Sunday, June 26, 2005

A note to our readers

So what's this summer issue talk? This edition was going to be the summer issue, right? Well as journalism majors, we're aware that once was a time when summer meant periodicals did a fiction issue. (Ms. still celebrates creative writing each summer. Others, such as Rolling Stone, have stopped doing so.)

So what you're looking at in this edition is our summer issue.

"Wait, wait, no Ava & C.I. TV review!"

Put down the billy clubs, do you think we're stupid?

Of course Ava & C.I. have a TV review this edition. They review The OC which is in keeping with a lighter, summery feel. To calm the panic that we knew would ensue were the review not in this edition and not noted quickly, we've even placed it right under this edition's editorial. You can't miss it.

We also have another "Five Books, Five Minutes." With the edition being about reading, it made sense to include that feature as well.

So what else you got?

We once again (thank you Maria and C.I.) reprint The Common Ills entry of important headlines from Democracy Now! this week, in Spanish and English.


Our blog spotlight is an entry by C.I. about Dahr Jamail's little covered but highly important report on the state of the hospitals in Iraq.

Thanks to C.I. and Isaiah, we reprint two of Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts comics.

As a PSA, we reprint C.I.'s entry from yesterday on the lack of coverage of The World Tribunal on Iraq.

Oh, you're just the reprint royals, aren't you?

Well besides the editorial, Ava & C.I.'s TV review and "Five Books, Five Minutes" we also offer up six, count 'em six, original entries.

What's a summer edition without an advice column? And what's a better advice column than one written by the person least able to give sound advice?

We've got a poem (thanks to reader Janine who caught that we put the wrong title on that entry, we've corrected it).

We also offer short stories in a variety of formats. A horror/parable, a Sue Miller-type read, a Wally Lamb-type read (we truly dedicate that one to Bill Keller), and a Jackie Collins-type read.

Ty was especially curious about how they would be received and has checked the e-mails throught the early morning. Already some are asking is it meant to be for real or a parody?
That depends on you. It's your abstract art for the day, find your own answers and don't ask someone to tell you what you're supposed to expect or feel.

Thanks go to community member Dallas, Maria and Isaiah. (Dallas hunts down our links and we'll make you an honorary member Dallas.) For input and contributions to the writing of the original pieces that appear in this edition, we thank Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner and C.I. of The Common Ills. All helped with each original piece (except for this note and except for the TV review which is the writing of Ava and C.I. only).

You gave your time and your ideas and we appreciate that and thank you for it.

We'll also say a thank you to our own Dona who was a stickler all week about "Have you read the five books yet?" and "Is there an idea you have? Can you get started it now and distribute it to the others so we can't get moving?" We had a lot more ideas than what you're reading in this edition. There were some short stories that we decided failed completely in the execution. They went in the trash heap. We won't claim that we had everything ready to be put in the final draft in our all night session. We didn't. Not just the editorial or Ava & C.I.'s review (which they again wrote on the fly, in twenty minutes while we were publishing pieces -- our apologies for taking so long to agree to the theme). (Ava and C.I. watched three different programs this week and took notes on all three since the theme was up in the air.)

But this was our strongest starting point ever. Dona says she feels like a "nag" and it's doubtful we'll ever be as together as we were for this edition. But we're proud of it and felt that instead of attempting to constantly find a way to "save" an idea that wasn't working, we actually were in the position to say, "No, it's not working" repeatedly (and those five other attempts at short stories may resurface in other forms later on).

Many's been the all nighter where we try and try to make something come to life. We've noted that here. And how C.I. is really good at finding the band-aid that pull the piece together, a quote from a book, a song lyric, throwing the middle paragraph up at the top. And we've all started to do the same. (Ava, who said she has to split right now to go help C.I. with an entry at The Common Ills, says to add that C.I. puts more care and thought into our entries than into ones at The Common Ills where the approach is much more in keeping with the Kat philosophy of "It is what it is.")

We have been thinking about where we're headed and what we want to say in the last months.
We think we're stronger now as a team (and that team includes all the people who assist and bounce ideas with us or add to pieces).

Our snap evaluation of this edition finds us pleased with it. There are many things we'd do differently on our theme edition on the sixties, but this one results in a higher grade.

We hope there's something here that makes you laugh or enrages you. We are The Third Estate Sunday Review, not The Timid Estate Sunday Review.

-- Jim, Dona, Jess, Ty and Ava

P.S. We welcome community member Mike to the blogging fold with Mikey Likes It! We weren't able to get together to speak with Mike due to his having a big family reunion this week but for anyone wondering, we'll be getting together with him next week.

Editorial: Mainstream Press Do Your Homework on the pre-invasion bombings

It's so depressing at The New York Timid. We were going to hand out grades re: coverage of the Downing Street Memo this week. Instead we had to schedule parent-teacher conferences. Mrs. Keller swears she can get little Billy Keller to "buckle down and apply himself." We wait to be persuaded.

Via BuzzFlash, we do however find Tim Harper's "Is this Bush's 'smoking gun'? War opponents seek U.S. inquiry into U.K. memos Documents show" (Toronto Star):

Writing in the Los Angeles Times this week, Smith argued that the real news in the July 23 memo was that the United States was engaged in an illegal air war against Iraq in the summer of 2002.
Smith pointed to the part of the memo quoting Geoffrey Hoon, Britain's defence secretary at the time, saying the U.S. had already begun "spikes of activity" over Baghdad, long before Washington argued its case before the United Nations.
The United States had begun intensified aerial bombing of Baghdad in May 2002, continuing through August of that year, in a bid to trigger a retaliation that would justify a full-out invasion.
When that did not happen, the U.S. responded by ratcheting up the bombing in September 2002, continuing until the invasion formally began on March 19, 2003.
Based on the memos he obtained, Smith argued that Bush and Blair really began an air war six weeks before the U.S. Congress approved military action.

It's a good point, a strong one. And we say that not only because we've harped on it here as has C.I. over at The Common Ills. Last Sunday, when we wrote our editorial "Editorial: 'Illegal' bombing raids? When will the domestic press note this?" we were thinking (wrongly) that it was now time for The New York Timid to seriously begin addressing the topic.

The bombings raise serious questions that go to the issue of was intelligence "fixed." To quote from that editorial:

As C.I. wrote, you can't have it both ways. You can't claim "Saddam has WMDs! We're all at risk!" and increase the bombings. If you really believe the WMD lie (we all know it was a lie now, right?) you don't attempt to start a war before you're ready. You don't put your country at risk. If you really believe there's a risk, to invite an attack when you're unprepared, a WMD attack, may border on derelicition of duty for the one who wanted the whole nation (military and civilian) to call him "commander-in-chief." (Note to Diane Sawyer, unless you enlisted, he wasn't YOUR commander-in-chief, nor was he the Dixie Chicks' "commnader-in-chief.")

The bombings are not a side issue, that are part and package of the big picture. But the attention has focused elsewhere instead as people debated. Was intelligence fixed? The debate needs to factor in the increased bombings.

It's time the press dealt with that. All the parents (even little Judy Millers' parents) seemed nice, concerned and genuine and their promises that they would see it to that their children applied themselves. We really want to believe that's possible because this issue goes to the heart of our democracy. If we can't discuss this openly and honestly, one wonders why the First Amendment ever carried any weight to begin with?

It's past time to include the pre-invasion bombings into the dialogue. Mainstream press, do your homework or don't bother showing up for class.

TV Review OC: The arm pit of body wash operettas

The OC covers a region of California often overlooked but desperate not to be ignored. If the character Alex in Fatal Attraction were a county, she would be Orange County. Home to right-wing politics, Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm, it's an alternate escape valve in the land of ultimate escape. While "California Dreamin'" conjures images of milk & honey overflowing, Orange County has largely existed to fuel and feed an anti-liberty, anti-freedom movement. Think of it as the fixer-upper within California, a fixer-upper that's been falling apart for years. While there is drearier, Bakersfield for example, it's hard to think of an area that's more clearly staked out the ground in opposition to all that California conjures up.

So The OC wants to rebrand the area (truly, prior to the show, we never heard an actual person use the term "OC," though "arm pit of California" was quite popular) and turn it into a land of sun and surf and sex. No big surprise this comes by way of Murdoch and one of his many (too many -- can we get some deregulation?) subsidiaries. So right away you know, it's all hogwash.

We'll call it body wash but note that it's severely diluted. The OC makes the One Tree Hill gang look like swingers. Two young women (Marissa and Alex) held hands and touched fingers and that passed for the height of sexy. It was all very Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable and far from the pie humping hijinks of American Pie. As we noted before, these teen dramas exist not for teens, but for the tiny preadolescent (apparently still present in some adults). Which is why sex is but a plot device that comes knocking once a season. Ask not for whom the teen pregnancy scare tolls, it tolls for thee.

The cast? What can we tell you, it's another high school populated with adults. There's Benjamin McKenzie who'll be 27 in September posing as a high school student with a bad jones for Velma from Scooby Doo. He plays Ryan whose half brother Seth is played by Adam Brody who'll be 26 in December. Seth has the hots for Summer (though he'll never do anything about it). Summer is played by Rachel Bilson and will be 24 in August. Ryan likes holding hands with Lindsay -- played by Shannon Lucio who'll be 25 in August. At 20, Mischa Barton may be the baby in the cast, but she doesn't really pass for a high school student. None of them do.

Possibly to hide from the audience the fact that, although playing "high schooler" Ryan, he's basically three years from thirty, McKenzie cultivates an interesting look. We're seeing it as a hommage to Velma from Scooby Doo. Though we've heard the endless Mary Ann and Ginger debates, we kind of thought the verdict of who the hottie was on Scooby Doo had been long ago settled? Always ready to fight a losing battle, which is so in keeping with the lead character of this show, McKenzie builds the case for Velma as "stylish" with his hommage to her haircut. (We're hoping a future "dramatic twist" involves Ryan getting glasses so he can really nail the look!)

But even something like stealing a simple haicut gets overdone on this show: it's so fussed over that it negates the simplicity of the hair cut. All the Bed Head products in the world will not allow the bangs to retain their careful curl (we're guessing a steam curling wand) in the California heat and still look so beauty parlor fresh. It's kind of like the tousled, pixie haircut we saw on TV this week. The one that caused us to note, "Patty Duke looks really good these days! And the hair, it's like she's saluting Twiggy or early Golide Hawn." Then as Patty moved down a street singing, words came up on the screen and we discovered we were watching not Patty, but a kid named Jesse McCartney. For a Patty Duke, he looks really good.

