Sunday, April 02, 2006

A Note to Our Readers

Hey --
Another long Sunday but less long since the clock flipped back an hour. The editorial, written, has been delayed in posting due to technical problems resulting in constant error messages.

Let's note our highlights/reposts (and thanks to all for their permission):

Music Spotlight: Kat on Etta James' All The Way
Soldado estadounidense declara en audiencia de asilo en Canada
NSA hearing spotlight: Ruth & C.I.
Blog Spotlight: Cedric on Afghanistan, Katrina vanden Heuvel and more
Humor Spotlight: Wally on Bully Boy switching focus
Humor Spotlight: Betty on "Thomas Friedman's Frostings and Facials"
Blog Spotlight: Kat on Etta James and Bonnie Faulkner
Blog Spotlight: Rebecca notes Jill Carroll, Flashpoints and Iraq under Bully Boy
Press Analysis Spotlight: Elaine & C.I. note the sexism behind the coverage of Jill Carroll
Ruth's Public Radio Report part I
Ruth's Public Radio Report part II
Ruth's Public Radio Report part III
Cooking Spotlight: Tortilla Soup in the Kitchen

Ruth's report is split into three parts because we had no luck (again) getting it to post by e-mail as one post (and no one wanted to copy and paste the entire thing due to the spacing problems that occur when that's done). So we broke it up into three parts.

Let's note who worked on this edition:

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

All contributed the new content in this edition (except for the TV review which is always done by Ava and C.I. only).

New content?

Editorial: That's what it sounds like when bullies bluster
TV Review: What happens on Vegas will bore you to tears
Ned Sublette interviewed Kevin Phillips on Saturday's Radio Nation with Laura Flanders
Tricky Dick all tricked out for 2008
Why They Schill
5 CDs that got us through the week
Air America Radio back on the air in Arizona
About Last Week

Now let's go over it quickly.

Editorial: That's what it sounds like when bullies bluster may read like two pieces. If so, it was intended to be two different pieces. Time constraints and technical problems meant that we could cover one of two topics or we could combine the two. When we combined the two (with the theme of bluster), we had to drop certain things. Since Carole had written in asking about the media's role, we felt we had to note the media. As a result, our feelings about the fact that another milestone happens next month (third anniversary of Bully Boy standing in front of banner that read "Mission Accomplished" while he boasted that major combat operations had ended) were dropped, our comments on the permanent bases being set up in Iraq were lost and we also ditched some other blustering moments by the Bully Boy.

TV Review: What happens on Vegas will bore you to tears is Ava and C.I's contribution. Dona successfully argued, when we were nearly done with this edition, that the smart thing to do was to let C.I. go over to The Common Ills and do the morning entry and post Isaiah's latest comic (which we used in our editorial) so that when the note was finished, we were all done (as opposed to C.I. having to spend another hour online while some of us hopped into bed). But would we be getting a C.I. in less than top form if we did that? (I, Jim, raised that question.) Dona said "be a human" and we followed her suggestion. What we were told ahead of time about this review (before the break) was that they needed the city slogan of Las Vegas (Ava hunted that down) and that this would be a brief review. Like all of us, both were tired. They also said it wouldn't be very funny because they just wanted to go to sleep. C.I. came back with a second wind and Ava took down time to get her own second wind during the break. The result? Damn funny and far from brief. Ava and C.I. fans, take note, this is destined to be one of their classic reviews. (They haven't reread it and don't intend to -- as always.)

Ned Sublette interviewed Kevin Phillips on Saturday's Radio Nation with Laura Flanders is our report on Flanders' show that we do each week. Flanders is on vacation and we might have ditched this entry but we'd asked, last week, Don to give the show a try and he did. We've utilized his comments in the article.

Tricky Dick all tricked out for 2008 was part of Dona's hope for brief articles since daylight savings time meant losing an hour and since last week was a pain in the butt for most involved.
Mark Warner got some praise for the cover photo and we can't grasp why. He looks like Richard Nixon. We shadowed the image to make that more obvious. In the full size, undoctored image, he also has frightening teeth. It's like Bruce Springsteen before he got them fixed.

Why They Schill Carole wrote us and asked that, since we noted demonstrators and we noted the Dems who won't stand up, we offer some sort of criticque about the media. We felt an author had already said it far better than we could and if you haven't read the book already, read it.

5 CDs that got us through the week Mike's dad asked us to do something on music. Dona felt this idea (Jess' idea) would work best with our hopes of short pieces that would allow us all some reasonable sleep time.

Air America Radio back on the air in Arizona is a short item noting something that is important to readers (as we found out after we did a piece on AAR at the request of a reader who was upset that Arizona no longer had an AAR station).

About Last Week attempts to briefly summarize last week's problems and to note the credits for what went up.


What do you mean "and"? Greedy little readers.

Seriously, we'd planned for this to be a shorter edition due to the loss of an hour (daylight savings time) and due to a need for people to get some rest. That's one reason there are so many illustrations in this edition.

Hopefully, you'll find something that makes you think, bothers you or makes you laugh (or maybe all three).

Thank you to Dallas who hunted down links and helped as a sounding board throughout a long night/morning. Next week, fingers crossed, the return of the book discussions with at least two books as the focus.

See you next Sunday.

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

Editorial: That's what it sounds like when bullies bluster

This week, Isaiah reminds us of one of the "Bad Moments of Bully Boy Bluster." There have been so many.

But to focus on that one, July 2, 2003, when Bully Boy all but put a bounty on the head of every American in Iraq, hasn't panned out well, has it?

Iraq. The pundits still play the guessing game of is it or isn't it civil war yet? We've passed the three year anniversary mark. We passed the 2,000 American troop fatalities some time ago. American troop fatalities currently stand at 2332 since the illegal invasion with four since the start of April. Yes, we are on the second day of April, when will The New York Times learn to stop participating in Operation Happy Talk?

Not just yet, if today's paper is any indication.

Like the Bully Boy, the paper of record has a real hard time facing reality. And after the paper slimed Jill Carroll repeatedly last week, disgraced "war" correspondent John F. Burns shows up today to try to grab onto some of her luster while still sliming her. Why, when people are kidnapped, don't they realize the work required to free them? (In Carroll's case, she was released by her kidnappers and no military work appears to have aided that result. Possibly her families pleas, as well as those from figures in the Arab world, helped, but she was not "rescued" by the military.)

It's the same argument that was trotted out about the Christian Peacemaker Team three after they were rescued. Reporters have to be where the stories are. Burns' "logic" appears the same as the administration when selling "embeds" over "unilaterals."

Burns also attempts to hitch his wagon to Carroll at one point when he notes the following:

Another group, including this reporter, a freelance photographer, Shawn Baldwin, and six Iraqis were captured by insurgents outside Najaf, the Shiite holy city, as American forces poised to strike into the city. The situation was resolved within hours by the intervention of a senior Shiite cleric, but not before we had been blindfolded, driven 20 miles into the desert, and dumped after dark in a remote cinder block building under the guard of a dozen hostile men with fingers on the triggers of Kalashnikovs.

Maybe Burns has gone to the well so often with that story that he's forgotten who "six Iraqis" were? We'll help him out:

John Burns, The New York Times Unidentified photographerApril 6 Burns, a correspondent for The New York Times, and an unidentified photographer were abducted by militants believed to be affiliated with radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr on April 6 in the city of Kufa. They were held for several hours before being released. Several support people working for The New York Times--drivers, security guards, and an interpreter--were also detained and released.

Oh, among the six were "security guards"? So his analogy isn't quite like Carroll's experience, is it? Burns goes on to write that Carroll needs no "garlands" because "We, all of us, choose to be in Iraq, and are well rewarded, in terms of our experiences and professional rewards, for what we do." Well, actually, Johnny B, Carroll was an indendent reporter. The Christian Science Monitor was running her stories but she was freelance. Had she the desire to live it up in the Green Zone, as the go-go boys of the paper of record are alleged to have done with drinking and extramartial affairs, she really didn't have the funds to, now did she?

