Friday, December 02, 2005

Redistricting, Recruiting, Danny Schechter

Good evening, I hope everyone's psyched about the weekend. We'll kick things off with Democracy Now!

Justice Dept.: Delay Redistricting Plan Violated Voting Act
A memo obtained by the Washington Post shows lawyers at the Justice Department concluded a controversial Texas redistricting plan spearheaded by indicted Congressmember Tom Delay violated the Voting Rights Act. The memo argued the redistricting plan illegally diluted the voting influence of minorities in several Texas congressional districts. The memo said: "The State of Texas has not met its burden in showing that the proposed congressional redistricting plan does not have a discriminatory effect." Texas lawmakers approved the plan anyway, the memo says, because it stood to increase the number of elected federal Texas Republicans. Following the plan's approval in 2003, Republicans gained five seats in the following year's congressional elections. The redistricting plan is currently being challenged before the U.S. Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Congressmember Delay is facing state charges of money laundering and conspiracy in connection with state elections.

We picked this one because The Common Ills community has a lot of members in Texas. They just break every rule in the book, don't they. It's like "Target: the 9th Circuit (The Republican war on the judiciary continues)" where the Republicans snuck into the budget bill the provision to break up the 9th Circuit. They have no shame and they cheat.

National Guard Offering $1,000 Recruiting "Finders Fee"
Faced with dwindling recruiting numbers, the Army National Guard is offering a finder’s fee to soldiers who can enlist new recruits. This according to a report in USA Today. The Guard Recruiter Assistant Program, launched this week in five states, offers National Guard members rewards of $1,000 dollars for enlisting a recruit and an additional $1,000 dollars if the recruit shows up for basic training. The National Guard says recruiting has fallen 20% short of its goal this year.

Now this is how bad things are, they're asking the non-recruiters to recruit. They tried to act like they were doing good. They lowered the targets to keep from embarrassing themselves, but no one wants to sign up. So now they're asking people who did sign up to help them out. The National Guard is supposed to be a weekend a month but you've got Guards serving in Iraq for months and months. That's not what they signed up for and that's taxed them, their families and the Guard itself. The costs of Bully Boy's war are big and one of them is that who wants to serve with a mademan in the White House?

Now I need to put up something here. Elaine asked me if I was checking my bulk mail folder and I haven't been. She has stuff in her's that she just looked at today. Me too. Let me start with this Nemanja Divjak wrote awhile about a new blog: I'll go ahead and post a link because I feel bad that Nemanja might feel ignored since it went to the bulk folder.

I also had three e-mails noting things that I'd already seen at The Common Ills. I think this is the one of the three that's still timely, Danny Schechter's "Debating Iraq: A Murtha Moment and the Slide to An Exit:"

The much-maligned Mr. Marx said history often begins as tragedy and repeats itself as farce. That was never more true than last Friday night as we watched the great Iraq war "debate." Those of us with the stomach to do so saw the consequences of years of increasingly polarized partisanship in our Congress. It was as manipulated and managed an episode of theater that I have ever seen. It was more like a fraternity food fight than an honest discourse on all sides.
Even the Washington Post, the local organ of media power, was disgusted, noting: "Aggressive challenges to the Bush administration's military and political strategy -- even calls for an immediate withdrawal of troops, such as that made by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) on Thursday -- must be part of that democratic discussion. Yet what we've mainly seen during the past two weeks is a shameful exercise in demagoguery and name-calling."
That's because no one is really saying what they believe. The Democrats want out but are afraid to say so and the self-styled patriots see the end coming but need someone to blame beside themselves. The drama on the hill represented a triumph of message point politics with thoroughly robotic and irrelevant cliché-ridden speeches on the Republican side with Congress member after Congress member playing at patriotism by finger pointing.
It was matched I am afraid, by equally vitriolic opportunism by leading Democrats who had blindly supported the war and now avoided talking about the truth of what their hawkish colleague Mr. Murtha was talking about. Instead they defended his character and military record, but rarely backed his courageous call for withdrawal.

Elaine had the same three items e-mailed to her and she may note a different one (or none at all). But she will be noting the same two items from Democracy Now! and providing her commentary so be sure to check out her site Like Maria Said Paz.

