Sunday, August 21, 2005

Editorial: We have power if we use it

Is a dream a dream a lie
If it don't come true
Or is it something worse?
-- "The River" words & music by Bruce Springsteen

We had a few e-mails come in Friday with people expressing disappointment that Cindy Sheehan had left Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas. Did it mean the whole thing was over?

For the record, Cindy Sheehan left Camp Casey due to the fact that her seventy-four year-old mother had a stroke. If she's able to return, she plans to.

What she did was get an important issue into the national dialogue. She also stood up to the Bully Boy and his attack goons. The brave stance she held is both an inspiration and an example.

This isn't the end of the dialogue, whether she's able to return to Camp Casey or not.

For the first time, America was forced to look at a face that suffered from the consequences of the Bully Boy's actions. With Donald Rumsfeld and others screaming, "Don't show those pictures! Don't show those pictures!" for some time now, we'd divorced ourselves from the realities of our actions.

And with a non-accountable administration, it was easy to sit back on that sofa and flip to something else, to act as though we weren't fighting in one country, let alone two (officially).
"More death in Iraq . . . Hey, The Simpson's rerun is on the other channel, wanna' watch?"
While some reporters treated the invasion/occupation of Iraq as a video game, we were able to treat it, as a nation, as just another TV show and we could, and did, switch channels whenever anything got to uncomfortable.

Cindy Sheehan reminded the nation that it's not a TV show. She broke through Operation Happy Talk and resonated.

She got people talking and so did you. You passed on word about to her to your family, your friends, your co-workers, strangers even. You wrote letters to the editor, you demanded media coverage. Sheehan has called herself a spark and a fire was lit across the country. People who had never spoken out started talking.

For months, the official "debate" has been one over tactics. Even when polls indicated that America wanted the troops home now, the politicians, pundits and press refused to address the idea (unless it was to slap it down and ridicule it). Thanks to Cindy Sheehan we're now discussing the invasion/occupation. We're weighing in and offering our opinions to the people around us.

That's what democracy is about, participation. Democracy requires more than showing up at the voting booth. It requires stepping up and participating. The Bully Boy is not king. He does not rule by royal decree. He is a servent of the people and somewhere along the way, he wasn't the only one who forgot it, a lot of citizens did as well.

They shut down discussion and debate. Then one woman stood up and said enough. She asked for accountability. Something we should demand from our elected officials.

That's not going away.

She is a spark and there will be more.

While the media finally provided a spotlight to the discussion, it doesn't end with Cindy Sheehan.
She's been compared by some to Rosa Parks. The civil rights battle didn't end with Rosa Parks.
One person stands up and provides an example. It's up to us to follow that example.

So to the ones who worry that the issue will now go away, it won't. And you need to do your part to make sure it doesn't.

The military is drawing up plans for continued occupation through 2009. That can happen, if we let it happen. But we can also start to reclaim our power and demand that our government be accountable and responsible.

Cindy Sheehan stood up when the chattering class wouldn't and she earns our applause. But we're not an audience that came to see a show. We're citizens in what is supposed to be one of the best democracies in the world. Let's start demanding that it is that.

The occupation can go on for many years to come if we sit around and stay silent waiting for someone else to come along and speak out and hoping that -- pretty please, maybe -- some of our elected officials who can make the Chat & Chew circuit will speak out as well.

Or we can realize that this nation is ruled by the people, for the people and by the people. We can reclaim our power and make our voices heard. You have a say in how this country is run. Your voice is no more important than the Bully Boy's and his voice is no more important than your own -- provided you stop waiting for "them" to figure out what we should do. We. Not "them."

Cindy Sheehan inspires us with her bravery, true. But the act itself was about demanding accountability and remembering that each of us is a part of this country. We have power if we use it.

A note to our readers

Another Sunday, another edition.

This week, we offer "1 Book, 10 Minutes" focusing on Norman Solomon's War Made Easy. We have another media roundtable. Another "Third Estate Sunday Review News Review." Another editorial and, yes, another TV review from Ava and C.I.

To some people that seems anti-climatic. A few e-mailed on Friday about that.

Cindy Sheehan's leaving Camp Casey, though the e-mailers undersood why, left a few feeling dejected. Life continues. We'll either continue to wage the truth war or we won't. But some people appeared to think that, all by herself, Cindy Sheehan was somehow going to bring the troops home. Cindy Sheehan never thought that. She knows that we're all going to have to fight together to bring the troops home and end the invasion and occupation.

Yes, it would have been easier if Cindy Sheehan had the power, all by herself, to fix our country's problems for us. Then we could clap from the sidelines and not leave the house or interrupt our personal time.

The last two weeks were amazing as people worked hard to get the word out on the peace vigil in Crawford. As people spoke out and took part in a national dialogue. But this was one step in the process. That's a point Ruth made back in May when we interviewed her.

We've seen what is possible but the responsibility rests with us. So we need to be willing to continue to speak out, to continue to take part in our country demanding accountability, a hearing, and responses.

So if you're feeling dejected, don't be. Through Cindy Sheehan, we saw the power we have. Now it's time to excercise that power.

We thank the following for their help and input on this edition: Dallas, 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 thank Francisco and C.I. for allowing us to repost Francisco's entry. We thank Ava and C.I. for their TV review.
And we, always, thank our readers.

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

Third Estate Sunday Review news review

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review. With developing news, we go to Elaine.

Elaine: The Associated Press' Robert Burns interviewed Gen. Peter Schoomaker for an article that's recently been posted online, "Army Planning for 4 More Years in Iraq." In the interview, Schoomaker's planning goes beyond Bully Boy's term which would expire in January of 2009. His remarks are in opposition to recent remarks made by Donald Rumsfeld. They are, however, not markedly different from the Bully Boy's own remarks. Which is strange in that Rumsfeld's title is Secretary of the Defense. I'll also note that American military fatalities for this month are now at 64, compared to last month's total of 54. The reported fatality total for American military fatalities is now at 1863. The next largest fatality numbers for a country participating in the "coalition" is Italy which has had 27 military fatalities. Of the fatalities in the "coalition," 47 have been female, all but two American military. The Ukraine and England have each had one female military fatality. The US government does not release the number for the fatality count of Iraqi civilians and claims that they do not keep one. Iraqi Body Count offers that the minimum estimate is 23,589 Iraqi civilians who have lost their lives and 26,705 as the maximum number.

C.I.: To turn the focus to here in this country, this week you wrote about Daniel Cotnoir. Here's a quote from that entry, "Astronauts are 'decompressed' better than the military is. . . the military is expected to return to "normal" and fend for themselves with few resources.."

Elaine: Right. As Democracy Now! had reported, Contoir was "Marine of the Year." Returning from Iraq, he was suffering from post-war stress syndrome, reportedly suffering, and now he's facing attempted murder charges for firing out his window, allegedly firing out his window, at people.

C.I.: Are you familiar with Matthew Sepi?

Elaine: He's facing charges as well. For murder, I believe.

C.I.: He was in alley with a loaded assault rifle and had words with a couple twice. During the second time, shots were exchanged, the woman was killed and the man was injured. There's debate as to whom fired first. But Sepi's mother has stated that after returning from Iraq, her son had tried to get help but was instead put on a waiting list.

Elaine: Which, sadly, isn't that uncommon. The monies needed to deal with the stress isn't budgeted for. I believe that Sepi's attorney made the argument that he shouldn't be facing time but should instead be getting psychological help. And, my opinion, these and other violent crimes are the most extreme cases. There are many more cases where someone will carry pain and stress and as long as they don't turn violent on someone else, it won't be considered an issue or a concern. Even the alarming number of suicides of those returning from Iraq hasn't been given the media attention it warrents. But if I can editorialize here, certain organizations that pride themselves on busting through the spin and being nonpartisan, I'm thinking of one that rushed to the Bully Boy's defense on his "military spending," fail to factor in the fact that we have two wars going on that are declared as well as other actions going on all over. Military spending may be "up" compared to a time of peace, but that doesn't factor in the needs of the returning and to play referee they need to know the demands and the needs of the returning. They called a foul on John Kerry when, in fact, they didn't know what they were talking about because all they could do was look at bunch of economic numbers. They didn't know the first thing about needs or factor in the demands that increase during times of war. Bully Boy was cutting and the organization was wrong. And as Center on Budget and Policy Priorities would later note, the Bully Boy's budget called for a 16% decrease in veterans' programs. As for the other organization, the one that rushed to rescue Bully Boy and deny cuts during the election, it recently went to war on NARAL and why anyone takes them seriously is beyond me. My opinion and they can try to Opinion Check that if they want.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. And I believe Bill Scher of Liberal Oasis has called them the so-called Fact Now we go to Jess who's offering commentary on the reports and reporting regarding Cindy Sheehan and the Bully Boy.

