Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday, so a little news, a little humor

Good evening! It's Friday. Finally. Hopefully you get some time off or at least some time where there's a little less to do. Let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

15 Anti-Torture Activists Arrested Outside White House
In Washington, 15 activists were arrested outside the White House Thursday at a protest against torture. The protest was called by Witness Against Torture. In December, the group marched on the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where hundreds of detainees are being held without charge.
Human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury: "We wore the orange overalls and a gag that said 'torture' and we walked the halls of congress to awaken their conscience. We're trying to haunt their conscience. We're the ghost walkers today. We're here to say no human being can be tortured under any circumstances. My husband was tortured to death by CIA assets or informants in Guatemala 10 years ago, and after many of my hunger strikes that leaked out. What we found out after it was too late to save his life is, like I say, they were all on the CIA payroll. The Senate intelligence committee held a huge panel discussion and investigation of this, and after my testimony they said quote: 'This is a disgrace. No one should ever have to starve to stop torture. It will never happen again.' Really all of us are just calling them on that promise. There can be no more torture by the United States or anyone else."

I wonder sometime how mcuh people care about this? Not the ones who follow the news, but the ones who never know what's going on. If they hear about it by accident, do they get what's going on? I think it's really important for demonstrations like the one above to take place. They raise awareness. It's great if they can get media coverage, but just being out there, with people passing them, they raised attention/awareness. That's what all the different rallies, protests and marches this month are about. So find something you can do and do it.

Otherwise, you're giving your approval. Even if silently or among a few close friends, you object, you're giving your approval to torture, illegal war, and all the stuff being done in our name.

Bush Signs Controversial Nuke Deal on India Visit:
In India, President Bush has signed a controversial deal to foster nuclear cooperation between the United States and India. Under the agreement, the U.S. would end a decades-long moratorium on sales of nuclear fuel and reactor components to India while allowing the country to substantially step up its nuclear weapons production. India is one of only three countries that has refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The deal was criticized by some lawmakers in Washington who said it could lead to the spread of nuclear weapons. House Democrat Ed Markey, co-chair of the Bipartisan Task Force on Nonproliferation called the agreement "a historic failure of this president to tackle the real nuclear threats that we face."

Wally is on the phone with C.I. I heped enough last night so that Wally could get his latest Jot posted but he's having some serious problems. So C.I.'s trying to help him figure out what's going on there. But yesterday's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY RETURNING TO THE USA WITH A 'PLAN'! " nailed Bully Boy's moves described above:


I love Wally's running gag where Bully Boy always thinks the "ports" are the poor. :D

But there it is. We're bothered by North Korea and Iran but we're handing over nukes to India.
One of my classmates said today that "the curse and the shame of nuclear weapons is now India's as well." Tony and I were like, "Perfect!" Cause it does sum it up perfectly.

For more on the nukes, on war, on Bully Boy and his visit to India (and probably a lot more), check out the interview Amy Goodman did with Arundhati Roy: "Baby Bush Go Home: Arundhati Roy on Massive Protests Against Bush's Visit to India."

If you're a member of The Common Ills community, did you check out the gina & krista round-robin? Gina, Krista and C.I. hit hard on the Patriot Act. I hope you'll use the action alerts that Gina and Krista always provide.

Tony's cousin Ed was saying, "I oppose the Patriot Act, I oppose torture, I oppose the war . . . But how can I work on all the issues?" Tony had asked him about some protests that are going on this month. So Tony told me about it and goes, "What do I tell him?" Tell him to work on it all. He can do a letter to his rep and senators via e-mail on some issues and he can pick one (or more) to get active on by participating in a rally or something.

When you do just one protest, you'll probably sense how amazing it is when people come together to speak truth and to try to get the word out. I bet if Ed, or you, go to just one protest, you'll want to go to others. But few people have the time to work on every issue all the time.

Nobody can do "everything" but you can do "something." Figure out what that is and get to work on it.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The US builds prisons, don't they?

Good evening. Wally's had problems all afternoon and evening with Blogger so let's see how things go for me. Let's get started with Democracy Now!