Now I want to say thank you to everyone who dropped an e-mail about yesterday's race comments that Betty and me did together. I'm going to share the positive feedback with her tomorrow when we're all working on the latest The Third Estate Sunday Review edition. If you read Elaine's post last Saturday, you know Betty's been getting some really mean e-mails full of threats and racist remarks. Jim said it's like with Ava & C.I.'s TV reviews. That started out with all of them plus C.I. doing the TV reviews. But it quickly became just Ava & C.I. and when they started getting credit for them, all the sudden the e-mails on them changed. Instead of agreeing or disagreeing strongly (including "You're so stupid!"), they suddenly started containing threats as well. I don't get that kind of e-mail but Rebecca's noted the kind of e-mails she and other women get and I guess when some "tough guy" knows it's a woman writing, he feels like he can make threats. Makes him feel like a "tough guy" or something.

Cedric gets that nonsense sometimes too, racist e-mails. I read his "Race" today and was really impressed with the way he approaced the topic so check that out. It's a serious, hard hitting look.

After that, since it's the weekend, you may need a good laugh so check out Betty's "Hell is your house-bound husband on house arrest with you serving the sentence:"

"You can't bench me!" Thomas Friedman bellowed. But obviously Gail Collins can.What lit the fire under Ms. Nonsense & No Sensibility?
Davy Brooks came into her office ("In his shiny ass pants, Betinna! In his shiny ass pants!") and had a vacation request of his own that he repeatedly dropped on the floor necessitating that he repeatedly bend over in front of her. ("It was as though I had died and gone to Mansfield Park, Betinna! Mansfield Park!") With no lines cupping his butt and no lines near his upper thigh, Gail was convinced he must be wearing his sock. ("In another life, Betinna, I'd like to come back as that sock!")
Gail says she played it cool so I'll assume that besides sweat dripping from her forehead and her hands shaking, she managed to pull it together. She signed the request, granting his time off. Davy stood by her desk grinning. Then he asked her if she'd ever seen Disclosure.
Poor Gail, I had to explain that film to her. If it's not a book at least a hundred years old or something airing on Pax, she's lost.
Her idea of a pop culture ref is, "Betinna, what's wrong! You look like Beth on her death bed!"I keep trying to explain to her that Jo and Marmie hardly trip off the tongues of kids today but she swears Kayne West's "Gold Digger" says not "When I'm in need" but "When I'm a reading Little Women." I've tried playing the song for her repeatedly but some people hear only what they want to. (Which does explain her editorials.)

And it's Friday so we need a lot of good laughs to get this weekend started. When you need to laugh, read Ava & C.I.'s TV reviews. Here's something from their latest one and it's on supposed country music star Kenny Chesney:

Somewhere in the Sun no doubt pleased arm pit fetishists throughout the land. If Chesney flashing his pits does it for you, ABC provided you with enough mulitple orgasms to last a lifetime.
Other than on the arm of Renee Zellweger, this was our first time seeing Chesney. And we quickly realized that something more was going on than Chesney's desire to demonstrate, repeatedly, that, yes, he had hit puberty and sprouted body hair.
What if, we wondered, Liza Minelli woke up one morning with two left feet? She would still have the song in her. She would still need to express herself through movement.
If that day should ever come, Minelli will owe a huge debt to Kenny Chesney who is bravely pioneering The Dance of the Arms while others without dancing feet simply accept their lot in life. "Jazz hands"? That's so last millenium. This is arm choreography at it's most energetic. Chezney with a Z!
Little Miss Show Biz strode around the stage. Sometimes he did the wave all by himself. Sometimes he pointed at the audience in a sudden burst of arm movement! Sometimes he did an extended pointing session, sweeping the arm back and forth. Sometimes he threw both arms suddenly into the air in an All . . . That . . . Jazz kind of manuever. The arms need to be bare. They are his legs.
Kenny sleeveless is like a dancer in short-shorts.
Watching him blowing kisses and move around gesturing wildly, our question wasn't, "Why did Renee leave him?"; our question was, "Did she ever see him onstage before she married him?"
She must have felt like Marjorie Main standing next to Judy about to wow 'em with "Get Happy." Chezney's very dramatic. Some might say overly dramatic. We'll just say we've never seen anything in country music quite like it. (Rip Taylor's never done a country album, right?)When we got over our shock that so much could be done with arms, all of it embarrassing, and over our giggles at his pop eyes, dramatic head turns and those facial expressions made for Match Game PM, we were left with . . . the music.
Kenny smiles a lot in the sad songs. He winks a lot while singing the lines, he blows kisses. We're not really sure if it's that he doesn't understand the lyrics he's singing or if he's just so bound and determined to sparkle.