The man who destroyed his own byline is in a clucking mood:

A reporter braving capture by the Iraqi insurgents, with none of the protections available to others, puts at risk not only his or her life, and the well-being of their families. Western reporters who choose to live at the furthest reaches of risk carry with them the lives of their Iraqi companions, drivers, interpreters and guards, who, as "collaborators" in the eyes of the insurgents, are likely to be shown no mercy if caught up in an ambush. In Ms. Carroll's case, her interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, 32, was executed by her captors at the moment of her abduction.

She put others at risk, did she? And what of yourself in Najaf? In Najaf with security guards, no less. He does finally get some reality on the paper's reporting from Iraq into print:

Larger newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post shifted early in the war to more elaborate protections, including armored cars and guards, and insist on rigorous security assessments before committing to all out-of-compound journeys.

It's a shame that the stories they filed failed to reflect that. The current situation didn't happen overnight. It was a long process. Had readers of the paper been informed in real time, they might have been better able to judge what passed for "reporting" (and was presented as though the reporters were mobile and walking freely). He takes a swipe at "Western" reporters who've criticized him -- he means reporters like Robert Fisk.

For instance, Fisk told Amy Goodman on the October 20th broadcast of Democracy Now! (from an interview done the previous month):

The American correspondents, some of them are guarded by armed Iraqis. The New York Times has a compound with four watch towers and armed Iraqis with "NYT" New York Times on their black t-shirts. NBC lives in a hotel in the Karada District with iron grills. The A.P. lives in the Palestine Hotel with two armored walls. Very rarely do they ever venture out and never do the American staffers go in the streets. As I say, we still go out with Iraqi friends. We actually go out to lunch in restaurants in Iraq. But I think that's probably because as long as we're with Iraqis and we look at our watch and say, 20 minutes, finish the meal, half an hour, got to be out. You're ok but it's a calculated risk.

It's that kind of apt criticism that leads an office napper to rouse him long enough to trash Fisk's most recent book. (Hop back on the couch and go back to sleep, Bronner).

There's been a great deal of bluster and not just from the Bully Boy. Burns and Dexter Filkins have done their best to present themselves as the manliest of the manly men covering Iraq (as they peered over the shoulders of their security detail and through the legs of the military). It must really rankle Burns that not only did he destroy his reputation with this illegal war but his annointed Dexy is really only seen as impressive by Burnsy. Burnsy and Dexy.

Today he turns in a soggy piece from a soggy mind which is why he puffs out his chest and lectures to (a non present) Carroll (someone who, unlike Dexy, will be remembered for her coverage) and then, with barely a deep breath, attempts to make it seem as though his situation wasn't all that different from her own. Not only were there situations different but we'd argue what they absorbed was different as well. We doubt Carroll would speak of Abu Ghraib only in terms of America, the way Burns did:

The torture of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib by U.S. soldiers was unarguably the biggest single story of the war today, Burns said, calling it "an arrow in the back of every American soldier who goes to Iraq."

As he now offers excuses to Editor & Publisher, his reputation appears beyond repair:

Burns said that he and others underestimated this problem, feeling for a long time that toppling Saddam Hussein would almost inevitably lead to something much better.

A long time? Such as late as December 16, 2005 when he filed nonsense that could be seen as part of the administration's latest Operation Happy Talk wave?

It took a lot of bluster on the part of the Bully Boy to lie us into war and it took help from the press. Burns did his part in the lead up, though he still thinks no one noticed, and he did his part after. As late as December 2005, he was still happy to read press releases live from the Green Zone. Had he reported accurately and noted early on that Baghdad had fallen apart (that some areas in Iraq -- and this is still true today though the paper avoids it -- have never been "controllable" by the U.S., then the long awakening the nation's been on since the summer of protest might have come much sooner.

But to read the paper of record was to think that the reporters moved freely and that they moved alone. That wasn't the case. That wasn't the case almost immediately after the war began. But readers were misled (and are still misled).

The bluster will kill us all. Bully Boy's bluster, Dexy Filkins' bluster, John F. Burns' bluster, go down the list.

The only vaccine for bluster is truth. Since the blusterers and the war pornogrpahers still can't grasp that, we're stuck in the quagmire still.

Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, you're schilling for the Bully Boy. The bluster starts at the top and seeps down the chain the lowest of the lackeys. They all need to be called on it.

[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: What happens on Vegas will bore you to tears

NBC's train wreck of a Friday night now features Las Vegas (recently moved over from Mondays). Sandwiched between Conviction and Dateline, it has to score points on the "by comparison" scale at least. Right?

Wrong. The motto of the city these days is "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas." What happens on Las Vegas? Men do a lot of staring, women do a lot of nothing. Who would have thought a show about Sin City could be so dull?

It probably doesn't help that the show stars former soap personality & internet nude fave Josh Duhamel -- or that it frequently guest stars Cheryl Ladd. Duhamel seems to think that his out of control hair adds an element to his otherwise bland characterization. Well we all have our self-delusions. Cheryl Ladd, with dyed dark hair, plays the role so many accused of her living in the pre-Charlie's Angels days -- dull appendage to an important man. To say that she doesn't appear to be stretching may be an understatement.

Friday night, she mispronounced "booty" (making everyone watching wonder exactly how old she was supposed to be -- the dark hair has aged her). It's not as though the word is unfamiliar to someone her age. Or maybe her character is supposed to have missed the whole shake-shake-shake-shake-your-booty disco phase/craze of the seventies? Possibly the character instead spent her time singing background vocals on recordings of a Saturday animated cartoon?

When not offering her daughter 'pearls of wisdom' (yes, she honestly told her adult daughter that no man would buy "the cow" if he could get the milk for free), she also whined a great deal about the state of her marriage and made a lot of Harriet Nelson faces ("Oh, Ozzie!") as her onscreen husband left her (repeatedly -- and we don't blame him) to rush back to work. Her work won't shock anyone (the way some gasped when first seeing Poison Ivy) but the sparkle from Charlie's Angels is gone (as is the kitsch of One West Waikiki). Though the performance is nothing like the strong contribution she made to a television film, we couldn't help thinking that the title of that TV movie summed up the current state of her career: When She Was Bad.

She is very, very bad. That's all the more obvious since she's paired with Caan who actually attempts to turn in a performance. Duhamel doesn't. He seems to have grasped that this show is nothing but a landlocked Love Boat. (We saw this show in the eighties, it was called Hotel.) So he moves around a great deal, scrunches his forehead even more and seems about as interesting as a stick of butter (not being used by Marlon Brando).

His character? Well his prototype, at any rate. Exactly what decade is he supposed to be living in? Like Ladd's character, his Danny McCoy seems to be occupying a time space other than current day. There's a subplot (the whole show seems to be about subplots) where he and Mike Cannon (James Lesure) pose for a charity calendar. Rumor is a scene was in the script that was supposed to provide those in the audiences who want to Do-A-Male named Duhamel with a flesh scene as he posed shirtless but he nixed it out of weight concerns. True or not, after all the build up to the photo shoot and all the talk that goes on after, it's glaringly obvious that a scene is missing (either due to writing or due to an actor, who has a tendency to bloat, not wanting to film it).

But offscreen, he poses for the calendar. Wearing the promise of nothing but a pair of 'patriotic' shorts. (Danny's supposed to be Mr. July.) After the photo shoot? That's where the audience comes back in, after. Danny learns the apparently shocking news that some males might want to gaze at the photo while they fantasize that they could Do-A-Male. That doesn't just shock him, it creeps him out.

This is the sort of homosexual panic that hasn't been seen since another Danny first learned that his brother (Jody) was gay on SOAP in the late seventies. And it's not one scene. It's the thrust, so to speak, of the subplot. Danny and Mike fret. They worry when some of the women laugh. They get "ribbed" about it (although what Caan's Ed DeLine says to Mike goes beyond 'ribbing' and is actually the sort of thing that should lead to an official work place complaint). Danny and Alex worry how many calendars will be produced, speak (repeatedly) of their embarrassment.
Let's clear something up that may not have occurred to Danny or the writers, some man fantasizing about Danny doesn't make Danny gay.

