Sunday, October 02, 2005

A note to our readers

What do you know, on Sunday, we're actually able to post a Sunday edition of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

If there's a theme to this edition (unplanned on our parts), it's the importance of independent media. You can see that in our spotlight of Ruth's Morning Edition Report. (Yes, we know that posted twice here. No, that wasn't by us. We've deleted the second post.) You can see that in our editorial.

But who are we kidding? We slacked off. Slacked off in writing.

After last weekend's nightmare, everyone was being kind to one another but there was tension underneath. C.I. will tell you that an e-mail was sent out to Seth (who just started Seth in the City) asking him to please start that site quickly because we all needed some good blog news.

What should have been a wonderful time for this site and the other community sites was instead a repeated lesson in frustration as Blogger lost posts (sometimes once they were up) and denied log ons. We were very lucky to have Gina & Krista in D.C. with us. They'd already made reservations at a hotel and would have had to pay if they'd cancelled. So they kept their reservations. And as we had nonstop problems (including logging into e-mail accounts) some began to wonder if Gina & Krista hadn't played it smart by keeping low key about their visit to D.C.?

Regardless, we thank Gina & Krista for grabbing an editorial and two other pieces to run in their special round-robin when we were unable to get them posted here. As problems persisted last Sunday, we made the decision that the most important piece to post was the one highlighting the voices of the demonstrations. We had to do that because if we didn't, how could we criticize the mainstream media for ignoring the people. After losing that post early Sunday morning, we had nothing but trouble as we attempted to recreate it. We posted it in pieces. Then went, without sleep for the six of us this note is from, straight to Sunday's activities. By Sunday afternoon, people began spending time with their relatives (such as Jess's parents or my father) and trying to take some time to reconnect. That left Kat and C.I. with the task of straightening up the home that someone was nice enough to put us up in for the weekend.

At ten p.m. Sunday night we began working on finishing the voices entry and got that done early Monday morning. (Apologies to Benny whom we'd left out until Shirley caught that.)

But we were tired. We were sleepless (in D.C.). We were frazzled. And all the kind words couldn't mask the fact that we were all tense and more than a little depressed about the way posting had turned out. (Dona notes that C.I. expanded more energy than anyone acting as a cheerleader to keep everyone's spirits up.)

So this edition, the focus was reconnecting. We didn't rush the pieces. We didn't rush to start them. Our goal was the news review and a TV review (by Ava & C.I.). (What? You think we want to anger all our readers by leaving that out?) If we did more than that, great. But we were more concerned with reconnecting and making sure that the community itself was stable and in good standing. That meant, for instance, when in the middle of discussing other pieces we might do and Kat noted a comment that had just been said on The Laura Flanders Show we all stopped and took the time to listen. That meant paying attention to the time with respect to the obligations that Cedric and Betty have on Sunday mornings (church) and being sure that they were departing at a reasonable time. That meant all of us taking the time to listen to one another.

In the process, we ended up with an editorial and a musical feature. We expect to do more next week but this week was honestly about the community and making sure everyone was able to voice and to vent.

It also meant allowing the news review to go way longer than one hour so that everyone had time to emphasize the points they wanted to bring to it. We'll return to focusing on the time and the features next weekend but this weekend we wanted to make sure that the drive was still there and that everyone participating got a chance to express themselves to each other.

Last Sunday, as some were departing, we were far more prone to say, "I want ___ quoted in the voices piece" then, "Wow, wasn't this incredible?" So we think the time was needed to regroup and recharge. Hopefully there's enough here that you don't feel short changed you; however, if you do and are enraged, great. Our goal is always to provide you with something that enrages you (we succeeded on that most recently with our editorial on John Roberts which produced the nastiest e-mails from Republicans -- mainly from one pro-Roberts lobbying group -- and from some members of the media), makes you think, or makes you laugh. (Or all three.) We're not trying to play it timid. The New York Times already provides that seven days a week.

Thanks to Maria for allowing us to repost her piece from The Common Ills (as well as to Ruth). And thanks to the regulars who help out including Dallas, Jess' parents as well as 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!

We also say welcome to the community Seth, we're eager to hear from you at Seth in the City.

Now we're heading over to The Common Ills to take part with C.I. in discussing this morning's New York Times. Feel free to join us.

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

Editorial: What the mainstream media taught us

As Earth, Wind & Fire might sing, "For awhile . . . to complain was all we could do . . ."

But September 24th, in D.C. we showed we could do more than complain, we showed we could mobilize and make our presence felt. The days that followed brought more encouraging news: Bill Frist possibly guilty of insider trading, Tom DeLay facing an indictment, Karen Hughes' charm offensive (which misses the dumb sweetness of Laura's) bombing in the Arab world, Bill Bennett disgracing himself and being called on it (even the White House distanced themselves from Bennett -- something they refused to do with Pat Robertson), there were a lot of things to be hopeful about.

We don't think of any of it is new. Not all that long ago, in the the Sunday magazine of The New York Times, Frist was reported as asking of a wanna-be appointment, how much had he donated?

DeLay? We're going back to the state elections in Texas in 2002. Makes you wonder why reporters were unable to tear into this story on the national scene? Should Ronnie Earl have been the only one following up on it. (Ava & C.I. report that Dateline was asked to do a story on it by viewers in 2003 when redistricting was pushed through but apparently the program had other stories to file. Do they regret it now? Any readers have the postcards Dateline sent out to viewers thanking them, but no thanks, for the suggestion that they seriously look into the actions of DeLay and company?)

The mainstream media hasn't led on any of this. As a group of people who follow various newspapers, various radio programs and various TV programs, take it from us, the mainstream's done very litte. As we began working on this edition Saturday night, we listened to The Laura Flanders Show and, as usual, got more information from that than anything we've learned from the mainstream media.

DeLay says he wants to resolve this quickly. The mainstream media has reported that. The others charged with conspiracy? It's in their interests to proceed slowly and . . . well, delay.

As Flanders pointed out, "You've really got the GOP in Texas at odds with the GOP in D.C."
(To read the indictments online, you can go here. We also learned that listening to Flanders. We've heard the mainstream talk of how confusing it all is but we haven't noticed anyone in the mainstream providing us with a location to read the indictments ourselves.)

In spite of the mainstream media, the summer of activism has already birthed the largest demonstration in the United States of this century. Over 300,000 people in D.C. to protest the invasion/occupation and demand that the troops be brought home now.

You did that. Not with the help of the mainstream media but in spite of the mainstream media.
You got the word out, you followed alternative media and informed yourself. You became your own media by sharing the issues that matter with your friends and family.

Though we're sure it's got to be coming, the one thing mega corporations has yet to be able to "consolidate" and "synergize" is the citizenary. We can be independent actors. We can reject the spin and the talking points. We can overcome of the various Operation Happy Talk messages coming out of the Bully Boy administration.

Saturday, the day they love to bury the big news, it was learned that the Government Accountability Office had ruled as "illegal" (sadly, there's no punishment such as sentencing or fines) the Bully Boy's practice of "creating news" by putting "journalists" on the payroll and creating "news story" that were nothing more than White House propaganda but ended up being carried, with no disclaimer, on many television stations across the country.

And the mainstream media wonders why they aren't trusted and where the audience has gone?
At any outlet, you can usually point to a person or two dedicated to real reporting. But they are the exceptions and not the rule. The dedication now appears to be to not offending anyone. Not offending a reader who's been fed spin, not offending a Republican controlled Congress, and not offending the Bully Boy.

The result is a decline in readership and a decline in viewers. You'd think they'd worry about that but they don't appear to be. (Maybe they haven't heard Cher's song "When The Money's Gone?")

The message that comes through more and more is that the mainstream media has made themselves irrelevant. As Norman Solomon has pointed out, what's the point in following it when you're not reflected in the coverage and you're made to feel that everything's being done outside of you and your input doesn't matter?

Maybe the mainstream media will wake up? We won't take any bets on that because we'd hate to steal your money. But they need to do some self-inventory and one step would be for one of the daily "biggies" to editorialize (not op-ed it) for an end to the war. When we read that, we'll
know that either the movement's gotten so large that the mainstream can no longer pretend it doesn't exist (which will probably mean polls that leap to 90% of Americans wanting us out of Iraq now since the majority that wants that now continues to be ignored) or it will mean that a paper finally grasped that if they don't have an audience to sell to advertisers, they don't stand much chance of staying in business. And if current trends hold, that's something they may need to seriously worry about. (Band-aids like charging to read op-eds are nonsense. The New York Times doesn't make money on the sale of the paper, they make money off the advertising and they set the advertising rate based on their circulation figures.)

