Wednesday, August 10, 2005

A note to our readers

First, an apology to readers who expected to see everything up here and didn't. What should have been a brief night turned into an all night one due to a problem. The error message told us to contact Blogger Support. We did that morning. Repeatedly. We did on Monday. We did on Tuesday. We did today. We never got a reply other than an automated message. Nor was our problem ever fixed.

We'd come in here and attempt to index or to republish but get the same error message. And the posts that were there (the editorial and the news review) wouldn't show up at our site. We thank C.I. for posting them over at The Common Ills.

We thank Francisco for letting us post his picks of Democracy Now! in Spanish and English.

We thank Ruth and Maria for their help with The Third Estate Sunday Review news review.

We thank Cedric for pariticipating in our roundtable and our book review.

For the roundtable and the news review we thank Rebecca (also for writing the intros to our blog spotlights). For that as well as book review and the editorial, we thank Betty, Kat, Elaine and Mike.

Ava and C.I. did the TV review. They participated on every original piece here as did fellow Third Estate Sunday Review members Ty, Dona, Jess and Jim.

Big thanks to C.I. and Mike. Mike for helping me (Jim) attempt to remember who helped with what. (If there's an error, we'll correct it this Sunday.) (Mike's also holding off his post to help me with this, so big thanks.) Big thanks to C.I. who spoke to Ava today about the continued problem with posting here and a few hours later left a message on our answering machine (really on Ava & Dona's answering machine) suggesting we forget help from Blogger Support and just attempt to post a test message to see if that would post and, if so, when it posted would it knock the two up from Sunday that wouldn't display.

Any mistakes in crediting are my (Jim) fault.

-- Jim for myself, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava


C.I. suggested we attempt to post a new entry and see what happens. Blogger Support has still not contacted us nor is the problem fixed.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Editorial: Cindy Sheehan puts most of us to shame

The angry mother of a fallen U.S. soldier staged a protest near President Bush's ranch Saturday, demanding an accounting from Bush of how he has conducted the war in Iraq. Supported by more than 50 demonstrators who chanted, "W. killed her son!" Cindy Sheehan told reporters: "I want to ask the president, 'Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?'" Sheehan, 48, didn't get to see Bush, but did talk about 45 minutes with national security adviser Steve Hadley and deputy White House chief of staff Joe Hagin, who went out to hear her concerns.
Appreciative of their attention, yet undaunted, Sheehan said she planned to continue her roadside vigil, except for a few breaks, until she gets to talk to Bush. Her son, Casey, 24, was killed in Sadr City, Iraq, on April 4, 2004. He was an Army specialist, a Humvee mechanic.
[. . .]
"I want to ask the president, `Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?" she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "Last week, you said my son died for a noble cause' and I want to ask him what that noble cause is?"

The above is from Deb Riechmann's Associated Press article entitled "Mom Protesting Iraq War Meets Bush Aides."

Cindy Sheehan (Military Families Speak Out and Gold Star Families For Peace) has stood and been counted for many times before. At the John Conyers hearing on the Downing Street Memo, Sheehan spoke.

The deceptions and betrayals that led to the US invasion and occupation of Iraq cost my family a price too dear to pay and almost too much to bear: the precious and young life of Casey. Casey was a good soldier who loved his family, his community, his country, and his God. He was trustworthy and trusting and the leadership of his country seemingly betrayed him. He was an indispensable part of our family. An obedient, sweet, funny, and loving son to myself and his father, Pat, and an adored big brother to his sisters, Carly and Jane, and his brother Andy. And the beloved nephew to my sister, Auntie, who is here with me today. Our family has been devastated and torn asunder by his murder.
I believe that the reasons that we citizens of the United States of America were given for the invasion of Iraq have unequivocally been proven to be false. I also believe that Casey and his buddies have been killed to line the pockets of already wealthy people and to feed the insatiable war machine that has always devoured our young. Casey died saving his buddies and I know so many of our brave young soldiers died doing the same thing: but he and his fellow members of the military should never have been sent to Iraq. I know the family of Sgt. Sherwood Baker, who was killed guarding a team that was looking for the mythic WMD's in Baghdad. The same WMD's that were the justification for invading Iraq as outlined in the Downing Street Memo. Sherwood's brother, Dante Zappala, and his dad, Al Zappala are here with us today. I believe the Downing Street Memo proves that our leaders betrayed too many innocents into an early grave. The lives of the ones left behind are shattered almost beyond repair.

Her letter to Bully Boy, "From Cindy To George," is legendary and appears in CODEPINK's Stop The Next War Now:

Dear George,
You don't mind if I call you George, do you? When you sent me this letter offering your condolences on the death of my son, Spc. Casey Austin Sheehan, you called me Cindy, so I naturally assume we are on a first-name basis.
George, it has been seven months today since your reckless and wanton foreign policies killed my son in the illegal and unjust war on Iraq. Casey, my big boy, my hero, my best friend.Casey was always a good boy. He could play for hours by himself. He loved Nintendo, GI Joes, the World Wrestling Federation, baseball (especially the Dodgers), his church, and God.
He joined the Cub Scouts when he was in the first grade, and he eventually earned the rank of Eagle Scout. He became an altar boy when he was eight, and he continued serving his church for the rest of his life. He never talked back to his dad or me. He rarely fought with his brothers and sisters. He loved our animals and he loved little children.
Everyone assumed Casey was going to be a priest because he was so faithful to God and to the church.

Democracy Now! has noted her fight for truth and justice many times.

From "Pentagon Turns Away Mothers of Soldiers Killed in Iraq" (Januaray 21, 2005):

CINDY SHEEHAN: Hi. I have had a very busy day today. Well, yesterday I was with Celeste when we tried to get a meeting with our Secretary of Defense, and we have been trying for weeks. We have been emailing, writing, calling. They finally stopped taking our calls. And I just saw all of these people today cheering for them and their policies, and I think if I had like $25 grand, I would probably have access to everybody in this administration, but I have paid a price that is priceless. You cannot put a price on what I have given to this country. I gave them my only -- my oldest son -- not my only son, but my oldest son, and they don't even have the courtesy to reply to us to say, no, we're not going to meet with you, or, you know, maybe later, or would you like to meet with another aide. They don't even have the courtesy to meet with Gold Star Families. I was on "Good Morning, America" this morning, and they asked me why I opposed the inauguration, and I said, “While these people are partying tonight, there's going to be more bloodshed. And I just think it's very inappropriate to celebrate when there's millions of people in harm's way."

From "Thousands Protest in Fayetteville in Largest Army Base Demonstration Since Vietnam" (March 21, 2005):

CINDY SHEEHAN: I often get introduced as a mother who lost her son in Iraq. I didn't lose Casey. I know right where he is. He is in a grave in Vacaville, and I know who put him there: George Bush and the rest of the arrogant and ignorant neo-cons in D.C. who murdered my son and tens of thousands of other innocent people. Before I temporarily leave that subject, why are they still in our Capitol? Why are they still running our country? From state-sponsored terror and sustained torture, we have to face it: We're governed by psychopathic killers who need to go. On a very personal note, I told [inaudible] today it has two anniversaries. One is a second anniversary of the so-called shock and awe. Today is also the first anniversary of when my son's deployment began in Iraq. In 16 days, my family will suffer the one-year death-iversary of Casey. Casey was a brave, honest, loving, kind and gentle soul who was needlessly and senselessly killed for lies. Since this war is based on lies and betrayals -- this is very awkward -- not one more drop of blood should be spilled, not one more penny for killing. If our Congress votes to give Mr. Bush $81 billion more, they should soak their hands in blood and not ink from sham elections in Iraq. On this day, we should remember the terrible loss of our country that we have suffered and the devastating losses, too, of the Iraqis, especially we families who have paid the terrible price for our leaders’ recklessness. I have a challenge for George W. Bush. [inaudible] democracy, why doesn't he march his daughters over there. I'm done. But if he won't send his kids, he should bring our kids home now!

From "Mother of Soldier Killed in Iraq: 'The Best Way To Honor My Son's Death Would Be To Bring The Troops Home'" (June 29, 2005):

AMY GOODMAN: Your response to President Bush addressing U.S. service men and women and what his message was.
CINDY SHEEHAN: Well, first of all, I think the best way to honor my son's death would be to bring the troops home, and that's what we in Gold Star Families want our children to be remembered for: peace and not war and hatred. For him to use my son's blood to continue the killing, to me, is despicable. I don't want one more drop of blood spilled in my son's name or in my name. We never should have been there in the first place. It was a mistake. It was a mistake when we invaded. It's a mistake now, and I want my son’s sacrifice and the sacrifices of the other brave Americans to stand for peace and to bring peace to the world and not to spread more hate. You know, he said that my son died to spread freedom and democracy in that region. We're spreading imperialism and death and destruction everywhere we go. And, no, not one more drop of blood in my son's name or the names of any other of our brave young people who have made the ultimate sacrifice for basically nothing.

[. . .]
CINDY SHEEHAN: Actually, I met with the President in June of 2004, a couple of months after my son was killed. We were summoned up to Fort Irwin, Washington state, to have a sit down with the president. So my entire family went. And I was on CNN last night with Larry King talking about this, and there was another mother who had met with him, and she said that she supports the war and the President, and she said he was so warm and everything and gentle and kind, and when my family and I met with him, I met a man who had no compassion in him. He had no heart. Like Karen said, he cares nothing about us. We tried to show him pictures of Casey. He wouldn't look at them. He wouldn't even acknowledge Casey's name. He called me "Mom" through the entire visit. He acted like we were at a tea party, like it was something fun, that we should just be so pleased that we got to meet with the President who killed our son.