He is so The OC. An underdeveloped boy lusting after women. The Cookies told us "Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys Do" and goodness if this show didn't take the message to heart. Which explains Adam Brody who looks like a regular kid. We could note, of course, that TV offers many regular kids who are male. Females who go above size three are the ones rendered invisible.

In a variation on a Dawson's Creek (when Joey sketched Jack nude), Brody sketches Rachel Bilson (Summer) who's all dressed up as a cartoon superhero in bondage gear that resembles Halle Berry's Catwoman costume plus dog collar. He drops to his knees in front of her, he moves her legs around, his face is in her crotch and . . . This is bodywash, people, nothing's happening here but the eternal tease out.

Summer: Don't give me any junk in the trunk.
Seth: Just the gifts God gave you.

God's gift to Adam Brody, apparently, was photo copying a young Tom Hanks. We aren't sure the world's spent many collective nights awake drooling over that prospect.

But these are the sort of philosophical questions you find yourself debating while watching a "drama" that makes Waiting for Godot look like the summer action blockbuster. Nothing ever happens. In fact, in the scene in question, worse than nothing happens. How bad is the prolonged and continuous tease? At one point Bilson moves moves towards the bed (and ends up half over it, doggie-style), and Brody's response is to whine, from behind her, "You just moved out of the light."

Not concerned with sexual passion (apparently with a Republican in the White House, sexuality has become bad form), the show wants to ooze angst. (Not drip, mind you, no one sweats on a body wash operetta.)

As you watch and wait for something to happen, anything, you're treated to variations on a single theme: "Parents Just Don't Understand." D.J. Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith should have patented that because they could be raking in big bling-bling from each episode of The OC alone.

In this episode, a closing in on forty older sister doesn't understand why her teenage sister can't enjoy spending time with their diffident father. The father in question didn't think Ryan was good enough to be with his daughter. Proving that the generation gap spans the . . . well, generations. Meanwhile a grown woman in her forties boasts of how proud her father will be (while asking questions like, "Happen to have a bong handy?").

Peter Gallagher would be the one being asked about the bong. Gallagher who originally came to fame while weeping and wringing the hands over the fact that he had have to his chest waxed for a film. As if to punish the world, Gallagher long ago decided that no one would ever again take wax or even scissors to the hairs sprouting from his body -- which explains the freakish eye brows. As brave stands go, it's hardly on par with Barbra Streisand's refusal to get a nose job but such are the times.

Gallagher's character can't seem to decide what or who he wants. (Possibly those bushy brows obstuct his view?) On the one hand, he's married to a "conservative" (his term) woman who comes from a wealthy family. On the other hand, he's engaged in flirtatious moments (words only, remember this is a body wash operetta) with a woman from his past who's a radical which, on Fox, means she sprinkles pot into her conversations and emerges from the alleged underground looking like Curly Sue.

This episode's centerpiece, it's showcase showdown if you will, is the overly long, overly slow, overly dull dinner scene which we like to think of as, "Good eats, could you please pass the angst?"

The line up includes Ryan (McKenzie) who's dating teenage Lindsay (Lucio) who happens to be the daughter of Caleb who also fathered Kirsten, who's married to Sandy (Gallagher) and is middle-aged. The scene takes place in a supposedly, well off, well to do dining room. (Remember that.) Kirsten plays with her wine glass and takes the occassional swig for dramatic effect. Caleb pokes around at the food and swallows some. Ryan and Lindsey exchange uncomfortable glances. But best in show for this dog clearly goes to the dialogue.

Here's a sample:

The scene begins in silence. Kirsten waves around her wine glass. Caleb eats a little.

No words.

Caleb: This is the best meal you ever cooked Kiki.

Kirsten: It's fondu dad, cheesepot. Not so difficult.

Long pause. (It's not fondu. Read on.)

Kirsten: Did you know that Lindsay plays the oboe?

All eyes go to Lindsay who sighs weakly.

Lindsay: Not well.

Caleb: Do you now? Do you play any Brahms?

More weak sighs from Lindsay.

Lindsay: Try.

Another lengthy pause.

Kirsten: Did you know that dad has boxed seats at the Hollywood bowl? Have you ever been?

Lindsay: Uh no, I hear it's amazing.

Caleb: The tickets are yours.

Lindsay: Great. Ryan what do you think?

The writers no doubt felt they were layering on the angst. Somewhere around the fourth layer, we lost interest in the meandering scene. We did, however, wake up for the slow-mo heart attack Caleb has after he and Ryan exchange what are supposed to be strong words. (It's very hard to take anyone seriously with that Velma haircut.)

It's all so phoney. From the long pauses, the exchanged glances, right down to the "fondu." You know, the "cheese pot?" There's no fondu on the table. There's a variety of vegetables. There's a ceramic bowl that holds cheese cubes (which are eaten as cubes, not melted). And don't get us started on the fact that this wants-so-hard-to-be-high-class-tasteful room features a couch by the dining table in the dining room.

What's really the point of this show? Apparently, not content to just push Velma as a trendsetter, the show also wants to hawk merchandise. We're not referring to the lame music played throughout. Granted anything's an improvement over the show's theme song, sung in adenoidal tones, consisting of the following lyrics: "California/ Here we come/ Right back where we started from/ California . . ." Apparently someone wanted to combine The Monkees theme ("Here we come, walking/ Down your street . . .") with Maxine Nightengale's disco classic "Right Back Where We Started From." And that "merger" works about as well as anything else in the Bully Boy economy. (Translation, not at all.)

No, we're referring to things like "The O.C. Insider Club" which, for just $24,95, allows you access to such features as "exclusive fashion tips." Or maybe you'd prefer to skip the club and go straight to the product's products? In which case, we're sure that at $32.95 they're a bargain, you can purchase "I 'Heart' The O.C." "boyshorts." And, in the interest of doing our part to inform and educate the public, we'll note the disclosure that comes with all OC undergarments:

Please note: boxers may not be returned for exchange or refund due to state regulations.

The show as an overly long commercial for other products is hardly suprising when one realizes that the show's creator has -- not one, but two -- parents who did time in the land of Hasbro Toys. Think we're being too harsh? The OC finished its second season last month. The DVD set of the second season comes out August 23rd. Whether or not it's the cash cow some are hoping, it's obvious that what's on screen is far less important than the "accessories" and ancillary rights.

How bad is the show? Curly Sue, refugee from the radical underground, is totally unconvincing despite the fact that's played by the usually watchable Kim Delaney. Did CSI Miami sap the life out of her performances? (Rhetorical question but we'd understand if it did.) Delaney's character isn't called Curly Sue (except by us), she's called Rebecca. And she's spent decades (two decades and two years, in fact) in the underdground. Which is apparently not unlike a nunnery since she tells Gallagher she hasn't had sex with anyone since him.

As two who regularly wonder if someday the Bully Boy will go completely to war on the American public and we'll be forced to go underground ourselves, the lack of sex life in the underground struck us as really sad. Then we remembered, this is The OC and no one has sex on this show.

Not old lovers Rebecca and Sandy, not Sandy and Kirsten (who is his wife), not the teen brigade. When, at the hospital and wanting to see Caleb, Lindsay dismisses the staff's "family only" orders with a cry of "I am his daughter!" We're not sure if they were surprised that such an old man would have such a young daughter, or if it was just the shock that anyone had sex in Orange County in the last twenty years.

What's the point of this show? We think is was provided in an early opening scene:

Seth: So, then, you're saying that I'm complaining that I have nothing to complain about?
Ryan: This is what I'm saying.

We'd agree and note that compared to this episode, One Tree Hill is postively crawling with drama. Possibly The OC is attempting to capture a "California laid back vibe." There's laid back and there's comatose. If you're confused as to which we think the show is, we'll note that Peter Gallagher really, really deserves this show and that one of his biggest money maker to date was While You Were Sleeping which found him on the sidelines for the bulk of the movie in a coma.
(He was never more convincing onscreen.)

Five Books, Five Minutes

It's that time again, "Five Books, Five Minutes." And summer, supposedly a more laid back season, is the perfect time to pick a book. So visit your libraries and read! (That's an order.)

Participating in this discussion are Ty, Jess, Dona, Jim and Ava of The Third Estate Sunday Review, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner and C.I. of The Common Ills.

First up was Dona's pick.

Tillie Olsen's Silences

Jim: Amazing book.

Dona: I'd heard of it in that "you should read" kind of way. Ava, Jim and I had a three hour discussion on it this week.

Ava: It's history, it's criticism, it's a resource, it's a review. It's just, as Jim noted, amazing.

Betty: I think if you're interested in writing as a reader or as a writer, you'll come away inspired by this book.

Excerpt page 31:

Twenty years went by on the writing of Ship of Fools, while Katherine Ann Porter, who needed only two, was "trying to get to that table, to that typewriter, away from my jobs of teaching and trooping this country and of keeping house." "Your subconscious needed that time to grow the layers of peral," she was told. Perhaps, perhaps, but I doubt it. Subterranean forces can make you wait, but they are very finicky about the kind of waiting it has to be. Before they will feed the creator back, they must be fed, passionately fed, what needs to be worked on. "We hold up our desire as one places a magnet over a composite dust from which the particle of iron will suddenly jump up," says Paul Valery. A receptive waiting, that means, not demands which prevent "an undistracted center of being." And when the response comes, availability to work must be immediate. If not used at once, all may vanish as a dream, worse, future creation be endangered -- for only the removal and development of the material frees the forces of further work.

Next up was Jim & Kat's choice of U2: The Rolling Stone Files (editor Elysa Gardner).
[No link. It's out of print. Check your local libraries.]

Kat: We'd all enjoyed reading the collection of real time criticism and commentary on the Velvet Underground last week that Jim and I were thinking of what else we could read.

Jim: And though I may be the only one in the world still listening to it, I really enjoy U2's How to Build an Atomic Bomb.

Jess: It was interesting to pick up on early points, some true and some not, that would become regular points repeated over and over by critics. Jon Parles was particularly dense and his early thoughs have become accepted fact for the group.

Kat: Though they may be apt to Bono the person, they aren't describing the group, in my opinion.

Ty: What stood out to me was the ass kissing post The Joshua Tree. I'm not talking about the album reviews here, but the feature stories that tried to sell you on the fact that U2 was still the biggest thing of the moment. There was an article by Anthony DeCurtis on the Zooropa tour when U2 had even ran out fumes --

Kat: The crash of Pop would be just around the corner.

Ty: Yeah and the article's from August of 1993 and U2's supposed to be the most talked about, most happening thing in the music world to read DeCurtis. But correct me on this if I'm wrong, isn't this when Pearl Jam and Nirvana are the big news?

