-class with jobs, though they usually had connections with the most prominent conservative tribes. "Most of the Saudi militants were motivated by revulsion at the idea of an Arab land being occupied by a non-Arab country. These feelings are intensified by the images of the occupation they see on television and the internet … the catalyst most often cited [in interrogations] is Abu Ghraib, though images from Guantánamo Bay also feed into the pathology."

And Bonnie asks that we again note this:
And speaking of Amy Goodman, she and Laura Flanders are teaming up for a special broadcast:

Watch out, tune in! Laura will be co-hosting with Amy Goodman, Free Speech TV's live broadcast from the DC march and concert. Saturday, 3-6 pm ET, Dish Network 9415.
The e-mail address for this site is

Yahoo! for Good
Click here to donate to the Hurricane Katrina relief effort.

The Laura Flanders Show live from the Washington Mall Sat & Sun; Sat: Sharon Olds, Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell (Sweet Honey in the Rock)

Martha e-mails to give us a heads up to The Laura Flanders Show (thank you, Martha):

This Week on The Laura Flanders Show
This weekend on
Air America Radio, 7-10 PM EST
Saturday, September 24
We're live from the Washington Mall with sights, sounds, speeches and speakers from the historic anti-war march and concert.
We'll also have:
Live reports from Texas on Hurricane Rita
Poet Sharon Olds, who declined Laura Bush's invitation to join her at a big book fair
Dr. Ysaye Maria Barnwell of Sweet Honey in the Rock and More!
Sunday, September 25

What's next for progressive Democrats? On Sunday we'll check in with the Progressive Democrats of America's strategy session.
Watch out, tune in! Laura will be co-hosting with Amy Goodman, Free Speech TV's live broadcast from the DC march and concert. Saturday, 3-6 pm ET,
Dish Network 9415.
NEW - Now you can listen to the Laura Flanders Show
via podcast on iTunes!
Go to the Laura Flanders Blog

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

The e-mail address for this site is

NYT Inhouse Poet Somini Sengupta

With thousands
of protestors
on the streets
of Katmandu
in Nepal's version of a Prague spring,
the government
of King Gyanendra
this week
to hold elections
and described its commitment
to democracy

The above is the latest from the New York Times inhouse poet Somini Sengupta and community member P.J. arrived to see who had made it and to point out that Sengupta had more "poetry." (P.J. stands for Professional Journalist and, as we usually disclose at his request, he works for the Washington Post.) (You really have to hear him read the cutting aloud to properly enjoy it.) The "poem" in question is entitled "Amid Protests, Nepal's Leader Pledges Elections, Starting in '06." We've noted Sengupta's "poetry" many times prior (at P.J.'s request) so you can search the site for that. (I'm in a race with the laptop battery or I'd provide links.)

As Hurricane Rita moves in, Amy Goodman points out on today's Democracy Now! that KPFT in Houston will continue broadcasting "while others are packing up, they are staying." (Consider that a paraphrase.)

KPFT is a Pacifica staion. You can listen to it online. They have an emergency generator and plan to continue to broadcasting if the power goes out (for as long as the generator will provide power).

And speaking of Amy Goodman, she and Laura Flanders are teaming up for a special broadcast:

Watch out, tune in! Laura will be co-hosting with Amy Goodman, Free Speech TV's live broadcast from the DC march and concert. Saturday, 3-6 pm ET, Dish Network 9415.

The e-mail address for this site is