Sunday, March 05, 2006

A note ot our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday and we're finished sooner than ever but not soon enough, or as soon as planned at least.

Whatta we got?

Our spotlights inclue:

Music Spotlight: Kat on Cat Power's The Greatest
Encuesta: 72 por ciento de soldados estadounidenses en Irak quieren retirarse en un ano
Humor Spotlight: Wally's Bully Boy Press
Update Spotlight: America's Funniest Videos? Not that American
Music Spotlight: Kat on Nina Simone
C.I. on Tuesday's NSA hearing
Blog Spotlight: Mike on those who profit from the war
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca on the administration's marketing
Blog Spotlight: Betinna lunches with The Times
Blog Spotlight: Cedric goes to the movies
Kitchen Spotlight: Pasta Timbale

We thank everyone for letting us repost. We also thank Dallas for hunting down links each and every week. C.I. pointed out that Dallas wasn't thanked recently in a note. That was our oversight and we apologize for it.

New content?

"Editorial: Bully Boy plays his only card" -- and what card would that be? (We think you know.)

"TV Review: American Dad giving the nation and fatherhood a bad name" Ava and C.I., as always, wrote the TV review themselves. We think it's got humor and insight and, hopefully, won't require two updates. (We'll get to that.)

"Bully Boy and the "I" nations (no, not Iraq)" India and Iran. Are you paying attention?

"Quick Bully Boy thought for Sunday" we wanted to work a news item in. We were at a loss, and the hour was late, when someone (we think Mike) suggested we do it as a brief item. We did that. Hopefully, it will get more attention that way.

"The envelope please ... And the Punk Ass Award goes to ..." as a certain someone gets praised for every bowel movement these days, we thought it was time to offer the contrarian voice we're so proud of.

"Confirmed: America's Funniest Videos disguises foreign videos to its audience" the updates. C.I. and Ava did one at The Common Ills mid-week and we were going to repost that (and did) but then they had confirmation (via a forwarded e-mail from ABC) that the official line from the network was that America's Funniest Videos weren't necessarily . . . American.

"Bully Boy and the nukes" is our attempt to continue getting the word out on Laura Flanders' radio show. We hope you'll listen. (Medea Benjamin and Walter Mosley are among the guests on Sunday's show.)

"Thoughts on Air America" was a reader request. We're not pleased with it to be honest. You've got a cold traveling through three of us, a nasty one, C.I. pressed for time and a general "finish it!" attitude. We actually researched this one prior to Saturday (speaking with someone at AAR, asking for Common Ills community members to share their stories via the gina & krista round-robin). On another weekend, we think this feature would be quite a bit more. On this weekend, we just wanted to finish it and get into bed. (Especially those suffering from colds.) So, in the words of the one and only Kat, it is what it is.

Everything (new) but the TV commentaries were written by the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot.

Hopefully, you found something to enjoy in this edition, something to make you laugh, think or get motivated.

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

P.S. Micah just e-mailed and asked if we could highlight a WBAI program today (and on two other days as well, time is eastern standard):

6:30-7:00 pm: Equal Time for Freethought
March 5th, 12th and 19th, The Trials of Democracy: American Nationalism, Religion, and Foreign Policy - Anatol Lieven, "America Right or Wrong: An Anatomy of American Nationalism"; Pervez Hoodbhoy; & Stephen Bronner, "Blood in the Sand: Imperial Fantasies, Right-Wing Ambitions, and the Erosion of American Democracy."
What is the relationship between nationalism and religion in the US? How do Americans see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and why?
How does nationalism and religion in America influence US Foreign Policy? And what is the relationship between Islamic Fundamentalism, and US Foreign Policy? As Iraq slips into civil war, bin Laden continues to record threats of terror against America, and the misguided brouhaha in the western press over the Muslim reaction to Danish cartoons unfavorably depicting Islam, add to the tensions of the modern world, these kinds of questions are more important than ever.
Anatol Lieven, originally from the UK, offers a European take on American nationalism while Stephen Bronner offers an American-born outlook, and Pervez Hoodbhoy offers a Pakistani (Muslim world) outlook.
So tune in, pay it forward, and question everything with Equal Time for Freethought on Sunday's at 6:30pm on WBAI - 99.5FM or at
The Trials of Democracy: American Nationalism, Religion, and Foreign Policy will air on March 5th, 12th and 19th.

Editorial: Bully Boy plays his only card

As Democracy Now! noted last week:

Bush Approval Rating on Iraq, Presidency At All-Time Low
In other news, a new CBS News poll has found the number of Americans who approve of President Bush's overall job performance and his handling of the Iraq war has fallen to an all-time low. 34 percent of Americans give the President a favorable job approval rating, while even less -- 30 percent -- approve of the President's handling of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, less than a third of Americans believe President Bush has adequately responded to the needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

So what's a Bully Boy to do but bring out the scare tactics? Osama, who's apparently not dead but still alive, is suddenly wanted by the Bully Boy again. In fact, he's sure we'll catch him now.
He and the administration are also eager to toss out 9-11 a lot more often. It happens when the polls go limp.

His non-reaction in the face of Hurricane (sort of like his non-reaction to Andrew Card telling him that the World Trade Center had been hit by a second plane) has put a dent in his media created image as the War Hero . . . (who went absent without leave?). His warrantless spying on American citizens isn't going away. And, it seems to be registering a bit more with each passing day.

So trot out 9/11. Trot out terrorism talk.

As Georgetown law professor David Cole noted recently whenBully Boy suddenly remembered " four-year-old plot" that he claimed had been prevented:

President Bush presented the details as an illustration that the "war on terror" has been successful in keeping us safe. He did not explain why new details about a four-year-old plot were being made public now, but they appeared to be part of a concerted effort to dampen the increasing criticism of the NSA spying program. (The next day, CIA Director Porter Goss published an Op-Ed article in The New York Times making broad claims about how "leaks" about government initiatives in the war on terrorism--presumably including the one that disclosed the existence of the NSA spying program--had endangered American lives.)
The President's assertions about the Library Tower plot again underscore the need for close scrutiny in assessing the administration's claims. The President described a plan in 2002 to use shoe bombs to break down the cockpit door, overpower the pilots, and then fly the hijacked plane into the tower. The alleged planners, described only as Southeast Asians, were captured in early 2002 in Asia. As far as we know, no one has been charged, much less convicted, of any crime in connection with the alleged plot. Intelligence officials told The Washington Post that there was "deep disagreement within the intelligence community over... whether it was ever much more than talk."
[1] A senior FBI official said that "to take that and make it into a disrupted plot is just ludicrous."[2]

Are we really as dumb as the Bully Boy seems to think we are? Or has his incessant use of the fear card begun to make him look like Chicken Little?

Another poll came out last week, one in which 72% of the troops serving in Iraq currently want to see the US pull out within the year. On the same poll, the following was noted:

Shockingly, 85 percent of the troops questioned believe they are fighting in Iraq "to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks"-- one of the key Iraq War myths built by Bush’s frequent juxtaposition of references to Osama bin-Laden and Saddam Hussein.
This subliminal message has stuck with the vast majority of U.S. troops even though Bush eventually acknowledged publicly that there is no evidence linking Saddam to the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
In other words, more than eight in 10 of the U.S. soldiers and Marines in Iraq think they are there avenging the 3,000 people killed on Sept. 11, even though the U.S. government lacks evidence of the connection.

Is that really surprising? They're getting Voice of America radio and what else? Before the Downing Street Memos last summer, the impeachment cry was a lone one. In this country, in a relatively short time, we've seen DSM, we've seen Bully Boy refuse to meet with, the camped outside his ranchette, Cindy Sheehan. We've seen Hurricane Katrina and the 'national security' Bully Boy unable to address it. Florida residents saw that Hurricane Wilma, a lesser hurricane, still resulted in many being without electricity for over a month. Now we know that there was warrantless spying on Americans and, last week, that Bully Boy's being out of the loop on Katrina wasn't quite true -- he was warned. We're not too sure that Voice of America (which carries Rush Limbaugh but not Randi Rhodes) conveys that very well to the troops.