Kat: Right.

Ty: Because Kurt Cobain died in 1994. This is August 1993 that the article's published. And U2's the biggest thing in the music world?

C.I.: Not only has Nevermind already been a number one album, but one month after this article, September, 1993, In Utero will be released. U2 was not the biggest thing in the music world at that point. I enjoyed how DeCurtis rushed to assure you that the Zoo tour had been retooled. If anyone missed it, in March 2003, the Rolling Stone poll found critics, not readers, voting U2 the "honor" of worst tour for the Zoo TV tour. But yeah, the feature's become one long butt smooch for artists at a certain level and DeCurtis isn't known for his keen observations or tough questions.

Jim: I agree with Jess about the themes. Because Rolling Stone's early articles are laying out everything that people now think about the band, whether it really applies to them or not. I enjoyed the book, but I wasn't crazy about.

Rebecca: Because, although it wasn't as stilted as much of the music writing these days, it still was a far cry from the let if fly, let it hang out reporting we read in the Velvet Underground collection.

Kat: And it's interesting because the reviews today are so dispassionate, I'm referring to reviews in general and not in this collection, but when they do a feature story, the same writers turn it up to extreme kiss up, piling on hyperbole and praise that acts don't deserve. There was a schism between the album reviews and the features in this collection. That's what I took away from the book. If I'd chosen differently, I would have chosen Madonna: The Rolling Stone Files because that would have made for a more interesting read simply because most writers felt they could be passionate about Madonna.

Excerpt p. 194 (Bono speaking, from Alan Light's Bono: The Rolling Stone Inteview, "Behind The Fly" March 4, 2003):

Larry asked him [Bill Clinton], "Why would you want to be president?" and he said: "Well, you know, I don't know if the president of the United States can be the one person to turn it all around, but I know one thing: No one else can." What's interesting about him is that he seems very accessible and wants new ideas and wants to be challenged. We told him that we weren't going to endorse him, that wasn't what we did. And if he got in, that we'd be on his back for the next four years anyway, 'cause there is an uneasy relationship between us and politicians. But he knew that. He got that. That's when I realized he's pretty cool.

Jess: Oh how the Bono has fallen. Which brings us to our next book.

Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas

Rebecca: He truly is his worst enemy. The cover photo has him looking hot and sexy, then he opens his mouth and with each word, "I feel I'm slipping away."

Ty: It's like he thinks he's seen as stupid. Like he thinks he has to prove to the world that he's not just a rock & roller getting drunk and getting busted. But does anyone see him that way?

Jess: No, but I don't think anyone will like what they see here. He's played with manipulation throughout the post Joshua Tree career but he's really bragging on it here and it comes off as so crafted that a lot of people may have some dreams die.

C.I.: For instance, Live Aid?

Jess: Right. Where people think, "Oh that moment is so inspired. How marvelous that it just happened." I wasn't watching Live Aid, I'm too young. But I've heard about it and heard about it. My folks did watch and do remember. When I told them about Bono's discussing how he was onstage calculating what he could do for maximum effect, they were really disappointed.

C.I.: I'll give him points for his honesty. I think the book will be an important document, not unlike the interviews where John Lennon goes to town on the Beatles myth. From his foreword, he sees the book, the interviews, as therapy.

Kat: Doubt they worked for him. I'm sorry, he's disgusting now. The band and not Bono was always what I focused on because he's always been irritating to me. But sitting next to Bob Geldof while they shower Bully Boy with praise, I mean, what was that excerpt we did? How he'd be tough on Clinton the next four years because that's what he does? Is Bono, the social justice poster boy, unconcerned about Guantanamo? Is he so in to "save the children from AIDS" that he'll smooch any ass just to get funding? And let me say this on that, pediatric AIDS is the least controversial of any AIDS cause. I give him no points for taking that up.

C.I.: I get your point and it's worth noting. But it's his cause and I'll give him credit for having one. But yes, it is disgusting that he knows no shame currently. Jim pointed out that he still listens to the latest album. Most people don't. They're sick of U2 because Bono's so disappointed them. He should have been a brave voice during a period like this. Instead he's settled on being the Audrey Hepburn, ever smiling, ever gracious. That was Audrey Hepburn and it fit her. Bono's made his name claiming to be the rude voice speaking the truth and those days are long gone.

Dona: He's really become a joke. I don't know anyone besides Jim that bought the new album.

C.I.: I have it. I bought it the first week when it was on sale and I bought the one with no extras because I wasn't going to fork over too much money due to Bono as Repube Friend. I do like it, but it's been some time since I've listened. I think it was after he made one of his many "Bully Boy is okay" statements that I thought, "No, not in my home."

Kat: The album's solid. And I've never seen people run so from a solid album. U2 needs an angry album immediately that deals with the concerns of its core audience. That means pointing the finger at Bully Boy, not licking his boots.

Jim: What disappointing passage are we going with for the excerpt? When he speaks of his current coziness with politicians and notes that "as you get older, your idea of good guys and bad guys changes?"

Dona: How about the time he wastes discussing his weight loss and announcing that he's out of his "fat Elvis" period? Bono, meet Oprah.

Ava: I loved the fact that he saw no contradiction in decrying abusive economic systems that have harmed Africa, while he's setting up his own predatory practices.

Ty: We're going with his latest business venture because it perfectly captures the death of the artist and the emergence of the Bono today.

Excerpt from page 280-281, which is an excerpt of Robert A. Gurth's article for the Wall Street Journal:

Bono, lead singer for rock band U2 and antipoverty activist, is starting a new gig; media and entertainment investing. The 44-year-old rock star is joining Elevation Partners, a new Silicon Valley fund set up earlier this year by veteran technology investor Roger McNamee and John Riccitiello, who in April left his post as president of videogame maker Electronic Arts Inc. for Elevation. The participation of Bono should sharply raise the profile of Elevation, which people famaliar with the fund say initially will raise $1 billion for buyouts and investments in media and entertainment companies, seeking to profit from turmoil in those sectors. Elevation is expected to look for investment opportunities in media and entertainment companies disrupted by the advent of the Internet and other digital technologies.

Kat: And to think, it was Madonna who got dubbed with the "Material Girl" and "no heart" tags.

Ty picked The Portable Dorothy Paker.

Ty: We were going to try our hands at short stories this edition and I knew Parker wrote short stories. I knew she was famous for being funny. And I knew that she left her estate to a man she'd never met but found inspiring, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and that the NAACP gets proceeds from the sale of her writings. For all those reasons, I felt like she was a writer whose work I should know.

Dona: I think we all agreed this was something everyone should pick up. But we all had our own favorite parts.

Betty: I liked the verse and I'm the only one picking that as my favorite part. I really enjoyed "Lines on Reading Too Many Poets."

Ty: "Big Blonde" was my favorite of the short stories.

Jess: And my pick was "The Phone Call." C.I. enjoyed her criticism as did Jim and Ava.

Rebecca: Which is why that's the excerpt. We all split on our favorite part with everyone voting for one poem or one story but Ava, Jim and C.I. were a voting block with one review.

Excerpt page 518 (from Parker's Constant Reader reviews, this one entitled "Far from Well"):

"'That's a very good idea, Piglet,' said Pooh. 'We'll practise it now as we go along. But it's no good going home to practise it, because it's a special Outdoor Song which Has To Be Sung In The Snow.'
"'Are you sure?' asked Piglet anxiously.
'"Well, you'll see, Piglet, when you listen. Because this is how it begins. The more it snows, tiddely-pom --'
"'Tiddely what?' said Piglet." (He took, as you might say, the very words out of your correspondent's mouth.)
"'Pom,' said Pooh. 'I put that in to make it more hummy.'"
And it is that word "hummy," my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader Fwowed up.

Jess: Our final book was C.I.'s suggestion.

Absolute Trust in the Goodness of the Earth by Alice Walker

Betty: I love Alice's writing. Poetry wise, I really only knew Revolutionary Petunias. I really loved this collection.

Rebecca: There's an attitude of poetry, "old," "musty." Alice Walker always manages to connect with her poetry and this was no exception.

Jess: And we need to move beyond obvious thoughts and obvious responses which goes to metaphors and expanding our thought processes. Which goes to a recent column by Patricia J. Williams in The Nation.

C.I.: That no link will be provided to because it's only available online to subscribers. The column is entitled "Just a Theory" and look in your library for the issue with the Watergate/Mark Felt cover.

Jess: We've all talked about how if time permitted, we'd take a week or two off, get away and just go into retreat mode, to quieten the world and listen and think.

Jim: But the world doesn't stop for us.

Rebecca: And let me underline "talked." Talked. Before the community at The Common Ills thinks C.I.'s about to take a week or two off from posting.

Jess: Right, pipe dream. But the thing is we get so caught up in responding to whatever the Bully Boy is doing that we often are left with no time to formulate, let alone to reclaim our humanity.

Betty: And Alice's poetry is all about reclaiming ourselves. I especially enjoyed "Dead Men Love War" and the "They sit/ Astride/ The icy bones/ Of/ Their/ Slaughtered horses/ Grinning."

Kat: And in this period where so many have asked, "Who's writing about the world around us?" this is an important book to read. Bono's not writing lyrics about the world around us. Alice Walker is writing poetry about the world around us.

Excerpt, from page 123, Alice Walker's poem "Why the Way You Have in Mind (Yours and Mine) Is Obsolete" (in full):

The brain
Though encased
In separate
One brain.

Dropping a bomb
One head
Or one million
Is perceived
By all the rest
(Of brain, if not of heads)
To be a
Definitely not
So Smart
It is
An end.

Ava: C.I. wants to add something before we get to our closing paragraphs.

C.I.: Right, I typed in asking Dallas to find something on Bono commenting on pediatric AIDS, thank you for that Dallas. Kat's making a point, earlier, about the way organization he cofounded is promoted, and promoted by Bono. But I know someone's going to have a problem with the remarks and I want something in here to back it up before someone says, "Oh, that's Kat's take." So Dallas found this from Christianity Today, Cathleen Falsani's "Bono's American Prayer." Here's how Bono promotes the organization and its goals

"It brings out the best in the church, like you see today in response to these children suffering HIV," Bono told pastors, parents, and children gathered at New York's John F. Kennedy Airport a few weeks before Christmas as part of an airlift of 80,000 gift boxes to HIV-infected children in Africa, organized by Franklin Graham's Operation Christmas Child. "But if we're honest, it has also brought the worst out of the church. Judgmentalism, a kind of sense that people who have AIDS, well, they got it because they deserve it. Well, from my studies of the Scriptures, I don't see a hierarchy to sin. I don't see sexual immorality registering higher up on the list than institutional greed (or greed of any kind, actually), problems we suffer from in the West.
"This is a defining moment for us: For the church; for our values; for the culture that we live in."