Indian Protests Against Bush Visit Include Rally in Bhopal
In India, tens of thousands of people continued their massive protests against the visit of President Bush. In one of several rallies, victims of the 1984 gas leak from the US-owned Union Carbide pesticide factory demonstrated in Bhopal. Over 20,000 died in the aftermath of the Bhopal gas tragedy, while another 100,000 people suffered lasting health problems.

Wherever he goes, he attracts a crowd. Not quite the one he might have wanted but, hey, when the whole world's against you, it's against you. I know what Wally wants to write if he can ever get something posted (none of the e-mails would work and he can't get into his account when he tries that way) so I'll just move on to the next topic to make sure I don't swipe any of his jokes.

New Iraq Reconstruction Funds Devoted Solely to Prisons
In other news, the State Department quietly announced this week it has requested $100 million dollars for Iraqi reconstruction -- all of it for prisons. The Bush administration initially promised $20 billion dollars to reconstruct Iraqi infrastructure. But much of the money has been diverted to security. State Department Iraq coordinator James Jeffrey said the $100 million dollar prison project was the lone new reconstruction effort the US government will undertake over the next year.

Now if that surprises you, think about the prison population in this country and think about what big business prisons are. He never did put up all those promised hospitals but he can get behind prisons. He can "relate" to them. Which is probably a good thing because, if there's justice in this world, he'll be spending some time in one for a few years.

I got an e-mail from Rudy who says I stopped answering questions. I just run out of time sometimes. But Rudy's got a question. Whenever he eats pasta, it disagees with him. "Disagrees"? What's that mean, Rudy? Your stomach hurts? You get gas and start farting?
If I eat Taco Bell, my stomach really burns and I'm burping like crazy. If I eat real Mexican cooking, I don't have that problem. So I'm wondering if it's everytime you have pasta or just at certain places?

I had Taco Bell today and I'm burping now. Not kidding. I know that will happen so I try to avoid it but sometimes when I'm rushing from work to class and I don't have a lot of time, if everything else is backed up, I'll grab Taco Bell. So there's no point in complaining because I know what happens the rest of the day. If it's all pasta, you should probably avoid it. If it's just pasta from some places, something in their food is disagreeing with you.

You could try popping things like Rolaids. But it would probably be better to just avoid what you know is going to make you sick. Now if it's like your mother's cooking, you got a real problem. So let me know if that's where you're getting the pasta and we'll toss out some more ideas.

Rudy also wondered how Nina was doing? She's doing good. She's studying right now in here.

Or trying to. She keeps going, "Excuse me" meaning I should say that. Maybe on that last one which was like an belch explosion. :D

Nina said to tell everyone to read "Kat's Korner: Nina Simone -- Golden" which we looked for after we left campus but couldn't find it. I may end up asking Kat if she could grab one for Nina. I just got that my Nina and Nina Simone have the same name. :D I didn't claim to be the fastest wit in the west. :D

I'll toss out two things you should read. "Industry Shocker: America's Funniest Videos? Not that American" by Ava and C.I. (like C.I. said on the phone today, "Good God, they're outsourcing videos!" :D) and second thing you should read is by Elaine. Did you check out
"No quote tonight -- it's already too long"? It's like a mamoth entry.

If you missed it, our cowardly Senate voted to approve the Patriot Act today. The vote was 89 to 10 so I guess someone was absent or too cowardly to vote one way or the other. That guy was Daniel Inouye. The article just says he didn't vote, not if he was present or not. From the article:

The "no" votes came from Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., and Feingold, Byrd and seven other Senate Democrats: Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, Tom Harkin of Iowa, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Carl Levin of Michigan, Patty Murray of Washington and Ron Wyden of Oregon.