Jess: In Sunday's Washington Post, Vietnam vet Andrew Bacevich argues "Call It a Day
We've Done All We Can Do in Iraq
." Bacevich argues that Iraqis need to determine their own future. On the other side of the coin, The Washington Post also has a laughable article by Mike Allen which includes the following: "The president had made it clear, going back at least to a California railroad swing during his 2000 campaign, that he does not care to meet with protesters or to reward them."
Perspective would require Allen noting that this is possibly a policy for dealing with terrorists but it is not one for dealing with citizens. Allen goes on to report that the Bully Boy and his camp feel that since there was one meeting with Cindy Sheehan in 2004, another is not required. Not once in the article does Allen raise the issue of Bully Boy's mealy mouth words about "sacrifice."
Allen does find time to utilize terms like "fierce partisan" to describe Sheehan. Allen also notes three speeches in the next two weeks, part of Operation Happy Talk, and that Bully Boy will link Iraq to 9/11 and terrorism. Allen, who finds the time to use "fierce partisan" himself to describe Sheehan, never finds the time to note that there is no connection between Iraq and 9/11. If the rest of the media is this derelict in their duties, expect an increase in the nation among people who wrongly believe that 9/11 and Iraq are linked in fact as opposed to just in the spin from this administration. This would coincide just in time for the anniversary reporting on 9/11 which will no doubt feature much footage of the Twin Towers falling down. Allen may be the first propagandist out of the gate but it's doubtful he'll be the last. I'll also note a columnist for The Lufkin Daily News, Cynthia Hall Clements who has written:

I am nearly giddy that Bush staunchly refused to meet with Sheehan, who camped outside his Crawford, Texas home for nearly two weeks requesting a meeting with the commander-in-chief. I am elated that he never relented, didn't meet with her and will head back to Washington D.C. in September fully refreshed after a month of rest and relaxation on the ranch. Bush just didn't need the hassle of malcontented voters while on vacation. Isn't the president entitled to a little R&R every now and again, even while our soldiers are being maimed and killed in Iraq?
Not that Bush did the morally correct, or even polite, thing, of course, but by rejecting this grieving mom's plea for solace and an opportunity to express her opinion about her son's death and the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, he politically legitimized Sheehan's cause. Bush allowed Sheehan to become the public face, a cult icon, of sorts, of the growing American dissatisfaction with his policy, or lack thereof, in Iraq. Bush, in his silence, allowed Sheehan to become the voice of moral authority and political accountability.
Here is what I say now: President Bush, Cindy Sheehan just doesn't need you anymore.
She failed to secure a private audience with the president, but Sheehan, with her stakeout of the president's home, had a captive audience in worldwide public opinion. She was the power of one, an ordinary citizen challenging our highest elected official, democracy in action. Regardless if you agree or disagree with her position on the situation in Iraq, like her, hate her, criticize her, or condone her, Sheehan represents what is best about our country, our First Amendment right to free speech, the right of legitimate dissent.

C.I.: That would be Lufkin, Texas. There are two Common Ills community members from that area.

Jess: One of them e-mailed it.

C.I.: Well good. What's the name of the column?

Jess: "Bush legitimizes Sheehan's cause" by Cynthia Hall Clements for The Lufkin Daily News.
CBS reports that anti-Sheehan "feelings" are mounting. This stems from one station in Utah refusing to air Sheehan's ad, despite the fact that the other two are airing it. Also noted is that war backers have set up camp in downtown Crawford. Unlike Elaine, CBS is unable to report on the organization that's a front group for a political p.r. firm. Wrapping up, I'd like mention that The Lone Star Iconoclast's Nathan Diebenow reports that Air America's Randi Rhodes "donated six cars to shuttle people" back and forth between Camp Casey and the Crawford Peace House.

C.I.: You're feelings on the opposition?

Jess: Late out of the gate and orchestrated. Cindy Sheehan's started the nation talking and this p.r. blitz won't change that. The group Elaine noted last week also attempted to take down Michael Moore's documentary which, as most will remember, went on to become the largest grossing documentary of all time.

C.I.: Thank you Jess. And we'll note that Michael Moore has a sequel to Fahrenheit 9/11 in pre-production currently. We now go to Cedric.

Cedric: Australia's ABC network has an interview with Sergeant Javal Davis, sentenced to six months for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib, where Davis says, "I was left with an open door to pretty much almost do whatever I want, you know like 'hey, make sure this guy has a bad night you know' or 'make sure this guy gets the treatment.'" Davis states that despite repeatedly requesting that his orders to abuse prisoners be put in writing, they were given orally. As part of a plea bargain, Davis admitted to abuse and making false statements to the military in February of this year so critics who want to dismiss his statements will probably fall back on that.

C.I.: The quote from Davis speaks to what's already been reported. Jane Mayer in her New Yorker article "The Experiment" noted the efforts. How much play is Austraila's ABC giving this?

Cedric: On their web site, not much. It's a brief summary of the program and the BBC has not picked it up. The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting on Davis' statements in article nearly word for word the same as what ABC is carrying.

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. We'll now go to Kat with news from the world of music.

Kat: Kanye West has decried the homophobia in rap and stated that rap was intended to be about "speaking your mind and about breaking down barriers, but everyone in hip-hop discriminates against gay people." The world is a little safer from Garth Brooks provided you avoid all Wal-Marts. Brooks has inked a deal where his recordings will only be available at Wal-Mart which, no doubt, will continue to look less than cutting edge as it promotes these albums since Brooks retired in 2000 and has no plans to return to recording. "Want music five years or older? Come to Wal-Mart" could be the slogan. Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas is working on bringing more music to Rosemead, California. Joining with city council member John Tran, they are attempting "to start a nonprofit program to teach Rosemead children break dancing, martial arts and in-house music production." Carly Simon, who is now under contract to Sony, will be performing two concerts on the Queen Elizabeth II as it sails from New York to England. Sony will release a DVD of the concerts in November and a one hour version will air on PBS in December during pledge drives. Moonlight Serenade, Carly Simon's latest album, is currently number two in internet CD sales. wonders if Dolly Parton is anti-war and notes that at her New York concert last Thursday, she performed the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn," Bob Dylan's "Blowing in the Wind" and John Lennon's "Imagine." Rolling Stone reports that both Courtney Love and Eminem are in rehab.

C.I.: Thank you, Kat. Now we go to Ava.

Ava: In Pittsburg police used a taser on one woman and a dog another to break up a peace march. The dog bit the woman on the leg. Participants have stated the police used excessive force.

C.I.: How many people were particiapting in the march?

Ava: The estimate is sixty particpants. Failure to disperse led to the two women and two other participants being arrested. There are also reports of pepper spray being used. There are also reports that that no order to disperse was issued.

C.I.: And the reliability of the offical version from the police.

Ava: Unreliable. Tammy Ewin, the official police spokesperson, told the press that no pepper spray was used. That claim was contradicted by the on duty supervisor, Sgt. Clint Winkler, who admitted to using pepper spray on the woman he later tasered. Winkler stated that, due to the woman's glasses, he had to use the taser because her the spray hit her glasses.

C.I.: It helps if the spokesperson has some idea what happened before speaking. You also have news from London?

Ava: Yes. Jean Charles de Menezes, the Brazilian man shot down admist claims of being a terrorist wasn't a terrorist, wasn't wearing a heavy coat, and the list goes on. The Observer reports that the police didn't even consider him "an immediate threat." The Independent reports that Sir Ian Blair is now claiming that he was "kept in the dark" until the day after the shooting that an innocent man had been killed.

C.I.: Okay, let me stop you for a minute for two reasons. Correct me if I'm wrong on this, but Blair, Ian Blair, tried to prevent an inquiry immediately after the death of de Menezes, correct?

Ava: Correct.

C.I.: So after having fought an inquiry, he now wants to attempt to use an "in the dark" excuse?

Ava: That's correct.

C.I.: Okay. Well the second reason I wanted to stop you was to review the original report because some people may be coming in late to this story. The world was told, the day de Menezes was mowed down with seven shots to the back of his head, that at the train station, de Menezes was acting erratically, we were also told that he lept some sort of barrier at the train station, that he ran from the police, that he was wearing a bulky jacket and that there was some suspicion that he had a bomb underneath the jacket. Is that how it was originally reported?