But instead of focusing on the robberies in the residential suites (hotel lingo for suites set up for long term guest), the thing that Caan's character is obsessing over and walking out on Cheryl Ladd repeatedly as a result (well, that and her bad acting probably have him running for the door), Danny and Mike just focus on the calendar. How can they stop it! Finally, they decide to write a check for $5,000 and buy up all the copies. (All five hundred.) But the thing is, as the show stumbles through the last lap, they didn't get them all. Female employees of the hotel wave them around. (The only time that the audience gets to see the actual photos -- blink and you'll miss it but, if you don't, notice that unlike Lesure, Duhamel ends up wearing a t-shirt as well as shorts. Men wear far less on the beach. But this was the photo that launched the panic.)

It was all so lame, so backwards and so offensive. Made all the more so by a guest (you know the hotel has to have guests) who's a photographer and also what some would term a "flamer."
He's busy figuring out how to get bellboy Henry to touch him. (A shoulder and neck massage appear to be the answer.) He's flitting all over the place, screeching and sneering at the staff (except for Henry -- he whines to Henry). Remember the robberies? It's okay if you forgot, Lesure and Duhamel's characters frequently seem to forget them.

But in a moment when they are briefly focused, Lesure and Duhamel interrogate this guest who's at the hotel to photograph the residential suites. They don't fail to show how creeped out they are by his "flaming." They work at a hotel in Vegas and they can't handle being around a gay man? Do they go into hiding when Cher brings her lounge act with dancing boys into town?

It's not the photographer. He's not the robber. (In what must be an homage to Helen Hayes' exit scene in Airport, the photographer exits the hotel on a gurney after consuming bad shrimp.)
So the average TV viewer is probably thinking the thief must be guest star Robert Wagner (of It Takes A . . . fame and Hart to Hart). It's not Wagner. It's an actor who the audience sees in one scene prior to his being busted. Las Vegas can't even handle cliches well.

Robert Wagner was a pretty boy back in the day. In fact, in his youth, he was one of the most handsome men in the entertainment world. But unlike many of his pretty boy peers, he actually had talent. He still does. It's a small screen talent, and one suited for light comedy roles in film, but it's talent and it's not to be sneered at. In all of his too brief scenes, he demonstrates that he didn't win over audiences as the lead in repeated TV series on looks alone. It's a lesson Duhamel should learn. Quickly.

Wagner and Caan connect onscreen, even though they are saddled with hideous dialogue. (Caan's toast line, rumored to have been authored by Caan, raised the level somewhat). Wagner also connects with Nikki Cox who is the only one on the show other than Caan who turns in a performance. As written, Cox's Mary Connell does nothing. She follows the photographer around, she's one of three women who tease (repeatedly) Lasure and Duhamel about the calendar. The writers don't appear to be interested in the character of Mary which is a real shame because Cox not only has the talent to connect with the audience, she uses it. (We won't say "wisely" because no one using it "wisely" would be on this show.)

She was onscreen (with no real storyline) a bit more than Vanessa Marcil who people continue to mistake for a star. (Julia Ormond was mistaken for a star in the 90s -- Marcil connects with the audiences about as well as Ormond did.) Marcil's storyline? She's the one who informs the boys that gay males look at the calendar. She's also looked at the calendar in the past herself so how the calendar suddenly becomes billed, repeatedly, as a "gay calendar" is anyone's guess. Possibly, along with Christmas and other holidays, it notes Liberace's birthday?

Marcil would be smart to show up more rested on the set (there are those rumors again) because when all you have to offer is your looks, and they aren't that great to begin with, you need to work twice as hard to pull off "pretty."

Molly Simms appears to be attempting to pull off an imitation of Sandra Bullock. She fails. Her big scene is with her mother (Ladd) who advises her (yes, let's toss it in again) that men don't buy "the cow" when they can get the milk for free. This is during a golf game between mother and daughter and when Simms scores, she does a little dance that immediately demonstrates 'twas not 'free love' that left "the cow" unbought.

That grace-free moment may be missed by viewers intent on watching how hard Ladd works to avoid squinting or moving a facial muscle while being shot in (heavily filtered) sunlight. By the time Simms' starts dancing, even an actress intent on providing no facial evidence of age can't help but grimace. (Ladd looks like a modern day Jane Wyman when she grimaces -- too bad she can't act as well as Wyman.)

And that's the billed cast. Who would have guessed that a non-Charles Nelson Reilly and non-Charo guest-starring television episode could repeatedly serve up so much bad acting? It makes Hotel, in retrospect, look like an Actors' Studio production.

Caan's character doesn't live at the hotel (he and Ladd have a house). But then it doesn't seem like anyone does. Bit players show up at the beginning for a big scene only to never be seen again. Worse yet, for the tourism industry as well as the audience, other than Caan and Cox, no one on the show seems to be living either.

The boys (Duhamel and Lasure) spend a lot of time craning their necks as women walk off. They never do anything about it other than share a we're-so-naughty glance. Marcil storms in and out of scenes in a manner she hopes is very Joan Collins but instead comes off like "Peanuts, get your red hot peanuts!" Caan's stuck acting opposite brick walls with the exception of his time onscreen with Wagner. Cox also has a wonderful moment with Wagner. Her character mentions that she's going to be interviewed and Duhamel is apparently attempting to figure out how many calories a reaction shot will consume which leaves Wagner to fill the screen (which he does wonderfully). Cox's reaction is completely in character and you're thankful, for once, that the writers haven't given her lines.

Because the only thing standing out, other than the the lousy acting, is the bad writing. It's not just the dialogue, it's the entire script. There's no forward motion. When the man who has been burglarizing the suites is revealed, it's meaningless because there's been no attempt to interest the audience in the storyline and with one tiny scene prior to being i.d.ed, the audience has no investment in the character.

By the end of the episode, you have to remind yourself that the series is set in Las Vegas and not Duluth. In Vegas, maybe a nude calendar (the subplot that took up the most time) would cause some panic, but a calendar where a guy's wearing a t-shirt and shorts wouldn't raise an eyebrow.

Neither does the show. In English, Las Vegas translates as "the fertile plain." On TV, it translates as the barren field. Apparently what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas because, if this show's to be believed, nothing much ever happens. Certainly nothing worth sharing.

Ned Sublette interviewed Kevin Phillips on Saturday's Radio Nation with Laura Flanders

Last week, we advised Don to check out the third hour of RadioNation with Laura Flanders Saturday. Don felt that after a week of news and work, the last thing he wanted/needed to do was listen to six hours (three hours on Saturday, three on Sunday) of news. The third hour of RadioNation with Laura Flanders is reserved for conversations with authors, filmmakers, critics, poets, singers, songwriters . . .

Our advice to Don was to listen to the third hour and see if Laura Flanders didn't hook him.

He wrote back after listening Saturday and Laura Flanders did not hook him . . . due to the fact that Flanders is on vacation. Our apologies to Don for that. But he did enjoy the conversation guest host Ned Sublette had with Kevin Phillips about the dangerous strands in the Republic Party. Phillips was on to discuss his new book American Theocracy. Don noted that he enjoyed Phillips' points about the dangers, coming dangers because it will get worse, from the radical religious zealots in the Republican Party.

"The Left Behind series, like he said, really does speak to fears about the book of Revelations and attempt to provide a distorted fantasy take on a literal reading of the book," Don wrote.
"After that, the second point that really scored with me was when Mr. Phillips spoke of how we've never been in the Middle East for any reason other than it's geo-strategic reasons, never in history, but Bush can't speak about that because he can't say we're at war for oil. The zealots really believe we're at war to start Armaggedon and that thought thrills them. It was interesting to hear him speak of how coded words could appear just religious to most audiences but to the zealots, true believers, they signify something that sails over the heads of the rest us."