Things have been moving very quickly in the last few months and Bully Boy's media created image has taken one hit after another. The only card he has left to play is the fear card. So we saw it pop back out last week and can probably expect to see it flashed quite a bit more.

Will we fall for the trickery? We hope not. But, as Joni Mitchell wrote in "Dog Eat Dog:"

It's a dog eat dog -- I'm just waking up
The dove is in the dungeon
And white-washed hawks pedal hate and call it love
Dog eat dog
Holy hope in the hands of
Snakebite evangelists and racketeers
And big wig financiers

Which would explain why, with all the revelations about Katrina, the port issue and more, CNN's Headlines News saw fit to go to a live feed of yet another car chase. Because that, like, really effects the way we live and stuff, you know?

We don't think so. Bully Boy can play the fear card and the media can offer up nonsense and call it news, but if you ask us, we're too deep in reality to fall for another con job right now. Play the fear card, Bully Boy, we'll call your bluff. Or as Sonny & Cher once sang, "Well sing in the sunshine . . . We'll laugh at the day . . ." Fear mongering's gone out of style. Word to the Bully.

[The illustration at the top is from Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts. This editorial was written by:
The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim;
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude;
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man;
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review;
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills);
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix;
Mike of Mikey Likes It!;
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz;
and Wally of The Daily Jot.]

TV Review: American Dad giving the nation and fatherhood a bad name

The Simpons was the modern template. Every animated, primetime show that's come after has more or less ripped it off. Which might seen like an easy trick . . . until you watch Fox's American Dad.

It's from the mind of Seth MacFarlane who also brings you Family Guy. Family Guy is a rip-off of The Simpsons with a talking dog added on. In American Dad, you get a talking alien (Roger, voiced by MacFarlane) and a talking fish. It's as though the desperation factor has really kicked in and you're watching The Patridge Family, 2200 AD (which, for the record, was set in outerspace). Roger, the alien, is a gimmick, nothing more and it's hard to think of anything less.

So here's the set up, Stan Smith (voiced by MacFarlane) is "American Dad." Stan's a CIA agent and sees evil wherever he looks (we assume he's channeling Jerry Bruckheimer). His wife is supposed to be a hottie, but we'd rank Betty and Wilma higher than Francine Smith who's chief achievement appears to be that she's blonde. (Not naturally blonde.) They have two children, Hayley, the teenage daughter, and her younger brother Steve.

What are the problems with the show? There are so many.

Let's start with Francine. Early on, stealing from a Simpsons' episode, she gets a job as a real estate agent. The job, as when Marge held it down, lasts for one episode. What's up with the animated world? Peggy Hill practically looks like a bra burner by comparison. Think about the world of characters that inhabit The Simpsons and find us one married woman who works. Can't? We couldn't either.

When Donna Stone got a job in the final years of The Donna Reed Show, the show was merely reflecting reality. What does American Dad reflect?

Hayley's Lisa Simpson in the teenage years. That about says it all because, unless she's stripping to earn cash, she's really not the focus of an episode. Steve is the focus of too many episodes.

Like The Family Guy, American Dad does love it's gay jokes. We don't think being gay is a bad thing. We do wonder about a man (MacFarlane) who constantly resorts to the gay joke whenever things are growing extremely stale.

In last Sunday's episode, that happened before Roger and Steve water bombed (and then more) a pizza delivery guy and his car. Steve spoke of a kid at school who bullies him and how he's like to get back at the bully.

Steve: Oh I wish I could get that guy back. I'd like to dress up like a girl and make him have sex with me. Then say, "Ha! I'm not a girl! You just had sex with a boy who hates you!" Ha-ha!

Roger: Yeah. Let's keep that plan between you, me and the string of therapists who won't be able to help you.

Also last Sunday, Stan and Francine went to her high school reunion and met an old friend of Francine's who was now out of the closet. Francine asks Stan to fetch some drinks.
Before he does, Stan responds, "Okay but when I go, he has to promise not to stare at my ass or become a school teacher." When the friend replies, Stan points to his own face and says, "Conversation's up here, sailor." Later, when the friend tells Stan how disgusting he is, Stan will respond, "You and me, not going to happen, okay?" before explaining to another character, "I'm like candy to these people."

Stan's a bigot. In an earlier episode he decided Iranians moving into the neighborhood must be terrorists and created a Guantanamo in their own backyard. He's against women working, he's against gays, he's racist, go down the list.

It's supposed to cute. It's supposed to be funny.

We wonder why?

He's the lead character and we wonder if this "oh, isn't he a loveable bigot" nonsense makes bigotry palatable -- if not fashionable? Who watches animated cartoons in primetime? We're guessing a lot of adolescent boys. What message will they take away? Maybe that Stan is what men are like? That they should be making "funny" lines about Iranians, gays, et al because being a man, a real man, means doing that?

We wonder if that's the message MacFarlane took away from his own TV watching. We're seeing a lot of other television shows (and movies, Carrie and Say Anything in last Sunday's episode) in his work, we just aren't seeing any evidence of someone who's lived, or is living, a full life.

That's a problem with many live action shows; however, an animated show can push boundaries and explore territories that a show people with actors never could. There's a distance to it, due to the animation, that allows them to get away with more. King of the Hill is the only post-Simpon's animated series to come fully alive. That may be due to the fact that they don't resort to movie gags every time something falls flat. Or it may be the result of Mike Judge actually writing (in a humorous manner) about the life he saw around him?

No one watching King of the Hill would mistake Hank Hill for "progressive." But no character on the show would either. Francine appears blinded by love and, watching, you have to wonder why? Peggy Hill's not the little doormat Francine Smith is. She's got a job, she's got a loud marriage with a lot of give and take. Sound like a household you can relate to? The Smiths of American Dad exist nowhere but in TV Land. Francine isn't a character. She's an appendage on the show because, if Stan didn't have a wife, people might wonder about his sexuality. And if they wondered about that, they might not take so much delight in his gay jokes. Steve's an awkward nerd that's about as real as Peter Brady. Bobby Hill is so real he's spooky. It's the difference between writing about what you saw in life and writing about what you saw on TV.

There are no great episodes in this show's future because the creators of American Dad aren't capable of anything other than sight gags and concepts. The show's pushed as a spoof of modern day America but there's nothing that reflects modern day America in the characters. (Did we mention the jokes at the expense of Asians who don't speak English?) At the end of every episode, we find out that Stan is just a loveable guy (usually Francine will make that point verbally) and we're supposed to pleased.

That appears to be the message. This he-man of a guy is loveable . . . as long as you're not gay or foreign. He shreds the Constitution in ways that John Ashcroft could only dream of, but he's "loveable." Is this an animated cartoon or a training video to prepare you for Bully Boy's new world order?

Switching topics, back in October we reviewed How I Met Your Mother? and last week we were contacted by someone who's starting a fan site for the show. Not this morning, when we're all rushing to get this edition done as quickly possibly, but by next week, we'll add the link to the review as well. But for now, if you watched How I Met Your Mother? or read the review and are interested in more on the show, please click here.

Bully Boy and the "I" nations (no, not Iraq)

For a weekend, it's been pretty hectic. Maybe you missed some of the news?

From Australia's ABC:

The United States has signalled its apparent abandonment of the goal of nuclear disarmament "for the foreseeable future" as it embarked on a quest for a new generation of more reliable nuclear warheads.
Although the term "nuclear disarmament" quietly disappeared from the Bush administration's vocabulary long ago, the statement by Linton Brooks, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, marked the first time a top government official publicly acknowledged a goal enshrined in key international documents will no longer be pursued.

