Sunday, September 18, 2005

A note to our readers

Another weekend of problems. It's especially frustrating when we're actually done, pieces completed, and they won't post.

We all went over to The Common Ills to work on the morning entry there. We were, most of us, up for 28 hours straight at that point. Some of us longer.

But we got an edition together and now that the "artwork" and the TV review and the editorial has posted, it's done as soon as this goes up.

What do we have in this edition?

A wonderful interview with Maria where she talks about a number of topics. When we asked Maria, Tuesday, if we could interview her, she said sure. She cautioned that we'd probably only have a paragraph we could use from it. She underestimated herself.

Maria's probably best known for, with Miguel and Francisco, providing the weekly rundown of headlines from Democracy Now! After that, she's probably best known as inspiring the title of Elaine's site (Like Maria Said Paz). Common Ills community members weren't surprised Elaine would honor her in the title of the site. So if you're a casual reader, read the interview and find out why she's a valued member of The Common Ills community.

We offer a "Third Estate Sunday Review News Review." The first sign of technical problems. Betty had to alter the skit in progress as a result of linkage problems. As Betty said, we all learn to adapt. That seems to be the message of each edition on our end.

We had a simple idea for one feature, the work space of the Bully Boy. It ended up being a nightmare in another way. But it's up and thanks to Rebecca for letting us post the "art" to her site.

Ava and C.I. have their TV review. Calm down. Probably should have noted that at the beginning. It's called "The Yawn at Home."

We finally address Tariq Ali's Street Fighting Man in our book discussion. We have our editorial. So there's a number of things you can read.

What's up for next week?

We'll be in D.C. taking part in the protests. We could take the weekend off but we're going to attempt to do that and to turn out a fresh edition. (If that fails, the plan is to highlight past features with new prefaces explaining your reactions to them and our reactions to them. But ideally we're shooting for all new content.)

For this edition we thank Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Jess's parents, Dallas and Maria.

A number of you wrote to say how happy you were to see Folding Star last week. We were too.
You don't decide to end a blog easy. We respect Folding Star's decision and we're happy that FS still participates with us when time permits.

If you read this online or in print and that's where you stop, you may have limited awareness of the gina & krista round-robin. That's a newsletter for members of The Common Ills that publishes every Friday. They do roundtables and editorials. Isaiah always provides with them with an illustration. It's worth reading and we all look forward to finding it in our inboxes on Friday. But we want to give a special shout out to Gina and Krista (or to Krista and Gina) because they really went all out last week providing daily round-robins to cover the John Roberts Jr. hearings. This included roundtables that all of us working on this edition participated in. This included analysis from Erika and from Marcia each day. This included tips on what was coming up. And on Friday it included Rebecca's article on her abortion, the one her ex-in-laws do not want up at her site.

We're hardly mainstream here, but Gina and Krista really are the underground, tipping off the community to things, keeping the community cohesive. And last week, they did daily round-robins. We always value their work but they deserve a special shout out this week.

We'll see you next week. We'll be tired but energized from the activities and we hope you will be as well (see our editorial, nothing planned in your area is no excuse not to do something).

As a final note, I (Jim) will no longer be responding to right-wingers who e-mail this site. I had done that in the past. I'd enjoyed the exchange and found it funny. (Many of them did as well.)
But Ava ended up in the e-mails on her day and found a disgusting e-mail (printed in the round-robin with Ava's response). I read those most of the time and just laugh. Others don't find them amusing on any level. The one Ava stumbled across was especially disgusting.

If my attitude towards the e-mails has led some right-wingers to believe it's okay to write those things (Dona thinks my attitude has), I've sent out the wrong message. So from now on, I'll read and if I reply, I'll reply to the people that are really part of the community.

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

Editorial: Stand Up and Be Counted

Sat., 9/24
Massive March& Rally
Peace and JusticeFestival
Operation CeasefireConcert
Sun., 9/25
Interfaith Service
Training for Grassroots LobbyDay
Trainingfor Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience
NationalMeeting for Counter Recruitment
• Other Activities Mon., 9/26
Grassroots Lobby Day
Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

What are the dates above? Are you kidding us? Are you visiting this site for the very first time?

They are the dates (from the United for Peace & Justice website) for activism this coming weekend. Okay, you donated a few bucks to independent media, maybe it made you feel good after donating all the money you did to the Kerry/Edwards campaign only to later learn that the campaign didn't use it all to . . . campaign (hopefully the money was being stored for a recount that pressure from party structure ended up nixing); you took part in an e-mail campaign to stop something or save something; you've been thinking about donating a few bucks to one of the many worthy organizations; but guess what -- that's not how it should end.

Downing St. Memo. Did the press want to cover it? No. They dismissed it.

Voices saying "bring the troops home." Did the press want to cover it? No. Polling repeatedly demonstrated Americans were in favor of this for months. Only now is it an option in newsprint (one that's still dismissed).

What makes the press do their job?

You do.

With your actions.

You make them stand and take notice.

Doesn't mean they won't deride. (Derision is their key quality. See the coverage of the many protests on the inauguration in the Times -- both paragraphs!)

But it sends a message. It sends a message to the Bully Boy and the administration, it sends a message to the press.

It's a chance for you to make your voice heard. To come together with other individuals who are determined to stop the killing on all sides.

Last week the GOP, yet again, shut down any hopes that the Downing Street Memos could be addressed in Congress. But you know about those memos. You know what happened.

How good are you feeling about that illegal war?

This coming weekend is your chance to take action and have your voice heard.

In addition to the above activities that will be taking place in D.C., other areas (such as NYC and San Francisco) are also planning events. Is there an event in your area?

You tell us.

What are you doing to be heard and to seek out information?

People can call their local chapters of NOW to find about activities planned in their area. You could do that.

You could throw a STOP THE WAR now party this weekend, if nothing else. Get everyone to take time during the party to call your governor's hotline (provided you're not in one of the disaster areas effected by Hurricane Katrina) so that when the staff arrives the following Monday, they find nonstop messages saying "Bring the troops home now." Can your governor STOP THE WAR? Probably not. But that's an elected official and they should be feeling the heat. They should know where people stand. That goes for your state reps, your county reps and your municipal reps. They should all know that "the voters" are tired of this ongoning invasion/occupation. You can do that this weekend.

Might lead to a city council considering whether to debate a measure on the war. Might lead to a state rep standing in a state house (or outside it) and making a statement against the war. Or a governor. You never know until you try.

But if you can't take part in the scheduled activities, you need to create some of your own.

Get contact info for your reps on every level and throw a party. Provide means for the guests to contact those reps (at the party, don't take "Oh sure, I'll do something Monday"). Pass around a collection plate for your local peace group or local chapter of a deserving organization or for the national chapter of the same. Entertainment?

Have Laura Flanders playing in the background or Democracy Now! or Pacifica or any programming that's independent and airing the issues that a timid mainstream press won't. Play music by artists who are making a difference and/or who have made a difference, people who stand up and be counted.

Want a film-fest? You've got Danny Schechter's WMD, many strong films by Robert Greenwood, Michael Moore, The Control Room . . . The list is endless.

Maybe there's truly nothing going on in your area (or maybe you're not "the rally type"), that's no excuse for not starting something yourself on some level that says no to the occupation.

You can make a difference this coming weekend. If you participate.

So stand up and be counted. Cindy Sheehan's the spark but only you can keep the flame of truth blazing.

[This editorial was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, Jess, Ty and myself, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It! and C.I. of both The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review.]

TV Review: The Yawn at Home

Sunday nights, Fox, The Yawn at Home. Dried mashed potatoes, twenty years too late, served up as comfort food and starring two losers, The War At Home will amuse racists, homophobes and nerds who giggle everytime the words "boobs" or "rack" are said aloud.

Anita Barone is a career loser. Dadio alumni, she's had more shots to fail than than Elizabeth Taylor's had husbands. But along with her many short-lived shows, she's also forever infamous as Carol on Friends . . . for one episode. She was in, she was out. 1994, the year the show started. Until 2004, the year the show ended, viewers knew the Carol played by Jane Sibbett.

Barone? Who? Exactly.

Michael Rapaport is more than a career loser. True, he had a stint on Friends where he mumbled a lot and Lisa Kudrow tried really hard to make Phoebe seem in love with him. He must be loveable to some. His wife (they're "seperated") bore him a child. But maybe starring the guy who pled guilty to "aggravated harassment" of then girlfriend Lili Taylor in a series called "The War At Home" wasn't such a bright idea? Maybe the one time court ordered Rapaport shouldn't be first choice for a domestic sitcom?

But this is Fox so taking the nobody who came closest to a hit as a voice in Dr. Dolittle 2 and casting him in the lead makes perfect sense -- in a "only on Fox!" kind of way.

This show's badly written but even if it had a good line in it, even one, Mumbles Rapaport would bury it with his wooden expressions and and monotone voice. This is a man who can make Steven Wright seem animated. Rapaport appears to be attempting a snarl in some scenes but it comes off more like he's about to sneeze.

Here are the basics. Rapaport's Dave is married to Barone's Vicky. They have three standard issue kids. Which means the sole female looks nothing like her stocky parents and is required to strut around sporting cleavage. (She'll be 19 next week.) The boys? One, the youngest, is a Bud Buddy clone because . . . apparently someone misses him. Or some exec thinks he's missed. The other, Larry, (16 next week, the day after the actress turns 19 -- party on the set!) is . . . He's sixteen. We'll move on.

The kids exist for Rapaport to react to. Ed Burns (if he was going after TV sitcom work) could essay the role with no problem. He knows how to do the slow burn, he knows how to put an archness in his voice. Rapaport's reactions are no reactions other than the fact that sometimes he mumbles louder and he waves his hands a lot.

The show's disgusting trash. We're not going to pretend there's anything nice that can be said of it. There's not. (Our apologies to a mutual friend working on the show.) But worse than trash badly acted, it's rip-off trash. It wants to be Fox's new Married With Children. "Peg" has a job and there's a third kid to play the combined role of Steve & Marcy. To say that Rapaport makes you long for Ed O'Neill is really, really saying something.

We're not really sure this would have been fresh in the eighties. Frankly, the reactions of Dave to African-Americans, African-American males, isn't funny and wouldn't have been, to us, in the eighties. At one point, Dave says it's not that he objects to their daughter dating an African-American, it's that he's objects to her dating a guy nicknamed "Bootay." That assertion is quickly put to rest when he learns that wife Vicky has slept with African-American men. (That's a chronology problem that no one noticed, by the way. If the show lasts, you'll see what we mean.)

Dave's problem with his son Larry is that Larry may be gay (he isn't) and that he may be a drag queen (ditto). Seriously, Ed Burns could pull this off. It might not be any funnier but it's not funny now; it would be believable as played by Burns who has strong similarities to Caroll O'Connor. (Note to Burns, lay off the pastries.)