Phillips also spoke of how the desire for 'end of times' allowed the zealots to ignore issues such as global warming because why bother to work towards saving the planet when the 'end of times' is nigh?

The growth of these fringe reglions has been tremendous but it bears noting that this can result from "millenium fever" and that a similar fever swept the nation at the turn of the 20th century.
However, the fever was tempered by a newly emerging progressive mood in the nation. California's Heaven's Gate UFO cult, Switzerland and Canada's The Order of the Solar Temple were the acts by those who felt the end was coming and wanted to hasten their own demise to be 'reborn' and could have tipped people off to the fact that we were about to go over the deep end -- big time. What often follows millenium fever is a reform period (such as the reforms of the eleventh century) and we can all hope that's on the horizon.

It should also be noted that end of the world fantasies were not being marketed just by the non-secular media. The entertainment industry chose to close out the 90s with a bevy of disaster flicks -- the likes of which hadn't been seen since the 1970s. In the disaster flicks, the end was usually averted (Armaggedon) or it turned out that the world was still inhabitable (Deep Impact). But for every Contact that took on the extreme positions of the zealots (and the joy with which they longed for an end of the world), many more films marketed fears.

The 1970s wave of disaster films ran out of speed when they'd exhausted every angle (burning building, earthquake, potential plane crash) and were left trying to scare audiences with the threats of bees and Empire of the Ants. The most successful of the 90s disaster films wasn't really a disaster film unless extended, nonstop foreplay is your thing. Titanic played more like a love story than a disaster film. Repeat audiences knew going in that they'd be munching on their second barrel of popcorn before the ship began to sink.

A question currently being pondered is whether the actors involved in true disaster films harmed themselves? Could some "little boy who cried wolf" factor be in play when audiences reject Bruce Willis, repeatedly, in heroic roles? If Lucky Number Slevin, debuting this Friday, returns Willis to Sixth Sense status, don't be surprised if this theory takes hold.

However, box office stumbles could just be a case of the audience growing tired of Willis or Nicholas Cage or . . .

The unknown factor in all of this are the events of 9/11 which, due to a visual media, may have impacted the nation much more than a disaster at the last turn of the century (the 1906 Great Earthquake).

We think millenium fever, always at a high pitch when a century rolls over, combined with successfully marketed disaster products (secular and nonsecular) and were enhanced by the events on 9/11. From a demographic point of view, we'd also argue that many of the churches preaching end of times will see a drop in attendance as more of the baby boomlet leaves the nest and begins their own lives.

Most fevers work up a sweat and then break. Our diagnosis: Unless a new strain of cultural Scarlet Fever is in play, we think the nation's characteristic short attention span works against the American Taliban.

Don, we appreciate you giving RadioNation with Laura Flanders a chance and we hope you'll listen again when Laura Flanders comes back from vacation.

Here's the scheduled lineup for Sunday's RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Sublette continues as guest host Sunday):

The birth and death of political movements -- and takes on the immigration debate. Author and political analyst EARL OFARI HUTCHINSON on why clamping down on illegal immigrants won't end discrimination against African-Americans. Then, as Africa captures its most wanted war criminal, why W. keeps sheltering the West's worst terrorist, with ANN LOUISE BARDACH, one of the nation's best-known journalists on the Cuba-Miami-Washington nexus, and attorney JOSE PERTIERRA, who is representing the Venezuelan government in its case to extradite Luis Posada Carriles. Finally, what’s happened to the American labor movement, with ROBERT FITCH, author of Solidarity for Sale: How Corruption Destroyed the Labor Movement and Undermined America's Promise.

And since Don enjoyed Kevin Phillips as a guest, we'd also recommend he check out Democracy Now!'s "Fmr. GOP Strategist Kevin Phillips on American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century" which aired on March 21st and can listened to, watched or read (transcripts) online by clicking on the link. In addition, he might be interested in listening to KPFA today (or checking out the archives after the show airs:

As Ruth noted:

this Sunday (Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Pacific time, 11:00 a.m. Central, and noon Eastern time) on KPFA:

In our first hour...
A wholesome group of Christians serving God through policy, or a dangerously shortsighted, ideologically extreme administration selling empire wrapped in the Bible? Former Republican strategist Kevin Phillips joins us to discuss his new book, "American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century."
In our second hour...
The story of Vietnam War resistance WITHIN the military is largely untold. David Zeiger has made the first film to tell about it; "Sir! No, Sir!" is now screening around the country, including a run this coming week in the Bay Area. Zeiger joins us, along with two Vietnam veterans/resisters profiled in his film.Listen to past shows, get contact and reference info for guests, see announcements of upcoming programs, and more at:

Tricky Dick all tricked out for 2008

Remember when Richard Nixon had a full head of hair?

From The New York Times Magazine cover story "The Fallback" (March 12, 2006):

On health care, for instance, most Washington Democrats will, as a matter of both habit and perspective, talk about the moral imperative of covering workers and the uninsured -- and only then might add, as an afterthought, that the current morass is an impediment to business too. Warner, on the other hand, begins with the idea that if American businesses can't keep up with spiraling health-care costs, the nation will lose the competition with India and China for jobs. The same principle applies with education and the deficit. His fixation on the global economy brings a coherent framework to issues that otherwise seem disparate and abstract.

Matt Bai, who penned the above, sure does love his Thesuarus. So Warner could be, the argument seems to go, a "C.E.O. president." What an interesting case to make. We've never had anyone run with such a claim . . . Oh wait, Bully Boy. And isn't it strange that after months and months of post-2004 election c.w. on how Democrats needed to make moral cases for the issues they supported, Bai's applauding Warner for sticking to the dollars and cents?

Bai's article tells you that Warner's pro-death penalty (well, this must be a job creation scheme for Mister Dollars & Cents), he's against gay marriage (the penny pincher must not grasp how much money can be made off wedding ceremonies -- caterer, planner, et al), he's for parental notification on abortion and he's against late term abortions. Toss in the "free trade" (screw developing markets?) and he's got just enough whiff of DLC about him to cause The New York Times' cold, lifeless heart to flutter. When the Grey Lady gets sweaty palms, watch out.

But is the nation really ready for Richard Nixon Part II?

C.I. and Rebecca both noted that the guy looks like Richard Nixon (with a full head of hair) but some of the online talk has actually found him attractive (and failed to notice the very Nixonian resemblance).

Prepare yourself for the onslaught of the Governators. Bill Richards is trying to slim down (and hawking his poorly penned book). But between Bai's "reporting" and the always laughable Howard Fineman's heavy panting for Warner, people may be missing that a) he has no name recognition, b) he's a one-term governor, c) NASCAR outreach is not a campaign platform and d) the newly southern Warner does not necessarily equal pulling in southern states. (Remember 2000.)

His "centrist" position that lead Bai and Fineman to the print equivalent of wet dreams may not be a position that voters want to go for. If he won the nomination, he might be able to peel off some Republican voters, but would the base turn out in large numbers?

It's 2006 and self-described "geek" Fineman wants to masturbate to election 2008. They're attempting to narrow the race before it's even officially upon us. Those were the same types out to kill Dennis Kucinich and Howard Dean. Watch them very closely.

And watch how they repeat the falsehood that Democrats from the non-south can't compete in the south without ever noting the very real issue (one that Dean as Party Chair has been addressing) that the Democratic Party has allowed it's southern structure to crumble and decay over several election cycles by not putting enough money or face time in those areas.

In the meantime, get ready for more oohing and aaah-ing over Richard the Second. Separated at birth, indeed.

[Thanks to Rebecca for posting this photo at her site.]

Why They Schill

Carole wrote in to note "Why They Crawl" and "Why We March." Having addressed weak spined Dems and having covered why some of us demonstrate, she wondered if we'd cover the media? Specifically, why the media conducted themselves the way they did in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq as well as "in the years that followed"? There are many reasons but one of the analysis we enjoyed most was made by Norman Solomon in his book War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death. (We discussed the book on August 21, 2005.) This is one criticism and we're going with it because we enjoyed Solomon's book and want to make sure that any of our readers that thought about picking it up but didn't get another nudge in the right direction.

