Sunday, April 23, 2006

Blog Spotlight: Mike sharing the wealth

Reading Mikey Likes It! you really get a handle on Mike.  When he's angry, he says so.  When he's happy, you know it.  ("D:" is often a clue.)  And one thing he always is someone willing to sing the praises others have earned.  Case in point.

US number four on execution, Guantanamo prisoners, strong voices

Good evening. Elaine's off tonight because she has that group that she counsels on Thursday night. But she's here with us in spirit. :D First, let's do Democracy Now!

Amnesty: US Among Top Four State Executioners
Meanwhile, a new report from Amnesty International shows the US ranks only behind China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia in carrying out state executions. 94 percent of an estimated 2100 executions worldwide took place in those four countries alone. In China, Amnesty says at least 1700 executions took place last year, but that the actual number could reach as high as 8,000.

Ruth had C.I. post this:

Ruth wants to note something from this week's Law and Disorder. Amnesty is asking for help in stopping an execution (scheduled for tomorrow) of Willie Brown. In addition to the Amnesty link (which allows you to take action as well as providing information), you can also listen to Sue Gunawardena-Vaughn discuss the case and issues with the hosts on this week's Law and Disorder.

Isn't it shameful that we're on the list at all? We're only number four so Bully Boy's probably going to be encouraging more to be "number one!" I guess the idea of rehabilitation left the country long ago and life in prison isn't good enough, got to kill 'em. I'm still forming my thoughts on the death penalty. It's not something I thought about at all until Democracy Now! was covering Stanley Tookie Williams' impending execution and then after he was executed. I knew I was against it because I was taught it was wrong in Church. I took that lesson to heart. Every Catholic I know picks and chooses and I'm the same way. That one I probably never thought about until recently but just took the Church's word for it. In this case, my religion was right. But this is an issue I'm trying to understand. (And I grabbed some books from C.I. last week that I'm going to be reading as soon as I get caught up after missing a week of classes.) I bet some people who support are like me in that they're going with what they were taught growing up and never thought too much about it after.

Pentagon Releases Most Comprehensive Gitmo List To Date
Back in the United States, the Pentagon has released its most comprehensive list yet of the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay since it opened four years ago. The list shows the names of 558 men from 41 countries. Most came from Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Afghanistan. The list was not complete, with the omission of close to 200 current and former detainees.

Here's something I have thought about a lot because I've seen it pop up. The death penalty came back in to use, widespread, before I was old enough to know about it. What I'm learning now is about the resistance to it and the success before. With something like Guantanamo, I've seen it pop up and gone from disbelief that we could do this to disgust. I love Amy Goodman and Democracy Now! but sign me up as one of the ones who calls them "prisoners." I won't call them "detainees." I know that's the widely accepted word but I do think that word disguses what has gone on. These people are prisonres and they seem to have little chance (thanks to the Levin-Graham amendment) of having a day in a real court. But they've been held as prisoners. Not detained because their time just goes on and on. I was going to say their "sentence" but they weren't "sentenced," they were grabbed and they were imprisoned.

Now to Elaine. My favorite prof is this cool guy who is just smart and willing to listen. That's to all the students, not just the ones he agrees with. (I agree with him.) He thinks blogs are really important and he prints stuff up to pass around the class. You know C.I. makes it at least once a week on the print outs. C.I.'s in a class of one, no one comes close. I feel that way but my prof will tell you that too. When so many sites seem to have dropped real issues to give consultation help to the Democratic Party (let's hope they're being paid), C.I.'s out there tackling issues. My prof likes Elaine's work and there was one that she did on the medical communities obligations (and how they fail when it comes to Guantanamo) that he included. He passes out the stuff. Each row gets a different one. We're supposed to read it together and then talk to each other and then share it with the class. And he focuses on talking about one he didn't pass out. That's about ten to fifteen minutes because during that he's raising issues from the main selection. He made Elaine the main selection today with her post from yesterday.

After class, he wanted to talk about it with me. He said it was real and "on the mark" and that he enjoyed Elaine's comments but she's usually more reserved with the exception of when she talks about the medical communities obligations (she's a doctor herself). He said this was really raw for her. It was. I told him that she was very frustrated with the "we must go to war" nonsense regardless of the country and regardless of who is making the claim.

C.I. gave her the advice to just "open a vein and let it pour, don't worry about grammer, don't worry about spelling and don't go back after you're done to make it professional, let people see the thought, the struggle and speak what you feel."

Prof goes, "Well she did that." She did too. It's an amazing post. (Nina's reading over my shoulder and said to put in that Elaine is an amazing woman.) He asked me if I'd talk about that next week? I said sure. He didn't want to put me on the spot in class in case I didn't know or it was something "just for the community" (the whole way of how she wrote it). By the way, he does bring in right wing stuff. He won't bring in anything racist or sexist or homophobic. But he will bring in stuff from right wing blogs. The point is for us to hear what people are thinking about, what they care about. He thinks the "political consultants" are boring with all there "what the Democratic/Republican Party needs to do to win in November is . . ." stuff.