Motto: The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Betty and me on race

Good evening, we'll start off with Democracy Now!

Pelosi Backs Murtha Call for Withdrawal
Calls for a troop withdrawal have been bolstered by the stance taken by hawkish Democratic Congressman John Murtha. On Wednesday, Democratic minority leader Nancy Pelosi became the first congressional leader to endorse Congressman Murtha’s position. Pelosi and other top Democrats had initially distanced themselves from Murtha’s call to end the deployment in Iraq to and maintain rapid reaction force in the region. But Pelosi told the Washington Post: "clearly a majority of the [Democratic] caucus supports Mr. Murtha" in his call to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

She took her time but she found her voice which is more than anyone can say about General Hillary who's got the war lust so bad you worry about her being caught in the oval office not with an intern but a missile.

Do you think Hillary watched the last Democratic primaries and told herself, "I know what I'm going to do, I'm going to be the next Joe Lieberman!" That's what it seems like.

Dec. 1st Marks 25th Anniversary of World AIDS Day
And today marks the 25th anniversary of World AIDS day. Since 1981, AIDS has claimed the lives of more than an estimated 20 million people. In the United States alone, an estimated 1 million Americans are now living with HIV, with at least 35,000 new infections occurring a year. In the southern African country of Malawi, UNICEF estimates over half a million children have lost at least one parent to AIDS. In India, at least 4.5 million people live with HIV, the most in any country outside of South Africa.

25 years is more years than I am old. It's weird to realize that there was a time without AIDS because in my life, it's always been around.

I know it's somewhere at The Common Ills lots of times and probably at The Third Estate Sunday Review too. I'd provide a link if I could find it, but I agree with C.I. that Bully Boy has really damaged the fight against AIDS. He's injected his personal beliefs into a scientific discussion. Doing that confuses the message.

So if you're stressing a condom one year and the next year you're saying "Just say no to sex" you're confusing the message. Science money should go for science. It should teach how to prevent the transmission of AIDS. Instead it's been diverting into teaching someone's religion. It's not reasonable to expect people to just wait until marriage to avoid AIDS. What happens is you may say, "Okay, I'll wait a bit." Then you tell yourself, "Okay, this is one time and we will get married." Then you break up and pretty soon it's back to saying "This one time . . ."

Can people wait until marriage to have sex? Some can. (But some people will never get married.) (And some people might like to be married but can't because only 5 countries have gay marriage if I'm remembering Democracy Now! right.) Better to teach people what to do if they do have sex and leave the religious teachings to a church.

Instead Bully Boy's putting money into stuff that's not going to work and has no science backing up that "I will wait" pledges work.

C.I. noted this today:

At Corrente Wire, Leah's asking everyone to "Help Make Thursday, December 1st 'Blog Against Racism Day.'"

We're supposed to write about race or racism. Wally already did his part on this today. He focused on Florida's 2000 election and the media not caring about the disenfranchisment of African-American voters. Today's also the 50th anniversary of Rosa Park's brave stand as Betty just pointed out. These are our thoughts on race because at her site, she has to stay in character but she wanted to weigh in.

Race is an issue that's come up a lot in the community. Like when John H. Johnson died and all anyone (media or bloggers) wanted to talk about was Peter Jennings.

Was that racism? Was it just people focusing on the obvious?

Democracy Now! covered John H. Johnson's death. Some people think that Oprah had to be strong armed into covering it and, when she did cover it, my sister says it was like a three minute tribute that mainly showed celebrities on the cover of Ebony. Oprah goes for the obvious. Democracy Now! tries to shine a light where no one else does.

That matters. Grace Lee Boggs is a voice we never knew about until Liang noted her for women's history month. A lot of voices are left out of the mainstream media period but it's even more obvious when it comes to people of color. How often does Tim Russert have a person of color on? If you leave out Condi the number's even lower. There's a tendency to just go for the obvious voices and if we do that we just end up with white voices because that's what we get on the airwaves and in print.