Kat: And that is how he promotes it. Peadiatric AIDS because it's "safe." No worrying about some moralizer saying "They got it because they had sinful sex!" It's safe, it's noncontroversial.
There was a time, in the days of Ryan White, where it had more controversy. These days it really doesn't. And I don't think that the crisis in Africa should be seen as children with AIDS when the epidemic spans all age groups. But it's cuddly and warm and Bono wants to hug it.
I miss the bravery I once I thought I saw in the man.

Which will do it for our "Five Books, Five Minutes." Hopefully, you found something here that interested in you and, if not, maybe thought of something that you'd like to check out of your own library. A few of you have e-mailed suggestions for books to read. Feel free to do so but in terms of reading five books in a week, which is what we've been doing, the decision is really going to come from those of us participating. If one of us says, "There's no way I'm reading ____" then we drop it from our proposed list. Ellie e-mailed again last week to note that she's repeatedly asked that we include James Joyce's Ulysses and that we're ignoring her. We read her suggestion the first time. As Ty said, "It ain't happening."

A Fractured Life (the Wally Lamb style book)

What is summer without a Wally Lamb type book charging up the best seller list? Why it just ain't summer! But what of your look at non-fiction a few of more careful readers ask? We're covered on that base with this as well because industry insiders (are there any other kind) are whispering that this fictional novel is reportedly the memoir of Bill Keller! Maybe it's the "dedication page" which reads "To all the arm chair media critics. F.U.! Hey circle jerkers, jerk this!" but damned if it doesn't read to us like the life story of executive-editor of The New York Times, Bill Keller.

A Fractured Life

He hated those who pried.

Occasionally he would give away things to trusted ones, little facts and details of his choosing. He never regretted shared moments with the few that he did actually trust; however, more often than not, he would end up being forced to explain things to people he felt little attachment to. People who would catch him in a weak moment and, in the supposed name of closeness and friendship, demand of him details that he did not want to freely give. Pressed and put off, he would give of himself as he quietly detached and edged away. The closeness those people claimed to be seeking would never come because he hated being forced or tricked into self-exposure. He hated those who pried. He hated being forced to explain in a sentence or two something so complex that in a lifetime he still hadn't come to conclusions on himself. He had one stood before a mirror and said, "I am looking in the mirror and I see nothing."

He was not a chameleon. A part of himself was never truly lost. There existed a thread, albeit a fine, weak one, of continuity that linked all the different personas he expressed.

He didn't change, he just expressed different parts of himself. It wasn't that he wasn't genuine, it was that he wasn't one person, he was many people. Instinctively he knew what to give someone to win them over. Instinctively he knew which qualities to parade and which qualities to lock away. He was an artist when it came to relationships and like the impressionists and the post-impressionists before him, he utilized the technique of chairo scuro -- he emphasized either the brights or the darks depending on what he was trying to get across to his audience.

And indeed, they were all his audience, for though he longed to quit perfoming, he had yet to find a person to whom he could show the many divisions, fractions, factions of himself to. He was like a stained glass window looked at by a child who only picked out his favorite colors. He longed to be appreciated as a whole.

But he would rather have partial attention then none at all. To be ignored was to disappear. Once alone he slowly vanished like the picture on a black and white television screen. He was reduced to an ever fading white spot. To be watched, to be noticed, was to be alive. It was tangible proof that at this moment in time he existed -- he had a witness.

This need for confirmation was the most intense drive. It was the hub around which the wheel turned. He'd never been able to free himself from this need. He'd never been able to find inner confirmation. The outside was everything. Everyone was his mirror, in their eyes he lived or died. He had resigned himself to this fact.

His name was Bajo and he felt like he came from below.

Looking around at the other people, he often felt that the unfolding events made him somehow emotionally inferior. Many people had accused Bajo of thinking he was superior to them, but the truth was that when he ranked people, he almost always ranked himself bottom of the list. Only if the pyramid was inverted did he ever find himself on top. He looked around and marveled at the people who gave of themselves with the wild abandon of a drunk in Vegas. He, on the other hand, always had to weigh the balance and measure carefully before he gave anything. He had to be as guarded and as calculating as a whore. Like a whore, he always had to satisfy, he always had to please, even if the pleasure came at his own expense.

Bajo knew upfront that when the masks were dropped, when the mysteries were solved, interest in him woul die. Long ago a spiteful, old woman, who may or may not have been his grandmother, had told him, "No one who really knows you will ever love you." He'd learned it. He'd accepted it as gospel. He'd committed the statement to memory and learned to live accordingly.

It had to be the truth, for all the people closest to him, the people that outside world looked upon as his family, all knew him, and with nary an exception they all abused him. Expressing his disappointment, his pain, gained him no sympathy. It only gave them more ammunition to use against him. His every weakness once exposed became another limb nailed to the cross. Truth was not rewarded. He was left unprotected. Quickly he learned sleight of hand. Quickly he learned to surround himself with subterfuge and expose only that which would get him what he desired. He was both the magician and the prop. He could pull the table out from underneath himself and still remain standing. The skill with which Bajo accomplished his tricks became far more mesmerizing than any of the tricks themselves.

A painting studied too closely reveals nothing but the strokes and the pigments at play. Bajo knew the secret to a good painting was in filling in the contrasting details first and foremost. He knew to make himself an empty canvas first, then decide what he wanted to emphasize. But before adding those prominent features, he would add the contrasting colors first -- the colors that would enhance what he wanted to show. That way when he went back and added the features he wished to draw attention to, the canvas was no longer empty. He was already halfway done and before he knew it, he would be done.

But the paint was flaking off. Had he mixed the colors too strongly? Was the pigment not the right consistency? Or had the act of always shedding personalities only to add another finally began to take its toll? Was the problem pintemento? Were all the paintings underneath the exterior beginning to surface and blur the creation he intended to exhibit?

K-Boy Tries To Get Back Home (a horrific parable)

Summer means horror. In the past, we could count on a page turner or two from Stephen King for that. As he's rediscovered his inner need for deeper meaning, it sometimes seems less scary and more of a parable. With that in mind, we offer this:

K-Boy Tries To Get Back Home

K-Boy was wearing his Chuck Taylors, his jersey, all tricked out vintage style.

Speaking of vintage, he had a Marvin song blasting in his head. Bus rides were retro but he was doing it up in style he figured as he noted the heat inside the bus.

It was late and hot. He was tired. He closed his eyes and listened as the bus seemed to shake and nearly shatter with each bump in the road. While a bead of sweat formed on his forehead, it seemed the a.c. existed more to provide background noise than to cool things down.

He must have been more tired or more hot than he knew because a quick moment of resting the eyes sure enough turned into a nap.

Waking up, he opened he looked around and saw his street.

Congratulating himself on his perfect time, he rang the bell for his stop.

"Stop requested. Please watch your step," said the mechanical voice in English, then in Spanish.

K-Boy attempted to stand and make his way to the front of the bus.

But nothing happened.

He looked down at his knees and willed them to straighten, which they slowly did and he was standing. But his feet felt as though they were weighed down by a million bricks.

The stop was approaching, he had to get moving.

The bus came to a halt. The doors opened.

K-Boy was still struggling to walk.

"Get it together," he cursed himself.

One foot, then the next. Slow, sure but he was moving.

Trouble was, so was the bus. The doors were closing.

"Damn it," K-Boy cursed as the bus continued rolling on.

One foot, then the next. One foot, then the next. One foot, then the next.

So it continue, slowly. Slowly.

Finally he was standing behind the yellow line with the driver directly to his left.

"I missed my stop," K-Boy explained.

Nothing. Man, the driver didn't care.

"Excuse me, could you stop at the next stop?"

Still nothing.

K-Boy reached over and tapped the driver on the shoulder.

"Excuse me."

The driver turned around revealing the sharp lines of bones and nothing else. No cartilage, no skin. No eyes.

The mouth went wide and a ghostly rattle flew out that sounded like the laughter of the damned.

"Damn the heat," K-Boy thought as he looked around and realized he was still at the bus stop waiting for the bus to pick him up.

Heat like this could play tricks on you, mess with your mind.

He watched as two gals, in as little clothing as possible, walked up to the stop. He licked his lips and zeroed in on the the one smiling.

"Hey," he nodded.

They stepped up next to him and nodded back.

"K-Boy," he said thumbing to himself. "What's your names?"

"Don't you remember us?" asked the one smiling.

"No," K-Boy said scratching his chin. "Have we met?"

"Our village was bombed," said the nonsmiling one as the skin on her face began to melt and run in puddles.

"What, what's going on?" K-Boy asked his mouth gaping. "Get away from me, both of you. I'm just trying to get home."

"We have no home," the smiling one said as her organs began to fall out of her stomach. "We cannnot go home. We are no more."

"You killed us," said the other reaching to touch him with a hand who's flesh now began to smoulder.

K-Boy backed away quickly, eyes wide in horror.

As the two women followed, K-Boy tripped and fell on his back. Looking up, he saw the decaying, rotting bodies falling apart at the joints and begin to drop onto of him.

On top of him, covering him, was bones and organs, blood and rotting flesh.

K-Boy begam screaming.

"Holy shit!" K-Boy exclaimed as he woke up damp with sweat, lying in bed.

There had been plenty of nightmares over the years but that was one to remember.

He could smell breakfast cooking from the kitchen. His mother made the best breakfasts. When he was out of the country, the smells and sounds from the kitchen had been something that haunted him repeatedly. The egg frying, the gun shot like explosion when the toast popped up from inside the toaster, the gurgle of the coffee machine, the popping of grease as the bacon cooked in the big, black, cast iron skillet -- the same skillet, the same grease, that his mother would use later to fry up some potatoes that everyone would fight over.

He thought of his mother and how her beautiful dark skin seemed to pale when he told her where he was headed. Orders from Uncle Sam, he'd shrugged.

"He ain't you're uncle," she'd shot back.

And that had been that. She was a woman who made her point and let it go.

That seemed so long ago.

He sniffed the air and wondered what she was fixing. Whatever it was sure smelled good.

Walking down the half dark hall, he could hear music playing softly.

Once I was a soldier
And I fought on foreign sands for you
Once I was a hunter
And I brought home fresh meat for you
Once I was a lover
And I searched behind your eyes for you
And soon there’ll be another
To tell you I was just a lie

God he loved that song.

