Saturday, December 31, 2005

Book of 2005: Dave Zirin's What's My Name Fool?

This is a joint entry by Mike (Mikey Likes It!) and Wally (The Daily Jot). You will see the entry at both sites. We thank C.I. for scanning the cover of Dave Zirin's What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States which, in our opinion, is the best book of 2005.

Martha and Shirley did a summary of books that spoke to The Common Ills community in 2005. We enjoyed reading about them. We were flattered that some members singled us out.
If our antics ("For the hour!" "For the hour!" in Larry King bluster mode) made Jon Stewart's Naked Pictures of Famous People stand out for West or anyone else, we're flattered. We're also glad that we helped What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States stand out for a few people. But Zirin's book is our pick for the best of 2005.

Here's why. If you're a sports fan, you'll enjoy it. "But I hate sports!" some may say. We say, "Let us finish." If you like to read about politics and activisim, you'll enjoy it. If you like to read about both, you'll be floating on a cloud smiling. But this really is a book for everyone.

So if you buy books for yourself or as gifts, we'd urge to think about this one. If you check out books at the library, we'd urge you to consider checking this one out. If you do neither, we'd urge you to be aware of the book and of Dave Zirin because the book's an important one and Zirin's an important writer.

In his introduction, Zirin writes:

Sports as a whole do not represent black and white, good or bad, red state or blue state issues. Sports are neighter to be defended nor vilified. Instead we need to look at sports for what they are, so we can take apart the disgusting, the beautiful, the ridiculous, and even the radical.
This book aims to recall moments of resistance past and rescue the underreported shows of struggle and humanity by atheletes of the present, so we can appreciate the beauty of sports, independent of the muck and fight for a future where skill, art, glory, and the joy of play belong to us all.

If you need more information, you can check out the book discussion on this book at The Third Estate Sunday Review. You can also check out an interview that Amy Goodman did with Dave Zirin for Democracy Now!

But this is a book you should be aware of and Zirin is a writer you should check out. That's our recommendation for book of the year.

Since it's early in the morning, we'll note that the following sites plan to have new content later tomorrow:

The Common Ills
Like Maria Said Paz
Mikey Likes It!

Other community sites may also have new content but those are confirmed.

In addition, Sunday, check out The Third Estate Sunday Review for the latest edition. It may post later than usual (that's still up in the air) but it will post.

And, in case you missed it, there was new content Friday at the following sites:

The Common Ills
Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills)
Cedric's Big Mix
The Daily Jot
Mikey Likes It!
Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude

Friday, December 30, 2005

Blogging later tonight

Just a note to anyone expecting to see something up at the usual time. I'm going to be blogging later tonight.

C.I.'s going to scan something for me. I'd mentioned in an entry here earlier this week that I'd like it if Rebecca or C.I. would scan a cover for me. C.I. just called and asked if Rebecca had done it. Then C.I. said she may have thought C.I. was doing it since -- "you didn't ask either of us." My bad. C.I. wouldn't have even thought of it but Jess was going through the e-mails and found Isaiah's latest and had to tell C.I. about it. That's when C.I. asked Jess if there was ever an e-mail from me about that because I hadn't called about it.

It was a public notice here. :D I did mean to ask them both but I know everyone's busy so I kept putting it off. Jess said Kat's posting tonight so she'll probably have something up before me.

Be sure to check out The Common Ills and Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude. My shameless plugs after I forgot to ask them C.I. and Rebecca for a favor.

So Nina and me are going to head out and get an early start on our Friday evening.

She just reminded me to tell everyone to check out Wally's latest at The Daily Jot. He and his grandfather have picked ten important people for the year. They count the Manning brothers as one person. :D I called Wally about that and he said they wanted all the people on the list so they counted the Mannings as one. :D

Nina just said to note that Rebecca has a "huge picture" of Jake Gyllenhaal who "is not as sexy" as me Nina says but "still pretty hot."