From pages 236-237:

War coverage becomes routine. Missiles fly, bombs fall. Live briefings -- with talkative officers, colorful charts, and gray videos -- appear on cable television, sometimes like clockwork, sometimes with sudden drama. The war is right in front of an American public and very far away.
When a country -- particularly a democracy -- goes to war, the tacit consent of the governed lubricates the machinery. Silence is a key form of cooperation, but the warmaking system does not insist on quietude or agreement. Mere self-restraint will suffice.
Post-9/11 fears that respond more affirmatively to calls for military attacks are understandable. Yet fear is not a viable long-term foundation for building democratic structures or finding alternatives to future wars. Despite news media refusals to be sufficiently independent,, many options remain to invigorate the First Amednment while challenging falsehoods, demagoguery, and manipulations.
While going to war may seem easy, any sense of ease is a result of distance, privilege, and illusion. The United States has the potential 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 lines 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 messages do not define the limits of conscience. We do.

There are other criticisms, both individual ones and systematic ones. We think this is a valid one and hope it raises your interest in Norman Solomon's War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.

5 CDs that got us through the week

Music's important in our own lives. This weekend, Elaine was at Mike's and she and his father spent most of their time selecting various CDs and vinyl albums to play. Trina wrote about the marathon of music. Kat wrote about the importance of music in her life this week -- and often writes about it. Cedric wrote about a new favorite album yesterday. At all of the sites, you'll read references to music or a passage on music and that's because music is an important part of our lives -- something more than mere background music. C.I.'s "And The War Drags On . . ." entries utilize the song made famous by Donovan. Betty rarely does a chapter that doesn't include a musical reference.

Although it was that too as we heard music while working on this edition. Mike's father has filled the house with music this weekend. Not only did it bleed through our discussions as we wrote this edition, he asked that we note music in some form.

So we're offering "5 CDs that got us through the week." How it worked was we all listed the CDs that we had listened to this week (limit of ten) and then compiled a list. From the list, everyone was able to vote their top five and based on the votes and the way they were ranked, we came up with this list.

Top of the list is pictured above: Ben Harper's Both Sides of the Gun. This is a double disc album (triple, if you buy the deluxe package). And it's one that we all listened to this week. Favorite tracks: "Morning Yearning," "Better Way," "Black Rain" and "Cryin' Won't Help You Now."

Second was James Blunt's Back to Bedlam. The album's gone to number one and, for a change, it was a deserved chart topper. "You're Beautiful," "Cry" and "No Bravery" are the three favorite tracks.

Third was Etta James' All The Way. "Holding Back The Years" improves on the original (by Simply Red) by being less frantic. At the start of the week, some of us knew of this album. By the end of the week, we all did. For optimal listening, turn the lights down low and the volume up high.

Fourth on the list was Bright Eyes' Motion Sickness. It's a live album and, yes, it contains "When A President Talks To God." The song "Barney" and his New Republican pals can't stomach. We applaud the song, we love the song. We also love a recent "dedication" of it.

From "Stipe, Moby rock against Iraq War" (Billboard/Reuters):

Bright Eyes' Conor Oberst unleashed the scathing "When the President Talks to God" during his three-song set, declaring it "a song that goes out to the New York Press and the New Republic magazine."

The All Puff No Politics set can't get behind it, but for anyone not suffering from a fatal case of either "War Got Your Tongue?" or Extreme Centrism!, it's a must listen. The entire live disc in fact.

Our fifth and final disc is the Cowboy Junkies' Early 21st Century Blues which makes a nice segue to or from All The Way. Standout tracks include "You're Missing" (written by Bruce Springsteen) and Richie Havens' "Hands Out in the Rain." This one's been on our playlists nonstop since October, 2005. Give it a listen and we think it will be on your playlists nonstop as well.

Music's important. It can lift your mood or give you the push to explore. It can wash over you and make you feel energized when you thought you were tapped out. Think about what five would make your playlist for last week and, if you haven't 'had time' to listen to music, try to make time. Nothing restores your soul faster.

Air America Radio back on the air in Arizona

"Thoughts on Air America" ran here on March 5, 2006 and was the result of an e-mail where a woman wrote with great passion about how Air America Radio was under attack. One of her concerns was the fact that AAR had lost its Arizona station, KXXT, which had gone from extremely low rated to third in the market due to switching to Air America Radio programming. The reward? KXXT switched to religious programming.

From "Air America's Phoenix affiliate drops talk format" (The Business Journal of Phoenix, March 2nd).

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.

Good news for Blulady (who was the reader who wrote in on this topic) and all the people who wrote in after we ran the thoughts feature. From "Air America gets new home on radio dial in Valley" (

Air America Radio has found a new home in the Valley.
The liberal-talk network will debut Monday on KPHX-AM (1480). Nova M Radio, a company headed by Valley radio personality Mike Newcomb and Air America founders Sheldon and Anita Drobny, will lease the radio station.

About Last Week

In the darkness, the sound of many voices talking registers. Many overlap, some speak at louder volumes.

VOICE 1: Wait. I think we need to explore this a bit more.

VOICE 2: We've walked it, we've talked it to death. If there was any breeze left in it, we shot it out hours ago.

VOICE 3: Probably the best thing to do --

VOICE 4: I'm not so sure about that.

VOICE 3 (Con't): is just to start writing.

And so it went. Over and over. Repeatedly to the point that by five a.m. we had a bunch of rough drafts and nothing finalized. At one point, and everyone was exhausted, when Ava and C.I. were working on their TV review, they both fell asleep. Now they've been tired before and one of them's had to wake the other up. They've nodded off before and suddenly jerked awake. But this time, they both fell asleep and were out for five to ten minutes.

The edition was made worse by the fact that, as Cedric noted, Ava and C.I. both agreed to participate in a story they weren't crazy about with the promise that we'd do a story on two topics they wanted. (The targeting of independence movement figures in Puerto Rico by the FBI and the activism in the United States over the immigration proposals.) In the end, there wasn't time for those stories.

Four hours were utilized talking about stories as opposed to actually writing anything. (Dona was consistently the voice that stated, "Let's just get started.")

So we posted late and never put up "A Note To Our Readers." The thought was that we could do that Sunday night, despite Ava saying she wouldn't take part in it. When Ava remained firm on that, we decided to do it later in the week, after Danny Schechter's Wednesday talk. But the fact was only two people were in the mood to do a note (Jim and Ty). The attitude on the part of the others who participate in the note (Dona, Ava, Jess and C.I.) was that they had given more than enough time to this edition and to attempt to write about what happened would probably result in another never ending session.

So what happened? There was a lot to cover. Both in terms of things we wanted to write about and in terms of personal events we wanted to share. We didn't have a focus.

And the focus extended to the edition, the lack of focus. The stories being suggested were good ones but there wasn't an overall theme. As Dona pointed out then, that's never been a problem before. As C.I. pointed out then, write something and the theme will emerge.

Jim was the one wanting to hammer down a theme before anything was written. That's how we ended up with a focus on Democrats -- a focus that didn't strike anyone involved as worth the time and trouble involved in hammering out the focus ahead of time.

So that's what happened and why. This week, we're flying themeless, unless something emerges unexpectedly after everything's been written.

We thank Dallas for all of his help hunting down links last week. We thank everyone who allowed us to repost for our highlights. We thank those who participated in the writing. Except for the TV review, all pieces 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

The new content for last week's edition was:

Danny Schechter speaks on Iraq and the media 7PM March 29th in NYC (open to the public, no charge for admission)
Will Interview With The Vampire become the new Catcher in the Rye?
NSA Hearings This Tuesday on PACIFICA RADIO
Editorial: Who's hiding in the shadows and who's waving their Feingold?
TV Review: Joy Ride?
The Washington Post leaves us still Waiting For Lefty
The 2008 Democratic primary is already over
Saturday's third hour goes to the arts on RadioNation with Laura Flanders
Why They Crawl

We hope we've got it together this weekend. Whether we do or not, we have one less hour for this edition due to the fact that it's daylight savings time (set your clocks forward an hour -- spring forward, fall back).