Biggest laugh of the ones he passed out -- C.I.'s thing comparing Dexter Filkins to Donna Summer. I was hearing people laughing and thinking, "What did that row get?" (My row got a right winger today.) The row that got C.I. enjoyed that post. They had the most to talk about of any of the rows. One guy was just going over the main points and this one woman kept saying, "Don't forget the humor!" So she'd bring that up and everyone would laugh. Then he read some of Elaine's post and asked us what they made us think and feel. That was a pretty intense discussion. Then he goes, "I've got one more and you'll have to read it on your own so come by the desk if you want a copy but last week I was making Katie Couric jokes. I read this critique and felt a little stupid." It was Ava and C.I.'s "Katie Was a Cheerleader." About half the class picked it up on their way out. I was talking to him and stuff and then when I finally get out of the classroom and am walking around, this woman who knows Nina from a class they have together but never speaks to Nina or to me (she's in the prof's class with me) says, "Hey! Wait!"
She goes "Tell them, keep doing just that!" I didn't even know she knew my name let alone that I knew Ava and C.I. She was really mad. She's this super serious person who only talks in class to make a point. Turns out, she was a cheerleader for two years in high school. She goes that she's used to all the lame jokes and has "buried" that side of herself because she wants to be taken seriously but all last week when the cut downs on Katie Couric were being made because she had been a cheerleader, she really got bothered by it. She goes, "Today we are all cheerleaders!" That's one of the points Ava and C.I. make at the end, that if women have learned anything from the attacks on Katie Couric it's that "today we are all cheerleaders."
So I'm walking over to meet Nina and stuff like that keeps happening. It was mainly the female students but it was a few men too. Ava and C.I. really got to something with that thing.

Prof's including Kat's thing next week. Her latest review. He said she brought up a real good point about it's easy to be a "peace voice" when things are "hunky dory" like Carole King but why didn't she have one song, something old or something new, really addressing that on a double disc album? He'd already decided to do Ava and C.I.'s TV critique when he read it Sunday because it made good points and because he'd been making jokes about Katie Couric (either in other classes or to his friends and family because it hadn't come up in our class). But he said to pass on to Kat that she "posed an interesting question that should be addressed."

Which was the point of two guys who stopped me. They know I blog and they know about the others in the community with sites. (I almost said "other bloggers" but C.I. would say, "I don't have a 'blog.' I have a resource/review. There are great bloggers, I'm not one of them." :D) But they were all, "Dude, there are some strong women in that community." There are too. Wally does the humor take, but Cedric does hard hitting stuff. (Prof used his thing on covert racism last week but I missed it because I was in California.) I just toss out stuff and plug Democracy Now! (especially when I'm trying to catch up on what I missed last week). By the way, I love Wally's stuff and most of the guys I know do too. Do women like it? Leigh Ann, you want to take that question?

But the point or, I guess, reason Prof does the blogs once a week in class is because he wants us to see that people do have opinions. People not on TV doing chat and chews. And that you should think about opinions. Not just read a column and go "Hmm." He thinks the blogs (and the resource/review) are great examples of people expressing themselves on the world around them. He's not in the mood for "reasoned" where half-wits (Thomas Friedman?) play the "look at me" game.

The other thing in class was I delivered my paper. That was my work for missing his classes like week, I had to write a paper on the student activism and talk about what I saw of that in California. Before I left, I go, "What is this like?" Because speeches still make me nervous. He goes it's a presentation and, hopefully, they'll be questions. There were. I read the first paragraph and was thinking, "Dear God, someone please ask a question." At the end of the first paragraph, I got a question. After I answered that, I got another one. That's how I filled up the whole time and I liked that a lot better than just standing there, looking down at my paper reading while I was thinking everybody was staring at me thinking, "Will he ever finish this paper?" I think the photos helped because I started them being passed around before I went to the podium and read my paragraph. I took a ton of pictures. I think that helped a lot because it's really easy for me to give numbers or say "a lot of people" but it's another thing when you can hold a picture and look at it and see the people yourself.

So that was my day. Hope you had a great one. Tomorrow is Friday! The weekend! I'm still trying to make up for two classes I missed last week and I'm hoping to knock that out tonight but I'll probably only get to one. (Ma, if you're reading, Nina and I wanted to see that movie last night! I'm not behind. My stuff's not due until Monday! :D)

Check out Betty tonight because she's got a new chapter she's working on right now. (I heard a paragraph when she called a second ago. About twenty minutes ago. I'm long winded and wordy tonight!) And Rebecca's going to continue part two of her post from last night so check that out.

Oh, from C.I., snapshot of Iraq today:

In Iraq today . . .
AFP reports that at least ten people have died in Iraq today and the Herald News Daily notes that Ibrahim al-Jaafari has "cleared the way Thursday for Shiite leaders to withdraw his nomination for a second term." No surprise here but, as Bloomberg News notes, Azzaman has a list of contenders and it's all male. In Baghdad, a Sunni mosque was attacked by gunmen. Also in Baghdad, two men were killed in a drive by shooting while two more will be killed by gunmen in a bakery. In Karbala, a man was shot to death outside his home. Roadside bombs have killed at least three police officers today. Two in Khalis, where a civilian was also killed and at least seven people wounded, and one in Baqouba. In addition to those three police officers killed, in Tal Afar, two more died (roadside bombing) and at least four were wounded while a doctor was killed "inside a hospital." Close to Basra, Middle East Online reports at least five wounded civilians and two dead from a roadside bombing.
And in the United States,
the trial of 18 women, grandmothers aged 50 to 91, has begun. The women form the "Granny Peace Brigade" and are standing trial for an October protest of military recruiting. In NYC's Time Square, the Granny Peace Brigade are accused of the "disorderly conduct" and "refusing to comply with a police order."
Now here's a test we can grade tomorrow: Will the New York Times cover this? Eighteen women. Aged fifty to ninety-one. This is a news story that the paper won't touch. Will they cover it as a feature or act like it doesn't exist? These women are news. So let's see what the Times elects to do. It is news (it also makes for a human interest feature). Will it be ignored?

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