When others might back down, Sheehan continues to persist. She wants answers and she wants justice. She's not waiting for someone to speak for her or to plead her case. She's making it herself, this time in Crawford, Texas. The high today is expected to reach 95 degrees. There may be rain. But that's where Cindy Sheehan is because she refuses to go along or back down or make nice or simply be silent while others debate "fine tuning" the invasion/occupation.

Thaddeus DeJesus' "Mother of slain soldier demands audience with Bush" (Waco Tribune-Herald):

Cindy Sheehan shrugged off the Texas heat Saturday afternoon as she sat in the shade a mere four miles from the Western White House.
"It's hot in Iraq and our children are suffering there, and the Iraqi people are suffering," said Sheehan, whose son was killed in action in Iraq. "If they can do this day after day, month after month, then I can stay here for a few weeks. This is nothing compared to what they're going through."
Sheehan, 48, of Vacaville, Calif., vowed to stay in Crawford through August until she could get an audience with President George W. Bush, who is spending the month vacationing at his ranch nearby. Earlier in the day, she lead a group of about 50 anti-war demonstrators calling for an end to the war in Iraq.

When she spoke at the Conyer's hearing, she spoke plainly and to the point. Hopefully, she realizes how many people she's touched and how important her voice is at a time when leadership is largely silent.

Maybe the Bully Boy will meet with her, maybe he won't. But she's demanding answers (something the D.C. press corps should have done long ago -- in fact, they should have done it before the invasion began). Make sure you're aware of her bravery and make sure your friends are. Her refusal to back down deserves our attention and our applause and it will inspire other actions.

The Third Estate Sunday Review news review

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review news review. We go to Ty with the Democracy Now! Headlines. Ty?

Ty: From Friday's Democracy Now! Headlines, I'd like to note:

London Mayor Calls for Iraq Withdrawal, Galloway Praises Iraq Resistance
As Bush exchanges words with Zawahiri, two of the most vocal critics in Britain of the Iraq occupation are speaking out once again. Rebel Member of Parliament George Galloway has been on a tour of the Middle East where he said the resistance in Iraq was made up of ordinary Iraqis defending their country against "foreign invaders." Galloway said, "It can be said, truly said, that the Iraqi resistance is not just defending Iraq. They are defending all the Arabs and they are defending all the people of the world against American hegemony." Galloway was expelled from the Labour Party over his outspoken remarks about the Iraq war. Meanwhile, London Mayor Ken Livingstone on Thursday called on the British Government to withdraw troops from Iraq to prevent further attacks against Britain. In an op-Ed in The Guardian newspaper, Livingstone wrote "The London bombings demand clear thinking, not rhetoric. People's lives depend on the decisions made. These must be for every community to aid the police; to treat Britain's Muslim community with respect... And for Britain to withdraw from Iraq."

Ty: Issues appear to be addressed more fully by some in London than in our own country. Back to you, C.I.

C.I.: Thank you, Ty. Today, we have news on Sibel Edmonds, the memorials for Hiroshima, the march for the Voting Rights Act, news on Marilyn Monroe, England prepares for the bird flu, a[fictional] report from the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week Awards, and much more. Now we now go to Maria.

Maria: Hola, C.I. Para Democracy Now! in Español:

Chevron pagó a soldados nigerianos acusados de matar aldeanos
El diario The San Francisco Chronicle informa que la empresa petrolera Chevron pagaba más de 100 dólares al día a soldados de Nigeria que vigilaban sus pozos en ese país, incluso después de que fueran acusados de atacar en 1999 las aldeas nigerianas de Opia e Ikenya, matando a cuatro personas e incendiando sus hogares. El hecho salió a la luz este año como parte de una demanda contra Chevron por aquellos ataques. Hay una factura por el pago a 23 soldados que afirman haber respondido a un supuesto ataque violento de habitantes de Opia contra una torre petrolera de Chevron. Pero los pobladores dicen que habían ido al lugar para reunirse con representantes de Chevron, y que cuando regresaban a sus hogares, vieron a los soldados abrir fuego desde un helicóptero. Según los abogados de los aldeanos, esa factura demuestra que Chevron estaba al tanto de los ataques y debe ser considerada responsable de ellos. La operación militar contra Opia e Ikenya se realizó un año después de que Democracy Now! revelara la historia de un ataque similar a pobladores del Delta del Níger en 1998. Chevron admitió ante DN! que había proporcionado helicópteros para aquel ataque, y que el director de seguridad de la empresa iba en un helicóptero junto con los temidos integrantes de la Policía Móvil de Nigeria que atacaron a pobladores desarmados. La compañía fue demandada por ese acto de violencia.

C.I.: Thank you, Maria.

Maria: De nada. Paz.

C.I.: Now we go to Kara reporting at the aftermath of the BuzzFlash Gop Hypocrite of the Week Award. Kara?

Kara: C.I., the only word to describe last night's event is "riot." Police are still questioning witneses and attempting to determine all the details but riot is the word authorities are now using.

C.I.: It's been reported, Kara, that things got so out of hand that Katherine Harris ended up with a black eye.

Kara: Yes, that has been reported. I belive it was by Dexter Filkins in the New York Times. That report is, in fact, false. One of the dangers of reporting from the Green Zone. Katherine Harris did not receive a black eye. What happened is when the winner was announced and her name wasn't called, she burst into tears. Within three minutes, her heavy mascara had run to the point that it appeared she had two black eyes. Dexter Filkins' reporting was based on faulty information.

C.I.: Shocking. Thanks for clarifying that point, Kara, now was anyone hurt?

Kara: A lot of people's pride. Not just Katherine Harris'. Karen Hughes, apparently drunk on wine coolers, wandered around screaming, "Doesn't anyone love me! Doesn't anyone love me!" over and over. She had flown in from Texas to be at the event. She was part of a song and dance organized and choreographed by PBS' Gwen Ifill. She and Donald Rumsfeld did a lively opening number of "It's Only a Summer Scandal." Hughes was apparently convinced that they wouldn't fly her in just to perform a song and, considering her singing and dancing abilities, I'd say that was sound assumption on her part. So she was expecting that she would be the winner of the GOP Hypocrite of the Week, notching up her third win. As you know this a highly competitive award and as a three time winner Hughes would have accomplished something few can ever do. So when the envelope was opened and the winner was someone else, she hit the wine coolers while cursing at John Ashcroft for drinking all the Zimas.

C.I.: J-Ass was there?

Kara: Yes, hoping to be part of the ceremonies, J-Ass emerged from his semi-retirement. Attending with "just friends" Ken Starr, J-Ass was accompanied by a posse of twenty cleverly costumed in all white.

C.I.: Well Labor Day's not passed.

Kara: Yes, but white sheets over the heads may have sent a message J-Ass didn't intend. Then again, it may have been just the message he wanted to send. The winner tonight, if we can call it that, was Robert Novak. Though he refused to come on camera with me, he did agree to speak with me prior to the ceremonies on double chocolate brownie, Cherry Garcia background. I can report that Novak seemed giddy and apparently knew he was a shoe-in. He had prepared a lengthy list -- not a thank you list, but an enemies list.

C.I.: That sounds in keeping with Novak. What happened when he delivered the list?

Kara: He never did. This is where it got ugly. Former GOP Hypocrite of the Week award winner Bill Keller was supposed to present the award to Novak but at the last minute Karl Rove was brought in as a surprise. When Novak saw Rove walk across the stage, he sunk into his chair and took deep sips on his Sex On the Beach which he had insisted be served in a sippy cup.When Karl Rove, looking dashing in only tuxedo pants and a bow tie, announced Robert Novak's name, Bob Novak exploded. The sippy cup he threw flew into William Pryor's mouth and ended up chipping one of Pryor's teeth. But the rampage didn't end there. Novak began overturning tables and screaming he wasn't putting up with this "bull [bleep]" as Davey Brooks and Tucker Carlson rushed over to restrain him.

C.I.: Were they able to?

Kara: From all reports, they didn't try to. Davey launched into a discussion over what the Bobos would do and Tucker was too busy checking his hair in a serving spoon. So the rampage continued and before the police arrived, William Safire would be down on the floor screaming in pain that Novak had "capped" him, a bruised and battered Ann Coulter would be in a boxing stance screaming, "Bring it back on, Nova-hack! I'm ready for you now!", Armstrong Williams, nursing a broken arm, would be heard to say, "No one pays me enough money for this!" and NPR's Mara Liasson would be giggling as she surveyed the damage. Reports that she was the one who set the drapes on fire while cackling, "Burn, baby, burn" are as yet uncomfirmed.

C.I.: What do the police know?

Kara: Last night, not much. Eye witness Scooter Libby refused to talk and, even though he had a busted lip, he kept insisting he'd speak only to a grand jury. Paul Bremer insisted to the police that he had seen no violence and that, in fact, the ceremonies had moved along peacefully. The investigation was being stone walled and most thought it had reached a dead end. This morning, however, a witness came forward, Linda Tripp. Tripp not only attended the ceremonies, she taped them. Indictments will be forth coming as a result -- although Alberto Gonzales has assured everyone there will be presidential pardons. When Novak's attorney, Ted Olson, asked Tripp why she had come forward she replied that she just missed the limelight and being the butt of jokes.

C.I.: It sounds incredibly violent. What has the reaction been?

Kara: Well CNN has stated that they are putting the ceremonies "on vacation" but no one assumes that they will cancel them because, frankly, CNN's lack of backbone since merging with AOL Time Warner is a widely known fact. However, C-Murder did issue a call for peace and Lil' Kim did hold a press conference to ask, "Who are the real gangsters?"

C.I.: Shocking. Thank you for that report Kara.

[As always, Kara's on the scene reporting from the BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week awards is a parody and not fact based -- as far as we know.]

C.I.: Now with sports news, we go to Mike.

Mike: C.I., Women's eNews is reporting "Women Lose Chance to Play at X Games." Kamelia Angelova reports that despite increased participation among women in extreme sports, the X Summer Games only allows female participation in two categories this year: wakeboard and skateboard. As Angelova reports, more categories were actually open to women in the games of 1997 and 1998 when females were allowed to participate in three categories. ABC and ESPN will broadcast the X Summer Games. Back to you, C.I.

C.I: Jim.

Jim: C.I., Vanity Fair is reporting, in their September issue, that the firing and silencing of FBI translator Sibel Edmonds results from "state secrets" involving parties close to the Turkish government. Specificially the American-Turkish Council, on whose board former national security advisor Brent Scowcroft serves, and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. David Rose's "An Inconvenient Patriot" states that on December 2, 2001, Edmonds and her husband David Edmonds were visited at their home by Malek Can Dickerson, then an FBI translator, and Dickerson's husband, former Air Force major Douglas Dickerson. During the visit both the A.T.C. and A.T.A.A. were brought up by the Dickersons with suggestions that both organizations could be helpful to the Edmonds. Wiretaps that Sibel Edmonds had heard, suggested, from Rose's article, "that the Washington office of the A.T.C. was being used as a front for criminal activity." The wiretaps also allegedly revealed suspects stating that "they had a covert relationship with . . . Dennis Hastert, Republican congressman from Illinois and Speaker of the House since 1999." Wiretaps also reportedly reveal a discussion of "a payment to a Pentagon official, who seemed to be involved in weapons-procurement negotiations" and "that Turkish groups had been installing doctoral students at U.S. research institutions in order to acquire information about black-market nuclear weapons." Again, that is from the September issue of Vanity Fair, David Rose's "An Inconvenient Patriot." Rose notes that A.T.C. "denies that the organization has ever been involved in espionage or illegal payments. And a spokesperson for the Assembly of Turkish American Associations said that to suggest the group was involved with espionage or illegal payments is 'ridiculous.'"Back to you, C.I.

C.I.: Thank you, Jim. In entertainment news, we go to Betty.

Betty: is reporting that the LA Times has obtained documentation of taped recordings of Marilyn Monroe's sessions with Dr. Ralph Greenson and one transcription of a psychiatrist session, Monroe reveals a sexual relationship with Joan Crawford. This from Ed Welch's "Marilyn Monroe's Gay Fling."

C.I.: Betty, as a fan of Monroe's, your thoughts?

Betty: Well the rumors of a liason of some sort between Monroe and Crawford early in Monroe's career has been detailed in numerous biographies on Monroe and on Crawford. I can't imagine most people being shocked by the news but I could be wrong.

C.I.: Before we go further, we should note that in previous reports, Monroe has been quoted as claiming that she made up things for her sessions. My own personal opinion is that some sort of relationship or overture occurred but we will note the previous reports because Monroe had told some people that she invented things near the end of her sessions. And we should also note that there have been rumors of other same-sex involvements on the part of Monroe as well as Crawford. Now, there's more news in Welch's article, correct?

Betty: Yes. The man making the transcriptions was "former Los Angeles prosecutor John Miner." He reviewed the tapes as part of the original investigation into Marilyn Monroe's death.
Welch reports that Miner believes the tapes suggested foul play and Monroe's death and appeared to support rumors of an affair between Monroe and Robert F. Kennedy. Miner's claims will probably be the topic of many discussions. Back to you, C.I.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. In health news, we go to Elaine.

Elaine: C.I., The Sunday Times of London is reporting concern and preparation in England for bird flu, also known as avian flu. Jonathon Carr-Brown's "Britain prepares for bird flu death toll of thousands" reports that as the flu crosses to other species, measures are being taken to deal with a potential pandemic. Sir Liam Donaldson tells Carr-Brown that it "is not if the pandemic comes, but when." The excercise, which will take place in September, is an attempt to deal with predicted consequences from a pandemic. From the article:

Estimates of deaths in the first six weeks of the outbreak range from 20,000 up to 710,000, after which the disease would begin to subside. About 20m people could suffer serious breathing problems.
The young would be hit hardest because older people have some immunity left from the Hong Kong flu pandemic of 1968. Officials are looking for sites for mass mortuaries. The global death toll could make the pandemic more serious than the 1918 Spanish flu outbreak, the worst infection since mass statistics have been gathered.

Elaine: England was ahead of the United States in addressing the health issue of Mad Cow and it appears that they may be ahead of the United States with regards to bird flu as well. Back to you, C.I.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine.

Dona: Via Narco News, Bill Conroy's "New State Department stats contradict media's narco-war hype" reports that the U.S. State Department has been alarming citizens with false statistics on the kidnapping and murdering of United States citizens in Mexico. Conroy concludes that the drug war and the official hype have resulted in something in direct opposite of the stated goals:

The narco-traffickers engaged in the turf battle in Nuevo Laredo can gain control of a lucrative monopoly by eliminating their competition; politicians and bureaucratic careerists in the United States can score power points by dishing out "national security" cash to fund the war; and the media can prop up newspaper sales and ratings by exploiting the fear generated by the violence.

C.I.: Thank you, Dona. Now we go to Ava with news of the Saturday march in Atlanta for voting rights.

Ava: C.I., in Atlanta people turned out to show their support for the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which is set to expire in 2007. NPR reports that "more than 10,000 people marched." NPR's coverage, including historical perspetive, can be found here. CNN's coverage included this quote from US Representative John Lewis:

Forty years later, we're still marching for the right to vote. Don't give up, don't give in. Keep the faith, keep your eyes on the prize.

Ava: As reported by the Associated Press, Lewis used the weekly Democratic Party radio address to strongly advocate for the reauthorization of the law. Via CNN, Lewis speech included this statement: "Our democracy depends on protecting the right of every American citizen to vote in every election." The Washington Post reports that among those participating were Jess Jackson, Sr., "Atlanta mayor Andrew Young, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) and the Rev. Joseph Lowery, the former president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference." Air America Radio broadcaster Randi Rhodes was present and accounted for. Rhodes used her program and website to promote the march. As noted on her website, also participating were Stevie Wonder and Willie Nelson. Rhodes will be addressing the march on her show this Monday. The Associated Press reports that Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C.'s sole Congressional delegate, is also advocating for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act. USA Today reports that longterm activists Dick Gregory and Harry Belafonte participated. Back to you, C.I.

C.I.: Thank you, Ava. In other activism news, we go to Jess.

Jess: Today was the sixtieth anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and around the world the event was marked by truth telling and rememberances. The Associated Press reports that in Japan "thousands of paper lanterns representing the souls of the dead were floated on a Hiroshima river Saturday near ground zero for the world's first atomic bomb attack 60 years ago." In Crawford Texas, where the Bully Boy was engaging in another vacation, now topping 320 days of total vacation time, "A Japanese survivor and a former US prisoner of war in Japan urged an end to nuclear arms" reports the AFP. Reuters reports that the death toll from the bombings tops 242,437. The Japan Times' Eric Johnston estimates that more than 55,000 people attended the memorial in Hiroshima. In Kula Lumpur, The New Straits Times reports, that over "3,000 people held a march for peace" to mark the anniversary. The BBC reports that in Scotland "Glasgow City Council leader Steven Purcell and Deputy Lord Provost Christine Devine attended a vigil in the city's George Square, along with CND, unions and other campaigners" and "[i]n Edinburgh the launch of the Festival of Spirituality and Peace marked the 60th anniversary of Hiroshima at St John's Church on Princes Street." In London, the BBC estimates, that 55,000 people gathered for the peace vigil.
In Oak Ridge, TN, the Associated Press estimates that 1,100 people participated making it "the largest peace protest ever in Oak Ridge." And as reSista (Santa Cruz Indymedia) reports, additional protests will take place on August 9th which will be the sixtieth anniversary of the bombing of Nagasaki.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess.

Kat: NME is reporting that Bob Dylan will have a London photo exhibit at the Proud Camden Gallery, September 16 to October 15. Though the exhibit will not feature photography by Dylan, it will feature photography of him and is approved by Dylan. MTV reports that System of the Down is touring with Volta and Kanye West prepares for the release of his latest album entitled Late Registration. Billboard reports that Jimi Hendrix's complete Woodstock performance will be coming out on DVD and that OutKast is planning to release an album this fall and to release a film in January. The BBC reports that Buena Vista Social Club singer Ibrahim Ferrer has passed away at the age of 78. Rolling Stone reports that Martha Reeves, of Motown's Martha & the Vandellas, is on the ballot for Tuesday's upcoming primary election to the City Council. Finally the Free Fiona website, dedicated to forcing Sony to release Fiona Apple's follow up to 1999's When the Pawn . . . currently has 36,111 signatures on their petition.
At Sony's official Fiona Apple site, there is still no comment on the unreleased album or on the drive by Apple's fans to force the corporation to release it. As Rolling Stone has noted, the "disc, delivered in the spring of 2003, has been deemed too non-commercial for release."

C.I.: This feature came about when The Third Estate Sunday Review wanted to highlight Kara's reporting, which was fictional -- repeat ficitonal, and to highlight BuzzFlash GOP Hypocrite of the Week Award selections. Instead of doing a blog spotlight, the decision was made to incorporate it into a feature done as an actual newsbroadcast. Utilize links for additional information and thanks to all who participated especially Maria who selected an item from Democracy Now! in Spanish, Dallas who hunted down links, Jess' parents who scanned international coverage to suggest stories and Ruth who e-mailed to note NPR's coverage. In addition, everyone involved has searched out topics and articles as we've attempted to do this feature in real time (exactly fifty-eight minutes according to Dona).

1 Book, Ten Minutes

In addition to becoming a profitable form of mass entertainment, pro sports have become an effective means for the political and financial elite to package their values and ideas. This is why sports in this country reflect a distinctly US project, rooted in aspirations for greatness as well as conquest and oppression. The US is unique in playing the national anthem before every game (and, since 9/11, playing "God Bless America" during baseball's seventh inning stretch--even for all-American teams like the Toronto Blue Jays). We are unique in employing scantily clad women to tell us when to "cheer." We are unique in calling the winners of our domestic leagues "world champions."
In many cities, your average Sunday NFL game contains more patriotic overkill than a USO show in Kuwait. First there's a military drum line to midfield. Then a standing sing-along to "I'm Proud to Be an American (Where At Least I know I'm Free)" by Lee Greenwood. And then comes the "Star Spangled Banner." You are certainly "free" to not stand, as long as you know that the guy behind you will feel "free" to pour beer on your head.
Many throughout the US are repelled by pro sports today for a laundry list of reasons. People who otherwise enjoy competitive play performed at its highest levels don't want to be party to the cutthroat competition at its core. Many are also put off by the insane salaries of the games' top players, others by the back room dealings that produce publicly funded stadiums at taxpayer expense. Then there is the abuse of steroids and other performance enhancing drugs, which some feel have taken long-hallowed baseball records and reduced them to rubbish. When you pile on the way racism and sexism are frequently used to sell sports, it can all seem about as appealing as a Sunday in the park with George Steinbrenner.

The above is from What's My Name, Fool? Sports and Resistance in the United States, pages 19 - 20. (And due to a lack of time, we're cheating with excerpt and pulling from The Nation's excerpt of the book which can be found here. Translation, the above is an excerpt of an excerpt.) Participating in this book discussion are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jim, Ava, Jess and C.I. who is also of The Common Ills along with Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix and Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man.

Jim: Set us up, Mike.

Mike: Okay, I learned about this book from Democracy Now! and we've got an excerpt from that.

AMY GOODMAN: That, a clip from When We Were Kings, Muhammad Ali. You talk about Muhammad Ali being at that time extremely political, outspoken, yet today young people might not know that at all, though Muhammad Ali is the most famous name in the world.
DAVID ZIRIN: Yes, I mean, today, Muhammad Ali's image is used to sell everything from Sprite to Microsoft with the benefit of computer C.G.I. And there's no question that what's happened to Muhammad Ali, you know, is not dissimilar to what's happened to people like Malcolm X, who is now on a postage stamp, or Martin Luther King, whose image you can now get on a commemorative cup when you go into McDonald's on his birthday, in that Muhammad Ali's political teeth have largely been extracted.
And that's something that, with this book, I want to hope to return to the arena, is like the context of Ali's politics, because the tradition of Ali and that tradition of resistance is something that's, I think, very important for people to know. I mean, Ali was just named the number two most important athlete in history in ESPN's Top 100 Athletes of All Time. But when you saw their tribute to him, I mean, you would have left wondering, "Okay, well, what's so special about this guy?" And that’s why it's so important to return to the arena, as we understand sports, that dynamic relationship between struggles on the streets, how it affected athletes, but then also how athletes then, in turn, affected those struggles.

Mike: This books tells stories that need to be told about the intersection of politics and sports and it's not just like the brave stories that we should know to honor the people like Ali, but it's also the stories of people who actively worked and work to keep others down. I'm a sports fan but I think the book would be a good read for everyone, sports fans and non-sports fans.

Betty: Well I ran track and played basketball in high school, so maybe I'm a "jock," but I really enjoyed it. The most shocking thing to me was finding out that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, a legend, can't get a job coaching in the NBA.

Dona: I think my favorite section was on Rush Limbaugh being dumped by ESPN. Now that alone makes for a good read for me, happy ending and all, but Zirin quotes Pat Robertson making similar comments about Morgan Freeman. I had no idea that occurred, I don't watch The 700 Club. I'd agree with Mike that you don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy the book because I'm not a sports fan. I don't pretend to know how a game is played, outside of scrabble and jacks, and I was able to follow and enjoy the book.

Cedric: I enjoyed the discussions that were historical. He really set up the responses to racism and how the color line was broken by Jackie Robinson. Later in the book, when he's speaking of a gay athlete in baseball, football or basketball, he notes that people will question a Esera Tuaolo about why he didn't come out and be a first but the reality is Robinson didn't just have a few people cheering him on, he was preceeded by other individuals as well as a mass movement that was there to offer support. The same argument that comes up with Ali. When the press goes after Ali for speaking out, this is in the sixties, Ali can count on the fact that people are aware of the racism and, like Zirin points out, Ali didn't back down. Bullies don't like it when you stand up to them and that was a point Mike was making this week at his site.

Mike: Right, how we let the right slam our own and then instead of defending Jane Fonda or Howard Zinn or who ever, we end up trying to draw a line between them and ourselves so that we'll look reasonable in the eyes of the right wing. And then we complain about how the right keeps shifting the line. Look, football, okay, when the other side advances, if you don't hold, they're grabbing ground. And if we're not playing defense, if we're just waving them through to look reasonable, they're not grabbing ground, we're giving it to them.

Ty: I enjoyed the various sections noting how black atheletes are portrayed. How cornrows and tats are a big deal and cause all this fuss. How the NBA is getting "too rap." And how these sort of attacks are historical ones. The way the Texas Western Miners were portrayed by the press and how their 1966 victory was downplayed.

Jim: To me, the best part of the book was noting how media plays into it. From the sports radio personalities to ESPN going to Kuwait to broadcast. I like sports so I found it compelling but I was interested in how it would play out to non sports readers. Dona said she didn't have a problem and she was up until two in the morning one night finishing the book.

Ava: Well, I'll watch basketball but I wouldn't call myself a sports nut and I would recommend the book. I want to note something from page 65:

An incredible groundswell of support built up for Ali. That is why, despite the harrassment and the media attacks and the taps on his phones, he stood firm. At one press conference later that year, he was expected to fully recant. Instead, Ali stood up and said, "Keep asking me, no matter how long, On the war in Vietnam, I sing this song, I ain't got no quarrel with the Vietcong." By now it was 1967 and, in another huge step for the antiwar movement, Martin Luther King, Jr. came out against the war. At the press conference where he first proclaimed his opposition, King said, "Like Muhammad Ali puts it, we are all -- Black and Brown and poor -- victims of the same system of oppression." Ali and King, to the anger of the NOI, struck up a private friendship that we know about now thanks to the good historians at the FBI.

Ava: I think that was my favorite part of the book, Ali's standing firm. But I was speaking to a guy in a class about this book, he hadn't read it, and talking about Ali's opposition to the war and the guy said, "No, you're wrong. It was just Jane Fonda that protested." In the excerpt at the top of this piece, Zirin notes that in the televised 'histories,' Ali's politics never get mentioned. It's amazing how many people today do not realize how great the opposition to Vietnam was.

C.I.: Revisionism. They've lived under it. When you and Jess did the thing on Cass Elliot's new CD collection there were two e-mailers, one a "concerned blogger," who felt the need to weigh in that it was frivilous to mention Cass. He knew her weight, he knew she sang. He has no idea that she was against the war. "Let's play nice" with the fright wing has allowed this psuedo-theory that we could have "won" if only our hands hadn't been tied -- e.g. if we'd dropped the atomic bomb or some other nonsense. The realites of the war faded, to the point that we're in the current invasion/occupation, and as so many try to be so damn "moderate" and so damn "reasoned" we're left largely with a dialogue that bickers over "fine tuning" and doesn't address the actual realities. With Vietnam, and other periods, Zirin paints a portrait of the individuals involved in larger struggles. Jess wanted to speak on that, so I'll shut up.

Jess: Well, I'll note that the book also includes interviews. And the interview that stood out to me, on that period, was probably David Meggyesy's. He played for the St. Louis Cardinales from 1963 to 1969. He talks about one of the events that "politicized" him was when, the weekend after JFK was assassinated, they were forced to play to "bring everyone together." Here he is, page 117, speaking about Vietnam:

Eventually, more than half the country was against the war. On the evening news, every night people were seeing battle scenes, scenes with American and Vietnamese people being killed and bombed, of kids burning with napalm. There were body counts and increasing American casualities. And the American people were just appalled. There was absolutely no reason to be in Vietnam. Why do you think we have seen nothing during this Iraq war about what is really happening on the ground? We are dropping one-ton bombs on people in Iraq, and we see the bombs launched but not the level of destruction or the bodies. We say we precision bomb this, or bomb that, yet we, the citizen who are paying for these bombs and vast military, don't see how many people were killed. We don't see and aren't allowed to see the destruction and bodies in the street. The political establishment and the military have santized every war since Vietnam. They learned their lesson, and the media is kept away from what is happening. We the people need to start connecting the dots and asking why are we occupying this country? And we need to connect the dots more than that. Why, in the most fabulously weathly country in the world, do we not have a national health care system and universal basic health care for everyone? Most folks don't connect those dots. In the 1960s, we were doing that.

Jim: There's also a great, must read section on stadiums built on tax payer monies. C.I. wanted to talk about a section.

C.I.: I know we're pressed for time so instead, I'll just read a section from the book because it will be more powerful than any attempt I could make to sum it up. From page 144:

"Coach, you know how you were always on me about working on my right hand dribble. Well, I'm going to start." With this line, delivered amid laughter and tears, former Notre Dame basketball standout, southpaw Danielle "D-Smooth" Green, told the horrifying news to her ex-Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw: a grenade had blown off her left hand when she was -- as Army MP Green -- patrolling a Baghdad police station.
Like late NFL safety turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, Green could easily be used as a symbol of patriotic resolve and sacrifice. She would fit neatly into that potent place where athletics meets war and produce pro-military demagoguery. Yet unlike Tillman, who cannot speak for himself, D-Smooth has foiled attempts to exploit her experience for pro-war purposes by speaking out against what she sees, from firsthand experience, as an unjust war. "They just don't want us there. I personally don't think we should have gone into Iraq. Not the way things have turned out. A lot more people are going to get hurt, and for what?"

Mike: And the book is filled with incredible moments that just tear at you. So buy the book, check it out at your library, but read it.

Roundtable on racist and sexist reactions

Participating in this roundtable are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Jim, Dona and Ava, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Elaine who's filling in for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Rebecca herself, the incredibly cool Kat of Kat's Korner and C.I. of The Common Ills. As always Dallas is hunting down links for us and we thank him for that.

Ava: The first thing we all wanted to do was to start by checking in with Cedric, Mike and Elaine since they've begun posting recently. We'll start with Cedric. What's been the biggest surprise?

Cedric: Well, hmm. I guess I'd say the racism. The open racism in e-mails. I wrote about it and noted that when it's all said and done, bottom line, I think we need to know it. Racism hasn't gone away and better you know the enemy.

Ty: When it's been my day to cover the e-mails here and I've opened a really sexist e-mail about Ava and C.I.'s TV reviews, I have done a response and called the person to the carpet. What I get back is usually "I was just joking. I'm not really sexist." I'm wondering if you've called anyone on it.

Cedric: In a reply? No, I just blow them off. I mean, they would probably do what they do when you've called them and be "It was a joke!" It's not a joke. If it is a joke, the fact that they'd go there, threaten lynching, for instance, tells you that joke or not, that's where they're coming from.

Betty: Agreed.

Elaine: Do you find that your distorted? When people e-mail? This week, I got an e-mail saying I had stated that Paul Hackett had no right to run office because he served in the military. That's not what I wrote.

Ava: Let's note what you did write: "Military service is not a requirement for public office. It shouldn't be a liability either."

Jess: That's pretty clear cut.

Elaine: Exactly. But Morey didn't grasp it and wrote this nasty e-mail about how I had stated that Hackett shouldn't have run for office because he'd served in the military and I never wrote that. So when you get the racist e-mails, Cedric, are they addressing what you said or distorting it?

Cedric: I don't know if it's I wasn't clear or if the person can't read but, yeah, I'm reading it and thinking, "That's not what I wrote." I don't go back and check because I've got a pretty good idea of what I would say and what I wouldn't. But this is something that everyone gets and one of the great things about us all coming together.

C.I.: I'll leap in here because people can call me on anything. But I don't like taking the blame for something I didn't write. And recently, I got an e-mail insisting on a correction, which was done, but the mistake wasn't mine. I was quoting another site. To correct the mistake, a typo, I took it out of quotes. But I doubt seriously the person e-mailing bothered to e-mail the site I was quoting, and the link was there, judging by the e-mail that staed I had mispelled ____. I have a ton of typos and always will. I'll take responsibility for my own. But in the future, if someone finds a typo at The Common Ills and it turns out that it comes from a quote from another site and the site is clearly credited for it, I won't correct it. I'm also not doing anymore corrections to e-mails that don't name the entry or provide a link to it or provide a date. E-mailing me that "You got ____ wrong" and not providing me with any sense of where the error occurs is nonsense. At a minimum, there are three posts every day. The Common Ills has been going on since November. I have no time to track down an error you're pointing out without giving any information as to where it occurred. That's especially bothersome when it comes from a New York Times reporter because, were I to e-mail them about an error and provide them with no date, no title of the article, I'm sure it would go right into the trash box.

Rebecca: The thing about C.I. is that when something is brought up, C.I. will immediately take the fall --

Elaine: I'd argue be open to the criticism and evaluate it.

Rebecca: Fine. But then, after reflection, if it turns out there's no error or it's nothing that was written, C.I. will get extremely pissed off.

C.I.: I don't like being distorted and you and Elaine know why and know how far that goes back. Trash me for what I did say and that's your opinion and you're entitled to it. But make up things and I get really pissed. I don't deny that.

Cedric: And if you're pissed in an entry, it's usually obvious, to me anyway, when I'm reading it.
It's also obvious to me when something is a joke but, like at my site, I haven't done a lot of jokes or humor because one time I did and readers completely missed it.

Jim: Betty, is that something that happens with you?

Betty: See, I don't have to deal with racism really. I've gotten very few e-mails where anyone's been racist. I'm being humorous and that's clearly marked at the site because C.I. told me the disclaimer would make it obvious. When C.I. was talking me through how to set up the site on Blogger. And since I'm being funny, I think I'm not really shocking anyone. Whoopi Goldberg and others have made it safe for a black woman to be funny. It's an accepted role. Also, since it's a humor site, and clearly marked, I think the people coming to it grasp that and if they don't think it's funny, they move on to something else. But I can read something at Cedric's site and I know, I just know, someone's going to feel the need to make a racist remark.

Jim: Because?

Betty: He's not being humorous and he's talking, directly, about how he feels. There's a tendency, especially if you're expressing disappointment with a Democratic leader, for someone to tell you, "You can't do that!" That has nothing to do with a website or a blog, it happens in real life and I'm sure you can find many black people who can talk about that because it's very common. You express criticism and you'll get it thrown in your face, best case scenario, "Well Republicans are worse!" No one's saying they aren't. But there are times when Democrats, and I'm a Democrat, my entire family is, I was raised as one and will always be one, need to be held accountable.

Ty: There's a tendency to take the African-American voter for granted and when that's noted, speaking for me, I've seen exactly what Betty's talking about. If you point out that a candidate of any level isn't addressing the African-American community, either via issues or through speaking engagements, you will hear from some Democrats, "Well the Republicans are worse!"
And, like Betty said, no one's saying that they aren't. No one's saying, "Because this candidate is ignoring me, I'm going to go vote for the racist." But we are saying that candidates need to be more inclusive. I had a pretty cool coach and I can remember a candidate being discussed and him going off on us. He didn't use the n-word, but he did say, "You people" and other comments that were offensive. I'm sure he was frustrated but get frustrated with the fact that a candidate is writing off a loyal base, don't go to racism.

Cedric: And sometimes it's just a way to attack. The person may not be racist or sexist but they want to hurt you and they go to the easiest way they can think of. In which case it's cultural racism if not personal and people need to check themselves for it. But like Mike's gotten trashed for being Catholic. And I think that has to do with the fact that it's known he's Catholic and so when people want to insult him, they'll go there.

Mike: Yeah. When someone's upset with somethign I wrote they'll usually bring up something like, "Why don't you become a priest and go molest a little boy!" or "You're so mistaken because you were obviously sexually abused by a priest and you liked it." And I'll be like, "What in the world caused that?" But Cedric and I were talking about it and it's like he's saying, they'll go for what they know. I know Rebecca fights back at her site but I'm betting one of the best things about her vacation is avoiding all the e-mails calling her a slut and worse.

Rebecca: When I'm reading those, I will use them. I won't run from them, I'll note them in a post. But taking this break has really brought home to me how much those can get me down. I mean I'll come out swinging. Or if someone's not using those kinds of words but they're being sexist. I'm like Cedric, I'd rather know those type of people exist. But it has been a relief to avoid all of that while I'm on vacation.

Ava: On that note, I want to point out that you're not retiring, you're not quitting, you're just on vacation. That has been coming up a lot lately. Mike and I discussed it at his site.

Rebecca: I'm just taking a vacation. My frustration level was so high that I wasn't going to be any use to anyone. I've needed a break for personal reasons, I should have taken one last year and really gotten into touch with a number of issues that I'd shoved down and ignored. But it's a vacation. And hasn't Elaine done a great job?

Dona: An excellent job. And let's talk about that because this week especially, the posts have read like there's a greater level of comfort. Am I seeing something that's not there?

Elaine: No, you're correct. I obviously knew nothing about what I was doing. Rebecca calls me that morning and that night I'm blogging. I'm not really big on going into the personal in a forum like that anyway. And there's also the fact that it's Rebecca's site and she's built up her own following by being herself. Part of the comfort comes from the fact that I've been doing it but it also comes from the support I've gotten from her readers and from all of you.

Jess: Mike's stepped into Rebecca's role of highlighting what other community sites have been up to.

Mike: At Rebecca's request.

Jess: Right and there's also been a relief at not being the newbie.

Mike: Yeah but hold on.

Ava: We're listening to the live broadcast of Democracy Now! while we do this roundtable and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth was performing for anyone wondering why Mike called for a pause. To pick back up, Jess was asking Mike about the relief involved in not being the newest blogger.

Mike: Well it's nice to have something under my belt, I guess you'd say. But like it's nice to be able to hear from Elaine or Cedric and they've got a question and I can actually answer it. I mean Jim, Rebecca and C.I. were answering questions from me all the time, everyone was. Rebecca even came over to the house one time to help me with something. So it's just nice to know I can help someone too.

Rebecca: The biggest mistake I made was in announcing that I'd gone to a play reading. When that went up, I got these e-mails of "You live near Boston!" People were excited that were in the area and that's great. But at the same time, I thought of some of the threatening e-mails that had come in and thought, "You know, you really shouldn't have mentioned the play."

C.I.: Camilo Mejia break.

Ava: Martin Espada read a poem he'd written about Mejia on the special Democracy Now! broadcast that we're all listening to as we do this roundtable for those who are wondering.

Dona: I hope this broadcast goes into the archives of Democracy Now! because we'd all really prefer to be listening to it and then starting work on this edition but time doesn't permit that. Knowing the demands on everyone's time as well as our need to meet on our deadline, I'd suggest that we allow those issues to be the focus of this and that we wrap up.

Ava: Well if there are no objections to that then I'm going to hand over to Kat since I don't believe she's had an opportunity to speak. Then we'll let Rebecca have the last words since she's using her vacation time to participate.

Kat: Well music is something people are passionate about so if I get a very passionate e-mail, even one that attacks me, I usually take it in stride. But I don't take the e-mail as seriously as other people do. I read it. It's rare that I reply. If someone's asking me to defend my view, it's already up in whatever they're complaining about. I do respond to Common Ills members who have questions about where to find something or who want to suggest something for a future review. For myself, it's just e-mail. I don't take it seriously, maybe my mistake, the way I would if I was speaking to someone face to face. I know C.I. takes it seriously and tries to reply to as many as possible. But I'm more along the lines of Jim. I'll shrug it off. Praise or bashing, I'll shrug it off. That's not a slam at C.I. C.I.'s getting e-mails about issues and that's quite a bit different than what I receive. And Mike and Cedric are just figuring out where they stand on e-mails. I'm sure others tell them different, but I've said, take it with a grain of salt. That's not to dismiss the racists or sexists. Or the anti-Catholics. But if you're lucky enough to be able to avoid the e-mail for a few days, you should. Again, C.I.'s not got that option. Ava, C.I. and Jess are going through those e-mails for a reason and it goes to the way that The Common Ills is set up. That's it, I'm done.

Rebecca: Well I think Kat's making some solid points here. I also think, and Jim agrees with me on this, that the important thing is getting something posted. If the e-mail is interfering with that, I'm not sure what the point is. More readers, or members for The Common Ills, are going to read what's up then read a personal e-mail. I realize that The Common Ills is a community, but the rest of us have the option of ignoring the e-mail when it's giving us a headache or we don't have time and I strongly recommend that if the choice is between the e-mail or the blog or between the e-mail and doing something away from the computer, you ignore the e-mail. When I get back from vacation, the e-mails will have piled up. I'm not looking at them now. I'm on vacation. When I get back, I'll begin working my way through. I won't have a deadline for that. And if someone's trying to bait me with sexism or if centrists and rightests are just heavy with the attacks, I reserve the right to blow off the e-mail for a few days. Like I said before, even when I'm responding to the e-mails in a post, to the sexism, it does do a number on you. So I will always take the attitude that if something bothers me, I don't have to continue reading. I don't just mean some idiot's e-mail. I'll stop reading when the attacks start. But I mean all the e-mail. If I'm bothered by something, ticked off, angry, whatever, this is my life and I reserve the right to do myself a favor and put the e-mail on hold.

Ava: And we'll go ahead and conclude on that note. If you missed Democracy Now!'s special Saturday broadcast, you missed two and a half hours of important radio.

TV Review: King of Queens, watch with aspirin

While the premise of the Seinfeld was doing a show about nothing, CBS' The King of Queens puts them to shame as it celebrates, week in and week out, the fact that not only is it about nothing, it has nothing to offer. It would be easy enough to dismiss The King of Queens as just another boring sitcom starring a fat man and a thin woman, but it's so, so much worse.

Possibly that's why the latest DVD set (season four), released almost three months ago, languishes at number 776 currently on Amazon's DVD sales list? We can easily think of a million things we'd rather do than watch this show; however, we'll take comfort in the fact that there are at least 775 other things to watch.

This is one of those sitcoms that never really knew what it wanted to be other than a rip-off of other sitcoms. At its roots, The King of Queens is a really bad (really, really bad) rip-off of The Honeymooners. In recent seasons, it's teamed Patton Oswalt (Spence) and Gary Valentine (Danny) up in apartment in an attempt to evoke The Odd Couple. That never happens. It doesn't even qualifiy as a good rip-off of Lenny and Squiggy of Laverne & Shirley fame.

From one season to the next, the show fails to match up. That's not merely because Kevin James (Doug) has gone from chubby to grossly obese or because Leah Remini (Carrie) has been made over repeatedly (glamor clown appears to be this year's "style"). It's also not just due to the fact that actors appear frequently in some seasons and then completely vanish. Ricki Lake had a run as Doug's sister Stephanie. At one point, Victor Williams' character (Deacon) had a wife and kids. Possibly the strangest moment for people attempting to watch the series from start to finish will be the emergence in season five of Anne Meara as Spence's mother. In the first season, Grace Zabriskie originated the character Veronica. In that same episode, Anne Meara guest-starred as a woman Arthur (supporting character played by Meara's real life husband Jerry Stiller) flirts with at a retirement home.

Either the regular King of Queens viewers are very accepting or else they're lazier than Kevin James' Doug (prone to playing with his male "boobies") and can't change the channel. (Possibly, they're hands are also playing with their own male "boobies?")

The show generally plays like a shouting match. Kevin James usually gets first dibs but most episodes, Remeni and Stiller will get in their own hollering before the opening credits roll and the theme music comes up. And if you're wondering, yes, the show's also changed themes -- from an instrumental to Billy Vera & the Beaters moaning about "My eyes are gettin' weary/ My back is gettin' tight . . ." The song plays like a country tune (many asked us if it was Tim McGraw) which is rather strange for a show set in Queens, New York.

But it's also strange that show set in Queens, New York apparently has only one African-American character (Deacon). From time to time, Carrie & Doug have neighbors who live in the house to the right of their own. Possibly the heavy turnover of that house is the result of people being unable to stand living next to Doug, Carrie and Arthur, or as we like to think of the trio: The Three Shouters.

And possibly the teaming of Spence and Danny is an attempt upon the part of the writers to provide the show with "quieter" moments? (If the Hefernan household screams, Spence and Danny whine. Usually softly.)

Wednesday night, CBS reaired this season's episode entitled "The Name Dropper." In this non-laugh riot, Doug attends an office party with Carrie and, since he can't remember the names of her co-workers, he fakes a heart attack to avoid acknowledging that he can't remember one of her co-workers' names. While that's going on, Spence's mother (Meara) is staying with Spence and Danny at their apartment and is attracted to Danny (creeping out Danny and the audience). To get back at Danny, Spence invites Danny's mother (who has a drinking problem) over for . . . a glass of wine -- a drinking problem, by the way, that Spence is aware of.

In other episodes, James' character frequently refers to sexual acts and sexual organs (when not playing with his man "boobies"). In a flashback episode, Doug and Danny hook up with Carrie and a friend (who vanishes, Carrie seems to have no friends, female or male) for what they plan to be a night of casual sex. Carrie's prone to disagreeing with priests (and just about everyone else, but stay with us, we do have a point).

"Are you two prudes or what?" Or what. We bring up the above for a reason. Despite the drinking, sex refs and assorted other misdeeds, the Parents Television Council rates this show as family friendly. For those unfamiliar with the "watchdog" that wants to have the last say in what you can see, let's just note that bad actress Connie Selleca serves on their "celebrity board" along with such "class acts" as Namoi Judd, former moralizer and gambler William Bennet and professional nuisance Pat Boone.) So what do those lovlies at the PTC think of King of Queens? Though some of the above is noted, the show never goes into the red on the PTC's green (safe for all), yellow (watch out young children!) and red ("Warning, John Ashcroft!") chart. Why do you suppose that is?

Apparently "'guy' humor" (as CBS brags of the show having) is perfectly fine. Sex jokes from the mouth of males don't rankle the PTC. In contrast, Living With Fran is a four-alarm fire for the PTC. While it's true that Fran cohabitates, it's equally true that when Deacon did have a wife, he not only cheated on her, when his wife returned, he had taken up with another woman. Living With Fran earns the PTC's "honor" of "worst TV show of the week" but "boys being boys" is apparently okay.

Personally, we'll take the 'wicked' Living With Fran over the show that boasts of such guest 'stars' as Orson Bean, Florence Henderson and Donny Osmond. CBS viewers are regularly lulled into world that doesn't exist and King of Queens does it's part to lie to them.

In Wednesday's episode, despite seven seasons of packing on the pounds, Doug learns that he's actually healthy and just "big boned." (That over hanging gut be must made up of a ton of bones.) We're sure that's "comfort food" to the viewers of the show. "Comfort food" also includes tired lines such as the following:

Spence: Instead of focusing on what's in my trunk, why don't you focus on not being such a slob?
Danny: Well why don't you work on getting your mom out of our apartment?

We're not sure what's more irritating: that this tired teenage dialogue is spouted by someone in their mid-thirties and someone in their early forites or that Kevin James' Doug expresses shock with the comment, "Your mother lives with you?"

In case James and the writers have forgotten, Doug's father-in-law lives with him. In case viewers ever wonder Gary Valentine is allowed to break character and laugh at his own jokes because in real life he's the older brother of Kevin James. We're unaware of any family members writing for the show so we'll just assume that no one pays attention and that's how an episode comes to a close with Spence and Danny reaching the agreement not to hit on one another's mothers (in order to creep each other out) only to then show them slow dancing with each other's mother as the end credits roll.

The series has never had consistency from one season to another, true, but who knew it was too much to ask that an individual episode have consistency? We're not really sure that we can blame the writers for falling asleep on the job. Churning out this junk on a weekly basis must be mind numbing. (It was mind numbing to watch.) But if you want puzzle something, puzzle this. Being on Monday nights when CBS was drawing large numbers never made the show a hit and on Wednesday nights it's still not a hit so exactly why has this show been allowed to go on for seven season? Watching the show, we saw promos for two different sitcoms debuting this fall. Both looked promising (we won't get our hopes up, this is CBS). But this fall, CBS allows King of Queens, one of the most erratic shows around (bad has been it's only consistent feature), to return. If your a series starring a fat guy married to a skinny woman, what does it take for CBS to cancel to you? Low ratings don't seem to do the trick. Not being funny doesn't appear to harm you.

With it's long history of prime time sexism (the battle among the suits to water down Cagney & Lacey are legendary to cite but one example), we're guessing that if you're willing to promote "guy humor" you can write your own ticket at CBS. From the promos, it looks like that might be changing this fall. But we're honestly amazed that CBS has been able to get away with so much (Designing Women, Murder She Wrote, Touched By An Angel, Kate & Allie . . . go down the list for shows the suits actively worked against, shows that were hits) for so long with so little comment. That needs to change.

Bajas de la coalición que ocupa Irak ya son más de 2.000 (Democracy Now!)

Bajas de la coalición que ocupa Irak ya son más de 2.000 (Democracy Now!)

Francisco: Hola mi amigos. De parte de "Democracy Now!" catorce cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana.

Bajas de la coalición que ocupa Irak ya son más de 2.000
El número total de víctimas del ejército estadounidense en Irak llegó a 1.800 y la cifra total de bajas de las tropas de la coalición que ocupa ese país es más de 2.000.

Atentado en Irak mata a 14 infantes de marina
En Irak, funcionarios del Pentágono concluyeron que una bomba de alto poder fue la causa de que murieran 14 infantes de marina el miércoles, en la ciudad occidental de Hadita. Los soldados viajaban en un vehículo anfibio blindado de transporte de tropas, que no fue diseñado para soportar ese tipo de ataques. Fue el atentado más cruento en una carretera desde el comienzo de la guerra, y ataques similares han matado a por lo menos 31 militares estadounidenses en las últimas dos semanas. Según la agencia de noticias Knight Ridder, las bombas mataron más efectivos de las fuerzas de ocupación en julio que en cualquier mes anterior de la guerra. Funcionarios estadounidenses admitieron el miércoles que actualmente las tropas son atacadas con explosivos más poderosos y eficaces. Los 14 muertos en Hadita integraban el Tercer Batallón de la Vigésimoquinta División del cuerpo de infantes de marina de Brook Park, Ohio. Otros seis miembros de ese batallón murieron el lunes.

Estados Unidos sufrió 68 ataques diarios durante el mes de julio
En Irak, la agencia de noticias Associated Press informa que Estados Unidos y las fuerzas aliadas recibieron en promedio unos 68 ataques diarios durante el mes de julio. Esto representa un aumento de casi el 50 % en el número de ataques perpetrados durante ese mes. En tanto, asciende a 2100 el número de iraquíes muertos desde la asunción del nuevo gobierno en abril.

Funcionario británico reconoce que Estados Unidos y Reino Unido son "parte del problema" en Irak
El ministro británico de Asuntos Exteriores Jack Straw admitió que la presencia de tropas británicas y estadounidenses en Irak está provocando levantamientos en ese país. Straw señaló al diario Financial Times que, "a pesar de que contribuimos a la seguridad en ese país, también somos parte del problema". Atacante británico justifica su acción como "una protesta contra la guerra en Irak" Continúa la investigación sobre los atentados del mes pasado en Londres. La abogada de uno de los detenidos por participar en los atentados fallidos del 21 de julio afirmó que su cliente justificó los atentados fallidos como "una protesta pacífica contra la guerra de Irak". La abogada de Hussain Osman, Antonietta Sonnessa expresó que, "mi cliente justificó sus actos como una forma de protesta contra el hecho de que los civiles sufren en las guerras en la actualidad. No es una persona violenta y aseguró que no provocaría ningún daño, ni dejaría heridos o muertos". A diferencia de los atentados que el 7 de julio dejaron 50 muertos, los explosivos de los atentados del 21 de julio no detonaron y no dejaron heridos. La abogada negó que su cliente tuviera alguna vinculación con organizaciones terroristas. Ahora Gran Bretaña pretende extraditar a Osman para que enfrente acusaciones.

Ex funcionario de la CIA demanda a la agencia por despido tras acusaciones de ADM en Irak
Volvemos a Estados Unidos, donde un ex funcionario de la CIA demandó a la agencia por haberlo despedido por error por cuestionar la opinión de la agencia de que Irak tenía armas de destrucción masiva.
En 2001, un año antes de la invasión a Irak, el funcionario manifestó que se enteró a través de un informante que Irak había abandonado el programa de enriquecimiento de uranio. Sin embargo, el funcionario de la CIA sostiene que la agencia nunca compartió la información con otros órganos o con los funcionarios que llevan a cabo las políticas.
El funcionario, que había trabajado en la CIA durante 20 años, fue despedido el año pasado. Su abogado comparó el caso con el de Valerie Plame, la agente encubierta de la CIA, cuya identidad fue revelada luego de que su esposo Joseph Wilson cuestionara la afirmación del gobierno de Bush de que Irak pretendía comprar óxido de uranio llamado "yellowcake" a Níger.
El abogado del ex agente de la CIA, Roy Krieger dijo "En ambos casos, los funcionarios proporcionaron información no deseada acerca de las armas de destrucción masiva en el período anterior a la invasión de Irak, por lo que fueron castigados".

Jimmy Carter: La guerra de Irak fue "innecesaria e injusta"
El ex presidente Jimmy Carter dijo que la guerra de Irak fue "innecesaria e injusta" y criticó al gobierno de Bush por el maltrato a los detenidos en la Bahía de Guantánamo.En un discurso ofrecido en la convención Bautista internacional en Gran Bretaña Carter dijo "Yo no diría que es la causa del terrorismo, pero impulsó y le dio razones a potenciales terroristas para atacar a nuestro país y justificar sus actos despreciables".

Funcionarios del gobierno alegan manipulación en tribunales militares
En otras noticias de Guantánamo, The New York Times informa que dos fiscales del gobierno presentaron quejas el año pasado, de que los tribunales militares que se estaban conformando para juzgar a los detenidos, eran algo parecido a los procedimientos sumarísimos. Los fiscales afirmaron que el sistema de juicios se había arreglado en forma secreta para aumentar la probabilidad de procesamiento y para privar a los acusados de material que pudiera probar su inocencia. Según el Times, los fiscales alegaron que el fiscal general había dicho a sus subordinados que los primeros cuatro acusados que serían juzgados por los tribunales militares serían cuidadosamente seleccionados para asegurarse de que todos fueran procesados.

Agente del FBI cuestiona legalidad del programa de "rendición extraordinaria"
Mientras tanto, Newsweek obtuvo un documento filtrado del FBI que cuestiona la legalidad de la política de "rendición extraordinaria" del gobierno de Bush, por la cual el gobierno secuestra prisioneros y los envía a países que admiten prácticas de tortura. El informe fue redactado hace tres años por el asesor del FBI asignado en ese momento a Guantánamo. En dicho informe, el agente del FBI afirma que enviar detenidos a países que aplican prácticas de tortura violaría la ley de tortura de Estados Unidos. Newsweek informa que funcionarios de inteligencia estiman que desde el 11 de septiembre la CIA ha enviado más de 100 individuos al extranjero.

Primer Ministro polaco afirma que la construcción de Irak como nación ha sido un completo fracaso
Mientras tanto, el Primer Ministro polaco Marek Belka criticó públicamente la actuación de Estados Unidos en Irak, y afirmó que los esfuerzos realizados para la reconstrucción de ese país han sido un completo fracaso. Belka dijo que Estados Unidos y sus aliados cometieron un error al basar su plan de post-guerra en Irak en el mismo modelo utilizado en Alemania luego de la segunda guerra mundial. "Fracasó totalmente. Se cometieron muchos errores graves", aseveró.

Sargento acusada de homicidio por negligencia
Volvemos a Estados Unidos, donde una sargenta de la infantería de marina fue acusada de homicidio por negligencia y de otros cargos relacionados con la muerte de Jason Tharp, un recluta de 19 años. Tharp murió a principios de este año mientras realizaba un ejercicio de natación en la isla de Parris, en Carolina del Sur. El día antes de su muerte, un canal de televisión local filmó por casualidad al recluta mientras era golpeado por la sargenta Nadya López, instructora de ejercicios de la infantería de marina. Es posible que otros tres militares de la base afronten sanciones disciplinarias.

Estados Unidos avanza en la producción de nuevas minas terrestres
El Pentágono toma medidas tendientes a reanudar la producción de minas terrestres antipersonales por primera vez desde la firma del tratado internacional para prohibirlas, en 1997 , según un informe de Human Rights Watch. De acuerdo con ese informe, ya se decidió destinar 1.300 millones de dólares a dos nuevos sistemas de minas terrestres. La última vez que Estados Unidos utilizó minas terrestres antipersonales fue durante la guerra del Golfo de 1991, cuando esparció 100.000 de esos artefactos en Irak desde aviones. En 1997, 145 países suscribieron el tratado internacional de prohibición del empleo, la producción, la exportación y el almacenamiento de minas terrestres antipersonales. Estados Unidos nunca suscribió ese tratado, pero suspendió la producción de este tipo de minas en 1997. Según Human Rights Watch, las minas terrestres aún matan o dejan lisiadas a unas 500 personas por semana, en su mayoría civiles.

Dos yemeníes informan que fueron recluidos en cárceles clandestinas estadounidenses
Amnistía Internacional pide al gobierno de Bush que revele la ubicación de las cárceles secretas que estableció en todo el mundo tras los atentados del 11 de septiembre. El reclamo surge luego de que dos hombres yemeníes denunciaron públicamente que habían sido detenidos durante más de 18 meses en cárceles subterráneas secretas de Estados Unidos. Los dos fueron arrestados por separado, uno en Jordania y el otro en Indonesia, pero las historias de ambos son casi idénticas, con un período de cárcel en Jordania, torturas, traslado en avión a una cárcel subterránea no identificada, aislamiento durante por lo menos seis meses, y luego traslado a otra cárcel subterránea. Sharon Critoph, de Amnistía, manifestó: "Hacer 'desaparecer' a alguien de la faz de la tierra, sin que sepa por qué ni por cuánto tiempo, es un delito según el derecho internacional, y nadie debería ser víctima de esa práctica". "Tememos que los testimonios de estas dos personas muestren sólo una pequeña parte de de la política de detenciones clandestinas que aplica Estados Unidos en el mundo".