It was coming from the living room. Must be the TV. What program could be playing Tim Buckley on this Sunday morning?

The smell of hash browns stopped his wondering and he headed straight for the kitchen.

Looked a lot different. Had his mother made new curtains?

His mother . . .

The woman at the stove.

The white woman at the stove.

Not at the beat up old stove, but a shiny, new one.

The table that had some cardboard under one leg to make it set level was gone as well.

And there was a man approaching, a white man.

Who were these people?

He ran out of the house and stopped to look around. This was his block. He checked the outside of the house. It was freshly painted, but it was the house he grew up in.

Slowly, he walked to the porch and then back inside.

There was a newspaper on the table. K-Boy stared at it in amazement.

The date on it read June 26, 2005. But . . .

But it was summer of 1968. Just awhile back, he'd been patrolling the river.

Now, here he was, at last, home.

But his home was no more.

K-Boy yelled, "Where is my mother! Who are you people!"

The woman looked over to the man and asked, "Did you say something?"

"No," the man replied. "Are you going to do the crossword?"

The Gleeful Boy (the Sue Miller type read)

Summer isn't just Jackie Collins (we were too tired to try out a Thomas Clancy). It's also some high brown literature. Along the lines of Sue Miller. Here's our version of that genre in short story form.

He Just Seemed So Gleeful

He just seemed so gleeful.

That's what stood out to her. He just seemed so gleeful.

She remembered him at seven-years old with his cat Little Bit, walking in to find him gripping a snarling Little Bit by the nape of her neck as he scraped the hissing cat roughly up and down the bedroom wall.

"What are you doing!"

"She pooped all over my bedspread!"

What had happened, she wondered then. And now.

No amount of talking had helped then.

Nor had anyone else been too concerned.

Not the boy's father who grunted without looking away from the TV screen.

Not the preacher who gave the boy All God's Creatures Great and Small and felt this was addressing the issue.

Nor, most of all, the boy himself.

"You gotta' learn them to behave, Mom," he told her with the most serious, most gave face a seven-year old could muster.

Was it all just her?

Everyone else seemed to think it was.

After awhile she started to think so as well. What she'd seen had been abusive, destructive. But this was a seven-year old boy, a kid who did not know any better.

And she was a worry wart, right? She'd always been one. Her entire life she'd never been able to grow her finger nails long because she would constantly chew them down to the quick.

Her own mother had always joked that she got test anxiety from a knock-knock joke.

So sure, she worried. She stressed. It was who she was.

And thank goodness that who were son was was a good, sweet tyke who'd grown into an upstanding, strong man.

He had sailed through high school with the usual dark moods and silences of adolescence. He had a "short fuse" on the football field. His coach had said that. But it was just the normal competative spirit, right?

Then it was off to college and he had the usual successes and problems. Nothing all that unusual.

He met Amanda. She was so sweet, nice and warm. Anne was what you wanted in a daughter-in-law and she had a smile as warm as sunshine.

There was graduation. There was marriage. There was pregnancy. In that order, not that anyone even paid attention to that much these days.

They were living several states away by then. It was mother's and father's day phone calls, birthday cards, and alternate Christmas and Thanksgivings.

Nothing too unusual from what any other family was living with.

But there was something unusual about Anne. At first she tried to pin it on the time and stress involved in raising a newborn.

Then she noticed that Anne wasn't snapping back to normal and it was a few years after. Not only did the beam of sunshine smile never return, but Anne didn't smile much or even speak much. Month after month, year after year.

And when Anne did speak it was in a whisper. She also didn't make eye contact.

The alternate holidays, it turned out, weren't being spent between the in laws.

He would come up to visit his parents but otherwise they'd spend the holiday at home. His excuse to Anne's parents was that he'd been laid off from two jobs in the last few years and, since he was always starting at the bottom, they couldn't afford to travel much.

She learned of that not from her son, but from Anne's mother who called after Anne's second miscarriage.

"She needs to take better care of herself," her son said grinning as Anne slinked by.

"I fall down a lot," Anne whispered without making eye contact. "I'm just clumsy."

She noticed how Anne's mother watched Anne. She noticed how her son watched Anne's mother. Most of all, she noticed how Anne seemed to dissolve before everyone's eyes.

Later that night, intending to surprise her grandson with a bedtime story, she went down the hall.

Through the open door she heard her grandson saying, "Tell me a bedtime story."

Through the doorway, she could see her son standing by the bed, smiling down at his own son.

"Well sport, a quick one," he said nodding. "Here it is. Once upon a time, there was a baby. It was still born. The end. Good night."

He just sounded so gleeful.

Summer poetry: "Filling the Well"

Summer reading does include poetry. Inspired by Alice Walker and Patricia J. Williamson of The Nation (specifically her column in the July 4, 2005 issue, "Just a Theory"), with a dash of the Mamas & the Papas "Too Late" and the Beatles "Fixing a Hole" we offer "Filling the Well." Is it good, is it bad? Which is it intended to be? We'll never tell. Take from it what you can gather.

Fixing the Well

Filling the well
Filling the well
Carrying the pail
Down I fell
Down I fell.

Bumped my head
Bumped my head
Lost my thread
Sleep the dead
Sleep the dead.

Orion shining
In the night sky
Lead me there
Lead me there.

Orion shining
In the night sky
Grant my prayer
Grant my prayer.

Got a bump on the head
It's a new idea in there
Starting to grow
Starting to grow.
Got a seed reaching outward
Sprouting, climbing, winding
Watching it grow
Watching in grow.

Peek (the summer page turner)

What is summer without a Jackie Collins type book at the beach? Why, it's just not summer! With that in mind, we attempt to recreate an early chapter from your generic summer page turner. Picture a lusty blond woman on the book jacket (paperback, natch). She's dressed in a power suit that reveals ample cleavage. In bright red scrawl across the cover is the title, Peek.

Chapter Two

The bench was Dee Dee's least favorite piece of gymn equipment to be on. She was always afraid that she would suddenly lose control of the barbell and it would crash down on her injuring her, or worse yet, killing her. Or even worse, disfiguring her ample bosom. It made no sense, this fear, even she knew it, but the thought always crossed her mind when she was doing reps. Maybe one of the weights wasn't secured. Maybe her muscles would be exhausted.

She had a lot of similar fears. Like when she used the microwave on the maid's day off. Often she'd picture the low fat, all vegan TV dinner exploding with such a force that it would knock the door right off the microwave. But even with this fear, she couldn't help peering inside, watching the dinner heat up. Or when she was applying a fresh stick of lipstick or a new compact of powder, she'd worry that somehow in the factory a drop of battery acid had been smuggled in. As she smeared, for instance, the lipstick across her lips, she'd picture the skin bubbling up, blackening, and then falling right off her face as she howled in pain. Still she applied her lipstick. Still she looked through the glass door to see inside the microwave. Still she utilized the bench for presses. Maybe she was drawn to danger?

Right now, Adam started saying she was in danger of wasting her entire workout if she didn't start focusing. Nodding, she looked up and really thought about how attractive Adam was. He had these thin eye brows that she'd love to just run her tongue across. And his hair was this combination of blond and brown. The highlights looked natural. Possibly they were. Dee Dee could always spot an obvious bleach out. And his eyes were almost emerald green, a bit watery perhaps, but . . .

His nose. There was a piece that stuck out where it had obviously been broken. She wondered how many fights he'd been in. He could obviously take care of himself, with those broad shoulders and those massive biceps. Dee Dee liked the way his upper body seemed to be intent on tearing through the t-shirt that he almost wore.

"That's it, focus."

Dee Dee managed to scoot back a little on the bench so that she could sneak a peak at Adam's equipment. She'd heard women talk about him in the sauna, but she'd never felt brazen enough to look before. After all, she was Dee Dee Daniels, that meant she was the one looked at. But lately, Brandon has been sort of stingy with the lovin' and she could only fantasize about Orlando Bloom so much.

Besides Brandon's rants had really started to get on her nerves. Spending too much money? Like she wasn't carrying around a fun fur already? She refused to call it a "faux fur" because she never wanted to give anyone the impression that she was one of those political radicals who think it's a crime to use God's creatures in a way that showed off their natural beauty. She was all about the beauty. And she wore "fun fur" because her husband refused to buy her the real thing. Because he was cheap.

Cheap with his money, cheap with his lovin'. How long had it been?

Too long. And it was then that Dee Dee made a decision.

One little peek shouldn't hurt.

Adam was smiling at her, complimenting her and pushing her. Did he have any idea where her concentration was? She doubted it and as she once again raised the barbell while he spotted her, she glanced up and back. She couldn't believe she had just done that. Did he notice?

In her glance, she saw right up his red silk shorts. If she'd allowed her eyes to linger there what more might she have seen? Maybe she should take another look, a longer look? No, she decided that anything more would be too obvious. Anything more and Adam would surely know she was cheking him out.

And if that happened, no doubt, their professional relationship would be blown. As it worked now, Dee Dee came in, he admired her physique with a more than professional interest, Dee Dee pretended not to notice and they began the work out. If he caught her admiring his body, let alone checking out his groin, there would definitely be a strong shift in the balance of power.

"No way is a peak at his penis worth it," Dee Dee told herself.

No, she much preferred for him to salivate over her body and for him to know that she knew he did. She much preferred to treat him with haughty indifference prior to and after the workout, to dole out her small kindness and leave him hanging. It was a dance, one she choreographed. Let them want you, let them lust for you, and just when they think they'll never have you, give them a sweet grin or a kind word so they start believing there's a possibility of something more all over again. To look now would be to change all of that. Forever. So she wouldn't look.

But damned if she couldn't stop herself. Her mind was saying "Don't look!" but she couldn't listen. She was drawn to examing his crotch by something more than lust, more than curiousity even. The only thing she could think to call it was fear.

"Just like with the damn microwave," she thought.

So she looked. Obviously she looked. And she felt sure she was overly blatant in her looking. As her eyes traveled up his muscular legs into his shorts, she felt sure he knew exactly what she was doing. She could sense him puffing out his chest in pride. Even his crotch seemed to swell a little.

Too late to stop now, so she might as well look. The hairs on his legs seemed to thin out right around the point his shorts began and, contraty to what she'd thought, he wasn't tan all over. Apparently, he sunbathed or went to the tanning beds in short swim trunks. Certainly, not in a thong. As her eyes moved up his legs, she could make out the ghost bathing suit, then the hairs started again, thickening around his white jock. There was a definite bulge and it seemed to move a little. Dee Dee knew she should look away, after all, she'd stopped lifting the weight so she had now gone beyond blatant. And Adam obviously knew what was what. She noted how he seemed to spread his legs a little more in his apparent attempt to give her a better view. As he did so, his crotch came a little closer to her face.