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Courage to Resist the Bully Boy's Monster Cookie and war criminals

Good evening, we'll get started right off with Democracy Now! but before we start with headlines, remember that tomorrow is a their year review for 2005 so be sure to check that out.

NSA Website Capable of Tracking Web Activity of Visitors
In other news, the Associated Press is reporting the National Security Agency has been using files that can track the web surfing activity of visitors to its website. The NSA says the tracking files -- known as "cookies" -- were a mistake and have been removed. Under federal law, government agencies are forbidden from using "cookie" files unless a senior official authorizes them and their use is disclosed in the agency's written privacy policy. The news comes as the Bush administration continues to defend its authoritization of an NSA program to eavesdrop on Americans and foreign nationals without court-approved warrants.

Bully Boy as the Cookie Monster? Nah, I always liked the Cookie Monster. I remember in kindergarten or first grade, we were all taken to an auditorium and divided up into groups. Some people got Big Bird stickers to put on their shirts and some got other Sesame Street characters. Whatever you got was the group you stuck with and, it turned out, your class. I got Cookie Monster who wasn't my first choice. When they were passing out stickers, I was hoping for someone else. Don't even know who now. Maybe it was Elmo if he was around then.

But I got a Cookie Monster sticker. Which was pretty cool because I could go "Cookie!" just like Cookie Monster. Everyone in my class and my teacher thought that was cool. But I bet the teacher was just being nice. But I would do it all day and all the kids would laugh. I bet the teacher really hated it, come to think of it. :D

So Bully Boy isn't Cookie Monster, he's the Monster Cookie, spying on anything we do because he thinks it's entitled. He's a lot like other bullies. In fact, here's one.

Pinochet Photographed For First Mug Shot
And in Chile, after years of charges and investigations into human rights abuses under his rule, former dictator Augusto Pinochet has been fingerprinted and had his mug shot taken for the first time. Police are investigating his involvement in the deaths of hundreds of political opponents in the 1970s. Pinochet ruled the country until 1990 after seizing power in a US-backed coup in 1973. Over 3,000 people went missing and 28,000 were tortured under his regime. Pinochet, who is 90 years old, is currently living under house arrest over separate allegations of human rights abuses. His mug shot has not been released.

Augusto Pinochet got his mug shot yesterday. A little hard work and maybe we'll see the day when Bully Boy, Dick Cheney, Condi Rice, Alberto Gonzales and Donald Rumsfeld get their mug shots taken. Well, Bully Boy will get his taken again cause he's been arrested at least once already. But they are criminals who are out to destroy the country and they have allowed torture (and probably encouraged it) and bombed innocent civilians and all that blood is on their hands. It may not come until St. Peter's taking them over to God, but they will be judged and it won't be pretty. Hopefully though judgement day will come a lot sooner for them and it will come in a court of law.

Remember to check out Elaine's site for her commentary on the above at Like Maria Said Paz.

Now I want to note something C.I. wrote today:

Speaking of Wally, he, Elaine and Mike did note "Support GI Resister Katherine Jashinski Now!" (DC Indymedia) yesterday so be sure to check that out. Ken e-mailed saying he signed up at Courage to Resist but hasn't recieved an automated e-mail to reply to. (You can sign up there for monthly e-mail alerts.) I haven't gotten one either but if you signed up and are waiting, make sure you check your junk mail/bulk mail folders in case it heads there by accident.

I did get an e-mail and it took about seven hours after I'd put my e-mail in. C.I. said to check your junk mail and, for me, it did go into my bulk folder. So be sure to check that. Here's some information about Courage to Resist:

COURAGE TO RESIST is a new group of concerned community members, veterans, and military families organizing support for military objectors to illegalwar, occupation, and the underlying policies of empire. We have adopted a people power strategy to weaken the pillars that support the Iraq war and occupation by supporting GI resistance, which together with counter-recruitment and draft resistance work can remove the supply of obedient troops.
PEOPLE POWER is the strategy that has toppled dictators from Serbia to the Philippines so why not in the United States? People power strategies could not only stop the war in Iraq but also inspire our movements for change by helping us relearn to govern ourselves and be truly free.