Oprah was supposed to be a big breakthrough and for awhile there were a lot of copycat shows but in the end there's really just Oprah. And the shows she does on whatever Hollywood couple is in love or whatever big budget movie has come out don't really challenge much. Betty's old enough that she can remember Phil Donahue's daytime show and she talks about how she wishes Oprah would try to be a little less inspirational and a little more practical by informing people. But Betty and I both wonder how fair it is to just pin that on Oprah?

She's not the only person in the mainstream with a TV show. And she did get taken to court when she did her mad cow show. Ma says if Oprah's a breakthrough that it's the people of all color who need to build the roads now that Oprah's opened the door. That's probably a better take than Betty or I have on it. (Betty also said it was a kinder take than our take.)

But where is the mainstream's interest with non-whites? In entertainment or in news, they really don't seem that concerned that they basically present all whites.

We've seen three African-Americans win best acting Oscars (Denzel Washington, Halle Berry and Jamie Foxx) but what's shocking is that the Oscars are older are than me and those were the first three African-Americans to win.

And when it's time to replace white male anchors, we get white males.

Is there a reason that the networks refuse to go beyond that?

I think it's because racism is institutional and self-perpuates.

The mainstream says "These are the important voices" and we all nod along.

It can be hard to go beyond the mainstream but if the world's going to change, we're going to have to. Think about The Daily Jerk Off and how it's all white all the time.

On the left the problem is that we're already shut out of the mainstream. That's all of us. But think about how much more difficult it must be to be left and a person of a color.

Margaret Kimberley has a funny essay today called "Republican Sex Freaks." And I know her voice because of The Common Ills. Salim Muwakkil is another voice I've learned of due to The Common Ills. He is a senior editor and columnist for In These Times. When C.I. gripes about the fact that Patricia J. Williams' columns at The Nation are hardly ever made available to anyone other than subscribers, that's because she's missing an audience that others get. Eric Alterman has his own weblog. If they don't want to make the whole issue available to nonsubscribers, they should do some sort of rotation because Williams is a law professor and a really strong voice.

When we review books at The Third Estate Sunday Review, we've got a lot of people with a lot of ideas (and readers suggest things too). I think that's why we've had a pretty good mix. Like Cedric said in the last book discussion, we try to go for something besides the obvious. If every big paper in the world's talking a book, we probably aren't interested. That's how we ended up with a book of Bayard Rustin's writings last time.

I think that's the only real answer, going for the less obvious. It's probably easier to give shout outs to an all white cast all the time because that's what the mainstream media does but if the net's going to be any different than the mainstream media, fundamentally different, we need to work to make the range of voices wider.

Everyone's got time constraints and is rushing to do what they can. But if there's not a real effort made to enlarge the landscape now, the internet's going to end up exactly like the mainstream.

I'd already decided to highlight something and then decided against it but Betty said to go with it because the topic's important and she likes sports as much as me. So here's Dave Zirin's "The Fight to Save Stan Tookie Williams" (The Nation):

"Years ago, I recognized my kinship with all living things, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth.... While there is a lower class, I am in it, while there is a criminal element, I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free." --Eugene V. Debs
These words of the fabled social activist also define the life of NFL hall of famer and actor Jim Brown. He has mediated truces between the toughest gangs in Los Angeles and fought racism from South Central to Soweto. But today he is involved in a different kind of fight: the race to save
Stan Tookie Williams, who now awaits execution on California's death row. Williams is due to be executed December 13, and Brown has linked arms with a motley crew of activists from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg demanding that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger spare his life. Schwarzenegger, who has set a clemency hearing for December 8, recently told reporters he is "dreading" the decision he is about to make.
The clemency hearing comes at a critical time. On December 2, North Carolina death row inmate Kenneth Lee Boyd is expected to be the 1,000th person to be executed since the death penalty was reinstated in 1976. Boyd' scheduled execution comes days after Virginia Gov. Mike Warner granted clemency to Robin Lovitts, who was originally slated for that spot. After the California Supreme Court decided this week to refuse to re-open the Williams case, the race is on to persuade Schwarzenegger to follow Warner's lead.

Now I'm adding for everyone to be sure and check out Betty's "Hell is your house-bound husband on house arrest with you serving the sentence."

Remember the motto: The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

9th Circuit being split?

Good evening. Elaine called me and said "Stop the presses!" Why?