That's crap. And Harry Reid's talking about how he'll keep working on them. Keep working? The article says that they voted today to make 14 of the 16 temporary provisions permanent.
Here's something from a story on Arundhati Roy where she's talking about Bully Boy visiting India:

Often laughing, she highlights the ludicrous to underline her despair at the welcome Bush has been given. The organizational details of a presidential trip offer much amusement -- particularly the decision to hold the president's landmark speech about the emerging Indo-U.S. strategic partnership in a spot by the Delhi zoo.
"First they tried to see whether he would address Parliament, but most of the MPs said they would heckle and boycott so that was canceled," she said in an interview this week.
The Red Fort was out because the Muslim population surrounding the building made it a security nightmare. "So now he will be speaking in the zoo -- to some eminent people and some caged animals. I don't know if the lions can disagree, the cockatoos might say they are against globalization. It's really kind of funny," she said.

C.I. said Arundhati Roy's going to be on Democracy Now! tomorrow so make sure to check that out.

Maybe it's the burping, maybe it's being discussed with the Senate for their vote today, but I'll probably stop here and call Wally to see if I can help him. I don't know a lot about Blogger because I haven't had too many problems.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Bully Boo gets booed, adminstration never listens (especially about Iraq)

Good evening. It's hump day. We're half-way to the weekend! Let's get things started with Democracy Now!

Over 100,000 Protest President Bush in India
In other news, tens of thousands of people gathered in New Delhi today to protest a visit by President Bush to India. A police spokesperson said the crowd exceeded 100,000 people. Abdul Hussain, a spokesperson for one of the protest organizers, said: "Welcoming a person like him is like welcoming a murderer and he has become a militant and a war monger... he is a war president. So welcoming a person like him does not make any sense or meaning in a country like India. And welcoming him in the country of the Mahatma will desecrate our land."
Dozens of protests have been planned ahead of President Bush’s three-day visit. During his stay, Bush is expected to sign a controversial deal to sell India nuclear fuel from the US.

My comment here is: "Go read Wally!" Read his "THIS JUST IN! THE BULLYING THE GLOBE WORLD TOUR!" It is hilarious. (Wally says C.I. gave him "The bullying the globe world tour" phrase and asked me to note that.) While I'm suggesting, read C.I.'s "NYT: Republicans seek a 'bridge' (Brooklyn, so they can sell it to you?)" and I'll talk about that later in this post.

Study: One in Three Iraq Vets Seek Mental Health Treatment
Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting an Army study has found that more than one in three US troops who served in Iraq later sought help for mental health problems. According to the report, soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq reported more distress than those returning from Afghanistan and other countries. More than half of all service members returning from Iraq reported that they had "felt in great danger of being killed" there, and over 2,400 reported having suicidal thoughts. Steve Robinson, head of the National Gulf War Resource Center, said: "In Vietnam, there were safe areas where people could go to rest and recuperate. That doesn't happen in Iraq; every place is a war zone."

"Every place is a war zone." And maybe if the embedded corporate press hadn't hid out for almost three years in the Green Zone while "reporting" like everything was fine and dandy, the American people would have caught on a long time. We have a media failure. (I feel like Danny Schechter saying that! :D He may have said it. We all read and reviewed The Death of Media at The Third Estate Sunday Review for "1 Book, 10 Minutes (Danny Schechter, The Death of Media) " so that might be in The Death of Media. If Schechter said it, give him the credit.) Isn't it amazing how the reporting on the health of the troops always comes not from the embeds but from reporters stationed stateside?

The embeds can tell you what the general or major says. They can give you lots of happy talk. They just can't give you any reality. The only leashes in Iraq weren't at Abu Ghraib, obviously many of the embeds decided to put on collars and hand their leashes over to the military higher ups.

Troops coming home will be dealing with side effects for years and watch the big media stop caring the way they did with the the first Gulf war.

Former Intel Officials Say White House Ignored Insurgency Warnings
In other news, Knight Ridder is reporting the White House repeatedly ignored early intelligence warnings that the armed insurgency in Iraq was almost entirely local and growing in size. A National Intelligence Estimate as early as October 2003 said the insurgency was fueled mostly by local conditions, such as the presence of US troops in Iraq. It also said outside forces were playing almost no role in the insurgency. Robert Hutchings, the former chair of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005 said: "Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios." Another former high-ranking intelligence official said: "This was stuff the White House and the Pentagon did not want to hear. They were constantly grumbling that the people who were writing these kind of downbeat assessments 'needed to get on the team,' 'were not team players' and were `sitting up there (at CIA headquarters) in Langley sucking their thumbs.'"

