Sunday, August 14, 2005

A note to our readers

Most of this week was spent attempting to figure out how to get items that showed they were published to display on this site. As a result, we didn't put the time in that we normally would have in the days prior to getting together to turn out the latest edition. For that reason, you won't find any book reviews or movie reviews. In fact, you'll find only one blog spotlight.

We wanted to register our frustation and disappointment that the death of journalist John H. Johnson just didn't seem to get noted by the mainstream press. There was no feeding frenzy of the sort that accompanied the news of Peter Jennings death. We're also shocked that some at ABC thought Monday's World News Tonight passed for news, let alone world news. The journalist is not the story.

So we address these issue. We address them with the Blog Spotlight of Cedric's Big Mix. We address them with a scripted parody of World News Tonight. We address them with an essay.
In addition, Ava & C.I. review the two hour, commercial free, prime time special entitled Peter Jennings Reporter. For those worried that Ava & C.I. might be going maudlin, don't worry. Their humor is "sufficently intact" (as Kat noted when reading over it -- riffing on a line from a Lone Justice song written by Maria McKee, "Wheels"). For the good taste guardians, fret ye not, Ava and C.I. don't make one joke about Peter Jennings. Reflecting the stance throughout the pieces in this edition, Peter Jennings is not the issue.

The press is. That they laregly ignored the passing of John H. Johnson and went into overdrive on the passing of Peter Jennings is discussed, in relation to them. That a special not only fails to live up to its name (Peter Jennings Reporter) but also manages to go against everything that Jennings is reported to have stood for is noted.

We do another Third Estate Sunday Review news review. Largely because we wanted to get done quickly and, as devised by Dona, this is a piece that has to be done in one hour. Whether it's done or not, after one hour, Dona will say "That's it."

We do it in the form of transcript to a broadcast. (In honor of Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez and all the other people working so hard at Democracy Now!) Last week, we should have noted, but didn't, that Ty went first so that he could begin helping with research. C.I. pointed that out over at The Common Ills. But we did get e-mails from people who felt Ty tossed out an easy item and then apparently went off to take a nap. Everyone's working during that feature. We have Dallas hunting down links. C.I.'s having to listen to what's being said and pay attention to Dona's constant announcements of how much time has elapsed. Last week, C.I. and Betty got into a discussion of Marilyn Monroe and that came about because no one was ready to go after Betty so Dona told C.I. and Betty to stretch. It ended up being our favorite part of the news review (and some readers' favorite as well). We wanted that interplay to take place more this time and we think it does. There is one part where C.I.'s told to stretch "big time" and for those who like puzzles, you can read over it and see if you can identify that part. C.I. wanted it noted that Kat did not go over her intended time. (Kat said she actually liked the idea of people thinking she was hogging time.) Kat ticked off her items very quickly (probably quicker than they read and we had to have her help in figuring out the transcription because she went that fast -- she knew from Dona that time was winding down).

C.I. brings Dona back in at one point. That wasn't due to being told to "stretch." That was due to listening to Jess report on Bully Boy being in Crawford. It took Dona completely by surprise because she had no idea why she was being asked back (and was really focusing on telling people to get their reports nailed down). It's an interesting point that emerges as a result and if we weren't doing the back and forth, we don't know that it would have occurred to C.I. and we doubt it would have occurred to us. (It's important enough that we made the issue raised the second half of this week's editorial.)

We'll also note that C.I. doesn't want to be "anchor." That role came about when we wanted to rerun something from The Common Ills where Kara and C.I. were having a humorous exchange. To do something other than a blog spotlight (and The Common Ills is not a blog and, yes, we get that lecture everytime we select an entry from it for our "Blog spotlight" feature), Dona came up with the idea of doing soemthing like that, a psuedo newscast. Since we would be using the entire thing that Kara and C.I. had worked out, it seemed logical to make C.I. the anchor for the entire piece. (C.I. feels it's too much attention and also that it would be more fun to focus on pulling from various sources to come up with a report.) If C.I. continues to hate doing that role, we'll rethink it; however, for now, when we do this feature, C.I. will remain the anchor. Our apologies to Elaine who had a piece prepared (on torture and doctors) but we ran out of time. Cedric and Elaine were the last two remaining (Jim had already given up his time when it was obvious that we were running low on time) and Dona went over their pieces with them and asked both to cut severely. Cedric was able to reduce his but Elaine's involved a number of interrelated issues and the cuts destroyed her piece. While this was going on, Mike was shoved next in line when he was supposed to go last. We think Mike thought quickly on his feet and we thank everyone for being elastic and willing to bend.

Specifically, we thank the following for work on the script parody, the editorial, the essay, and the news review: Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man and Kat of Kat's Korner. We also thank Dallas, always, for hunting down links. And we thank Miguel for allowing us to rerun his Common Ills entry on Democracy Now! We thank Cedric for allowing us to spotlight his entry on John H. Johnson.

We thank Ava and C.I. for their TV review which remains their own work.

And we thank our readers. Last week's edition wasn't an easy find as many of you noted in e-mails. We thank C.I. for reprinting the news review and the editorial at The Common Ills because they weren't displaying here. (Note: C.I. contributed to all features in this edition except this note. We're claiming C.I. as a Third Estater hence the non-inclusion in the thanks above.) Hopefully, you'll find something here that makes you laugh or makes you think or makes you angry.

-- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava (and C.I.)

Editorial:Cindy Sheehan remains in Crawford (continuing her vigil) as does the Bully Boy

Cindy Sheehan has the nation talking, finally, about Iraq in something other than bumper sticker slogans. At last, a debate on the topic seems possible. In the past, attacks and slurs have been enough to stop a discussion. But Cindy Sheehan's spoken moving from the heart and shown the determination that others seldom have in recent years.

To be sure, she hasn't had a great deal of support. Oh bloggers have rallied behind her, Laura Flanders, Randi Rhodes, Mike Malloy and the entire Air America Radio staff have been there getting the word out. Amy Goodman's noted Sheehan's vigil regularly on Democracy Now! as well as interviewed her this week on Democracy Now!

But where, oh where, have our elected officials been? Should we phone them with directions to Crawford, Texas? Donald Rumsfeld and Condi Rice didn't seem to have any trouble getting there this Thursday so we're guessing that all flights have not been grounded.

Now not everyone's been silent, as Democracy Now! noted:

Cindy Sheehan Vigil Gains Support From Congress
Meanwhile, in Crawford, Texas Cindy Sheehan is continuing her vigil outside the ranch where President Bush is once again vacationing. And her campaign is gaining momentum and support. Sheehan, of course, grabbed headlines in recent days since she began camping near President Bush's ranch. She is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. As more military families arrived from several states to join Sheehan, 38 members of Congress signed a letter asking Bush to meet with her. On Saturday, National Security Advisor Steven Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin met with Sheehan briefly, but she called the exchange "pointless" and has said she will stay in Crawford until the president meets with her.

But where, for instance, is Hillary Clinton? It takes a village . . . for somethings apparently and demonstrating her support for Cindy Sheehan, a mother who lost her son, isn't one of them. Where is no-two-Americas, John Edwards? Former presidential candidate John Kerry? Joe Biden? (Maybe he's waiting for another senator to compose their answer and then he'll borrow it?) Joe Lieberman? Where are the Democrats who have made the Sunday Chat & Chew rounds in the last few years? You know, the ones who never seemed at a loss for words on those programs but have grown strangely silent on the topic of Cindy Sheehan.

Gone fishing? On vacation? From around the nation, people have managed to get Crawford, Texas to show their support. Among the many have included Bill Mitchell, whose son Mike died in Iraq the same day as Casey Sheehan, and the actor Viggo Mortenson.

We're waiting for one of our "nationally recognized" senators to show. But we're not holding our breath on that.

So Cindy Sheehan remains down in Crawford attempting to persuade the Bully Boy to take time from his vacation (over 320 days since first taking the oval office).

And strangely enough, Bully Boy remains in Crawford as well. The memo The Sunday Times of London has posted on their website, is that warning not genuine? Is that why the Bully Boy remains in Crawford despite a memo that states attacks may have been planned for sometime between now and September 19th here as well as in London?

Are we back to August 2001 when the Bully Boy couldn't stop his vacation despite the August 6th PDB that began "bin Laden determined to strike . . ."?

As he occupies the oval office for not yet five full years, he's in the midst of yet another vacation, a vacation that, when added with the rest of his vacations, amounts to almost a year exactly. Five years of occupying the oval office. One year of vacation. Nice work if you can get it?

After 9/11 and the talk of "never again" why exactly is Bully Boy being allowed to remain in Crawford? Why aren't Americans demaning that the ever vacationing Bully Boy get off his butt and return to D.C. to address the reported threat?

Is the threat real? Does the Bully Boy know that it's not?

Bully Boy and his cronies fought like hell in the courts to grab the oval office in 2000 but it really seems as though the title was all he wanted. Between his early to bed and mid-day naps, his vacations, his refusal to meet with Sheehan and others, it's really hard to make the case that Bully Boy's very vested in representing the people as he does his job.

We hope the warning is alarmist and not to be taken seriously. But if it's on the up and up, can someone please explain why Bully Boy, faced with reports of another impending attack, remains in Crawford, as he did before, instead of getting his butt back to D.C. to deal with the reported threat?