From the World Watch Institute:

The security risks from the nuclear cooperation agreement reached yesterday between President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh far outweigh the energy benefits of the deal, according to researchers at the Worldwatch Institute. Spending the same money on new, clean energy options would provide energy without increasing the risk that terrorists will get their hands on nuclear arsenals.
Proponents claim that nuclear power will be India's ticket to economic prosperity in this energy-starved country of 1.1 billion people. But according to Worldwatch's
State of the World 2006 report, "Renewable energy resources such as solar, wind, and biomass are far more practical energy options for China and India. Both countries have vast land areas that contain a large dispersed and diverse portfolio of renewable energy sources that are attracting foreign and domestic investment as well as political interest."

From Ranjit Devraj's "India Deal Makes US a Nuclear Proliferator" (IPS):

Campaigners for a nuclear-free South Asia are aghast at the potential nightmare that lies ahead following the nuclear technology and fuel deal announced here this week by visiting United States President George W. Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
' 'This deal may have further complicated an already difficult situation in South Asia which has two rival self-declared nuclear weapon states,'' said N.D. Jayaprakash, lead campaigner for the Movement in India for Nuclear Disarmament (MIND), which counts among its ranks well-known scientists and intellectuals.
''What is sad is that nowhere in all this did the idea that nuclear weapons are not safe in anybody's hands come up, and now, far from the disarmament debate, the clamor by other countries that they too be allowed to possess nuclear weapons has grown louder,'' he added.

From Jim Lobe's "Nuclear Pact with India Seen as Surrender" (IPS):

While U.S. President George W. Bush hailed Thursday's nuclear accord with India as a major breakthrough in forging a "strategic partnership" with the South Asian giant, the pact has been broadly denounced by non-proliferation experts here as a devil's bargain. The agreement, which must still be approved by the U.S. Congress, marks a significant blow to the prevailing international non-proliferation regime, according to the critics, who have argued that it effectively rewards India for behaviour that differs little from what Iran is trying to do today. "It's going to be tough to argue that Iran and North Korea should be denied nuclear technology while India -- which has failed to even join the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- is given the same technology on a silver platter," said Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin.
"The deal is a disaster for the nuclear non-proliferation regime on the planet," agreed Democratic Rep. Edward Markey, a leading proliferation specialist in the U.S. Congress, who is expected to spearhead efforts to defeat the accord as signed.
"It blows a hole through any attempts in the future that we could make to convince the Pakistanis, or the Iranians, or the North Koreans, or for that matter any other country in world that might interested in obtaining nuclear weapons, that there is a level playing field, that there is a real set of safeguards," he added in an interview with public television.

If you've been taking some down time, or if you missed RadioNation with Laura Flanders on Saturday, this may be news to you. You may have spent yesterday thinking that things were as they were, that the nuclear battles had been fought and won. But like the reproductive rights battles, they never really go away. In the end, for the bullies of the world, it's always about control. Control of women's bodies, control of regions.

Reviewing a June press conference by the Bully Boy, Ava and C.I wrote:

Yeah, it's a steal from Laverne & Shirley but imagine the opening credits as they skip down Pennsylvania Avenue singing "Give us any treaty we'll break it . . ."

Those words were never truer as we actively encourage the spread of nukes.

Meanwhile on Iran, IMC is reporting this:

US and Israeli governments plan a military attack against Iran, possibly using nuclear bombs [1] [2] [3] [4] [5], possibly this month (March 2006) for reasons including: stopping the planned opening of an international oil-petrochemical-gas stock exchange for oil trade in euros [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]; control of Khuzestan province [1] [2] [3] where most Iranian oil lies, on the border with Iraq (US war plan OPLAN 1002-04); to distract attention from USA domestic political problems; and for Christian fundamentalist reasons - Bush says he was just following God's orders when he ordered the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq.
The official excuse for the attack is
the possible nuclear weapons program in Iran: ex-CIA agents Paul Pillar and Ellen Laipson as well as retired United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix state that if Iran were really trying to build atom bombs, then the most effective way to stop this would be a guarantee from the US and Israel not to attack Iran.

Quick Bully Boy thought for Sunday

Reports that Britain and the US are planning to withdraw all their forces from Iraq by the spring of 2007 are "completely false", the US military in Iraq has said, reiterating there is no timetable for withdrawal.
Two British newspapers reported in their Sunday editions that the pull-out plan followed an acceptance by the two governments that the presence of foreign troops in Iraq was now a large obstacle to securing peace.

-- from "US rejects Iraq 'pullout' reports" (Al Jazeera)

Bully Boy doesn't believe in condoms and he doesn't believe in pulling out? How come Laura only ended up pregnant once?

The envelope please ... And the Punk Ass Award goes to ...

Bono's being receiving all sort of honors lately. We thought we'd give him one of our own: the Punk Ass Award. He more than earned it.

If you missed the long interview Jann S. Wenner conducted with Bono for the November 3, 2005 issue of Rolling Stone, you missed quite a bit. As Bono cozies up with the Bully Boy, common sense goes out the window. The most shocking moment in the interview (a tough call) occurs on page 67:

Wenner: Do you feel now you can't criticize him on the war in Iraq?
Bono: Everyone in the administration knows how I feel about the war in Iraq. Everyone. I criticize it to Tony Blair as well. Do I campaign against the war in Iraq? No.
Why not?
That's the compromise. I feel I gave that up when I started to work for other people whom I will never meet, those 180,000 people in Africa who now owe their lives to American money, which paid for these lifesaving drugs. I work for them. If me not shooting my mouth off about the war in Iraq is the price i pay, then I'm prepared to pay it.

Saint Bono of the Tabloids. So sorry, Iraqis, you mean nothing to him. He's working for the people in Africa. He says those "180,000" but he's as loose with his figures as Bully Boy (maybe that's how they bonded). Fortunately Wenner calls him on it frequently.

Such as when Bono can't stop lusting after the 5 billion dollars Bully Boy promised to the AIDS initiative. Wenner has to point out the obvious:

Getting back to the Millennium Challenge for a second, when you get a promise of $5 billion a year, and then three years later all that has been committed is $1.75 billion annually, which is like a few days' spending in Iraq these days, what evidence do you have that he wants to be generous?
I think the AIDS initiative backs up the sincerity of the committment to the poorest of the poor. The Millennium Challenge, the money is still promised and . . .
He makes a lot of promises he never keeps.

But no doubts for Bono. Even though, despite promising $5 billion, Bully Boy only requested 3 billion from Congress (which Congress reduced to $1.75 billion), Bono knows it's a-coming.
You learn that he will speak out publicly against Canada's (then) prime minister but not against Bully Boy. Why? Apparently because one time "a senator threw a newspaper at me in a meeting" and asked him, "How dare you disrespect the president of the United States?"

Bono's made himself useless. He still has a habit of invoking MLK but seems completely unaware of MLK's "Beyond Vietnam" speech.

He wants to have it both ways. He wants to avoid speaking out so as not to anger Bully Boy and the right while at the same time indicating to the Rolling Stone readership that, if he could, he'd be speaking out against the war.

The only thing stopping Bono is Bono. As the Bully Boy funds go to chastity programs, Bono tries to bring up condoms but Wenner's all over that and Bono has to conceed that Bully Boy's dough (our money) isn't going to the condoms. (Can we parrot him? "Shock-horror.")

He name drops Randall Tobias, head of the U.S. Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and former Eli Lilly CEO. As David Jagernauth noted in "Deadly Lies" (The Oregon Emerald):

Although he has no actual public health experience, Tobias parrots the administration's rhetoric about the effectiveness of abstinence-only education. One-third of the president's AIDS package is earmarked specifically for these programs, which the American Medical Association, World Health Organization, National Institutes of Health and many other expert groups claim to be less effective at preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS than the alternative: comprehensive sex ed.