And Wally's mother liked a thing Erika highlighted for The Common Ills. I liked it when I read it to. But I was checking out my bud's site this morning and he noted it and noted he was noting it for his mother. I know Wally would do the same for Ma, so let me show his mother the same respect.

This is from the president of NOW and NOW's a really strong group that's always there on important issues like Cedric's pointed out, so here's Kim Gandy's "Holiday Songs in the Key of 'F'" and she's explaining some of the events that NOW was there for this year:

I love this time of year. Although the ice and snow aren't doing my car any favors (or my hair, for that matter!), there is something special about having time to rest and reflect on the year -- take a step back, bask in the warmth of family and friends, and gather strength for the coming battles (which, I promise you, will be numerous).
So before treating you to our holiday songs "in the key of 'F'," I hope you'll join me in looking back over the year at some of the accomplishments that make me so proud to be your NOW President.
- The year started off with a bang with all the furor over Harvard President Larry Summers' ridiculous comments about women's "innate" inferiority in math and science! NOW was the first to call for his resignation, a call that was later seconded by the Harvard faculty. The end result of the public attention was that Harvard has now made a real financial investment in increasing the presence of women in hard sciences at that institution.
- In February we launched our Equal Marriage campaign, and the terrific response from activists across the country, and the ways they have put this campaign to work, has been spectacular to see!
- Through March and April we fought the FDA on risky silicone breast implants and then lobbied furiously on Emergency Contraception (EC) while also mobilizing our activists to save the Senate filibuster from the frightening "nuclear" option that would have threatened our liberties and made it nearly impossible to stop a bad Supreme Court nominee.
- In July came a real turning point. We were all gathered in Nashville for our National Conference when the news of Sandra Day O'Connor's resignation was announced. Never ones to shrink from a fight, we immediately declared a "State of Emergency for Women's Rights", were the first in the nation to hold a press conference, and organized a march and rally in a matter of hours, right there at the Tennessee State House in Bill Frist's "back yard."
- In September we marched with CodePink and hundreds of other groups to call for an end to the Iraq war and invasion. Hundreds of NOW members joined in to help remind the world that "peace is a feminist issue!" We also spoke out against Bush's response to Hurricane Katrina, and continue to demand fair treatment for the survivors, who are desperately seeking the aid that was allocated for them, but which hasn't been delivered by the Bush allies who received multi-million-dollar no-bid contracts, like Halliburton.

"Never one to shrink from a fight." Let's all try to catch that NOW spirit in 2006.

Travis wondered if I had a New Year's resolution? Let me think on that and get back to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Bully Boy's illegal wiretaps bite him in the butt, Ken Lay still on the loose, support the GI resisters

Good evening, let's kick things off with Democracy Now!

Lawyers For Terror Suspects Plan Legal Challenges Over Wiretaps
The New York Times is reporting defense lawyers for several Muslim men detained for alleged ties to Al Qaeda plan to bring legal challenges to determine whether the government used illegal wiretaps against them. Two weeks ago, the Times revealed the Bush administration has authorized eavesdropping on Americans and foreign nationals within the United States without court orders.
The challenges would affect some of the biggest terrorism cases in the country. Several lawyers said they intend to press the government on whether prosecutors misled the courts about the origins of their investigations and whether the government may have withheld wiretaps that could prove their clients' innocence. Meanwhile, Justice Department prosecutors told the Times they were concerned the wiretaps could create problems for past and future terrorism cases. One prosecutor said: "If I'm a defense attorney, the first thing I'm going to say in court is, 'This was an illegal wiretap.' "

Wire taps that were illegal, unconstitutional, and a felony for the Bully Boy are now going to hurt their "terror" convictions. Everything he touches turns to crap.