Third Estate Sunday Review news review

C.I.: Welcome again to The Third Estate Sunday Review news review. We go to Dona with news from England.

Dona: The Sunday Times of London is reporting a big story. A memo warning of impending attacks in London and the United States. The memo is from the New York State Office of Homeland Security and dated August 11th of this year. It warns of al Qaeda and "affiliated groups" possibly using vehicles as bombs. "Tanker fule trucks, among other vehicles" being used "to faciliate a major explosion targeting critical infrastructure and designed to create mass casualties or economic destruction. "

C.I.: What do you make of the warning?

Dona: Considering the past use of Homeland Security, it's hard not to be skeptical. It should also be noted that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is one of the sources for this warning and he was captured in March of 2003. Since the warning is through September 19th, from what's in the memo, I'm having a hard time figuring out how they've arrived that a 2005 attack was coming.
U.S. cities mentioned are New York, Chicago and Los Angeles and the memo notes "It is unclear whether the attacks will occur simultaneously or be spread over a period of time. The stated goal is the collapse of the US economy." It warns that vehichles hauling gasoline, oxygen or gas cylinders could be used as well as "water trucks filled with gasoline or other highly combustible material." One question that I think many will ask is why does this warning come from the New York office of Homeland Security and not the national office?

C.I.: An article in The New Yorker recently addressed the issue of New York's police department, New York City. Ray Kelly has restructured the department since 9/11 and they've gone from under thirty working on terrorism to around a thousand officers. They also are thought to have better translation resources than the federal government. Kelly hired a 35 year veteran of the CIA, former director of operations, by the name of David Cohen and they have officers, this is the New York City police department, stationed around the world in places such as Tel Aviv. Whether or not that's why the memo would come from New York state, not the New York City police department, I don't know. And the article is entitled "The Terrorism Beat," written by William Finnegan and appearing in the July 25, 2005 New Yorker. That's hypothesis and certainly wouldn't explain why the information wouldn't go to D.C. and then be relayed to London.

Dona: And with that question unanswered, I do think people will be skeptical. The color code system became a joke and there was a strong feeling, that Tom Ridge appeared to later confirm, that the warnings were used to manipulate the Bully Boy's poll numbers. Which are at yet another all time low.

C.I.: Thank you, Dona. Now for Iraq news, we go to Ty.

Ty: Picking up with The Sunday Times of London that Dona was citing, David Cracknell's "No 10 refuses to reveal Iraq war e-mails" reports new developments in the Downing Street Memos. On March 7, 2003 Lord Goldsmith warned that a war with Iraq would be illegal. Ten days later, he would issue another finding that refuted the earlier one. All this time Tony Blair has maintained that there was no pressure on Goldsmith or any contact with him but Cracknell has learned that an assistant to Prime Minister Blair was e-mailing someone during this period. The assistant is Baroness Morgan.

C.I.: And what do the e-mails say?

Ty: Cracknell doesn't know. The government refuses to release them. I want to note this paragraph:

A senior source at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, which Falconer heads, said colleagues had been been "s***ing" themselves that the Morgan e-mails would be released after No 10 went against precedent and released Goldsmith's full legal advice during the election.
Lord Goldsmith during this period.

Ty: In other Iraq news, Sameer N. Yacoub reports in Scotland's Sunday Herald that "New Iraq in doubt as leaders struggle on agreement." Power sharing and "the role of Islam in law" appear to be the stumbling blocks. The proposed constitution needs to be completely quickly to meet the deadline of being handed over to Iraq's parliment tomorrow. Bassem Mroue of the Associated Press is reporting that Kamal Hamdoun, the Sunni negotiater, has said that "his group would never accept terms that would lead to the division of the country." Meanwhile,
US troop fatalies stand at 48 for the month thus far. By way of contrast, the US troops fatalities for the month of July were 54 and we're nearing the half-way point of the month of August but not yet there. Reuters reports that a month ahead of schedule, Italy has begun withdrawing troops, 130 withdrawn of the planned 300 total.

C.I.: How many troops does Italy have in Iraq?

Ty: 3,000. Violence has been breaking out all over Iraq. Hamed Ahmed of the Associated Press reports that, among other things, an ambush in Baghdad resulted in the death of Ahmed Kamil who was a police major there. Samara, Sadar City, Ramadi and other areas have been the scene of violence in the last 24 hours. In addition, Reuters reports that "Police said they found the body of a Turkman doctor named Rida Rifaat Amin, who was abducted two days ago, dumped on the main road between Kirkuk and the town of Huweija."

C.I.: Thank you Ty. We now go to Jess with a report on Cindy Sheehan's vigil.

Jess: Last week, we noted that while the Bully Boy takes his month long vacation in Crawford, Texas, he has Cindy Sheehan waiting to meet with him. Bully Boy announced Thursday that he didn't need to meet with her because he's heard the "bring the troops home" argument. Cindy Sheehan's 24 year-old son Casey Sheehan died in Iraq. She's stated that she's not leaving until the Bully Boy meets with her. If it means staying in the Crawford heat for all of August, she's willing to do that. On Wednesday, Bill Mitchell joined her. His son, Mike Mitchell, died in Iraq on the same day as Casey Sheehan. The Lone Star Iconoclast has an interview with Mitchell. On Friday, Bully Boy supporters were bussed in from the DFW area and The Lone Star Iconoclast estimates that they were fifty in number and also reports that at one point they chanted "We don't care, we don't care!" which sums up their attitude in the face of dying and loss. They rallied for thirty minutes and then left for another location. This seems to be a reoccuring problem for the Bully Boy supporters. On Saturday, the Associated Press reports, they started off the day with 250 and dwindled down to 12. Those protesting with Sheehan numbered 350. Also on Saturday, Sheehan's commerical began airing on nearby Waco's Crawford's cable TV system:

"Mr. President, I want to tell you face to face how much this hurts. How many more of our loved ones need to die in this senseless war?"

C.I.: Are most reports making a deal out of the support Cindy Sheehan has from volunteers?

Jess: The presence of others protesting is noted in most reports as is the help she's getting in handling interviews.

C.I.: An interesting aside to me is the fact that Chris Frosier, who lost his son Kurt Froshier in Iraq, November 2003, could have been the starting point for a national dialogue, the way that Cindy Sheehan has kick started the discussion. However, Frosier's own story was lost in a lengthy piece by George Packer where Packer tried to show boat and do everything but convey Froshier's complex feelings. This included George Packer's attacks on the right and the left, Andrew Sullivan to Arianna Huffington, by Packer as well as on Naomi Klein and "the bitterly anti-war Nation." Somwhere the bitterly bitter Packer lost the story of Chris and Kurt Froshier and went off on his own free association. So the point here is that any smart and sane person would gladly take on assistance in dealing with the news media.

Jess: Exactly. From basics such as scheduling to vetting the reporters. On The Majority Report this week, with Laura Flanders filling in and doing an outstanding job, Cindy Sheehan's voice was often close to giving out. We addressed that topic in class, in a journalism class, this week and the consensus was that you do need help naviagating the media. Certainly the Bully Boy has his team helping him. But the right wing is trying to make something of this and reporters who should know better are falling for it. Meanwhile rallies are being planned around the nation to demonstrate support for Cindy Sheehan, the AP is reporting. She has kick started the conversation and captured the attention of the nation, including the Bully Boy. Besides his comments Thursday, Editor & Publisher reports that he used the weekly radio address to respond.

C.I.: What's your feel on how that came off?

Jess: I think people would ask, "If he can respond in some way over the radio, why can't he speak to her face to face?" It makes him look bad. If I could, I'd like to note that Reuters reports Tony Blair was a no show for Robin Cook's funeral this week.

C.I.: The reason for that?

Jess: Like the Bully Boy, Tony Blair is on vacation. And, like the Bully Boy, death doesn't interrupt a vacation, apparently.

C.I.: Thank you Jess. If I could bring Dona back in here . . .

Dona: Yes.

C.I.: We led with your summary of the warning The Sunday Times of London had obtained, one sent from New York state's Homeland Security office to London, correct?

Dona: Correct.

C.I.: The time line again?

Dona: The memo reports the time period for concern as being around the anniversary of the attacks. It specifically mentions up to September 19th.

C.I.: And there was nothing in there about the Bully Boy returning to D.C. and ending his vacation early due to this warning?

Dona: No.

C.I.: If I'm remembering correctly, and Dallas don't research this, I heard it on the radio, his father, George H.W. Bush will be in D.C. for an event honoring the CIA. I believe it's scheduled for Tuesday and to honor former directors of intelligence. But the Bully Boy remains in Crawford?

Dona: On vacation at least, he's been in and out for bill signings and fund raisers. And yes, I think I know where you're headed, this is an echo of the response to the August 2001 PDB that warned bin Laden was determined to strike. If the memo The Sunday Times of London has obtained is serious and the on up and up, it seems Americans should be demanding that the Bully Boy curtail his vaction and return to D.C. to deal with what may be a serious threat. Are we a nation at war or are we a nation on vacation.

C.I.: I agree fully and while we'll continue this, I want this posted, the part we've finished thus far, posted online right now as a rough draft if there aren't any objections. Okay, thanks. If you're reading and there's text below, you're reading the final draft which will have corrections for typos, hopefully. We go to Betty now.