Anybody else sensing a Condi Rice "No one could have guessed" moment on the horizon? Anyone else going to snort when she says it?

Okay, C.I. wrote about the NSA hearing yesterday in "NYT: Republicans seek a 'bridge' (Brooklyn, so they can sell it to you?)" which went up this morning. Tony said, "Man, that's incredible." It is. I know C.I. has had no more than 2 to 3 hours sleep every night this week and can't believe this entry was done this morning. (It was, it happened. It went up.)
But Tony wondered why yesterday C.I. only took on Orrin Hatch?

Kat was going to write about the hearings. She had some ideas and since she's finished both CD reviews (one is up already, "Kat's Korner: Cat Power's Greatness"), she thought she'd have some time. She worked and worked on a post last night. Then she goes to post her post and loses the whole thing. She called Betty who was working on a chapter for Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man to warn her, "Don't post without at least a handwritten copy." But it was too late because Betty had already tried and lost her chapter right before Kat called. C.I. and Kat both wrote about this last night.

But C.I. was stepping aside to let Kat explore the hearings and just focusing on Hatch Tuesday. (And had checked with Kat to make sure she wasn't going to write about Hatch.) Kat's attitude is that it's gone and that must have been meant to be. So when she said that last night to C.I. she urged C.I. to write something on it.

That's how you got the most amazing "NYT: Republicans seek a 'bridge' (Brooklyn, so they can sell it to you?)" today. You got to read it. When we had nothing but problems at The Third Estate Sunday Review and had to work forever, we were all dragging. By the editorial, we were on empty. Almost everyone. Like Elaine noted Monday:

For the editorial, the main points had been outlined (by Jess) with pen and paper. But even that was rough. That was the last thing that those of us still helping out were participating on. The basics are from Jim and C.I. with the rest of us modifying them. We were all wiped out and saying things like, "I have nothing else to give." So Jim would grab a point and go with it and then get C.I. to speak on the next point. "Just pretend it's a speech," Jim would say and C.I. would give a five to ten minute speech which we'd boil down to a paragraph. Jim can go on forever and actually thrives on it. C.I. doesn't thrive on it but can pull out second, third, fourth, fifth . . . winds.

The entry on the hearings is like the speeches C.I. would give when Jim would toss. Those two came up with the text. We all worked on what the points should be (the outline) and we had done the editorial and lost it. By five p.m. (that's what it almost was when the editorial was finished), none of us could even remember what the original said before it was lost. But Jim would grab a point and talk on it and from that, we'd reshape it into a paragraph, then Jim would toss the next point to C.I. and go, "Come on, you know you could give a speech on this!" So C.I. would just speak, off the top of the head, for five minutes and we'd take that and reshape it. Jim loves all nighters and thinks it proves something or forces you to "really go to the wall." C.I. can handle an all nighter but not an all nighter and an all dayer. (That edition took over 24 hours straight.) Now I hear C.I. toss out ideas and contribute all the time. And I read The Common Ills always. So I know what C.I. is capable of. Or I thought I did. It was really amazing to hear C.I. sigh or yawn when Jim tossed, take a deep breath and then just take off on whatever point in the outline we were at. It was like an All Stars game. Really, I'd just be listening and thinking, "No way, not again" and BAM! out of the park. So read "NYT: Republicans seek a 'bridge' (Brooklyn, so they can sell it to you?)" because it's BAM! out of the park.

I think Kat would have done an amazing job herself. It would have been different because she was going to examine it (she had a chart and all ready this weekend) on different aspects and levels. But why I brought this up was because: Isn't Kat amazing? She worked like crazy and wrote something that Betty says was amazing (Betty heard it over the phone because they were calling each other while they were writing). And where was her focus when she lost it? On Betty. Betty e-mailed me and asked me to please point that out. I have no problem doing that (or anything else Betty wants pointed out ever). Kat's really a special and amazing person. I would have been banging my head against the wall until it was bloody. Kat was focused on what Betty lost.