Enron Accountant To Testify Against Former Top Execs
In other news, the former chief accountant for the scandal-plagued energy corporation Enron has reached a plea deal that will see him testify against two of the company’s top former executives. Richard Causey will appear in a Houston court today to plead guilty to at least one of the dozens of criminal charges against him. In return for leniency, Causey will testify against Enron founder Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling. Causey is the 16th former Enron executive to reach a plea bargain. He was expected to stand trial alongside Lay and Skilling next month. Enron's collapse in 2001 ended the jobs of more than 5,000 workers and decimated the retirement savings of millions of investors.

No wonder they can't catch Osama, it's four years later and they still haven't put Ken Lay behind bars. That's how it goes for all of Bully Boy's friends, the Lays, the bin Ladens, go down the list.

Now be sure to check out Elaine's site Like Maria Said Paz and besides both noting Democracy Now!, we're also both noting something that C.I. passed on from community member Bonnie.

This is from DC Indymedia, "Support GI Resister Katherine Jashinski Now!:"

Pablo Paredes:
"…if there's anything I could be guilty of, it is my beliefs. I am guilty of believing this war is illegal. I'm guilty of believing war in all forms is immoral and useless, and I am guilty of believing that as a service member I have a duty to refuse to participate in this war because it is illegal,"
On December 6, 2004, Pablo Paredes refused to board the war-bound USS Bonhomme Richard leaving from San Diego,CA. Facing charges of "Missing Movement" and "Unauthorized Absence" Pablo was court martialed on May 11, 2005 for refusing to fight in a war, he challenged, was illegal.

Pablo Paredes' court martial on May 11th, 2005 at the San Diego, California Naval Base was one of the motivations for a nationwide Day of Action to Support GI Resisters called for by Courage to Resist on May 10th and taken up by dozens of groups across the nation!
Pablo's court martial in San Diego turned out to be an enormous political victory for Pablo and his supporters. Many creative actions in and outside the courtroom were mounted in Pablo's defense. From brilliant testimony in court by witnesses and attorneys, to nightly political and cultural events, the mobilization around Pablo's case was truly inspirational! Photos
Due the strong legal case put forward as well as nationwide political pressure, Pablo Paredes was sentenced to no jail time for his act of courageous resistance. He was convicted of "Missing Movement" for failure to board ship with his unit, and sentenced to two months restriction, three months hard labor without confinement, and reduction in rank to E-1. In early October, ten months to the day after he refused to board the war-bound USS Bonhomme Richard, and some 9 months before the scheduled expiration of his active duty obligation, Pablo Paredes is once again a civilian! On October 4, he completed his court martial sentence, and on October 6, he was discharged. Pablo is continuing his legal battle with the Armed Services, and his lawyers are currently challenging the Navy's rejection of Pablo's request for Conscientious Objector status in the Federal Court system.
For more information on Pablo Paredes and the history of his case

Here's a thought I had, you know how you see people wearing t-shirts of Che? Maybe we should be wearing some t-shirts of our modern heroes? Like we could wear a t-shirt with Pablo's picture on it. Or maybe a t-shirt of Camilo Mejia? Or maybe Medea Benjamin or Naomi Klein or anybody making a difference today like Amy Goodman?

That's not to take anything away from Che but I got lots of t-shirts, I don't just wear one, you know?

Pablo Paredes stood up to the Bully Boy's war machine and the propaganda. C.I. noted the DC Indymedia story this morning. (And Wally saw it and beat me to noting it! Burn! :D) Right now you got someone else taking a brave stand, Katherine Jashinski. She's got the Courage to Resist and you can have it to by signing up for alerts. They do a monthly newsletter by e-mail. There's no charge for it. So go sign up because you know ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, MSNBC, Fox and PBS won't be telling you anything about it. It's real easy, you just put in your e-mail address and you get a confirmation e-mail and you reply. It's as easy as that. So think about doing it and if you can't think of a good reason for not doing it, then do it. (I did.)

And did you see C.I. this morning? Talking about Timothy Egan's "Police Forces, Their Ranks Thin, Offer Bonuses, Bounties and More"? Police departments need recruits and guess what?
Guess who won't let them recruit?