Betty: The Bully Boy may not be able to break his vacation in the face of what is supposedly a serious threat to England and the United States, however he is still able to posture. As reported by, Bully Boy has stated that "all options are on the table" regarding Iran. Iran says that it's nuclear program is to produce energy, the United States administration belives it is to begin a nuclear weapons program. The AP reports that Germany's chancellor, who faces an upcoming elections, has responded that the wrong tactic is being taken. He says negotiations should continue "But take the military options off of the table; we have seen that they're not suitable."

C.I.: Which is being seen as a rebuke to the Bully Boy?

Betty: Correct.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. For music news, we now go to Kat.

Kat: If I could, I'd actually like to start with news on John H. Johnson. B.E.T. will have a tribute to Johnson: "Don't miss BET's Mon., Aug. 15 special on the life and legacy of John H. Johnson, 10 p.m. (ET/PT)." They already have a page at their web site offering tributes in video format and text and, to tie this in to music, Nelson George is one of people offering reflections in the video you can watch online. As has been widely reported, the Rolling Stones have a new song on their forthcoming album entitled "Sweet Neocon." Mick Jagger has made a point to note that it's not a song about the Bully Boy. The NFL has said that with all the songs in the Stones catalogue, there's no reason for the Stones to perform it at the NFL "Opening Kickoff" event.
Added to the list of performers are Green Day, Santana, Kanye West.
VH1 reports that Jewel's nearly completed her latest album and that some songs on it have been tested on the road during her summer tour. Singer Marc Cohen, of "Walking in Memphis" fame and married to ABC News' Elizabeth Vargas, was shot in the head during an attempted car jacking in Colorado. Cohen was released from the hospital. Spin reports that Ryan Adams has cancelled his US tour. And to follow up on an item I noted last week, Martha Reevers, formerly of Motown's Martha & the Vandellas, faced the Tuesday primary election for Detroit City Council and is now one of 17, out of 120 candidates, standing. The general election takes place in November. I opened with TV, so I'll go out with a TV item. A reunion special, where the actors offer remeberances of a show, that type of thing, has been filmed for Knots Landing. Participants included Joan Van Ark, Donna Mills, Michelle Lee, Alec Baldwin and Kevin Dobson. Why are we noting it? Because also participating is Michelle Phillips, of the Mamas and the Papas, who played Anne Mathison on the series.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat and we're moving quickly now. Mike, give us the latest on Lynne Stewart, longtime activist and attorney convicted this winter on counts of aiding terrorism.

Mike: The AP has reported that attornies for Lynne Stewart request that the February guilty verdict be tossed out. They feel they have grounds for a mistrial based upon the fact that one juror withheld that he had been jailed and that his belief was if you are charged with something, you must be guilty; in addition, a second juror has come forward to say she was pressured by other jury members as well as by being pointed out as a juror not yet voting for conviction outside the court despite the fact that the jurors' identities were not supposed to be known to the public.

C.I.: The jurors identies were supposed to remain secret. Reporting on it Saturday in The New York Times, Julia Preston didn't reveal the name of the juror who states she was intimidated; however, I understand that the Associated Press did reveal the name.

Mike: That is correct. In the second paragraph of Larry Neumeister's article, he reveals the name of the woman.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike. Cedric wanted to note an upcoming event.

Cedric: This is from Spin:

On September 24, a slew of musicians and activists will convene in Washington to protest the Iraq War. Thievery Corporation, Le Tigre, Ted Leo/Pharmacists, Jello Biafra, the Bouncing Souls, and Wayne Kramer of the MC5 are among those participating in an event being dubbed Operation: Ceasefire. The concert, predicted to be over ten hours long, is just one part of a four day protest event. The event will also include speeches and rallies centered around the Washington Monument. "The idea of this concert struck a chord with me," said Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation, one of the event's organizers. "As a private citizen...I feel a moral imperative as a human being, who happens to be a musician, to take part in this event." Jello Biafra, the always outspoken former Dead Kennedys frontman, seconded Hilton's feelings. "Hijacking 9/11 to invade Iraq is the worst mistake our government has made in my lifetime...The best way to support the troops is to bring them home," he said.

C.I.: Thank you Cedric. Thanks to Elaine, Jim and Ava who did research throughout and to Dallas for links. This is Dona's concept where she holds the stop watch and in one hour or less we run down stories.

TV Review: Peter Jennings Reporter leaves a bad taste

On Wednesday night, ABC aired a two-hour tribute to World News Tonight anchor Peter Jennings. The special got great ratings. As Kate Aurthur noted in Friday's New York Times ("Arts, Briefly"), the special "drew 9.41 million viewers."

The special, which ran commercial free, was entitled Peter Jennings Reporter.

What did we learn? That Ted Koppel's entered the most annoying and terminal stage of celebrity (when one refers to one's self in the third person). That the glamor look Andrea Mitchell tried out a few weeks back is apparently one Barbara Walters is also attempting.

Does that seem trivial? So was the special that taught us that entertainment has trumped news. Two hours of prime time, commercial free, that they could have been used (they includes the news department, this was a news special) to convey what Peter Jennings, news person, accomplished. That didn't happen.

We got snippets throughout. Including a montage, in the first hour, of 2 minutes and 17 seconds of "reporting" by Jennings (while we were treated to tag lines of "I'm here at . . .").

We'll get back to what the purpose of a special entitled Peter Jennings Reporter should have been. But let's note that despite the "quick cuts," not a great deal of thought was put into what made it into the special.

Sound harsh? Jeff Gralnick (former ABC News vice-president) said this of Jennings: "He hated people who were down trodden or stepped on." Is that what he meant? No.

He meant Jennings hated that people were down trodden or stepped on. But that's indicative of this special. On the record, Gralnick says of Jennings, "He hated people who were down trodden or stepped on." That's not a slam at Gralnick who was speaking off the top of his head and mispoke. That is a slam at those responsible for viewing and selecting the footage. (In fairness, they were under pressures other than time constraints.)

What was the key to Jennings as a reporter? Various theories are offered but the special, in total, seems to point primarily to three factors. Two are that he valued news of the world and that he had an eye for the telling detail. Or for the detail.

Here's Charlie Gibson on Jenning's coverage of a funeral, "In the midst of the special he began talking about the cemetary . . . and the significance of the trees, how many surrounded the cemetary . . ."

We weren't really sure what Gibson was babbling on about. That's partly the fault of the special on the "Reporter" that didn't present much of Jennings' reporting. But it's also true that Gibson's wandering anecdote suggests that Jennings focus on detail detracted from the actual story. (Later anecdotes, from other people, reveal that not to be the case.)

So the special's underway and we're not getting any reporting from Jennings. We're getting a bunch of anecdotes, most of which wouldn't make a gag reel. Can it get worse? Of course it can. Ted Koppel is present, remember?

Ted Koppel weighs in on the, we're sure he's sure, very important topic of looks: "It wasn't just women who looked up when Peter walked into a room and by golly they did look up . . ."

This is followed by another person who states, "I think he impressed us as having all the physical attributes, he looks well, he speaks well . . ."

Apparently that is the third most important quality to his career as a reporter because it was rare throughout the special that someone didn't feel the need to weigh in on Jennings' looks.
Since the special is entitled Peter Jennings Reporter and not Zoolander, we were confused by the constant focus on Jennings' looks.

We were also confused by ill conceived voice overs. Take, for instance, when Jennings himself is heard discussing his own looks (24 seconds) while we see black and white footage of him being made up. A special so short on demonstrating that Peter Jennings was a reporter doesn't really have 24 seconds to waste on footage of Jennings in make up. But having made the editorial decision to include the footage, shouldn't a requirement be that the footage match the voice over? To avoid being too pretty, Jennings explains that he wouldn't let them put make up under his eyes (he was proud of his 27 year-old lines). The footage, however, shows -- you know this is coming -- Jennings getting made up including, yes, under his eyes.

Two hours, without commercials, is a lot of time to fill especially when the focus is not on Peter Jennings the reporter. But that doesn't excuse the badly matched voice overs and footage which happened repeatedly. (We'll leave it with those two examples.)

We now waste further time, 10 seconds, as money is discussed. ("I make 40,000 dollars more than I did in Canada.")

When you're about to lose all hope of anything resembling the reporter showing up in this special, you get a montage -- with commentary and testimonials -- of The Millenium Broadcast. What stands out? Judging from the commentary the marathon itself -- as Diane Sawyer puts it, "going all day long . . . without a common place phrase." Charlie Gibson praises Jennings for "registering the tone." Which, considering that Jennings was shown saying such things as "It is now midnight in Russia," made us think of the scene in Bringing Up Baby when Katharine Hepburn keeps repeating, "At the tone, the time will be . . ." We're not sure that's reporting. We're not sure it wasn't. What was displayed on the TV screen didn't allow anyone to judge. (Though commentators were allowed to weigh in on "tone" and "without a common place phrase" which, apparently, are the rage in journalism.)

From there we're treated to the same clips they showed Monday on World News Tonight: twenty seconds of a montage on The Munich Olumpics. We're assured that this coverage "made him." That, "It was , in my opinion, the beginning of Peter Jennings."

Take their word for it because at 20 seconds of fast cuts and voice overs, the viewer doesn't get to see the story Jennings was reporting on.

Where are we then? Back to beauty. Mike Lee (ABC News correspondent) gushes, "Peter was born to be a dashing foreign correspondent. He walked into my hotel room wearing . . ."
Followed by another testimonial offering, "He was handsome as a movie star . . ."