The scenes themselves aren't funny. So to "spice" them up, we get shots of paramedics working on Dave. Repeatedly. Ah, that's funny. (That was sarcasm in case any of the creative "geniuses" behind The War At Home read this and are confused.)

Eight minutes and seven seconds into the half-hour, they're getting (canned) laughter over the bleeping out of profanity. This isn't a mock reality show. This is supposed to be a sitcom. The show opens with Rapaport's Dave insulting Mary Tyler Moore's Mary Richards ("bitch"). In his prime, O'Connor couldn't have pulled that off. Rapaport doesn't stand a chance.

It doesn't help that the writers are idiots. Mary Richards wasn't "TV's first career gal." Eve Arden might have claim to that title. Certainly Marlo Thomas' Ann Marie stands in line (and pre-dates Mary Richards). But you've got idiots writing "jokes," idiots who don't even know what they're writing about.

The "bit" is during Rapaport's monologue about males under attack. Again, considering his guilty plea and his court order, it's not really funny. It wouldn't be funny if he could do more than toss his arms stiffly around to emphasize words. It's not funny coming from Rapaport period.

The only talent coming out of this show is the look-alike of Green Day's Billie Joe, Rami Malek, who plays Kenny. Kenny comes off as too smart for this show. Supporting characters have emerged as leads on many sitcoms. Henry Winkler's Fonzi is but one example. The few scenes Malek's in are actually funny. That's because Kenny seems to be holding something back. It's scary to think Rapaport and Bruno are "giving their all" but that's apparently the sad reality.

Dave wins prize pig at this county fair by making "boob" and "rack" jokes three times. Once to the audience, once to his 12 year old son and wife, and once at the dinner table in front of his daughter. What a prize Dave is.

We'd love to be funny but this show is just disgusting. We felt like we were dragged into the pig stye just by watching. Dave's problem, the big beef from the beefy guy, is that the "rules" aren't clear anymore. His father was a prize as long as he didn't beat his kids but poor Dave's out of cereal and his wife works. Oh boo hoo. Despite his real life rap sheet (or because of it), Rapaport's really not the "prize fighter" for the "battle" of the sexes.

At one point, Vicky's mother shows up. Not to mix with the characters. She's shown in one of those talking shots to the audience that the show uses to cover up the fact that the situations in this situation comedy just aren't funny. We've never seen her before she starts talking to the camera (and we don't see her after) so it's probably a good thing that the caption on the screen informs you of who is she. But here's a tip for The War At Home genuises who think they're making a comedy, when you're resorting to bringing on a character not in the scene to get a laugh, you're scenes just aren't funny.

We didn't laugh at the stale, pedistrian sex jokes. We didn't laugh when Rapaport marked time waiting to explode as he asks his son if he's a drag queen. (Truly, he was so out of character he looked like he was telling himself, "Okay, after Barone says ___, it's my turn!") We didn't laugh once at this piece of crap. (And we're using "crap" in place of much stronger words we're saying out loud as we write this review.)

It's just not funny. It's disgusting. It's not disgusting enough to make for a gross out comedy. It's the blandest piece of bad trash we've ever seen, populated by performers who never should have gotten a call back, written by "writers" who should return their WGA cards before they disgrace the union further.

Watching Barone, we found ourselves thinking how Leah Remini (Leah Remini!) could have played the role of Vicky with more flair. Watching Rapaport, we found ourselves thinking, "This is what it would be like if The Wizard of Oz's Tin Man had starred in a sitcom."

This piece of filthy bile seems to exist to say to Fox's Sunday night audiences, "Oh, Arrested Development was too classy for you? Well then how about this pigpen disasterpiece?"

The canned laughter has more life than the actual show, that's how bad it is.

This is your show if you like old jokes delivered badly. If you like a little less "sit" and a little less "com" in your sitcoms. This plays like the death of sitcoms, as though the guff were empty and the first souless one was born.

Will Fox kill the undead? Pray. Pray very hard.

From the work area of the Bully Boy ("It's Hard Work")

From DemocracyNow!:

Bush: "I Think I May Need a Bathroom Break"
And in other news from the United Nations, a short note written by President Bush to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during the UN summit is making international headlines. A Reuters cameraman snapped a photograph of Bush writing the words "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" The note appears on the cover of today's Times of London under the headline: "Leaked UN Memo: What did President Bush ask Condi Rice?"

Hmmm. Made us wonder. What else might the Bully Boy be doing when he's supposed to be paying attention? (We also wondered what Teacher Rice really thought of his request for a hall pass? Doesn't he know he has ample time to use the little boys' room between classes?)

So here's what the (mis)leader of the free world does in those high level meetings.
We enjoy the pig on the skateboard that Bully Boy has dubbed Karl. We enjoy knowing that even the Bully Boy thinks Dick Cheney's hands are in everything. We're not sure why he feels the need to fart. We think it's sad that he's close to losing Hangman with Condie (Bully, the word is "CAT"!!!) We weren't surprised to see that Bully Boy was unable to connect the dots ("TOO HARD!" seems a constant cry -- at least we now know what he means when he says "It's hard work" over and over) but we did find it interesting what bled through on the connect the dots.
Can someone please give the Bully Boy back his Wiggles stickers? It's obviously a sore subject with him.

One Book, Ten Minutes

Jim: At last, we're discussing Tariq Ali's Street Fighting Years. Participating are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, Jess, Ty and myself, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Mike of Mikey Likes It! and C.I. of both The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review. We'll let Elaine go first since last week we accidentally closed the book discussion before she had a chance to speak.

Dona: My apologies to Elaine for that and she noted the Nancy Drew series as her favorite at her website Like Maria Said Paz.

Elaine: Honestly, it wasn't a problem. I know it's rush-rush. And tonight we've again had one technical problem after another. So quickly, I will offer that this book is involving, it's not a chore to read. This is a history, a personal history, and often times people hear "history" and head straight for the Jackie Collins.

Rebecca: Don't knock Jackie!

Elaine: But this is involving and if it ends up being a slow read for some, that's only because you'll want to slow down and think about what Ali is addressing.

Cedric: Because there are similarities to today. The saying "History repeats itself" is one that this book backs up.

Ty: But it didn't repeat itself exactly. Tariq Ali takes part in the Russell Tribunal on Vietnam but that got coverage in Playboy. The recent World Tribunal on Iraq was ignored by the mainstream press in this country including Playboy.

Jim: Ty is obviously a regular reader of Playboy.

Ty: I am not. But if they'd covered the World Tribunal on Iraq, I would've bought an issue.

Betty: In terms of the tribunal, I felt like, in terms of today contrasted with then, that it may have happened too soon. I'm not saying it shouldn't have happened when it did, The World Tribunal on Iraq, I'm just saying that there seemed to be more of a mood behind the Vietnam tribunal, and maybe this was just in Eurpoe, then there was behind the one on Iraq. That, by the way, was one of my favorite sections of the book. Learning of the countries, such as France, that refused to play host country to the tribunal.

Mike: I don't think I can pick a favorite part. I watched The Believers awhile back --

Dona: The Dreamers.

Mike: The Dreamers, sorry. I watched it awhile back because everyone's been discussing it for weeks during the down time, such as it is, during the work on these editions. And I'm glad I did because I don't think I would've grasped most of the book without it. The Believers --

Dona: The Dreamers.

Mike: Woops. The Dreamers isn't a documentary and it's not until the last third that there's really any activism portrayed in it. But this isn't anything, the global activism and unrest, that I was taught in my history classes. I know The Dreamers is fiction and it's not really about activism but it let me get a picture in my head of something that would have been completely foreign to me otherwise.

Rebecca: I enjoyed the background of the book. And Tariq Ali's perspective which is that of an observer. That might be partly because, in London, he's in a country as a visitor, and partly due to the fact that he is a reporter. But there was a sense of an overview that most memoirs don't provide. These are his personal experiences and that's very clear but within the context of those, he's providing a perspective that goes beyond the narrator's voice in the usual memoir.

Betty: I'd agree with that on many levels. Including, most basic, he's not making the mistake so many people make of assuming that every name and incident he knows, the reader will. I can understand what Mike's saying because the global action and activism and unrest is so large during that period that it may be hard for some reading to grasp it. But he, Tariq Ali, never makes the mistake of assuming that we already know what he's about to talk about. He really fills in the details. Whether it's when he's being held by police and accused of being the body guard of Che or some other incident. Dona, you talk because you always get stuck playing time keeper.

Dona: What I enjoyed the most, and may be the only one who did, was hearing the tales of the magazine experiences in London. It just . . . put me there, in the room, where people were working on things that mattered at a time when the world, some in the world, were truly concerned with things larger than themselves. I'll go back to time keeping and hand off to Ava.

Ava: Great, while I'm stuck pondering what you just said. I'd say the characters in the story, and that makes it seem like it's fiction, but Tariq Ali interacted with some very interesting people in that time period. Beyond Mick Jagger, though I'm sure he's the one most people will think of due to the title.

Kat: Which is a Rolling Stones song, "Street Fighting Man," by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards:
Ev'rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy
'Cause summer's here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy
Well then what can a poor boy do
Except to sing for a rock 'n' roll band
'Cause in sleepy London town
There's just no place for a street fighting man

Included for our younger readers.

Ava: Right and lyrics that Jagger apparently wrote after the march in London.

Cedric: But Tariq's answer isn't to sing in a rock 'n' roll band.

Ava: No. In fact the march seemed to have left a different impression on Ali than it did on Jagger but Ali was already being vilified in the conservative press and being trashed by Tories.
Which reminds me of when he was on Unfiltered, the radio program, and Lizz Winstead said, after he was gone, something like "Now we don't agree with everything he believes in" and I thought, "What the hell was that?"

Elaine: I remember that show. It seems like it was a month before the disappearance of Lizz Winstead from the program. I didn't think he said anything controversial and wondered exactly who gave the programming note to say that and why? I thought it was less than gracious for someone who taken part in a pretty easy going conversation.

Kat: My favorite part was when he debates, as a college student, a representative of the American embassy. I'm forgetting the name of the guy.

C.I.: Henry Cabot Lodge.

Kat: Thank you. I enjoyed reading of him being heckled and laughed at.

C.I.: And, just to clarify, he was the American ambassador to South Vietnam.

Ty: Getting back to Ava's point, I'm remembering about how, in college, Ali met Malcom X. There really are a number of figures popping up here.

Rebecca: Vanessa Redgrave to name another. And wasn't it nice to have John Lennon and Yoko Ono both pop up in the book without Yoko being played as the stereotypical and racist "dragon queen?"

Jim: C.I.?

C.I.: I love the book but we're short on time and Jess hasn't spoken. I'm guessing he's going to talk about the interview.