These 'good people' that Bono has bedded down with, that he knows, just knows support ABC? From Helen Epstein's "God and the Fight Against AIDS" (The New York Review of Books):

As it happens, Mrs. Museveni's Uganda Youth Forum (UYF) began receiving US funding to promote abstinence only until marriage to young Ugandans in 2004.
[. . .]
Some of the money for Mrs. Museveni's program is to be channeled through the Children's AIDS Fund or CAF, a US organization. In November 2004, CAF, which is run by a couple who are close friends of President Bush, was promised US government funding, even though the grant proposal it submitted to USAID was deemed "unfit" by a review panel. USAID administrator Andrew Natsios argued that CAF had ties with Janet Museveni's Uganda Youth Forum, who "is a pioneer in abstinence and be faithful messages," and should therefore be given special consideration. Randall Tobias, the US Global AIDS coordinator, apparently agreed. CAF was formerly known as Americans for a Sound AIDS Policy. In the 1990s, it lobbied to increase federal funding for "Abstinence-only- until-marriage programs," and against extending Americans with Disabilities protection for people with HIV. The disbursement of funds under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is disturbingly opaque. According to the Center for Health and Gender Equity, an organization that tracks US government spending on reproductive health, millions of dollars disbursed so far have not been publicly accounted for, in addition to that promised to CAF. See David Brown, "Group Awarded AIDS Grant Despite Negative Appraisal," The Washington Post, February 16, 2005, p. A17.

These are Bono's people (and as Epstein points out, they only became 'concerned' about AIDS when Bully Boy started talking about federal dollars going to faith-based programs). They aren't helped by abstinence-only programs. (Those programs never show success in real studies.) They're being confused since the message is now mixed. Their lives are at risk, but as long as Bono's full of himself, aren't we all better off?

Not the Iraqis dying under the occupation. Or the troops dying there as well. Bono can't speak to that. He has to hold his tongue. He wants that 15 billion dollars. Bully Boy's played smarter people than Bono before and come out the winner. In 2008, when Bully Boy leaves office and Bono's never seen the 15 billion dollars, will he own up to it? Will he admit he was played? Will he wonder if he could have made a difference by speaking out against the war?

If it does happen, expect a lot of "How could I have . . ." and "The guilt I feel . . ." because with Saint Bono, it's always been about Bono.

So while he gets showered with praise elsewhere, we'll award him the Punk Ass Award.

Confirmed: America's Funniest Videos disguises foreign videos to its audience

Last edition, we reviewed America's Funniest Videos and we maintained that we heard (among other things) the f-word on national TV. Early last week, friends at ABC began advising us of the network's official response to the broadcast and asking that we write about it (which we did, in "Industry Shocker: America's Funniest Videos? Not that American," on Wednesday).

As we noted in that entry, the American Broadcasting Company's official line is that the video in question (a man crashing on a bike into trashcans) was actually a foreign video, from the Czech republic. Since noting that, we've received two fowarded e-mails.

We'll quote one in full since it can't be considered a person e-mail -- it has nothing to indicate that a person wrote it. It's from "Audience relations." A tip for ABC, "Audience relations" might "relate" better to the public if they gave a name. Here's the e-mail and we're putting stars over the curse word:

Thank you for your note regarding "America’s Funniest Home Videos." The clip that you wrote about is showing a teen boy on a bike jumping over and crashing into a garbage can and is actually a submission from the Czech Republic. The language that you are hearing is not English.
We always listen to any foreign language clips with an ear toward what an English speaking audience might think they hear. The Broadcast Standards watched that clip again and it does not sound like "f**k". As far as they can discern it is unintelligible. Thank you for your feedback and for watching the ABC TV network.

Another tip for "Audience relations," the woman who wrote about this problem (to her affiliate, not to ABC) did not use the f-word proper. She did not spell it out. She forwarded this to us partly because she was offended that "Audience relations" of the American Broadcasting Company thought it was okay to write her, someone who'd never contacted the network, and include the f-word.

Probably not a good tactic to toss the word around in an e-mail to a stranger who has a) never written you and b) taken offense at what she heard over the airwaves. Was this their generic e-mail? How many people who complained about language received an e-mail with the f-word spelled out in it? Is that Disney policy? To use the f-word in company e-mails? Well we warned you last week that the holy rollers/family set wasn't all that.

So for those wondering, that is the official response. ABC maintains that no English curse word aired on their airwaves during America's Funniest Videos.

If that's their official position, then by all means let's note it. No foul words in English were heard on America's Funniest Video because the video in question was in another language -- the video in question was neither funny nor American.

ABC would no doubt want us to set the record straight. So we will. Should you think you hear a foul word on the show, remember that, although Tom Bergeron never tells the audience this, America's Funniest Videos does not show American videos exculsively. So when you watch the show entitled America's Funniest Video, you're watching a show that's billed falsely. We hope that clears it up. (Yes, we still have the recording and we'll hold on to it.)

Bully Boy and the nukes

America's positioning itself to be a "new nuclear cartel." The plan comes in two stages. Stage one was "use the U.S. military in Central Asia and the Middle East" to build up logistics and support. While domestic press in the United States have focused on the nuclear proposal with India, less covered has been the arrangement Bully Boy and Prime Minister Singh ironed out to allow the use of Indian bases for refueling and other actions by the American airforce. Stage two is more visible though little commented on. Bully Boy can't make a speech on energy without bringing up his plans for nuclear power plants. He's wanting 250 million dollars to fund his programs.

Where did we learn the above? RadioNation with Laura Flanders Saturday. And all in the first thirty minutes. We're making a point to note something from the show each edition because we listen to the show and we enjoy it. We think you will as well if you listen.

The information above came from the opening segments of RadioNation with Laura Flanders and that's one of our favorite segments each Saturday and Sunday, where Flanders let loose about what's going on in the world and gathers together these seemingly uncoordinated strands to reveal the very fabric they are apart of.

We love Flander's interview style but if you haven't listened to RadioNation with Laura Flanders yet, make a point to tune in during the show's opening and see if her intellingence, passion and big picture vision doesn't grab you.

So what does this mean, the nuclear issue?

It means that the days of the nuclear freeze are over if Bully Boy has his way. Leases for nuclear power plants are coming up for renewal (or non-renewal) and Bully Boy wants to be sure they are renewed. He also wants to ensure that we control the nuclear cartel.

The power plants have to go somewhere. Will one show up in your neighborhood? Three Mile Island is a not-so-distant memory and the anti-nuke movement was a large, powerful movement. Flanders suggested that it might be time to start dusting off your old "no nukes" buttons.

In 2005, we saw The New York Times do one of their non-trend "trend" stories. That was your heads up, if you were paying attention. "Environmentalists favor nuclear energy" was the thrust of the piece. The environmental credentials of the small number composing the "trend" were questionable but nothing stops the Times from inventing, er chasing down, the trends.

Cheney's top-secret energy meetings remain top secret. The domestic press isn't interested in bases or in air use rights. So whose going to connect the dots for you? Laura Flanders can.
RadioNation with Laura Flanders airs on broadcast radio, XM satellite radio, and online (you can also subscribe to the podcast).

Here's what's coming up today:

What kind of White House is this? Yawning as Hurricane Katrina approaches and giving away nuclear technology while fighting a global war on terror? The war as seen by Iraqi women, including EMAN AHMAD KHAMAS,traveling with Code Pink's MEDEA BENJAMIN. Then acclaimed author, WALTER MOSLEYon his latest call to political activism. All that and your calls.

Thoughts on Air America

KXXT 1010 AM was Air America's radio home in Phoenix, featuring left of center talkers such as Al Franken, Randi Rhodes and Ed Schultz, who routinely chastise the Bush administration and rival conservative talk show hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly.
But KXXT's owners sold the station to a Christian broadcasting group last year and the station's format officially went from political talk to religious content on Wednesday.

The above is from "Air America's Phoenix affiliate drops talk format" (The Business Journal of Phoenix, March 2nd). Note that Ed Schultz is not a part of Air America. Meanwhile, rumors swirl around NYC's WLIB and they've lost an afflilate in Montana.