Had enough? They aren't done. A third person offers, "Peter, of course, was an extremely good looking man. I always thought he looked a bit like Errol Flynn and he's tall and he was well

built . . ." Tall and well built? Are they describing (and honoring) a reporter or Julie Newmar?

When you think it can't get worse, a speaker begins with, "I think Peter, women found Peter, absolutely irresitable . . ." (Not ironically, one commentator compares him to James Bond in this segment. To Broadcast Journalism With Love?)

From there we get 20 seconds of Jennings reporting from Iran (that's four less than was used to show him being made up and discussing his looks) and then two 20 seconds bits of him reporting on Bosnia. This includes a damning interview, a rather famous one, with John Fox
who states that the State Department encouraged him to stay silent on the topic of Bosnia. The segment might be more powerful if viewers were informed of whom Fox was referring to.

In the middle of the special, we get to Jennings' own specials and this allows for a little more of Jenning's reporting (or montages of it). We get 3 minutes and 39 seconds on Cambodia, 2 minutes and 31 seconds on Israel, and 3 minutes and 3 seconds from the special on India & Pakistan. So viewers may have felt hopeful that, in the second hour, we were at last going to get a look at Peter Jennings Reporter.

Those hopes are dashed quickly as we move to Jennings on the couch being interviewed by David Letterman. It had a funny opening, Letterman is a good host. We're just not sure why it was in the special. (Or maybe someone wondered, as Letterman did, if growing up in Canada meant you came of age "peeking over the border?") The segment lasts 47 seconds. Or about a third of the time devoted to Jennings reporting from Israel. Priorities?

They're in the trash can now. Any doubts of that are dismissed as 44 seconds of political bloopers (on air) are shown (including Jennings introducing Henry Kissenger on camera as someone who served in the Reagan administration; Kissenger corrects him that it was Nixon).
That might have been "cute" for a reel shown at a Christmas party, but it doesn't really fit the title of the program.

In two hours, four people of color manage to get a word in onscreen. Al Sharpton is given the most time, 42 seconds, but conservatives shouldn't get their knickers in a wad, Antonin Scalia gets to pontificate for 47 seconds. Is any of this necessary? It's not even good cocktail chatter. Scalia, for instance, uses 47 seconds to tell that he teased Jennings about being Canadian and Jennings then informed him he was now American. (A point that the special had already established before bringing on Scalia.)

Remember how viewers were left hanging as to whom Fox was speaking of that silenced him? Well now it's time for Jennings' report on little league baseball and child abuse. The clips highlighted in the montage, 3 minutes and 31 seconds, focus on a father, Chris, and a son, Jeremy. Their last name isn't provided in this special (it was in the original reporting that Jennings did). We see Chris threaten his son and we're told about abuse (Jennings confronts Chris on camera about his threats and Chris admits he beats his son). What does that segment call for?

If Jennings were around, from what all said on camera, we think it would call for an update. That was some time ago, the baseball special. But we're not given an update because not only do viewers not get to savor Jennings' reporting, they aren't treated to any real reporting from this special. (For the record, Jeremy just completed a season playing baseball for Hagerstown Community College and Chris has a listed phone number. We're having a hard time believing ABC News couldn't track down what we did and actually get one of them on camera for some sort of update.)

We think even the most optimistic viewer must have given up any hope of a "tribute" that honored what Jennings stood for (we're told constantly what he stood for -- interest in the world and in covering the news). Apparently no one left at ABC News is too concerned with what interested Jennings.

Which is why we now are firmly in the land of fluff with 1 minute and 14 seconds on Jennings' love of the Constitution and statements such as "Jazz was one of his thriving passions" and "He loved his kids."

Let's be really clear that Jennings' work and his goals weren't honored. Think Disney is displeased by that? Think again.

Bob Iger, president of The Walt Disney Company, comes on camera to complain that too much coverage "in the last few days" has been about Jennings' career -- don't worry Iger, no one will accuse Peter Jennings Reporter of being about his career. Or of honoring it.

As the special winds down, we get Colin Powel, apparently one of our here to unknown media critics, weighing in that, unlike some, Jennings was an anchor who didn't try to hype the drama.
Take that Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw! Then Bill Clinton, a former president, is given ten seconds. (Maybe if he'd trashed the other networks' anchors, he could have had more face time?) And what would an ABC special be without Condi Rice? (Ten seconds -- making her time equivalent to that of Bill Clinton's -- is ABC suggesting she'll be the next president?)

Peter Jennings was a reporter. You don't really appreciate that by watching Peter Jennings Reporter. From Peter Jennings Reporter, you get Jennings "humanized" (or Disney-fied). You're never allowed to judge the quality or importance of Jennings' work because they only show snippets that they quickly cut away from and those are usually layered with voice overs from others. It's as though someone made a musical but every time there was a dance scene, the camera was trained elsewhere. ("Show the feet!" we'd scream at that. Here we just screamed, "Show the reporting!")

Bob Iger made it clear what he wanted -- the person, not the career. That's what he got. So why call it Peter Jennings Reporter? Why the testimonials of people who continually stressed how interested Jennings was with the world, how important what made it on to the newscasts he anchored was? Because the news department wanted one special and the bosses wanted another. The news department fought to work in what they could (they're especially proud of the sequence on tobacco -- which includes a tobacco exec raving over how fair Jennings was, showing "all sides"). Management wanted what they saw as a two hour Oprah special.

The special demonstrated the continued conflict between the news departments and the bosses who see it all as another form of entertainment. And in this round, news lost. (Though people in the news department fought very hard.) We heard grumbles about some of the news "stars" included in the special but the message came down that the network wanted their own highlighted. Some stress to us that it's a miracle that two hours of prime time television was turned over to news. We'd agree with that if we'd actually seen any news.

We didn't. Where Jennings hit hard, the special went soft focus. Who was Fox speaking of? What happened to Chris and Jeremy? Why was big tobacco present to attest to Jennings' ability to see all sides? The answer to those questions go to why this wasn't a news special.

We assume that two hours (commerical free or not) of a news program would have excited and thrilled Peter Jennings. We doubt he'd look fondly at the results of this special. As the testimonials (the good ones) noted, Jennings was able to tell a story in understandable terms. The special didn't do that. It existed in a world where a report from Iran was an important as announcing it's midnight in Moscow, a world where a story was turned into a tease without an ending. It wasn't journalism.

When they release it on DVD (yes, it's coming) we'd suggest that they change the title to A Peter Jennings Tribute. That's what it was (Kate Aurthur called it correctly). It wasn't Peter Jennings Reporter. And we'd suggest that people interested in news think long and hard on that special. Even with some strong people fighting to present a news special, they weren't able to win the battle against The Walt Disney Company. Jennings had power (which, as one testimonial acknowledged, he knew how to use). We're not sure anyone else in front of the camera at ABC does.

Cynthia McFadden spoke on camera of how Jennings really didn't want coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial on World News Tonight. In a few more months, we may wish that World News Tonight was covering topics as "important" as the O.J. Simpson trial.

A Tale of Two Deaths

From Democracy Now! this week:

Ex-British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook, 59, Dies
Britain's former foreign secretary Robin Cook has died at the age of 59. He collapsed while walking in the Scottish highlands with his wife. Cook resigned from Tony Blair's government in March 2003 just before the Iraq invasion. In a speech that generated a rare standing ovation at Parliament, he charged that intelligence on Iraq was being fixed. "I fear the fundamental problem is that instead of using intelligence as evidence on which to base the conclusion of a policy, we used intelligence as the basis on which we could justify a policy on which we had already settled," Cook said. Last week in one of his last interviews Robin Cook said the situation in Iraq was worse than his greatest fears. He said "The violence continues to escalate and part of the reason is that the conduct of US forces has been trigger-happy."

Cuban Singer Ibrahim Ferrer of the Buena Vista Social Club Dies
In news from Cuba, singer Ibrahim Ferrer has died at the age of 78. He gained international fame in 1997 when he was recruited to be part of the Buena Vista Social Club. Ibrahim Ferrer died in a Havana hospital on Saturday.

African-American Publishing Giant John Johnson Dies
And magazine publisher John H. Johnson has died at the age of 87. In 1942, he borrowed $500 to launch what would become the most successful African-American publishing empires. He would go on to start Ebony and Jet magazines. In 1982 he became the first African-American to make Forbes magazine's list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Johnson was educated in a segregated school in Arkansas. The town had no high school for African-American students so Johnson repeated eighth grade instead of dropping out of school.

ABC News Anchor Peter Jennings Dies
ABC news anchor Peter Jennings has died at the age of 67. He led the network's nightly newscast from 1983 until April. On April 5, he confirmed on his show that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer. It would turn out to be his final broadcast. "To be perfectly honest, I am a little surprised at the kindness today from so many people. That is not intended as false modesty, but even I was taken about by how far and how fast news travels," Jennings said. "Finally, I wonder if other men and women ask their doctors right away, 'Okay doc, when does the hair go?' At any rate, that is it for now on world news tonight. Have a good evening. I'm Peter Jennings. Thanks and goodnight."

There were a number of deaths last week.

But one death stood out over all others, Peter Jennings. Jennings was in journalism, so it's not surprising that the news would note "one of our own." But what was it that prevented John H. Johnson from qualifying as "one of our own?"