Jess: You're correct. At the end of the book is an interview that Tariq Ali and Robin Blackburn did with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. It was hard to read in bits because of some statements like Lennon's saying, about something else, that he didn't want to get shot.

Kat: Perspective for young readers?

Jess: Good point. John Lennon was shot, that's how he died. So that was rough to read. But you read through that interview and Ono and Lennon are both addressing serious issues or trying to and I read through interviews today and it's like Sheryl Crowe gushing about how exciting it was that Don Henley or someone called her while she's doing dishes or errands for Lance Armstrong and that's what's passing for deep because the rest of the time it's about what you wore or your beef with this musician or whatever. I know we're really, really short on time but there's a section I'd like to quote.

Dona: You'll be taking from C.I.'s time? Is it okay?

C.I.: It's fine.

Jess: This is from page 379 and we should note that we were reading the new edition that came out this year. Blackburn's talked about how Sgt. Pepper, the Beatles 1967 album, was being played in Cuba when Blackburn was there and this is John Lennon:

Well I hope they see that Rock and Roll is not the same as Coca Cola. As
we get beyond the dream this should be easier, that's why I'm putting out more
heavy statements now and trying to shake off the teeny-bopper image. I
want to get through to the right people, and I want to make what I have to say
very simple and direct.

Jess (con't): Now we have people who might talk on that level. Anais Mitchell, Ani Difranco --

Rebecca: Steve Earle.

Jess: Steve Earle, Joan Baez, but they aren't the ones getting the press that they should. The attention, I should say. The New York Times has a puff piece to Bono running today that speaks of his "power" when they're the only ones seeing power. Kat'll tell you the second single off the album couldn't even hit the Hot 100. The cozying up to Bully Boy and Blair turned a lot of people off, their actions with regard to debt relief were counter-productive. But this "investment" guy, I haven't read the piece but I wouldn't be surprised if that was part of it, is "powerful." I don't find Bono inspiring or even pertinent on any level.

Kat: Agreed, I know Dona's indicating time's up, but quickly, The New York Times is never going to know who's "powerful" and who's not. They're lucky to have Kelefa and Holden but everyone else acts as though they're waiting to be told who hit the charts three years ago.

C.I.: Jumping in quickly, people can also watch, listen or read Democracy Now!'s "Tariq Ali on Political Activism from Pakistan to Vietnam to Iraq."

Jim: And that'll wrap up our book discussion for this week. Tariq Ali's Street Fighting Man, a book worth reading.

The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 9-18-05

C.I.: Good morning and welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review for September 18, 2005. We'll have reports on Iraq, Haiti, the media and the Senate hearings on John Roberts, Jr. among other stories. Dona asks that we note this as a "rough transcript." First up, a rarity, Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review who usually works behind the scenes on the news review, is filing his own report this week. Jim, you're addressing Carl Bernstein's Vanity Fair article, "Watergate's Last Chapter" in their October 2005 issue, with Paris Hilton on the cover.

Jim: Correct. I wasn't sure what to make the article when I began it. Bernstein's attempt to provide his viewpoint on the historically important Watergate series that he wrote for The Washington Post with Bob Woodward? The article does offer that but it also offers much more. You'll learn of how the Nixon White House wanted to use the paper's TV stations as leverage against the paper. In a time when charges are made that a desire for even greater deregulation by the FCC led to much of the cheerleading in Bully Boy's first term, that's worth noting. There are many other details worth noting. I'll focus on the fact that the right-wing pundits slamming Mark Felt as disloyal to the country contained other "deep throats." Bernstein is vague, but after noting Chuck Carlson, Peggy Noonan, G. Gordon Liddy, Patrick Buchanan and others, Bernstein writes "very little of the information Woodward and I reported had come originally from Deep Throat but rather from officials high and low in the White House and Nixon campaign, some of whom were to do the loudest braying over the next couple of weeks about Mark Felt."
To tie this historical story into the present day, Bernstein writes:

The Nixon White House, with great success for a disturbingly long time, made the
conduct of the press the issue in Watergate, instead of the conduct of the
president and his men. Today, a whole political movement -- often appearing
utterly unconcerned with the truth, seeing an easy scapegoat in the press, angry
at its perceived enemies, rapturous at its unprecedented power in all three
branches of government -- has had great sucess doing the same, as has the White
House of another president.
[. . .]
Like Nixon during the Vietnam era,
George W. Bush and the people around him have often relied on outright denial
and adept manipulation of the media in response to uncomfortable truths. In more
straightforward times and circumstances, and absent the trappings of the
presidency (and vice-presidency) and the desire of citizens to believe their
leaders in wartime, this mind-set would have been more obvious early on. The
signposts were already evident from pre-9/11 (non)preparedness to (nonexistant)
W.M.D., to Saddam Hussein's (non)role in the attack on the World Trade Center,
to MISSION (UN)ACCOMPLISHED, to the (in)visible coffins of America's dead
warriors. Since then, the flashing red lights have been harder to ignore, from
responsibility at the highest levels of the chain of command for policies
leading to the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, to the
Karl Rove-Scooter Libby-Ari Fleischer-Scott McClellan convolutions around Joseph
Wilson, his wife, Valerie Plame, and the columnist Robert Novak.
The irony
of the current, overdue disintegration of this presidency's immunity to the
consequences of lying is that it arrived on the wings of the least weighty
instance -- relatively speaking -- of White House mendacity: the attempt to
avoid responsibility in the Wilson affair.

Jim (con't): It's a powerful piece of memoir, commentary and reporting. Though this is not the conclusion of the piece but this is a section that stood out to me, so I'll close with it:

It was Woodward who, years later, wrote compellingly about the tapes' most
troubling aspect: virtually never is there talk about the lofty goals of a
nation, of liberal democracy, of the grieving families of America's young men
killed in Vietnam, of justice or compassion for the poor. There is some grand
geopolitical strategizing, but mostly there is smallness and mean-spiritedness
and terminal self-involvement: Nixon's destiny and the country's regarded as one
and the same.

C.I.: We're discussing Carl Bernstein's "Watergate's Last Chapter" available in the October 2005 Vanity Fair issue currently on sale. Your thoughts on the article?

Jim: I'm amazed. Bernstein truly is the John Lennon of the team. Bob Woodward's bland interviews on the topic and bland statements put me to sleep. I did read Woodward's book and it couldn't hold my interest other than the small section written by Bernstein. This article, in my opinion, takes Watergate and highlights its historical role and contribution while also addressing the importance of the reporting done by Bernstein and Woodward to this day.

C.I.: Thank you, Jim. And we'll note that the piece is not currently available online so purchase the magazine, read it in the store or library. Next we go to Betty who has assembled what she's dubbed "The Weekly Howler Players" for an editorial skit. Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man, Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix and Ty of The Third Estate Sunday Review. Betty?

Betty: C.I. I want you to picture a court room setting. We have Cedric on the stand, we have Ty cross-examing him.

Ty: How does it feel to know that you lied in your testimony?

Cedric: It's a blot. I was given faulty intelligence. I felt bad. I feel bad.

Betty: That leaves one impression. Cedric is determined and bold. Now let's do take two.

Ty: How does it feel to know that you lied in your testimony.

Cedric: I, uh, it's a, it's a, of course it's a blot. I felt uh, felt bad. I-I feel bad.

Betty: Not as smooth, rather shifty. ABC's 20/20 aired an interview on Friday the ninth with Colin Powell. Here is how the exchange played out on TV screens:

Powell: Well it's a, it's a, of course it will. It's a blot. I'm the one who
presented it on behalf of the United Nations, uh, United States, to the world.
And it will always be uh, part of my, uh, my record.
Walters: How painful is
Powell: (shrugs) It was -- it *was* painful. (shifts, shrugs) It's
painful now.

Ty: ABC cleaned it up in their online report so that the above now supposedly took place as:

"It's a blot," Powell said. "I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United
States to the world, and [it] will always be a part of my record. It was
painful. It's painful now."

Ty (con't): The mop up presents a more calm, less rattled Powell and may lead some to ask whether or not this is yet another "gloss over" for Powell by the press and/or whether or not this is meant to portray the archietects of the war as polished and unwavering. Here at The Third Estate Sunday Review, Ava and C.I. noted the "shifty" performance of Colin Powell. Writing at The Common Ills, Ava and C.I. have also dealt with it and Robert Parry of Consortium News addressed the issue as well.

Cedric: In other media news, as noted in Ruth's Morning Edition Report Saturday, NPR allowed Juan Williams to "report" on whether or not race and racism played into the administration's response to Hurricane Katrina. Ruth steers you to CounterSpin which two Friday's ago noted Juan William's dismissal of such allegations on Fox "News:"

"I think that's ridiculous. I think that's kind of spouting off of people who
don't know know the president, don't know this administration, don't know the
people who work there."

Cedric (Con't): As Ruth rightly notes, assigning Williams to report on a story he'd already conjectured on and dismissed hardly seems appropriate and questions the "objectivity" that NPR supposedly attempts to maintain.

C.I.: Thank you for that, Betty, Cedric and Ty. I need to note that we're providing general links in many instances in this report. Dallas, as always, hunts down the links and there are apparently problems with many sites including The Third Estate Sunday Review which repeatedly results in a "Cannot find site" message. We'll post this news review as soon as it's completed, with or without links. If there is a problem with posting, and you see this but no other articles as Sunday early morning becomes late morning, please refer to The Common Ills where we'll have some sort of message as to where the posts will be. Now we go to Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review with the peace report.