Ava: Yes. He was not wearing a bulky jacket. It's been described as a light denim jacket. He did not jump a barrier, he was not running for the police. To repeat from earlier, the police are now admitting that they did not see him as an "immediate threat." Possibly because he was apparently minding his own business and reading a newspaper. But police issued statements at the time that "his clothing and his behavior at the station added to suspicions." This, again, was not the case. The claims were false. The police have also denied claims of an attempted pay out to the family. An offer of some form did occur and The Observer reports that they've seen a document on the payment offer. Scotland Yard now says they offered 15,000 pounds in compensation. There were originally claims of a much higher amount. When those claims were made, the police stated that nothing other than the money required to cover "initial expenses" had been offered. The 15,000, in the document The Observer saw, is for compensation and other monies are mentioned for expenses. The document "sets out a final settlement, on top of an agreement to pay repatriation and legal fees." Sir Ian Blair says that people should not let the shooting overshadow the London bombings.

C.I.: Yes, he would feel that way, wouldn't he? Brazil is sending investigators to England?

Ava: They are sending two investigators and there are some trumpeting the fact that they were invited but the invitation occurred only after the Brazilian government requested it. And Brazil's Foreign Ministry issued a statement using the word "outraged" over the emerging facts.

C.I.: Well thank you, Ava. And thank you to Dallas who hunted down links and to Jess' parents who helped Dona, Betty, Mike and Jim with research. If you enjoy the feature, be sure to credit Dona with coming up with the idea.

Second media roundtable for August

Ava: It's Sunday and time for another Third Estate Sunday Review media roundtable. I'm Ava, acting moderator, and participants includes Jess, Jim, Dona and Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine who's substituting for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude and C.I. of The Common Ills. Ty?

Ty: It's The Third Estate Sunday Review roundtable and the way you can tell that is that we have people of color and we have both genders. Far from the Sunday Chat & Chews and their limited right-leaning scope is where you'll find our roundtable.

Jim: So let's start up front with the vigils this week, on Wednesday to show support for Cindy Sheehan. Everyone here attended one in their area.

Elaine: I was surprised by how the mood was "I don't want to leave." There was a coming together and, this probably goes in some way to Cedric's "Connections," I've been to rallies before where you do your part and then you leave. I don't know what everyone else saw but I ended up staying close to three hours after the vigil ended and could have stayed longer because everyone wasn't rushing off after it was over. People wanted to talk and share.

Betty: Before, everyone was very friendly, but I can't talk about after because I had my kids with me and they had school the next day so I was one of the people who says "We're done? Great!" and rush off.

Cedric: Yeah, I had to go to church and knew I'd be late but wanted to take part and show support. But even with needing to leave, I did get involved in two conversations after so I'd agree with Elaine on that.

Jess: I was expecting to see the same faces, friendly faces, and was surprised most by how many new faces were present. I did make a point to speak to some of the new faces. There was a couple present, mid-twenties, white, and they shared that they'd voted for Bully Boy but they were against the war. They told me they didn't regret their vote because they didn't think things would be any different in Iraq with John Kerry in the White House but they were disappointed in Bully Boy and in their party so they were planning to not vote straight ticket in 2006.

Mike: I saw a lot of students because a group of us were pushing it hard on campus. There was a 19 year-old named Stacy that told me she didn't usually get involved in anything and just stayed focused on her classes but that the occupation was immoral and she felt she had to "be present." She said she was sympathetic to Cindy Sheehan when Camp Casey started but when she started hearing some of the attacks on Sheehan, that turned her from sympathetic to supportive.

Ava: Interesting. She used the term "immoral?"

Mike: Yeah. She was basing her opinion on her religion, Methodist, and she said she was not political. But she said everyone knows what's right and what's wrong and there's no way what we're doing is right. I asked her when she decided it was immoral and she said she probably knew that and just didn't deal with it but when she saw Cindy Sheehan on TV it was hard to keep denying it and then when people started attacking her that she felt it was her religious duty to "be present."

Dona: We encountered Quakers, Jim and I, at the vigil we attended. Which isn't surprising but it is something that you don't hear about in the mainstream media.

Jim: Right. The Quakers are very much a part of the peace movement but you don't hear about them. And there are many religious people of all demoninations that are against the war.

Cedric: As a whole, my congregation is against it.

Betty: Mine too. But I go to a black church and, as a race, we've been against the war from the start. And that's something they'll talk about on urban radio but you won't hear about it in the mainstream media unless it's a polling story where it gets tossed in.

Ava: So where does it stand now? Cindy Sheehan's had to leave Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas due to her mother's stroke. What are your feelings?

Mike: Other Gold Star Family moms are there and Democracy Now! did a really great show Friday. But whether the mainstream media will continue the coverage, I don't know.

C.I.: Elisabeth Bumiller filed three reports last week in the New York Times but there's not been one since the story on Sheehan's departure. Steve Earle is there, was there, this goes up Sunday, was there Saturday. Joan Baez will be there on Sunday. People continue to travel to Camp Casey to show their support.

Kat: Yeah but I can hear the derision of them, Earl and Baez, as "anti-war" types and I'm not talking about the right wing. I'm talking about people who play centrists.

C.I.: And you could be right. And maybe the answer is to steal a page from Ms. and make up some t-shirts that say "This is what anti-war looks like." But, for instance, Joan Baez is a Quaker and she's got a long, long history of activism and committment. If someone wants to trash her, someone in the center or left-leaning, they aren't just revealing how quickly they'll draw a line to look "respectable," they're revealing their own ignorance. And those cheap sort of easy jokes, they don't play as well in times like these. So they can do their jokes and maybe appeal to a small group of people but even the people who know little of Joan Baez will likely recoil from them. So possibly, the best thing that they can do, is draw that line so that people know exactly where they stand. Joan Baez was working with Amenesty when most Americans were confusing it with Amway.

Kat: I agree. But we've seen the way this plays out and it's so interesting that while the right will go for our throats, our so-called friends will be pushing past them, with piano wire, to slit our throats.

Jess: Agreed. It's the same type that knocks my parents.

C.I.: Jess wrote a great thing about his parents and he wrote it as a bonus entry for The Common Ills mirror site. I posted it at the main site and I know everyone was scrambling to put the last edition together last weekend but I really think that should get highlighted as a Blog Spotlight this week.

Jim: Concur. I'll say "concur" to avoid saying "agreed." We got an e-mail saying "You guys use 'agreed' too much. There are other words. Buy a thesaurus."

Kat: We'll let me try to tie this in because I know Dona's probably thinking "off topic."

Dona: No, actually not. This is a topic. There's a time when I might have thought that but what we've seen recently makes it a topic and ties it in with attitudes towards Cindy Sheehan.

Elaine: I'd agree with that. Trash Jess' parents, trash Cindy Sheehan, at the root of it is always the desire to be seen as "respectable." They're taking their cues from a crowd they want to fit in with. It's not an attempt to speak on one's own, it's an attempt to prove "Hey guys, I'm just like you! Let's go spit on some peace activists!" It's a white club, mainly male and mainly middle class and people who want to be in it, or more importantly people who fear not being in it, will rush to prove their "respectability." It's very common among middle class, usually the lowest of the middle class. The ones raised with money could care less about fitting in, the ones raised without money usually have a different view of the world, but the lowest rung of the middle class especially knows how close to lower class they were and they're motivated by the fear of slippage. That's one explanation and only one. I could go on but I'm sure its boring.

Ty: Not at all. I grew up dirt poor and I have no problem saying that. On campus, for the most part, if you grew up poor, you aren't pretending to be something you're not. But those kids that are just one rung up work overtime to try to curry favor with the people they see as . . .

Jess: Their economic "betters"?

Ty: Yeah. First week of my first semester here, I met a guy, Dona, Jess, Jim & Ava will know who I'm talking about, that I thought would end up a great friend. We both grew up in similar ways. I don't even recognize him now when I see him. The other day he was in a group of kids, mainly white but not all white, talking about African-Americans and how "dumb" they were. Trying to fit in with the upscale crowd he was with.

C.I.: Queen Bee syndrome. Get in on a pass, as an exception. You'll be kept as the exception.

Ty: So they all get to laugh about African-Americans and put us down as a group because they have a token around who'll say it too.