World News Tonight came to a halt on Monday so that ABC could repeatedly lead with the "world news" that Peter Jennings had passed, that he, at least once, did a report in his boxers (previously unseen by viewers!), that he was a really good guy, that he cared about world news . . . It was very "humanizing." It wasn't, however, news.

Navel gazing at its worst breaks into (and leads) an evening news broadcast on one of the big three networks. And where are the media critics?

We're not talking about the two hour tribute in prime time, we're talking about the evening news. We're talking about a thirty minute broadcast that is supposed to bring you news of the "world." The Disney-fication is complete.

People Magazine (part of the ABC Time Warner CNN AOL Disney et al family) puts Peter Jenning on their cover. Was it just the usual celebrity culture at play?

Whatever Jennings' merits as news source (we're not weighing in on that), John H. Johnson also died. His death didn't lead to a media feeding frenzy. The New York Times actually did three pieces on Johnson (an obit, a feature article and an op-ed). When noted in other mainstream (read white) publications, he was often reduced to an obit only (if that).

Why was that?

Does it go beyond the fact that one of the deceased was on TV? If it doesn't what does that say about a celebrity obsessed culture?

You're not anybody in America unless you're on TV. On TV is where we learn about who we really are. Because what's the point of doing anything worthwhile if nobody's watching? And if people are watching, it makes you a better person.

That's what Nicole Kidman's Suzanne Stone Maretto says in To Die For (writing credits Joyce Maynard and Buck Henry).

Is it that or is it that John H. Johnson was African-American and Peter Jennings was white?

The media's unhealthy fascination with missing white women (which has bit them in the butt, ask Matt "It's not often that we have good news to report" Lauer) is something people have really begun to comment on and criticize as they've noted countless women and children of color who never make the headline or the cable feeding frenzy. Does the silence regarding John H. Johnson reflect a similar single-mindness/bias?

What we do know is that people have noticed the difference in treatment. People have noticed how one is a "tragedy for the nation" and the other, if mentioned, is mentioned in passing.

Were the frenzy coming out of ABC and CNN (and all subsidiaries) only, we could dismiss it, at best, as naval gazing (at worst as attempting to profit from someone's death). But the frenzy didn't end there.

We give The New York Times credit for doing three stories. (Though we noted that Peter Jennings received more coverage.) We give credit to The Chicago Defender for dedicating their entire issue to John H. Johnson, to Clarence Page, Dawn Turner Trice, Eugene Kane and anyone who else who bothered to note the passing of Johnson. We're sure someone's overlooked but we're equally sure that the list isn't that long. (We're ignoring all coverage in The Washington Post due to the fact that a "shout out" in a seventeen paragraph column, where Johnson isn't brought up until the final paragraph and mentioned only in the final sentence of the column, not only doesn't cut it, it disgusts us.) We also wonder why the ones noting Johnson's death in the mainstream media have mainly been African-American?

We think it underscores a lack of interest and a lack of ability to leave your own comfort zone (or move beyond your rolodex) in a predominately white, predominately male mainstream media. We don't doubt that many in the mainstream have never picked up Ebony or Jet because, as actions this week appear to demonstrate, it's an attitude of "that's for them." You can see it when some people speak of Ms. or Vibe or any other periodical geared to a certain segment of the population.

The mainstream prides itself on speaking to and for all. But it doesn't do that, does it? We saw that this week. If it spoke for all the passing of John H. Johnson would have registered. It didn't. Which is why many read "mainstream media" as equating "white male media."

Why is it that Michael Jackson, Kobe Bryant or any other celebrity African-American charged with a crime is headlines but the passing of a noted African-American isn't big news?

If Johnson had gone out in a scandal we don't doubt it would have been noted. There are narratives the mainstream media likes and, sadly, we really haven't moved beyond the "dangerous black male." Ink will be spilled on that, broadcast airwaves saturated with that.
John H. Johnson didn't fit the narrative and his passing was pushed out of the discussion.

Is it racism? It may not be personal racism on the part of anyone but it is institutional racism.
This week gave the perfect opportunity for the mainstream media to show that we had truly come a long way but instead that's not what happened. Maybe discussions revolved around who was covering John H. Johnson's death? If so, the fact that few were addressing it may have been a nice excuse not to dwell on it.

His death did touch people, it just didn't get traction with the mainstream media. We'll close by quoting from Dina Johnson's letter to The Washington Post:

When I was the press secretary for the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, Johnson Publishing was critical to my job. I preferred -- and the Rev. Jesse Jackson required -- that Johnson Publishing be aware of what the organization was doing. I recall contacting Jet and Ebony before I communicated with other mainstream media.
Johnson Publishing is still part of my dream, because when I get married, I want the ceremony to be performed by the Rev. Jackson and featured in Ebony magazine.
Johnson Publishing is the voice of black America. Mr. Johnson will be missed by all, but his legacy continues.

World News Tonight's hard hitting reporting (a parody)

The "personalized manner" in which ABC's World News Tonight saluted Peter Jennings work Monday, combined with the naval gazing quality of turning over so much of the evening broadcast of a show entitled World News Tonight made us wonder what else we could expect from ABC in the future?



Activity on the floor as people rush around. We take in various technicians that make up the crew.

Slowly we move towards the anchor desk where CHARLIE GIBSON is getting last minute make up touches and DIANE SAWYER sits with eyes closed, centering herself.


counting down, with fingers, from five as THEME MUSIC BLARES.

Good evening. I'm Charlie Gibson and this is World News Tonight. Our
top story, Diane Sawyer. How are you doing, Diane?

Tired, but you know all about that, Charlie!

Both guffaw.

Those early Good Morning America hours can try a soul! Ah, but
seriously, let's go to Barbara Walters.


on a monitor in a pre-recorded interview.

Diane was someone you knew to watch. I remember when she
was at other networks. I'd watch. You knew to watch. You'd see her and
think, "That girl, that's someone to watch." I remember saying that to
Sam Donaldson once.


on a monitor in a pre-recorded interview.

Barbara Walters always likes to tell the story that she told me Diane
Sawyer was someone to watch. Well there are two sides to every story
and here's mine: I am the one who noticed Diane Sawyer. I told
Barbara, "That's someone to watch."

At the anchor desk, Charlie, with a serious expression, shuffles papers.

Diane's had an illusturous career here at ABC. She's interviewed
everyone from Michael Jackson to Daniel Ortega. Over the years, she's
delivered many memorable moments. But viewers haven't seen all of


on the monitor. Diane is at the Michael Jackson Neverland Ranch. Diane teases Bubbles the chimp with a banana. Diane grins at the camera.

Bubbles grabs the banana.

Diane gasps and bursts into laughter.

At the anchor desk, Diane smiles warmly towards the camera.

I've always believed that as a journalist, the most important thing I
can do is tell a story. You've got two and half minutes, in some cases,
to convey a complex story and viewers depend upon you to bring the
news that's important to them . . . to them. I'm very proud of the
work I did in Afghanistan.


as we track her, she turns to the camera, lifts up the bottom hem of her burka and reveals she is wearing go-go boots. Dropping the hem, Diane bursts out laughing and slaps her knee with her right hand.

At the anchor desk, Diane smiles to Charlie.

After the commerical, we'll be back with an equally hard
hitting look at John Stossel. This is World News Tonight.

Diane nods seriously.

John Stossel, grim faced, dour reporter or network cut-up?


nervously around. Then we see he's holding a whoopi cushion and standing by a desk.

The name plate on the desk reads "Hugh Downs."

Still looking around, John pulls out the chair behind the desk, places the whoopi cushion in the chair, pushes the chair back up to the desk and, giggling, runs out of the office.


Bush no se reúne con Sheehan pero habla de ella (Democracy Now!)

Bush no se reúne con Sheehan pero habla de ella (Democracy Now!)

Miguel: Hola. En noticias de "Democracy Now!" aquí están quince titularespor la semana. Diga a un amigo.

Bush no se reúne con Sheehan pero habla de ella
El Presidente Bush salió ayer de su rancho en Crawford, Texas y se refirió por primera vez a la creciente protesta contra la guerra fuera de su propiedad. Lo que comenzó como la vigilia de una mujer luego se transformó en la acción central en Estados Unidos contra la guerra. Antes de esta semana, el tema tuvo muy poca cobertura en los medios corporativos acerca de las familias contra la guerra que perdieron a sus hijos en Irak, pero ahora Cindy Sheehan, cuyo hijo Casey murió en Irak, está en la primera plana de los diarios internacionales luego de acampar en las inmediaciones del rancho del presidente en Crawford.
El presidente Bush nombró a Sheean mientras se dirigía a los periodistas el jueves.
"Estamos en Estados Unidos. Ella tiene derecho a tener su posición y yo he pensado acerca de su posición con detenimiento. Escuché en boca de otros su posición, que es: Retírense de Irak ahora. Hacer eso sería un error para la seguridad del país y para la posibilidad de sentar las bases de la paz a largo plazo."
El presidente Bush, por consiguiente, se negó a reunirse con Cindy Sheehan en su rancho y envió emisarios en su lugar. Pero Sheehan prometió permanecer en Crawford hasta que Bush acceda a reunirse con ella. También señaló que acampará fuera de la Casa Blanca si es necesario, cuando Bush regrese de una de sus tantas vacaciones. El Presidente ha tomado más de 320 días de vacaciones desde que asumió su cargo por primera vez hace cinco años.