Regardless of what the mainstream media does, the movement continues. That's the big lesson coming out of the summer and fall of this year. Keep being your own media, keep supporting independent media, keep active, but take a moment to pat yourselves on the back. (The way pretty TV personalities did in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.)

Many a break up ends with this phrase: "It's not you, it's me."

Mainstream media, it's not you, it's us. The people did the job you were
too scared to do. You're still timid like you've been for too long
now. It's us, we woke up to the reality, in fact you taught it to us, that
we can't wait around for you to rediscover your purpose.

So congratulate yourselves, whether you were able to make it to D.C. or a protest in your area, or whether you just kept the issue alive in your own circle. Congratulate yourselves and continue consuming independent media. In addition to Flanders, we'll do one more recommendation that we can all agree on, Democracy Now! -- the best daily resource, Monday through Friday, for the real news you can't get from the mainstream.

[This editorial was written by The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Ava, Jess, Ty and myself, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, 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.]

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts, "More wisdom from Bill Bennett's Book of Virtuous Weight Loss"

We love Isaiah and we love his comic strip The World Today Just Nuts. Here's his latest. If you missed the story he's riffing on, we'll provide the basics via Democracy Now!

"Bill Bennett: 'You Could Abort Every Black Baby In This Country, And Your Crime Rate Would Go Down'"
Ronald Reagan's former Education Secretary and prominent Republican pundit Bill Bennett is under fire for racist comments he made on his radio program. A caller to Bennett's September 28 radio show suggested that the Social Security system would have money to spare if abortion was outlawed in the US. Bennet responded, saying he didn't believe in what he called such "far-reaching, extensive extrapolations." Then came Bill Bennett's next comment: "I do know that it's true that if you wanted to reduce crime, you could -- if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down. That would be an impossible, ridiculous, and morally reprehensible thing to do, but your crime rate would go down." Former Education Secretary and prominent Republican pundit Bill Bennett. Thanks to MediaMatters for that clip.

TV Review: Time to pull the plug on ER

Thursday night's uninvolving ER episode had us reflecting on a time when the show actually mattered and wondering what could be done about ER at this late date.

In it's first year, ER was a heavily praised drama. We weren't too impressed. One of us watched the Quentin Tarention directed episode that year, the other made do with the crossover on Friends. We didn't feel we were missing much.

Then Julianna Margulies became the heart of the show as Nurse Carol and we were hooked. We didn't mind that Noah Wylie never learned to act. Oh sure, we laughed at the attempts to "butch up" his Dr. Carter, his bad acting, his George Jetson hair -- we just ignored him.

We watched for Carol and Doug. Doug was played by George Clooney. They had chemistry and Thursdays weren't Thursdays if you couldn't check in on Carol and Doug. Carol got pregnant. Doug split. Not 'cause he didn't dig Carol, you understand. He dug Carol. He really dug her. Dug her like to the bottom of his heart. But, man, this whole concept of hospital rules and regulations was just too much for a renegade like Doug.

That plot development might have made sense in 1963. It didn't in the nineties. But Clooney had a movie star career to get to so everyone pretended that it made sense. We wondered how Carol and the twins (yes, she had twins) would make it through. We took comfort in the fact that despite the hassles of being an ER nurse, a single mother of two and remaining on the show while other regulars checked out (and some back in) like it was a hotel and not a hospital, Margulies continued to have the most amazing skin on television.

When Carol left, the powers that be were smart enough to send her off with a brief scene reuniting her with Doug. We didn't care that Clooney had needed a shave at least five days before the scene was shot, that the Don Henley song was so loud it drowned out what little dialogue there was, or that living so close to the sea probably wouldn't be good for Carol's skin.

We were happy for Carol. We were happy for Doug. We were happy for the twins.

We might have stopped watching then. But they'd added the character of Abby played by Maura Tierney and Maura could act. She wasn't the heart of the show, she wasn't ethereal enough for that. But she quickly became the soul of the show.

We watched as Abby became involved with Luka, as she dealt with a her brother who was struck with the family illness, as she sought to leave nursing behind and become a doctor, we even watched, without laughing mind you, when Abby and Dr. Carter did their slow flirtation dance.

Sally Field did a turn on ER and she was one of the few guest stars that actually worked within the framework of the show. (All get praised by critics, few deserve it.) As Abby's mother, she was allowed to touch on emotions she hadn't been able to do in films. She was a powerhouse and riveting. Somehow Tierney held her own next to Field.

Goran Visnjic's Luka, who always seemed way too slick with the whole "my wife just died" as a pick up line, even became semi-tolerable once he hooked up with Abby.

And let's be honest, we really started to care about the supporting characters. Not the new ones. The new ones dropped faster than the Bully Boy's poll numbers. (Think Kellie Martin who had the impossible task of humanizing Wyle's Carter.) But hospital enforcer Kerry, we really grew to enjoy her scenes. Not the character because she was so impossible. Until it was revealed that she was a lesbian. By the time she let "Deb" take the fall for her own screw up, we were having complex emotions about Kerry.

And what of Mark and Elizabeth? His daughter from a previous marriage was a frightmare. Always showing up at the worst time and doing the most damage. Who couldn't watch? Then we learned Mark had cancer . . . before Elizabeth did. Then we watched as Elizabeth prepared for the end that we the viewers already knew was coming because Anthony Edwards' contract was up. It was one thing after another for poor Elizabeth. She must have woken many a morning and wondered why she ever crossed the Atlantic. Then her mother would pop up, visiting from England, and she'd remember why.

But Mark died and, suddenly, they didn't know what to do with Elizabeth. Around the same time, Luka started dating a lot of skanks (including the miscast Julie Delpy). He got drunk and had a nasty car accident with one of them. The sort of thing that made Doug's mini-rebellions look like conformity.

Somewhere along the way, Elizabeth left. Sherry Stringer and Ming Na went the way of Gloria Rueben and Erica Gimpel as well. Pretty much everyone you cared about is now gone. As consolation, the departure list also includes Noah Wylie who never "matured" onscreen. The only thing worse than seeing him strike poses with regulars like Stringer and Tierney and guest stars like Rebecca de Mornay was the show's attempts to show case Carter in a different locale that found him surrounded with new characters you didn't know and few you could care about.
(When an actor can't can't find some onscreen connection with Thandie Newton, a very generous actress who draws out the best in most performers on screen, there's a problem.)

The show debuted in the fall of 1994. It's fall of 2005 now. Eleven years on and the show hasn't learned much. The lessons of Noah Wylie should be quickly applied to Shane West who has yet to be given an ER character (or to create his own) but still takes up a lot of space and wastes a great deal of time. Bland as any hospital food, West sinks every scene he was in Thursday night as he came off like a little boy whose Mommy just took away his Playstation.

There may not be anything to do with West at this point. They've covered every story, medical and soap opera, several points over. Watching Tierney and Parminder Nagra deal with a self-involved patient brought a gentle smile, nothing more. ER's been there (many times) and done that (many times).

On Thursday night, we learned that Luca's broken up with a character we've never cared about and that the breakup is effecting her son (whom we never cared about). We learned that throughout the show. In multiple scenes. It dragged on and dragged on to the point that you looked around for the mangy mutt that had to be responsible before realizing that the dog is in fact ER. The show's tempo was so slow that Abby and Neela's leisurely stroll at the beginning may have been the most fast paced things ever got.

A woman, a surrogate, wanted to give birth naturally. While the parents-to-be bickered and whined ("It's my last egg!" or some such nonsense the woman cried) and the father-to-be made noises about a court order, the baby was born brain damaged. There's a time when that moment might have carried weight. We could see Carol quietly going about the business of taking inventory of the supplies after that incident -- the sort of moment where the show would have breathed and you would have realized that the heart of the show was yet again grieving. Instead we got one chatter box scene after another. Nothing carried weight. Moments came and went. It was as though the only goal was to fill up an hour's time minus commericals.

As season eleven begins, we've truly seen it all. The show could do something about that. They could, for instance, make a gay or lesbian character a real lead. That might shake things up a bit. They could realize that Shane West currently has nothing to offer but his looks and play that up.