At some military bases, commanders will not even allow police recruiters on the grounds, for fear that they will steal troops who might otherwise re-enlist, said Lt. Mike Barletta of the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

That's interesting, isn't it? They're suing universities for not letting them recuirt and they won't let police recruiters come on some military bases? Hypocrisy, that's what Bully Boy has brought America.

Betty's finished her latest chapter. It's about Thomas Friedman's imposed vacation and it's called "The Prig of Paxil." So check that out. And Tony asked me to note Danny Schechter's "The News About the News: More Media Decline in 2005:"

Perhaps it's just me-but news seems to be coming our way faster and with a greater fury than ever before. A tsunami of "Breaking News" bulletins courses through the veins and ganglia of what passes for an information system. A corporate news system pumps it on more platforms dedicated to "more news in less time" on the web, on TV, on the radio, and now on the phone. It's hard to escape the deluge.
Before we have time to digest it, or understand any story's implications, it's on to the next, making it more and more difficult to focus on any one item or connect it with another. The author Larry Beinhart of "Wag the Dog" fame speaks of the proliferation of "fog facts" in which important information systematically disappears from view.
No wonder a paralysis of analysis has set in with "on message" spin machines making it harder and harder for us to assess trends objectively, construct meaning or let us think for ourselves. Rather than inform, much of the news often disinforms distorts and deceives. Rather than strengthen our society by talking truth to power, our media system increasingly undermines democracy by making a civil discourse harder and harder to practice. The loud-mouthed partisans in the punditocracy turn substantive debate into noise. Heat, not light, proliferates.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Barrons wonders if Bully Boy should be impeached, Dave Zirin talks Cuba and more

Good evening. Hope everyone had a happy holiday this month or, as Cedric pointed out, that they're in the midst of a happy holiday. And I hope Saturday is a good night for everyone celebrating New Year's Eve. Let's get started with Democracy Now!

Student Admits to Book Watch List Hoax
And in Massachusetts a college student has admitted he fabricated a story about being questioned by federal agents for seeking to borrow a book by written by Mao. The report first appeared in the Standard-Times in New Bedford Massachusetts and was picked up around the world. The student initially told his professors about the visit and claimed Mao's Little Red Book was on a watch list of books.

Elaine and I are including three tonight to include this one. We saw that C.I. noted it at The Common Ills and we figured we should as well to be sure that everyone knows that it was a hoax. We talked about this and I was pretty pissed at the dude but Elaine offered some reasons on how it could have happened so I'll just say he should have known better.

Telcoms Reportedly Aided NSA in Domestic Surveillance
Meanwhile new questions are being raised about the extent of the National Security Agency's surveillance program inside the United States. Both the New York Times and Boston Globe have run a series of articles suggesting the extent of unchecked domestic surveillance is far greater than previously reported. The White House has admitted the NSA has monitored the calls of individuals with suspected ties to Al Qaeda but the Globe is reporting that in fact the NSA has been using computers to monitor and datamine all international phone and Internet communications by Americans. The Times also revealed that the U.S. telecom companies agreed to give the NSA "backdoor access" to all of their networks.

Are you getting scared? You should be. You should be thinking, "Well where do they draw the line now?" Because they've pretty much crossed every line there is to cross. It's really like we're living in the film The Minority Report where people aren't guilty for anything they've done but are guilty for what they might do.

Editors of Barrons Suggests Bush Committed Impeachable Offenses
The latest call for the possible impeachment of President Bush is coming from an unexpected quarter - the prominent business publication Barrons. The editors of Barrons have criticized Bush for authorizing the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without court warrants. The editors wrote "Putting the president above the Congress is an invitation to tyranny. The president has no powers except those specified in the Constitution and those enacted by law. ... Willful disregard of a law is potentially an impeachable offense. It is at least as impeachable as having a sexual escapade under the Oval Office desk and lying about it later."