And let me say one more time that her latest review went up last night ("Kat's Korner: Cat Power's Greatness") and you should check it out. She's got another one that should go up tonight but Ava and C.I. have had something dumped in their laps and are trying to figure out how to address it. (That's all I'll say because they haven't been able to speak to everyone yet. They're trying to decide if this waits until Sunday or if it doesn't? And if it doesn't, where does it go up?)

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Blood continues flowing in Iraq, no "bounce" for Bully Boy

Good evening and let's get things kicked off with Democracy Now!

Report: Over 1300 Killed in Iraq Violence
The Washington Post is reporting over 1300 people have been killed in less than a week of violence in Iraq. The death toll is at least four times higher than previously reported, and one of the biggest outside of major US operations since the war began. Violence has increased across the country following Wednesday's bombing of a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra. Earlier today, separate attacks in Baghdad killed at least 36 people and injured dozens more. In the biggest attack, a suicide bomber blew himself up at a Baghdad gas station, killing over 20 people and injuring 50 others.

So yesterday the numbers were shocking. Today, even more so. There's a Patti Smith song called "Radio Baghdad" and Shawn picked it as one of the best of 2004 at The Common Ills (Cedric picked Eminem's "Mosh" and Marci picked Prince's "Cinnamon Girl" -- Ma had a pick in there too!). This is from "Radio Baghdad" and Patti sings it like a chant:

Oh Baghdad
Center of the world
City of ashes
With its great mosques
Erupting from the mouth of god
Rising from the ashes like
a speckled bird
Splayed against the mosaic sky
Oh, clouds around
We created the zero
But we mean nothing to you
You would believe
That we are just some mystical tale
We are just a swollen belly
That gave birth to Sinbad, Scheherazade
We gave birth
Oh, oh, to the zero
The perfect number
We invented the zero
And we mean nothing to you
Our children run through the streets
And you sent your flames
Your shooting stars
Shock and awe
Shock and awe
Like some, some
Imagined warrior production
Twenty-first century
No chivalry involved
No Bushido

"And we mean nothing to you." That pretty much sums up the attitude that Bully Boy's shown to the people of Iraq.

Bush Approval Rating on Iraq, Presidency At All-Time Low
In other news, a new CBS News poll has found the number of Americans who approve of President Bush’s overall job performance and his handling of the Iraq war has fallen to an all-time low. 34 percent of Americans give the President a favorable job approval rating, while even less -- 30 percent -- approve of the President’s handling of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, less than a third of Americans believe President Bush has adequately responded to the needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

What? You thought there was no good news today? Bully Boy's in the toilet. Like Ava and C.I. said in their review of "Close To Home" -- "Flush his latest 'creation' down, flush it down." Floating in the toilet, making a stink, flush the Bully Boy.

I don't know, I was thinking we had a shot at that today. I listened to the hearings on
Pacifica and was hopeful even though everyone was saying, "Mike, don't expect much" Sunday when we were doing "NSA Hearings This Tuesday." But I was pretty hopeful. Then we get the news, right at the start of the hearing that they're cutting it in half and I was thinking right then, "Oh man."

I don't know. Rebecca thinks Russ Feingold did a good job and I can go along with that. We were talking about that on the phone a little while ago. I don't know that I was hugely impressed with any other Senator. Patrick Leahy was strong at times but there was too much "joshing with Arlen" for me to take Leahy or the hearings too seriously. Tony thinks it was pretty strong. Maybe it was? Maybe I just expected too much?

C.I. takes on Orrin Hatch in "Democracy Now: John Pace, Dave Isay; NSA hearings -- Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo (O. Hatch!)" which is hilarious and perfectly gets at that annoying moment when Hatch was talking how tough it was for the executive branch to follow the basic law. I wish I could grab a moment and just like crystalize it. C.I. did but listening, I didn't even register that was a moment until I read about Miss Priss Instant Cuckoo. Read it. It's really funny and really true.