Betty: That story is sick. I'm lucky because I don't have to be around people like that. I live in a black community. I'm sure it happens in other ways but in terms of someone knocking my race to fit in, I don't have to deal with that. I'm really sorry that others have to.

Cedric: Well I mean, I'll bring up a movie and some people will just think "soap opera" because that's how it plays to the broad audience but I've never met a black person who's seen it that couldn't talk about it at length . . .

Betty: Imitiation of Life!

Cedric: Exactly. The general public, it's just a soap opera movie. Lana what's her name --

Kat: Turner.

Cedric: Turner, right, and her rich life and her problems with her daughter and her love life. But you talk to black people about that movie and, if they've seen it, they don't even mention Turner. They're focusing on the maid and her daughter and how the daughter passes as white.

Ty: That is my grandmother's favorite movie. She will grab some tissues and sit down to watch that and have a long cry. You're right, Cedric, that does have different meaning for black people.
We're caught up in trying to understand the daughter because racism does exist and she can pass for white so is it wrong to try to use the system and if it's wrong, is it wrong from the beginning? And if someone tries to say it's wrong from the beginning, usually an older person will shoot back that racism then isn't what it is today and that if she'd used it to get an education at college or something and then come back to the community to help out, it might be understandble. There are some deep and some loud conversations that go on around that movie.

Betty: And who can watch that and not cry because she's denied everything she is and then her mother dies and she comes back and . . . I'm stopping before I cry right now. But yes, it's about identity and who you are. If you watch it from that perspective, it's not just some soap opera.

Kat: And the basic plot was used in a song recorded by Diana Ross & the Supremes called "I'm Living In Shame."

Betty: One of my favorite songs. I saw the concert where Diana Ross was with the two later Superemes and Diana did that song. She was asking what people wanted to hear and that song got shouted out over and over. We were all clapping like crazy after it was over.

C.I.: Reached number ten on the pop charts in 1969, originally appears on the Diane Ross & the Supremes album Let the Sunshine In but you can find it on various anthologies and 'best of's. Written by Pam Sawyer, R. Dean Taylor, Frank Wilson, Berry Gordy and Henry Cosby. Before anyone e-mails.

Betty: It's one of my favorite songs but I can say that about pretty much everyone of the hits Diana Ross sang.

Cedric: You grew up hearing her, right? And the Commodores and Stevie Wonder?

Betty: Yes. You two?

Cedric: Yeah and that's, my opinion, part of why John H. Johnson's passing was a yawn to the mainstream media. They don't realize that are role models growing up, the ones our parents point to, aren't just George Washington or RFK, but they're people like Johnson or Diana Ross or Lena Horne or Stevie Wonder or Jackie Robinson or anyone who broke through the color barrier. Whether the person gives back to the community or not, they're held up as a model of "See, it's possible." I won't be mean and name any, but there are probably a number of people that a group of white people could come up with, a group of names, and their deaths, if it was natural causes death, wouldn't really raise much interest in the black community. There are people that our community lionizes that would fit into the mainstream but there are people that, if you just know white people and just talk to them, that you'd never realize meant so much to so many black people. If you were a pioneer in some field, it doesn't matter if no one heard about you in twenty or thirty years, you still hold an interest. Like Kat mentioned the last two weeks about Martha Reeves running for the city council in Detroit. Nobody I told about that asked what her politics were, they just spoke of her proudly. And with people my age or younger, I might have to say "Heat Wave" or "Dancing in the Streets" but once I did, they were impressed and happy for her.

Ty: Which is really happy for themselves, and I don't mean in a selfish way, because Martha Reeves, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, the Temptations and others really did break down color barriers in popular music and that's something, something important, that my grandparents drilled into me over and over.

C.I.: By the way, CounterSpin addressed the lack of coverage of John H. Johnson's death on this week's show. CounterSpin is FAIR's weekly radio program.

Ava: So where are we in terms of a national discussion on the invasion/occupation?

Jim: Well Cindy Sheehan says she'll return to Camp Casey but that of course depends upon her mother's health. But there are others remaining at Camp Casey.

Dona: And what started, the attention that she got started, isn't going away.

Cedric: She said she was a spark and she is. I hope her mother recovers and I hope that she's able to go back to Camp Casey but if she's not able to, she's done her part and brought up the issue in a way that made us look at it as a nation.

Mike: I'd agree with that. The conversation wasn't just from people already involved in it. She reached people who'd never thought about it for whatever reason and I think we'll see that it's like a seed that got planted and it will just grow and keep growing.

Jess: Elaine wrote a thing about it and about how Bright Eyes, a few months ago, did "When a President Talks to God" on The Tonight Show. Now we've had Cindy Sheehan and there have been others as well but I think that each time someone's spoken out, they've reached a few more people and that the ball's rolling and it's not stopping.

Kat: Because part of it is that we haven't been talking and we've been silenced. So each time someone comes along and raises the issue it does have an impact and you'll see more people raising the issue. It's not going away. And that was one of the points, I thought, of "Scattered Jottings," the thing C.I. wrote this week. Courage to speak out breeds courage in others.

Ava: And on that note, we'll conclude the media roundtable.

1 Book, Ten Minutes

While going to war may seem easy, any sense of ease is a result of distance, privilege, and illusion. The United States has the potentiaal to set aside the habitual patterns that have made war a frequent endeavor in American life.
There remains a kind of spectator relationship to military actions being implemented in our names. We're apt to crave the insulation that news outlets offer. We tell ourselves that our personal lives are difficult enough without getting too upset about world events. And the conventional war wisdom of American political life has made it predictable that most journalists and politicians cannot resist accommodating themselves to expediency by the time the first missiles are fired. Conformist behavior -- in sharp contrast to authentic conscience -- is notably plastic.
"Anyone who has the power to make you believe absurdities has the power to make you commit injustices," Voltaire wrote. The quotation is sometimes rendered with different wording: "As long as people believe in absurdities they will continue to commit atrocities."
Either way, a quarter of a millennium later, Voltaire's statement is all too relevant to this moment. As an astute cliche says, truth is the first casualty of war. But another early casualty is conscience.
When the huge news outlets swing behind warfare, the dissent propelled by conscience is not deemed to be very newsworthy. The mass media are filled with bright lights and sizzle, with high production values and lower human values, boosting the war effort. And for many Americans, the gap between what they believe and what's on their TV sets is the distance between their truer selves and their fearful passivity.
Conscience is not on the military's radar screen, and it's not on our television screen. But government officials and media messeages do not define the limits and possibilites of conscience. We do.

Jim: The above is from Norman Solomon's War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, pp. 236-237. This is "1 Book, Ten Minutes." Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Ty, Jess, Dona, Ava and myself, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Elaine who's subbing for Rebecca at Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, and C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review. Mike, set us up.

Mike: First off, War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death, the link takes you to the official site for Solomon's book and there you can find excerpts as well as some essays written by Norman Solomon. I think our links are usually informative but I want to stress that this site has a lot of material. Norman Solomon's one of those people that a year ago I wouldn't have known. Say their name and I would have gone, "Huh?" That's part of being eighteen and, I'd argue, part of the process of education but I'll save that for another time. I started hearing the name at The Common Ills and I'd see something by him and without realizing it, I knew the name. When he was on Democracy Now! recently, I was listening to Amy Goodman do the introduction to the show and I was like, "Norman Solomon, cool!" And he was a really cool guest so we'll do a link to that discussion from Democracy Now! So the point is, if you don't recognize the name, don't feel bad because I was in the dark a year ago too. If you do recognize the name, you probably already know that this book, War Made Easy, is a pretty important book even if you haven't read it. Solomon's looking at the history of modern day deception and this is a pretty important book.

Jess: One thing that especially stood out, for me, was how much fun Solomon has a writer. There's a life to his writing and it's there throughout but one standout moment for me was when he was talking about the media lobbying "softballs" and then adds "and beachballs." Some people may look at the title and think, wrongly my opinion, that they already know everything and it's going to be some book that's bogged down and lifeless but that's not true of this book.

Ava: Solomon's an activist. He cofounded FAIR and he's the founder of the Institute for Public Accuracy. Those are wonderful credentials but I mention them because this isn't a book that says, "Here's what happened, now you know, go on back to your haze and fog." He's putting it right back on the reader. This isn't a "far away" book, this is a book about our own power and our own responsibilities. That's one of the reasons we were able to reach a consensus on the quote at the top. There are other reasons and I'm sure Kat or Elaine will probably touch on them. But this wasn't a book where the discussion on what to quote was a two minute thing or left to one individual, we all had strong opinions on what the quote should be. None of us could agree on what the others were picking because we felt our own choices were just as important.