There's a story that no one's paying much attention to. C.I. mentioned it to Elaine on the phone and Elaine asked, "What are you talking about?" C.I. just assumed it was all over the news and all over online. So if you've missed it, you need to go read C.I.'s "Target: the 9th Circuit (The Republican war on the judiciary continues)" about how Republicans in the House snuck into the budget legislation a provision to break up the Ninth Circuit Court into two courts.

The Ninth Circuit is seen by conservatives as "the most liberal" of the circuit courts. They've had the Ninth Circuit in their sights for some time. So make sure you know about this.

Now we'll turn to Democracy Now!

US Paying Iraqi Media to Publish US-Authored Reports
The Los Angeles Times is reporting the US military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish American-written articles favorable to the U.S. presence in Iraq. The Times reports articles written by U.S. military "information operations" are translated into Arabic and then placed in Iraqi newspapers with the help of Washington-based defense contractor the Lincoln Group. The articles are presented to an Iraqi audience as unbiased news accounts written by independent journalists. The Lincoln Group’s contract is worth up to $100 million dollars over five years. A senior Pentagon official commented : "Here we are trying to create the principles of democracy in Iraq. Every speech we give in that country is about democracy. And we’re breaking all the first principles of democracy when we’re doing it."

We just make up "news." It's like Ava & C.I. said in their "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" - if the war was "just" like Colin Powell believes, why did he have to lie about it to the UN? If we're making headway in Iraq, I know we ain't, then why do they have to spend all that money (that's 20 million dollars a year) pushing & planting false stories?

Tells you everything you need to know.

Supreme Court to Hear New Hampshire Abortion Case
And the Supreme Court will hear arguments today that observers expect to shed new light on Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts' views on abortion. The case deals with a New Hampshire parental notification law that an Appeals court ruled was unconstitutional. The case will be heard as the Senate Judiciary Committee prepares to consider the nomination of Judge Samuel Alito. Twenty years ago, Alito said there was no constitutional right to abortion.

This is one of two cases on reproductive rights. I keep thinking about all the gas bags talking during the Roberts hearing about how abortion's not really an issue that matters. I agree with Ruth that it's interesting how those gas bags were all men. It's really easy for me to see it as not as important because I'm not going to get pregnant. But you can't just be in it for yourself. Being in it just for yourself is what being a Republican is about.

Also people, male and female, should realize that it's not just Roe v. Wade that's under attack, it's the right to privacy. The conservatives want to take away that right. When you hear them talk about that or anything to do with birth control or same sex relationships, they'll usually get around to attacking the right to privacy if they're not just some dope repeating what Rush said. Conservatives do not like the right to privacy and argue that it does not exist.

So I agree with Ruth, the gas bags shouldn't have been given all their air time to go on and on about how unimportant abortion supposedly was.

Now check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz for her take on this.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Bully Boy goes to Denver and the people turn out to make their voices heard

Good evening. We'll kick things off with Democracy Now!

Time Magazine Reporter Testifies in CIA Leak Case
This update on the CIA leak case - the Washington Post is reporting Karl Rove's defense team is hoping the testimony of a reporter from Time Magazine might help Rove escape indictment. On Sunday Time revealed that its reporter Viveca Novak had agreed to testify about a conversation she had last year with Rove's attorney Robert Luskin. A person familiar with the investigation told the Washington Post that Luskin cited his conversations with Novak in persuading Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald not to indict Rove in late October. So far Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff Lewis Scooter Libby is the only administration to be indicted over the outing of Valerie Plame's identity as an undercover CIA operative.

Round and round it goes, where it ends, only Karl Rove knows. For now. Patrick Fitzgerald seems to be on to something with Karl. When Scooter got indicted there was some disappointment but it's really starting to look like it's not over by a long shot.

Maybe that's why Bully Boy looks so creepy these days? He's so worried it's eating away at him? My aunt swears he looks like he's drinking again. She says his skin looks like it. I don't know about that. Anybody else seeing it?

Greenpeace Disrupts Blair Speech About Nuclear Energy
In Britain, members of Greenpeace disrupted a speech of Prime Minister Tony Blair's in which he launched an energy review which could lead to new nuclear power stations. The Greenpeace activists climbed into the roof above the podium and unfurled a banner saying: "Nuclear: Wrong Answer." They also dropped stickers onto the delegates below them.

