Friday, April 14, 2006

Kendall-Smith sentenced to 8 months & trip to California

Good evening. It's Friday! It's the weekend! (If you're lucky.) Let's kick it off with Democracy Now!

RAF Doctor Jailed For Refusing Iraq Service
In Britain, a doctor in the Royal Air Force has been sentenced to eight months in jail for refusing to go to Iraq. Flight Lieutenant Malcolm Kendall-Smith maintained he is refusing his assignment in order to not take part in an illegal war. "Now more so than ever he feels that his actions were totally justified and he would not if placed in the same circumstances seek to do anything differently," Justin Hugheston-Roberts, the lawyer representing Kendall-Smith, said after the sentencing.

So Kendall-Smith isn't allowed to make his case (he couldn't talk about why he refused to return to Iraq under the judge's order)? 'The war isn't on trial' was what the bench said. But if the very illegal nature of the war is why you can't serve, how do you have a case left to make? It's insane. But that's how the court martial played out. The good news is that, outside of this country, it is getting attention. Probably helps that the hearing was in London and that Kendall-Smith was born in Australia and also has citizenship in New Zealand (as well as British citizenship). That allows three countries to cover it as a "home story."

Like Nina and Tony said, "We put the wrong people behind bars."

California TV Station To Stop Using VNRs
In an update on a story we have been tracking, a major California television station has announced it will no longer use material from video news releases in any news reports. Last week the Center for Media and Democracy revealed at least 77 TV stations around the country have been caught airing corporate-sponsored propaganda disguised as news releases in the past 10 months. One of these stations was KCBS, Channel 2 in Los Angeles. On January 27 the station aired an edited video news release promoting the child-safe Internet search engine for the company NetTrekker. The station used part of the script and video provided by the company without revealing its source. On Wednesday the management at KCBS announced it was barring the use of video news releases.

So what do you think? Good or bad news? One station, out of 77, steps up to the plate and announces it will do what it always should have done? Fake news though, that's all over the dial.
I tried to get C.I. on the phone but couldn't. Got ahold of Ava and asked if members had noted the item any because it didn't go up at The Common Ills. Ava explained that there were so many e-mails with suggestions for the headlines today that the decision was made to skip this one since people suggesting other items were more vocal about why they wanted a headline noted. I told her that Elaine and me would note it and she said, "Remember to link to the prior story."

Immigrant Rights Coalition Calls for One Day Boycott, Walk-Out
A coalition of groups advocating for immigrant rights are calling for a massive one-day job and economic boycott to take place May 1st. Some are calling the event "A Day Without Immigrants." Organizers are calling on immigrants to refuse to work or spend any money on May Day to protest moves in Congress to criminalize undocumented workers. In recent weeks millions of immigrants and their supporters have taken to the streets in an unprecedented wave of protests.

That's our announcement. Take part in it. Don't buy anything on May 1st, don't go to work. Show your support.

Now I'm going to talk a little about the week in California. Nina and me went out on Friday. She came back on Monday with Rebecca and I got back last night. It was a really great time. I was telling Ma and Dad about it and Ma said I had to include a song. (It's a great song.)

Do you know who you'll meet there?
Great soldiers and seafares, artists and dreamers
Who need to be close, close to the light
They need to be in danger of burning by fire
And I, I want to get there.
I, I want to be one
One who is touched by the sun, one who is touched by the sun.

That's a song by Carly Simon called "Touched By The Sun" and it's in a few movies but Ma's got the Letters Never Sent CD (which is where I got the words from). That works for a lot of reasons. Like, California -- sunny -- touched by the sun. Get it? And also because there were all these amazing people we got to meet.

We met activists and writers, reporters and actors, musicians and comedians, professors and students, you name it. Dad goes, "The left is alive and well and living in C.I.'s living room." :D
Tony just wanted to know "famous names" and that's cool but that really doesn't get at what it was like. Like me and Wally and Jess did a thing for the gina & krista round-robin that went out today that was just focusing on students who were participating in all these demonstrations and protests and organizing. They really do so much and they're amazing and, in some cases, they were younger than me and made me feel like "What do I do?"

I won't lie and go I wasn't thinking, "Oh my God! It's ___!" But I got over that and anyone who impressed me impressed me because they cared about what was going on in the country and the world.