Ty: Right because we all had examples that rang true to us and spoke to us. They were specific incidents that Solomon was covering in the book and they were either points we'd made in our way in our own lives or information that just made our mouths drop, there's a lot of that in this book, and we really wanted to share that. We spent thirty minutes debating what quote to use and that's because so much of the book spoke to us which I feel is a strong recommendation for people to read this book. Usually, one of us is most passionate about a book or an author or we do this feature last, like with Exceptions to the Rulers, and we're in a rush so whomever argues the strongest gets the pick of the quote. But we started this fairly early and the result was that we were all very strong about what part best presented the book.

Cedric: And I really enjoyed this book. My comments are going to be the part I wanted quoted, from page 214:

"When popular resolve among the Vietnamese disappointed Washington, U.S. strategists would change the government in Saigon," William Greider recalled. "The U.S. proconsul in Baghdad, Paul Bremer, fired the interior minister in charge of the Iraqi police we trained to maintain civil order, because they fled the police stations rather than shoot it out with their countrymen." A journalist with several professional decades behind him by 2004, Greider saw a recurring motif: "To my eye, the insurrection under way in Iraq looks like 'little Tet' -- a smaller version of the original Tet offensive the Vietcong staged in 1968. It shocks Americans in much the same way. Iraq is a 'little war' compared with Vietnam, but Americans are learning, once again, that the indigenous people we 'liberated' do not love us. Many want our occupying army to withdraw."

Cedric (con't): It's amazing how uninformed we can be of history and patterns and the book just proved to me how very little I knew. It was eye opening.

Kat: And for some people it may just be a reminder. If that's the case, if people who remember earlier history as a distant memory see it as a reminder, well we need to be reminded. And Solomon's arguing a case that's got a historical and factual basis to it. Reading it, sidebar, I got why C.I. speaks of disgust with the daily papers. There's a section in the book where Solomon's speaking of how the paper tries to have it both way by reporting something and then acting as though it didn't happen until it's necessary to mention it again but use it to argue "resolve" or whatever. He notes George Orwell's "productive stupidity" from 1984. And when you think about and how the daily paper offers very little perspective . . . It made me think of Amy Goodman and what an amazing job she does. There was a Headline item two weeks ago where she noted that a general had been demoted for an affair and then noted that none had been punished for Abu Graihb.

C.I.: Okay, Dallas has that Democracy Now! link, it was Thursday, August 11th. Here's the item that Kat's referring to:

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.

Kat: Thank you, Dallas. But see, you read the story in the paper, I read about it in the LA Times, and you don't get that point that Amy Goodman's making, that perspective: "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." You don't get that in your daily paper. Or when C.I. steers you to something with "you can supplement this article in the Times by reading this" from The Nation or whatever. And that and the whole vanishing something down the memory hole just really came across, how the daily papers do that, while I was reading Norman Solomon's book.

Dona: Newspapers don't do think pieces or perspective pieces. I'm not defending them, I'm just noting it. They're spitting out the barest details of what just happened the day before and magazines, strong ones, are where you have to go for perspective. Again, I'm not defending that. I agree with Kat that those sort of connections could be made and, obviously, it's not unusual for Amy Goodman to do them on a daily basis five days a week, so newspapers could do so as well. But their argument would be, and they've made it, reporters, when they've spoken to some of our classes, "We're on a deadline and we're writing quickly with what we know." But what they know, and here's the big problem for me, is what they're told. I've been amazed, and I think this is a point C.I.'s made at The Common Ills, at how unaware they are of what others are writing. Not only what others are writing at magazines but what others are writing at their own papers. Time and again, someone in class would bring up some detail that got left out of the reporter's story and the response would be, "I'm not aware of that." And the student would respond, "Well your paper published that two weeks before your article ran." And it's not an obscure detail buried at the bottom of the article, it's usually the lead of a front page story.

Elaine: And I'd argue that goes to the need for people to get their information from more than a daily paper. We hearing a lot of whining about the fall in circulation for the dailies but at the same time, you've had an increase in subscriptions and readership of some publications like The Progressive or The Nation. And awareness of Democracy Now! has just soared. I'm not a journalist so I'm looking at it from my own field, psychology, and what I see in daily papers on psychology is usually so off the mark that I wonder why they even bothered to print it. Most of the time what they've printed either opens a can of worms that they didn't deal with and probably were unaware of or else it's just so far from reality that I don't see any benefit for any reader from the article being printed. But to move back to the quote above, and it's a thread to throughout the book that gets explicitly stated at the end, we are responsible, we do have power. We may choose to disempower ourselves, but we have the power if we excercise it. And this week, Mike, Kat, Elaine, C.I., Cedric and Betty, we were all shocked to hear that policy making on the war in Iraq was not something that the citizens of this country should have a say in it. We read that, or heard about it, and responded to it. That idea goes so against empowerment and so against democracy that it still stuns me that it was written. But I do think it goes to where you get your information. And if you're reading a daily paper as your sole information or, worse, watching the network news, you're getting a shocking incident here and there that's never connected to a larger picture and you're not encouraged to do so yourself. On top of that, the administration trots out Operation Happy Talk on a regular basis and the reporters fall in line and repeat the phoney claims and trumpet them and you're left with a confused public. I have a very low opinion of daily papers and that comes, granted, from the way I see my field covered in them. But it also comes from the fact that there's no perspective and everything is "Today in . . ." and today never gets connected to yesterday or last month or anything else. That's why when an author like Norman Solomon writes a book like this there is a strong response to it. It's about making the connections and providing the perspective.

Betty: I would agree with that. I would have before I read the book but after the examples he sets forth, I would agree with it even more. This is a tough book. Jess pointed out that his writing style makes it enjoyable to read but it's a tough book. And that's because, I think, Solomon's asking for not just perspective, but accountability and not just from leadership but from all of us. I really enjoyed this book. I really enjoyed this book and I would do like Cedric did and read the part that spoke most to me but I know we're trying to stay focused and complete this within ten minutes so I'll just say, "Read it" and pass to someone else.

Jim: Who hasn't discussed it yet?

Betty: C.I.

C.I.: I like the book, really, I love it. I'll be brief and I'll note that I enjoyed how he went into the editorials and the avoidance of the "bring the troops home" issue, even when facts in the paper -- obviously I'm speaking of the New York Times -- suggested that "success" was a huge leap from reality. Everyone's brought up strong points and I know Dona's watching the clock so I'll let that be it from me.

Jim: Okay, so this is a book with thumbs way up. Read it. War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death by Norman Solomon. Dona had an announcement that we'll go out with.

Dona: We'd planned to review Edith Wharton's Custom of the Country among other books this time. C.I. got an e-mail that later was also sent to us here about how we are ignoring fiction. We're not attempting to ignore fiction. When we lost a "Five Books, Five Minutes" awhile back, we had commented on fiction and poetry in that feature. But when a book comes along that deserves the entire entry, we've focused on that one book and it has been nonfiction. We hope to do some fiction in the future and feel free to suggest books via e-mail but we're reading books and if one stands out and becomes the focus for an entire feature, it will probably continue to be nonfiction. Due to the debate over what quote to use to capture this book, it became obvious that the entire feature should be devoted to Norman Solomon's War Made Easy. Read the book and you'll understand why that is.

TV Review: Rodney

Rodney Carrington stars as . . . Rodney Carrington on ABC's Rodney. He works in the fiber glass industry he wants to be a famous stand up comedian. He's married and he and his family (wife, two kids) live in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That's the basis for this sitcom. Does it seem thin? Thread bare?

You are correct. Despite doing standup for over a decade (16 years), there aren't a lot of laughs onscreen from the Kilgore College alumni Rodney Carrington. (We told you there are a ton of Texans on TV these days -- we could have noted that with Veronica Mars as well but we're sure someone's already on this "trend story.") At 37, he's the perfect age for his TV debut as yet another not-so-smart TV dad. Has there ever been a really sexy TV dad? We can't think of one and baby-toothed Carrington continues the tradition.