From Billboard's Chuck Taylor's "Krantz: Air America A-OK; O'Reilly Criticisms False" (Billboard, Feb. 28th):

Air America's ratings "went up substantially" in the Fall 2005 book and its affiliate base has grown from 36 affiliates in January 2005 to 90 across the country, including internationally on Armed Forces Radio, Krantz said.
"Financially, Air America is significantly stronger than ever," he added. "As of today, our booked and pending business for 2006 represents 83% of the entire revenue generated in 2005. We are also up to date on all of our financial obligations. Most importantly, we have a dedicated board and investors who support our business."

So what's going on? What happened in Phoenix? From The Brad Blog, a portion of a statement by former General Manager of KXXT Bob Christy:

You helped take an unrated, unprofitable AM radio station and pushed it to a tie for 3rd place out of 25 AM stations in Phoenix. You took that same AM station and made it profitable in less than a year and even after the sale was announced you stood by Air America Phoenix and we kept on making money even when our future was in doubt and we didn't know when our "plug" was going to be pulled. In fact, the last month we were on the air was the 3rd best month we've had financially!
Air America Phoenix has now disappeared into the ether and Phoenix is left with multiple Christian formats, some in English and others in Spanish, several 'brokered' time stations (you know the radio stations selling you vitamins, good bowel movements and financial advice) a bagful of right wing "Conservative Talk stations" featuring Rush, Sean, Laura, Bill Bennett, Savage, Medved and all of their local imitators, three "Sports Talk" stations that live off the largess of their sister stations in the big corporate clusters that dominate the dial in Phoenix. Is anyone enjoying Tony Snow on KTAR…did anyone ask for him?

A reader brought this to our attention (Blulady) and she takes this very seriously. Should you?

If you're a fan of the work done by Laura Flanders, Mike Malloy, Randi Rhodes, Steve Earle, Chuck D and Janine Garofalo's we think you should take it seriously.

When Air America began, there was a split on whether it should become a radio network (owning or leasing stations) or a content provider -- meaning would they own (or lease) stations or would they just make programs that they would then syndicate? It's been a mixed model from the start. They've had success with it so that's allowed them to avoid choosing one side or another.

Air America was supposed to be the answer to the likes of Limbaugh, et al. The network was talked up (as a "network") in the early stages as just that. But before it went on the air, you already has one plugger (now gone) telling the press that it wasn't going to be "liberal" but more 'left of center.'

In terms of what they chose to promote, Baby Cries a Lot, they weren't left. The left doesn't rush to salute Ronald Reagan (one clue). But there were (and are) shows (mentioned above) that did present a left perspective.

AAR has demonstrated that there is an audience for non-right-wing, commercial talk radio. By any commerical test, they are a success. In fact, the "network" has been enough of a success to interest media conglomerate Clear Channel. That actually poses some problems. As stations across the country add some Air America shows to their lineup, they avoid other ones. Ed Schultz, to repeat, is not part of Air America Radio. If you're hearing Schultz on your local "Air America," you're missing programming they actually offer. In Dallas, Eddie is enraged that Randi Rhodes and the entire schedule has been pushed back so that Schultz can air live.

And that's a concern. As stations add some (and not all) Air America programming, they pick and choose and they go for what they know. Which means women and people of color beware. Boulder's not interested in The Kyle Jason Show. (They do offer Chuck D's On the Real, as well as a show hosted by Jesse Jackson.) When AAR started up it promised some diversity in the make up. (Though no Latino or Asian hosts were part of the line up.) In the time since, we've seen Unfiltered (two White women and one African-American man) replaced with Jerry Springer (white male).

So what's the deal? We're told the deal is AAR is not going under and is not in trouble. (We were told "no comment" on WLIB so we'll wait and see like everyone else.) Which means that a "network" started with a "We can do that!" enthusiasm is hitting some of the to be expected bumps in the road but not in danger of falling off the dial. (Right-wingers boo and hiss.)

When all else fails, you do have the net . . . if you have a computer that you can listen on. But as Eddie points out, they went from listening to Randi Rhodes after softball practice (she hooked them from the first day Dallas radio carried her -- and Eddie adds that it was a nice touch for her to play the theme to the TV show Dallas) to listening later or online.

"She's the perfect person for the two to six slot," Eddie told us. "It's the end of the day, everyone's lagging and even the boss says 'Turn her up!' because we all kind of wake up when she's on. And when you're hitting five o'clock traffic, especially on a hot day, you need someone like that. Now we've got Ed Schultz and he's not doing it. I don't want to be stuck in traffic in Schultz. He doesn't make me laugh, he doesn't find the thing that everyone else misses the way Randi does."

But more troubling to Eddie was the fact that co-workers and friends lost interest when Schultz was given Rhodes timeslot and Rhodes was pushed back.

"It was the thing to do, listen to Randi. Now she's coming on when people are sitting down in front of their TVs. I think the change was a big mistake because not only are people not listening to Randi as much at the later time, they're also not interested in Schultz. Randi's this voice that comes out swinging and still makes you laugh. Schultz is like Rush's twin. It's like, 'Will you ever shut up? Do you know how to do anything with your voice beside boom-boom-boom?' He just turns people off."

Now "conventional wisdom" would have it that Schultz would be a natural fit for the Dallas, Texas area. He's a former football player and the area is home to the Dallas Cowboys. But Gina and Krista were kind enough to ask for input on Air America Friday in their gina & krista round-robin and the e-mails poured in. Billie and 12 other listeners in the DFW area wrote to complain, as Eddie does above, that they've screwed up the entire line up by moving Randi Rhodes.

And that's a concern because if ideas are going to have traction, they need to be heard.

"The beauty salon I go to, a Black business, would have Randi on," Billie explained. "We all thought she was a trip. We just thought, okay, White woman, yes, but she gets it. They tried playing Schultz at first, when he took over Randi's spot, but most of the women found him too scary."

Did Billie ever listen to talk radio prior to Air America?

"No, because in my area, it's all right wing. Even the sports radio is that way. They'll have a wimpy Alan Colmes type on, say, The Ticket, and he'll make sure that everyone knows he's more of a libertarian than an actual Democrat. He'll pretend to disagree with the right-wing, Bush loving host but he'll lose every time. And you get the idea he was only picked because he has a high, squeaky voice and makes the Democrats sound bad everytime he speaks."

So ideally, Air America has the opportunity to extend not only ideas but sources. The male strangehold on talk radio could be dealt with. We're not really sure who's served with nine hours of males in a row (Springer, Baby Cries a Lot and Schultz). We're not sure that many could stomach that. We also think that the juggling by some stations carrying AAR programs results from the fact that the "network" has pushed Baby Cries a Lot at the expense of all other shows.

But it's not just Baby Cries a Lot, and it's not just paid advertising. In their most recent newsletter (Feb. 28th, "Marc Maron Returns, see Sam Live!"), they mention four males and two females. And "Maddow." Rachel Maddow (whom none of us are a fan of) is "Maddow" in the newsletter "join Maddow." Who? Sam Seder's name is all over, as is Marc Maron's. Rachel Maddow, mentioned only once, is "Maddow."

When, as Baby Cries a Lot did, you make the Grateful Dead your exclusive bumper music, you're sending out a message. Martha wrote that she washed her hands of the show early on because the message was clear to her, "Blacks and women, and women who are Black, not welcome." By the same token, when a newsletter is e-mailed, whether AAR intendes for readers to walk away with a message or not, impressions are created. All pictured are White. Three are guests, Robin Wright Penn, Annabelle Gurwitch and Norma Mailer. The other three, Joe Conason (guest host for Baby Cries a Lot), Sam Seder and Marc Maron.

Besides bringing back Maron, they've added another show to the lineup with another White male host, State of Belief hosted by Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy. Presumably, someone thought, "We need a religious show!" and the natural choice for a host was Gaddy. There are problems, no question.