Jess: At this week's end, there will be lots of activity and activisim opportunities. From the United for Peace & Justice website:

Sat., 9/24
Massive March
& Rally

Peace and Justice

Operation Ceasefire

Sun., 9/25
Interfaith Service
Training for Grassroots Lobby

for Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

Meeting for Counter Recruitment

• Other Activities Mon., 9/26
Grassroots Lobby Day
Mass Nonviolent Civil Disobedience

Jess (con't): Other organizations participating in the events include Not In Our Name and CODEPINK. At CODEPINK, Emily has started a blog that will cover the events in D.C. Already she has noted the bipartisan Hearings on Iraq called for by Lynn Woolsey. This took place Thursday of last week. Emily's entry on that is worth reading and we'll note from it that "Zogby poll results [. . .] show 69% Shiia and 82% Sunni Iraqis supporting an IMMEDIATE withdrawal of U.S. troops within a specified timeline."
This weekend is your chance to make your voice heard on the issue of stopping the war. In addition to activities in D.C., other communities will be holding rallies and other events so be active in your own communities if you're unable to go to D.C.
I found Cindy Sheehan's most recent contribution to BuzzFlash, "Camp Casey to DC, With a Detour to New Orleans," inspiring, so I'll share the opening of that:

The Camp Casey to DC tour is going very well! We have the three RV's that are
going from city to city and we are speaking in front of rallies that have
hundreds, and sometimes thousands of people attending. We are receiving positive
responses from all over America. We have had amazingly little opposition to what
we are doing. Today in Raleigh, NC at the University, there were some Young
Republicans who support the President and support the war. I tried to get one of
the many recruiters who were on campus to go over and sign them up for the
service, but they wouldn't even look at me. I think the recruiters missed a
golden opportunity to swell the ranks. I have a feeling that the Young killing
supporters wouldn't be willing to go over and put their money where their mouths
are. One of the fine young American baby chicken hawks told one of the members
of our tour whose brother was killed in Iraq that: "someone has to stay in
school and employ people." Sounds like the "Dick Cheney" alternative to serving
your country to me.
The people who are on the three RV's are true Americans
serving their country without reservation. Most of the patriots on the tour have
given up their entire months of August to be at Camp Casey in Crawford and now
they are giving up their Septembers to be on the bus tour or at Camp Casey III
in Covington. If everyone who believes that our country can change from a
paradigm of war to one of peace did even a small fraction of what our Camp Casey
loyalists did, this war would be over tomorrow, the troops would be home, and
America would be a safe and sane place to live. I honor everyone who works for
peace, but especially the people who dropped everything to take back our country
and make it a better place to live and raise children.`
In Columbia, SC,
yesterday, the Southern Leg of the Bus Tour spoke to a few hundred supporters
and 2 counter protestors. One of the counter protestors had a sign that said:
"Support the Mission." I invited her to talk to me after the rally to explain to
me what this ever-changing and ephemeral mission is now. She didn't. We all know
on August 29th, George said that we need to stay in Iraq to
keep the "oil fields" from falling into the hands of terrorists
. Is that the
mission? Are we supporting our troops dying and innocent Iraqi people being
killed for oil and greed? This doesn't sound like anything I want to support.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. I'll add that NOW is participating in the D.C. activites as well. Many organizations are, but the reason I mention NOW is that if people are unable to come to D.C. but wish to be heard, they can call their local chapters of NOW to inquire about activities in their area. We now go to Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude with an editorial report on Roberts and the state of Roe.

Rebecca: Disclosure, I've had an abortion and in the same set of circumstances, I would have one again. The dog & pony show that was the John Roberts hearings were disgusting. This is NOW's Kim Gandy cutting through the crap:

But I think it's clear from what he has said, I don't think he has been
dishonest in the sense of what "is" is, but he has been misleading. He has very
brilliantly -- I agree with the right wing commentator that he has brilliantly
given answers that have led some people, including ones on the committee, to
believe that he supports the right to privacy and the Roe framework, when in
fact he has been laying out, and I hope never to need to say, "I told you so,"
because I hope he won't be confirmed, but if he is confirmed, I think that
people will look back and they will say, "Oh, yeah. See here, right here in the
hearing, he talked about erosion. He talked about workability. He talked about
extensive disagreement as being grounds for reversal, and gee, isn't it
interesting? These are the exact grounds they used to reverse Roe."

Rebecca (con't): That was Kim Gandy on Democracy Now! Tuesday stating what the mainstream press wouldn't tell you either because they don't understand Roe or because they don't care about Roe. For those who care about Roe, it was difficult to get through the 'happy-happy, let's all laughs and hey, there's John Roberts Junior listing his favorite movies and what do you know Porky's didn't make the cut.' Those expecting a hard grilling of Roberts from Diane Feinstein, were disappointed. Never has she played it so demure. Listening to her offer "I don't know nothing about no lawyering" and other similar comments, one wondered if she longed for the day when "ladies" wore hats and gloves. When Anita Hill faced the Senate Judiciary Committee, there were no women sitting on the committee. For all of her sunny disposition, Feinstein might as well have not been sitting on the committee. If she thinks that cuts it, she better think again. As Bully Boy begins preparations to fill the other seat, Roberts is up for the late Rehnquist's seat not O'Connor's, Democrats better be more prepared and more combative. And unless Lindsey Graham intends to french kiss the next nominee, perhaps Arlen Specter better put a leash on him. Listening to his annoying dipthong bounce up and down in a pitter-patter motion not unlike the way his heart appeared to flutter over John Roberts Junior, it was difficult to tell which was more annoying "Miss Diane," soft and genteel, or the Senate's apparent Blanche Du Bois fussing over Roberts the way Blanche attempted to make Mitch seem much more than he was. Keep it up, Graham, and people will start saying, "'Lindsey. It's a French name. It means no wood. You can remember it by that!" Watching the nonsense, you were aware that even those participating knew it was nonsense, as when Arlen Specter stated, "They may be misleading, but they are his answers." But was their a method to his misleading?
Kim Gandy, president of NOW:

Roberts in fact appears to be laying out a roadmap for how he would overturn
Roe. As grounds for overturning precedent, he cited both "extensive
disagreement" and whether a core holding has become "unworkable," both of which
are very common arguments made by the right-wing for overturning Roe.
Additionally, by repeatedly turning to Casey v. Planned Parenthood
while addressing Roe, Roberts suggested erosion of the precedent as additional
grounds, since Casey significantly eroded the Roe protections and reasoning, as
has subsequent state and federal legislation.

C.I.: Thank you, Rebecca, for that editorial report. For those who missed it, "It means no wood" is a play on Blanche DuBois's lines in A Streetcar Named Desire. We now go to Mike of Mikey Likes It! who will give us what The New York Times doesn't.

Mike: Thank you, C.I. as an Irish-American and a Catholic, I've gone beyond amazement, beyond anger, to acceptance of the fact that The New York Times is interested in violence when it pertains to Catholics but not when it pertains to the "loyalists" who are pro-British. Case in point, the lack of reporting on the events of last week when Loyalists erupted in violence during their parade. What was characterized as "some of the worst rioting in years" was not something Times correspondent Brian Lavery was overly interested in sussing out.

C.I.: In fairness Mike, we should point out that Lavery has publicly stated the various "alphabets" to the various groups are confusing to him. ["Editorial: NYT's Lavery, is he joking or unfit for the assignment?"]

Mike: That is correct. Following what has called "the worst rioting in a decade," Australia's ABC reports that the loyalists have pulled out of talks with the police that were intended to foster a better relationship between the two groups. Meanwhile The New York Times has found an Irish man they like, Bono. And while they trumpet his "power" today, the sad reality is that the UN is not meeting its obligations so much so that Bono's cheerleading buddy, as reported by The Irish Examiner, Bob Geldof has stated, or understated, "I am not thrilled" by the UN's non-reaction to the issues of poverty, debt relief and aid. On a personal note, since I never signed up for Bono's organization, can someone explain to me why I continue to get almost daily e-mail updates from it? "Together we are all ONE" proclaims the latest e-mail. I am not "one" with the tools for the Bully Boy who need to do some work on rebuilding their credibility quickly after fawning over the Bully Boy and giving him cover only to now whine that "I am not thrilled." Telling you what The New York Times won't, this is Mike.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike. For more on the relationships of Bully Boy, Bono, Blair and Geldoff, you can refer to Bianca Jagger's article at openDemocracy. Now with an update on Iraq, we have Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz.

Elaine: The official US military fatality count in Iraq stands at 1899 currently. From wire reports and public radio, today a car bomb went off near Abu Ghraib prison, a bomb went off in Nahrwan, in Baquba and those are just the highlights. 29 months after the invasion, the violence continues. Riverbend of, Baghdad Burning, has examined the proposed Constitution and found out that there are, in fact, three versions. Two are in Arabic, neither of which is as The New York Times reported it, and the third is in Kurd. At Iraq Dispatches, Dahr Jamiail addresses Tal Afar:

The Fallujah model is being applied yet again, albeit on a smaller scale. I
haven’t received any reports yet of biometrics being used (retina scans, finger
printing, bar coding of human beings) like in Fallujah, but there are other
striking similarities to the tactics used in November.
While the US military
claims to have killed roughly 200 "terrorists" in the operation, reports from
the ground state that most of the fighters inside the city had long since left
to avoid direct confrontation with the overwhelming military force (a basic
tenet of guerrilla warfare).
Again like Fallujah, most of the families who
fled are staying in refugee camps outside the city in tents amidst horrible
conditions in the inferno-like heat of the Iraqi summer.

Elaine (con't): The New York Times reported Saturday that what the US military is calling the "Tal Afar model" will now be utilized in the Anbar Province. The Constitutional referendum takes place on October 15th which makes the US military plan for "the coming weeks" interesting to say the least. Finally while the US military and The New York Times continue to maintain that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is orchestrating the resistance, Aljazeera reports that Iraqi Shia cleric Sheikh Jawad al-Kalesi claims al-Zarqawi is dead, has been since the beginning of the invasion of Iraq, and that his family in Jordan long ago held a funeral for him.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. Now we go to Ava, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, with information on Haiti's upcoming elections.

Ava: In Haiti, Aristide's Lavalas Family party would like to run jailed Catholic priest Father Gerard Jean-Juste as their party's nominee for the presidency. He has been barred from running. Dumarsais Simeus would also like to be president despite the fact that he's lived outside of Haiti, in the US, for over forty years. Marc Bazin, a former Prime Minister of Haiti, is claiming that he has the endorsement of the Lavalas Family party, a claim that some members of the party are rejecting. The BBC reports that in all there are thirty candidates vying for the title of president. Joe Mozingo, of The Miami Herald, reports that there are fears of corruption in the elections due to be held in November.

C.I.: Ava, the reason being given for barring Father Jean-Juste, whom Amnesty International has declared a prisoner of conscience, from running is that every candiate must register in person?

Ava: That's correct. And since he's been jailed for a crime many are skeptical of, he's unable to register in person. Roger Annis of Canada Haiti Action reported the following on September 14th:

The foreign occupation forces in Haiti are preparing to stage three rounds of
elections -- municipal, national legislature and presidential. They hope this
will give legitimacy to their neo-colonial rule. They are working intensely, and
spending millions of dollars, to create a rightist political party with
credibility -- if not in Haiti, then at least abroad.
But so far, these
elections fall short of having the appearance of legitimacy. Tens of thousands
of Haitians have demonstrated for the return of their constitution and their
elected government. They have shown they will not accept a sham election. Only
20% of the population, 840,000 out of 4 million people of voting age, have
submitted to the occupiers' voter registration. Municipal elections that were
planned for October 9 have been postponed to a later, unspecified date. The
legislative and presidential elections have been scheduled for November 20.