Baby-toothed and baby voiced. (The children playing Jack and Bo, like everyone else on the show, have deeper voices than Carrington.) If you're having a hard time seeing him as a standup comedian, that may be due to the fact that his act, in real life, plays with that image. When he does a "Dear Penis" song, for instance, part of the joke is that it's coming from someone who makes Mayberry's Opie look cutting edge. The act won't play on broadcast television. (There's a reason his comedy albums come with an advisory sticker.) So why did anyone think that Carrington playing a stand up comedian would work on television? It's as convincing as Kurt Russell in Touchstone's Captain Ron. (Rodney is also a Touchstone production. In some language, Touchstone must mean "crap.")

It doesn't work. He's barely registering as a character wanting to be a stand up comedian. In one of the episodes we watched last week, he picked up a guitar and sang a song. He's believable as a country & western singer. Whatever his deficiencies in a the restrictive medium of broadcast TV, he can convincingly come off as someone who could realistically dream of being a singer.

These shows about people wanting to break into the performing arts rarely work (Joey is the rule; That Girl the exception) but if the "joke" isn't that the person has unrealistic dreams, a show about a struggling artist needs to show the audience that the person has a degree of talent in the area s/he is pursuing.

Rodney is pursuing laughs and never catching any. The laugh track actually exists as a mocking track -- blaring out at humorless moments and reminding you just how lacking in humor this show is.

How bad is the show? Amy Pietz, who provided the only life there was in the sedate-com Caroline in the City, barely registers. Pietz who managed to pierce through the lifeless blob of Caroline and wring out some laughs can't do it here. (Maybe the whole backing the truck into the lake bit -- offscreen, by the way -- isn't as funny as it is seemed when thought up as the last can of Lone Star got downed and the last chip fished out of the Fritos bag?)

Why can't Pietz get her footing? Because the show doesn't know what it is. Sometimes it wants to be so sweet you can feel your teeth aching. Sometimes it wants to be a little raunchy. Sometimes it thinks it's Home Improvement. (Which may explain the Jonathan Taylor Thomas vibe from coming the child actor playing Jack but certainly explains Carrington's grunts and the tool humor.) Worse yet is when, in a single episode, it moves from Life With Bonnie to Grace Under Fire to According to Jim and back again. More than any other sitcom, this show needs a strong bible and the writers need to follow it.

They don't. And jokes bomb. Tone falters. Time is wasted.

Like in this opening scene between married couple, Rodney and Trina (played by Jennifer Aspen):

What you doing?

Sorting through the bills. Trying to figure out which ones we don't have to pay right away.

Didn't we just not pay bills two weeks ago?
[Loud canned laughter.]

Well we didn't pay some of them and now we've got to not pay the other ones.
[Polite canned laughter.]

So how bad is it?

I cancelled the newspaper last week, we're floating three credit cards, they tried to disconnect the telephone but I managed to stall 'em.

Have you been flirting with that phone guy again?
[Loud canned laughter]

Yep and if we don't pay him this month, I'm going to have to meet him for coffee.
[Loud canned laughter]

Well things are better than you think. As it turns out, you are married to an up and coming stand up comedian.
[Polite canned laughter]
And as of this afternoon Big Daddy booked himself a five day a week gig down at a new club down town.

And does this Big Daddy mind paying our bills?
[Loud canned laughter]
Why didn't you tell me?

I was going to surprise you. I was going to come here tonight, scatter money all over the bed and just have my way with you.
[Loud canned laughter.]

That is so sweet. You haven't paid me for sex in years.
[Loud canned laughter]

You hear a hilarious joke above? You hear anything funny above? Don't think you're missing some wonderful bit of physical humor that's been thought out and executed because there is none. With sitcom veterans and a professional stand up comedian on stage, did no one have any clue how to punch the scene up? And did no one grasp how deadly wrong this line is:

And as of this afternoon Big Daddy booked himself a five day a week gig down at a new club downtown.

"And as of . . ." does that fit the character of Rodney? ". . . down at a new club downtown?"
Down . . . downtown? Did no one grasp how clumsy this line would sound?

The baby voice may result in huge gales of laughter when Carrington's in a club repeating naughty bits but it and his non-existant grasp on the concept of delivery aren't working on the television. They've surrounded him with a strong supporting cast but they can't dig into their characters when the show's never sure what it wants to be.

Rodney should have never made it on the air. Now there's hope that they can "fix it" in the second season. (As with Joey.) The "thought" (such as it was) that went into this show was that ABC Disney et al would own it (syndication money) and that a stand up comedian (second string) could somehow be funny if you put him with a strong supporting cast. That's it. No one bothered to think of characters. Instead they attempted to mimic Carrington's own life. They take an easy ride (which includes the "thought" involved in naming Rodney Carrington's character . . . Rodney Carrington) and then expect that their sketchy show will somehow lead to huge laughs.

It doesn't. And Carrington can bluster all he wants about "creative control" but it's just a phrase if you don't know how to use it. Roseanne, to name but one, knew how to use it. When that show came on the air (Roseanne) the "brains" thought the joke would be ha-ha fat lady. Roseanne knew what she wanted to say and she fought for it and fought for her show. She was willing to walk away if she wasn't given input.

That's the difference between a real sitcom, a funny one, like Roseanne and this ill thought out, unfunny Rodney. Roseanne succeeded because Roseanne cared, she had something to say and she was damn well going to say it or she was going to walk. Rodney has nothing to say and it has no point of view. No thought went into it and no thought makes it up on screen. Someone has to be in charge of a show, whether it's the onscreen talent or the people behind the scenes (a Diane English or Jim Burrows, for instance). But Disney's never been big on talent. It's existed as a factory churning out crap year after year. Find an exception to that rule and note how acrimonious the departure was for whomever broke through the system and actually found a way to say something. (Example, Jeffrey Katzenberg.)

If Carrington wants to do more than cash his paychecks, he better be prepared to use that "creative control" to make the show about something. As it stands, it's just one more sausage churned out by the Disney factory. The big difference between a sausage factory and Disney is that a sausage factory (presumably) has some sort of quality control, Rodney is further proof the Disney does not.

"Este mes puede ser uno de los peores para Estados Unidos en Irak" (Democracy Now!)

"Este mes puede ser uno de los peores para Estados Unidos en Irak" (Democracy Now!)

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

Este mes puede ser uno de los peores para Estados Unidos en Irak
Mientras tanto, agosto se perfila como uno de los meses con más bajas para las tropas estadounidenses hasta este momento. En los primeros 10 días del mes, murieron 44 soldados, y la semana que comenzó el 3 de agosto fue la cuarta con más bajas estadounidenses en la guerra.

Más de 1.500 vigilias con velas contra la guerra en Estados Unidos
En la noche de ayer, personas de todo Estados Unidos participaron en más de 1.500 vigilias con velas, en un llamado a cesar la ocupación de Irak. Las vigilias fueron convocadas por Cindy Sheehan, que continúa su protesta contra la guerra cerca de las tierras del Presidente Bush en Crawford, Texas. A continuación, palabras de la madre de un soldado herido en Irak, durante una vigilia en Washington DC.
Gilda, una madre de un soldado que peleó en Irak: "Lo que resulta imperdonable es que usted traicionó a nuestros hijos e hijas, estadounidenses idealistas, que con confianza pusieron la vida en sus manos. Nosotras, sus madres, no le vamos a permitir a usted que continúe con su vida."
Mientras tanto, en Crawford, aumenta el número de personas que se unen a la protesta de Cindy Sheehan, cuyo campamento ha comenzado a instalarse en las tierras de un vecino del Presidente Bush, que ofreció su propiedad a Sheehan. Entre las personas que se le unen, hay muchos padres de soldados fallecidos en Irak, incluyendo a la Senadora Becky Lourey, del estado de Minnesota. También participa en la protesta Colleen Rowley, ex informante del FBI y candidata al Congreso de Minnesota. El ex analista de la CIA Ray McGovern se encuentra también en Crawford, y se espera la llegada de muchas personas más, que se reunirán en una movilización prevista para la noche del jueves.
Cindy Sheehan,"Aquí en el campamento Casey, siempre estamos de buen ánimo, porque sentimos el apoyo de la gente de todo el mundo".

Republicanos se unen a la demanda de retirada de Irak
Mientras continua la protesta en Texas, en Capitol Hill hay avances en el desarrollo de los esfuerzos contra la guerra. El congresista Walter Jones, de Carolina del Norte, afirmó que apoya junto con cerca de 50 de sus pares una resolución conjunta para pedir al Presidente Bush que anuncie a fines de este año un plan de retirada de Irak.
Este fue el último giro del drástico cambio de posición de Jones, que fue el político responsable de la iniciativa para que la cantina del Congreso cambiara el nombre de las papas fritas, que en inglés se llaman "papas a la francesa", y las denominara "papas de la libertad", expresando rechazo a la posición del gobierno de Francia contra la invasión de Irak.
La propuesta de resolución dirigida al Presidente Bush fue presentada en junio por Jones, el republicano Ron Paul, de Texas, y el demócrata Dennis Kucinich. En ella se solicita al Presidente que comience la retirada de las tropas el 1 de octubre de 2006, pero no se establece una fecha para completarla. Jones afirmó que entre quienes respaldan ahora la medida hay republicanos.