One of the hopes of Air America was that it would inform by reaching out to people who didn't listen to talk radio. Why didn't they listen? For some, it was because they didn't feel that their views were reflected, they didn't feel represented. AAR could do a great deal more to demonstrate representation and inclusion. They could also book more guests who were non-White, non-male. What's the current ratio during the daytime hours of the week? Two males for every woman? Three males for every woman? (We won't break down race because that's even dicier.)

The e-mails were primarily about Baby Cries a Lot, how irritating he was and how his guests tended to annoy. Portland seemed to sum it up best when he asked, "Why use the talking heads that are already on Fox, MSNBC and CNN? You'd think it would be book heavy from the left to demonstrate that there are left voices who are left out."

So there are problems with the "network" but Air America, for all its highs and lows, goes on. It doesn't go in Phoenix where its success allowed a struggling station to suddenly have a higher market value. Is there anything AAR could have done to prevent that loss?

That would probably require that they have a model and make decisions about whether they want to be a network or a content provider. But from the start, they're attitude has been, "We can do that!" The enthusiasm has carried them along so far and they have had many highs. Losing WLIB in NYC would be a huge blow but they lost Chicago early on and survived that.

But as long as they're a content provider, they'll have to expect to lose stations (even when they're doing well in the ratings) and to have the schedules mixed up. For listners, this is very frustrating. Blulady was very distressed and we understand where she's coming from. It is a blow when a community loses a station. The change in programming left Eddie bothered but he was able to listen to Randi online and ignore Schultz. Not everyone has that option.

We could make requests of AAR (like more diversity in guests -- Laura Flanders shouldn't be the only one aware that the world isn't all White and male). But in terms of how they should go about their off air business, they seem to know what they're doing, or luck into it. They've been written off repeatedly, even before they ever broadcast. So they're either the luckiest people under the sun or they have some idea of how to play the game.

But if they'd read Blulady's e-mail, they'd also grasp that one of their most loyal fans is very troubled by the actions in Pheonix and the rumors surrounding WLIB's impending status. Suggestion, they might want to tap into those dedicated listeners. Phoenix had an audience. It shouldn't be all that hard to convince another station in the area to take on programming that took a station from last place to third in so short a time.

Music Spotlight: Kat on Cat Power's The Greatest

Kat commenting on music and just about everything else as well.

Kat's Korner: Cat Power's Greatness

Once I wanted to be the greatest
No wind or waterfall could stall me
And then came the rush of the flood
Stars of night turned deep to dust

So begins Cat Power's latest album, The Greatest. Does Chan Marshall mean it? That's always a question that lingers when people bring up Marshall or her stage persona Cat Power. How much of it is real? How much of it is a put on?

She's known for imploding, quietly, on stage. She's also known for pulling out some of the best performances on the alternative concert scene. I've seen examples of both. You walk away from either knowing you'll remember the night.

"But how much of it was real and how much of it was performance?" someone will always ask as you're heading out of the hall or club. Like it all has to be literal, completely literal. You want to ask them, "Do you think Jim Morrison really crept down the hall and said, 'Father, I want to kill you, Mother, I want to . . .'?"

Sixties women Aretha Franklin and Joni Mitchell set a standard. Of the pop-rock scene, they were among the few (women) dubbed "artists." Both women made it on their talents but a subtext was always that they were "real." Aretha's failure at Columbia and success at Atlantic was sold on the conceit that her new label put her back in the church when she moved to Atlantic. (I'm not hearing "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You)" as a song to Jesus.) While the Mick Jaggers could strike poses, the women had to sell their "realness" and exploring interior fantasies was confused with "fake."

The women who were elevated to the rare field of "artists" in pop-rock music following the sixties pretty much had to follow the same pattern as well. Carole King took us down home and showed us her Tapestry, Carly Simon's realness was the whole promise of No Secrets . . .

By mid-seventies, Stevie Nicks had emerged as the voice of Fleetwood Mac. She gave them their only number one hit with her self-penned "Dreams" and the bulk of what's remembered from the "England's Mac starts California Dreamin'" era are her songs ("Rhiannon," "Landslide," "Dreams," "Gold Dust Woman," "Sara," "Gypsy," "Seven Wonders," "Silver Springs" . . .). But critical reception didn't cotton to Stevie. By the eighties, Kate Bush would find a similar, "Is she for real?" reaction though critics were no longer asking, "Is she talented?" the way they did with Stevie (the only Mac artist to rack up impressive solo sales). Maybe that passed for progress?

In the nineties, Tori Amos emerged. She's been half-embraced and full-on scorned by some (male) critics. (Many of whom wish she'd do 'simple love songs.') The thread that runs through Nicks, Bush, Amos and Power/Marshall's work isn't plastic. This isn't an effort on their parts to make themselves more simplistic, but an effort to explore an aspect that is very real to them.

So it must be a real drag for Chan Marshall that, while she's put out the best album of her career, the key question is still: "Is she for real?"

Call her Cat Power or Chan Marshall, applaud the theatrics or condemn them, but she's for real.
She's in a down mood on this follow up to You Are Free. One of the stand outs on the last album was "I Don't Blame You." On The Greatest, blame's everywhere. No, she's not blaming "you," she's just burying herself up to the neck in it. Even "Empty Shell" about a former lover with a new girlfriend comes off less like a kiss-off and more like a "You are so much better off without me" message. Throughout the album, she confesses and grabs the blame. While Joni Mitchell rejected the role of the audience's she*t eater, Chan's grabbing it with both hands.

That's what's going on lyrically. Musically? The label (Matador Records) is pushing that this is Chan does Al Green. But listen to it and see if you don't think of Dusty Springfield's Dusty In Memphis instead?

When she covered Nina Simone's "Wild Is The Wind," it was hard not to notice that she had none of Simone's strength vocally. I'm not even talking range here, just in terms of her voice's unique sound. Simone's voice was as commanding as the rules surrounding her performances. Marshall/Power's voice gives off a plush feeling. On The Greatest, she's got the backing her sound has always needed -- the whole luxuriate in a sloth morning of "Breakfast In Bed."

Springfield built a fantasy into each recording. A song became a play and every indication says she meant every painstakingly recorded vocal. The Greatest carries on that tradition. Listen to the moments where accompaniment swells to accent her piano in the title track. Has one of her vocals ever sounded so tender? Has she ever so softly caressed the final notes of a melody line? They're soft, messy, blurry -- like mascara you forgot to remove the night before. "Living Proof" sounds like she's standing on her knees in her bed singing her joy from the night before to her lover. (While beating herself up for being "jealous.") For the entire album, she never seems to leave the bed. That's The Greatest and it's the best coupling of music and her voice she's had.

"Is it a put on?"

"Is she for real?"

Those questions are worth asking. It's how you determine an actual band as opposed to the monkeys. How you draw the line between art and product.

The way I hear it, Chan Marshall was the girl in high school who always spoke a little too quickly while playing with her hair and always left listeners confused as to what was reality and what was fantasy. Those girls (and boys) weren't fakes. They weren't pretending to be something they weren't. They were, however, exploring two worlds. The worlds the rest of us lived in high school and their own interior landscapes composed of alternate fantasies and additional meanings.

It's easy now to forget the critical invective that was regularly hurled at Stevie Nicks. An audience has grown up with her and the issue is no longer, "Are there 'Sisters of the Moon'?" so much as, "Can we meet them?"

What a Nicks or a Kate Bush or Chan Marshall/Cat Power does isn't fake. They're not "putting on." They're not calculating the market or listening to some man advise them to "shake it." They aren't Disney Kids pretending. This is who they are.

Right now Chan Marshall/Cat Power is an artist with one of the strongest albums released this year. But with the sudden cancellation of her tour, Marshall/Power is once again the subject of "reality" questions.