C.I.: Thank, you Ava. For those needing further information on Haiti, Democracy Now! has covered the region repeatedly and a starting point there would be the interview Amy Goodman conducted with Jean-Bertrand Aristide where he spoke of his ouster as a kidnapping backed by the US. We now go to Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) for a report

Kat: Music critic and BuzzFlash Gop Hypocrite of the Week award winner Laura Bush declares Kayne West's statements disgusting. Don't think anyone died from Kanye's words so Laura might want to look closer to home when doling out disgust. As Elaine pointed out, Stepford Wife Laura Bush's charm offensive is apparently intended to humanize her Bully Boy, which might be an impossible talk. Listening to her go on about "the president" does remind one of something out of Maoist China. Send in the fembot? Oh, look, she's here.
Meanwhile, Kanye West continued to hold on to the number one spot this week with Late Registration, sugesting that, unlike Laura Bush, music fans are neither offended nor disgusted. Laura Bush, get thee to a hoe down.
November 8th, Spin reports, will see the release of The Body Acoustic. What is The Body Acoustic? Cyndi Lauper's latest album which will be acoustic recordings of her previous hits and will feature Sarah McLachlan, Shaggy, and Ani DiFranco.
The last week in September, PBS's American Masters will air Martin Scorcese's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, a look at the career of Dylan featuring concert footage and recollections by Joan Baez among others.

C.I.: And that concludes this week's news review. Thanks to Dallas for hunting down links. To Dona and Jim for working behind the scenes to keep everything running, Dona and Jim of The Third Estate Sunday Review, and to Jess' parents for help tracking down stories.

Senador Robert Byrd exhorta a retiro de tropas de Irak

"Senador Robert Byrd exhorta a retiro de tropas de Irak"

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

Oficial de Guardia Nacional admite que despliegue en Irak afectó respuesta a Katrina
A decenas de guardias nacionales de Mississippi desplegados en Irak se les negaron licencias de 15 días para ayudar a sus familiares desplazados. Los comandantes les dijeron que la cantidad de soldados estadounidenses en Irak era demasiado escasa para que se pudiera prescindir de ellos. El 40 por ciento de los integrantes de la Guardia Nacional de Mississippi y el 35 por ciento de los de la Guardia de Louisiana se encuentran en Irak. Mientras tanto, por primera vez un oficial de alta jerarquía de la Guardia Nacional reconoció que la respuesta de esa fuerza al huracán fue dificultada por la gran cantidad de sus integrantes que se encuentran en Irak. El teniente general Steven Blum, jefe de la Guardia Nacional, dijo a la CNN que "posiblemente" se demoró un día o más en la respuesta debido a la ausencia de soldados de la Guardia que se encontraban en Irak. Dijo: "Si esa brigada hubiera estado en el país en lugar de en Irak, se podría haber aprovechado su experiencia y capacidad".

Senador Robert Byrd exhorta a retiro de tropas de Irak
Mientras tanto, en Capitol Hill, el integrante más antiguo del Senado, Robert Byrd, exhortó al gobierno de Bush a que se retire de Irak y traiga a los soldados de regreso al país. Byrd dijo: "No podemos continuar gastando millones de dólares en Irak cuando nuestro propio pueblo está pasando tantas necesidades, no sólo ahora en Nueva Orleans, sino en todo el territorio de Estados Unidos, y en toda clase de materias, desde educación y salud hasta seguridad interna y custodia de nuestras propias fronteras".

EPA: Agua tóxica podría hacer que la ciudad sea inhabitable por una década
Un alto funcionario de la Agencia para la Protección del Ambiente (EPA, por sus siglas en inglés), advirtió que los productos químicos tóxicos en el agua que inundó Nueva Orleans harán que esa ciudad sea un lugar inseguro para la vida humana durante una década. Hugh Kaufman, veterano de la EPA, dijo al diario The Independent, de Londres, que la limpieza necesaria será "el mayor trabajo de obra pública jamás realizado" en Estados Unidos. Kaufman fue jefe de investigadores de la defensoría del pueblo de la EPA. Ahora es un analista de políticas en la Oficina de Desechos Sólidos y Respuesta de Emergencia de la misma agencia. El experimentado funcionario pronosticó que "solamente lograr que todo vuelva a funcionar y sea seguro llevará 10 años". Kaufman criticó la decisión de bombear el agua contaminada de la inundación al lago Pontchartrain y al río Mississippi. Dijo que esa medida podría poner en peligro a la gente que utiliza el agua río abajo.

Informe: Chertoff fracasó en la supervisión de la respuesta al huracán
Pasamos a una noticia sobre el huracán Katrina. La agencia de noticias Knight Ridder informa que el funcionario facultado para movilizar la respuesta federal al huracán Katrina era en definitiva el Secretario de Seguridad Nacional, Michael Chertoff, y no Michael Brown, el ex director de la FEMA que renunció a su cargo a principios de esta semana. Registros internos demuestran que Chertoff no delegó sus facultades a Brown hasta 36 horas después de que comenzara el impacto del huracán. Según Knight Ridder, Chertoff, podría haber ordenado a los organismos federales que tomaran medidas aunque no hubiera una solicitud de funcionarios estatales o locales, e incluso antes del paso del huracán. Según el Plan de Respuesta Nacional, era Chertoff, y no Brown, quien estaba a cargo del manejo de la respuesta nacional a un desastre catastrófico. Knight Ridder también informa que obtuvo un documento interno que sugiere que Chertoff se habría confundido acerca del papel principal que le correspondía desempeñar en la respuesta al desastre y la función de su departamento.

FAA advirtió en 1998 de que Al Qaeda estrellaría aviones secuestrados
Nueva información desclasificada del informe de la Comisión del 11 de Septiembre revela que la Administración de Aviación Federal (FAA, por sus siglas en inglés) advirtió, en 1998, que Al Qaeda podía "intentar secuestrar un avión comercial y estrellarlo contra un lugar simbólico de Estados Unidos". Esta es la primera advertencia conocida de que podía ocurrir un atentado similar al del 11 de septiembre. También hace surgir nuevos cuestionamientos acerca de la veracidad del testimonio de la entonces Asesora de Seguridad Nacional Condoleeza Rice ante la Comisión. Rice dijo a la Comisión "No creo que nadie pudiera prever que intentarían utilizar un avión como misil". Esta información estaba en el informe original de la Comisión, pero recién fue revelada esta semana. Otra sección revelada demuestra que funcionarios descubrieron meses antes de los atentados del 11 de septiembre de que dos de los tres aeropuertos utilizados por los secuestradores habían presentado fallas de seguridad en repetidas ocasiones.

Ministro de Justicia de Irak critica a Estados Unidos por arresto arbitrario de iraquíes
El Ministro de Justicia iraquí, Abdul Husain Shandal, criticó a Estados Unidos. En una entrevista con Reuters, condenó a las fuerzas militares estadounidenses por detener a iraquíes sin orden de arresto y por mantener a miles de iraquíes presos sin que haya cargos contre ellos. El Ministro de Justicia también dijo que quiere quitar la inmunidad a los soldados extranjeros.

Partido Republicano bloquea investigaciones sobre Katrina y Memorando de Downing Street
En Capitol Hill, los republicanos bloquearon varios esfuerzos de los demócratas para que se investigue o informe sobre el huracán Katrina, la guerra de Irak y la revelación de la identidad de la agente de la CIA Valerie Plame. En el Senado, los republicanos bloquearon una propuesta de Hillary Clinton para llevar a cabo una investigación independiente de la respuesta del gobierno al huracán Katrina. Esa iniciativa fue rechazada en una votación partidaria, por 54 votos contra 44. En una encuesta realizada por CNN-USA Today-Gallup, 70 por ciento de los consultados en todo el país apoyaron la realización de una investigación independiente. En la Cámara de Representantes, los republicanos rechazaron los intentos de los demócratas de obligar al gobierno de Bush a que entregue documentos sobre información anterior a la guerra de Irak, vinculada con el llamado Memorando de Downing Street. Ese memorando reveló las actas de una reunión de julio de 2002, entre el Primer Ministro británico Tony Blair y sus asesores, que indican que Estados Unidos se propuso atacar Irak casi un año antes de que la guerra comenzara oficialmente. El memorando también dice que la Casa Blanca “tergiversó” datos de inteligencia para justificar la invasión. También el miércoles, los republicanos de la Comisión Judicial y de Relaciones Internacionales rechazaron los intentos de los demócratas de obligar al gobierno de Bush a entregar información y registros relacionados con la revelación de la identidad de la agente de la CIA Valerie Plame.

El 72% de afroestadounidenses piensan que Bush no se preocupa por ellos
En una nueva encuesta de USA Today, 72% de los afrodescendientes consultados opinaron que al Presidente Bush no le importa la población negra del país. El 67% de los blancos que contestaron opinaron que sí.

Atentado estadounidense/ iraquí deja 200 muertos en Tall Afar
En Irak, al menos 200 personas murieron en la ciudad de Tall Afar, luego de que fuerzas estadounidenses e iraquíes lanzaron el fin de semana un importante ataque en esa ciudad norteña. El lunes, la Sociedad Iraquí de la Media Luna Roja envió ayuda a las familias desplazadas luego de tres días de bombardeos. Fue el mayor ataque desde la toma de Fallujah.Funcionarios estadounidenses inicialmente describieron los ataques como necesarios para detener el ingreso a Irak de combatientes extranjeros, procedentes de Siria. Pero el Washington Post informa que los objetivos fueron en gran parte turcomanos sunitas. Según el Post, el ataque no fue dirigido por el ejército iraquí, sino por la milicia kurda conocida como "Peshmerga".Mientras tanto, Estados Unidos niega la acusación de que los militares utilizaron gases tóxicos en el ataque. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi habría publicado un mensaje de audio en Internet acusando a Estados Unidos de haber utilizado algún tipo de armas químicas en la ciudad.

Tribunal de Apelaciones acepta detención por tiempo indeterminado sin juicio
En materia jurídica, un tribunal federal de apelaciones decidió que el Poder Ejecutivo puede detener por tiempo indeterminado a José Padilla, nacido en Brooklyn y acusado de haber conspirado para colocar una bomba sucia en Estados Unidos. Padilla, que es ciudadano estadounidense, permanece hace tres años en reclusión e incomunicado, en instalaciones de una brigada de la marina de guerra. Aún no se presentaron cargos en su contra y nunca compareció ante un juez. El fallo del tribunal de apelaciones revoca la decisión judicial anterior de que "la detención por tiempo indeterminado sin juicio" es inconstitucional.

Consejo electoral de Haití bloquea candidatura presidencial de Jean-Juste
En Haití, el Consejo Electoral intenta impedir que el sacerdote encarcelado Gerard Jean-Juste se presente como candidato en las primeras elecciones presidenciales en Haití desde el golpe de Estado que derrocó a Jean-Bertrand Aristide. El Consejo se niega a inscribir a Jean-Juste como candidato, con el argumento de que debe presentar su candidatura personalmente, y no desde la prisión. Jean-Juste es el candidato del Partido Lavalas, el mismo partido de Aristide, y permanece en prisión desde julio, pero aún no ha sido acusado de ningún delito. Amnisitía Internacional lo clasificó como prisionero de conciencia.