Be sure to check out Elaine's site for her thoughts at Like Maria Said Paz. And The Daily Jot is back up and running. Be sure to check out Wally's latest!

I'm down about today's hearing but otherwise pretty cool. My bro that just got married is back from his honeymoon and he and his wife are coming to a late dinner tonight. So I'm wrapping this up quick. That's probably why my oldest sister Kelly visited last night. :D Usually, she only drops by on the weekends. But one of our brothers is getting back from the honeymoon, better go drop by and say hi to Ma and Dad before the return! Don't want to be forgotten!

I teased her about that last night so I'm guessing it's okay to put it up here.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Blood pours in Iraq, money trickles into Halliburton

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

Over 200 Dead in Iraq Since Wednesday's Mosque Bombing
In Iraq, at least 29 people died on Sunday even though security forces had imposed a rare daytime curfew barring all vehicular traffic in Baghdad and its suburbs. In the deadliest attack, a Shiite neighborhood came under mortar fire in Southwest Baghdad. 16 people died and another 53 were injured. Over 200 people have been killed since Wednesday's bombing at a holy Shiite shrine in Samarra. On Saturday gunmen broke into the home of a Shiite family northeast of Baghdad and killed 13 people. Three people also died on Saturday during the funeral of the Atwar Bahjat -- the well-known Al-Arabiya journalist who was killed last week.

What did we bring to Iraq? Elaine and me were wondering that when we went over what items to pick. They lied us into war and they didn't give a damn about the people in this country or the people in Iraq is what I say. Why are we still there? That's what I think Americans should be asking. There was no WMD, Saddam Hussein's standing trial. Why are we still there?

This was about people making money. Look at C.I.'s morning entry and see how Halliburton is not only still getting rich but they're bending the government bends or breaks every rule for Dick Cheney's former company. As C.I. said: "Does a profit from the war mean never having to say you're sorry? It plays like that these days." I didn't get that at first. I mean, I got that they were making a profit from tragedy. But it's a movie quote. Nina explained it to me. It's from an old movie called Love Story (and maybe the book that the movie's based on). Love Story's about Oliver and Jenny and Jenny gets a fatal disease and Oliver tells her he's sorry and she tells him, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Oliver was played by Ryan O'Neal and Nina pointed out that he's in What's Up Doc? with Barbra Streisand and at the end of that movie (that's a good movie, real funny, I've seen it a couple of times), Barbra Streisand bats her eyes and says in this real blank voice like she's sending it up, "Love means never having to say you're sorry" and Ryan O'Neal says something like, "That's the stupidist thing I've ever heard."

So if you missed it, I did, don't feel bad. "Before our time," like me and Wally like to tease C.I. :D
But making a war profit means never having to say you're sorry. That's what the administration and the corporations doing business in Iraq seem to think. The American people should say back, "That's the stupidist thing I've ever heard!"

By the way, Wally is planning to do a Daily Jot today. But he' had a paper due in one class today and a test in another and he just had to focus on that. I told him, "Take the day off." He goes, "Evil McKinnon! You're just worried I'm catching up on you!" :D I'm glad The Daily Jot is so popular now. It was always a cool site and Wally's had readers and all but since Wally went to D.C. with C.I. and Kat and got his new attitude, it's really just exploded. Congrats to my buddy Wally but seriously dude, don't push yourself. Relax.

Army to Allow Halliburton Not to Repay Disputed Costs
The New York Times is reporting the Army has decided to reimburse a Halliburton subsidiary for nearly all of its disputed costs on a $2.4 billion no-bid contract to deliver fuel and repair oil equipment in Iraq. Auditors had recommended the Army withhold $263 million from Kellogg Brown and Root, but the Army decided to withhold just $10 million. California Congressman Henry Waxman said "Halliburton gouged the taxpayer, government auditors caught the company red-handed, yet the Pentagon ignored the auditors and paid Halliburton hundreds of millions of dollars and a huge bonus."