And if you think it's just me shooting off my mouth before, read the thing above about Barrons because they get it. What Bully Boy did is impeachable. It is a crime.

Martha and Shirley did a really cool thing for The Common Ills Sunday. If you missed it, you should check it out. They're talking about books and stuff. And they mention me and Wally because Zach and West ended up reading two books because me and Wally were talking about them, just yabbering on nonstop. So let's note the author of one of the books, Dave Zirin, and his
"The Bray of Pigs:"

This March's "World Series of Baseball" was supposed to celebrate the explosion of diversity that has forever altered the Major Leagues. Teams from the Dominican Republic, Japan, Puerto Rico, and the little seen but highly regarded Cuban national team were going to play the United States in an unprecedented contest to redefine the slogan "America's Pastime."
But then the Bush administration, yearning for more reasons to be internationally despised, decided to destroy it. In a beautiful act of small government at work, the White House Gang, through the Treasury Department, has denied the Cuban team entry into the United States, effectively gutting the harmless exhibition. As one Cuban citizen told The New York Times, "Enough already! It's unbelievable. This is about sports, not politics. In Cuba, baseball is our culture. Everyone was so anxious to see these games."
But the White House disagrees. "I think our policy regarding Cuba is pretty well known," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said. "We want people in Cuba to participate in freedom." That is, the freedom to not be a constant source of irritation and embarrassment. The freedom not to criticize neoliberalism. The freedom not to have higher literacy rates and better health care than the United States. Of course, the lack of certain political freedoms in Cuba is very real. But to hear the Bush gang lecture any nation about freedom -- given the fact that they are currently engineering two occupations and defending domestic spying -- is like hearing Hugh Hefner pontificate about abstinence. In reality, this is
consistent with a U.S. policy toward Cuba that began under Bill Clinton with the passage of the Helms-Burton Act. The U.S. wants Cuba to be a pariah nation, its life choked out by an embargo.

Dave Zirin is the author of What's My Name Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States
and I'm going to see if C.I. or Rebecca can scan the cover for me and I'll put up a picture of it and put some comments on it.

I hope everyone enjoyed the news roundup we did last night/this morning. I had an e-mail about why it went up at The Common Ills first? It was C.I.'s idea. But C.I. was saying let's put it up at Wally's or Betty's or Cedric's. They all go no, it should be up at The Common Ills and that's what the rest of us felt. I mean if Wally, Betty or Cedric has said, "Okay, cool" that would have been fine. But since they didn't want to take it, it made more sense to put it up at The Common Ills. It was a chance for all of us -- "Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Kat, Jim, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Elaine, Betty, and C.I" -- to work together and it was a way to make sure we all had something for our sites.

Now Kat did three album reviews over the weekend so be sure to check out her reviews of Carly Simon's No Secrets, James Blunt's Back to Bedlam and Bright Eyes' Motion Sickness.

Remember to check out Elaine's site -- Like Maria Said Paz -- for her commentary on Democracy Now!

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.

Pyle says Bully Boy broke the law that is "punishable by up to five years in prison"

I hope everyone caught Democracy Now! today with the reading from Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. We'd agreed Saturday that we'd all work on a feature together and that's how you've got the news roundup below. You'll see it at all of our sites because it's a joint effort.

"News roundup including did Bully Boy break the law?"
Did Bully Boy break the law by authorizing spying on American citizens and circumventing the FISA courts? If so, how many years can someone be sentenced to for that crime? We'll highlight a radio discussion on that issue, but first, news on Iraq, Morocco, Afghanistan, the Phillipines, Russia, Chile, Israel, activism and more.
As reported on The Daily Iraq Wire, December 25th wasn't a day of peace in Iraq. Two bombs went off in Iraq injuring seven Iraqis. In addition, a reported al Qaeda group in Iraq announced Sunday that they had kidnapped and killed four Arabs who had been "working with the US authorities and the Iraqi government in the fortified Green Zone in central Baghdad."
Monday violence and unrest continued. Deepa Babington, reporting for the Irish Examiner, notes that Baghdad saw five explosions today killing eight and wounding thirty-eight. Outside of Baghdad, there were attacks in Falluja where a suicide bomber killed himself and two police recruits. In Dhabab, five Iraqi soldiers were killed.