Here's reality, she sounds like she's lived (in reality or fantasy) every note. And The Greatest? It's a sensual album with more layers of sexuality than the posers have beats-per-minute. If you're a fan, this is a must have. If you're new to Marshall/Power, you're only disappointment may be that, high on this album, you check out the earlier ones. They're not dogs by any means, but this is the sort of benchmark album that identifies an artist for years to come.

[Note: This is the first of Kat's two CD reviews. The other posts tomorrow evening.]

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Encuesta: 72 por ciento de soldados estadounidenses en Irak quieren retirarse en un ano

Encuesta: 72 por ciento de soldados estadounidenses en Irak quieren retirarse en un ano

Maria: Buenos dias. De parte de "Democracy Now!" diez cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Encuesta: 72 por ciento de soldados estadounidenses en Irak quieren retirarse en un año
Una nueva encuesta de Zogby International indica que casi el 75 por ciento de los soldados estadounidenses en Irak creen que Estados Unidos debería retirarse en el correr de un año. Un veinticinco por ciento de los soldados encuestados consideran que Estados Unidos debería retirarse ahora. Y tan solo uno de cada cinco soldados estadounidenses desean cumplir la promesa del Presidente Bush de que las fuerzas estadounidenses permanezcan en Irak "el tiempo que sea necesario". La encuesta también descubrió que una abrumadora mayoría de los soldados estadounidenses cree la teoría ampliamente desacreditada de que Saddam Hussein estuvo involucrado en los ataques del 11 de septiembre. El 90 por ciento dijo que la guerra de Irak era una represalia por la presunta participación de Saddam Hussein en los atentados del 11 de septiembre.

Estudio: Uno de cada tres veteranos de guerra de Irak padecen problemas de salud mental
Mientras tanto, el "Washington Post" informa que un estudio del Ejército descubrió que más de uno de cada tres soldados estadounidenses que sirvieron en Irak, luego buscaron ayuda para sus problemas mentales. Según el informe, los soldados e infantes de marina que regresaban de Irak sufrían más angustia que los que volvían de Afganistán y otros países. Más de la mitad de los integrantes del servicio militar que volvían de Irak informaron que habían "sentido que corrían grave peligro de ser asesinados" allí, y más de 2.400 informaron haber tenido pensamientos suicidas. Steve Robinson, director del Centro Nacional de Recursos de la Guerra del Golfo, dijo: "En Vietnam, había áreas seguras donde las personas podían ir a descansar y a recuperarse. En Irak no es así, todos los lugares son una zona de guerra".

Fondos para nueva reconstrucción de Irak destinados únicamente a prisiones
En otras noticias, el Departamento de Estado anunció silenciosamente esta semana que pidió 100 millones de dólares para la reconstrucción de Irak, todo destinado a las prisiones. El gobierno de Bush prometió inicialmente que destinaría 20.000 millones de dólares para la reconstrucción de la infraestructura iraquí. Pero gran parte del dinero se gastó en seguridad. El coordinador del Departamento de Estado para Irak, James Jeffrey, dijo que el proyecto de prisiones de 100 millones de dólares es el único nuevo esfuerzo de reconstrucción que el gobierno estadounidense llevará a cabo en el próximo año.

Bush recibió información que desacredita las razones declaradas para la invasión
En otras noticias, el periodista de investigación Murray Waas informa que el presidente Bush recibió personalmente informes de inteligencia antes de la guerra de Irak que generan dudas sobre las razones sostenidas por su gobierno para iniciar la invasión. Un informe entregado en enero de 2003, decía que era muy improbable que Saddam Hussein atacara Estados Unidos, a menos que "las operaciones militares en curso pusieran en riesgo el inminente fin de su régimen". Otro informe de inteligencia de octubre de 2002 decía que tanto el Departamento de Energía como la oficina de inteligencia del Departamento de Estado habían concluido que los intentos de Saddam Hussein de comprar tubos de aluminio eran "destinados a la fabricación de armas convencionales". Waas escribió que la revelación es "la primera prueba de que el propio presidente estaba al tanto del debate encarnizado en el gobierno acerca de los tubos de aluminio en el momento en que él, [vicepresidente Dick] Cheney, y otros miembros del gabinete mencionaron los tubos como una prueba clara de un programa nuclear iraquí. Ni el presidente ni el vicepresidente le dijeron a la población acerca de la discrepancia entre los organismos".

Ex funcionarios de inteligencia dicen que la Casa Blanca ignoró advertencias sobre la insurgencia
En otras noticias, "Knight Ridder" informa que la Casa Blanca ignoró reiteradas veces las advertencias de inteligencia de que la insurgencia armada en Irak era casi completamente local y que estaba creciendo en número. Un cálculo de la Inteligencia Nacional indicó en octubre de 2003 que la insurgencia estaba incentivada en gran parte por las condiciones locales, como la presencia de los soldados estadounidenses en Irak. También indicó que las fuerzas externas prácticamente no formaban parte de la insurgencia. Robert Hutchings, quien fue presidente del Consejo Nacional de Inteligencia de 2003 a 2005, dijo: "Sinceramente, los altos funcionarios simplemente no estaban preparados para prestarle atención a los análisis que contradijeran sus propios pronósticos optimistas". Otro ex funcionario de Inteligencia de alto rango dijo: "Estas eran cosas que ni la Casa Blanca ni el Pentágono querían oír. Se quejaban constantemente de que las personas que escribían este tipo de evaluaciones desalentadoras 'debían unirse al equipo', que 'no eran jugadores del equipo' y que estaban 'sentados ahí (en las oficinas de la CIA) en Langley, sin hacer nada".

Esposa del primer ministro británico denominó a la tortura "terrorismo de estado"
Mientras tanto, la esposa del primer ministro británico Tony Blair, se hizo eco de los pedidos de finalizar el uso de la tortura. Cherie Booth afirmó en un discurso y en un artículo que lo acompaña, que el uso de la tortura en la llamada guerra al terrorismo equivale al "terrorismo de estado".

Video muestra que Bush y Chertoff recibieron serias advertencias un día antes del huracán Katrina
"Associated Press" obtuvo una filmación confidencial de la última reunión informativa del Presidente Bush antes que el huracán Katrina azotara la Costa del Golfo de México. El video muestra que el Presidente recibió serias advertencias de que el huracán podía destruir los diques de contención y poner en peligro la vida de los residentes de Nueva Orleáns. La reunión se llevó a cabo el 28 de agosto, un día antes de que el Katrina azotara Nueva Orleáns. En el video, se muestra al Presidente Bush viendo la reunión a través de una videoconferencia desde su rancho en Texas. Durante la reunión, el Presidente no hace ni una sola pregunta, y aún así concluye diciendo que el gobierno está "totalmente preparado". El video muestra a varios funcionarios federales, estatales y locales formulando las advertencias. Luego, el entonces director de la Agencia Federal para el Manejo de Emergencias (FEMA, por sus siglas en inglés), Michael Brown, le dice al Presidente y al Secretario de Seguridad Nacional, Michael Chertoff: "Tengo el presentimiento... de que esto va a ser grande y serio". En otra instancia de la reunión, un experto en meteorología dice que tiene "serias preocupaciones" sobre los diques de contención de Nueva Orleáns. El video pone aún más en duda la afirmación de la Casa Blanca de que no había sido advertida adecuadamente sobre la posible magnitud de Katrina. El 1º de septiembre, el Presidente Bush dijo: "Creo que nadie previó que los diques de contención se romperían. Sí anticiparon una fuerte tormenta pero los diques se rompieron y como consecuencia gran parte de Nueva Orleáns está inundada y ahora tenemos que lidiar con eso, y lo haremos". Luego de ver el video, el alcalde de Nueva Orleáns, Ray Nagin, dijo: "En este momento, tengo un mal presentimiento... A juzgar por este video, parece que todo el mundo estaba al tanto de la situación". La Casa Blanca intenta restarle importancia al video. El portavoz presidencial, Trent Duffy, dijo: "Espero que la gente no saque conclusiones por una sola reunión del Presidente".