Let him be half-dressed and seducing every woman in sight in scene after scene so that when he finally falls for one of the female doctors or nurses (as we know he will if he hangs around long enough), there's conflict because we've seen him as a player. They can probably set West up with a revelation scene at that point where we find out the reason for his behavior and feel like we've made a discovery.

But this is a show that fails to realize that Kerry without someone to really knock against is a waste of both the show and Laura Innes. It's as though everyone's just collecting paychecks and marking time at this point. Luka's little nothing he just broke up with wouldn't have rated as more than an illness of the week five years ago. Instead she's hanging around, dragging down the show with her low energy levels and glum face.

Worst of all there's Abby. It's not that Tierney's become a bad actress. It's just that we've seen it all before. She makes the retreads of the-ghosts-of-ER's-past watchable but even she can't make them fresh.

Somewhere along the way Abby stopped smoking and that was around the time the show started really going for a high gloss soap opera feel. (Think Marcus Welby meets Melrose Place.) It's hard to be the soul (smoking or not) of such a hollow show.

One that wants you to care about characters even though it gives them nothing to do and it doesn't provide any evidence that the writers think, "How would ___ react in this scene?" Instead, they just try to do the storyline equivalent of a mix tape and there's no weight to it and no reason to care.

Thursday night, catching up with the gang from St. Elsewhere . . . Oops. ER. They only look like the cast of St. Elsewhere these days (and no, that's nothing to strive for).

But watching Thursday we thought of how the female lead in Smallville is contractually bound from cutting her hair short (call it the Felicity rider) and how strange, by contrast, it was that supposed dream boat Goran Visnjic was allowed to sport a hair style with a flip in the back that Florence Henderson couldn't have carried off at the height of The Brady Bunch.

The writers don't pay attention so why should anyone else? Why should a producer pull Visnjic aside and tell him the hair style looks ridiculous when everyone's just collecting another year of paychecks? Even the Warner Bros. website that tracks each episode hasn't felt the need to start up this year. That's how little energy there is in the show and around the show.

Some are hoping that Kristen Johnston will manage to shake things up (her first episode airs this Thursday). We have nothing against Johnston, we think she's funny and are sure she can handle drama; however, when a Third Rock From The Sun cast member is being hailed as the potential savior of a medical drama, that gives you an idea of how bad things are.


Here's the hard diagnosis no one wants to hear. There's no quick fix for the show. They've attempted that in years past and its kept the audience around but done little to advance the show.

Here are our recommended treatments.

1) Johnston and Innes will be at odds. It's time to sacrifice Abby. She's got to get her hands dirty. The only reason anyone will care about the story is if Abby's involved in it. Johnston and Innes should both appeal to her and, in this no-win situation, Abby will choose a side and live to regret it.

2) Shane West. We've seen the young lothario a million times on ER already. Keep him shirtless because that's the only reason anyone's going to look when he's onscreen at present. But how about something really radical? Instead of making the token overture to the gay community, how about letting West play a gay lead? Kerry's not been a gay lead character, not when she's unable to have a love life and a career (partly due to her own disposition). How about giving the audience a real gay storyline with gay leading characters? Ray can keep it on the down low for a brief time but when Pratt finds out, there should be an explosion. The ER chooses sides and the audience waits to see who's left standing.

3) Luka's done everything the character can. Send him out of town with the little nothing Sam or else give him a death scene with Abby by his bedside early on in the season. This isn't Doug & Carol. There's too much between them for this to be a reunion. But give Tierney something to tear into. She's watching a man she once felt something for die.

4) Neela and Archie in bed immediately. And for the twist, Neela's not the one who regrets it. The experience awakens Neela who's ready to start living as a functioning adult with or without Archie.

5) Having watched Luka die and got caught in the crossfire between Kerry and Eve (Johnston's character), think seriously of sending Tierney's character off at the end of the season. She's given all that a character can be expected to give to the show. The future that awaits Tierney (if the show's renewed for next season) is what Sherry Stringer returned to: audience favorite abused by writers who don't know what to do with her.

6) New blood comes in during the month of January. Character are introduced and given ample time so that when fall of 2006 rolls around there's not the usual let down of "Who's left to watch?"

Will ER implement any of the above medical recommendations? No. They won't. Visnjic is thought to be popular. Ratings should prove otherwise to any sane person but sane people don't usually run networks. (Fred Silverman, anyone?) Sane people wouldn't allow Tierney to be trapped in one "cute" scene after another as though, just because Sally Field played her mother, she's now Gidget Goes To The ER. Sane people would grasp that a character like Samantha, who is hopeless and a do nothing, is not exciting to watch. Sane people wouldn't have fired Alex Kingston (Elizabeth). Sane people would have found a way to keep Erica Gimpel on the show.

So we're dealing with the chronically insane. They're not fit to make decisions at this point. You've got ER on life support. It's up to the audience to find the living will to pull the plug.


ADDED: ER has worked on hard on a storyline that will continue to develop. See "One voice applauded, one not heard?" which is hopefully the beginning of the show reconnecting with the real world.

Third Estate Sunday Review News Review 10-02-05

C.I.: Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review for October 2, 2005. Dona, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, asks that we note, if you're new to this feature, it's done live and transcribed in what is a very rough transcript. This morning we focus on Iraq and what's being called "Operation Iron Fist" as well as other events. We will also have news from the world of science, TV, music and Puerto Rico as well as an editorial on the press portrayals, or lack of them, of the demonstrations in D.C. Now we go to Elaine, of Like Maria Said Paz, with news on Iraq.

Elaine: As reported on Democracy Now! and in the New York Times, US military personell in Iraq have used abuse both as a component of interrogations and as a stress reliever. Human Rights Watch has documented this "method" at length. From their "New Accounts of Torture by U.S. Troops:"

Three U.S. army personnel--two sergeants and a captain--describe routine, severe
beatings of prisoners and other cruel and inhumane treatment. In one incident, a
soldier is alleged to have broken a detainee's leg with a baseball bat.
Detainees were also forced to hold five-gallon jugs of water with their arms
outstretched and perform other acts until they passed out. Soldiers also applied
chemical substances to detainees' skin and eyes, and subjected detainees to
forced stress positions, sleep deprivation, and extremes of hot and cold.
Detainees were also stacked into human pyramids and denied food and water. The
soldiers also described abuses they witnessed or participated in at another base
in Iraq and during earlier deployments in Afghanistan.

Elaine (con't): Scotland's Sunday Herald address the issue today with Neil Mackay's "Torture of Iraqis was for 'stress relief', say US soldiers" noting that the 82nd Airborne soldiers stationed near Falluja were dubbed "The Murderous Maniacs" by Iraqis and didn't find shame in the nickname.
"PUCs" was the term soldiers used for Iraqis, "Persons Under Control." "The Murderous Maniacs" took part in depriving sleep and taking a "PUC . . . to the brink of a stroke or heart attack." One soldier said, "It was like a game. You know, how far could you make this guy go before he passes out of just collapses on you?" This entailed "sandbagging" where a sand bag would tied to the heads of prisoners and, while there hands were cuffed, soldiers would inflict "blows to the head, chest, legs and stomach, pull them down, kick dirt on them." The soldier detailing that abuse notes, "This happened every day."

C.I.: Elaine, much of what's being described is similar to techniques that were used in Latin America as Jennifer K. Harbury has documented numerous times, most recently in her new book Truth, Torture, And The American Way.

Elaine: Correct, and a point to make is that the current administration contains many of the people who oversaw activies in Latin America during the eighties.

C.I.: In her book, Harbury presents testimony from many of the victims of torture and the details are similar to many of the stories coming out of Iraq now.

Elaine: Jane Mayer's "The Experiment" in The New Yorker, outlined these activities and should have been a starting point for a larger dialogue. But Harbury has been has been documenting how "Mr. Mikes," US intelligence, took part in the torture in Latin America for many decades.

C.I.: Her own husband was a political prisoner who was tortured and murdered.