Reporting for IPS, Gareth Porter reports today a "looming confrontation" between Shi'ites in Iraq and the American officials who are urging the disbanding of Shi'ite paramilitary groups. American officials fear groups may have close ties to Iran. The "looming confrontation" emerged when American officials decided to make an issue of the "torture houses" run by Shi'ites. "Decided?" Major R. John Stukey and others first reported the existance of "torture houses" in June of 2005. From June to November, US officials remained silent.

As of Monday, US military fatalities in Iraq stand at 2169, official count with 56 of those fatalities for the month of December. Iraq Body Count, which gathers totals by following media reports, estimates that as few as 27,592 and as many as 31,115 Iraqis have died thus far since the invasion.

In other war news, Agence France-Presse reports the American military is claiming that "very soon" the number of troops serving in Iraq will drop from 19,000 to 2, 5000.

In activism news, NOW is calling for action on Samuel Alito, Jr.'s Supreme Court nomination:

There is work to be done, both in Washington, DC and throughout the country. As a part of Freedom Winter 2006, NOW and Feminist Majority Foundation are working together to bring grassroots activists to DC between January 3 and January 20. We're also encouraging activists to organize in their communities.

More information can be found online at NOW as well as online at the Feminist Majority Foundation. In related news, Ms. Magazine has compiled "the top ten news stories for women in 2005." Topping the list, Sandra Day O'Connor's announcement that she will step down from the Supreme Court bench. Planned Parenthood has also compiled a look back at the year 2005. Their look back begins with a listing of the five best and five worst places to get birth control prescriptions filled:

Brooks/Eckerd Corporation
Rite Aid

In international news, Al Jazeera reports that Augusto Pinochet will finally stand trial for the deaths and disappearances carried out under his dictator regime as the head of Chile. Chile's Supreme Court, in a three to two vote, ruled that Pinochet is fit to stand trial. The BBC reports that charges will be filed Tuesday against four US marines for rape. The four are currently at the US embassy in Manila and "it is unclear whether it will hand over the marines." Abdul Rahman Khuzairan reports, for Islam.Online. net, that on Sunday a sit in was staged in Casablanca by Morocco's Equity and Reconciliation Forum "to protest the mass grave found recently with the remains of 82 people." Canada's Star Phoenix reports that Monday in St. Petersburg, shoppers in one store were exposed to a mysterious gas: "Boxes containing timers wired to glass vials were discovered at the scene of the attack and three other stores in the same chain in Russia's second-largest city." And in Tut-tut Tuttle news, the Finanical Times reports that car dealer and contributor of $70,000 worth of donations to the GOP in 2004, Robert Tuttle continues to stumble in his post as US ambassador to England. For the second time, Tuttle has been forced to issue a correction to the BBC following an interview. Embassy work, not as easy as moving cars off a lot.

"Have we made poverty history?" asks The Independent of London? The debt relief in 2008 will go not to Africa but to Iraq and Nigeria. In addition the United States is backing off from it's earlier committments. Also reporting for The Independent, Maxine Frith notes that charities and aid workers believe that Live 8, and those involved in the concerts, "hijacked" the effort and gave the world a false sense of resolution when the problems of world poverty contine. Meera Selva reports from Africa that the people supposed to benefit from the concerts in London's Hyde Park have seen little difference in their lives. One woman tells Selva, "We have problems in Africa, big problems. What can plastic bracelets and pop concerts do to solve them?"

Reuters reports Israeli helicopters firing three missiles into Gaza. This comes as Al Jazeera reports that the Israeli government has announced intentions to build an additional 200 homes on the West Bank. The BBC reports, in other news from the region, that Ariel Sharon has been urged to "curb his appetite" by doctors as he awaits sugery "to close a small hole which doctors found in his heart after he had a minor stroke."