Demócratas reiteran solicitud de investigación independiente del Katrina
Los demócratas han reiterado la solicitud de una investigación independiente sobre la respuesta del gobierno al huracán Katrina. Las solicitudes surgieron luego de la publicación el miércoles, de un video confidencial de la última reunión informativa del presidente Bush antes de que el huracán Katrina azotara la costa del Golfo de México. En la reunión el presidente recibió serias advertencias de que el huracán podría romper diques de contención y amenazar las vidas de los habitantes de Nueva Orleáns. A pesar de esto, días más tarde el presidente Bush dijo que la rotura de los diques no había sido prevista.

Encuesta: Índice de aprobación de Bush sobre Irak y presidencia más bajo que nunca
En otras noticias, una nueva encuesta de CBS News descubrió que el número de ciudadanos estadounidenses que aprueban la labor general del Presidente Bush y su manejo de la guerra de Irak, es más bajo que nunca. Un 34 por ciento de los encuestados dijeron que aprobaban la labor del Presidente, mientras que menos personas aún, un 30 por ciento, dijeron que aprobaban la manera en que el Presidente maneja la guerra en Irak. Mientras tanto, menos de un tercio de los ciudadanos estadounidenses creen que el Presidente Bush ha respondido adecuadamente a las necesidades de las victimas del Huracán Katrina.

Encuesta mundial descubre que muchas personas creen que la guerra en Irak aumentó las amenazas terroristas
Los resultados surgen mientras otra nueva encuesta descubrió un descenso en el apoyo a la guerra de Irak a nivel mundial. Una encuesta de BBC en la que participaron más de 40.000 personas de 35 países distintos, reveló que el 60 por ciento de los encuestados creen que la guerra de Irak incrementó en vez de disminuir las probabilidades de que ocurran grandes ataques terroristas. Sólo el 12 por ciento creen que la guerra hizo que los ataques fueran menos probables.

Maria: Good afternoon. Here are ten headlines from the week via Democracy Now! Democracy Now! provides their daily headlines in both English and Spanish, so get the word out. Peace.

Poll: 72% of US Soldiers in Iraq Want Exit Within Year
A new poll from Zogby International shows nearly three-quarters of US troops in Iraq believe the US should pull out within one year. One-quarter of those surveyed believe the US should leave now. And only one in five US troops want to heed President Bush's pledge that US forces stay "as long as they are needed." The poll also found an overwhelming majority of US troops believe the widely discredited theory that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks. 90% said the Iraq war was a retaliation for Saddam Hussein's supposed role in 9/11.

Study: One in Three Iraq Vets Seek Mental Health Treatment
Meanwhile, the Washington Post is reporting an Army study has found that more than one in three US troops who served in Iraq later sought help for mental health problems. According to the report, soldiers and Marines returning from Iraq reported more distress than those returning from Afghanistan and other countries. More than half of all service members returning from Iraq reported that they had "felt in great danger of being killed" there, and over 2,400 reported having suicidal thoughts. Steve Robinson, head of the National Gulf War Resource Center, said: "In Vietnam, there were safe areas where people could go to rest and recuperate. That doesn't happen in Iraq; every place is a war zone."

New Iraq Reconstruction Funds Devoted Solely to Prisons
In other news, the State Department quietly announced this week it has requested $100 million dollars for Iraqi reconstruction -- all of it for prisons. The Bush administration initially promised $20 billion dollars to reconstruct Iraqi infrastructure. But much of the money has been diverted to security. State Department Iraq coordinator James Jeffrey said the $100 million dollar prison project was the lone new reconstruction effort the US government will undertake over the next year.

Bush Was Given Intelligence Discrediting Stated Reasons for Invasion
In other news, investigative journalist Murray Waas is reporting President Bush was personally delivered intelligence reports before the Iraq war that cast doubt on his administration's stated reasons for launching an invasion. One report, delivered in January 2003, said Saddam Hussein was highly unlikely to attack the United States unless "ongoing military operations risked the imminent demise of his regime." Another intelligence report dated October 2002 said both the Energy Department and the State Department's intelligence bureau had concluded Saddam Hussein's attempts to purchase aluminum tubes were "intended for conventional weapons." Waas writes that the disclosure is "the first evidence that the president himself knew of the sharp debate within the government over the aluminum tubes during the time that he, [Vice President Dick] Cheney, and other members of the Cabinet were citing the tubes as clear evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program. Neither the president nor the vice president told the public about the disagreement among the agencies."

Former Intel Officials Say White House Ignored Insurgency Warnings
In other news, Knight Ridder is reporting the White House repeatedly ignored early intelligence warnings that the armed insurgency in Iraq was almost entirely local and growing in size. A National Intelligence Estimate as early as October 2003 said the insurgency was fueled mostly by local conditions, such as the presence of US troops in Iraq. It also said outside forces were playing almost no role in the insurgency. Robert Hutchings, the former chair of the National Intelligence Council from 2003 to 2005 said: "Frankly, senior officials simply weren't ready to pay attention to analysis that didn't conform to their own optimistic scenarios." Another former high-ranking intelligence official said: "This was stuff the White House and the Pentagon did not want to hear. They were constantly grumbling that the people who were writing these kind of downbeat assessments `needed to get on the team,' `were not team players' and were `sitting up there (at CIA headquarters) in Langley sucking their thumbs.'"

Wife of British PM Calls Torture "Terrorism of the State"
Meanwhile, the wife of British Prime Minister Tony Blair has joined the calls for an end to the use of torture. In a speech and accompanying article Wednesday, Cherie Booth said the use of torture in the so-called war on terror amounted to "terrorism of the state".

Video Shows Bush Receiving Dire Warnings Day Before Katrina
The Associated Press has obtained confidential video footage of President Bush's final briefing before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. It shows the President was given dire warnings the storm could breach levees and threaten the lives of residents of New Orleans. The briefing occurred on August 28th -- one day before Katrina hit. On the video, President Bush is seen watching the briefing via a videoconference from his Texas ranch. The President does not ask one single question throughout the briefing, yet concludes that the government is: "fully prepared."
The video shows several federal, state and local officials issuing the warnings. Then-FEMA head Michael Brown tells the President and Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff: "My gut tells me ... this is a bad one and a big one." At another point in the briefing, , a weather expert says he has "grave concerns" on the levees in New Orleans. The video casts further doubt over the White House's claim it wasn't adequately warned about Katrina's possible magnitude. On September 1st, President Bush said: "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees. They did anticipate a serious storm but these levees got breached and as a result much of New Orleans is flooded and now we're having to deal with it and will."
After viewing the video, New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin said: "I have kind of a sinking feeling in my gut right now... From this tape it looks like everybody was fully aware." The White House is already trying to downplay the video. Presidential spokesperson Trent Duffy said: "I hope people don't draw conclusions from the president getting a single briefing."

Democrats Repeat Calls For Independent Katrina Investigation
Democrats have renewed calls for an independent investigation into the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. The calls follow the release Wednesday of confidential video footage from President Bush's final briefing before Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. The President was given dire warnings the storm could breach levees and threaten the lives of residents of New Orleans. Yet days later, President Bush said the breach of the levees hadn't been anticipated.

Bush Approval Rating on Iraq, Presidency At All-Time Low
In other news, a new CBS News poll has found the number of Americans who approve of President Bush's overall job performance and his handling of the Iraq war has fallen to an all-time low. 34 percent of Americans give the President a favorable job approval rating, while even less -- 30 percent -- approve of the President's handling of the Iraq war. Meanwhile, less than a third of Americans believe President Bush has adequately responded to the needs of victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Global Survey Finds Many Believe Iraq War Has Increased Terror Threats
The results come as another new poll has found dwindling support for the Iraq war around the world. A BBC survey of over 40,000 people in 35 different countries found that 60% believe the Iraq war has increased rather than decreased the chances of major terrorist attacks. Only 12% believe the war has made the chances of an attack less likely.

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