Chávez acusa a Estados Unidos de secuestrar cumbre de la ONU
En la Organización de las Naciones Unidas, el presidente venezolano Hugo Chávez acusó a Estados Unidos de intentar secuestrar la cumbre de los líderes mundiales. Exhortó a las naciones a realizar más esfuerzos para combatir la pobreza y mejorar el medio ambiente. La cumbre de tres días fue establecida para encontrar nuevas formas de combatir la pobreza, aunque en el documento definitivo acordado por los estados miembros de la ONU, temas como educación, enfermedades, comercio, ayuda y el desarme se vieron reducidos, en un intento por realizar un texto que todos los países pudieran aprobar al final de la cumbre. Chávez también describió a Estados Unidos como un país terrorista porque protege al pastor tele-evangelista Pat Robertson. Chávez dijo "pidió públicamente ante el mundo mi asesinato y anda libre, ¡ese es un delito internacional!, ¡terrorismo internacional!"

Bush: "Creo que necesito un receso para ir al baño"
Otra noticia relacionada con las Naciones Unidas. Una breve nota escrita por el presidente Bush a Condoleeza Rice durante la cumbre de la ONU está en primera plana de los medios internacionales. Un camarógrafo de Reuters tomó una foto de Bush mientras le escribía "Creo que necesito un receso para ir al baño. ¿Es posible?" La nota aparece en la tapa del Times de Londres con el titular: "Documento filtrado de la ONU: ¿Qué le pidió el presidente Bush a Condi Rice?"

Maria: Hello. En inglés here are thirteen stories from this week's Democracy Now! Get the word out. Peace.

National Guard Official Admits Iraq Deployment Affected Katrina Response
Scores of members of the Mississippi National Guard stationed in Iraq have been denied 15-day leaves in order to help their displaced families. The commanders told them that there were too few U.S. troops in Iraq to spare them. 40 percent of Mississippi's National Guard force and 35 percent of Louisiana's is in Iraq. Meanwhile, for the first time, a high-ranking National Guard official has admitted that the Guard's response to the hurricane was hindered by the high number of troops in Iraq. Lt. Gen. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, told CNN that "arguably" a day or so of response time was lost due to the absence of the Guard troops in Iraq. He said, "Had that brigade been at home and not in Iraq, their expertise and capabilities could have been brought to bear."

Sen. Robert Byrd Calls for Withdrawal From Iraq
Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, the Senate's most senior member, Robert Byrd called for the Bush administration to withdraw from Iraq and bring the troops home. Byrd said "We cannot continue to commit billions in Iraq when our own people are so much in need, not only now, in New Orleans, but all across America for everything from education to health care to homeland security to securing our own borders."

EPA: Toxic Waters Could Make City Unsafe For A Decade
A top official at the Environmental Protection Agency is warning that toxic chemicals in the New Orleans flood waters will make the city unsafe for full human habitation for a decade. EPA veteran Hugh Kaufman told the Independent of London that the clean-up needed will be 'the most massive public works exercise ever done in this country." Kaufman is the former chief investigator to the EPA's ombudsman. He is now a senior policy analyst in the EPA's Office of Solid Wastes and Emergency Response. He said "It will take 10 years just to get everything up and running and safe." Kauffman criticized the decision to pump the contaminated flood water back into Lake Pontchartrain and the Mississippi River. He said this could endanger people using the water downstream.

Report: Chertoff Failed In Overseeing Hurricane Response
In other news on Hurricane Katrina, the Knight Ridder news agency is reporting that it was Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff who was ultimately empowered to mobilize the federal response to Hurricane Katrina - not Michael Brown, the former head of FEMA who resigned earlier this week. Internal records show that Chertoff didn't shift power to Brown until 36 hours after Katrina hit. According to Knight Ridder, Chertoff -- even before the storm struck -- could have ordered federal agencies into action without any request from state or local officials. According to the National Response Plan, it was Chertoff - not Brown - who was in charge of managing the national response to a catastrophic disaster. Knight Ridder is also reporting that it has obtained an internal memo that suggests that Chertoff may have been confused himself about his lead role in disaster response and that of his department.

FAA Warned in 1998 of Al Qaeda Crashing Hijacked Jets
Newly declassified sections of the 9/11 commission's report reveals that the Federal Aviation Administration was warned as early as 1998 that Al Qaeda could "seek to hijack a commercial jet and slam it into a U.S. landmark." This is the earliest known warning that a 9/11-like attack could take place. It also raises new questions about the veracity of then National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice testimony before the commission. She told the commission "I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile." This information was contained in the commission's original report but remained classified until this week. In addition another declassified section shows that officials realized months before the Sept. 11 attacks that two of the three airports used by the hijackers had suffered repeated security lapses.

Iraqi Justice Minister Condemns U.S. For Arbitrarily Detaining Iraqis
The U.S. is also coming under criticism in Iraq by the country's Minister of Justice, Abdul Husain Shandal. In an interview with Reuters he condemned the US military for arresting Iraqis without a warrant and for holding thousands of them without charges. The Justice Minister also said he wants to strip immunity from foreign troops.

GOP Blocks Investigations Over Katrina & Downing St. Memo
On Capitol Hill, Republicans have blocked several efforts by Democrats to seek investigations or information on Hurricane Katrina, the Iraq war and the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame. In the Senate, Republicans killed a proposal by Hillary Clinton for an independent investigation of the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. Her proposal was rejected on a party line vote of 54 to 44. A new CNN/USA Today Gallup poll shows that 70 percent of the country supports an independent investigation. In the House, Republicans rejected attempts by Democrats to force the Bush administration to surrender documents on pre-war intelligence about Iraq connected to the Downing Street Memo. The memo revealed the minutes of a July 2002 meeting between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his advisors that indicate the United States was already committed to attacking Iraq almost a year before the war officially began. The memo also says that the Bush White House "fixed" intelligence data to justify the invasion. Also on Wednesday, Republicans on the Judiciary and International Relations Committees rejected attempts by Democrats to compel the Bush administration to turn over information and records related to the outing of CIA officer Valerie Plame.

72% of African-Americans Say Bush Doesn't Care About Them
A new USA Today Poll has found that 72 percent of African-Americans feel that President Bush does not care about the country's Black population. 67 percent of white respondents said he did.

U.S./Iraqi Attack on Tall Afar Kills 200
In Iraq, at least 200 are dead in the city of Tall Afar after U.S. and Iraqi forces launched a major assault on the northern city over the weekend. On Monday the Iraqi Red Crescent Society sent in aid for families displaced by three days of bombardment. It was the largest attack since the siege of Fallujah. U.S. officials originally portrayed the bombing as essential to stop the flow of foreign fighters from Syria. But the Washington Post reports the targets were largely Sunni Turkmen. According to the Post, the Kurdish militia known as the Peshmerga - not the actual Iraqi army - led the assault. Meanwhile the U.S. is denying an accusation that the military used toxic gases in the attack. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi reportedly posted an audio message online claiming the U.S. was using some type of chemical weapons in the city.

Appeals Court Oks Indefinite Detention Without Trial
In legal news, a federal appeals court has ruled that the government can indefinitely detain the Brooklyn-born Jose Padilla who was accused of plotting to set off a dirty bomb inside the United States. Padilla, who is a US citizen, has been held for over three years in solitary conferment on a Navy brig. No charges have ever been filed against him and he has never appeared before a judge. The ruling overturns an earlier decision that "indefinite detention without trial" is unconstitutional.

Haiti's Electoral Council Blocks Jean-Juste Presidential Run
In Haiti, the country's electoral council is attempting to block jailed priest Gérard Jean-Juste from running for president in Haiti's first elections since the coup that ousted Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The council is refusing to enroll Jean-Juste as a candidate claiming that he has to enter his candidacy in person, not from prison. Jean-Juste is the candidate of choice for the Lavalas Party - the same party of Aristide. Jean-Juste has been in jail since July but he has not yet been charged with any crimes. Amnesty International has classified him as a prisoner of conscience.

Chavez Accuses U.S. of Hijacking UN Summit
At the United Nations Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez accused the United States of trying to hijack the summit of world leaders. He called upon nations to do more to tackle poverty and improve the environment. The three-day summit was set up to find new ways to tackle poverty but the final document agreed to by UN member states saw almost every issue from education, disease, trade, aid and disarmament scaled down in an attempt to produce a text all governments could endorse by the summit's end. Chavez also described the United States as a terrorist nation because it is harboring the tele-evangelist Pat Robertson. Chavez said, "He publicly asked for my assassination and he is still walking the streets. This is an international crime, terrorism, international terrorism."

Bush: "I Think I May Need a Bathroom Break"
And in other news from the United Nations, a short note written by President Bush to Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice during the UN summit is making international headlines. A Reuters cameraman snapped a photograph of Bush writing the words "I think I may need a bathroom break. Is this possible?" The note appears on the cover of today's Times of London under the headline: "Leaked UN Memo: What did President Bush ask Condi Rice?"

permalink posted by Common Ills @ 4:32 AM

Interview with Common Ills member Maria

We spoke to Common Ills community member Maria this week to discuss a number of topics. Members of The Common Ills and readers of this site are familiar with Maria who alternates in the weekly rundown of Democracy Now! headlines each weekend. (Francisco and Miguel are the members Maria alternates with.)

You're a resident in California so our first question to you will be your reaction on the Gropeinator's decision to run for re-election?

Maria: Horror. Dismay. He may hope to win but it is my hope that the hopes of Californians will be for a change.

You're a teacher, you belong to a teacher's union?

Yes and unions are very vocal against Ahnuld. Unions have been the ones to strip the glow from the faded movie star.

How do you define your ethnicity?


A number of Mexican-Americans, Latinos and Hispanics are said to have voted for Ahnuld during the recall.

I don't know. I know some in my area did. I wonder how great that was. Bustamante was weak and the idea that those outside of California had regarding him were not reflected among people I knew. None of us saw him as the Latino hope or even as having much of a shot at winning. Ahnuld appealed to some because of screen image. There was a thought that he'd get tough and the state would recover. We were in very dire straights thanks to Enron. Davis was weakened and I honestly felt Arianna Huffington shouldn't have dropped out. I know there was pressure on her to drop out and a lot of mean things written but she was the only candidate that wasn't glad-handing and back-slapping. She raised serious issues and she was the only one confronting Ahnuld. Where Bustamante was weak, Huffinton was strong. The strategy, the Democrats, behind the recall seemed to be coming from outside of the state because within California, among people you would expect to support Davis, there was a feeling of "He's done nothing." Bustamante was seen as too closely tied to Davis and he's also seen as weak. When you add in Maria Shriver, who went around charming crowds, we had two people who were cyphers and washed out, Davis and Bustamante, and no real alternative to Ahnuld after Arianna Huffington dropped out. If the condemnations of her for running, the how dare she!s, hadn't been there she would have made more impact because she did cross party lines. That's partly what aided Ahnuld with some segments. An attitude of "Well Maria's from the Kennedys so he can't be that bad." He was that bad. He is that bad. A bunch of weak men wanting to step around that issue had no chance of defeating him. Arianna Huffington could have if she hadn't been trashed for running.