Vigilia de Cindy Sheehan logra apoyo del Congreso
Mientras tanto, en Crawford, Texas, Cindy Sheehan continúa su vigilia en las inmediaciones del rancho donde el Presidente Bush está nuevamente de vacaciones. La campaña de esa mujer, que perdió un hijo en la guerra de Irak y demanda que el Presidente se reúna con ella, obtiene notoriedad y apoyo. Sheehan estuvo en la primera plana de los diarios en los últimos días, desde que comenzó a acampar en Crawford. Familiares de militares de varios estados llegaron para acompañarla, y 38 miembros del Congreso firmaron un carta solicitando al Presidente Bush que la reciba. El sábado, el Asesor sobre Seguridad Nacional, Steve Hadley y el subjefe de personal de la Casa Blanca, Joe Hagin, tuvieron una breve reunión con Sheehan, pero ella calificó el encuentro de "inútil" e insistió en que permanecerá en Crawford hasta que pueda hablar con el Presidente.

General Myers afirma que podría haber una 3ª campaña para los soldados
El General Richard Myers, presidente del Estado Mayor Conjunto, afirmó esta semana que el Pentágono podría considerar el envío de tropas para un tercer período de servicio activo en las actuales ocupaciones de Irak y Afganistán. En general, esta no es la norma del Ejército, pero hay quienes acusan al Pentágono de haber desplegado soldados en tercer período de servicio.

Alcalde de Bagdad derrocado
En Irak, el alcalde de Bagdad fue derrocado. Según informes de prensa, 120 chiítas armados atacaron su oficina e instalaron a un nuevo alcalde en su lugar. El alcalde saliente advirtió que se trataba de una maniobra peligrosa y antidemocrática.

Encuesta: 57% dice que la guerra de Irak hizo menos seguro al país
Mientras tanto, en una nueva encuesta realizada en Estados Unidos por USA Today, 57 por ciento de los consultados dijeron que la guerra de Irak hizo al país más vulnerable a atentados terroristas. Sólo el 34 por ciento respondió que la guerra logró que el país fuera más seguro.

Aprobación al presidente Bush en su nivel más bajo
Mientras tanto, el índice de aprobación al Presidente Bush ha registrado su nivel más bajo hasta ahora. En una nueva encuesta realizada por la revista Newsweek sólo un 38 por ciento de los consultados aprobaron la forma en que el presidente Bush ha manejado la guerra de Irak. Su índice de aprobación general en esa encuesta fue del 42 por ciento, el más bajo desde que es Presidente.

Estados Unidos prepara envío de más tropas a Irak
El Pentágono se prepara para enviar más tropas a Irak antes de la votación de la nueva Constitución de ese país, prevista para octubre,l y de las elecciones de diciembre. Estados Unidos tiene actualmente 138.000 efectivos en Irak. La cifra aumentó a 160.000 antes de las elecciones realizadas a principios de este año. El portavoz del Pentágono, Lawrence Di Rita afirmó que "es esperable que hagamos lo mismo en las próximas elecciones."

Policía iraquí abre fuego contra manifestantes
Oficiales de policía abrieron fuego contra una multitud de manifestantes iraquíes en la ciudad de Samawah y mataron a uno de ellos. Más de 1.000 personas se habían volcado a las calles para exigir electricidad, trabajo y agua. Los manifestantes lanzaron piedras a las oficinas del gobernador y miembros de la milicia chiíta fueron vistos en las calles portando lanzagranadas. Más de 50 personas resultaron heridas, incluyendo 18 oficiales de policía y un manifestante murió en los incidentes, según informó el diario Times of London.

General de cuatro estrellas degradado por relación extramarital
El Pentágono se ha negado a aplicar sanciones a funcionarios militares de jerarquía por los maltratos en las prisiones de Abu Ghraib o Guantánamo, pero el ejército adoptó la inusual decisión de retirar el mando a un general de cuatro estrellas, no por participar en la tortura de prisioneros, sino por estar acusado de mantener una relación extramarital con una civil. El acusado es el general Kevin Byrnes, que dirigió el Comando de Entrenamiento y Adoctrinamiento del Ejército de Fort Monroe, en Virginia, y cuyo retiro estaba previsto para noviembre tras haber cumplido 36 años de servicio. Oficiales del ejército afirman que no hay antecedentes en la historia reciente de que un general de cuatro estrellas fuera relevado de sus tareas.

Tribunal Federal de Florida rechaza procesamientos de los Cinco Cubanos
En Florida, un tribunal federal rechazó los procesamientos de los cinco cubanos arrestados en 1998, luego de que compartieron información con el gobierno de Estados Unidos sobre planes de exiliados anticastristas en Florida para realizar atentados terroristas en Cuba. Los cinco fueron acusados de ser espías y una amenaza para la seguridad nacional de Estados Unidos. Durante años, activistas de todo el mundo se han organizado para pedir su libertad. El martes, el tribunal de Florida dictaminó que los hombres no tuvieron un juicio justo en Miami, el bastión de los exiliados opositores al gobierno cubano. El Comité Nacional para Liberar a los Cinco Cubanos solicita ahora al gobierno de Estados Unidos que los deje en libertad y levante las acusaciones en su contra.

Nuevo juicio para los Cinco Cubanos
Apenas un día después de que un tribunal federal de apelaciones rechazó los procesamientos de los Cinco Cubanos, el principal fiscal federal de Miami sostiene que volverá a someterlos a juicio por espionaje.El gobierno dice que el nuevo juicio probablemente se realice el año próximo en una ciudad que no sea Miami. Sin embargo, el abogado gubernamental Alexander Acosta comentó que está pensando en apelar la decisión tomada el martes tomada por el Tribunal de Apelaciones de décimo primer turno de Atlanta. Ese tribunal concluyó que el juicio original fue injusto, porque se desarrolló en Miami, el bastión de los exiliados cubanos de derecha. Según expertos en Derecho, el Tribunal de Apelaciones presentó evidencia tan abrumadora que los fiscales no tienen nada que objetar.

El Cantante cubano Ibrahim Ferrer de la Vista de Buena el Club Social Muere
En noticias de Cuba, el cantante Ibrahim Ferrer ha muerto a los 78 años. El ganó la fama internacional en 1997 cuando él fue alistado por formar parte de la Vista de Buena el Club Social. Ibrahim Ferrer murió en un hospital de La Habana el sábado.

Subcomandante Marcos reaparece para hacer declaraciones públicas
En México, el subcomandante Marcos, líder rebelde zapatista, habló públicamente por primera vez desde 2001. Con ropa militar de fajina y pasamontañas negro, Marcos apareció ante una multitud en el fin de semana para criticar a Andrés Manuel López Obrador, del Partido de la Revolución Democrática (PRD) y ex alcalde de la Ciudad de México, que lidera las encuestas para las elecciones presidenciales del próximo año. Marcos prometió no votar a López Obrador ni a ningún otro candidato. "Lo que queremos es ser sinceros: hace 12 años les dijimos que creíamos en el PRD, pero nos equivocamos al pensar que esa gente iba a ser consecuente con lo que decía; no es consecuente y no vamos a repetir el mismo error, porque allá se equivocan y pierden una elección, pero acá si nos equivocamos perdemos todo", afirmó.

Murió el gigante editorial afro-estadounidense John Johnson
El editor de revistas John H. Johnson murió a los 87 años de edad. En 1942, Johnson pidió 500 dólares prestados para lanzar lo que luego se convertiría en el imperio editorial afro-estadounidense más exitoso. Dos de sus revistas más famosas son Ebony y Jet. En 1982 se convirtió en el primer afro-estadounidense en integrar la lista de los 400 estadounidenses más ricos publicada por la revista Forbes. Johnson asistió a una escuela segregada en Arkansas. En su pueblo no había enseñanza secundaria para estudiantes afro-estadounidenses, y Johnson repitió el octavo grado para no abandonar sus estudios.

Mayoría de personas de Texas son de color
Texas se transformó en el cuarto estado del país en que las personas definidas como blancas se han vuelto minoría, junto con California, Nuevo México y Hawaii. El Departamento de Censo de Estados Unidos dijo el jueves que se trata de una tendencia que surge como consecuencia del creciente número de latinos que se mudan a Texas. Otros cinco estados, Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, Nueva York y Arizona, no se quedan atrás, con un decreciente 60 por ciento de personas definidas como blancas. Muchos especialistas en demografía dicen que ese grupo será minoría en todo el país en 2050.

Miguel: Hello. Here are fifteen headlines from "Democracy Now!" this week. Tell a friend.

Bush Won't Meet With Sheehan, But He'll Talk About Her
President Bush emerged from his ranch in Crawford, Texas yesterday and addressed for the first time the rapidly growing antiwar protest outside of his property. What began as a one woman vigil has now grown into the central antiwar action in the US. Before this week, there was very little coverage in the corporate media of antiwar families whose loved ones have been killed in Iraq, but now Cindy Sheehan--whose son Casey was killed in Iraq-- has grabbed international headlines by camping out in Crawford.
President Bush, speaking to reporters on Thursday:
"This is America. She has a right to her position, and I thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is: Get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so."
President Bush has thus far refused to meet with Cindy Sheehan at his ranch, instead sending emissaries. Sheehan has vowed to remain in Crawford until Bush agrees to meet her. She has also indicated she may camp out at the White House once Bush returns from yet another vacation. He has taken more than 320 days of vacation since assuming the presidency 5 years ago.