For The KPFA Evening News Anthony Fest spoke Monday evening to Christopher Pyle, "a consultant to Congress in the drafting of the surveillance act, today he teaches political science at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusettes." (What follows is a rough transcript, use the link to listen to the archived broadcast.)

Pyle: The Church Committee was set up because during the Watergate era we had discovered extensive domestic surveillance operations by a number of agencies including the FBI, military intelligence, the CIA and, the largest intelligence agency of all, the National Security Agency. It does electronic intercepts worldwide. It has stations around the world. It picks up communications off of statellites. It picks them off of landlines and it searches them with a dictionary of watch words. And during the 1970s, we discovered that the National Security Agency had maintained files on about 75,000 Americans and they particularly targeted political activists like Dr. Martin Luther King, the folk singer Joan Baez, and the anti-war protestor Dr. Benjamin Spock. We sought to end that massive surveillance, which had no judicial authority what so ever, by passing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978. That law said that if the government, when the government wanted to monitor electronic communications it had to go to a special court to gain a national security authorization, a speciall warrant. And for a number of years, it appears that the government did go to the special court and was able to conduct its monitoring with special warrants. But three years ago, the Bush administration decided that this was inconveinent for some reason that's not fully understood. And they just ignored the court and began collecting, uh, information rather broadly. The law itself says that it's the exclusive method by which monitoring may take place and that anybody who violates the law is guilty of a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Fast: So there's no leeway for interpretation here, it's uh, it's black and white that if you don't go through the FISA court, you are in violation of the law?
Pyle: Exactly. So what we have here is the rather extraordinary situation of a president who has admitted to committing a felony. Now he says that Congress excused him by passing the resolution against al Qaeda but that says nothing about electronic surveillance. And then he says that the Constitution excuses him because the Constitution places him above the law. There's actually a secret memo produced by the Justice Department to justify torture that says that a war time president can ignore the criminal law of the United States. There's no basis for this in law, there's no basis for this in the history of Constitutional law and Constitutional interpretation and that's of course why the memo was kept secret because if it had ever seen the light of day it would have been laughed out of court. Well now it's seen the light of day and assertions based on that theory have seen the light of day and we're not laughing because we realize the government is really out of control.
Fast: Doubtless the techonology of surveillance is incrompably more powerful today than it was in the 1960s. Is there any indication yet exactly how wide, how wide a net the NSA was casting or how many people had been surveilled?
Pyle: No. The initial reports by the New York Times were that up to 500 people at a time had been targeted but perhaps thousands had been intercepted. And if they were, let's say, monitoring all e-mails and searching all e-mails in the United States for certain code words or phrases then it would be probably hundreds of thousands or millions of people who would have been monitored, not simply 500 people targeted at any given time. But we really don't know. But what we know is that the judges on the FISA court are extremely upset. One of them has already resigned because of this. The others want to know particularly whether this warrant-less spying was being used to then produce probable cause for specific warranted spying. In other words, infecting the very process with illegaly obtained information.
Fast: Since the administration was apparently conducting surveillance that was more in the nature of data mining then watching individuals is there any legal grounds under which they could conduct that kind of operation?
Pyle: No, that is what was known in the common law as a general search. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution forbids general searches. The second clause of the Fourth Amendment says that the warrants must be obtained that specify the place to be searched and and the things to be seized. The FISA warrants specify the persons who are the targets of the intercepts. There has to be specifity. There can't be a great dragnet collecting everything and then sorting it by computer and putting everybody under suspicion.

Did Bully Boy break the law? Better question, after trotting out Vicky Toe-Jam in print and on TV to put forward false claims about the Congessional act passed in the 80s to prevent the outing of CIA agents, why has the mainstream media been so reluctant to pursue people who helped with the drafting of the FISA act?

The above is news you may have missed and was compiled by Wally, Rebecca, Mike, Kat, Jim, Jess, Ty, Cedric, Elaine, Betty, and C.I.