In England, Tony Blair can't hide the way Bully Boy tries to in this country. But in Denver, they turned out to protest the Bully Boy today. From Mark Couch and Tim Hughes' "Bush praises Musgrave in Denver" in the Denver Post:

Outside the Brown Palace Hotel, about 300 protesters expressed their opposition to the war in Iraq by banging on pots, pans and drums, blowing on horns, flutes, kazoos and recorders
and breaking into "peace now" chants.
"Tell George Bush what Democracy looks like!" an organizer yelled through a bullhorn, kicking off one round of call-and-response.
"This is what Democracy looks like!" the crowd yelled back.
South High School students Ashley Adams and Jenny Fleming-Owen wrote "No More War" and "Make Love Not War" on their faces in black ink
The only two pro-Bush sign holders on the scene found themselves in heated arguments.

Ah, that's so cute. Two little Bush-ites. Standing by their Bully Boy. Back to the article:

All day, chants called for an end to the war and for Bush's impeachment. A few signs equated him to Hitler. Several accused him of invading Iraq in pursuit of oil profits and an expanded American empire.

"This whole war never should have happened," Bonnie McCormick, 87, of Boulder said as the throng marched from the Capitol to the Brown Palace. A 30-year military wife and long-time anti-war activist, McCormick said she was arrested during a recent protest outside a military recruitment center in Lakewood. "Bush should be spending money on education and health care, not war."
The demonstration included several veterans from the Iraq war and previous conflicts.

The summer of protest lit a fire and it keeps on blazing.

Speaking of blazing, what was in C.I.'s cereal this morning? Did you catch The Common Ills this morning? C.I. was on fire. Read "NYT: 'Justices Reject F.B.I. Translator's Appeal on Termination' (Linda Greenhouse)" and "Other Items." C.I. really took on the New York Timid today.

Sunday, C.I. noted that Pop Politics had some stuff on sports and Wally told me the same thing. This is from Richard C. Crepeau's "Giving Thanks for Football: An American Tradition:"

The history of Thanksgiving and of football both go back to the Middle Ages, so it may not be so strange that the two would become intertwined in modern America.
The first American Thanksgiving is generally believed to have been in Plymouth Colony in mid-October of 1621, when William Bradford and the Pilgrims gathered with local Indians to give thanks for survival and the first harvest. The first Thanksgiving proclaimed by a president was Nov. 26, 1789, when George Washington called for a national day of Thanksgiving for the new form of government.
By the end of that century the practice had faded, but through the first half of the 19th century, Sarah Hale, editor of Godey's Lady's Book kept the idea alive by writing editorials and letters to presidents and governors urging their adoption of such a day. Finally, during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln took her advice and proclaimed the last Thursday of November 1863, as Thanksgiving Day. The practice stuck.
Eleven years later, in 1874, the first intercollegiate football game was played. In 1876, the Intercollegiate Football Association was formed and instituted a championship game for Thanksgiving Day. Within a decade it was the premier athletic event in the nation.
Princeton and Yale were the participants all but twice in the first two decades of the league. By the 1890s, when the game was played in the Polo Grounds, it was drawing 40,000 fans. Players, students and fans wore their school colors while banners flew from carriages, hotels and the business establishments of the city. It was by then one of the most important social events of the season for New York's social elite.

If you're not checking out Pop Politics, you should. It's got lots of great stuff. And don't forget to check out Elaine's commentary at Like Maria Said Paz.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Al-Jazzera, Iraq contractors, recruiters

Good evening. Hope everyone had a great holiday break. We'll get things started with Democracy Now!

Al Jazeera Demands Answers from Bush Administration
The director-general of the Arabic tv network Al-Jazeera has demanded Washington respond to reports that President Bush wanted to bomb the network's headquarters in Doha. Last week the Daily Mirror cited a secret British memo revealing that Bush told Tony Blair last year of his desire to bomb the news outlet. The Bush administration has described the Daily Mirror's report as "outlandish." Officials at Al Jazeera are now questioning whether the U.S. might have been targeting the network when it bombed its bureaus in Afghanistan in 2001 and in Baghdad in April 2003. The attack in Iraq killed Al Jazeera's correspondent Tariq Ayub. Ayub's widow, Dina, said she is now considering suing the U.S. government for her husband's death. She said "America always claimed it was an accident. But I believe the new revelations prove that claim was false or at least not trustworthy." Meanwhile in Britain a ban remains in place on all media outlets from disclosing the contents of the secret memo. But a member of parliament - Boris Johnson - has vowed to publish the memo and risk jail time if anyone leaks him the document.