What else? Does it ever not rain in California? Seriously, it rained all the time. The day we're leaving, I don't think it rained at all before we left. (Don't know about after.)

We saw a lot of places. We saw some tourist spots because some of us were insisting Kat show us around. She had a mix and some of it was obvious and some of it was stuff that only Kat would know about! :D

During the days, we were all over the place. We went to rallies and protests. And we got to see Maria's classroom and one of her classes which was really cool. She uses Democracy Now! in her teaching and that was really cool. Her students think she's great. (And she is great.) Her students are pretty cool too. What else?

We got to meet some other members that live out there.

Where I live, sunglasses are mainly just to look cool. :D But they are like a requirement out there. When the sun shines, it shines and just bounces off everything. It can go from a rain spell to sunshine so quick.

C.I. walks way too fast. I got the longest lets of anyone and I was going, "Jim, how do you keep up?" He goes that he was thinking that when he got out two days before me but he noticed
Jess and Ava, who'd been out there longer than the rest of us, had no problem at all. In fact,
Ava, Jess and C.I. had matching sunglasses (C.I. loses sunglasses and buys more than one pair)
and looked like they were their own division. :D

I was wiped out in the mornings because me Jim and Dona were still on eastern time and stayed on it all week. So we'd be up early (which would be normal time here at home). By mid-morning, I'd get excited (especially when we were hearing students talk about what they were doing and why) and lose my sleepy mood. But the days were long. (Fun, but long.)

We got to see Sir! No! Sir! and you should too. It's a great movie. And Kat took us to hear some live music. One night we went to a comedy club. So there was a lot to do. When there was something to do at night and Betty wasn't sure her kids were up for it, we'd all take turns watching them (and a small infant or todler, I'm not sure what qualifies for todler but I'll get to that in a moment) because we all wanted Betty to get a chance to have some fun. (I only watched once before people think "What a guy." We rotated.) Cedric's smart and I think most people get that but me and Wally had no idea how smart Cedric was until this week. We were like, "Dude, you're like a genius!" :D

Ruth's really cool and she brought her grandchildren Tracey, Jayson and little Elijah so that was cool (because they are). Ruth's only worry all week was, "How am I going to do a report?" Elijah's not really the little boy's name, as community members know. Ruth only names her family when she has permission (a rule I follow too) and since Elijah's too young to give permission, she dubbed him that so she wouldn't have to keep saying, "My grandson" over and over.

He's a funny little dude and has one new trick that I swear Ty taught him which is to stick his tongue out. Ruth likes it, whoever taught it to him, because he's a kicker. And he's got a pretty powerful kick for such a tiny dude. I was like, "This is a soccer player!" But the only time he'd get in trouble was when Ruth would have to give him a talking to for kicking and sit him in time out. So she was thrilled when he picked up on sticking out his tongue instead. She said his mother may not be pleased but considering that his father was real bad about sticking his tongue out as his brothers growing up, it shouldn't be a problem especially since it seems to have gotten him off the kicking. By the end of the week, he'd only kick if you rolled a ball to him.

There were a lot of evenings of talking and sharing (with each other and with guests) and like Kat's written about, lots of great music. Jim says it was like a summit and Dona says it was like a retreat and if those two didn't enjoy arguing so much, you'd wonder how they stay a couple! :D
(I told them I was putting that in somewhere when I wrote about the week and they both laughed and were cool with it.)

I wish Elaine, Rebecca and Nina could have stayed longer. (Elaine left Sunday evening because she had patients on Monday and Nina left with Rebecca Monday because Nina had to do a family thing on Wednesday and Rebecca had a christening to attend on Tuesday. It was easier for Nina to catch a ride with her and Fly Boy since he came out to pick up Rebecca. Flyboy got there Sunday morning and got to spend a day basically. He's pretty cool so it would have been nice if he could have stayed longer too.)

So it was just a lot of fun and I must have taken more pictures this week than I have my whole life. (Some were in today's round-robin but that's like less than 10% of what I took in one day! :D)

It was real cool and educational. I need to put that in for my folks! :D Seriously, it was educational. And fun.

I'm going to wrap up now. I'm a slow typer and this thing has taken like over three hours!