Dee heard herself sigh like an idiot. But so what, maybe she and Adam . . . Before she could finish her thought, she inhaled and that was the deciding factor. She could definitely smell sweat, groin sweat. Maybe he had to work all day as a personal trainer but that didn't mean Adam couldn't hit the showers between clients. Disgust had killed her curiousity.

Almost racking his groin, Dee Dee sat up suddenly and hopped off the bench. Nodding to his now confused face, Dee Dee hurried off to the showers to wash her own sweat off.

Kooky Cokie Roberts offers up advice

What would a summer beach read (the theme of this edition) be without an advice column? We thought of doing a "Dear Third Estate" but then we got creative. What if, we wondered, one of today's teen queen's, for instance Hilary Duff, wrote an advice column for one of the teen magazines? And what if, we wondered, she had to take a break and the publisher had to get someone to fill in for her? That could be funny. But what would make it even funnier?

Oh what always makes everything funnier? Cokie Roberts!!!!!!!!!! So, what if, in our fictional account, a magazine called Tiger Beatin' had to fill space for an advice column that Hilary Duff had intended to write but Cokie Roberts ended up penning? Our sides were aching!

Here now, in the spirit of summer, is advice from the one and only Cokie Robets.

ASK DUFF! by Kooky Cokie Roberts

When the publisher of Tiger Beatin' called me and said, "Oh, I'm sorry, I dialed the wrong number" of course I knew he was too shy to ask me to work on a feature. Being the kind and generous soul I am, I asked him if he was having deadline problems. Yes, he needed an advice column -- I cut him off and immediately said no. I still haven't recovered from the ten minutes I put in prepping for my last NPR piece. But then Steve walked in and asked me what was going on and said I was a fool to turn down money and that his house, his rules (he wishes!) which of course means that if I want to have more of those injections, I'm going to have to pay for them myself. (I had hoped to cut costs by doing it all "at home," you know, like a facial. But Steve looked in the fridge -- big surprise there! -- one day, grabbed my curdled cheese and threw it out.)

So with Steve screaming in one ear and the Tiger Beatin' publisher yammering on in the other, I may have missed a few key points. Like the title. Why is it Ask Duff? I live in D.C. Is that the new lingo for D.C.? It's so hard to keep up. I asked Steve and said "Guys are buff, maybe gals are duff."

Well even Steve can figure out something once in a blue moon. So as a very duff, young woman, a very young woman, I'm happy to share.

Maybe it will even pay enough to let us purchase a new summer home on Nantucket? We already have what Steve calls a summer home and I call a shack. He argues that it has "character" which must be a low class term for "eye sore" and the next time he uses the word "character" while I'm having to trek to the "big house" to use the bathroom, I may do more than grit my teeth.

Anyho, I had a point, and it's this, I'll try to be keeping it realistic and giving my propers to my peeps and tossing down some scream outs because I'm as Duff as the next girl, provided she's as beautiful as me, of course. Let's change topics. I am kind of glad to be doing this piece after all because as the great beauty of our time, I kind of owe it to my lessers to share my wisdom. Sadly, my genes are another matter.

So please, write in and I'll attempt to show you the error of your ways. Oh, I guess to avoid legal actions, I should state upfront that following my advice will not make you me. It will make you more attractive than you currently are which, in some cases, isn't saying much.

Dear Duff --
You're so pretty and smart.
I love you and I want to be
just like you. "Fly." is my
favorite song.
-- Queenie Vennum

Why thank you Queenie! Your letter is by far my favorite. However, a word of caution regarding your unrealistic goals. You seem very smart (and I hope for your sake that you are pretty because God knows what a turn off brainy can be!) but regardless of whether you're Twiggy, Lucy Johnson or Jo-Jo the Dog Face Boy, there's only so much my column can do (see legal disclaimer above). There is and always will be only one Kookie Cokie Roberts. I feel your pain and I enjoy it. Doesn't it make the world seem a little more fair? By all means strive for something better than you are, but be realisitic. Oh, and by the way, my favorite song is "Plastic Fantastic Lover." Rock on!

Dear Duff --
I teach science, so believe me
when I tell you that you are the
finest specimen biology has ever produced.
I'd like to climb your DNA chain, if you
know what I mean. You are without a doubt
the sexiest woman to take a breath. I'd like
to try a few chemical reactions with you,
if you know what I mean. Rare is the day
that goes by where I don't dream of
marrying the one and only Hilary.
-- Ray Cooley

Dear Ray --
I have no idea what you mean, but if you want to do something with the hideous Hillary Clinton, despite the wet blanket she and her husband Bill put on the D.C. social scene, why don't you write her! I'm not her answering service and, as far as I know, Hillary doesn't have any chains. I guess I should thank you for stating the obvious ("finest specimen," etc.) but you then call your personal taste into question by lavishing praise on that woman.

Dear Duff --
I just turned thirteen and I'm your biggest fan!
My mother says I should be careful when I
use make up because I don't want to
look too harsh or comical. She says nobody
likes a circus clown. What do you think?
-- Nettie Jones

Dear Nettie --
First let me say, it's always great to know that my peers appreciate my exquisite beauty. Secondly, as for your mother's remarks, is she by chance Amish?
Make up is like sex, there's no such thing as too much. I'm thrilled to be your role model because we all need good role models. My personal role models included Ivana Trump, Petulia Clark, and that madcamp scamp Tonya Harding. As for your mother's comments regarding clowns, excuse me, the clowns were always my favorite part of the circus!
Is your mother, by chance, butt ugly? If so, that could explain her hostility towards jolly clowns and her misguided grooming advice. Oh well, try to tolerate her speaking but consider the source. After all, if you weren't supposed to judge a book by it's cover, then they'd put the cover on the inside and the text on the outside. Right?

Dear Duff --
Don't you feel used and abused by a society
that rates beauty over brains? That treats women
like sex objects? That says your only as good
as you look? That perpetuates feelings of
insecurity in those society has deemed good
-- Dr. Catherine Stanley

Ugly girls ask a lot of dumb questions. Apparently, they're also now America haters.
Ugly = bitter and it's not pretty. I've included this letter just so my loyal fans can see the kind of kooks a woman of my beauty has to put up with.

Dear Duff --
Help! I color coordinated my outfit for days.
I bought a matching black bra and panties,
black silk pants and this wonderful black
pullover. Then the other day, my clod of a
boyfriend got his cigarette ash on the
pullover and it has a hole! What to do?
I've spent my entire paycheck on this outfit
and now I have nothing to wear. I'm in
a quandry. Help!
-- Confused

Dear Confused,
First let me say that I know what it's like living with a clutzy clod with no sense of style. What can you do? Steve's idea of style is to wear which ever white t-shirt has the least noticable arm pit stains. As for your quandry, what an interesting word, the answer's rather obvious.
Skip the pullover and just wear the bra. You'll get more attention that way.

Dear Duff --
There are definate sparks between you and
Chad Michael Murray. I'd like to see more
of you two together. Any chance? You're
my all time favorite.
-- Liz Thomas

Lizzie --
We've got a lot in common -- I'm my all time favorite as well. As for your question, I had trouble finding it. I managed to locate a question mark but apparently you were in the midst of asking some guy named Chance if there were any left. (Any what? I don't know. Your letter is very confusing.) I take it you think Chad Michael Murray is hot and apparently saw us together when I grabbed his little tushie. Where were you, Lizzie? Where were you? I could have used a witness when I was fighting Chaddy's restraining order.

Dear Duff --
I love your look, messy, unkempt hair and all.
-- Dick Long

Mr. Long --
Or should I say Mr. Smart Ass? I have no messy, unkempt hair. I am a naturally beautiful, naturally well coiffed sex goddess. I'm sure you found your letter rather amusing and shall we venture clever? But be forewarned, I have kept the attorney in the Chad Michael Murray matter (see previous response) on retainer and I will be meeting with him to discuss a libel lawsuit.

Finally, a note. Not another letter. This is a personal message like in Desperatly Seeking Susan -- you know, the Madonna film where she dries her arm pits with a bathroom blower? Anyway, let's just call her Desperately Seeking Cokie, okay? Attention Desperately Seeking Cokie, I don't know why you keep leaving me messages, but stop. Apparently you're in the midst of promoting a film called Herbie and someone has asked you to write some sort of advice column to fill in for "another teen queen." You say that since I've already grabbed some letters from the office, I might be able to help you pick out some to answer. I have no idea why you keep leaving me messages, but stop.

Apparently you need help writing something. Quit begging me to call you and do it yourself, it's not that hard, belive me. You say that the publisher of Tiger Beatin' called you and told you I'd be there to help you. Well forget it. I'm far too busy to do my own column let alone help you learn to write. And, might I add, that your request that I help you pick out which letters to answer sounds more like you're looking for an assistant than a co-writer. I'm no one's lacky (ask Steve!). And what kind of a last name is Loham anyway? Leave me alone, you kook!

Summer means going to the beach. Kicking back. But there's only so much kicking back that can go in the world we live in. For instance, we think Isaiah's two latest comics of The World Today Just Nuts had strong points. One's worth remembering even as you "Soak Up the Sun" (Sheryl Crow). With his permission and C.I.'s we reproduce them here.

The one to the left originally appeared at The Common Ills. Why is the "fashionable" Condoleeza de Vil sporting a fur that bleeds?

If you're unclear, maybe you should check out the comic on top, the edition of The World Today Just Nuts that we've somehow managed to make repeat over and over. (But we like the look and we're keeping it.)

It originally appeared at The Common Ills as well (of course because Isaiah is the resident illustrator for The Common Ills).

In the comic that repeats on the top, Bully Boy is playing in his blood box while Laura admonishes him to come inside for dinner. His blood box? Yes, you read that correctly. Not sandbox.

If you're still missing the point, check out Iraq Coalition Casualty Count.

Blog Spotlight: The Common Ills "Dahr Jamail's 'Iraq Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation'"

Our blog spotlight this week is from C.I. Like Rebecca, we feel this is a story that should have gotten a great deal more attention. It's not a missing young (white) woman in Arub, it's not Karl Rove's latest snarky move, but we think it's actually news you should be aware of. Imagine that.