Portavoz republicano de la Cámara de Representantes acusado de recibir soborno
Un artículo publicado en la revista Vanity Fair sostiene que es posible que turco-estadounidenses hayan intentado sobornar a un grupo de legisladores de Estados Unidos, entre ellos al portavoz republicano de la Cámara de Representantes, Dennis Hastert. La acusación fue publicada en una extensa nota acerca de un informante del FBI llamada Sibel Edmonds. Según la revista, Edmonds ayudaba al FBI a traducir cintas en una investigación sobre ciudadanos turcos, pero fue separada de su cargo luego de expresar su rechazo ante la corrupción que veía en la agencia. La informante tiene orden federal de no hablar públicamente sobre el contenido de las cintas que escuchó, pero según fuentes de Vanity Fair, el testimonio de Edmonds indica que ella escuchó llamadas telefónicas de individuos que se jactaban de mantener relaciones encubiertas con el portavoz Hastert. De acuerdo con esas versiones, intereses turcos habrían entregado al legislador republicano decenas de miles de dólares en pequeñas donaciones, mientras la Cámara de Representantes discutía un proyecto de condena del genocidio de armenios cometido por el gobierno turco en 1915. Hastert apoyó al principio ese proyecto, pero más tarde le quitó su apoyo minutos antes de se votara. La oficina de Hastert negó que el legislador haya recibido sobornos, y Vanity Fair informó que no hay pruebas de que ese haya ocurrido. Edmonds demandó al gobierno por su despido, pero las autoridades alegan que el juicio no debe realizarse porque revelaría secretos de Estado.

Gobierno inicia investigación penal por interrogatorios en la frontera
Mientras tanto, Newsday informa que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional inició una investigación penal a partir de acusaciones de que funcionarios de la frontera interrogaron en forma ilegal a un grupo de estadounidenses musulmanes que regresaban de una conferencia religiosa en Toronto. Los musulmanes presentaron una demanda ante un tribunal federal de Brooklyn a principios de este año para denunciar las prácticas del gobierno de detenerlos, interrogarlos, tomar sus huellas dactilares y fotografiarlos.

Francisco: Hello friends. Here are fourteen stories from Democracy Now! this week. Tell a friend, at least one, that Democracy Now! is providing their headlines in Spanish and English, in text and audio. Help get the word out.

Coalition Death Toll in Iraq Tops 2,000
The overall U.S. military death toll in Iraq has now topped eighteen hundred and the total number of coalition troops killed has passed 2,000.

14 Marines Killed in Deadliest Roadside Bombing Of War
In Iraq, Pentagon officials have concluded it was a massive bomb that killed 14 Marines on Wednesday in the western city of Haditha. The Marines were driving in a 25-ton lightly-armored amphibious troop carrier that was not designed for coming under such attacks. It was the deadliest roadside bombing since the war began. In the past two weeks, at least 31 U.S. soldiers and Marines have died in roadside bombings. According to the Knight Ridder news agency, bombs killed more coalition troops in July than in any previous month of the war. U.S. officials admitted on Wednesday that troops are now being targeted with more powerful and more effective bombs. The 14 Marines were all members of the 3rd Battalion, 25th Marines, based in Brook Park, Ohio. Six more Marines from that Batallion died on Monday.

U.S. Faced 68 Attacks Per Day in Iraq During July
In Iraq, the Associated Press is reporting that U.S. and coalition forces were attacked on average 68 times a day during the month of July. This marks a near 50 percent increase over the number of attacks that took place last July. Meanwhile the number of Iraqis killed since the new Iraqi government took power in April has now topped twenty one hundred.

UK Official Admits U.S. & UK "part of the problem" in Iraq
Meanwhile British foreign secretary Jack Straw has admitted that the presence of British and US troops in Iraq is fuelling the uprising there. Straw told the Financial Times QUOTE "although we are part of the security solution there, we are also part of the problem."

Ex-CIA Officer Agency For Firing Him Over Iraq WMD Claims
Meanwhile back in this country, a former CIA officer has sued the agency claiming that he was wrongly fired for questioning the agency's view that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In 2001 - a year before the Iraq invasion -- the officer reported that an informant told him that Iraq had abandoned its uranium enrichment program. However, the CIA officer charges that the agency never shared the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers. The officer - who had worked for 20 years at the agency - was fired last year. His attorney compared his case to that of Valerie Plame - the CIA agent who was outed after her husband Joseph Wilson questioned the Bush administration's claim that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium from the African nation of Niger. The former CIA agent's lawyer, Roy Krieger, said, "In both cases, officials brought unwelcome information on W.M.D. in the period prior to the Iraq invasion, and retribution followed."

Jimmy Carter: Iraq War Was "Unnecessary and Unjust"
Former President Jimmy Carter has called the Iraq war "unnecessary and unjust" and criticized the Bush administration for its handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Speaking at an international Baptist convention in Britain, Carter said, "I think what's going on in Guantanamo Bay and other places is a disgrace to the U.S.A." He went on to say "I wouldn't say it's the cause of terrorism, but it has given impetus and excuses to potential terrorists to lash out at our country and justify their despicable acts."

Gov't Officials Claim Military Tribunals Were Rigged
In other news on Guantanamo, the New York Times is reporting that two government prosecutors complained last year that the military commissions being set up to try detainees were little more than kangaroo courts. The prosecutors complained that the trial system was being secretly arranged to improve the chance of conviction and to deprive defendants of material that could prove their innocence. According to the Times, the prosecutors alleged that the chief prosecutor had told his subordinates that the first four defendants members tried by the military commission would be "handpicked" to ensure that all would be convicted.

FBI Agent Questioned Legality of Extraordinary Rendition
Meanwhile Newsweek has obtained a leaked FBI memo that questions the legality of the Bush's administration policy of extraordinary rendition where the government transports seized individuals and sends them to foreign countries that practice torture. The memo was written three years ago by the FBI supervisor then assigned to Guantanamo. In the memo, the FBI agent wrote that sending detainees to such countries that practice torture would be in violation of the U.S. torture statute. Newsweek reports that intelligence officials are now estimating that more than 100 individuals have been rendered to foreign countries by the CIA since Sept. 11.

Polish PM: Nation Building in Iraq Has "Failed Totally"
Meanwhile Polish Prime Minister Marek Belka has publicly criticized the U.S.-led efforts in Iraq. Belka said post-war nation-building efforts in Iraq have failed totally. Belka said the US and its allies made a mistake by basing its post-war plan for Iraq on the same model used for Germany after World War II. Belka said "It failed totally. Many mistakes, major mistakes, have been committed."

Marine Sgt. Charged w/ Negligent Homicide
Here in this country... A Marine sergeant has been charged with negligent homicide and other charges following the death of a Marine recruit. The recruit, 19-year-old Jason Tharp, died while taking part in a swimming exercise at Parris Island in South Carolina earlier this year. The day before he died a local TV station happened to have videotaped the recruit being struck and grabbed by a Marine drill instructor, Staff Sergeant Nadya Lopez. Three other Marines at the base face possible disciplinary action as well.

U.S. Moves Toward Making New Landmines
The Pentagon is moving ahead towards resuming production of antipersonnel landmines for the first time since the signing of the international Mine Ban Treaty in 1997. This according to a report by Human Rights Watch. $1.3 billion dollars has already been earmarked for two new landmine systems. The U.S. last used antipersonnel landmines in the 1991 Gulf War, when it scattered over 100,000 landmines from planes in Iraq. In 1997 145 nations signed the international Mine Ban Treaty that banned the use, production, exporting, and stockpiling of antipersonnel landmines. The U.S. never signed the pact but it stopped production of antipersonnel landmines in 1997. According to Human Rights Watch, landmines continue to kill and maim an estimated 500 people -- mostly civilians -- each week.

Two Ex-Detainees Report Being Held in Secret U.S. Jails
Amnesty International is calling on the Bush administration to disclose the locations of the government’s secret jails that were set up around the world after the Sept. 11 attacks. This comes after two Yemini men publicly claimed that they were held in secret underground U.S. jails for more than 18 months. The two men were arrested separately but reported being held in almost identical conditions. One of the men was arrested in Jordan, the other in Indonesia. Both were jailed in Jordan where they were reportedly tortured. Each says he was then flown to an unnamed underground jail where he was held in solitary confinement for at least six months. Then they were taken to a second underground jail. Amnesty's Sharon Critoph said "To be 'disappeared' from the face of the earth without knowing why or for how long is a crime under international law and an experience no-one should have to go through. Critoph went on to say "We fear that what we have heard from these two men is just one small part of the much broader picture of US secret detentions around the world."

Speaker of House Hastert Allegedly Bribed
A new story in Vanity Fair is alleging that Turkish-Americans may have attempted to bribe a group of U.S. lawmakers including Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert. The allegation appears in an extended piece in the magazine about FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds. According to the magazine, Edmonds was helping the FBI translate tapes surrounding an investigation of Turkish nationals. She was fired from her job after she complained about corruption at the agency. Edmonds is under a federal gag order not to publicly discuss what she heard on the wiretaps. But sources told the magazine that Edmonds has testified that she heard wiretaps of individuals boasting that they had covert relationships with Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and that Turkish interests had given tens of thousands of dollars in small donations to Hastert. The donations were reportedly given around the time that the House was considering passing a resolution condemning the Turkish genocide of Armenians. Hastert originally backed the resolution but then withdrew it minutes before it was scheduled to go up for a House vote. Hastert’s office has denied receiving any such payments and Vanity Fair reports that there is no evidence that any payments were made. Edmonds is suing the government over his dismissal but the Bush administration is attempting to have the lawsuit quashed claiming it would reveal state secrets.

Gov't Launches Criminal Investigation Over Border Interrogations
Meanwhile Newsday is reporting that the Department of Homeland Security has launched a criminal investigation into allegations that border officials illegally interrogated a group of Muslim Americans that were returning from a religious conference in Toronto. The Muslims filed suit earlier this year in federal court in Brooklyn to challenge the government's practices after they were detained, interrogated, fingerprinted and photographed.

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