This is a big thing even if big media doesn't think so. Bully Boy wants to attack a network and you see how big media acts. Big cowards is more like it.

Where is the freedom of the press in this country? That's what you hear people complain but here's a perfect example of how big media doesn't support the press. If they were for a free press instead of saying silent or offering excuses of how Bully Boy was joking and nonsense like that, they'd be all over this story and trying to get as much information as possible.

By the way, C.I.'s given a head's up to Danny Schechter's "WAR ON THE MEDIA: 'Don't Bomb Us'" so I'll do the same.

UK investigates Shootings by Private Contractors in Iraq
The British Foreign Office is investigating allegations that private contractors with the defense company Aegis have randomly shot at Iraqi cars. According to the Telegraph newspaper, a video recently appeared on a site affiliated with Aegis that contained four clips of an unidentified gunman shooting at cars in Iraq. In one clip a Mercedes is fired on at a distance of several hundred yards before it crashes in to a civilian taxi. One Iraqi Interior Ministry officials confirmed such shootings occur. He said: "When the security companies kill people they just drive away and nothing is done... I would say we have had about 50-60 incidents of this kind."

Here's another story big media's not interested in. How come? Maybe cause they never made a big deal when Paul Bremer was signing all those orders keeping contractors from being prosecuted.

Remember to check out Elaine's comments at Like Maria Said Paz.

And you've probably already seen it, but I want to make sure everyone knows about C.I.'s
"NYT: 'Even Supporters Doubt President As Issues Pile Up" (Kate Zernike)" which was done Saturday morning and takes the paper to task for never finding room in the paper for the voices who spoke out against the war. This is an essay and Ma says it's her favorite since C.I.'s "Reading Press Releases Live From The Green Zone (C.I.)." She said to put in that it's essays like this that really explain why The Common Ills is such a great site.

Dad wanted me to note something too, Elaine's "Too long on a variety of topics." Dad was wondering the same thing Beau wondered in his e-mail, if I'm feeling burned out? No. But I'm not even at six months for this site yet so check with me at the year mark. :D

Seriously though there are times when I wish I could do it later. Like so Nina and me or Tone and my other buds could hang out a bit. So if you check during the week and don't see something here at the usual time, check back later. Leigh Ann wondered if my oldest brother had set a date for his wedding. I don't think so. If he has, he's keeping all of us out of the loop. They're thinking of late spring or early summer but don't have a date planned. Or aren't telling if they do.

Be sure to check out "Recap of November 16th Counter Recuitment in Brooklyn" by in our hearts:

On Wednesday, November 16th, around 40 people flyered the armed forces recruitment station on 41 Flatbush Avenue near Downtown Brooklyn. We arrived to a recruitment center shut down completely by the police and almost all of the shutters pulled down on the large plate glass windows. There were cop cars, unmarked police vehicles, and a host of 'community affairs' cops lining the sidewalk at noon. Our goal was simple: to flyer potential recruits that might consider going in to the center, to be a public presence at a very busy intersection in downtown Brooklyn, and to make the recruiter's day uncomfortable.
During the day, we gave out over 500 flyers-- some presenting our position on fighting the government's bullshit wars, while others presented concrete reasons to not join the military (a flyer written by a black anarchist Vietnam war veteran, as well a newspaper directed toward people who have already enlisted with resources on what they can do now that they have signed up.) The response from passersby was very positive-- many people stopped to talk and thanked us for being there, and some recounted stories of people in their lives who are currently in the military. Lots of anti- Bush/war sentiment was displayed by people walking by and we had some great interactions with some high schoolers who were on break from school. Some kids expressed annoyance that the military is in their high schools and talked about the 'opt out' forms they had their parents sign to stop military recruiters from harassing them. Almost everyone who passed us took flyers and understood exactly why we were there-- The connection between the war and the presence of military recruitment stations in their neighborhood was simple for them, as many knew someone who was in the military or have had some kind of interaction with a recruiter.

And I saw that at CounterRecruiter so you should be checking that site out.