Music Spotlight: Kat on Etta James' All The Way

Kat's music reviews have long been favorites.  Of the community and of those of us here.  Of people who stop by just for her reviews.  Kat's feminist take offended "Barney" near the end of last year.  Kat's take offended "Pristine" as well. Considering that Barney's music commentary is deadly dull, clinical, cold, lifeless and limp, we consider that a good thing.  Etta James' new CD's been beat up on by a number of the little boys trying to act manly.  (Apparently the only thing more fun than beating up on a woman is beating up on a famous one who will turn seventy shortly.)  So what's the CD really like?  Read Kat's review.

Kat's Korner: Etta James Takes It All The Way

Kat: Women's history month is coming to a close and what better way to go out than on Etta James?

Etta James is living history. "At Last" remains a standard that never goes out of style. "The Wallflower (Dance With Me Henry)" also never seems to go out of fashion. The latter song, which many may know from the original Back to the Future film, was written by James as a response to "Work With Me, Annie" by Hank Ballard. With well over twenty rhythm & blues charting singles, James' body of work may be less well known to some fans of White pop, but her accomplishments are legendary and she ranks with the likes of Aretha Franklin when it comes to success on the R&B charts.

And in more recent times? James has been on a winning streak lately. 2003 brought a Lifetime Grammy award, while 2004's Blues to the Bone album won a Grammy for best blues album. Name a musical honor and, chances are, James holds it for her outstanding recording work that spans five decades. Now, on the verge of seventy (January 2007), James has released her latest album.

It's called All The Way and between the title (think Frank Sinatra) and talk in interviews of how the label wanted a more "lush" album, I wasn't expecting much. To me, Etta James is blues and jazz and a great deal more. She's a live performer reaching out to you with all the experiences (pain and joy) that only a fully lived life can convey. She's someone whose voice reaches across any stage (I've seen her live four times) and just grabs you. If you're smart, you go along with that voice for the entire performance. Afterwards, you're wiped out and you only heard the amazement, she produced it. So I figured, "I'll skip the album and catch the tour.

Turns out the tour, or first leg of it, isn't coming near me. Fortunately, Rebecca stayed on my case, swearing, "Kat, you will love this CD!"

The first track didn't convince me. Etta James' vocal style finds a way into the song that's unique but the accompaniment is standard with the exception of some fine horn work by Ronnie Buttacavoli. The rest of the instrumentation seems standard issue watered down Nelson Riddle to me. Then comes a Bobby Womak classic, "Stop On By" and she's breathing into the song, giving it life and Donto James (her son) is doing some nice drum work. I really think this should have been the opening track. From that second song, the album doesn't let up.

"Purple Rain"? I love Prince and wondered exactly what James was going to be doing with this one. This is probably one of the best conceived covers on the disc, containing the best interplay between her vocals and the music. It's rare that someone can record a Prince song, one he's recorded, and put their own personal stamp on it (as opposed to Lisa Lisa et al taking a song he wrote for someone else and making it their own), but she does that. This isn't Jordan Knight taking a flaming hot song by Prince and reducing it to soggy teeny-bop.

Between the two songs, you're treated to some amazing performances that demonstrate exactly why she's still worth listening to. (If she's coming to your area, see her live. Hopefully she'll make a live recording of the tour -- more to the point, hopefully, more dates will be added to the tour.) And she's not wasting her time (or your time) trying to figure out what she wants to state on this album. "Imagine," "Calling You," "What's Going On?" and many others convey that the world is, as the Temptations once pointed out, a ball of confusion.

She resists the urge to romanticize. She's looking at a very troubled, very confused world. Her version of "Somewhere" offers not a dreamy escape but a possibility: "someday" -- a survivor refusing to promise a perfect existence, just the fact that something better will come along if you hang in.

"I'll keep holding on" she and the background singers repeat in the song that follows, underscoring that better lies down the road, not perfection. "Holding Back The Years" is the song and you believe her when she sings "Nothing has the chance to be good, nothing ever could." Simply Red fans take note, Mick Hucknall wrote the song but Etta James seems to have grasped the lyrics. (Also check out the horns and the rhythm section on this track.)

"Imagine." John Lennon's classic that often seems done to death. You hear a cover and think "Eh" and then you stumble upon Lennon's version and realize the greatness of it all over again. This has actually been a good time for the song. Dolly Parton turned it into a rousing call and response on Those Were The Days and now Etta James takes a crack at the song. Like Parton, James refuses to anthem-ize it. Another successful version, from the early seventies, was done by Diana Ross. The key to putting your stamp (in a good way) on the song appears to be not attempting to go for bombast. If you're turning it into "Where The Streets Have No Name" (or worse), you're taking a simple plea for peace and overpowering it with grotesque production. James succeeds, as has so often been the case in her career, due to grasping the song's meaning and shading it in such a way that she adds her own levels.

That's why even "I Believe I Can Fly" works. If, like me, you've heard it in far too many elementary and junior high programs during the last decade, you may be wary. I was. I'd heard too many "big solo" recitals of the song, so many that I thought I'd heard the song more than enough for this lifetime. But a real singer, someone who can convey and shade a lyric, not just hop around the vocal scales, can bring new meaning and life to many old warhorses that you thought needed to be put down.

In this age of American Idol, where bombast rules and syllables are drawn out not to convey emotion but to scare you into submission, Etta James demonstrates repeatedly that a career requires far more than a crop top, cleavage and steroid enhanced singing. A real singer draws you in, pretenders push you away.

And for ten amazing songs, Etta James does just that. Eleven if you let "All The Way" grow on you. (Strong vocal but I can't take the production once it kicks in.) For me, it's the weakest on the album -- and probably just what the label was intending when they requested "lush." Probably thought, "Rod Stewart's moving units with his lush albums! James can too!" Rod moves many units, but, forget the man who sang "Every Picture Tells A Story," right now I'd settle for even half the depth of "Young Turks." Even "Some Guys Have All The Luck" would be a relief right about now.

With Stewart's latest albums, I'm always afraid Mitch Miller is about to bound in the room and beseech me to sing along. James' project reminds me more of the success Clive Davis had in the sixties and seventies at Columbia when he got artists to commit to more current material. (Barbra, please go back down the "Stoney End" real soon.)

I mentioned to Sumner what I was reviewing and he informed that the album's been raked over the coals by a few reviewers.

That surprised me at first. Then I started thinking, "Okay, this is probably the same sort that couldn't get into her in the sixties" -- the set more comfortable listening to Petulia Clark (think Kelly Clarkson) than to Etta. It was their loss then, it's their loss now. I decided to test that theory. One "wit" who called the album "toothless" and then tried to crack a joke about the orthodontist (let's hope he at least laughed)? He also selected Britney Spear's "Toxic" as one of the top ten singles of 2004. I think that says far more than his lame attempts at jokes.

So there it is. If you're idea of "best" is a singer who can't sing flaunting it on disc, well good luck to you on that. I'm guessing you regularly rush to CD Warehouse to thin out your collection -- in an attempt to purge your many embarrassments -- embarrassing purchases that made many a "hot list." Remember, Tiffany made some "hot lists" in her day, as does Kelly Clarkson today and Petulia Clark before. "Hot list" artists tend to cool off quickly.

But we both know the change is coming
Come in closer, sweet release
I am calling you
Can't you hear me?
I am calling you

On "Calling You" and the entire album, you hear a real artist taking a look at the world around her -- a world that's torn by war as well as natural and governmental destruction. (The album seems to be commenting on both Hurricane Katrina and the Iraq war.) The theme is perseverance and the one review I read failed to grasp that. Possibly because she's not hopping around braless and breathless in a video cooing, "A guy like you should come with a warning"? Possibly because she's not promising something she'll never deliver because the Etta James never existed to take anyone only half-the-way?

Etta James' gift, though appreciated by many, has never been appreciated by all. If you're someone who gets it, get All The Way.

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Soldado estadounidense declara en audiencia de asilo en Canada

Soldado estadounidense declara en audiencia de asilo en Canada

Maria: Buenas noches. De parte de "Democracy Now!" doce cosas que vale hacer notar este fin de semana. Paz.

Periodista secuestrada, Jill Carroll, liberada en Irak
Luego de estar cautiva durante casi tres meses, la periodista estadounidense secuestrada, Jill Carroll, fue liberada. Carroll es una periodista independiente que trabaja para el periódico "Christian Science Monitor" en Irak. Fue secuestrada en enero frente a las oficinas de un destacado político sunita en Bagdad. En una breve entrevista televisiva en Bagdad, Carroll dijo que se encuentra en buenas condiciones y que los secuestradores la trataron bien. Los secuestradores la liberaron dejándola en una calle cercana a las oficinas del Partido Islámico iraquí. Carroll entró a las oficinas y los empleados llamaron a los funcionarios estadounidenses. A pesar de que los secuestradores amenazaron dos veces con matarla en grabaciones, Carroll dijo que nunca la golpearon o amenazaron con hacerlo. Carroll dijo que la mantuvieron encerrada en una habitación con una ventana y una ducha, pero que no sabía donde estaba. Y agregó: "Simplemente estoy feliz de estar libre. Quiero estar con mi familia". El miércoles, la hermana de Jill Carroll, Katie Carroll, había leído una declaración en la televisión árabe suplicando que su hermana fuera liberada sana y salva. Hacía dos meses que no se tenía noticias de los secuestradores de Carroll. Los secuestradores habían exigido que liberaran a todas las mujeres detenidas en las prisiones iraquíes. Se calcula que cinco de cada nueve prisioneras fueron liberadas en enero.

Soldado estadounidense declara en audiencia de asilo en Canadá
Y en Canadá, el caso de asilo de un soldado estadounidense que huyó para evitar luchar en Irak, está siendo considerado por un tribunal de inmigración. Josh Key, que sirvió en Irak durante ocho meses, dijo que decidió desertar del servicio militar tras presenciar varias atrocidades cometidas por las Fuerzas Armadas estadounidenses. En una entrevista con la BBC, Key dijo: "A las únicas personas que estábamos dañando era a las inocentes; eran personas iraquíes inocentes y soldados inocentes".

Iraquí acusa a Estados Unidos de masacre en mezquita chiita
Funcionarios iraquíes acusan a las Fuerzas Armadas estadounidenses de masacrar a por lo menos 16 devotos chiitas durante el asalto a una mezquita chiíta el sábado por la noche. El periódico "Guardian" informa que los asesinatos han provocado la mayor ruptura hasta el momento entre Estados Unidos y los chiitas iraquíes. Los líderes chiitas suspendieron las conversaciones acerca de la formación de un nuevo gobierno iraquí. El ministro del interior iraquí calificó el ataque de Estados Unidos de injustificado y horrible. La alianza gobernante dirigida por los chiitas está exhortando a Estados Unidos a que le devuelva a los iraquíes el control absoluto de la seguridad. El gobernador provincial de Bagdad suspendió toda la cooperación con las fuerzas estadounidenses. El jeque Abdul Arman Al-Shwaili dijo: “Los ocupantes deben rendir cuentas de este crimen despreciable. Fue cometido por los ocupantes contra devotos desarmados y exhortamos al gobierno iraquí que adopte una postura honesta y positiva con respecto a este ataque despiadado contra el Islam y los devotos”. A pesar de la gran protesta política, las Fuerzas Armadas defendieron el asalto del lunes. Un funcionario lo describió como una operación “muy exitosa” contra un escondite insurgente. Estados Unidos negó que sus soldados hayan matado a iraquíes y dijo que la masacre fue planeada.

Ex jueces de FISA exhortan al Congreso a rechazar argumento de vigilancia
En Washington, cinco ex jueces del tribunal de Vigilancia de Inteligencia en el Extranjero (FISA, por sus siglas en inglés) exhortaron al Congreso a rechazar el argumento del gobierno de Bush de que tiene autoridad inherente para realizar espionaje sin ordenes judiciales. Los jueces expresaron en la audiencia del Comité Judicial del Senado el martes, su apoyo a una medida propuesta por el Senador Republicano Arlen Specter, para otorgarle al tribunal la participación formal en la supervisión de la vigilancia del gobierno.

Nueva York admite que filmó regularmente manifestaciones políticas
La ciudad de Nueva York reveló que oficiales de la policía encubiertos han filmando regularmente manifestaciones políticas durante los últimos dos años. La ciudad sostiene que la vigilancia era legal en virtud de las facultades de la policía que fueron ampliadas en 2003 para detener ataques terroristas. En una audiencia de un tribunal esta semana, un abogado de la ciudad dijo que era necesario filmar porque las manifestaciones podrían convertirse en blanco de ataques terroristas. Pero Jethro Eisenstein, un abogado de derechos civiles, cuestionó las filmaciones y dijo que la política era "orweliana", y acusó a la ciudad de adoptar "una postura intimidante sobre la amenaza del terrorismo para impedir el pensamiento crítico".

Figura independentista puertorriqueña arrestada en San Juan
Y una destacada figura del movimiento independentista de Puerto Rico fue arrestada en San Juan. El martes, agentes del FBI arrestaron a Antonio Camacho Negron por presuntamente violar los términos de su libertado condicional. El arresto se produjo sólo meses después de que el líder independentista, Filiberto Ojeda-Rios, fue asesinado en un allanamiento federal.

40.000 estudiantes se retiran de clase para protestar en Los Ángeles
La votación del Comité Judicial del Senado se produjo dos días después de que más de 1 millón de personas protestaran en Los Ángeles contra el proyecto de ley contra los inmigrantes de la Cámara de Representantes. El lunes, continuaron las protestas en todo el país. En Los Ángeles, 40.000 estudiantes se retiraron de clase. También se informó de este tipo de manifestaciones estudiantiles en Dallas y Phoenix. En Detroit, miles de manifestantes marcharon por la ciudad. Y en Washington, cientos de líderes religiosos y activistas llevaron a cabo sus propias protestas. Muchos se pusieron esposas para protestar contra una propuesta en el Proyecto de ley 4437 de la Cámara de Representantes que convertiría en delito que los grupos religiosos y de caridad ayuden a los trabajadores indocumentados.

Huelga nacional en Francia mientras más de 1 millón de personas protestan
En Francia, estudiantes y sindicatos llevaron a cabo una huelga masiva en todo el país que cerró las escuelas, negocios, paralizó los servicios públicos y provocó que más de 1 millón de manifestantes salieran a las calles. La huelga fue convocada en respuesta a una ley del gobierno que facilita que los empleadores despidan a los trabajadores jóvenes. En Francia, se efectuaron más de 800 arrestos. En París, la policía arrojó gas lacrimógeno al final de una manifestación luego que algunos oficiales fueron golpeados con proyectiles.

Trabajadores británicos protestan contra medida de jubilación del gobierno
En Gran Bretaña, más de 1,5 millones de funcionarios gubernamentales llevaron a cabo el martes una huelga en todo el país para protestar contra una medida del gobierno que dificulta que los trabajadores se jubilen a una edad temprana. Once sindicatos participaron en la huelga, una de las más grandes de Gran Bretaña en los últimos 80 años.

Universidad de Miami acepta exigencias de trabajadores tras protesta estudiantil
Y esta actualización es sobre una noticia que hemos estado cubriendo. Los estudiantes de la Universidad de Miami llevaron a cabo una sentada el martes para apoyar a los conserjes que están en huelga. La sentada terminó hoy temprano luego que funcionarios de la Universidad de Miami emitieron una declaración que aseguraba el derecho de sus trabajadores a formar parte de los sindicatos sin ser intimidados. Los conserjes que trabajan para la empresa contratista de la Universidad UNICO, dicen que la empresa ha intentado impedir que se unan al Sindicato Internacional de Empleados de Servicio.

Miles de personas conmemoran el 30 aniversario del golpe de estado en Argentina
En Argentina, miles de personas se congregaron este fin de semana para condenar el aniversario número 30 del golpe de estado apoyado por Estados Unidos, que provocó la muerte y desaparición de decenas de miles de personas.

Documentos: Kissinger ordenó apoyo estadounidense para junta militar argentina
Mientras tanto, documentos desclasificados recientemente revelan que el Secretario de Estado Henry Kissinger, ordenó apoyo inmediato de Estados Unidos para la junta militar poco después de que esta tomó el poder en Argentina, hace 30 años. Según las actas de una reunión, Kissinger dijo: "Quiero alentarlos. No quiero dar la impresión de que Estados Unidos los está hostigando". Kissinger dijo esto a pesar de que su principal delegado en América Latina predecía que Argentina afrontaría "bastante represión [y] probablemente mucha sangre" bajo el nuevo régimen. Además, los cablesgramas del Departamento de Estado indican que los funcionarios estadounidenses conocían de antemano los planes de dar el golpe de estado. Más de una semana antes del golpe, el comandante de la Armada argentina le pidió a la embajada de Estados Unidos que le recomendara empresas de relaciones públicas en Estados Unidos que trabajaran para la futura junta militar.

Maria: Good evening. Now in English, here are twelve news stories from Democracy Now! Peace.

Kidnapped Reporter Jill Carroll Freed in Iraq
After nearly three months in captivity, kidnapped U.S. reporter Jill Carroll has been released. Carroll is a freelance reporter working for the Christian Science Monitor in Iraq. She was seized in January outside the offices of a prominent Sunni politician in Baghdad. In a brief television interview in Baghdad, Carroll said she is in good condition and had been treated well by her captors. Her captors freed her by leaving her in a street near the offices of the Iraqi Islamic Party. She walked inside, and people there called US officials. Although her captors threatened twice in videotapes to kill her, Carroll said they never hit her or threatened to do so. Carroll said she was kept in a room with a window and a shower, but she did not know where she was. She went on to say: "I'm just happy to be free. I want to be with my family." On Wednesday, Jill Carroll's sister, Katie Carroll, had read a statement on Arab television pleading for her sister's safe release. There had been no word from Carroll's captors in nearly two months. They had demanded the release of all women detainees in Iraqi prisons. Five out of an estimated nine women prisoners were released in January.

US Soldier Testifies at Asylum Hearing in Canada
And in Canada, a US soldier who fled to avoid serving in Iraq is having his asylum case heard in front of an immigration board. Josh Key, who served in Iraq for eight months, said he decided to desert military service after witnessing several atrocities commited by the US military. In an interview with the BBC, Key said: "The only people that were getting hurt was the innocent; that was innocent Iraqi people, as well as innocent soldiers."

Iraqi Accuses U.S. of Massacre At Shiite Mosque
Iraqi officials are accusing the U.S. military of massacring at least 16 Shiite worshippers during a raid on a Shiite mosque Sunday night. The Guardian newspaper reports the killings have opened the biggest rift yet between the United States and Iraqi Shiites. Shiite leaders have suspended talks over forming a new Iraqi government. Iraq's Interior Minister called the U.S. raid unjustified and horrible. The leading Shiite governing alliance is urging the U.S. to return full control of security to Iraqis. The Baghdad provincial governor has suspended all cooperation with U.S. forces. "The occupiers should be bought to account for this despicable crime,” said Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Shwaili. “It is committed by the occupiers against unarmed worshippers and we urge the Iraqi government to take an honest and positive stand towards this vicious attack against Islam and the worshippers Despite the political outcry, the U.S. military defended the raid on Monday. One official described it as a "hugely successful" operation against an insurgent hideout. The U.S. has denied its troops killed any Iraqis and said the massacre was staged.

Ex-FISA Judges Urge Congress to Reject Surveillance Argument
In Washington, five former FISA court judges have urged Congress to reject the Bush administration’s argument it holds the inherent authority to conduct warrantless eavesdropping. Appearing before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing Tuesday, the judges voiced support for a measure proposed by Repubican Senator Arlen Specter to grant the court a formal role in overseeing government surveillance.

New York Admits To Routine Videotaping of Political Rallies
The city of New York has revealed undercover police officers have been routinely videotaping political demonstrations over the last two years. The city maintains the surveillance was legal under police authority expanded in 2003 to stop terrorist attacks. At a court hearing this week, one city attorney said the taping was necessary because rallies could become targets of terrorist attacks. But Jethro Eisenstein, a civil rights lawyers challenging the videotaping, said the policy was "Orwellian," and accused the city of adopting "a bullying view of the terrorism threat to block critical thinking."

Puerto Rican Independence Figure Arrested in San Juan
And a major figure in the Puerto Rican independence movement has been arrested in San Juan. On Tuesday, FBI agents arrested Antonio Camacho Negron for allegedly violating the terms of his parole. The arrest comes just months after independence leader Filiberto Ojeda-Rios was killed in a federal raid.

40,000 Students Stage Walk-Out in LA to Protest
The Senate Judiciary committee vote came two days after upwards of one million people protested in Los Angeles against the anti-immigrant House bill. On Monday protests continued across the country. In Los Angeles, as many as 40,000 students walked out of classes. Student walk outs were also reported in Dallas and Phoenix. In Detroit, thousands of protesters marched through the city. And in Washington hundreds of religious leaders and activists held their own protest. Many wore handcuffs to protest a proposal in House Bill 4437 that would make it a crime for religious and charitable groups to aid undocumented workers.

France Hit With Nationwide Strike As Over 1 Million Demonstrate
In France, students and unions staged a massive country-wide strike that shut down schools, businesses and public services and brought more than a million demonstrators into the streets. The strike was called in response to a government law that makes it easier for employers to fire young workers. More than 800 arrests were made around France. In Paris, police fired tear gas at the end of a rally after some officers were hit with projectiles.

British Workers Demonstrate Against Government Pension Measure
In Britain, up to 1.5 million government workers went on strike across the country Tuesday over a government measure that would make it more difficult to retire at an earlier age. Eleven unions took part in the strike -- one of the biggest Britain has seen in 80 years.

U. of Miami Agrees to Worker Demands After Student Sit-Ins
And this update on a story we've been following -- students at the University of Miami held a sit-in Tuesday in support of striking janitor workers. The sit-in ended earlier today after University of Miami officials released a statement affirming the right of its workers to join unions free of intimidation. Janitors working for the university contractor UNICO say the company has tried to prevent them from joining the Service Employees' International Union.

Thousands Mark 30th Anniversary of Coup in Argentina
In Argentina, thousands gathered this weekend to condemn the 30th anniversary of the U.S.-backed coup that resulted in the deaths and disappearances of tens of thousands. "The Mothers are here with you, the people, and we will continue to be with you in this fight until we know what happened to each and every one of our children," said Marta Vazquez of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. "What was their final destiny? Who gave the order? Who executed it? Because it's the least we could demand to know."

Papers: Kissinger Ordered U.S. Support for Argentine Military Junta
Meanwhile newly declassified documents reveal that then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger ordered immediate U.S. support for the military junta shortly after it seized power in Argentina 30 years ago. According to the minutes of one meeting, Kissinger said "I do want to encourage them. I don't want to give the sense that they're harassed by the United States." Kissinger said this even though his own top deputy in Latin America was predicting Argentina would face "a fair amount of repression [and] probably a good deal of blood" under the new regime. In addition State Department cables show that U.S. officials had prior knowledge of coup plotting. More than a week before the coup, the commander of the Argentine Navy requested the U.S. embassy recommend public relations firms inside the United States which would work for the future military junta.

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