What do you think was behind the weak campaigns by Bustamante and Davis?

A feeling that people would vote party line regardless. A feeling that a movie star couldn't really win this race as though Ronald Reagan hadn't already proven that it could happen. A sense of hubris. That is why they didn't confront him. There was sort of this . . . I guess "Oh, it's just Ahnuld." They didn't take him seriously. They acted as though it was sewn up. And that the worst thing that could happen was Davis would be outed but we would all rally around Bustamante. They seemed to think, because of his ethnicity, that he had a segment of the vote sewn up. We, California, aren't new to ethnic candidates. There wasn't a feeling of, "Trail blazer!" just because of his ethnicity. There was a sense that he was weak and a do nothing. That trumped his ethnicity. The decision not to offer a real candidate on the Democratic ticket may have been seen as an attempt to protect Davis but it hurt the party and now it's hurt the state.

Who would you like to see run against Ahnuld?

I haven't thought about it much. I guess an Arianna Huffington or a Jerry Brown. It could be them or someone like them. You need a fighter and you need someone that's seen as concerned about California. Not just occupying space there, but concerned about California. I think Gavin Newsome, to offer a third name or type, could win.

Newsome's a bachelor now.

We've had bachelor governors. We had Jerry Brown. It wasn't an issue. There was good natured jokes that Linda Rondstadt was our "honorary first lady" but no one minded. Gavin Newsome has the looks to go up against the heavily made up Ahnuld who, if you see him in public, and I have, looks like he's wearing make up. The honest glow of Newsome would underscore the pancake that it looks like they apply to make Ahnuld look vibrant. I honestly felt like I was seeing someone who was ill when I saw him. He was paunchy and he was made up. That's how it looked to me. Opposite someone like Newsome, that would be obvious even if they stripped the make up from Ahnuld which would make it even more obvious.

Sorry to put you on the spot, we didn't mention Ahnuld earlier this week when we asked you for an interview.

No problem. But honestly, this is just me speaking off the top of my head. I heard the announcement and I shuddered. I haven't thought much about it since other than to pray he is not re-elected.

We hear The Laura Flanders Show in the background and your kids as well.

I know, she just mentioned Gavin Newsome but I didn't catch what she was saying. Since they're discussing New Orleans, I doubt, sadly, that it was to announce Newsome was running for governor. The kids are watching Monsters Inc. again. They want popcorn, so you're also about to hear that popping in the microwave.

You're a regular listener of The Laura Flanders Show.

Some weeks it's my only line to sanity! Seriously. I love the show. I love her writing as well. I read her books to my kids, I'm not joking. I e-mailed the show that and she joked on air that she hoped it didn't give them nightmares which made me laugh. I'm a single working mother, and they get children's books and they also get what I'm reading. I think it will help them grow up more aware of the world. I want them starting their adult lives a lot more aware than I was.

Which was?

This is no fault of my parents, let me say that. And if anyone reads and wonders, I'm third generation American. But my belief was that we were active, my parents instilled that, but it was something we did as an extra. What I want them to see, my kids, is that it's not an extra, it's part of who we are and what we are. That's shaped by a really bad marriage, a really bad one. I think if I realized how much the world was with us, I would have been less likely to marry the man I married. Whom I've divorced some time ago, just to clarify.

How would it have been different?

He was charming, to give him his due. He was attractive. He was also totally unconcerned with anything that happened outside of us. So at home, we were an island, and at work or doing errands or activism, I was part of a world. At the end of the day, my high point is not going to be sitting on a couch and watching Married With Children. Or listening to nonstop stories I've heard, all about him, over and over. Can I ask for a break here because Naomi Klein is coming on [The Laura Flanders Show]?

No problem, we want to hear that too.

Oops, she's not on yet. I don't mean to act as though I was not interested in hearing what happened when he was twelve. But that was a weekly story, if not daily. That was partly due to the fact that he had no new stories to tell. Near the end of our marriage, he lost his job so he lived on the couch in front of the TV but prior to losing his job, he was parked on the couch then as well. I'm a teacher, so I've got papers to grade, I've got lesson plans and all this other stuff to do. My day doesn't end when school lets out. With three kids, one right after the other basically, I really didn't have use for anyone who thought their role in the partnership was to come home, eat dinner and then zone out on the couch. He had no interest in the children. If people are wondering how this makes a "bad marriage" I should probably add that he was a mean, nasty drunk. He hit me once and got the message that it would only be once.

What does that mean?

(Laughing) I beat the shit out of him. I grew up with four brothers and we played rough. He thought wrong if he thought he could take a hand to me and I'd be afraid. That's not to put down other women who are victims of abuse. I'm just saying my brothers didn't cut me any slack for being the only girl so my response was different than some other women. He was bigger, but he was also drunk and, with my brothers, I learned to fight dirty when I had to. He balled up his fist and hit me in the face and my lip may have been bleeding, but I didn't hesitate, I punched him in the balls and when he fell to floor, I kicked the shit out of him. I'm not advocating that for anyone else, I'm just saying what I did. I also called my parents and told them, "Get over here right now, or I'm going to kill him." They were there in minutes and so were my brothers. I was seven months pregnant at the time or that would have been the end of it. But he did the apology and the "I'll watch my drinking" and I had two kids and thought, "Fine, another chance."

Did he ever hit you again?

No. He knew that wasn't an option. Both because of my response and because of my brothers firmly took the message home to him that night. One thing I will advocate to any victim of abuse is break the silence. Tell your family, tell your friends. I'm sure that had a greater impact on him then the beating I gave him. Abusers abuse in private because they know it's wrong. Naomi's on.

Okay, break.

We're back and we'll pick up where we left off. You were talking about your ex-husband. Did you want to add to that?

He could see the kids if he wanted. When he's not in jail. He doesn't want to. He's a pretty boy, he was a pretty boy, who got by on his looks and never had to develop as a person. The looks have faded but it's still all about him. To be really honest, I was shallow to place so much emphasis on his looks. My friends would swoon over him in high school and I liked that and liked hearing how lucky I was. Had we remained in high school all our lives, as students I should say since I'm a high school teacher, it probably would have been fine. But he never develped beyond that. He had a self-interest that wasn't uncommon for that age but it was one he never grew out of. While he had his looks, they cut him a lot of breaks. As the beer gut developed and the face went jowly, and we're talking a few years after high school here, we're not talking about years and years of drinking, that's how hard he hit the bottle, the breaks stopped coming. His job, while we were married, was selling cars. And he could charm anyone while he had his looks but when they faded his quotas started dropping until finally they had to let him go.

Stop us and let us know if you don't want to answer a question, but what was the breaking point?

He never harmed the kids physically. But he just wasn't interested in them. He couldn't be alone in the house with them because he couldn't be trusted to watch them. Our oldest is very cute, they all are and probably more from him than from me. So one day, while he's hung over, he's just running her down. Picking her apart because she's hung over. Telling her things like, "You're gap toothed." She'd lost a baby tooth for God's sake, it's not like she's Condi Rice. It will grow back. The way he was talking to her, and I'm censoring some of it, was a way two adults wouldn't talk to each other but it certainly wasn't the way you would talk to your own child. I told him to pack and leave that I was tired of his being drunk all day on the couch, doing nothing with the children and only causing more work for me. The way he was speaking to our daughter, reminded me, honestly, of the way he spoke to me before he hit me and I thought, "No, it's not going to happen again. He's not going to rage at her just because he's bloated and drunk."

He left.

And took the car. The only one we had because he'd leased his from the dealership so, of course, when he lost his job, he lost the car. That was fine. We managed until I could replace the car.

He has no contact with the kids?

No. He calls sometimes to speak to me in various stages of intoxification. If he's only mildly intoxicated, I'll ask if he wants to speak to the kids because, drunk or not, it would mean something. They ask about him. He never wants to. There's no child support because, when out of jail, he doesn't hold down a job. I explain to the kids that he's got a sickness, alcoholism, and that maybe he'll get better but life's not fair and we get the breaks we get and work to make what we have better. That's why I want the kids to be more aware than I was. I should have realized, in college, when there was no interest in my day and discussing classes only made him angry, that this wasn't going to work. It was my mistake. Not his, not my parents, my mistake. And my kids will make mistakes, hopefully learn from them, but on ones I've made, I want to be sure they don't make which is why we'll grab a book by Maruice Sendak or a book by Laura Flanders and read from it. I want them to have their childhood, have their fun, but to know that there's a world out there. And that childhood ends. My ex-husband didn't grasp that, doesn't grasp that and I went through too many years where I obviously didn't accept it.


We had a long engagement. I was almost done with college when we married. I was old enough to realize what was going on if I'd been smarter. Instead, I was okay with the "It's Friday, let's go to whomever's and I'll drink and get drunk and then we'll go make out and we'll call that a weekend." I mean, that's high school behavior if you do it. It's not college matrial for adults and for people with less breaks, because I had breaks, not everyone can go to college, they're pushed into the adult world right away. Hopefully, my kids will go to college, their choice whether to or not, but regardless, I want them to realize that being an adult means responsibilities. Things that are cute at sixteen are not cute at twenty-three. You know, this isn't even what we planned to talk about. I'm giving two of the kids a bath right now and sorry to go off topic.

No, it's a great interview. We're enjoying it.

These are my weekends, and that's not a complaint. I'll do some work on grading and planning and I'll be with the kids. Tomorrow, we'll all go over to my parents. That's why I say The Laura Flanders Show is my only line to sanity some weekends. I don't date. When they're older, I will. But since they have no father in their lives, by his choice, they need the time from the one parent they do have. Don't laugh but I have to sing right now.

[Maria sings "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." with her kids]


No, you have a good singing voice and your children sounded very sweet.

That's the "we are in the bath now" song. We've got little songs we all do all the time including "Cleanup, cleanup . . ." It helps them transition and focus. They're playing and I'm watching them so you've got nearly all of my full attention.

Did you want to add anything to the topic of dating?