Elaine: And she's a powerful writer and speaker because, unlike with some victims and family members, it's very difficult for the mainstream press to dismiss her since she comes armed with a law degree from Harvard. As details come out, regarding Iraq, in bits and pieces and while some journalists connect them to a larger picture of what is going on, as with Mayer in The New Yorker, the majority of the reporting, and I'll add this is true of The New York Times especially, presents it as "This just got said, now here's people who say it's not true or not as bad" with no attempt to connect the most recent revelations with the huge body of previous reports. As we began researching this, one of the articles that surprised Dona, Jim and myself was Majid al-Rawi's "U.S. forces hunt militants in western Iraq" by Reuters which details "Operation Iron Fist" with repeated statements of what the US military belives -- "they believe" -- and with no attempt to provide any comments from the people in the areas effected. The closest Reuters gets to actual reporting is when they interview a Qaim doctor, whom Retuers reports, "said relatives of the wounded told him they had been attacked by U.S. helicopters in Sedea." That is in passing, that detail of civilians mowed down by fire from helicopters. The article relies heavily on US military reports as though they were objective. As with much of the reporting coming out of Iraq, Iraqis are rendered invisible and "collateral damage" depends upon that. A sweeping term that leads people to shrug and say, "These things happen." It's easy to do that with the victims are rendered faceless and invisible.

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. Still on Iraq, we go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Cedric, you're focusing on Dahr Jamail, correct?

Cedric: Yes, on Dahr Jamail's most recent article,"Securitizing the Global Norm of Identity: Biometric Technologies in Domestic and Foreign Policy." Elaine just got finished discussing the latest torture revelations and noting how the techniques migrated from Latin America to Iraq.
Dahr Jamail, unlike Dexter Filkins of The New York Times, has never shied from discussing realities in Falluja. The "pacification" techniques used in Falluja. As Elaine noted while we researching, the Falluja reporting also depended upon the mainstream accepting military statements as fact and refusing to give voice to the people of Falluja. Jamail writes:

Out of these ruins, occupation forces argued they were erecting a 'model city',
replete with a high-tech security infrastructure centered on biometric
identification strategies to manage returning citizens. Returnees are
fingerprinted, retina scanned, and issued a mandatory identity badge displaying
the individual's home address and collected biometric data.

Cedric (con't): People should be aware of this. They should question whether it's an "American" thing to do in order to "build democracy" and they should ask themselves how they'll respond when the technique migrate back to the United States with calls for a national i.d. card.

C.I.: Cedric, some may hear "biometric" and think, "What is that?" Retinal scans in the film The Minority Report may help illustrate but could you give some more examples.

Cedric: Certainly. Jamail goes into this and explains "the body as passport." Some examples of biometrics include facial scans, iris scans, digitized finger prints and things such as body heat emitting from the face. As Jamil points out, the debate over national security leads to some advocate similar tactics in this country.

C.I.: You mentioned the national i.d. card which would be hard to implement for a number of reasons, among which is the GOP's long so-called support of 'state rights'; however, the way around that has been to require that states develop their own i.d.s and do so under general guidelines. What are your thoughts there?

Cedric: As an African-American male, I worry that digitized cards will be one more technique to disqualify African-Americans. For instance, you go to vote, "Woops, your card doesn't read, you can't vote." The disenfranchisement in the last two presidential elections is enough to cause me to worry whenever a Republican controlled Congress wants to "help" America because some people get helped and some people get hurt and, from my viewpoint, it's the powerless that get hurt and a few years after the fact, the mainstream press can note that in passing while remaining silent in real time. I think you see that in the "pacified" areas in Iraq which result not in safety but in people losing homes and ending up living in tents as evacuees.

C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. With other updates from Iraq as the constitutional referendum approaches, we go to Mike of Mikey Likes It!

Mike: While "Operation Iron Fist" goes on, The Independent of London reports that in Baghdad the brother of Iraq's Interior Minister was kidnapped, and "Firas Marid, the son of another senior official in the ministry, was seized by gunmen in Taji, north of Baghdad." This as the military fatality count for American troops in Iraq has now reached 1935 since the invasion.

C.I.: And the total for the month?

Mike: 49 U.S. fatalities and 3 British fatalities for the month of September. Yesterday the Dutch military had a fatality and there are two American fatalities so far for the month of October. The Washington Post reports that Iraq's parliment has put the 2006 budget on hold in an effort "to spotlight government corruption had failed to provide transparent records on its own spending." Questions remain about monies that disappeared under the U.S. installed Iyad Allawi. In addition, the AFP reports that a bomb took the lives of three Iraqi police in Kirkuk and that the iman Salah Hassan Ayash was killed in Baghdad. Iraqi police shot up the car of a suspected bomber killing a seven-year-old child. Finally, Aljazeera reports that:

Sharp divisions have emerged between Iraq's ruling Kurdish and Shia Muslim
factions after Iraq's Kurdish president accused the Shia prime minister of
breaking coalition promises and overly dominating the government.

C.I.: Thank you, Mike. From stories of the invasion/occupation of Iraq, we turn now to a commentary on peace, specifically an editorial on last weekends rallies and marches from Jess of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Jess: To judge by the mainstream media, nothing happened. Or, the alternate take, anti-war activities went on and at the same time pro-war demonstrations took place, both attended in equal measures. The reality of the anti-war protests didn't take hold in the mainstream media. As they've denied the opinions of the increasing majority of Americans on the war, they ignored the protests. As CounterSpin pointed out, Aaron Brown offered the excuse, on CNN, that the protests just couldn't compete with Hurricane Rita. Excuses abound, coverage was denied. The biggest demonstration since the Vietnam era and the press played "I scared of Bully Boy! I can't talk about this!" Years from now, historians will go through news reports from the mainstream media and wonder why such a large, such a historic event, wasn't judged necessary of coverage.
They'll have the answer we already do, a timid press that looks to official sources to tell them what news is and has lost interest in reporting on the activities of the average citizens.
In D.C. last week, we saw citizens come together to express their opposition to this war and to demand that the troops be brought home now. As the corporate media continues to deny the existance of citizens not holding offices, elected or appointed, is it any wonder that citizens care less and less about TV news and daily newspapers? As World News Tonight becomes D.C.'s Entertainment Tonight, should any of us even care what they "report"? For all the back patting over the Hurricane Katrina coverage, we find that little has changed. The mainstream media remains uninterested in any story that doesn't come with an "official sources" quote.
In D.C. last week, the people of this country came together in huge numbers to voice their opinion on the war and the mainstream press proved to be deaf and uninterested. It's been noted. Our "trusted news sources" should consider themselves on notice, we're not buying your crap anymore.
A friend who did not participate in the events in D.C. but watched CSPAN from the comfort of her couch said to me Saturday morning, "I don't understand why some of those people were onstage. They really should have just put the presentable onstage. That's how you get media attention." Like many, she suffers under the belief that the mainstream media would seriously cover events that actually effected our lives.
Consider the lack of coverage a wakeup call that once and for all destroys the notion that the press gives a damn about what you or I care about. As the White House press corps was shown yucking it up with the Bully Boy at the end of last week, they've demonstrated that they have no spine, that they have no objectivity. "We have to remain objective," they repeat as though it's holy and ordained. But when you see them fawning over the Bully Boy like Ed McMahon did Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show, it's obvious that "objectivity" is code for "average citizen is on a dead end street to nowhere."
Despite a lapdog mainstream media, a diverse cross-section of people came to D.C. last week. Some may have been more presentable to the moderate factions in the country. On the other hand some may have spoken to people that the "presentable" will never reach. That's the success story of the D.C. events. The peace movement has moved beyond self-styled gatekeepers and so-called experts to truly become a mass movement of the people. Ruth, who was with us in D.C., wrote yesterday at The Common Ills, contrasting the demonstrations now and the demonstrations of the sixties and seventies, that the difference was the inclusion. While the mainstream continues to ignore a mass movement and futon & couch warriors offer critiques, the movement moves on, gathering more participants and reaching out beyond the mainstream media.
We rocked DC the weekend of the 24th and even now the movement rolls on with or without corporate media. To get an idea of what you missed, you can check out Indymedia's extensive coverage as well as last Monday's Democracy Now! and our own piece where we asked people "'Why Are You Here?' and 'What's Changed?'" If you're waiting for The New York Times to put you in touch with the country, you're waiting in vain.

C.I.: Thank you, Jess. Turning now to the latest in entertainment news, we go to Betty of Thomas Friedman is a Great Man.