So from The Common Ills:

Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation"

Dahr Jamail's "Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation" is a report you should be aware of.
There are nine sections, it's 37 pages (pdf format) and page five tells you what you probably already feared. Surveying thirteen hospitals "in order to research how the healthcare system was faring under the US-led occupation:"

This report documents the desperate supply shortages facing hospitals, the disastorous effect that the lack of basic services like water and electricity have on hospitals and the disruption of medical services in Iraqi hospitals by US military forces.

This report further provides an overview of the situation afflicting the hospitals in Iraq in order to highlight the desperate need for the promised "rehabilitation" of the medical system. Case studies highlight several of the findings and demonstrate that Iraqis need to reconstruct and rehabilitate the healthcare system. Reconstruction efforts by US firms have patently failed, while Iraqi contractors are not allowed to do the work.

The current model in Iraq of a "free trade globalized system," limited in fact to American and a few other western contractors, has plainly not worked. Continuing to impose this flawed and failing system on Iraq will only worsen the current healthcare crisis.

Before the next Operation Happy Talk gets started (I realize that in one form or another, Operation Happy Talk is always ongoing), you should familarize yourself with Jamail's report. It notes what is needed from program changes to basic equipment. Though you won't be surprised to learn of our "broken promises" (can the Bully Boy make any other kind?), you may not be aware of how bad things are and how many promises we've broken (or how much tax payer money has been wasted) until you read the report.

You'll learn about ambulance drivers being shot by US forces. You'll learn about the military staking out hospitals, in Falluja for instance (Dexter Filkins must have missed that) with snipers. . . There's a lot here and it's not "pretty." It won't get guffaws from the morning chatters on TV. So count on them to ignore it. Make it your responsibility to read up on it.Remember Falluja in November of 2004? The prize winning story?

Burhan Fasa'a, a cameramn with the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC), witnessed the first eight days of the fighting. "I entered Falljuah near the Julan Quarter, which is near the General Hospital," he said during an interview in Baghdad. "There were American snipers on top of the hospital," who, he testified, "were shooting everyone in sight." The Iraqi Red Crescent would have to wait a full week before being permitted to dispatch three ambulances into the city.

The last two pages consist of Geneva Conventions. Such as Articles eighteen through twenty-one:

Article 18: Civilian hospitals organized to care to the wounded and sick, infrim and maternity cases, may in no circumstances be the object of attack, but shall at all times be respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict.
Article 20: Persons regularly and solely engaged in the operation and administration of civilian hospitals, incluing the personnel engaged in the search for, removal, and transporation of and caring for the wounded and sick civilians, the infrim and maternity cases, shall be respected and protected.
Article 21: Convoys of vehicles or hospital trains or land. . . conveying wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, shall be respected and protected in the same manner as the hospitals for in Article 18.

Stop the Happy Talk by knowing the difference between myth and reality. Familiarize yourself with Dahr Jamail's report ("Iraqi Hospitals Ailing Under Occupation") before Matt Lauer gets another chance to do his dramatic sigh and say, "It sure is nice to have some good news to report." (This just in, he's still balding. While that would have been fine for his trained profession of weather man, it doesn't play well for "anchor." Which may explain his apparent desperate need for "good news.")

Investigadores de la ONU acusaron a Estados Unidos de tortura en Guantánamo

We thank Maria and C.I. for permission to reprint the following in full. Democracy Now! is putting the headlines into Spanish (audio & text) and to help get the word out (and because readers enjoy it) here are 12 headlines for the week. They start off in Spanish, then below, English is offered. Do not miss Maria's comments in the middle section.

Investigadores de la ONU acusaron a Estados Unidos de tortura en Guantánamo

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

Investigadores de la ONU acusaron a Estados Unidos de tortura en Guantánamo
Estas noticias vienen de Guantánamo, ya que investigadores de derechos humanos de Naciones Unidas denunciaron el jueves que fuentes confiables les informaron sobre prácticas de torturas en la base militar estadounidense en Guantánamo. Los investigadores citaron documentos desclasificados del gobierno y confirmaron el descubrimiento de "serias denuncias de tortura, trato cruel, inhumano y degradante a los detenidos, detención arbitraria, violaciones del derecho a la salud y al derecho de un proceso judicial". Acusaron además al gobierno de Bush de ignorar múltiples solicitudes para entrar a la base y verificar las condiciones de los detenidos. Paul Hunt, profesor de derecho de Nueva Zelanda especialista en salud física y mental, indicó que quería investigar las acusaciones de violación a los derechos humanos personalmente. Hunt dijo que, "se supone que un equipo de médicos ayudó en el diseño de las estrategias para los interrogatorios, incluyendo privación del sueño y otros métodos interrogatorios coercitivos".

Tribunal Mundial sobre Irak inicia sesión en Turquía
En Turquía, el Tribunal Mundial sobre Irak inicia su sesión de tres días. El encuentro está programado en virtud del Tribunal Internacional de Crímenes de Guerra que el filósofo británico Bertrand Russell formó en 1967 durante la guerra de Vietnam. El tribunal de Russell fue acusado de dirigir una 'investigación solemne e histórica' de los crímenes de guerra de Estados Unidos en Vietnam para “evitar el crimen del silencio'. En el Tribunal Mundial sobre Irak, hablarán el escritor de nacionalidad india Arundhati Roy, el ex Secretario General de la ONU Dennis Halliday y el periodista independiente Dahr Jamail, entre otros.

Nueva encuesta: estadounidenses se oponen a la guerra de Irak
Mientras tanto, la última encuesta realizada por CNN/USA y Today/Gallup demuestra que casi 6 de cada 10 estadounidenses se oponen a la guerra de Irak y un número cada vez mayor de personas están desconformes con la guerra al terrorismo. La encuesta fue publicada ayer y muestra que el apoyo a la guerra ha disminuido en forma significativa desde marzo y que se mantiene en un 40 %.

Hagel criticó con dureza a Bush por Irak
El senador republicano Chuck Hagel aumentó su crítica a la política del gobierno de Bush en Irak. En la edición de esta semana de U.S. News y World Report, el senador de Nebraska afirma que, "la realidad es lo que estamos perdiendo de vista en Irak". Luego expresó que "las cosas no están mejorando, sino que empeoran" y agregó: "la Casa Blanca está totalmente desconectada de la realidad. Es como si estuvieran improvisando sobre la marcha". Hagel criticó el manejo de la guerra por parte del gobierno, pero esta afirmación de "perder en Irak" representa su más dura apreciación hasta el momento y la realizó luego de que el vicepresidente Dick Cheney declarara que el mundo está siendo testigo de la agonía de la resistencia iraquí.

Se formó en el Congreso "Comité para retiro de Irak"
Mientras tanto, un grupo de 50 miembros progresistas del Congreso formaron un nuevo grupo denominado Comité Congresista para el Retiro de Irak. Señalan que su misión es aumentar la presión sobre el gobierno de Bush y del Congreso para finalizar el conflicto en Irak y lograr el retorno de las fuerzas estadounidenses al país.

Legisladores iraquíes piden a Estados Unidos el retiro de Irak
83 miembros del parlamento iraquí enviaron una carta al vocero del parlamento exigiendo que Estados Unidos retire sus tropas de Irak. Algunos líderes del movimiento pertenecen a la Alianza Unida Iraquí, la coalición de partidos religiosos chiítas que tiene la mayoría de los 275 escaños en el parlamento.

Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores británico: bombardeos ilegales en zona no permitida para vuelos en 2002
El Sunday Times de Londres informa que la oficina jurídica del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores británico decretó ilegal, de acuerdo al derecho internacional, el considerable aumento de bombardeos en la zona estadounidense y británica no permitida para vuelos en Irak, en el año anterior a la invasión oficial. El diario denuncia que en una primera instancia, en marzo de 2002, se asesoró a los ministros de mayor jerarquía. Dos meses más tarde, Estados Unidos y Gran Bretaña iniciaron acciones para degradar la capacidad defensiva de Irak, en un intento por incitar el espíritu de venganza en Saddam Hussein, otorgando a Estados Unidos una excusa para la guerra. La Oficina de Relaciones Exteriores dijo que los bombardeos no cumplían con normas de la ONU, a pesar de que Estados Unidos mantenga lo contrario. En el llamado Memorándum de Downing Street, se cita al Secretario de Defensa británico Geoff Hoon en julio de 2002, quien dijo que Estados Unidos ya había comenzado los bombardeos.

CIA advirtió que Irak se está transformando en campo de entrenamiento para extremistas
El New York Times informa que la Agencia Central de Inteligencia advirtió que puede demostrar que Irak es un campo de entrenamiento de extremistas islámicos más eficaz que Afganistán en los comienzos de Al Qaeda, porque sirve como laboratorio para el combate urbano. Los funcionarios expresaron que la guerra de Estados Unidos en Irak probablemente genere peligrosas consecuencias, al expandir combatientes más adeptos y mejor organizados a otros países. Según el Times, el informe de la CIA deja de manifiesto cómo la naturaleza urbana de la guerra en Irak enseñaba a combatientes cómo realizar los asesinatos, secuestros, explosiones de coches bomba y otro tipo de ataques que nunca fueron un elemento esencial del combate en Afganistán en la década de los 80.

Audiencia por juicio de tortura contra Donald Rumsfeld
Un tribunal federal de Washington anunció que dará curso a una demanda civil contra el Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld, presentada por ocho detenidos iraquíes y afganos. Los detenidos sostienen que fueron torturados y maltratados mientras se encontraban detenidos por Estados Unidos.Según la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles, la demanda pretende responsabilizar directamente a Rumsfeld y a otros jerarcas por los maltratos a detenidos que se encuentran bajo la custodia militar de Estados Unidos.

Pentágono lanza base de datos para contribuir con reclutamiento
El Pentágono comenzó a trabajar con una empresa privada para crear una base de datos masiva de alumnos de secundaria y universidad que contribuya a identificar estudiantes de 16 años para el reclutamiento militar, según informó el Washington Post.El Pentágono contrató a la compañía BeNow, de Massachusetts, para administrar la base de datos. Se trata aparentemente de un intento por burlar leyes que restringen el derecho del gobierno de recopilar o retener información de ciudadanos.La base de datos incluirá información proporcionada por centros educativos, en virtud de la Ley de educación primaria y secundaria "Ningún niño se quedará atrás", al igual que información recopilada por corredores de datos comerciales.Según el Washington Post, el sistema proporciona al Pentágono el derecho, sin previa notificación a los estudiantes, de utilizar la información con múltiples fines, incluyendo aquellos que no sean militares. Además podrá compartir datos con autoridades a cargo del cumplimiento de la ley, autoridades de impuestos estatales y con el Congreso.Un vocero del Pentágono defendió el sistema explicando que, "este programa es importante porque promueve la eficacia de todos los servicios de reclutamiento."La nueva base de datos está siendo creada en un momento que las Fuerzas Armadas intentan incrementar el número de reclutamientos. En lo que va de este año, el Ejército no logró cumplir en ningún mes sus metas de reclutamiento mensual.Sin embargo, Chris Jay Hoofnagle del Centro Electrónico de Información Privada (EPIC por sus siglas en inglés), criticó el sistema como un "plan audaz para reclutar jóvenes de 16 años en el servicio militar."EPIC describió la base de datos como un intento del gobierno "nunca antes visto" de utilizar técnicas de marketing directo, que antes habían sido utilizadas únicamente por privados.El grupo de vigilancia de la privacidad también criticó el programa, porque no permite que los estudiantes opten por no figurar en la base de datos, a pesar que sí pueden optar no ser reclutados.