Senador Hagel: Estados Unidos "más y más atascado" en Irak
Mientras tanto, el senador republicano, Chuck Hagel, de Nebraska, dijo el martes que Estados Unidos se queda cada vez "más y más atascado" en Irak y reafirmó su opinión de que la Casa Blanca está desconectada de la realidad y perdiendo la guerra.
Hagel se burló de las declaraciones de junio del vicepresidente Dick Cheney, en que éste afirmó que la resistencia en Irak estaba "llegando al fin de la agonía". El senador dijo: "Quizás el vicepresidente podría explicarnos el aumento en los ataques que estamos sufriendo. Si eso es ganar, entonces tiene una definición de ganar que no es la mía."

Legisladores iraquíes no logran acuerdo sobre Constitución
La Asamblea Nacional de Irak no logró un acuerdo sobre la nueva Constitución en el plazo previsto, que terminó en la medianoche del lunes, pero los legisladores se concedieron una semana más de tiempo.Las principales diferencias aún son el papel del Islam, los derechos de las mujeres y si se permitirá a chiitas y kurdos establecer regiones autónomas en el norte y sur del país, respectivamente. El Wall Street Journal informa que el gobierno de Bush "presiona a los iraquíes" para que acuerden un borrador, "aunque sea para guardar las apariencias, de manera que parezca que el proceso político sigue su curso".
El lunes, el embajador de Estados Unidos en Irak, Zalmay Khalilzad, participó en la Asamblea Nacional con el fin de observar las negociaciones. Khalilzad, que había presentado en el fin de semana su propio borrador de Constitución, culpó a la última tormenta de arena en Irak de que no se haya alcanzado un acuerdo en el plazo que terminó ayer. "Reconocemos que los tres días que se perdieron por la reciente tormenta de arena retrasaron la agenda de deliberaciones", afirmó.
Irak puede afrontar una crisis política si no se llega a un acuerdo en el correr de la semana próxima. Según la ley de transición redactada por Estados Unidos, en ese caso la Asamblea General debería ser disuelta, y habría que llamar nuevamente a elecciones para comenzar el proceso político otra vez.

Audiencia por asesinato de prisionero afgano por parte de soldado estadounidense
Pasamos al escándalo del maltrato a un prisionero. Un detenido afgano que murió en 2002, bajo custodia militar estadounidense, tenía heridas tan graves que los músculos de sus piernas se desintegraron. La información surge de la declaración realizada esta semana por una médica de la Fuerza Aérea, en el juicio a un soldado acusado de haber golpeado al prisionero. La médica, que realizó la autopsia del detenido, dijo que ese examen mostró que los músculos estaban "desintegrados y deshaciéndose". También declaró que las heridas pudieron ser provocadas por repetidos golpes con la rodilla o de puño. El soldado Willie Brand es acusado de haber maltratado en Afganistán a dos prisioneros que murieron más tarde, ambos en 2002.

Conyers pide investigar la participación de Ashcroft en caso de filtración de CIA
Ahora pasamos a las noticias más recientes de la investigación sobre quiénes dentro del gobierno de Bush revelaron que Valerie Plame, esposa del embajador Joseph Wilson, era una agente encubierta de la CIA. El congresista John Conyers solicita que se investigue la participación en el caso del ex fiscal general John Ashcroft. En un principio, Ashcroft no se excusó de participar en la investigación, pese a que estuvo asociado durante mucho tiempo con Karl Rove, quien fue interrogado por el FBI acerca de la filtración. En ese momento, Ashcroft recibía informes personales sobre la marcha de la investigación. Conyers dijo que eso fue "una falta ética grave que exige una investigación de inmediato".

Informe: Rove no informó al FBI de conversación con periodista de Time
El pedido de investigación de Conyers fue presentado luego de la publicación de un nuevo informe sobre el asunto, del periodista de investigación Murray Waas. Waas reveló que la decisión de designar a un fiscal especial, adoptada por funcionarios del Departamento de Justicia, se debió en gran medida a que los investigadores habían comenzado a dudar de la veracidad de la información aportada por Karl Rove. Cuando el FBI interrogó a Rove por primera vez, éste no dijo a los investigadores que había hablado con el periodista de la revista Time, Matthew Cooper, acerca de la esposa de Wilson. Por otra parte, Rove sostiene que se enteró de la identidad de Valerie Plame en una conversación con un periodista. Pero según Waas, Rove dijo a los investigadores que no recordaba las circunstancias en que eso ocurrió, quién era el periodista o si la conversación fue cara a cara o por teléfono.

Gobierno de Bush busca destituir a juez en caso de indígenas
El Departamento de Justicia ha tomado la inusual medida de pedirle a un tribunal federal que destituya a un juez, involucrado en una demanda colectiva que lleva nueve años. Esa demanda fue presentada por nativos estadounidenses, que pretenden cobrar millones de dólares en regalías de gas impagas correspondientes al siglo XIX. El año pasado, el juez Royce Lamberth declaró en rebeldía a la secretaria del Interior, Gale Norton. Lamberth también ha sido muy crítico con el Departamento del Interior por no haber determinado cuánto dinero se adeuda a las tribus nativas estadounidenses. El magistrado describió recientemente al Departamento del Interior como "los restos moral y culturalmente inconscientes de un gobierno vergonzosamente racista e imperialista, que debió haberse enterrado hace un siglo, el último y lamentable bastión de la indiferencia y el anglocentrismo que creímos haber superado". Lamberth ha fallado sistemáticamente a favor de los 500.000 nativos estadounidenses representados por la demanda colectiva. En un fallo del mes pasado, el juez sostuvo que "nuestro gobierno aún trata a los indígenas nativos estadounidenses como si no merecieran el mismo respeto que los demás miembros de una sociedad en la que se supone que todas las personas son iguales".

Informe: Policía británica habría mentido sobre asesinato de inocente
En Gran Bretaña, y según información filtrada que divulgó la red de televisión ITV, el gobierno podría haber mentido acerca de detalles clave en el asesinato de un brasileño inocente en una estación de subterráneo, cometido por policías. Según declaraciones de testigos filtradas, el electricista brasileño Jean Charles de Menezes recibió los disparos mientras lo sujetaba un miembro del equipo de vigilancia de Scotland Yard. La información filtrada indica además que Menezes vestía una campera de jean, no una gruesa como declaró la policía, y que sólo empezó a correr cuando vio que su tren entraba a la estación. Menezes fue asesinado por la policía poco después de los atentados del 21 de julio en Londres.

Aumentan acusaciones de encubrimiento en disparos de Policía en Londres
Aumentan las acusaciones de encubrimiento en Londres por el caso de los policías que mataron a tiros a un brasileño, que inicialmente fue descrito como un posible sospechoso de los atentados del 21 de julio.El oficial británico a cargo de la Comisión Independiente de Reclamos de la Policía (IPCC, por sus siglas en inglés), dijo ayer que la policía en un principio se opuso a una investigación independiente de la muerte de Jean Charles de Menezes, pero que más tarde accedió a ella.
La policía emitió una declaración luego de que los abogados de la familia de Menezes se reunió con la comisión de reclamos, para exigir más información acerca de la muerte de Jean Charles. Escuchamos al abogado de la familia de Menezes, Gareth Pierce: "Hubo una gran confusión y pedimos a la IPCC que averigüe en qué medida se debió a incompetencia o negligencia, o absoluta negligencia, y en qué medida puede ser algo más siniestro. No lo sabemos, simplemente preguntamos".
Menezes recibió siete disparos en la cabeza de la policía, que lo siguió en una estación de metro de Londres el 22 de julio, un día después de los atentados fallidos en un metro de esa ciudad. Mientras tanto, la BBC informa sobre la suspensión del informante que filtró documentos que contradicen la versión oficial de los hechos proporcionada por la policía.