Betty: C.I., as you and Ava know, the new television season has begun. If you leave UPN, you may wonder where are the black people? Watching a show, you can see the token here and the token there but not much more. People of color as a whole take a hit though CBS is proud to offer, in their Threshold, a size challenged indivdual. As with each fall season, people with physical disabilities are also off the radar. Watching the latest offerings and the returning shows this week, Americans were given the impression that the nation is a white world where blacks serve as wacky sidekicks if they are around at all. ABC's Commander-in-Chief offers an interesting rewrite of its own. To a nation divided, ABC serves up a show that focuses on Republicans and swing-voters. Where the Democrats were on that show is almost as mystifying as why Geena Davis' onscreen daughter worships Pat Buchanan. Commander-in-Chief's chief selling point is that Davis portrays the first woman president. As Christine has noted at Pop Politics, it's a show that's not watched in large numbers in D.C. In other TV news, the wedding's off for Loreli on Gilmore Girls. From the state responsible for so much entertainment in the world, The Gropenator declared war on the GLBT community as well as on photographers. With the stroke of pen, Ahnuld is out to penalize paparazzi. Whether that's due to the infamous photo of him in a speedo where the muscle man was revealed to have fat rolls, a saggy butt and man boobs that would more than fill out an A cup bra is not known. Joining his GOP bretheren, Ahnuld, who certainly counted on the admiration of gay men in his film career, demonstrated that he sides with repression and not inclusion by refusing to sign the legislature's bill to legalize gay marriage in the state of California. Will & Grace aired live on NBC Thursday and Deborah Messing found it hard not to break character repeatedly as she giggled at her co-stars and at herself. Watching, one had to wonder how the pioneers of TV's golden age were able to maintain their characters when the Emmy award winning Messing found it so difficult to stay in character. American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino revealed on 20/20 and in her new "book" that she is functionally illiterate. Barrino dropped out of school in the ninth grade following a rape. Her book, which she dicated, is entitled Life is Not a Fairy Tale. As a mother myself, I'll editorialize here by noting that whining you wish you could read to your four-year-old daughter is just whining. Tuturing, which Barrino mainstains she is now taking part in, should have begun with the first paycheck. Mary J. Blige is the perfect example of someone willing to spend the time to educate herself after the schools systems failed. Barrino's daughter won't be four-years-old forever and a little less time spent on interviews focusing on yourself and a little bit more time addressing your shortcomings would probably be more beneficial to your child. I'll pull a you here, C.I., and note that I'm biting my tongue severely with several smart remarks I could make. I will say plainly that it's shameful that a black woman with the resources to become literate not only chooses not to but uses her illiteracy as a marketing plan for the latest step in her career. Far more inspiring to others suffering from illiteracy would be if Barrino had taken the time to become literate prior to dictating her book and if she had made that a part of her latest publicity push.

C.I.: She has begun tutoring?

Betty: She says she has but she also repeated her remarks about wishing she could read to her four-year-old daughter. "See Dick, See Jane. This is Dick. This is Jane." There are children's books that are that simple with wonderful illustrations. Apparently the tutoring has either just started or isn't getting the attention it deserves if such books are beyond Barrino's capabilities. Many people, including many black people are illiterate in this country. Most do not have access to the resources Barrino has. As a black woman and as a mother, I had no sympathy to her tale of "I wish I could read to my four-year-old." No one's expecting her to read [Toni Morrison's] Beloved to her four-year-old so if an adult who can speak well, is trying to learn to read and still can't master a children's picture book, she's either not spending the time needed or she needs to find new tutors.

C.I.: Is there a learning disability mentioned by Barrino?

Betty: No. She says that since she could sing, she was never interested in reading and that her family wasn't made up of strong readers. As she, reported on 20/20, begins her tour and her movie career while brushing aside her daughter's request to read to her with "Not now," someone's priorities are screwed. That's my editorial statement. She ought to be saying "Not now" to some of the business deals and interviews she's saying yes to until she can find the time to manage to read a picture book to her child. Hoping "someday" to be able to read her child is hardly inspiring though it will no doubt help her be seen as "real." Marketing inadequicies instead of attempting to overcome them.

C.I.: Thank you, Betty. For additional resources on literacy, you can check out America's Literacy Directory which will provide statistics as well as inform you of literacy programs in your area, for adults, for children and for the learning disabled. Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude joins us now to give us the latest on the world of nature.

Rebecca: The Independent of London reports that "scientists will warn this week" that species are dying at a faster rate than was previously thought. As Artic ice continues to shrink for the fourth year in a row, polar bears, among other species, are increasingly at risk. The warmer temperature upsets the natural cycle of the polar bear, the thinning ice provides them with less of a habitat, and hungry and with less of an area to roam in, they go into towns where they are shot.

C.I.: Rebecca, as the Artic ice decreases, it turns to something, which is water. While the ice reflects the sun's rays back into space, the water absorbs them thereby increasing the global temperature. Correct?

Rebecca: Correct, and the BBC reports findings that, if the shrinkage continues, by 2060 "there may be no summer ice" in the Artic "at all."

C.I.: For most of the Bully Boy's tenure, there has been denial that global warming was occurring even in the face of last year's Pentagon report that found global warming to be a threat to humanity. Jeff Goodall, writing in Rolling Stone, has noted that the naysayers have now turned from denial to propositions that what we're looking at now is only more beach time, summer weather. Did you find any happy talk in the wake of this news?

Rebecca: One report that I found interesting from the headline was Aljazeera's "Global warming may boost oil industry." However, at present, when you try to access the article you get a message of server error. Australia's ABC had nothing on global warming in the last few days; however, they did carry a story entitled "Oceans becoming more acidic: scientists." The report details the increase, by 50%, in carbon dioxide in the ocean water. For those who skipped science classes, humans expell carbon dioxide but take in oxygen to breathe. The oceans are made up of many things but as a water based body, they are made up of H2O mean hydrogen and oxygen. The increase in carbon dioxide, though little noted elsewhere, is not good news on its own. When combined with the news of the Artic ice as well as the decrease in glaciers, we're looking at a very troubling situation that all countries should be seriously addressing. In terms of sea life, sea shells will be effected, as well as basic structure, by the carbon dioxide increase and it will enter the food chain. Currently, there is a call for action on December 3rd, similar to the demonstrations in D.C. recently, to come together and insist that the issues of global warming be addressed. Quickly in other news, an excavation in Creete has unearthed the statues of Greek goddesses Athena and Hera thought to be toppled in 367 A.D. by an earthquake. The BBC reports that in the Congolese forest, wild gorrillas have been observed using simple tools "to test the depth of muddy water and to cross swampy areas." In July, astronomers said they'd discovered a tenth planet, known as Xena, and now the Associated Press reports that what's being called a moon has been observed orbiting around the planet.

C.I.: Thank you for that report, Rebecca. From reports of Xena, we now turn to Ty, of The Third Estate Sunday Review, who'll be reporting on events in Bali.

Ty: Following the August 25 bombings that left seven people dead in Bali, Saturday the island was again rocked with bombings. Not much is known in the immediate aftermath. AFP reports that at least 32 people are dead, the AP reports that at least 24 people are dead. Some news sources report three bombs, some report four. In the confusion surrounding the events, The Sunday Times of London attempts to give the attacks a British presence with a piece entitled "Revealed: British link to Bali bombs." They do this by focusing on uninjured tourists from England. At a time when over 100 are injured by conservative estimates, that might not be the "hook" for a story on the bombings. Australia's ABC, which goes with three bombs, reports that the connection between the three is the use of backpacks. The BBC offers:

BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner says Bali -- a predominantly
Hindu island popular with Western tourists -- represents a soft and
tempting target for Islamist extremists linked to al-Qaeda.

Ty (con't): NPR notes the bombings too place "almost three years to the day after bombs killed more than 200 people in Bali" and that "Indonesia's president had recently warned of a looming threat." The Independent of London reports:

The new blasts are the latest in an appalling summer for terrorist attacks.
First there was the 7 July bombings in London, which killed 52, and then, later
that month, 64 people died, several of them Britons, and 200 were injured when
three bombs struck the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. And, in August, there
was widespread anger in the West, and especially among relatives of those killed
in the 2002 Bali Bombings, when Indonesia reduced the 30-month sentence handed
down to controversial cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir.

Ty (con't): As some take to announcing that the bombings are a reminder, a good question to ask may be, "A reminder of what?" As Democracy Now! noted Thursday:

New Report Says US Viewed as 'Dangerous Force'
As Karen Hughes traveled, a new report was released on the international
view of the US. It was compiled by a nine-member advisory committee headed by
former Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of staff. The report found
widespread hostility toward the US and its policies, especially the occupation
of Iraq. The report said, "For what can be heard around the world, in the wake
of the invasion of Iraq, the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib, and the
controversy over the handling of detainees at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, is that
America is less a beacon of hope than a dangerous force to be countered."