What? You thought your good buddy Mike would leave you hanging like that? No way. I know some of you rush through this thing. Here's something else. Of the costs the Pentagon's questioning, the Halliburton costs, they're holding back from paying 3.8%. Want to know the standard percent for holding back payment on costs the Pentagon questions? 75.2% for all companies in 2004, 56.4% in 2005. So with a measly 3.8% withheld for Halliburton, there must be some companies that are getting nearly nothing. Guess they didn't kick up the big campaign donations to the Bully Boy?

We've got a third item because C.I. asked me and Elaine to include it. C.I. even mailed it to us with a link for the earlier report.

Science Fiction Writer Octavia Butler, 58, Dies
And science fiction writer Octavia Butler has died at the age of 58. She died on Friday night after a fall outside her home in Washington state. Her best-known work included "Parable of the Talents" and "Kindred." Butler was considered to be one of the first African-American women to break into the world of science fiction. Jane Jewell, of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, said "She is a world-class science fiction writer in her own right. She was one of the first and one of the best to discuss gender and race in science fiction." Butler joined us four months ago on Democracy Now:
OCTAVIA BUTLER: "I'm going to read a verse or two. And keep in mind these were written early in the 1990s. But I think they apply forever, actually. This first one, I have a character in the books who is, well, someone who is taking the country fascist and who manages to get elected President and, who oddly enough, comes from Texas. And here is one of the things that my character is inspired to write about, this sort of situation. She says:
"Choose your leaders with wisdom and forethought. To be led by a coward is to be controlled by all that the coward fears. To be led by a fool is to be led by the opportunists who control the fool. To be led by a thief is to offer up your most precious treasures to be stolen. To be led by a liar is to ask to be lied to. To be led by a tyrant is to sell yourself and those you love into slavery."

That was supposed to close out C.I.'s "Democracy Now: Michael Ratner, Clive Stafford Smith, Maher Arar; Maureen Farrell, Danny Schechter" today. I don't know if it got lost in dictation or what but C.I. called me and asked if I could note it and called Elaine and asked the same thing. Then I'm on the phone this evening with Elaine and in the e-mails and I see C.I.'s even hunted down the link to the interview four months ago. How come?

Ty had asked C.I. to note that. Ty's a huge fan of horror books and science fiction books. C.I. feels awful that it didn't go in (and plans to note it before tomorrow's Democracy Now!) and asked if we would note it at our sites. I remember her when she was interviewed. She seemed really deep. Not just smart, she seemed smart too, but really deep like she thinks about really serious stuff. Ty loves her books. I know I feel sad when someone whose work I like dies so I'm betting Ty feels pretty sad right now.

Okay, there are hearings tomorrow morning. NSA Senate hearings. Pacifica will carry them (9 to 4 eastern) so listen to your Pacifica station of choice online or on the airwaves and you can also listen at the main Pacifica website.

My oldest sister's pretty pissed off, by the way. She came over this evening. Suddenly I'm Mr. Political because I do a blog. :D She got her copy of The New Yorker in the mail today. Guess what? The postman just crammed it into her box. The cover's all torn up. She got a catalogue and another magazine (I forget what it was) and they were folded together and find. But she opens her box and it's like the postman tried to shove it against the back of the box until it crumpled in half. The cover is Bully Boy and Dick Cheney and Cheney's holding a rifle with a puff of smoke coming out of it. She thinks the postman was pissed about the illustration and decided to destroy her issue. C.I. passed on an issue to Ma awhile back and my sister was going, "If I'd known mother was interested . . ." :D I laughed at that because she's always doing that. She'll get rid of some make up or a shirt or whatever and my youngest sister will be all, "Why didn't you give it to me?" and she'll be all, "If I'd known you were interested . . ."

I told her I was putting that in tonight. She goes "fine." She said I could put in her name too. It's Kelly. She's pretty cool. But she's sooo old! :D I'm joking.

Sorry this is going up late but I'm tired from The Third Estate Sunday Review. We put in sooo many hours on that. I don't regret it because I think it's a pretty impressive edition. But I've been dragging all day.

Elaine said she felt the same way. Which, hint hint, means go check out Like Maria Said Paz for Elaine's thoughts.