Let me put in that others can make their own choices and I'm not condeming anyone who dates. I'm saying that I evaluated my own situation and there's no time for casual dating and there's no time for looking for a partner. I'll date again when they're older. That's my choice based on what I see they need. My mother doesn't agree with it and is always inviting some man to the Sunday lunch in an attempt to match me up. But the weekends are for the kids and not for dating. That's only been difficult with regard to one man my mother tried to team me with but it's my decision and I'm sticking to it for the next few years. Others can probably manage it but I can't. I know my limitations and I know what my children need. In my situation, this is the best decision. Other women, or male single parents, may be able to handle other decisions based on themselves and their children. If they can, I salute them. But I know my limitations and I know my children's needs.

Okay so let's talk about Democracy Now! and the thing you, Francisco and Miguel do for the community.

The first thing I want to say is that Miguel got a nasty e-mail, in Spanish or C.I. probably wouldn't have forwarded it to him, where the person tore him apart of his use of Spanish. That really upset me. I know it bothered Miguel. Miguel didn't grow up in foreign country and has picked up Spanish from his family. I understood what he was saying and I'm sure everyone who spoke Spanish did. For awhile, he didn't want to participate as a result of the e-mail. But Francisco's going to word it one way and I'm going to word it another way and, let's be honest since it's called Spanish, someone growing up in Spain will word it another way. There are unique characteristics to all areas speaking Spanish around the world. After that fact is grasped, we need to grasp that all people who speak Spanish do not have the same level of education, even if Spanish is their first language or only language. The Common Ills is a resource/review and when I told C.I. about the e-mail to Miguel, C.I. doesn't read Spanish and if someone writes in, it's forwarded to Francisco, Miguel or myself since we do read and speak Spanish, C.I. said, "Anyone looking for proper spelling or proper grammer came to the wrong site based only on my own entries." The point of the community is to be a resource/review and provide information. So for the person griping to Miguel, who made three errors in his e-mail berating Miguel, who was an Anglo who fancies himself the expert on all things Spanish, I'd say take a deep breath, take a walk, don't visit the site.

C.I.: Agreed. I want to add that Miguel gave his permission for this to be discussed. Maria, Francisco and I have wanted to address this for over a month but Miguel was really bothered by it and asked us not to. He's finally reached the "screw you" period so it is being discussed. Sorry to injerect.

It really did do a number on Miguel. That's why I started grabbing the rundowns repeatedly for a period. We were all encouraging Miguel to ignore it and he would say, "Okay" but it hurt him and when he wasn't able to do it, I'd grab it at the last minute. Francisco will usually do a greeting in his entries because he's comfortable with that. I'm just saying, "Here's what to pay attention to." Miguel was in between us and he didn't deserve to be slammed for attempting to offer something personal, something that anyone who understood Spanish knew what he was saying. The Anglo was being elitist and that attitude doesn't belong at The Common Ills. And if you ask Ava, back me up on this Ava, the way she'd word things in Spanish is completely different from the way I would because she's speaking a different variation of Spanish.

Ava: Exactly. There isn't one version. For people who find that confusing, they need to think in terms of the English language and how there is Americanist English and there is British English. The two are not identical in every way. Spain, the government of Spain, went around colonizing areas. Those areas were not empty. They had their own native populations and each culture brings its own native traits. Let's talk about the selection of stories from Democracy Now!

There again, we're going to pick different things, Francisco, Miguel and myself. I believe it's known at the site that Francisco lives in New Mexico. Miguel lives in another state, I live in California. That will effect what we choose to highlight because what we discuss with friends is impacted by what's around us. For myself, with The New York Times charging for some content, I made the decision to switch to Democracy Now! for the focus in my classroom. So what I'm highlighting are the things that the kids have shown the most interest in. Let me note that Democracy Now! provides some sort of educational guide for educators to use in the classroom and I have meant to sign up for that repeatedly but there's never been time. But if someone reads this and wants to utilize Democracy Now! that's a service they provide. Francisco's not around high schoolers the way I am, so what he'll emphasize is what interests the people around him. Miguel's college age and he'll be going by what his peer group is discussing. There's never a wasted moment in the headlines from Democracy Now! so every item will never be covered. When I started, I did the first rundown, I tried to pick two from each day. Then (laughing) Francisco upped the ante by picking more than that. To be more specific, the headlines are on during my first class of the day, we listen by radio. And the class picks out their stories from the headlines. Those are the ones we dicuss in the later classes. If a student goes online, and many times they will, and find a story that wasn't mentioned, we'll discuss that as well. We're doing current events for fifteen minutes so the headlines being ten minutes allows for five minutes of discussion for the first class. That may short change them in some ways, but they also get to hear all the headlines. Later classes, are dealing with what the first class has picked as the most important and anything that someone finds by visiting the site. From the discussions, I base my picks for the week when it's my turn to do the rundown.

You have lively discussions in your classes and one thing you've noted at The Common Ills, early on, was how the youth of the country had turned against the war.

Right. I said that it has to do with the fact that they're studying the government. They're getting the concepts that we are supposed to stand for as a nation. So learning that and looking at what we're doing in Iraq, their reactions are very vocal and very loud. There were times when I wondered if this was a regional thing, but Mike saw that as well.

Mike: Right. It was obvious in high school for us, students, that there was one America we were being taught about and another America that was occupying Iraq. We also knew people who went over there and if someone didn't come back, which has happened, it touched us and made us really think. And we're also so strongly targeted by recruiters that we were probably forced to think about in ways that if we were old, like in our thirties or forties --

That's old, Mike?

Mike (Con't): Okay, not like ancient. But if we'd been that old, it might not have effected us in the same way. But you've got these guys showing up and trying to force you, I think they're trying to force you, into signing up. Just preying on you and all. So it is a topic that gets more discussion than I think the mainstream media has given it or has been aware that us young people are discussing.

If I can ask Mike a question, I'm wondering what he saw in his teachers. Not his professors now, but back when he was in high school, his teachers.

Mike: They got really nervous on the topic. They didn't want to discuss it unless they were sipping the Kool-Aid. That frustrated a lot of us because it was like "I can't express my own opinion" from the ones who were silent and yet the ones who were rah-rah war never had a problem discussing it. So you could get really short changed. But what ended up happening is that we would challenge the teachers pushing the war in a way we might not have otherwise. So that was the good thing that happened.

I was wondering about that because I noted at The Common Ills that there was a lot of reluctance on the part of anyone, teachers, to address the war in any way. But I think that was wrong. I'm thinking about what Mike said and that's actually more accurate. Those who were for the war, teachers, never had a problem discussing it.

Did you have any problems with parents?

No. I did have a problem with someone on staff, not a teacher, and I said if I have a complaint from a parent, I'll worry. If it's my opinion, I say it's my opinion. If a student disagrees, they have their say and it's not an argument. But I'm dealing with low-income students and their parents are usually much more vocal than I am inside the classroom. Parents' reactions have been positive because it's not, "Here's current events. Now here's the text." We're meshing the two so the students are much more interested in what they are learning and they're doing very well. In fact, the senior class last year, they really came alive and I'm used to losing the seniors each year, but I almost cried the last day of school because they were all so amazing. They had just gotten so active and so alive in the disucssions that it was like nothing I'd ever had happen in a classroom. They weren't just waiting for information to come to them, they were online at The New York Times, at The LA Times, at Dahr's site [Dahr Jamail], at Democracy Now!, at The Washington Post. You hope, let me back up and speak for myself, I hope to interest them each year because this is about their lives, it will effect them. American Idol's not going to teach them the issues in a general election. So I try to get them interested and by the end of the year, they usually are. But last year's seniors drove it. I didn't have to do a lot of prep or a lot of explaining. They were driving the discussion and I was just along for the ride which is the way you want it to be but it usually doesn't work out that way. Wally's talked about this at The Common Ills and I always mean to e-mail him but that's the sort of thing he's spoken of happening at his school and he's in Florida.

Right, they check out the newspapers and The Common Ills and Rebecca's site and a host of others and they're all bringing that into their discussions.

C.I.: Correction, sorry to interrupt. Wally's now in college. He was in high school last year.

I think that's so amazing that C.I. is able to keep members straight. Until I started getting the e-mails in Spanish, I didn't appreciate that. Someone will say "when you highlighted" and I'll have no idea what they're talking about. I used to do that all the time with C.I. in e-mails. I'd just pick up where the last one was and never thought, "You know there are a lot of e-mails. You should probably preface what you're talking about."

C.I.: Mike or Rebecca would have caught it, if I hadn't.

Rebecca: But, and Mike will back me up here, it's still going on even though Wally's graduated, at his old high school. His sister's there and I hear from her. Mike's talking about the Boston area, Maria's talking about California and Wally and his sister are in Florida. So it's not regional and C.I. knows that as well from the things C.I. does speaking to students, college and high school.

C.I.: Right. It's what Maria saw. Fall 2004 and fall 2003 were two different climates. Maria made the point last year that it was the students who were really leading on this and I think that's true that they bring a special energy to it. I don't think that's been noticed by the media and I'm always bothered when I read a quote from someone saying that students are involved in this conversation. They may not be involved in a manner you're familiar with but they are very involved in this discussion.

Mike: And Jim and I have talked about this, I feel like we're hijacking Maria's interview here, sorry, but the thing always tossed in our faces by older people is "Where are the marches, where is" whatever was done in the sixties. I like the sixties. I don't know a great deal about them though. I mean we model behavior and hopefully next weekend will give the nation something to model but apathy's existed for years in this country so now that we're discussing these issues, students, and we're interested and getting involved, don't turn around and slam us because we aren't copying what you did that we probably don't know about because we honestly weren't taught about and didn't live through.

C.I.: Mike's right about us hijacking the interview, sorry Maria, but the thing that some don't realize is that mobilization against the Vietnam conflict in the United States didn't happen in isolation. You had the civil rights movement preceeding it, giving behavior that could be modeled, and you had students across the globe getting involved in various activities. That fed into the mobilizations and the protests in the "sixties" and I'm referring to the early seventies.

I cringe when I read someone saying that the students aren't doing anything or aren't interested. I have to wonder what "students" they are observing? They're not seeing the students I teach. Cindy Sheehan has sparked a national dialogue but students have been engaging in that dialogue for over a year, students in my classroom, in ways that adults haven't.

And that's a strong point to out on. This is Betty, and Maria, if you have a minute hold on because I wanted to ask you about something privately, mother-to mother. But we all thank you for giving of your limited time and participating in this interview.

Thank you, Betty and everyone. I think it's important that the young people get the credit they've earned so I was happy to do it. Plus, it was a rare Saturday where I could to adults.
Usually, I'm just able to listen to Laura Flanders and enjoy the conversations vicariously. Let me also take a second to thank Elaine again for honoring me with the title of her site, Like Maria Said Paz. That was very sweet and it's something my friends keep talking about, "Maria had a sight named after her."

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