Ty (con't): Those calling this a reminder had better be aware that the so-called war on terror has not resulted in a decrease in the amount of terrorist attacks.

C.I.: Thank you, Ty. We now turn to Ava, of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

Ava: C.I., in Brazil a judge has been sentenced to fifteen years for the murder of a security guard. While a portion of detainees held in Guantanamo enter the second month of their fast, the U.S. military tells the BBC that it's simply a bid for media attention.
Last week saw the assassination, in Puerto Rico, of Filiberto Ojeda Rios. Little reported on the corporate media, but noted in Pacifica's WBAI extensive coverage, the assassination included shutting down the power to the area. As the FBI surrounded the home of Ojeda Rios, wanted for a 1983 bankrobbery, he asked that his wife be spared. The FBI was kind enough to tape her eyes shut as they then placed her under arrest for 24 hours. Ojeda Rios is said to have fired ten times, hundreds of times is said to be the FBI's record. It's being called a "shoot out." Though the FBI now says, in the face of growing outrage, that they'll attempt to determine whom fired first. They'll also attempt to determine why Ojeda Rios was allowed to bleed to death for twenty-four hours from a wound to his shoulder. Puerto Rico was seized by the U.S. in 1898 and has long sought its independence. In March of 2005, U.S. prosecuters attempted to seek the death penalty but the verdict was life imprisonment instead. Puerto Rico's 1952 constitution bans the death penalty but a U.S. federal court ruled in 2001 that federal law trumps the Puerot Rican constitution. These events and the continued use of Puerto Rico for military testing add to the tensions and the cries for the right to autonomy that some say the assassination of Ojeda Rios will only further inflame. In addition to WBAI, more news on this can be found at Democracy Now! and at Puerto Rico Indymedia, in both Spanish and English.

C.I.: Thank you, Ava. For our final report, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills) gives us the latest from the world of music.

Kat: Billboard reports that the Rolling Stones' "Streets of Love" will be used on NBC's daytime drama Days of Our Lives beginning October 18th after which it will become a "love theme" for a couple on the show. In 1979, Herb Albert's "Rise" was used on General Hospital in the infamous Luke & Laura storyline. The song benifitted. "Baby Come to Me" would later be used on General Hospital to promote the love story of Luke & Holly. That Patti Austi and James Ingrahm duet went to number one. Days of Our Lives has not had the impact of General Hospital but they did help promote then cast member Gloria Loring's duet with Carl Anderson "Friends & Lovers" which reached number two on the Hot 100 in 1986. In product endorsement news, Pepsi has denied dropping Kanye West in the face of complaints from lovers of the Bully Boy. This Tuesday, Fiona Apple's long delayed, long suppressed Extraordinary Machine makes it ways to music stores. This is Apple's first release since 1999. Apple's abscence is nothing compared to Stevie Wonder who will release his first studio album of new material in ten years, A Time to Love. Bright Fans can see Conor Oberst November 12th at the University of Missouri's Jesse Auditorium, MTV reports. Oberst cancelled a planned performance in St. Louis due the venue's connection to radio conglomerate and music killer Clear Channel. Oberst is among the "20 Greatest Innovators Of The Past 20 Years" profiled in this month's Spin. Also profiled in that feature are Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Courtney Love, Chuck D., Eddie Vedder, PJ Harvey, Chris Martin of Coldplay and the Beastie Boys. MTV also reports that Alanis Morrisette is preparing to release a greatest hits album, this on the heels of her acoustic remake of Jagged Little Pill and two studio albums after she released her MTV Unplugged live album. The Morning Call reports that indie rock is seeing a new surge and let's all hope so. Lastly, The Independent of London features an interview with Sinead O'Connor entitled "Sinéad O'Connor: Talks exclusively about suicide and redemption."

C.I.: "Streets of Love" is one of the songs Kat's praised in her review of the Rolling Stone's latest album A Bigger Bang. And that does it for this week's Third Estate Sunday Review News Review. We thank Dallas for hunting down links and Jess' parents for their help with research. Overseeing everything and acting as the glue that holds this feature together were Dona and Jim, both of The Third Estate Sunday Review, who helped with research and helped shape the reports.
Finally, we welcome Seth of Seth in the City to the community. Seth started his own site on September 28th, please check it out.

When music meets movies -- our favorite musical moments in film

Kat and Jess love music. Betty loves movies. Surely there's something there? Movie musicals. What's your favorite moment in a movie musical, we wondered? Participating in this discussion are The Third Estate Sunday Review's Dona, Jess, Ty, Ava and Jim, Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude, Betty who was on the verge of starting Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man, C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review, Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills), Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix, Mike of Mikey Likes It!, Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz,

Dona: I'll kick things off. The opening of On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. While Barbra Streisand holds her watering can and sings to the plants, there's something very magical about that moment. "Rise up, geraniums . . ." and the plants start blooming and shooting up.

Kat: "Hurry! It's Lovely Up Here" is the name of the song.

Dona: Great song. And it's such a magical moment. Then Yves Montand comes along to drag the film down. But I love the opening and bits elsewhere. I'm not big on musicals. But that's a scene that I can watch late at night and just fall asleep smiling.

Rebecca: Evita. It's the one that stands out for me. Both for promise and disappointment. My favorite moment is when they're being sexists about Evita and all singing some song. I could care less about the song but then we see the little sexists, the young men. They're singing and soaping up in the shower. If the camera would move in closer, if the scenes had lasted longer or if the young men, all adults, hadn't been wearing boxers while taking a shower, it would be my favorite movie musical scene. As flawed as it is, it's still the one that comes to mind when I think of movie musicals. I'm awaiting the musical version of Tango & Cash where Ike Barinholtz and
Antonio Sabato Junior re-enact the shower scene.

Ty: There making a musical of that film?

Rebecca: Only in my dreams.

Ty: Okay, Debbie Gibson. My choice would be any scene with Catherine Zeta Jones in Chicago. I think she made the movie. Queen Latifah was great but hardly on. Richard Gere looked way too old and no one had the guts to say that. Renee Zellwigger seemed like Ginger Rodgers and that's not intended as a compliment.

Jim: What is the deal with Renee? I always think of that scene in Me, Myself and Irene where Jim Carey's going on about her squinty, little eyes and all her other faults and wonder what's so appealing about her? She does nothing for me.

Dona: Good to know, and favorite scene in a musical?

Jim: What's her name. In Gene Kelly's An American in Paris.

C.I.: Leslie Caron?

Jim: Yeah, she's in that movie Promise Her Anything with Warren Beatty. I can watch her in anything.

Kat: I'll go with anything starring Gene Kelly. I find him very hot onscreen. He's got a great butt. The sailor uniforms he, Frank Sinatra and Jules Munshin wear at the beginning of On The Town really show that off. There's also a scene in Summer Stock that nicely showcases his butt as well, he's in the kitchen singing. I'm going with On The Town before Dona asks. I've always loved Gene Kelly, his singing, his dancing, his acting and his rear end. Sinatra's great in On The Town and Betty Garrett is hilarious.

Betty: As a Betty, I'll go next. For me, that's hard. I like musical scenes in a lot of films but there aren't a lot with stories that I care for. Just for a scene? I guess I'd go with Diana Ross in The Wiz singing "Is This What Feeling Gets?" because that's such an overlooked song and I think it's one of her best performances. She always grabs me with that song. I'm sure no one here knows it.

C.I.: "Is this what feeling gets? A hope for happy endings. Alone and scared something I don't want to be. What did he see when he looked inside of me? If this is just a dream . . ."

Betty: I am impressed.

C.I.: Written by Nicholas Ashford, Valerie Simpson and Quincy Jones. Written for the film The Wiz, so no one write in saying, "That's not in the play!"

Betty: Quickly, I should have noted this in the entertainment report earlier, they're doing a musical production of The Color Purple. Sorry.

Dona: Nothing to be sorry about. Let's go with Cedric next so he can go ahead and get some sleep since he has church in a few hours.

Cedric: Thank you. I would've picked The Wiz too but let me think of something different. I know I'm supposed to love Sparkle because everyone raves over it, but I don't think it's all that and prefer Aretha Franklin's version of the songs to anything the actors sing in the movie. Oh, Singing in the Rain with Kat's dream boy. The scene where they sing "Good Morning, Good Morning" or the scene, the famous one, where Gene Kelly sings the title song and dancing through the streets. There's a lot of excitement in that scene partly due to the story and partly due to the excitement in Kelly's movements.

Kat: Good pick.

Dona: We spoke to Ruth earlier today and asked her what her pick would be. She selected Funny Face with Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire. She said she loves all the songs including "Think Pink" but her favorite moments are in the bookstore with Hepburn and when Astaire finds Hepburn in the cafe in France. Ruth found Hepburn's dance in the cafe both graceful and humorous and noted how difficult that can be to pull off.

Jess: Guys and Dolls. Sinatra's perfect as Nathan Detroit and you get "Luck Be A Lady." Vivian Blaine is funny and you've got Marlon Brando as Sky Msterson. There's always something happening onscreen and you really need to watch it in the letterbox format. Everyone's on the take and running some scam, very New York City. And take the opening scene. There's not one of the stars in the film but you can't stop watching because they've got so much going on, con games, pick pockets, you name it. By the time the guy starts singing "I got the horse right here" I'm hooked.

Mike: I don't know that movie. I almost went with The Wizard of Oz because I was having a hard time thinking of a musical I really loved but then I remembered Moulin Rouge. I love the scene where Nicole Kidman is singing that song made up of bits of all the other songs. I like the way it moves so quick and you're not waiting for something to happen. I get bored when someone breaks out into song for no reason and they're just standing there looking at the moon or whatever. And Nicole Kidman is really hot in that movie.

Elaine: My pick would be Yentl which I think is an amazing movie. Barbra Streisand worked hard, and worked years, to bring that to the screen. The film uses the music to reveal Yentl's thoughts. Favorite moments are numerous including "Tomorrow Night" which moves at such an amazing pace both in terms of the song's rhythm and the action on screen. "Papa, Can You Hear Me?" causes me to tear up because I lost both my parents at an early age. Yentl has a thirst for knowledge and along the way ends up falling in love with Mandy Patinkin.

Rebecca: We see his butt! I wish I'd remembered that.

Elaine: (Laughing) Yes, we see his butt. Amy Irving is very moving. The film's got a beautiful look and is one of my favorites. I think Barbra Streisand did an amazing job directing it. There's the song where she's with Amy Irving that's so perfect for that scene and, sadly, so true in many situations. I can't think of the title.

C.I.: "Who wouldn't want someone who fusses and flatters" is "Tomorrow Night."

Elaine: Right. But the one about the baked apple.

C.I.: "No Wonder."

Elaine: Yes. I love the way that works with the music, the singing and the dialogue. And the film closes with "No Matter What Happens." I just love everything in that movie. The musical elements and the non-musical ones. Streisand really is amazing as an actress but she is also a very talented director.

C.I.: Lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, music by Michael Legrand.

Ava: I went with Allison Anders' Grace of My Heart which stars Illena Douglas as a singer-songwriter in the sixties. There are a lot of wonderful songs in the film including "God Give Me Strength" by Burt Bacharach and Elvis Costello. But I also love "Man From Mars."

C.I.: Written by Joni Mitchell.

Ava: I did not know that. Douglas is playing a Carol King type singer-songwriter who can't get much work as a singer but finds success as a songwriter and then teams up with Eric Stoltz, whom her character marries, in a version of Carol King's partnership with first husband and lyricist Gerry Goffin. Patsy Kensit is really strong in the film. I love the music. My favorite moment is probably Douglas at the microphone with "God Give Me Strength." Second favorite moment, Bridget Fonda's scenes with "My Secret Love."

Dona: Now that we've picked over everything, have we left you with anything, C.I.?

C.I.: I'm surprised no one said Judy Garland doing "Get Happy" in Summer Stock since it's a really famous scene. But I'll go with Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell singing "When Love Goes Wrong" from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. The obvious choice is probably "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend," performed by Monroe, from that film, Jane Russell also sings it later in the film. But I think "When Love Goes Wrong" advances the plot and really has some interesting camera work and interesting choreography. Written by Harold Adamson and Hoagy Carmichael.

Dona: And "When Love Goes Wrong" was turned into "When Judy Goes Scoop" "nothing goes right" at The Common Ills. So those were our picks for music meets film's finest moments. Readers have been e-mailing and requesting more musical features so we are trying to address that and we will continue to attempt to do so.

Spotlight: Ruth's Morning Edition Report

One of the personal highlights of the weekend in D.C. was getting to meet Ruth face to face as well as her granddaughter Tracey. We enjoyed Ruth in the flesh as much as we've enjoyed her Morning Edition Reports. We're especially happy that's she branched out into highlighting programs airing on Pacifica stations. NPR isn't the only game in town and we're glad Ruth's reminding everyone of that.

"Ruth's Morning Edition Report"

Ruth: The place to start each week is with FAIR's Counterspin. This week's show focused on a number of topics that this community would find interesting. The Patriot Act was discussed in terms of the court case that everyone's under a gag order on. Melissa Goodman, the national securities fellow at the ACLU, sketched in the details the court will allow. An organization with library records has been asked to turn over records under the Patriot Act, specifically under a National Security Letter. Whether they have turned over the records or not, is not clear. But, as Ms. Goodman points out, the Patriot Act has been used and we are not allowed to discuss it while we are also supposed to be having a serious discussion about renewing it. Ms. Goodman spoke of how difficult it was for even members of Congress to overcome the stonewall that greets all inquiries to the Justice Department about the Patriot Act.

They also dealt with the lack of TV attention, nationally, to the protests against the war last weekend. Aaron Brown told his CNN audience that, "The national conversation today is the hurricane that put millions and millions of people at risk. And it's just kind of an accident of bad timing. And I know that won't satisfy anyone but that's the truth of it."

Peter Hart commented, "No, it's not especially satisfying to hear that a 24 hour cable new channel is somehow incapable of covering more than a single news story at a time. Or to hear the national conversation described as something that CNN just listens in on rather than helping direct and shape with their coverage choices."

Last week, NPR's Morning Edition felt the need to give "equal time" (actually more than that) to the pro-war protesters. Counterspin informs you that others took part in that as well including The Today Show which gave a full sentence each to the 300,000 in D.C. protesting the war and to the less than 500 marching for the war. USA Today also gave them "balance." Peter Hart noted a Washington Post headline:"Smaller but spirited crowd protests anti-war march; more then 200 say they represent the majority."

Mr. Hart responded, "Perhaps the crowd felt that way because they've grown accustomed to a media system that so frequently echoes thier views while keeping antiwar voices which represents the actual majority opinion off the radar."

Janine Jackson also addressed John McCain and Mark Shields. I tried to take notes on her commentary on Mr. Shields while listening, on WBAI Friday, but I was laughing too hard when she noted that "he was old enough to remember a time when special interests referred to monied interests." After that she began addressing how he represents the "left" on TV even though he's not progressive or left.

Korea was a major topic discussed. As most of you know, C.I. does not note the New York Times' coverage of North Korea. (Due to the belief that the paper takes State Department policies and opinions which it then passes on as news.) John Feffer addressed the domestic coverage at length. Unless there are objections from members, I will probably attempt to highlight CounterSpin each week so members can get a feel for the show and hopefully some of you will consider listening if you are not already. CounterSpin is a weekly radio program and you can click here to find out if it airs in your area or you can listen online. (I catch it online on Fridays via Pacifica's WBAI.)

What I wanted to listen to this week during the day was Your Call on Thursday and Friday when Laura Flaners hosts this public radio program. My grandson Elijah is teething and it is the time after lunch when it appears to really bother him which coincides with the broadcast of Your Call. So I missed Thursday.

I was able to listen to Your Call Friday but not able to take notes. One topic was Tom DeLay and Jake Bernstein, of the Texas Observer, and Lori Robertson, with the American Journalism Review, discussed the nature of Mr. DeLay's latest scandal. Ms. Robertson felt that the story would be one that suited print better than television due to the details involved. I will add that the lack of visuals will probably weaken its TV coverage though, if they get footage of Mr. DeLay handcuffed and frog-marched off, that could change. Ms. Robertson said that she felt that the Washington Post had been the leader on this story and that it was the kind of story they do best. She said that newspapers' Sunday editions this weekend would give a good indication of how well the print media will handle this story.

It is a complex story and Ms. Flanders summed it up in understandable terms that I will now probably ruin but Texas has prohibitions against using corporate monies in elections. In order to circumvent that, the money from Mr. DeLay's pac was sent to the Republican Committee nationally with a document of some sort explaining that the money needed to be funnelled back to campaigns in Texas and cited which ones.

A reporter from Aljazeera was also supposed to be on and may have been. Elijah was very loud and needing additional attention, anyone who has cared for a teething baby will understand that, so if the reporter was on, I must have missed him or her. I did hear part of the discussion of the woman who will be replacing Kenneth Tomlinson at the CPB which oversees NPR and PBS. The feeling there was that the woman was smarter and smoother than Tomlinson which will lead to her being a greater threat to public broadcasting. The woman once worked for Newt Gingrich and she also made a comment, about her new position, that the best part was she would not have to go overseas. Which I took, and the guests may have as well, to mean that her huge contributions to Republicans over the years bought her a post but, unlike an ambassadorship, it did not require for her to relocate to a foreign country.

If you're in the San Francisco area, you can listen to Your Call Mondays through Friday viaKALW 91.7 FM. Otherwise you can listen online, as I do. It airs from ten to eleven Pacific Time and from one to two Eastern Standard Time. Ms. Flanders hosts the programs on Thursdays and Fridays. I have not been able to listen Mondays through Wednesdays when Mary Ambrose hosts but Zach has e-mailed to say that she also does a fine job of hosting.

Sonny & Cher got it wrong.

It's a grandma's, not a cowboy's, work that's never done. Which is why I attempted to listen to various night time programs this week with various grandchildren.

Monday night, I finally was able to catch Houston's KPFT's Queer Voices which is a program four members have e-mailed suggesting I listen to. I have attempted to and each Monday, my seventeen-year-old grandson Jayson, who is gay, has come over to listen with me. This Monday we were finally able to pick up the stream. J.D. Doyle, Deborah Bell and Jack Devlin hosted the show.

An actor currently performing in the play Bent was interviewed. I was honestly surprised that Jayson did not know of the play of Bent. This deals with gays kept in Nazi concentration camps. In the seventies it was a big deal to some that Richard Gere was perfomring in the play. Since it combines history, Jewish themes and gay themes, we'll be watching a film of the play on videotape Saturday night.

I have a huge number of grandchildren, who refer to themselves as the "crew," I have no idea why they chose that terminology, and you know of Tracey already who, like Rebecca, reminds me of my friend Treva because she is so together and on the ball. I love them all very much but my policy is that they get named if they want to be named. When I had mentioned during Sunday lunches that some members had requested I listen to Queer Voices, Jayson told me that we would listen together and that way he could be included in the Morning Edition Report.
I asked Jayson what I should share and he stressed to say that he was good looking. He is good looking with dark, curly hair and the only grandchild that got their grandfather's curly hair. He came out on the sixth month anniversary of his grandfather's death, over a Sunday lunch, and we were surprised but, honestly, it was probably one more thing that helped me get back to living my life. I am very proud of him and he knows that gay does not mean different, Grandma is still going to be attempting to fix him up. I have not had much success yet but I think that is partly due to the fact that many of the gay high schoolers I know of are not comfortable being out. He can scoff all he wants, but my oldest grandchild is happily married for five years now and I was the yenta that got him together with his future wife.

Queer Voices is a locally produced program and some of the announcements of local events in Houston had Jayson joking that we needed to take a road trip to Houston. Maybe after hurricane season. It broadcasts once a week, Monday nights on Pacifica's KPFT.

We learned that gays and lesbians are being entrapped and tortured in Iran as well as that Silo & Roy had broken up. Who are Silo & Roy? Two male penguins who were an "item" for over five years. We also learned of labor efforts in the gay community. And learned that Minister Louis Farrakhan once was a calypso singer when they played a song he recorded in 1954 about a transgendered person. The two hours provided a wide mix of news and voices with the second hour opening with an acapella, female version of the Beach Boys' "Surfer Girl" and was devoted to look at gay themed music. This is the sort of programming that NPR should be producing but does not. It will not distribute a gay themed program despite the fact that doing so fits in with their mission statement of serving the communities and voices that are not are widely heard in the commercial broadcast medium.

I do not think anyone in this community would argue, "Ruth, you feel that way because you have a grandson who is gay." But some visitor might. Before an e-mail comes in from one of them, I will explain that I am not Native American or Chicana but I enjoy those programs on Pacifica. Public broadcasting should provide us with a wide range of voices to educate and inform us. I enjoy learning, even at my age, and my favorite programs are ones that inform and educate me. As a young feminist, I assumed that my friends who were lesbian would have the same acceptance that my straight friends were greeted with in a few years. It has been more than a few years as my gray hairs and wrinkles can attest and, while things have improved somewhat, we have still not reached "easier." The cowardice of NPR on the issue of gays and lesbians is unforgiveable considering their mission statement. That may be the grandmother in me speaking but that is how I feel.

There is a great deal of ignorance in our nation and that goes to a lack of information. Providing the occasional profile on an actor, actress, etc. who is gay does not address a very significant part of our population.

To member Marco, I listened to the program you recommended, finally, this week and it was funny. Chicano News Network, jokes about the Bully Boy and Osama, I could not stop laughing. But I did not write down the title or station. If you will e-mail again, I will note it next week because it was a very funny program and original comedy programming done by one of the Pacifica affliates.

Tracey and another granddaughter came over Wednesday night to listen to listen to KPFK's Feminist Journal but we were unable to get any of the streams to work. (KPFK provides several streaming options.) We will try again next week because it is a program we enjoy very much.
Berkeley's KPFA remains the source of my favorite evening news program, KPFA Evening News. So if you're looking for an evening news program, or a nightly one in my case, I'd suggest that you sample it. Like many Pacifica radio stations programs, they are archiving the broadcasts of KPFA Evening News so if six p.m. PT, eight p.m. CT, or nine p.m. EST is not ideal for you, you might want to consider listening at another time via the archives.
Last weekend, as most of you know, my granddaughter Tracey and I were in D.C. with many good people, including community members, standing up for peace. I received a number of e-mails on that and have replied to all of them but Brady's question was how did I think it compared to the "sixties"? I actually attended more rallies in the early seventies than I did in the sixties. Humor was evident then and now. The passion seemed just as strong. I, and this is just my opinion, honestly felt there was a lot more heart in this protest and that the diversity was more present on all levels. That is a subjective opinion but, as I remember it, there was a great deal of arguing over whether women should have an active role in the demonstrations and whether gays and lesbians would help or hurt this rally or that march. Inclusion desires back then centered solely on males of other races and ethnicities to hear many of the leaders, male, speak. Not all, but many of them. Feminism emerged from the student movement, in many ways, as my peers looked around and wondered why we were always the ones typing or getting coffee or doing phone work while the speaking and more "glamorous" work was done by the men? Stonewall was, I believe, in 1968 and it and feminism were too new for some of the more traditional type males to grasp. There was a great deal of talk of how women and gay people were destroying the movement with our "niche" issues as though the various topics that males went after that were not related to the Vietnam conflict were not "niche." A "niche" issue, my opinion, is any issue that someone in charge does not want to address.

So that was probably what stood out the most for me, this sea of change that a lot of us hoped we would see but that I, frankly, do not think we ever saw then in the general peace movement. Last weekend in D.C., there was a wide range of voices and there seemed to be far less attempts to gate control. That might result from the fact that one of the of the leaders in today's peace movement is CODEPINK which is a group made up of women. It might also have to do with the fact that groups such as NOW were establashing themselves during the peace movement of the sixties and seventies but are now firmly organized and very powerful.

Someone else might see it differently. In fact, I can think of one sixties "leader" who has always gotten on my nerves -- or, as Tracey would say "my last nerve" -- coming forward today to bemoan this diversity but then he was one of the people screaming "niche" in the sixties and early seventies. (I did not see him in D.C. and I doubt he participated.) On the other hand, I saw it as a testament to the power of women and others to organize and persevere. Some may remember it differently but, as I remember it, we were discouraged from leadership roles quite often. The change today is amazing and I do not think it has been noted by the mainstream press which, true, has not noted much about the current peace movement.

I was very grateful to see that change.

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