Cindy Sheehan Vigil Gains Support From Congress
Meanwhile, in Crawford, Texas Cindy Sheehan is continuing her vigil outside the ranch where President Bush is once again vacationing. And her campaign is gaining momentum and support. Sheehan, of course, grabbed headlines in recent days since she began camping near President Bush's ranch. She is the mother of a soldier killed in Iraq. As more military families arrived from several states to join Sheehan, 38 members of Congress signed a letter asking Bush to meet with her. On Saturday, National Security Advisor Steven Hadley and Deputy White House Chief of Staff Joe Hagin met with Sheehan briefly, but she called the exchange "pointless" and has said she will stay in Crawford until the president meets with her.

Gen. Myers Says 3rd Tour of Duty Possible for Soldiers
The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Richard Myers, said this week that the Pentagon may consider sending troops on third tours for active-duty as part of the ongoing occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. That is generally not the norm in the military, though some have accused the Pentagon of deploying soldiers for 3 tours already.

Mayor of Baghdad Ousted
In Iraq, the mayor of Baghdad has been ousted after 120 Shiite gunmen reportedly stormed his office and installed a new mayor. The outgoing mayor warned that the move was dangerous and undemocratic.

Poll: 57% of U.S. Says Iraq War Has Made Nation Less Safe
Meanwhile a new poll by USA Today in this country has found that 57 percent of respondents believes the war in Iraq has made the United States more vulnerable to another terrorist attack. Only 34 percent said the war had made the country safer.

President Bush's Approval Rating Reaches New Low
Meanwhile President Bush's poll ratings have reached a new low. A new survey by Newsweek found only 38 percent of the country approve of the president's handling of the war in Iraq. Overall his approval rating is just 42 percent - the lowest of his presidency.

U.S. Prepares to Send More Troops To Iraq
The Pentagon is preparing to send more troops to Iraq ahead of a scheduled vote in October on the new constitution and elections in December. The U.S. currently has 138,000 troops in Iraq. The total jumped to 160,000 ahead of the elections earlier this year. Pentagon spokesperson Lawrence Di Rita said, "It's perfectly plausible to assume we'll do the same thing for this election."

Iraqi Police Open Fire On Demonstrators
U.S. backed-Iraqi police offices opened fire on a crowd of Iraqis demonstrating in the town of Samawah. More than 1,000 people had taken to the streets to demand electricity, jobs and water. This marks the third summer that the residents of Iraq has suffered without regular electricity or water. Demonstrators threw stones at the governor's office and members of a Shiite militia were seen moving around the streets carrying grenade launchers. According to the Times of London, more than 50 people were wounded including 18 police officers. One demonstrator died.

Four-Star General Demoted For Extramarital Affair
The Pentagon has refused to punish any senior military officers for the prison abuse at Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo, but the army has taken the rare action of relieving a four-star general of his command. But not for any role in torture of prisoners. Gen. Kevin Byrnes stands accused of having an extramarital affair with a civilian. The General led the Army's Training and Doctrine Command at Fort Monroe, Virginia and he was reportedly set to retire in November after 36 years of service. Army officials say they could find no case of another four-star general being relieved of duty in modern times.

Federal Court Overturns Convictions of the Cuba 5
In Florida, a federal court has overturned the convictions of the Cuba 5. The Cuban nationals were arrested in 1998 after they shared information with the U.S. government on how anti-Castro Cuban exiles in Florida were planning to carry out terrorist attacks in Cuba. The men were accused of being spies and a threat to the national security of the United States. For years activists around the world have organized calling for their freedom. On Tuesday the federal court ruled that the men did not get a fair trial in Miami, a stronghold of Cuban exiles opposed to the Cuban government. The National Committee to Free the Cuban Five is now calling on the U.S. government to release the men and drop all charges. We'll have more on this story in a few minutes.

Retrial for 'Cuban Five'
Just a day after a federal appeals court overturned the convictions of the Cuban Five, Miami's top federal prosecutor says he will retry the men, who stand accused of espionage. The government says the retrial will likely happen next year and in a city other than Miami. But U.S. Attorney Alexander Acosta also says he is considering appealing Tuesday's stunning decision by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. That decision found that the original trial was unfair because it took place in the rightwing Cuban exile stronghold of Miami. Legal experts said the three-judge panel cited so much overwhelming evidence that there is nothing for prosecutors to challenge.

Cuban Singer Ibrahim Ferrer of the Buena Vista Social Club Dies
In news from Cuba, singer Ibrahim Ferrer has died at the age of 78. He gained international fame in 1997 when he was recruited to be part of the Buena Vista Social Club. Ibrahim Ferrer died in a Havana hospital on Saturday.

Zapatista Leader Marcos Reemerges to Speak Publicly
In Mexico, Zaptista rebel leader Subcomandante Marcos has spoken publicly for the first time since 2001. Wearing military fatigues and a black ski mask, Marcos appeared before a crowd this weekend to criticize Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador -- the former Mexico City mayor who is the leading candidate in next year's presidential race. Marcos vowed not to vote for him or any other candidate. "What we want is to be sincere, because 12 years ago, we told you and many others that we believed in the PRD party," Marcos said. "We were wrong to think that these people were going to carry out the actions that they spoke about. We are not going to make the same mistake because they make a mistake over there and they lose the elections, we make a mistake here and we lose everything we have."

African-American Publishing Giant John Johnson Dies
And magazine publisher John H. Johnson has died at the age of 87. In 1942, he borrowed $500 to launch what would become the most successful African-American publishing empires. He would go on to start Ebony and Jet magazines. In 1982 he became the first African-American to make Forbes magazine's list of the 400 wealthiest Americans. Johnson was educated in a segregated school in Arkansas. The town had no high school for African-American students so Johnson repeated eighth grade instead of dropping out of school.

Texas is Majority People of Color
Texas has become the fourth state in the country where white people have become a minority. The U.S. Census Bureau said Thursday this is part of a trend driven by a surging number of Latinos moving to the state. Texas joins California, New Mexico and Hawaii as states with majority-people of color populations. Five other states - Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York and Arizona - aren't far behind, with about 40 percent people of color. Many demographic experts say that whites will be in the minority by 2050.

Blog Spotlight: Cedric's Big Mix: "Anybody talking about John H. Johnson? Why not?"

For our blog spotlight this week, we note Cedric's Big Mix. Below, Cedric is addressing the lack of serious attention given to the passing of John H. Johnson.

Anybody talking about John H. Johnson? Why not?

Wednesday night is a church night so if you get an entry on a Wednesday, you better know it means something to me. I'm tired and sleepy and just got back from church but there's something that's bothered me all week.

Did you know that Peter Jennings died? I guess you did. I guess you couldn't listen to the radio or the TV without knowing about it. I guess you think he's the only one who died in the last few days. There were actually quite a few people who died.

One of them was John H. Johnson.

He started and published Jet and Ebony. Now I'm guessing if you never heard of them you don't get that those were important magazines. They helped fight stereotypes and they also helped people see what blacks could be and were. Back in the day, you didn't have Dr. Huxtable and the Huxtable clan. You didn't have a Denzel or anyone like that. If you saw a black person on your TV set they were usually a criminal or a maid or some servent. Now maybe they were a guest star on a musical special. That's about the most that could be hoped for.

My grandparents can tell you about it, my mother can tell you about it. (My father could tell you about it if he were still alive.)

You know when you pick up People Magazine and all the people in the ads are white? That's pretty common. Ebony & Jet were important enough that Johnson could get advertisers to use black people in the ads.

And not only did they uplift a people and inspire by offering something other than the usual stereotypes, the magazines could also address politics and civil rights. All of this was dreamed up by John H. Johnson. He knew we could support a magazine, support more than one magazine. Nobody opened the doors and said, "Man, let me give you some money to start up." He had to take out a long using his mother's furniture. That's how he started out. How he ended up was as the owner of two important magazines. In my community, his death is a big topic. He was a major businessman. He was a success story.

Having suffered through constant press of Michael Jackson and Kobe Bryant, you might think we could get some good TV exposure for a man who wasn't accused of a crime, for a man who made something out of his life and inspired people.But that's not what's happened.

I've been busy but my preacher's daughter told me tonight that she'd been all over the net and could find very little about John H. Johnson. He apparently doesn't matter in the white, white world of blogs.

I mentioned The Common Ills and how Johnson got mentioned Monday and Tuesday. She told me about an entry today and I hadn't read it yet. But she said, "That's about all I'm seeing." She also said she went to the Atlanta Journal Constitution online today thinking they would cover this because Atlanta has a large black population. All she found was his obiturary. She checked the columnists thinking for sure that Cynthia Tuker (aka Stab Cynthia McKinney) in the back would have written about him. No big surprise that Cynthia Tucker hasn't found the time. Today, Cynthia Tucker was wasting everyone's time with another column cobbled together, covering a lot of things, but not saying much of anything. (She's fond of "just last week" and "that was then" as she glides all over the surface and never lands anywhere. Unless she's attacking Cynthia McKinney.)