Diputada Maloney criticó Seguridad Social por publicar información personal
Mientras tanto, en otras noticias de privacidad, la congresista de Nueva York Carolyn Maloney convocó audiencias por el reciente descubrimiento de que la Administración de la Seguridad Social, decidió compartir información personal de miles de personas con el organismo que controla el cumplimiento de la ley tras los atentados del 11 de septiembre.

Jurado condenó a miembro del Ku Klux Klan por matanza de activistas de Derechos Civiles en 1964
En Filadelfia Mississippi, un jurado condenó al ex miembro del KuKluxKlan por el asesinato de tres activistas de derechos civiles en 1964. El veredicto contra Edgar Ray Killen fue dictado el martes, exactamente 41 años después de la muerte de James Chaney, Andrew Goodman y Michael Schwerner, quienes en ese momento se encontraban en Mississippi investigando la quema de una iglesia de afro descendientes. Los fiscales acusaron a Killen por homicidio premeditado junto a otros miembros del KuKluxKlan y por determinar que una excavadora enterrara los cuerpos. Killen será condenado el jueves y puede ser condenado hasta un máximo de 60 años de prisión. El veredicto fue solo una victoria parcial para los fiscales del estado, ya que el jurado halló a Killen culpable de homicidio culposo y no de asesinato. La viuda de Michael Schwerner, Rita Schwerner Bender, señaló que "el hecho de que algunos miembros del jurado no reconozcan que se trató de asesinatos cometidos con alevosía, demuestra que aún hay gente entre nosotros que decide mirar a un costado, en lugar de buscar la verdad". Los abogados de Edgar Ray Killen anunciaron que apelarían la decisión del jurado.

NEW FEATURE: Democracy Now! is now offering the program's daily news summary translated into Spanish. Los Titulares de Hoy

Maria: Here are twelve stories from Democracy Now! that are worth noting. Democracy Now! is providing their headlines in both English & Spanish (audio and text) so please help get the word out. I am personally making sure that ESL and bilingual teachers I know are aware of this feature. Look around you and find someone to pass on the word to. The big broadcasting Spanish channels in this country are a part of the corporate media. As important as Democracy Now! is to the English speaking community, it can be that important to those who speak Spanish. If you don't care for the twelve I picked, go to Democracy Now! and select a day of headlines you prefer and send that out. "I don't speak Spanish!" Doesn't cut it. These are translations. Find a day of Headlines from this week that you feel are important, then click on the Spanish link and e-mail that. If you're someone who thinks, "Well I don't know any native Spanish speakers" take a moment to think if you know anyone who speaks English but studied Spanish? If so, they probably know someone they can pass this on to. I am going to push this off to the members who speak English- only because you make not think you can make a difference here, but you can. In this country and outside of it, Spanish media all over the world is experiencing the same problems as our domestic media. And in this country, which you may not be aware of, Telemundo was bought by NBC. Do you really want to leave it to NBC to get out the important stories?
You know how much Democracy Now! means to you so make an effort to seek out someone you can share the news that the Headlines are now available in Spanish with. Bush woos the Spanish speaking community via broadcast media that throws him soft balls. Do not let the Bully Boy score on this, do not let spin overcome reality. I know we can get the word out on this.

UN Investigators Accusing U.S. of Torture At Guantanamo
A team of United Nations human rights investigators said Thursday they had reliable accounts that detainees were being tortured at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Citing declassified government documents the investigators said they have uncovered what they describe as "serious allegations of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of detainees, arbitrary detention, violations of their right to health and their due process rights." The UN human rights investigators also accused the Bush administration of ignoring multiple requests for them to be given access to the base to check on the conditions of the detainees. Paul Hunt, a law professor from New Zealand who monitors physical and mental health, said he wanted to investigate the alleged violations in person. Hunt said "Reportedly medical staff have assisted in the design of interrogation strategies, including sleep deprivation and other coercive interrogation methods."

World Tribunal on Iraq Opens In Turkey
In Turkey, the World Tribunal on Iraq is opening its three-day session today. The gathering is modeled after the International War Crimes Tribunal that British philosopher Bertrand Russell formed in 1967 during the Vietnam War. Russell's tribunal was charged with conducting 'a solemn and historic investigation' of U.S. war crimes in Vietnam in order to 'prevent the crime of silence.' Speaking at the World Tribunal on Iraq will be Indian writer Arundhati Roy, former UN Assistant Secretary General Dennis Halliday, independent journalist Dahr Jamail and others.

New Poll: Americans Against Iraq War
Meanwhile, the latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll shows that nearly six in 10 Americans oppose the war in Iraq and a growing number of them are dissatisfied with the war on terrorism. The poll was released yesterday and shows that support for the war has fallen significantly since March and is hovering at about 40 percent.

Hagel Blasts Bush on Iraq
Republican Senator Chuck Hagel has amplified his criticism of the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. In this week's U.S. News & World Report, the Nebraska Senator said "The reality is that we're losing in Iraq." Continuing, he said "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse," adding: "The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along." Hagel has criticized the administraton's handling of the war before, but his talk of "losing in Iraq" represents his harshest assessment yet. His comments come after Vice President Dick Cheney declared that the world is seeing the "last throes" of the resistance in Iraq.

'Out of Iraq Caucus' Formed in CongressMeanwhile, a group of 50 progressive Congressmembers has formed a new group called The Out of Iraq Congressional Caucus. They say its mission is to try to increase pressure on the Bush administration and Congress to end the Iraq conflict and bring US forces home.

82 Iraqi Lawmakers Call for US to Leave Iraq
This comes as eighty-two members of the Iraqi parliament have sent a letter to the speaker of the house demanding that the United States withdraw its troops from Iraq. Some of the leaders of this movement come from the United Iraqi Alliance, the coalition of religious Shiite parties that has a majority of the 275 seats.

British Foreign Ministry: 2002 No-Fly Zone Bombings Illegal
The Sunday Times of London is reporting that the British Foreign Ministry's Legal office ruled that the sharp increase in the US and British no-fly zone bombings of Iraq in the year leading up to the official invasion was illegal under international law. The paper says the advice was first provided to senior ministers in March 2002. Two months later the US and Britain began “spikes of activity” designed to degrade Iraq's defensive capabilities and in an effort to goad Saddam Hussein into retaliating and giving the US a pretext for war. The Foreign Office said that the bombings were “not consistent with” UN law, despite US claims that they were. In the so-called Downing Street memo, British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon is quoted as saying in July 2002 that the US had already begun spikes in bombing.

CIA Warns Iraq Becoming Training Ground For Extremists
The New York Times is reporting that the Central Intelligence Agency is warning that Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat. Officials who have read the new assessment said it made clear that the U.S. war in Iraq was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries fighters more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict. According to the Times, the CIA report spells out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan in the 1980's.

Court to Hear Torture Lawsuit Against Donald Rumsfeld
A federal court in Washington has announced that a civil suit against Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld filed on behalf of eight Iraqi and Afghan detainees will go ahead. The detainees claim they were tortured and abused while in U.S. detention. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the lawsuit seeks to hold Rumsfeld and others directly responsible for the abuse and torture of detainees in U.S. military custody.

Pentagon Launches Massive Database To Help Recruiting Efforts
The Pentagon has begun working with a private company to create a massive database of high school and college students to help identify students as young as 16 to target for military recruiting. This according to the Washington Post. The database includes an array of personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying. The Pentagon has hired the Massachusetts-based company BeNow to run the database apparently in an effort to circumvent laws that restrict the government's right to collect or hold citizen information. The database will include data given over by schools under the No Child Left Behind Act as well as information collected from commercial data brokers. According to the Washington Post, the system also gives the Pentagon the right -- without notifying the students -- to share the data for numerous uses outside the military, including with law enforcement, state tax authorities and Congress. A Pentagon spokesperson defended the database saying, "This program is important because it helps bolster the effectiveness of all the services' recruiting and retention efforts." The new database is being created at a time when the Armed Forces is struggling to meet its recruiting goals. The Army has missed its monthly recruiting goals every month so far this year. But Chris Jay Hoofnagle of EPIC -- the Electronic Privacy Information Center --criticized the system as a "audacious plan to target-market kids, as young as 16, for military solicitation." EPIC described the database as a "unprecedented foray of the government into direct marketing techniques previously only performed by the private sector." The privacy watchdog group also criticized the program because it does not allow students to opt-out of being in the massive database although they can opt-out of being solicited for recruitment.

Rep. Maloney Criticizes Social Security For Releasing Personal Info
Meanwhile in other privacy news, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney has called for hearings over the recent disclosure that the Social Security Administration decided to share personal information about thousands of people with law enforcement after the Sept. 11 attacks.

Klansman Convicted For 1964 Civil Rights Killings
In Philadelphia Mississippi, a jury has found a former Ku Klux Klansman guilty of felony manslaughter in the killings on three civil rights workers in 1964. The verdict against Edgar Ray Killen came down Tuesday exactly 41 years after James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were killed. The three had come to Mississippi to investigate the burning of an African-American church. Prosecutors charged that Killen plotted the murders along with other Klansmen and then arranged for a bulldozer to bury the bodies. Killen will be sentenced on Thursday and faces a maximum of 60 years in jail. The verdict was only a partial victory for state prosecutors -- the jury found Killen guilty of felony manslaughter instead of murder. Michael Schwerner's widow -- Rita Schwerner Bender -- said "The fact that some members of the jury could not bring themselves to acknowledge that these were murders, that they were committed with malice, indicates that there are still people among you that choose to look aside, not to see the truth." Edgar Ray Killen's attorneys said they would appeal the jury's verdict.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }