Sunday, July 17, 2005
You've got Ava and C.I. taking on The Princes of Malibu in their review "The Bull of Malibu." You've got an interview with Betty. You've got "1 Book, 1 Minute." You've got . . .
Wait a second. "1 Book, 1 Minute?" What happened to "Five?"
If you read the essay, you'll see exactly what happened.
When we met up in person and via phone Saturday evening we had a number of features planned. And we intended to do "Five Books, Five Minutes." But C.I. dropped a bombshell: '>The Common Ills might be going dark.
It was hard to come back from that. Which isn't a complaint to C.I. or about C.I. After we got over the jaw drop, we had a long discussion (The Third Estate Sunday Review, C.I., Betty, Mike, Rebecca and Kat).
The reality is that one person can only do so much. The reality is also that 15 minutes of sleep on a Friday night doesn't cut it. As C.I. said, it leaves one feeling like an exposed nerve. (We have permission for that quote.) There are things that fall by the wayside in posting to The Common Ills. And when you've got other things on your plate (as C.I. does) making time for a website isn't easy. It's not helped by members like ourselves. We take a hard look at our own actions in the essay we wrote (while Ava and C.I. were doing their TV review). We're asking that other members of The Common Ills community take a look at their own actions.
It's hard to rally some days. We're lucky to only post once a week. Some days the news knocks us out, leaves us depressed. If we go over to The Common Ills, we can find the call to take on the news and fight back. We're sure that's not easy day after day, several times a day. C.I.'s not doing linkfests. There are entries that we've teased about which start off with one item that's relatively important and a few paragraphs in, it's suddenly a jumping point for a hard hitting essay. (Like the thing C.I. posted two Saturdays ago -- on a twenty minute break from helping us, at that.) There's original thought going up there and not just "linkfests." They're rough drafts, as C.I.'s notes at the site, but they require work and thought. And they require time.
The way the community is set up, time's also required for e-mails. And with the volume of e-mails, a lot of time's being spent on them. We've offered our thoughts and ideas on ways to cut down on some of the time spent on e-mails in the essay. We encourage other members of The Common Ills to come up with their own ideas and to examine their own actions.
As backup if C.I. steps down (as opposed to shutting the site which is what was discussed), Ava has been designated. Due to that, she's been brought in for joint entries and she has access to the e-mails to get a feel for what's involved. When she knows things are really tight, she'll offer to go in and go through some e-mails. She didn't take part in the essay (she and C.I. were doing their TV review) but she's read the essay and she notes that since the defense of a reporter's stance not to reveal a source went up at The Common Ills, the drive by e-mails have gotten larger in volume and more heated in their comments. In the middle of composing the essay, Dona dropped a bombshell that Ava had told her about a drive byer who weighed in to wish that C.I. dies of cancer because C.I. hadn't written back. Ava says that a number of people write in now that the news is out and offer such "hopes."
C.I.'s not Adam Nagourney and doesn't come running to people saying, "Oh, this person said they hope I die!" Knowing that this isn't a single incident but a pattern in the drive bys, we're honestly surprised that C.I. still bothers to read e-mails from nonmembers. But if they weren't read, you wouldn't get Attorney X offering legal analysis of the Plame case like you did twice last week. And it's the "what might be missed" that's always made C.I. refuse to turn over the reading of e-mails to others. Jess makes a suggestion in the essay: two e-mail accounts, one for members that goes out only via Gina and Krista's newsletter and the other for visitors posted publicly at the site. Jess has already offered to go through a public e-mail account. We all stand by that offer and would gladly help by reading it and passing on anything that really needed to be passed on. But we're willing to bet that with all the members out there who care, you can probably think of additional ideas, probably better ones. So we're asking you to provide input to Gina and Krista and not just vote in the poll this week about should the comments option return to the web site.
On the Fourth of July we were shocked to discover that Folding Star had packed it in. If C.I. decides to follow that, we'll support the decision. But in the meantime, we should all be thinking of ideas that would make The Common Ills less time consuming. We wrote the essay with C.I.'s permission ("write what you want" was what we were told) and we wrote it because The Common Ills matters to us. If it matters to you, you need to do a little more work than just voting in the latest poll Gina and Krista are putting together.
When you read their round-robin, you get a valuable resource. But are you aware that it's two of them producing it. Are you aware that, as Krista said on the phone when we called her last night, "We usually only do the one a week and we get help. I can't imagine doing it every day and that's what The Common Ills is like." As we bullshit and joke around putting together each edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review, we can't imagine it either. Even without the e-mails.
We make a point in the essay that we want to make here: The Common Ills does not exist, and did not come about, to give you a Cliff's Notes version of The New York Times. Members asked for more opinion. C.I.'s doing that at members request. But some people seem to think that this important story or that important story got missed. If you think something was important, you do an e-mail and say "quote me and share this with the community" where you talk about that article. Quit expecting C.I. to do all the work for you.
We've teased C.I. about the post that went up at tax time, as the deadline drew near, that contained an apology for the slow pace in posting but explained a member was filing for the first time and was lost. Members, according to Ava, make requests like that all the time. We hate to break it to you, but helping you with your taxes isn't something you should be writing in about.
(We also think that C.I. could and should say, "Good luck with that, I hope you find someone to help you." If replying at all. But let's face it, if you ask for help -- on taxes, a school project or whatever -- C.I.'s going to hunt down what's huntable for you. That started when the community was a reasonable number of members. It's too big for that now. Most members have been paired up with several buddies by C.I. so we'd urge to use your buddies when possible. It is a community and everyone should help each other out. But C.I. shouldn't be your first resource, the first one you to go to.)
When C.I.'s apologized to the community, we've complained. Regardless of the reason for the apology. We've argued that there's no reason to be the sin eater. But the community formed around The Common Ills and C.I. feels a strong responsibility to it. We need to all (that includes us) look at our own actions and ask if we're making reasonable requests or unreasonable demands?
To that end, we're planning next week's edition right now. We had urged C.I. not to assist with this edition and go get some rest. Even suggested no TV review for this edition (knowing that e-mails would stream in nonstop asking and complaining about such a move). We did that because C.I. needs some rest but also because we didn't know if a TV review was possible. Ava reports that they worked a little slower but otherwise it was their usual process. We read it and think you'll enjoy it (we did). (We were surprised to find laughs in there because there weren't a lot of laughs last night or this morning.)
With Folding Star's decision, we had no head's up. With this possiblity, we do have a heads up and we're using that heads up to encourage everyone to take a look at their own actions.
On our end, if we don't have stuff already close to final drafts when Saturday rolls around, we're doing a best of edition. We're trying to think of what we can do differently and we'd encourage you to do the same.
We thank Dallas for his hard work this edition hunting down links. Always there to make the online edition of this a strong one. We thank Maria for compiling her Spanish and English entry that demonstrates that Democracy Now! is covering headlines in two languages. We thank Maria and C.I. for permission to reprint and we urge you to get the word out. We thank Gina and Krista for their advise tonight and for listening.
For help in the writing of this edition, we thank Rebecca, Mike, Betty and Kat. We thank Betty for the interview (which C.I. had suggested to both us and Betty mid-week).
We thank, always, C.I. And certainly we credit C.I. and Ava for their TV reviews. They continue to refuse a byline for their reviews because they say that goes against the collaborative nature of The Third Estate Sunday Review. So there's no byline but readers know who writes the TV review.
Check out the editorial.
-- Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava
And then what?
Did the e-mail confuse Hadley? Was their a follow up conversation of "Karl, what's this e-mail about?" Did Hadley immediately notify his boss (Condi Rice) what was going on? Did she follow up by notifying the Bully Boy?
For those who forget, before she moved over to the State Department, Condi Rice was in charge of national security issues. It's easy to forget that because 9-11 happened while she was in charge and there was no accountability for her.
There needs to be accountability on this.
Did Hadley do his job?
If so, did others do their job?
We're not foolish enough to think the White House wasn't orchestrating the outing of Plame. But if that's going to be the spin point ("I prove I'm not guilty with my e-mail to Hadley!") then let's examine that spin point.
The spin argues Rove passed the news on up. Did it stop there? If so Hadley didn't do his job.
Did it go higher? How much higher?
A CIA agent was a national security issue. The outing of an agent was a national security issue.
No one's attempting to say Rove's absolved and innocent. We think he's neither. But if he's going to push this latest point, then we say let's explore it.
Once someone in charge of national security was notified, it was incumbent upon them (due to their position) to immediately determine the nature of Valerie Plame's work. It was also incumbent upon them to notify then CIA director George Tenet. If they themselves did not alert Plame, the reason should be because they were given assurance from within the CIA that someone in the agency would alert Plame.
Plame doesn't appear to have been alerted. Nothing in the public record suggests that she was anything but surprised when Robert Novak outed her in a July 14, 2003 column.
Cooper spoke to Rove on the 11th of July. Rove's spin is that he e-mailed Hadley immediately upon getting off the phone with Cooper. What was being done by the administration in those three days?
Rove's conversation with Cooper, by Rove's account, made it obvious that the press knew Valerie Plame was CIA. What did Hadley do? If he didn't know who Plame was or what her position was, he should have checked with the CIA (or maybe read the memo that the State Department prepared). That was Hadley job.
Unless Condi relieved him of the responsibility. Then it became her job. (And regardless, his actions reflect upon her because she was his boss.)
Did anyone contact the CIA to alert them?
If Plame had been a translator for the CIA, we'd argue a notification would be required. If she'd been an office assistant, we'd argue a notification would be required. If Hadley and/or Rice had done any work on the issue, they'd know that she had been an undercover agent.
And as such, regardless of when she was last undercover, it was their job to ensure that she and those she worked with while undercover knew what was coming.
This goes beyond the quibbling by Republicans of whether a law was broken due to some five year rule on when you were last undercover. Plame appears to have been undercover as late as 1999 so the rule is in place and outing her was a violation of the law.
But in terms of procedures and responsibilities, it didn't matter if Plame had retired from the CIA ten years prior. It terms of procedures and responsibilities, the administration should have been working overtime to ensure that all working with Plame and Plame herself knew what was about to come out.
Whether you personally favor the use of undercover CIA agents or not, it should be obvious that having gone undercover for their government, when their cover is about to be blown, it's the government's responsibility to alert them.
That was the administration's responsibility. Did they carry it out? If not, why not?
Were any agents currently undercover and in the field, agents who had worked with Plame, alerted that someone who'd taken part in missions with them was about to be outed and that, therefore, their own cover was in danger?
It doesn't appear that they were.
The latest spin is "Rove's not guilty! He alerted Hadley!" The spin doesn't prove that. But the spin argues that the administration knew (Hadley) and that they did nothing.
The spin suggests that Plame was outed with the administration's knowledge while the administration (with at least a three days heads up) sat around and waited for the explosion.
The spin's imploding. This talking point is cratering. Not only does it not clear Rove, it suggest incompetence (at best) on the part of the administration. It's time to know what Hadley did after he received the e-mail from Rove. If he did nothing, he needs to explain why. If he passed it up, we need to hear what those above him did.
It's time for Congressional hearings on this matter. We're no longer dealing with only the outing of a CIA agent. We're now dealing with, by Rove's talking point, the impression that the administration sat by and waited for a CIA agent to be outed. There need to be some answers and there needs to be some accountability.
[This editorial was written by the following: The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava, C.I. of The Common Ills, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Kat of Kat's Korner and Mike of Mikey Likes It!]
The title's The Princes of Malibu. The channel is Fox. The focus is the pampered two-some Brody and Brandon Jenner. Young men (adults, we don't criticize physical children, though mental ones in adult bodies sometime get their comeuppance) have been living with their mother Linda Thompson and their step-father David Foster. Theme: It's been a free ride, as the grown men have dabbled in college while spending money without holding down a job.
Disclosure, one of us has encountered Linda Thompson a few times. In terms of reality versus "reality" on the show, we'll note that she's smarter than she comes off in the TV show. To know what Thompson is thinking, the show should have filmed her with a friend. (No, neither of us is auditioning for the job!) Instead, she's shown trying to smooth the waters which appears in keeping with the real Thompson. However, she is also a smart woman who, when given the opportunity to speak without being cut off, has much to say.
David Foster comes off onscreen like the rudest man in the world. We're not doubting that Brody and Brandon are a handful nor are we suggesting that he go easy on them (more on that in a bit) but we're a bit taken aback by the screaming, stomping and yelling we're seeing onscreen which goes far beyond someone at the end of their rope.
We think that a better, more realistic show could have been done focusing on a lyricist Foster's worked with -- a lyricist married to a woman who's both a horror and a hypochondriac. Want easy laughs? Put a camera in front of that woman. Anyone missing Omarosa would eagerly tune in only to find out that Omarosa was, at best, difficult and not horrible.
It's weird to watch this "reality show" when you've encountered one of the people involved. It's especially weird when you see the person (Thompson) and realize that such a huge part of who she is doesn't make it to your TV screens. Throughout the week, we would ask people who'd seen the show what did they think of Thompson? Onscreen, she's a caricature for "wishy-washy" and "unable to make up her mind." That's the general feeling among people who've watched the show. We think this goes to the problem with "reality television."
We're not going into any personal details on Thompson. But we are going to note that reality wouldn't present Thompson through the eyes of only males. (Though "reality television" is happy to do so.) We are going to note that whole aspects of who she is (including who she is as a mother) don't fit with the narrative that's going up onscreen.
The show has a point of view and it's not Thompson's. It's not the "princes" (though they're the stars of the title). It may be David Foster's but it's obviously Fox's point of view and it fits in with the stereotypes reality TV too often promotes. We will note, for anyone thinking this is Thompson's point of view, that we have a hard time believing she saw the graphics in the opening and approved of them. Even from the limited view that the show presents of her, it should be obvious to viewers that the little "bits" with Elvis and Bruce Jenner do not fit her personality. (And if any Elvis fans have complaints, they need to direct them at Fox and the people making the show, not at Thompson.)
This is another in a series of authoritarian tales that passes for "reality TV." In this one, Big Step-Daddy is going to lay down the law. And we'll all tune to see how apparently.
Personally, we kind of wish he'd pants Brody and take him over his knee. We're sure that Brody (like everyone else involved in this show) has more to offer than what on the TV screen but he comes off like such an ass in need of direction. And let's be honest, TV needs more male nudity. Even if it is only butt shots. With the mouth on him and the fact that he's an adult, we'd strongly support Foster taking a belt to Brody's heinie.
Brandon? He looks so much like his father (Bruce Jenner) that it's hard to watch him. We wonder how hard it is for Bruce Jenner to watch the show? (We've never met Bruce Jenner.)
An American sports hero who's been held up as an inspiration for many and he's going out in public life as the father to two spoiled brats. (Jenner's not on the show thus far and we've been told he won't be. If that's accurate, it's a smart move for him to keep his distance.)
To fit the framework of the show, Brody and Brandon have to be portrayed as lay around bums. They may very well be that. At one point during the debut, one of them attempts to make the point that they have earned money as musicians. They both have. The show's not interested in that. (Which is why it's "reality" TV.) Does that excuse their living off the funds of Foster and Thompson (and are viewers getting the impression that Thompson has made her own money because she has)? No.
But they are struggling musicians. These two are living the high life off funds from their mother and step-father (and we're guessing some help from Bruce Jenner though we could be wrong on that). No point in working up any tears because, unlike many young musicians, they're not living off Ramen and peanut butter or working a crappy job to make the rent. But the TV Foster is apparently unaware of how difficult it is for musicians. Session work, the kind he found as a teenager, doesn't exist as it once did. Especially for someone like Brody who's a drummer. Note, those drums you hear on jingles and in songs are rarely, in fact, drums. Machines have replaced humans.
It's cheaper. And few people notice. And possibly when your name is David Foster and you get the sound you want regardless of the money required, you're unaware that for most of the current recording scene, musicians aren't always required.
In a Bully Boy economy (read "bad") when machines and outsourcing have resulted in job losses, we're frankly surprised that Foster doesn't come off as more aware of economic realities. The world he broke into no longer exists and if in reality (as opposed to "reality") he doesn't grasp that fact, he's the one most out of tune with the world.
That's not excusing the behavior of Brandon and Brody. Nothing's preventing Foster from sitting them down and breaking the cold, hard news to them. That probably wouldn't fit into the Murdoch theme of "Rah-rah America! The Bull is back!" It might even upset some viewers.
Which should be the point of reality TV. But we're not getting reality, we're getting "reality."
By comparison, Fox's The Simple Life looks positively liberating -- two spoiled airheads stumbling through the world. The message is different here and viewers need to ask themselves why?
We'd argue the message is different because two female airheads can be embraced by a nation but two male airheads are supposed to have gotten careers. If there's a problem with either set of airheads, it goes to the message that they were raised with. But The Princes of Malibu is so determined to sell you the line of "authoritarian father" that it, like the Bully Boy, can't own up to the reality of mistakes.
"My money! My toys!" the Bull roars throughout. It's as though we're watching a "reality" show on the home life of Wall Street's Gordon Gekko. Adult children in Brody & Brandon's set are usually set up with their own apartments, sometimes fashionable apartments, sometimes not. One of the two of us heard repeatedly that the Bull had humiliated himself by doing this series (from people in Foster's own "set"). We're inclined to agree.
What goes up on the screen (a limited view, granted) speaks of ineffective parenting that remains ineffective. There are ways someone in Foster's situation handles things and this isn't how. Due to the differing nature of the fields, people in music are allowed to retain a little more "street" or "common touch" after they make it than those in the movie business. There are whispers that a little too much "street" is coming out of the Bull.
We're sure he'll embarrass himself further but for our money the person who embarrassed his or herself the most on the debut episode was Chaka Khan. "Chaka Who?" caused Chaka Khan to lose it. Sorry to break it to her but she's not a name to most young adults. Her big hit on the pop charts came in 1984. That's twenty-one years ago, Chaka, Chaka Khan, Chaka Khan.
The shocka' was that Chaka thought anyone who wasn't a teenager (at least a teenager) in 1984 should know who she is. She hasn't even been the butt of jokes for years. Her most memorable nonsinging performance came as the non-lead guest on Joan Rivers' attempt at a late night show on Fox -- and memorable only because she was offering (a not present) Donna Mills dating tips. Does Chaka not grasp how long ago that was?
For non R&B audiences (which includes a larger portion of the listening population today due to the fact that rap has overtaken R&B), Chaka Khan is "Chaka Who?" A one hit wonder in their eyes (if they know that much). The sampling of "Ain't Nobody" (a song she did with Rufus) didn't result in headlines for Khan. Nor did a song on Waiting to Exhale. (The best selling album her name's been attached to in years. Think about how long ago Waiting To Exhale actually was and you'll realize how far from the water cooler talk Chaka Khan has wandered.)
But there she was, having a snit fit. Hissing that she was late for a session. Squinting her eyes and ready to lose it at a minute's notice.
Chaka's devotion in recent years to all things Bully Boy hasn't endeared her to us so that moment was probably our favorite of the show. We even created our own little rap:
ChakaChaka WhoChaka WhoChaka WhoCares about you anymore Chaka WhoCares about you anymore Chaka WhoEverybody say "Who?"Let me hear you now "Who?"Chaka WhoChaka Who
Does Foster think this is good parenting? By all means send the boys packing. But he's not scoring any points for himself as he continues to come off as though he's obsessed with nothing but money. (It also doesn't play well in his "set." One man cracked that he bets Foster haggles over the price of a pack of gum.)
As this "authoritarian theme" plays out, other themes may go unnoticed. Fortunately, we won't overlook them here.
Paris and Nicole sport plenty of skin in their show (their show for now, supposedly Nicole's out -- big mistake) The Simple Life. Brody and Brandon do actually take their shirts off, the camera just isn't interested. Lying by the pool (with their friend), three men are shirtless and we're treated to a wide shot, not a close up. We also quickly move on. Though it's not surprising to see Paris or Nicole walking around in their nighties after waking up, apparently seeing Brody and Brandon strut in their underwear is off limits for The Princes of Malibu.
"Wow!" we hear you exclaim, "A show that doesn't treat people as subject objects." Au contraire, it still happens. To the women. The cameras that are apparently stationed on a crane in Seattle when the guys are disrobed suddenly come to life and zoom in at the car wash featuring bikini clad women. Or to a note a woman with no bottom to her bikini on the back of a man.
Brandon looks just like his father (Bruce Jenner) so we're having a hard time grasping how even an old timer operating a camera wouldn't realize that Brandon's body merits the slow, once over.
Bruce Jenner's looks hardly went without comment "back in the day." The show also ignores Brody's body.
This appears in keeping with the simplistic nature of "reality" TV where men do and women are, where men are what they do and women are what they look like. It also goes to the point we made earlier which is that we're supposed to be delighted by the antics of Paris & Nicole but we're supposed to be embarrassed by the antics of Brody & Brandon.
We're not fans of the spoiled and pampered, but there's a double standard going on. It's there in showing (long shot again) one of the young men diving into the pool, it's their in the constant screaming (by the Bull) about money. Considering the looks on the kids, we're surprised Bull hasn't already suggested that they film their sexual antics to make some quick bucks.
When Thompson's cut off (nearly every time she speaks), that's what she's trying to get at. Not, "Oh, let them live off us all our lives! Come on, Dave, don't be a grouch!" She's getting at the fact that they do need to carry their own weight but that money is not the sole focus of life. (And her own work in other areas demonstrate that belief.) We're having a hard time believing that almost fifteen years later, she and Foster are still married if he doesn't grasp that. We think he does grasp it. We think the people behind the show don't care about it.
Which is why everyone involved should have been suspicious when Fox came sniffing.
This is a train wreck onscreen. Brody and Brandon have already signed modeling contracts (they are good looking) so we're having a hard time believing that any "lesson" will be taught in reality. But we're quite sure that "reality" on our screen will find a way to portray this as resulting from the Bull going on a stampede. Make no mistake, they didn't get their contracts because the Bull laid down the line. They got their contracts because they were going to be on TV and because of who they are. They haven't learned a thing about making it on their own. They've learned that if you're in a certain position, things come to you, you don't work for them.
The way the show plays out, that's "success" in TV Foster's book because all he's concerned about is the money. And we're sure that a happy ending will be stamped on it and we'll all learn that Father Knows Best. Before the final episode comes (we're praying that there's not a second season), we hope that the producers and editors do a better job of getting reality up on screen because what they're featuring isn't "reality." We're also hoping that we see Brody's butt taking a walloping but we know that's a failed hope from reports of the filming (translation, it didn't happen so there's no footage).
That's "reality" television for you. Carefully orchestrated so that no reality intrudes on the "reality." Let's hope the viewers aren't fooled.
So you're in the third month of blogging. What have been the surprises?
Links. For instance, there's one guy that's linked to me and I didn't even know about it. My sister was playing on the computer and found his site. That was nice of him but since he writes about Thomas Friedman as well, I wish he'd e-mailed me so I could have provided a link to his site.
I'm not sure if I'd agree with it, I haven't had time to go there. My sister told me about this as she came over to take my kids to the movies tonight. But it's another view on Thomas Friedman and since that's my topic and that's his topic, I would've linked to him if I'd known about him. I feel like I'm rude now because I haven't. Tomorrow, I'm going to look up his blog and e-mail him.
What's been the biggest problem?
Probably finding time to blog. With it being summer, the days are longer and the kids want to stay up later. It's killing my time to blog and the new schedule for the op-eds didn't help.
When you started blogging, Thomas Friedman's column appeared on Sundays and Thursdays in The New York Times.
Yeah, so I thought, Sunday, fine I can do an entry Sunday. Thursday might have to wait until Friday evening, but I could get something up. Then they switched it and now he runs on Wednesday and Friday. Wednesday's a church night for me. I sing in the choir. The new op-ed schedule is killing me. I get e-mails asking me why there's nothing up when his op-ed went up that day. And the honest answer is that I just don't have time.
C.I. wrote about something similar this week, about how you were having trouble with putting links in your posts.
Everyone links to me. Rebecca and C.I. and you guys and Mike and Kat. And I'm off doing my thing and I feel like I'm not doing my part. I read all of the community blogs. And Rebecca's Operations Circle Jerk are things I support and want to take part in. But I've got this whole story for Bettina and how she ended up where she is. It goes to the world view that Thomas Friedman has. And I'm working from my outline and finding myself trying to work in something that isn't always easy to work with. Right now, Bettina's off the meds that Thomas Friedman's being pushing off on her, telling her that they are vitamins. So she should be noticing the world around her, beyond the apartment she and Thomas Friedman live in but it's not easy to always work that in.
We're going to stop you to make a point. Like Bettina, you call him "Thomas Friedman."
Do I? That's probably because I relate to Bettina. I don't call him Friedman?
I hadn't noticed that.
Okay, you were saying that it was hard to take part in noting things you wanted to note that might not fit in with your outline.
Right. I cheated and made Jess and Ty upstair neighbors of Thomas and Bettina Friedman. That helped a little but even so, it was hard to think of a reason to reprint an editorial or something similar. It worked for a slam poetry thing at a party. But I was having enough problems with my writing without trying to figure out who to work in something from outside.
I don't want to break character at the site. But I was thinking, "Okay, you're going to have to come in and say something." So I talked about that with C.I. and the idea we came up with was that Bettina's not currently medicated, she's reading a newspaper if only because Thomas Friedman's forcing his column off on her so if I see something I like, I can post it at my site with just a "Saw this in the newspaper" note.
Which you did this week.
And immediately it made things better because it took the pressure off on how I was going to find a way to note something I thought was important but that didn't fit in with my storyline for Bettina.
The other good advice I'm following is I'm commenting on the larger picture in terms of what is wrong with Thomas Friedman. If there's an op-ed that I don't like, I might comment on that. When I was doing that, there were a lot of e-mails where people were really getting into that. I was responding by trying to do that more. I've got an outline and I need to stick to it. Thomas Friedman's going to make a silly remark every day of the week. If I get stuck on responding to each one, Bettina's story is not going to be told. And that's what the blog's about, how Thomas Friedman views the world and how that brought Bettina into his life.
Friedman loves to insult Bettina as being from a "backwater village."
He's done that, yes. That's in keeping with the way Thomas Friedman sees things. Which doesn't mean that's where she's hailing from. That's another point of the continuing story: just because Thomas Friedman says it doesn't make it so.
We still don't know a great deal about Bettina.
Because Bettina doesn't remember a great deal. She's blocking out some things and they will surface. And after brainstorming with C.I., a lot of the pressure just vanished. I'm going to be working my outline. The Fourth of July two-parter has very little to do with anything that Thomas Friedman's written in the last two weeks. But it goes to who he is. And it's getting us closer to answers about Bettina's past life.
Nicholas Kristof's wife comes off very well.
I don't know anything about her. I thought that Bettina needed someone in her corner and it made sense that if a woman was living with Kristoff's ego, she could relate to someone living with Thomas Friedman's ego because she suffers to a lesser degree than Bettina, but she suffers still.
I'd actually planned to make Bettina's friend Gail Collins.
The editorial and op-ed page editor.
Yeah. I thought if she's having to read over Thomas Friedman's columns, she would be very aware of his limitations and that for that reason, as well as one more, she would be someone on Bettina's side.
What changed that?
The fact that the op-ed schedule changed. I couldn't see Thomas Friedman being overjoyed that he was losing the space in the Sunday paper.
And you let him throw a fit over that.
Right and thought that when Gail Collins entered the story, there'd be a way for her and Bettina to bond. I did think it came off nice to Collins and she seemed like a character that people would care about but the anger that the character Thomas Friedman still has over being pushed out of the Sunday paper made it difficult for me to picture Collins dropping by or attending a picnic or anything else.
You call her Mrs. K?
Because she's married to another ego in need of stroking. She's actually a reporter in her own right. They have kids, three kids, but I'm following the Ava and C.I. rule that children are off limits. I don't think Mrs. K has come off bad though.
No, she's been an intelligent character.
Good because I've read Kristof's writing and have no problem having some fun with him but I really have no problem with her. I don't know her writing. Someone sent me a photo of her and I thought, looking at it, her views could be a great deal different than Thomas Friedman's. I hope that comes across.
It does. She's either amused by Friedman's outbursts or making jokes. She's the Ethel to Bettina's Lucy.
I love I Love Lucy. That makes me feel good because I do mean for Mrs. K to come off as one of the few people who are on the ball in Bettina's world.
Let's talk about some real life problems that effect blogging. You really try to nail your posts down before they go up.
Well I don't feel they are perfect. I understand Ava & C.I.'s reaction to their own TV reviews. I never feel like I said quite what I wanted to in anything that makes it up at my site. I get nice comments in e-mails so I know a joke or two worked but I've never had the feeling, "This is one I'm just 100% proud of." I don't think I've done anything to pat myself on the back over. If I had more time, I'd probably be rewriting posts that are already up. I'm bothered by the typos as well. So it's not like I've walked around saying, "Yeah, I'm the greatest!"
We think you've done great work. Perfectionism syndrome?
I don't know. I don't think you can have kids and keep your sanity with a perfectionism syndrome. You do your best and then let it go. Or that's what I do.
Knock wood, no more accidents for the kids.
Knock wood. A part of me wanted to say, "No more tree climbing!" But kids need to climb trees and play and things are going to happen. It's just hoping for the best and letting it go. There will be accidents and I just have to accept it.
What was the biggest headache this week other than blogging?
Tuesday evening the DVD player went out. You would have thought there was no electricity.
My oldest would not let it go. I said watch a videotape if you want to watch a movie. But it had to be one of the Spy Kids on DVD. So after work when I picked them up, we went straight to Best Buy and bought a new DVD player. I wondered about that because I didn't want to be caving in to demands. I said on Tuesday, "We're not going out tonight. Get a videotape, get a book, grab a game, do something." And then we went out Wednesday. But it is on the way to church so we didn't have to make a special trip. We pass right by it, the player was cheap and we did need to get another one at some point. I can remember being a kid and the only TV we had went out. It seemd like we waited months to replace it but it was probably just until the next payday. So when we got home that night and I'm putting them to sleep, I'm thinking of that and wondering if I got the new DVD player too soon and did it send a message to the kids, especially my oldest, that if you scream you get your way? That's one of the things you have to wonder about and toss around and then just let it go.
So all is well and the DVD player entertains constantly.
No. A DVD goes on and it's watch for five minutes, then run and go play. Which is fine, they don't need to spend a lot of time in front of the TV. On Saturdays, after they've run and played all day, they'll sit down and watch a whole DVD. During the week, it's a few minutes and then they're out of the room. Which is kind of like the kittens. Thursday night, my daughter wakes me up. She got up and went to the bathroom. Which I'm glad about but our cat Midnight had settled in the bathroom during her pregnancy and she had her kittens. We all had to get up and see them. Friday that was still the only thing they wanted to do. Go watch the kittens. Which means I have to be in there too because they'll try to grab them and Midnight's very protective.
Next morning, it's not even a topic. My son says, "Mama, they don't do anything." They'll be excited again as the kittens start running around and getting into trouble.
Are you keeping all of them?
Two from the litter. That's it. They know that, they know they need to choose two. They know if they don't, I'll choose the two. The rest are going to my uncle who lives out of town and has room for them. It's not a farm but he's got a big yard and they'll have room to roam.
Is it going to be a problem?
I'm already anticipating the tears. But we don't have room for Midnight and six kittens. We really don't have room for any kittens. And when a friend palmed Midnight off on me, I thought she was a little fat, I didn't know she was pregnant. My friend swears she had no idea either. But we get Midnight and within a week, I'm having to explain to the kids that Midnight's going to be a mommy. If they pick, it'll be based on whichever two they think are cutest. If I pick, I'd really like to pick two tom cats to avoid more pregnancies. But I worry what message that might send so if I pick, we'll pick a boy and a girl and as soon as they're old enough, they'll be fixed. Which will be happening to Midnight as well. We don't have room for a house full of kittens. The other big news was that my middle child is going around pinching. That's been another problem this week. (Laughing) Just like Sheila E., I'm living the glamorous life.
On February 29, 2004, the United States government completed its
coup d'etat against Haiti's democratically elected government of Jean-Bertran
Aristide. Since Aristide's reelection to the Haitian presidency in 2000,
the Bush administration had led an effort to destabilize Haiti by inititating an
economic aid embargo, providing massive funding and political support for both
paramilitary forces and opposition groups led by Haitian elites, as well as
spearheading a propaganda offensive against Aristide.U.S. efforts to destabilize Haiti culminated in January as
millions of Haitians celebrated the bicentennial. Right-wing opposition
groups who reportedly received millions of dollars from both the European Union
and the U.S.'s International Republican Institute, rallied for Aristide's
removal. In the forefront of opposition protests was Andre Apaid, a
well-connected Haitian-American businessman and Chalabi-like political operative
who created the "Group of 184," which was organized specifically to call for an
end to the democratic government in Haiti. Apaid, a U.S. citizen who owns
numerous sweatshops in Haiti, led the unsuccessful fight to prevent Aristide
from doubling the minimum wage and was known as a prominent supporter of the
1991 coup against Aristide.
The above is from p. 273 of "Haiti: The Untold Story" by Lyn Duff and Dennis Bernstein which is included in Censored 2005 by Peter Phillips and Project Censored. It's time for "Five Books, Five Minutes." Sort of. Due to delays and other issues, we're focusing on one book.
Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ty, Jim, Jess & Ava,
Thomas Friedman is a Great Man's Betty, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Kat of Kat's Korner, Mike of Mikey Likes It! and C.I. of The Common Ills.
The book being discussed was suggested by reader Tina in New Mexico.
Mike: I'm supposed to do the two to three sentence summary so I'll start out by noting if you're a Greg Palast fan, he's writing the introduction and the book has Tom Tomorrow's cartoons throughout. The first section is the 25 most underreported stories of the year 2004. The rest of the book is critiques and discussions of how issues play out in the media and resources that you can turn to for real news. How was that?
Jim: Perfect. We chose the Haiti section because there's always a story breaking somewhere and it's easy to get distracted from Haiti.
Dona: Small country, not physically attached to the US and whose events don't register large on the US mainstream media's radar.
Jess: And that's what can you expect from the book. Stories you should know about but you don't. Or if you do know them you either know only parts of the story or you're already seeking out alternative media like Democracy Now!
C.I.: And LeftTurn which has devoted a great deal of space to Haiti.
Betty: What I got from the book was this conception of how much we never get told about. I've been following Democracy Now! since February and I'm usually watching and thinking, "Another thing that my paper's not talking about." But this book just made me think about how much it was and about how much gets covered on Democracy Now! which on a day to day basis I can really start to take for granted. But if I start going down the week, or like looking at one of the Spanish and English posts, it really hits home how much news is being delivered from that show and how little is coming out from elsewhere. For someone like me who's not real media savy, this book is like a bolt of lightening.
Jim: Picking up there, I really enjoyed the essay on junk news and they do that roundup in each edition.
Dona: This is put out yearly.
Jim: Right and look at the headlines they mention in junk news and ask yourself how you know those topics and details about them, like Britney's wedding, even if you're not making a point to follow the mainstream news.
Ty: Because you can't get away from them. I'll be listening to a station to hear some hits, an urban station I won't name because they have a good mix of music, and the junk news is what I'll be hearing between the songs.
Ava: But take it on out of the media because, and C.I. and I have had long coversations about this, and focus on your day to day life. The junk news is what gets covered so much and it's what people end up talking about.
C.I.: And partly because they want to be "informed" or appear that way. So if, for instance, Today is leading with Britney's wedding, to use Jim's example, they're watching and thinking this is serious news. So they're going to talk about it.
Ava: To appear informed. This isn't blame the public. This is the public picking up on what the mainstream news tells them is important and worth following.
Ty: It's crisis management. "Look over here, not over there." Look over there, behind the curtain, you might find that the great and powerful Oz isn't great and powerful.
Rebecca: And that's what make the Project Censored's annual publication so important. Regardless of who is in the White House, important stories are always ignored. I think it's gotten worse since the Bully Boy, but it wasn't that good before. People should pick up this book and, if they enjoy it, follow up by reading earlier books in the series.
Kat: It goes to educating yourself and participating in the world around you.
When we all got together in person and by phone this evening we got a big of shock. As most of you now know, Folding Star shut down A Winding Road. Many of you know about C.I.'s health and the time being put in the issue of reproductive rights. That could sap anyone.
We were surprised to hear C.I.'s thinking about ending the site, not turning it over to Ava, just ending it. This is being thought of, this is not an announcement: "The Common Ills is closing down!"
A few of us writing this piece just think C.I. needs some sleep, some long sleep. (15 minutes in 2 days doesn't cut it.) Since the resource/review went up in November, there's not been a day off. There have been multiple entries each day. And there are the e-mails. Regarding e-mails, our opinion has always been what goes up at our sites come first, e-mails are second.
The Common Ills isn't a blog. It's a resource/review. It exists to say something you're not hearing somewhere else and to provide you links and excerpts to voices that you may not hear otherwise. As a result of that purpose, C.I.'s feeling has always been that each e-mail must be read. If someone finds something by Grace Lee Boggs (she was mentioned three times last week) that's a resource that would go unnoted if the e-mails weren't read. Someone might need to share something with the community (like Attorney X and Billie last week -- Attorney X on the Plame issue, Billie on mass transit).
When the site started, everyone who wrote in got a personal response. When it reached 500 incoming e-mails a day, C.I. took a page from our book and started an automated response. Now that they top off at over 1000 a day, we feel there's no point in reading everyone. We admire the dedication but we feel that the time would be better spent putting up entries or getting some rest.
C.I. noted in one entry last week, after giving out the e-mail address, that flamers and drive bys need not bother e-mailing. Thing is, you never know who a flamer or drive byer is. While we were discussing this with C.I. this evening, an e-mail's brought up. Last night, C.I. couldn't sleep and decided to go into the e-mails to do some replies. This included one to someone will call "C."
C.I.'s explaining why there aren't personal replies to every e-mail and offering what's gone on at the site this week. "C" e-mails back later with a snippy little remark. We would have told "C" to go fuck his or herself if we'd bothered to reply. Instead, C.I.'s playing sin eater.
It needs to stop. C.I., who doesn't have the time, ended up making the the time to write a very nice e-mail and "C"'s response was bullshit. We've shared that opinion with C.I. We're sharing it here because we do have readers who are members of The Common Ills. We're not saying write C.I. a long e-mail weighing in on this; however, if you think that too much time is spent on the e-mails, from nonmembers no less, write C.I. and say, "Ignore these people." We don't mean a visitor like Attorney X who actually has something to contribute, we mean someone who wants to bitch that they e-mailed and they didn't get a personal response and when they do get a personal response, they want to bitch that they didn't need to hear about the week.
"C" and people like "C" are never going to be pleased. C.I.'s stretched thin enough as it is without having to put up with this bullshit. We've shared that. We're calling on other members to do the same.
In the days when C.I. personally responded to every e-mail, we know from the responses we got that they weren't three lines and "thanks for writing." If we raised an issue, C.I. would try to explore it and ask us to write something or did we want to be quoted. And if we noted something important in our e-mails, important to us, C.I. would discuss that at length.
Those days are gone. Reading the gina & krista round-robin, we realize that. (This entry will be reprinted in the next gina & krista round-robin.) Members realize that. Members (including us) know that if there's something worth noting, it'll go up at the site. And members know that C.I.'s got to make an editorial judgement due to all the e-mails that come in now. It's not playing "gatekeeper." It's about finding a focus.
Nobody deserves a break more than C.I. We actually urged C.I. to forget helping us and go get some sleep. That wasn't a possibility for C.I. So we urged taking off tomorrow and maybe a few more days. In a two line e-mail, members can write C.I. (email@example.com) and say:
If you don't feel the e-mail's important, don't reply even if the person starts
e-mailing again to bitch about it. And take a break to take care of yourself.
That's all it takes to convey the message.
We've made that point in our discussion.
We've also made the offer that we can all pitch in over there. Rebecca said she'd even watch her language because it's a "work environment safe" site at The Common Ills. We've said, take a day or several, take a week or two, we can go help out. We can divide up days and we can cover what's breaking.
There are other issues as well. Some of us were prepared to do an article here on what happened to a kid this week. If you read Rebecca, Mike or C.I.'s entries on that you know the details. We're not going into it here except to say that we think it's disgusting and the adult who treated the kid that way should apologize to the kid. We also don't think the adult needs our instruction if he's truly an adult. He should have apologized a long time ago.
C.I.'s feelings on topics like this are that the issue is more important than those involved. So there's no naming of "____ attacked the kid." Journalism majors make up the five members of The Third Estate Sunday Review. As journalism majors, the feeling is, more information is needed such as naming the attacker. We'll go with C.I.'s feelings on this because we don't want to add to the stress this issue has already caused.
And that's not just to West, the kid. That's to C.I. There's a story that a few of us had heard before but C.I. told it again this evening. Stevie Nicks signs an autograph on a woman's arm as requested. Later the woman comes up to Stevie and shows her how she got a tatoo artist to go over the autograph. Stevie is appalled and says "I'm not here to harm anyone."
The attacker made comments to West about the four sites that West highlighted. One of them was The Common Ills. Sites would be banned by the attacker. The attacker used that to force an apology from a kid (who did nothing that required an apology). The kid then e-mails the four sites involved and apologizes to them if he's gotten them banned. He says he was just a fan of their sites and didn't mean to cause them any harm. To show the attacker he's sincere, the kid includes the attacker's e-mail address in the e-mail.
Rebecca: The kid had nothing to apologize for to any of the four of us. I was clear in my post that I didn't think the kid should have apologized. I still don't.
C.I.'s response was to stand by the kid (and to immediately make him a member of the community because no one deserves that treatment). But there's another response going on. C.I.'s eating the shit on this. C.I.'s taking the fall for this. Which is the point of retelling the Stevie Nicks story. C.I. feels partly responsible for the kid getting attacked in the first place because one of the four blogs the kid was promoting was C.I.'s site. C.I. was saying that if The Common Ills didn't exist, maybe the kid wouldn't have been attacked.
The kid was attacked because the attacker (and his buddy) are assholes. Arguing that West was "abusive" for posting a comment to "step out of the GOP closet" to a left site that elected to push Michele Malkin and another Republican in two seperate entries on a single day while real news was happening was not "abusive."
It was critical comment (that included a smiley face ":)" to show it was a joke). And that's what the attacker couldn't take. He couldn't stand that he'd been called on his shit. He should have been called on it. He presents himself as covering the finest of the blogs.
Anyone wanting to bill themselves that way has no place in singing the praises of a right winger who's made too many vile comments to list here but we'll note the justification and endorsement of internment for US citizens. The attacker made a huge mistake.
West was allowed to criticize. West's criticism is accurate. The attacker wants people to comment but your comments can't get to the heart of the matter apparently. You can talk about anything you want except "Is this a worthy topic?" Do that and the attacker and his buddy start team tagging and bullying you with e-mails.
That's not very left.
And while C.I. can write, and mean, that West has nothing to apologize for, C.I.'s willing to take the fall on this, willing to question whether The Common Ills in some way led to the kid being attacked? If it had been us the kid linked to, C.I. wouldn't have even wondered. We'd be told, "This has nothing to do with you." (As C.I. said to the kid in the Thursday post.)
When we all get together, we tease C.I. about "high road" or "for the record" or "I could be wrong" or "in fairness." And whether it's an article on being inside the mind of Bill Keller or whatever, we've gone off down our own road and respected C.I.'s decision not to take part in an article we were working on. We still respect that.
On our end, what we're going to do is entries like this one. If someone's committed a personal offense (such as the guy who attacked West), we'll note it. We'll note the incident and leave the guilty party unnamed. We're not sure that's good journalism (three of us say it isn't) but we'll do that because before The Third Estate Sunday Review started up, we were already members of The Common Ills community. We remain members of that community. We'll do our part to save the community.
We want you to do your part too. If you have a comment or entry you want posted at The Common Ills, say so. Don't make C.I. chase you down. Be an adult, be responsible. If you find something online that you want quoted, find your own quote from the piece, copy and paste it along with the link. Don't make C.I. hunt down "this story that's really important about Afghanistan." Ava helped C.I. with entries on Sunday. She couldn't believe that an adult would e-mail in saying that. No reference to the reporter who wrote the article, no reference to the title of the article, no reference to where it appeared, just that it was "really important" and "if you don't highlight it, I don't think it will get any attention."
C.I. wasted time trying to track down that link based on who usually reports on Afghanistan. Finally Ava was able to make the case that if the person cared about the story, the person should have provided a link. We'll go further. If a story speaks to you and you want it highlighted at The Common Ills, pull the part that spoke to you so you're not making someone else do your work for you.
Here's another thing you can do. When the Thursday late night posts went up, Ava read them the next morning and offered to go through some of the mail for C.I. A number of you are e-mailing to complain that the "Gang of 14" wasn't covered even though articles on it appeared in The New York Times. If you missed it, C.I. focused on The Times last week only in terms of human rights and the Plame outing. The Common Ills doesn't exist to note every article in The New York Times. If you feel something should have been noted, instead of complaining to C.I., write something to be quoted at the site. It will go up.
Jess: This is like C.I.'s standing onstage with a guitar and you think you can just scream out requests. Your e-mails are wasting everyone's time. Pick up your own guitar, write why the article spoke to you or what you thought was important about it and your words will go up. Quit hiding behind C.I. for everything you want said.
When the site started, it was a blog. Comments were allowed. We think the easiest way to address the issues raised in the incoming e-mails would be with opening up the comments section. C.I. says that core members would not approve of that. We're inclined to believe that because some of us can remember the days (some of us = Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Rebecca) when comments were allowed. There were two guys in particular that ticked members off. And then three members (no one writing this article or Ava) made the point that comments might include foul language and if the site was truly safe for the work environment that comments shouldn't be allowed. So the comment option got shut down. We spoke to Gina and Krista and they're going to put the issue to the membership in a poll in the next round-robin.
If you're opposed to allowing comments, then vote that way. But put your heads together and come up with some other ideas (and e-mail Gina and Krista) because the e-mails are getting out of hand.
We hope C.I. will get some sleep and we'd love for The Common Ills to continue. But it could be shut down. Now we could wait to make our comments until that happened or we can make them now when they could make a difference. C.I.'s been a brave voice but that doesn't excuse members for not using their own voices. If an issues not being addressed and you think it should be, weigh in, not in private but to be shared with the community. Quit making C.I. do the work for you on an issue you care about.
Mike: I discussed a cartoon that Isaiah did for the gina & krista round-robin. I had Isaiah's permission and the permission from Gina and Krista. I didn't realize that it would be a problem to C.I. I also didn't realize that when something goes up here or at Rebecca's site, we all skate by but C.I.'s getting the crap e-mails on it. C.I. very nicely asked me what my hopes were in discussing the cartoon? There was no real reason to and I won't do it again.
Which is another issue. C.I. has a private conversation and we all think, all of us, we can go post about it. We never ask, "Is this on the record?" We don't even confirm the statement. We just go off and post on it. Maybe we heard what we wanted to hear as opposed to what got said? Regardless, C.I. catches the shit on that, not us.
Rebecca: I'm the worst offender in that regard. I did a post on Bob Somerby this week and included comments C.I. was making to me in conversation. When C.I. realized that I'd be blogging about Somerby, it was clam up time. A better friend would have seen that as "Don't write about it." Instead I wrote about it. I don't want anyone to have the impression that this evening's conversation was a balling out. It wasn't. We'd all feel less guilty if it had been. As Mike said, it was questions like "What did you hope to accomplish with that?"
And we've all been guilty of it. (Kat notes that Betty hasn't been guilty of it and that's true.) While the mainstream press is examing the merits of "super secret background," we need to examine the merits of quoting from conversations without permission. Or one of us retells a conversation and then we're quoting from that and attributing it to C.I. Not only is that quoting C.I. without permission, it's also not quoting C.I. But we've done that here before and we're going to stop.
That it happened at a site run by journalism majors is deeply embarrassing to us. We'll take steps to see that it doesn't happen again. We're quoting comments here that are summarized in a way that we all agree were said or that an individual is quoting and noting that they are quoting. We also have the "write what you want" permission of C.I. for this entry (last words before heading off with Ava). In the past we haven't gotten permission of any kind. If C.I.'s not participating in an article, that's worth noting. To note it and then quote from C.I. is bad journalism. Obviously if C.I. wanted to participate and felt the topic was worth addressing, we wouldn't be noting in our note to the readers that C.I. didn't participate.
Kat: In my reviews I note Maggie or Sumner or other friends. I never felt the need to get their permission. We're talking about music in my entries. And no one's every complained to me. Dak-Ho gets upset if I do a review and he's not mentioned. But that's fine since you could read my reviews and think whatever you want because you don't know the people and you can't reach them. You don't have Maggie's e-mail and you can't write her and say, "Hey, organize your damn purse!" or "You drink too much!" I know Betty hasn't quoted from C.I. I'm not sure if I have. If I have I was applying the same approach to C.I. that I do to Maggie or Sumner or anyone else. I once did a joke on Shirley and got her permission to do it before the post went up. She loved the joke. But there are things that we have done, all of us except for Betty, where C.I. took a pass on them but we bring C.I. into it by quoting or misquoting and that was an issue that C.I. raised. It was raised nicely but it was raised.
Jim: "That's your opinion of what I said. That's not my opinion of what I said. Your opinion may be valid and accurate but I didn't participate for a reason." That's a paraphrase as I remember it. Like Rebecca said, this wasn't a bitchfest. This wasn't "How dare you!" This was I'm thinking about stopping The Common Ills. And when we discussed it, these were issues raised.
If the member who e-mailed on Sunday about Afghanistan feels we're being rough on them (and we're going by Ava's report, not by anything C.I. said), we're being rough on ourselves too. We're looking at our own actions. The examination doesn't stop with this entry.
But other members of The Common Ills need to do their own examing too. C.I.'s spending way too mcuh time with tracking things down that have no link or that you want quoted but you don't say what part you want quoted. If you can't pull your own quote, pull a section and let C.I. pull from that while you provide a link..
The abortion issue is taking up a great deal of C.I.'s time but even without it, we'd argue, a person has a right to a life away from the internet. Between work and volunteering on issues, the only time C.I. has left is online. That's enough to sap anyone.
Betty: Since it looks like I'm getting a pass, I'll note that I'm always e-mailing C.I. various drafts of an entry and asking, "Does this make sense?" The entry that went up Friday was first e-mailed to C.I. on Sunday. Then again on Tuesday. Then on Wednesday and Thursday. Various drafts. I understand members sending things in and wanting comments on what they've found because I've been just as guilty with my own writing. But like everyone's said, hearing that the site might go down was like cold water being thrown in our faces. So we're all looking at what we've done and what we could do different.
Dona: Which is the point of asking other members to do the same. And asking them to let C.I. know in a brief, two line e-mail that visitors are not the focus of the community. If they want to contribute, like Attorney X did, that's great. But these people who are writing in wanting an opinion, not at the site but in an e-mail, on something need to be ignored. These visitors are not contributing anything. They don't want to contribute to the community. They just want to have a private conversation. There's not time for that. We created an automated reply when we started our site because that's our position. We had a say. You can have a say in your own e-mail. It does get read by one of the five of us. But we're not here to engage in private conversations. Jim enjoys it when someone e-mails screaming about how lefty we are or whatever. He enjoys writing back to those people. I think it's a waste of time.
Jim: Ty's going to say "Trouble in paradise" if you're not careful.
Dona: Regardless, we had our say, your welcome to have your say. On my day for e-mails, I log on and see seventy, more if Jim had duty the day before, and I dig in and read over each one. A lot of them make me laugh or smile and we get some wonderful e-mails. Some of them point to something we overlooked and those are appreciated as well. But I'm sick and tired of the e-mails asking for last names. We're hoping to go into journalism careers. We obviously won't be working at The New York Times. We're not willing to cut off all potential employment because we've critiqued this organization or that paper. Nor do we want to limit ourselves in our critiques. For that reason, we only went with first names when we started this site. We're staying with first names. If you enjoyed or hated something you saw here, there's nothing coming with the package that forces us to grant you personal information. If we wanted it known, it would be up. Ava reports that people are still asking personal questions of C.I. "Is the cancer in remission?" and other questions. If C.I. wanted that up at The Common Ills, it would be up at the site. One nasty little asshole wrote C.I. that question and didn't get a response so, in the e-mail Ava read, weighed in with, "Fuck you, sorry I bothered to care. Hope you die soon stuck up asshole." What the hell is that?
Okay, we're all a little shocked because Ava only mentioned that to Dona. Dona says C.I. is aware of that e-mail and that many others like it come in. C.I.'s not Adam Nagourney. C.I. hasn't whined to us about this the way Nagourney did to Daniel Okrent. (And we're certainly not naming these e-mailers.) But we think that makes the case for bringing back the comments. If you disagree, you better have something to offer to Gina and Krista that goes beyond "No, I don't want comments brought back at The Common Ills."
Jess: To get back to what we're asking, we're asking that members let C.I. know in a brief e-mail that there's no need to reply to visitors. Even the ones who are griping that they aren't getting replied to. Here's a suggestion I'll toss out. Two e-mail addresses. One for members that is published only in the round-robin and one that's up at the site. C.I. focuses on the members. I don't have tremendous time but I could go through the visitors e-mails and pick out what I think it's important enough to pass on. I'm going to toss out a personal note here. Last week, C.I. told me about Carole King's new album coming out. I shared that Bright Eyes' "When A President Talks To God" just came out on a CD single. C.I. wants that CD single. I asked C.I. this evening if it had been ordered. It hadn't because there hasn't been any time. That's five minutes online tops. C.I. loves that song. C.I. wants that song. If five minutes aren't available to order the single, then there's not enough time to be wading through a lot of nonsense e-mails.
Ty: Members, including all of us, are treating C.I. like this is Survivor and C.I.'s Jeff Probst. And we all go running for approval. Or somebody gets upset because a link is offered from something a member suggests. Some of the e-mails Ava's seen are really not e-mails that needed to be written in the first place. If C.I.'s offering an opinion, it's clear by comments like "In my opinion."
If it says, "___ e-mails to note" then ___ wanted it noted. That may or may not mean C.I. agrees.
If you have better ideas than we do, suggest them. Our heads are still spinning from the announcement. This is what we could think up. If you have additional ideas, you can let Gina and Krista know. (You can also let us know.)
If C.I. decides to end The Common Ills, we'll support the decision. But if knocking off some of the nonsense will make things easier, we're willing to try that. We assume that our readers are willing as well. If The Common Ills goes dark, we'll note that it accomplished a great deal in eight months and that C.I. did great work and inspiring work. Being members, we'd prefer it that it continue and are attempting to figure out ways to make that possible. If you have ideas, you need to weigh in.
Maria: Hola. De parte de "Democracy Now!" trece cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana.
Casa Blanca preocupada por posibles procesamientos
El Washington Post informa que funcionarios de la Casa Blanca están preocupados de que la investigación por la revelación de identidad de la agente encubierta de la CIA, Valerie Plame, pueda conducir al procesamiento de funcionarios del gobierno este año. Mientras tanto, los demócratas aumentan los pedidos para eliminar el permiso de acceso a la seguridad del hombre conocido como el "cerebro de Bush", además de solicitar su despido. Hay pedidos de audiencias a Rove en el Congreso y uno de los que encabeza la acusación en la Cámara es el demócrata de California Henry Waxman."Se trata de un asunto serio porque afecta la seguridad nacional del país y es aún más serio porque nuestra seguridad nacional pudo haber corrido peligro por motivos políticos".
Aumentan pedidos de renuncia de Karl Rove
En Washington, se intensifican los pedidos de renuncia de Karl Rove, principal asesor del presidente Bush, por su participación en la revelación de identidad de la agente encubierta de la CIA. Durante casi dos años la Casa Blanca negó que Rove hubiera revelado el nombre a la prensa, sin embargo Newsweek informó el domingo que Rove habló personalmente con un reportero de la revista Time acerca de la agente, Valerie Plame, a pesar de que no mencionó su nombre. El portavoz de la Casa Blanca Scott McClellan se rehusó el lunes a responder preguntas sobre Rove, argumentando que era demasiado pronto y que había una investigación de por medio. Sin embargo, cuando hace dos años surgieron las acusaciones a Rove, la Casa Blanca negó sistemáticamente la responsabilidad del funcionario. En septiembre de ese año, McClellan expresó a los reporteros que había hablado con Rove y que "no es cierto" que haya estado involucrado en la revelación del nombre. Por su parte, el presidente ha repetido en diversas oportunidades que despediría a cualquier persona involucrada en la revelación de información confidencial. El lunes el líder de la minoría del senado Harry Reid afirmó que "confío en que cumplan la promesa".
Bush se niega a hablar del papel de Rove en caso de divulgación de la CIA
El presidente Bush afirmó el miércoles que no hablaría del papel de su principal asesor Karl Rove en la revelación de la identidad de la agente encubierta de la CIA Valerie Plame, hasta tanto no culmine la investigación federal. Karl Rove estaba sentado detrás de Bush cuando el presidente realizó los comentarios.
PERIODISTA: ¿Ha hablado usted con el jefe de personal Karl Rove sobre el asunto de Valerie Plame? ¿Considera que actuó en forma inadecuada al hablar con los reporteros?
BUSH: He dado instrucciones a todas las personas a mi cargo para que cooperen completamente con la investigación... Además no adelantaré juicio sobre la investigación basándome en la información de los medios. Hay una investigación en curso y prefiero hablar una vez que haya culminado la investigación.
PERIODISTA: Sr. Presidente, Rove se le acercó para discutir este tema, ¿cuándo habló del hecho de que mantuvo conversaciones con periodistas acerca de Valerie Plame?
BUSH: Hay una investigación en curso y se trata de una investigación seria. Por lo tanto es muy importante que la gente no juzgue por adelantado la investigación basándose en la información de los medios. Y reitero, prefiero hablar sobre este asunto una vez que haya culminado la investigación".
Escuchábamos al presidente Bush hablando ayer con la prensa. Demócratas solicitan a Bush que retire permiso de seguridad a RoveMientras tanto, los demócratas de la Comisión Permanente de Inteligencia de la Cámara de Representantes solicitaron al presidente Bush que revocara los permisos de seguridad y el acceso a información confidencial a Rove. En una carta al presidente, los nueve demócratas de la Comisión exhortaron a Bush para que tome medidas inmediatas. El representante demócrata de Massachusetts, John Tierney, indicó que, "es indignante que a pesar de que el Sr. Rove haya admitido, a través de su abogado, que reveló la identidad de una funcionaria encubierta de la CIA, aún tiene acceso a información confidencial del más alto nivel".
Partido Republicano publica "Temas de discusión" para atacar a Joe Wilson
El presidente del Comité Nacional Republicano Ken Mehlman ha hecho circular páginas de los denominados temas de discusión del escándalo con la intención de desacreditar al embajador Joe Wilson, esposo de la funcionaria encubierta de la CIA.
Los puntos de discusión dan instrucciones a funcionarios republicanos para atacar la credibilidad de Wilson y su reveladora misión de Nigeria, donde encontró que no había pruebas de que Irak hubiera intentado importar uranio de ese país africano. El embajador considera que la identidad de su esposa fue revelada como venganza hacia su persona, luego de haber desacreditado uno de los principales motivos de la invasión a Irak.
Diputado Peter King afirma que "habría que apuntar" a Tim Russert Por otra parte, el congresista republicano de Nueva York Peter King expresó en el programa Scarborough de MSNBC que, "Joe Wilson no tiene derecho a quejarse y creo que deberían apuntar a gente como Tim Russert y otros que le prestaron tanta atención a este tipo. En lugar de fijarse en Karl Rove deberían preocuparse por ellos. Quizá Karl Rove no sea perfecto, pero vivimos en un mundo imperfecto y le doy crédito por su valentía". Escuchábamos al republicano de Nueva York Peter King.
Wilson acusa a la Casa Blanca de "campaña para desprestigiarlo"
Ahora pasamos al escándalo de Karl Rove y la CIA. El embajador Joseph Wilson acusó a la Casa Blanca de llevar adelante lo que denominó una "campaña para desprestigiarlo" y solicitó al presidente Bush que despidiera a Rove por haber revelado la identidad de su esposa, la agente encubierta de la CIA Valerie Plame. Wilson habló ayer en una conferencia de prensa en el Capitolio, junto con el senador demócrata Chuck Schumer.
Escuchamos a Joe Wilson:
"El hecho de que alguien decidiera divulgar información confidencial con un fin político es simplemente inaceptable. Es inaceptable para los demócratas. Es inaceptable para los estadounidenses. Es inaceptable para los republicanos, para los estadounidenses y para la seguridad nacional del país... Sin perjuicio de si se violó una ley, resulta evidente que se violaron normas éticas a las que deberíamos atenernos los funcionarios públicos y es por esa razón que además de la renuncia de Rove, pido que el presidente cumpla su palabra de despedir a cualquiera que esté implicado en la revelación de información confidencial".
Las acusaciones de Wilson tuvieron lugar luego de que el Presidente del Comité Nacional Republicano, Ken Mehlman enviara un correo electrónico a los periodistas con una lista de "Las 10 peores barbaridades y falsedades de Joe Wilson", junto con otros mensajes que cuestionaban su veracidad. La controversia llegó el jueves a los pasillos del Congreso, donde los legisladores del Senado dedicaron 90 minutos para debatir legislación relacionada con el caso. El senador Schumer, quien ha presentado proyectos de ley para revocar el permiso a Rove de acceder a información de seguridad del más alto nivel, criticó las maniobras de los republicanos para cuestionar la credibilidad de Wilson y tildó los ataques de "injustos, contrarios al espíritu estadounidense y kafkianos".
Por su parte, los republicanos acusaron a los demócratas de llevar a cabo una campaña para desprestigiar a Rove.
Escuchamos al senador republicano Kay Bailey Hutchinson:
"Hasta el momento no hay ningún indicio de que Karl Rove haya violado la ley y considero equivocado salir al cruce porque Karl Rove sea, sin duda, amigo y confidente del presidente."
Bush prometió que continuaría guerra antiterrorista
El presidente Bush prometió ayer que continuaría la denominada guerra antiterrrorista.
President George Bush:
"Hay un solo camino. Seguiremos haciendo frente al enemigo y pelearemos hasta que sea derrotado."
Por otra parte, una nueva encuesta de CNN revela que la mayoría de los estadounidenses consideran que la guerra de Irak ha convertido a Estados Unidos en un lugar menos seguro del terrorismo. El porcentaje de encuestados que respondieron de esta manera aumentó de 39% a 54%, tras los ataques de Londres. Solamente un 40 % de los estadounidenses opinan que la guerra de Irak ha logrado que el país sea más seguro.
Informe: 128.000 iraquíes murieron desde invasión de Estados Unidos
Un nuevo estudio de una organización humanitaria iraquí señala que 128.000 iraquíes murieron desde que Estados Unidos invadió el país en marzo de 2003. El grupo Iraqiyun estima que un 55 % de los muertos son mujeres y niños menores de 12 años. Por su parte, el Instituto Universitario de Altos Estudios Internacionales de Ginebra también intentó hacer una estimación del número de iraquíes muertos y concluyó que unos 39.000 iraquíes han muerto como resultado del combate o la violencia armada desde que comenzó la guerra.
Decenas de niños murieron tras explosión en Irak
Al menos 26 personas, en su mayoría niños, murieron en Irak tras la explosión de un coche bomba en Bagdad. Una bomba explotó cerca de un vehículo del ejército estadounidense, en momentos que los soldados supuestamente repartían caramelos a niños iraquíes. Un testigo señaló que: "los niños se juntaron alrededor de los estadounidenses que repartían caramelos, hasta que de pronto un coche bomba que transitaba por una calle lateral, explotó." Este atentado constituye el peor ataque registrado contra niños iraquíes desde el pasado septiembre, cuando una triple explosión de coches bomba mató a 37 niños. El ataque también ocurrió mientras los niños tomaban caramelos de los soldados.
Investigadores militares no descubrieron torturas en Guantánamo
Investigadores militares examinaron los supuestos maltratos a prisioneros de la prisión de Guantánamo y afirman no haber encontrado pruebas de que se realicen torturas o de que los altos mandos impongan políticas erróneas de interrogatorios. De todas maneras, documentaron maltratos a un sospechoso terrorista, como colocarle una correa y obligarlo a que se comporte como un perro. Si bien algunos interrogadores y personal militar enfrentan penas, el pedido de los investigadores de sancionar al ex comandante de la prisión fue desestimado por un general de alto rango.
General de Guantánamo fue pieza clave en Abu Ghraib
Sin embargo, surgen informes de que un comandante, el Mayor General Geoffrey Miller, está vinculado al maltrato de prisioneros, tanto en Guantánamo como en Abu Ghraib. El diario The Washington Post informa que meses antes de que el mundo conociera de los maltratos y torturas en la prisión de Abu Ghraib en Irak, los interrogadores de Guantánamo obligaron a un prisionero a colocarse ropa interior femenina en la cabeza, lo enfrentaron a perros feroces de los militares y ataron una correa a sus cadenas. El diario cita la investigación militar recientemente publicada. Las técnicas fueron aprobadas por el Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld para ser aplicadas en el interrogatorio a Mohamed Qahtani, el supuesto "vigésimo secuestrador del avión el 11/9" como parte de un interrogatorio especial que tenía el propósito de lograr que el detenido hablara. The Washington Post revela que, sin embargo, los descubrimientos del informe indican claramente que las fotografías de maltratos en la prisión de Abu Ghraib no fueron un invento de un pequeño grupo de osados oficiales de la policía militar. El informe muestra que se registraron maltratos varios meses antes de que Estados Unidos invadiera Irak. La investigación también sostiene la idea de que los soldados creían que colocar capuchas a los detenidos, obligándolos a aparecer desnudos frente a mujeres y humillarlos sexualmente son técnicas de interrogación válidas para aplicar a los detenidos. El mayor General Geoffrey Miller dirigió el centro de detención en la Bahía de Guantánamo y más adelante contribuyó a establecer operaciones de Estados Unidos en Abu Ghraib. Miller viajó a Irak en septiembre de 2003 para ayudar en la instalación de Abu Ghraib y más adelante envió "Equipos de Tigres" de interrogadores y analistas de Bahía de Guantánamo como asesores y entrenadores. Algunas semanas antes de irse de Abu Ghraib, los perros militares fueron utilizados en interrogatorios y soldados de la policía militar del turno de la noche humillaron a los detenidos desnudos y los maltrataron. Miller hubiera sido el oficial de mayor rango en ser disciplinado por maltratar a detenidos hasta el momento, pero el General Bantz Craddock, director del Comando del Sur de Estados Unidos, se negó a seguir la recomendación.
Ex primer ministro Allawi: Irak está al borde de "guerra civil"
El ex primer ministro iraquí, Iyad Allawi, advirtió que Irak está al borde de una guerra civil. En una reciente entrevista con el Sunday Times de Londres señaló que "el problema es la falta de visión y de una política clara de los estadounidenses en Irak. La política debería apuntar a construir la unidad nacional en Irak, sin la cual seguramente terminemos en una guerra civil". Por último, subrayó que, "estamos prácticamente en la primera fase de una guerra civil".
Patrulla fronteriza arresta dos activistas humanitarios en Arizona
En Arizona, el grupo humanitario No More Deaths (No más Muertes) realizará hoy una conferencia de prensa tras el arresto de dos de sus miembros. El grupo ofrece alimento y asistencia médica a inmigrantes indocumentados que cruzan la frontera de México a Arizona a través del desierto. Agentes de la Patrulla Fronteriza arrestaron el sábado a dos miembros del grupo cuando llevaban a tres inmigrantes, entre ellos un joven de 13 años, a un hospital local para que recibiera asistencia médica. Los dos voluntarios fueron acusados por el delito de tráfico de indocumentados y obstrucción a la justicia. El mes pasado el grupo ayudó a rescatar a 175 inmigrantes desahuciados en el desierto. Por otra parte, se estima que desde octubre hasta la fecha, 151 inmigrantes murieron mientras atravesaban la frontera.
Informe: Ex-presidente francés autorizó hundimiento de buque de Greenpeace
Cientos de activistas de Greenpeace se reunieron el domingo en París para conmemorar el 20º aniversario del hundimiento del buque de la organización Rainbow Warrior. El buque se hundió en un puerto de Nueva Zelanda el 10 de julio de 1985 luego que una explosión abriera su casco. El fotógrafo de Greenpeace Fernando Pereira murió en el incidente, en momentos que el buque se dirigía a protestar contra las pruebas nucleares en el Pacífico Sur. El diario francés Le Monde reveló el fin de semana que el fallecido presidente Francois Mitterrand autorizó personalmente el hundimiento del buque. El diario obtuvo una explicación escrita a mano por el jefe de la agencia francesa de espionaje donde se revela que Mitterrand había autorizado el hundimiento del buque. Un ex tripulante del Rainbow Warrior hizo uso de la palabra durante la ceremonia de conmemoración.
Maria: Hello. In English, here are thirteen headlines from Democracy Now! I'll repeat myself from last week: "Read the headlines in English below and ask yourself 'Is there anyone I can pass this on to?'" A lot of you e-mailed to say you alerted at least one person that Democracy Now! is providing their headlines each day in Spanish and English for reading and listening to. Let's try again to get the word out.
White House Worried About Possible Indictments
The Washington Post is reporting that White House officials are privately saying that they are concerned that the investigation into the outing of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame will lead to an indictment of someone in the administration later this year. This comes as Democrats escalate their calls for the man known as "Bush's brain" to be stripped of his security clearance and fired. There are also calls for Congressional hearings. One of those leading the charge in the House is California Democrat Henry Waxman.Henry Waxmann (D, California):"This is a serious matter because it affects the national security of this nation. It's an even more serious matter because if our national security has been jeopardized, it's been jeopardized for political purposes."
Calls Increase For Karl Rove To Resign
In Washington calls are intensifying for President Bush's chief advisor Karl Rove to resign because of his role in the outing of an undercover CIA agent. For nearly two years the White House has denied Rove had any part in the leak, but on Sunday Newsweek revealed that Rove personally spoke with a reporter from Time Magazine about the agent, Valerie Plame, although he did not state her name. On Monday, White House press spokesperson Scott McClellan refused to answer questions about Rove claiming that it would be premature to do so since the investigation is ongoing. But two years ago when allegations about Rove first emerged the White House repeatedly denied he played any role in the leak. In September of that year McClellan told reporters that he had spoken personally with Rove and that it was "simply not true" that Rove had any role in the leak. As for the president, he has repeatedly said he would fire anyone involved in the leak of classified information. On Monday Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said "I trust they will follow through on this pledge."
Bush Refuses to Comment on Rove's Role in CIA Outing
President Bush said Wednesday he would not comment on the role that his powerful senior advisor Karl Rove may have played in revealing the identity of undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame until a federal criminal investigator has finished his work. Bush made his comments with Karl Rove sitting behind him.
REPORTER: Can I ask you if you have spoken with your deputy chief of staff, Karl Rove, about the Valerie Plame matter? And do you think he acted improperly in talking about it with reporters?"
BUSH: I have instructed every member of my staff to fully cooperate in this investigation.......I also will not prejudge the investigation based on media reports. We're in the midst of an ongoing investigation, and I will be more than happy to comment further once the investigation is completed.
REPORTER: Mr. President, on that note, has Mr. Rove come to you and discussed -- when did he discuss the fact that he had conversations with reporters about Valerie Plame? And based on that, do you feel as though it was appropriate in 2003 for your spokesman to say definitively that Karl Rove had nothing to do with the Valerie Plame?
BUSH: We're in the midst of an ongoing investigation. And this is a serious investigation. And it is very important for people not to prejudge the investigation based on media reports. And, again, I will be more than happy to comment on this matter once the investigation is complete."
GOP Releases 'Talking Points' to Attack Joe Wilson
Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee Chair Ken Mehlman has been circulating pages of so-called talking points on the scandal that focus on attempting to discredit Ambassador Joe Wilson, the husband of the outed CIA operative. The talking points instruct GOP operatives to attack Wilson's credibility and his fact-finding mission to Niger, in which Wilson found that there was no evidence Iraq had attempted to import uranium from the African nation. Wilson has long charged that his wife was outed in retaliation for his debunking of one of the administration's key justifications for the invasion of Iraq.
Wilson Charges White House ‘Smear’ Campaign
Now to the Karl Rove/CIA scandal. Ambassador Joseph Wilson has accused the White House of running what he called a "smear campaign" against him and called on President Bush to fire Rove over the outing of Wilson's wife, undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame. Wilson spoke yesterday at a Capitol Hill press conference with New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer.
"The fact that somebody decided that they would go ahead and leak classified information for the purposes of achieving a political end is simply unacceptable. It's unacceptable for Democrats. It's unacceptable for Republicans. It's unacceptable for Americans and for the national security of this country…Irrespective of whether a law had been violated, it's very clear to me that the ethical standards to which we should hold our senior public servants has been violated and it is for that reason that I have called for, not Karl Rove's resignation, but for the president to honour his word that he would fire anybody who has involved with that leak."
Wilson's accusations came after the Chair of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman sent reporters an e-mail claiming to list "Joe Wilson's Top Ten Worst Inaccuracies and Misstatements," along with other messages challenging his veracity. The controversy spilled out into the corridors of Congress on Thursday, where lawmakers in the US Senate planned to devote 90 minutes debating legislation related to the matter. Senator Schumer, who has co-sponsored legislation calling for Rove's top-level security clearance to be lifted, slammed Republican moves to question Wilson's credibility, calling the attacks "unfair and un-American" and "Kafkaesque." But Republicans are levying a countercharge that the Democrats are running a smear campaign against Rove.
Kay Bailey Hutchison (R, Texas):
"I have seen nothing so far that would indicate that there was any law broken by Karl Rove and I think to jump because Karl Rove because Karl Rove is clearly a friend an confidant of the president- I think is wrong."
Poll: 54% Say Iraq War Made U.S. Less Safe
On Monday President Bush vowed to keep waging the so-called war on terror. Meanwhile a new CNN poll has found that a majority of Americans now believe the war in Iraq has made the United States less safe from terrorism. The percentage of respondents who felt this way jumped from 39 to 54 percent following the bombings in London. Just 40 percent of Americans believe the war in Iraq has made this country safer.
Report: 128,000 Iraqis Have Died Since U.S. Invasion
A new study from an Iraqi humanitarian organization is estimating that 128,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invaded in March 2003. The group -- Iraqiyun -- estimates that 55 percent of those killed have been women and children aged twelve and under. Meanwhile the Geneva-based Graduate Institute of International Studies has also attempted to estimate the number of Iraqis killed. The organization recently estimated that 39,000 Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of combat or armed violence since the war began.
27 People - Mainly Children - Die in Iraq Blast
In Iraq, at least 26 people have died in a massive car bombing in Baghdad - almost all of the victims were children. The bomb went off next to a U.S. army vehicle. At the time U.S. troops were reportedly giving out sweets to Iraqi children. One witness said: "Children gathered around the Americans who were handing out sweets. Suddenly a suicide car bomber drove round from a side street and blew himself up." The bombing marked the deadliest attack on Iraqi children since September when a triple car bombing killed 37 children. That bombing also occurred while the children were gathering to take candy from soldiers.
Military Finds No Torture at Gitmo
Military investigators examining alleged abuse of prisoners at the Guantanamo Prison camp say they found no evidence that there was torture or that senior leaders imposed faulty interrogation policies, but they also documented treatment such as leashing a terror suspect and forcing him to behave like a dog. A few individual interrogators and military personnel are facing punishment, but a recommendation by investigators to sanction the former prison commander was overruled by a senior general.
General at Gitmo Was Also Key Figure Abu Ghraib
But reports are now emerging that that commander, Major General Geoffrey Miller, is linked to the abuse at both Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. The Washington Post reports that months before the world learned of the abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, interrogators at Guantanamo forced a prisoner to wear women's underwear on his head, confronted him with snarling military working dogs and attached a leash to his chains. The paper cites the newly released military investigation. The techniques were approved by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for use in interrogating Mohamed Qahtani -- the alleged "20th 9/11 hijacker" as part of a special interrogation plan aimed at breaking down the silent detainee. The Post says that the report's findings are the strongest indication yet that the abuse seen in photographs at Abu Ghraib were not the invention of a small group of thrill-seeking military police officers. The report shows that they were used several months before the United States invaded Iraq. The investigation also supports the idea that soldiers believed that placing hoods on detainees, forcing them to appear nude in front of women and sexually humiliating them were approved interrogation techniques for use on detainees. Major General Geoffrey Miller commanded the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and later helped set up U.S. operations at Abu Ghraib. Miller traveled to Iraq in September 2003 to assist in Abu Ghraib's startup, and he later sent in "Tiger Teams" of Guantanamo Bay interrogators and analysts as advisers and trainers. Within weeks of his departure from Abu Ghraib, military working dogs were being used in interrogations, and naked detainees were humiliated and abused by military police soldiers working the night shift. Miller would have been the highest-ranking officer to face discipline for detainee abuses so far, but Gen. Bantz Craddock, head of the U.S. Southern Command, declined to follow the recommendation.
Ex-PM Allawi: Iraq Is Almost In A "Civil War"
Iraq's former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi is warning that Iraq is on the verge of a civil war. In a recent interview with the Sunday Times of London he said "The problem is that the Americans have no vision and no clear policy on how to go about in Iraq. The policy should be of building national unity in Iraq. Without this we will most certainly slip into a civil war." He went on to say "We are practically in stage one of a civil war as we speak."
Border Patrol Arrests Two Humanitarian Activists in Arizona
In Arizona, the humanitarian group No More Deaths is holding an emergency press conference today following the arrest of two of its members. The group offers food and medical assistance to undocumented migrants who cross from Mexico into Arizona via the desert. On Saturday Border Patrol agents arrested two members of the group as they were driving three migrants, including a 13-year-old boy, to a local hospital for medical care. The two volunteers were charged with the felony of transporting an undocumented person and obstruction of justice. Last month the group said it helped rescue 175 migrants in distress in the desert. Since October it is estimated that 151 migrants have died while crossing the border.
Report: Ex-French President Ok'd Sinking of Greenpeace Ship
On Sunday, hundreds of Greenpeace activists gathered in Paris to mark the 20th anniversary of the sinking of the organization's ship the Rainbow Warrior. The ship sank in a New Zealand harbor on July 10, 1985 when an explosion ripped open its hull. Greenpeace photographer Fernando Pereira was killed in the incident. The ship was preparing to head to sea to protest against French nuclear bomb tests in the South Pacific. Over the weekend, the French newspaper Le Monde revealed that the late French President Francois Mitterrand personally approved the sinking of the ship. The paper has obtained a handwritten account of the ship's sinking written by the former head of France's spy agency that says Mitterrand had authorized the ship to be sunk. One former crew member of the Rainbow Warrior spoke at a commemoration ceremony on Sunday.