The mainstream's doing a lousy job of explaining why this man mattered and I guess the tokens in the mainstream don't want to shake things up or look "too black." So we're left with a lot of people ignoring the death of a man who did a lot and who had a life story that didn't involve charges of rape or child molestation.

At church I heard C.I. compared it to the way the little girls with blonde hair that turn up missing get a lot of press but when it's a child of color, the press just ain't interested. People thought that was pretty dead on right.

I think it's pretty dead on sick that John H. Johnson's death has been so little noted. I'm glad that The Common Ills could be counted on to note it. When our needs and issues are ignored and we complain, we're told "don't attack Democrats!" We're told "it's a big tent and everyone's welcome."

When a man who accomplished a great deal and led a life that doesn't embarrass us dies and no one wants to take the time to note it, don't think we don't notice. Don't think we're not aware that once again the big tent doesn't include us.

I'm copying and pasting from C.I.'s entry today but just including the part about John H. Johnson.

Hopefully you already know about him. If you don't, hopefully you will learn something.

We'll now note Dawn Turner Trice's "Ebony, Jet are old school but still relevant" (Chicago Tribune):

Back when black folk were Colored, pretty was light skin and "good hair." Rarely was it dark skin and nappy hair. Pretty was thin lips and a keen nose. Rarely was it thick lips and a much more ample nose.
Pretty was a look so filtered through a white lens and sensibility that many black folk couldn't achieve it no matter how they hot-combed their hair trying to look like a Lena Horne or used Nadinola to bleach their skin to resemble a Dorothy Dandridge.
But, of course, pretty was by far not our only hang-up in terms of our identity. The negative mass media images of what it meant to be Negro, Colored and/or black in America seemed boundless and touched everything, not least the psyche.
John H. Johnson believed he could hold up a different mirror. And that became his mission years ago when he began publishing Ebony and Jet magazines, among others. Johnson, 87, who died Monday of heart failure, understood so deeply that black people needed to see the success stories within the black community if they were going to move beyond the stereotypes connected with second-class citizenry.
That didn't mean telling half-stories or half-truths. It did mean making sure that the positive segments of the community would be illuminated and given breadth. Within the pages of Ebony and Jet we saw black doctors and lawyers and entrepreneurs. We saw marriages that spanned decades. Movie stars and athletes who were positive role models. Urban communities that were thriving.

Nolanda e-mails to note Julianne Malveaux's "
Johnson's vision in his legacy" (Chicago Defender):

The story of how Johnson started his magazine is now legend when African American entrepreneurs chafe about access to capital. A bank rejected his business plan, so he went back and asked for a loan to take a vacation. With his mother's furniture as collateral, Johnson took the $500 he was loaned and turned it into an empire. When Johnson started publishing in 1945, there were few Black athletes or actors, and even fewer visible entrepreneurs. Still, he gambled that the ones out there could inspire others, and he featured them on his pages. Many of us chafed at the rank materialism that seemed to ooze from Ebony, the photographs of this lush house and that high-rise office. Years later, I can see the logic in profiling the African American rich and famous. There was a message - if she can do it, so can you.
Black folks have come a long way since 1945. Then, more than two-thirds of us lived in poverty, but now just a quarter of us do (compared to 12 percent of whites). Then, most of us worked in menial jobs, and just 2 or 3 percent had college educations. Now, nearly half work in white-collar jobs, and more than 10 percent of us over age 25 have graduated from college. Despite all of that, we are barraged by negative images - of the thugs, hustlers and half-nude sisters that seem to grate their way through cable television videos. Ebony magazine often offers a respite from that swarm of swirling negative images, reporting, simply, on a promotion, a book published, a record produced, or the opulent lifestyle of someone successful. If a young Black man or woman can't get solace from the numbers - and who buries themselves in statistics - they can get solace from the notion that a little Black boy or girl who grew up without much managed to find some measure of success by making it into the pages of Ebony.

The latest edition of
The Chicago Defender is dedicated to Mr. Johnson:

This issue dedicated to Mr. Johnson is important - and definitely a keepsake - because he was more than a Black publisher. He ranks alongside the names of media titans such as David Sarnoff, the founder of NBC; William Paley, the builder of CBS; Ted Turner, who brought us CNN; and Henry Luce, who established Time Inc. into a world power.

Included in The Chicago Defender is this August 10 notice, "
Funeral arrangements for John H. Johnson:"

The body of John H. Johnson will lie in state Sunday from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Johnson Publishing Company, 820 S. Michigan Ave.
His funeral will be held Monday at 11 a.m. at the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 South Woodlawn.
Johnson's burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the John H. Johnson School of Communications, Howard University, 525 Bryant Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20059, (202) 806-7690, or the United Negro College Fund, 8260 Willow Corp. Dr., Fairfax, Va., 22031-4511, (703) 205-3400.

KeShawn asks a question that Roland S. Martin's "
John H. Johnson deserves R-E-S-P-E-C-T" also raises (Chicago Defender):

So with that being the case, why have our nation’s political leaders been so silent and slow on the draw in response to Johnson’s death?
We waited until 3:30 p.m. Tuesday before placing a call to the office of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) to find out why he had not said anything publicly about the loss of a giant. After getting the run around on the phone, I called and emailed his press spokeswoman, Angela Benander, who said that it was coming shortly. One hour later, it arrived. I wonder if that statement would have been issued had we not placed a phone call asking why (keep in mind, Durbin has still yet to make a public statement on the racial profiling of state Sen. James Meeks (I-15th), who is also pastor of Salem Baptist Church of Chicago).
Yet he isn't the only Democrat who has been silent.
Mr. Johnson was a favorite son of Arkansas, and his childhood home was recently converted into a museum. Yet with all of the wonderful things he has accomplished, the state's two Democratic senators – Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor – have not issued formal statements.
A spokeswoman told me Tuesday that Lincoln was aware of Johnson's death and made mention of it on a radio show, but that’s about it. Zip from Pryor's office. Normally, politicians are always looking to heap praises on those who hail from their state. I guess Mr. Johnson just didn't make the cut.

From Clarence Page's "
Indispensable" (Chicago Tribune):

To black Americans of my generation, Johnson's publications Ebony, Jet and Negro Digest were indispensable reading matter, offering a brighter and more prosperous vision of black America than most of the mainstream--also known as "white-owned"--media provided.
To advertisers, Johnson's pioneering publications broke through the myth that the black consumer market was not worth targeting through black-owned media.
Today the newsstands are filled with magazines niche-marketed to blacks or Hispanics, but that really began with Johnson back in the 1940s.
And to journalists, particularly black journalists, Johnson's publications provided employment, a training ground and a model for how people of color might be covered in a more complete fashion than simply crime, sports or show business stories.
His 1989 autobiography "Succeeding Against the Odds" reads almost like a business-school series of case studies in how to solve whatever problems life throws at you.When Arkansas refused to educate black children in his area past the 8th grade, his mother, Gertrude Johnson Williams, a cook and domestic worker, saved for two years to move her family to Chicago in the 1930s.
Young Johnnie was working days at a black-owned life insurance company and studying at night at Northwestern University when he started up Negro Digest in 1942 with $500 that his mother raised by borrowing against the family furniture.
When its circulation stalled at 50,000 a few months later, he persisted in requesting a guest column from Eleanor Roosevelt until she agreed, immediately boosting circulation to 100,000.In 1945, Johnson launched Ebony, a picture magazine for blacks. Its initial press run of 25,000 copies was completely sold out. Pocket-size Jet magazine began in 1951. Jet helped launch the modern civil rights movement in 1955 when it published open-casket funeral photos of the mangled body of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old Chicagoan who was savagely murdered while visiting relatives in Mississippi.

We'll note Felicia R. Lee's "
He Created a Mirror for Black America" (New York Times):

For generations of black Americans, Ebony and Jet were much more than magazines. The publishing empire founded by John H. Johnson in 1942, which made him both rich and one of the most powerful black Americans, chronicled black possibilities, achievements and positive images. They fed a hunger for information and good feelings during the many decades when black people seldom saw themselves reflected in the larger culture except in the most stereotypical ways.
Mr. Johnson, who died two days ago in Chicago at 87, was an iconic figure among black Americans, not only because of his business success but also because of his ability to showcase the sweeping range of black America, said business executives, academics and journalists interviewed yesterday. Many recalled sitting down with an issue of Ebony and thumbing through the photographs of movie stars, sports figures and ordinary black Americans and being thrilled finally to see people who looked like themselves.
"John Johnson's genius was that he could define the collective unconscious of the African-American people and put it into print," said Henry Louis Gates Jr., director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University.
Ellis Cose, a black former Chicagoan who is a contributing editor at Newsweek and the author of several books on social issues, said he was even thrilled when walking past the Ebony building on South Michigan Avenue, a high-rise emblem of black entrepreneurship. "The whole enterprise was astounding," he said. And years later, when he interviewed Archbishop Desmond Tutu in South Africa, Mr. Cose said that Mr. Tutu told him that he, too, had been inspired by Ebony during the dark years of apartheid.

We've noted Johnson twice this week already. But since it appears that there is a feeding frenzy over a "pretty, blond gone missing" (who knew Jennings was blond?) means Johnson gets overlooked. Now maybe there's not footage of Johnson yucking it up while fully dressed above the waist and just wearing boxers below, but Johnson did accomplish a great deal. So we'll take the time to again note his passing.

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