Coretta Scott King sufrió un infarto y un ataque cardíaco
Ahora pasamos al estado de salud de la pionera en derechos civiles Coretta Scott King, viuda de Martin Luther King Jr. El médico dice que sufrió un leve ataque cardíaco y un infarto de entidad que perjudicó su capacidad de habla y afectó la motricidad del lado derecho de su cuerpo, pero que está "totalmente consciente". La hija de King dijo que la familia espera una plena recuperación.

Francisco: Hello, in English, here are 12 headlines from Democracy Now! Pass on to a friend.

August On Pace to Be One of Deadliest Months of War For U.S.
Meanwhile August is shaping up to be one of the deadliest months so far for U.S. troops in Iraq. 44 U.S. soldiers were killed in the first 10 days of the month alone. The week beginning Aug. 3 marked the fourth deadliest week of the war for U.S. forces.

More Than 1,500 Antiwar Vigils Held Across the US
Last night, people across the United States participated in more than 1,500 candlelight vigils calling for an end to the occupation of Iraq. The vigils were called by Cindy Sheehan who is continuing her antiwar protest outside of President Bush's property near Crawford, Texas. Here is the mother of a soldier who was wounded in Iraq, speaking at a vigil in Washington DC.
Gilda, mother of soldier wounded in Iraq:"What is unforgivable is that you betrayed our idealistic American sons and daughters who trustingly placed their lives in your hands. we, their mothers, will not let you move on with your life."
One mother of a soldier who served in Iraq, speaking in Washington DC. Meanwhile, in Crawford Cindy Sheehan has been joined by a growing number of people at her protest and has now begun setting up camp on the property of one of President Bush's neighbors who offered his land to Sheehan. Among the people joining her are several parents of soldiers killed in Iraq, as well as Minnesota State Senator Becky Lourey, whose son died in Iraq, as well as FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley--who is running for Congress in Minnesota. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is also in Crawford and many more people are expected to pour in for a rally planned for Thursday evening.
Cindy Sheehan:"Our spirits are always good here at Camp Casey 'cause we feel the support of everybody around the world."

Republicans Join Calls for Iraq Withdrawal
Even as the protest continues in Texas, there are new developments in the antiwar effort on Capitol Hill. North Carolina Republican Congressman Walter Jones says he has about 50 co-sponsors on a joint resolution that calls on President Bush to announce a plan for withdrawal from Iraq by the end of this year. This is the latest twist in the dramatic shift in position by Jones who was the politician behind the move to change the name of French fries to "Freedom Fries" in the Congressional cafeteria. The resolution was introduced in June by Jones, Republican Ron Paul of Texas, as well as Democrat Dennis Kucinich. It calls on the president to begin the withdrawal by Oct. 1, 2006, but it does not set an end date. Jones said the new supporters include five Republicans.

Sen. Hagel: US ‘More and More Bogged Down’ in Iraq
Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said Thursday that the United States is getting "more and more bogged down" in Iraq and stood by his comments that the White House is disconnected from reality and losing the war. Hagel mocked Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion in June that the resistance in Iraq was in its "last throes," saying, "Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we're taking. If that's winning, then he's got a different definition of winning than I do."

Iraq Lawmakers Fail To Agree on Constitution
In Iraq, the country's National Assembly failed to agree on a new constitution by Monday's deadline, but legislators have extended the deadline an extra week. Key differences remain over the role of Islam, women's rights and whether the Shiites and Kurds will be allowed to form autonomous regions in the south and the north. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Bush administration "pressured Iraqis" to agree on a draft "even for appearance's sake so the political process seemed on track." On Monday, the US Ambassador to Iraq -- Zalmay Khalilzad - sat in on the National Assembly to observe the negotiations. Over the weekend he submitted his own draft of a constitution. After Monday's deadline passed, Khalilzad blamed the country's recent sandstorm for the delay. He said QUOTE "We recognize that the three days lost because of the recent sandstorm set back the schedule of deliberations." If a constitution is not agreed to by next week it would throw Iraq into a political crisis. Under the U.S.-written transitional law, if the constitution is not agreed to on time, the national assembly would be dissolved. Iraq would then have to hold new elections and start the political process all over again.

Court Hears Details of Killing of Afghan Prisoner by US Soldier
Now to the ongoing prisoner abuse scandal. An Afghan detainee who died in US military custody in 2002 was injured so severely that his leg muscles were split apart. This according to an Air Force medical examiner's testimony this week in the trial of a soldier accused in the beating. The examiner who performed the autopsy on the prisoner said his muscles were "crumbling and falling apart." She testified that the injuries could have been caused by repeated knee strikes or by a fist. Army Private Willie Brand is accused of abusing the two prisoners in Afghanistan in 2002. Both later died.

Conyers Calls For Investigation Into Ascroft's Role In CIA Leak Case
Now onto the latest in the investigation into who within the Bush administration outted CIA operative Valerie Plame, the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Congressman John Conyers is calling for an investigation into former Attorney General John Ashcroft's role in the case. Ashcroft initially refused to recuse himself from the investigation despite his longtime association with Karl Rove who was being questioned over the leak by the FBI. At the time, Ashcroft was being personally briefed about the investigation. Conyers described this as a "a stunning ethical breach that cries out for an immediate investigation."

Report: Rove Failed to Tell FBI About Conversation w/ Time Reporter
Conyers' call comes after a new report by investigative journalist Murray Waas that Justice Department officials decided to appoint a special prosecutor in large part because investigators had begun to specifically question the veracity of accounts provided to them by Karl Rove. When first questioned by the FBI, Rove failed to tell FBI investigators that he had talked to Time reporter Matthew Cooper about Wilson's wife. In addition, Rove claims that he learned of Valerie Plame's identity during a conversation with a journalist. But according to Waas, Rove was unable to recall virtually anything to investigators about the circumstances about that conversation including who the journalist was or whether it took part in person or on the phone.

Bush Administration Attempts To Remove Judge in Indian Case
The Justice Department has taken the unusual step of asking a federal court to remove a judge involved in a nine-year old class-action lawsuit filed by Native Americans seeking billions of dollars in unpaid and gas royalties dating back to the 19th century. Last year the judge -- Royce Lamberth -- held Interior Secretary Gale Norton in contempt of court. He has also been highly critical of the Interior Department for failing to identify how much money Native American tribes are owed. Lamberth recently described the Interior Department as the morally and culturally oblivious hand-me-down of a disgracefully racist and imperialist government that should have been buried a century ago, the last pathetic outpost of the indifference and anglocentrism we thought we had left behind." Lamberth has consistently ruled in favor of the 500,000 Native Americans covered in the class action suit. Last month Lamberth said in a ruling, ''Our government still treats Native American Indians as if they were somehow less than deserving of the respect that should be afforded to everyone in a society where all people are supposed to be equal.''

Report: UK Police Lied About Shooting of Innocent Man
In Britain the tv network ITV has obtained leaked information that indicate the British government may have lied about key details involving the police shooting of an innocent Brazilian electrician aboard a subway car. According to the leaked witness statements, the Brazilian man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was being restrained by a member of Scotland Yard's surveillance team at the time that he was shot. In addition, the leaked information indicate Menezes was wearing a thin denim jacket -- not a bulky jacket as police said. It also now appears that Menezes never ran from the police. He only began to run when he saw his train pull into the station. Menezes was shot by police shortly after the July 21st attempted bombings in London.

Allegations of Cover-up Grow Over London Police Shooting
Allegations of a cover-up are growing in London over the fatal Police shooting of a Brazilian man initially characterized as a possible July 21st bomb suspect. The British official in charge of the Independent Police Complaints Commission said yesterday that City police initially opposed an independent investigation into the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, but agreed to it later. The Police issued the statement after lawyers for the Menezes family met with the complaints commission, demanding more information about the killing.
Gareth Pierce, lawyer for the Menezes family:"There has been a chaotic mess and what we have asked the IPCC to find out is how much of it is incompetence and negligence, including gross negligence, and how much of it may be something more sinister. We don't know--we're simply asking the questions"
Menezes was shot seven times in the head by police who followed him to a south London subway station on July 22 - one day after the failed London subway bombings. Meanwhile, the BBC is reporting that the whistleblower who leaked documents contradicting the official police story on the shooting has been suspended.

Coretta Scott King Suffered Stroke, Heart Attack
Now an update on the condition of civil rights pioneer Coretta Scott King, the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr. Her doctor says she suffered a minor heart attack and a major stroke that impaired her ability to speak and affected her right side, but the doctor said she is "completely aware." King's daughter said the family expects a full recovery.

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