Friday, January 13, 2006

News, Dave Zirin, bummed over Alito hearings

Good evening, it's Friday, start that weekend! Let's kick get it started with Democracy Now!

Padilla Pleads Not Guilty in Miami
In this country, Jose Padilla has pleaded not guilty on terrorism charges in Miami. A judge denied his request for bail. Padilla was only charged in November after over three years in solitary confinement on a military brig in South Carolina. At the time of his arrest in May 2002, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft accused Padilla of involvement in "a terrorist plot to attack the United States by exploding a radioactive 'dirty bomb.'" None of his current charges include these allegations. Last month, a federal appeals court suggested the Bush administration only charged Padilla to thwart his pending Supreme Court appeal. His trial has been set for September.

Despite all the time served, Jose Padilla has never been convicted of anything. The government doesn't seem to have a case. That's why all their rhetoric about "dirty bomb" anda huge plot have fallen by the way side. When this case goes to trial, I think the government will very likely be embarrassed.

World Food Programme Warns 2M At Risk in Kenyan Food Drought
In Kenya, the World Food Programme is warning over two million people are in need of food aid to overcome a drought caused by two failed rainy seasons. President Mwai Kibaki recently declared food shortages in the arid north and some coastal areas a national disaster.
The World Food Programme's Peter Smerdon : "Food and money is needed now if we are going to tackle this problem and people will survive. If we do not receive more food donations, it's going to be very miserable and very difficult for a lot of people in Kenya and elsewhere and there will be loss of life."

There's so much going on in the world. I think about the Live 8 concerts and how they got Bono a cover of Time but don't seem to have helped any of the people in Africa. I think about how he and Bob Geldoff were hailed as heroes but the organizers behind Make Poverty History felt like Bono and Bob made concessions that didn't need to be made and cheered empty promises that didn't pan out.

Last day of the Alito hearings. I'll let C.I. sum it up:

Alito wasn't present, but the hearings went on.
[. . .]
A number of topics were addressed (and misaddressed) today. I'm not as tickled by the term "stink bomb" as one Senator was. I will note that chortles continued once Laurence Tribe began speaking and he had to stop and wait for the chortling Senator to come to their senses. If you felt the Senator never did, chances are you know whom we're speaking of. The Senator who either felt the need to play Barbara Walters ("If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?") or to play Mystery Date (stated by a woman seated next to me) didn't go out on a high note.
Tribe and Kate Michelman spoke effectively. The testimonials in favor of Alito started out resembling too many late night "It changed my life!" infomercials. As the parade continued, the Cult of Alito became more mind numbing (one had to wonder if some "vouchers" had been mind numbed before they became mind numbing?)
So now the Senate committee's done all it probably plans to. Use NOW's
Take Action: Call Your Senators Today link today and remember this number 1-800-839-5276. Delilah Boyd (A Scrivener's Lament) always displays it. Why? It's the toll free number for the Capitol Hill Switchboard. Dial it, ask for the Senator you want to speak to and they'll transfer you to her or his office. You can store the number and use it to contact the offices of House members as well. Or you can just remember Delilah's got it posted at her site and visit A Scriverner's Lament not just for her humor and keen observations (noted in the year-in-review) but also for the solid information she hooks you up with.

It was depressing for me to listen to. I kept thinking how the Dems could have all fought but instead they missed their chance.

Elaine's bummed as well. She'll either post late tonight or this weekend. She's got an entry planned on something other than Alito so look for that.

Dave Zirin's "Crossroads: Race and Coaching in the NFL:"

Anyone searching for job security shouldn't look for a career in NFL coaching. A full one-quarter of coaches have been canned including Oakland’s Norv Turner, New Orleans’ Jim Haslett, and a myriad of Mikes: Mike Sherman of Green Bay, Mike Tice from Minnesota, and Mike Martz in St. Louis. Mike Mularkey of Buffalo looks safe as does Mike Nolan in San Francisco but both had lousy seasons so give it a year for the next round of disposable Mikes. The coaching fallout hardly surprises. This year the league has suffered through what scribe Bill Simmons has called "perpetual putridity," making the compelling case that thirteen NFL teams now "truly suck."
But perpetual putridity can have its upside. It creates an opportunity for NFL owners to make a serious dent in the apartheid feng shui that defines the coaching quarters in the NFL. The stats are staggering. In the 16 years since Art Shell became the NFL’s first African-American head coach, progress has come at a glacial pace. The NFL coaching fraternity makes the US Senate look like Soul Train. 65% of the league is African-American yet only six coaches are Black. This should neither shock nor stun. A typical meeting of NFL owners resembles Thanksgiving at Hootie Johnson's house. They hire the familiar, the comfortable, the white; even if that means hiring a white coach who has been around the bend so many times that they wear failure like a second skin.
Anthony Prior, a former NFL cornerback whose new book A Slave System On Sunday, calls out the institutionalized racism in pro football, says the problem is more than skin deep. Prior told me that the culture of white supremacy is so intense, even African-American players can be heard denigrating Black coaches. African-Americans in positions of leadership aren't taken seriously, while "I heard white coaches called 'boss' like we're on a plantation."
The irony of all this is that independent studies show African-American head coaches have far outperformed their white counterparts. This is all the more remarkable considering they are almost always set up for failure on the bottom feeding teams of the league where the culture of losing runs so thick fans wear paper and plastic bags on their heads. Coaches are responsible not just for mastering the Xs and Os but also convincing a community that their team won't be a source of shame. That’s what Marvin Lewis has done in Cincinnati, where a squad recently known as "the Bungle"s just won their division, or what Tony Dungy did in Tampa Bay, when in 1996 he turned the Buccaneers from a punch line into a contender. When Tampa won the Super Bowl in 2003, during John Gruden's first year as head coach, players like Warren Sapp and John Lynch gave props to Dungy in the post game celebrations.

Be sure that you've read Betty's newest chapter at her site.

If I blog again before Monday, I'll be more upbeat. At least it's the weekend, right?