Sunday, June 18, 2006

Truest statement of last week

The president and the Republican majority really refuse to level with the American people about when our troops are coming home, also really if they're coming home. And while we're debating this very bogus resolution, the most substantive decison on Iraq policy in very recent days was taken out by the Republican majority behind closed doors. They stripped from the war suplemental an amendment we offered to prevent the establishment of permanent military bases in Iraq. The American people don't want an open-ended war and occupation. Quietly removing a measure that was approved by both the House and the Senate is a gross abuse of the democratic process and is further evidence that the Republicans are afraid to level with the American people about their real plans for Iraq. Let me tell you, there will be a day of reckoning. The American people are demanding answers they deserve a truthful accounting of how we got into this unnecessary war, how the billions of dollars have been misspent, and when our troops are coming home. And also they really deserve to know if our troops are coming home given recent reports that the administration is considering leaving a permanent force of 50,000 troops in Iraq and indications that establishing permanent miliary bases are not off the table.
-- Barbara Lee, Thursday on the floor of the House

Covered by Friday's KPFA's The Morning Show and Thursday's KFPA's Evening News and C.I. says that there is a "that" somewhere in the remarks which is missing in the above quote.

Editorial: What's news?

On February 1st, I was arrested at the State of the Union address for wearing a Veterans for Peace shirt that read: 2,245 Dead. How many more?
A little over four months later, we are now tragically marking the deaths of 255 more of our brave and wonderful young American soldiers. So today, with 2,500 dead, I ask again: How many more? And with tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians--maybe even a lot more than 100,000--killed, I ask: How many more?
-- Cindy Sheehan, "How Many More?" (Common Dreams).

How many more? And why is Cindy Sheehan asking the question without any backing (or coverage) from the mainstream media? Where was The New York Times's Friday headline "2500 Dead"?

It wasn't on the front page, it wasn't inside the paper. 2,500 dead.

They're gone. They've been sacrificed in Bully Boy's illegal war of choice.

The Times, which runs with every whisper, cough and belch from an "official" can't report on the Pentagon's Thursday announcement/admission?

We're all supposed to look away? Is that it?

The paper, which had a hand in selling the war, didn't see 2500 dead as news? What was that nonsense mea culpa about? Their coverage hasn't gotten much better and they still haven't gotten honest with readers about what happened re: Iraq coverage. (Or will Judith Miller be the fall guy for everyone? Michael R. Gordon, among others, probably hopes so. The Times still hasn't run a correction on their 2001 report linking Saddam Hussein to the training of terrorist hijackers. PBS had issued a mealy mouthed correction on that, a few months back, but the paper of no record remains silent.) (For the record, the report, done with Frontline and the paper working jointly, didn't carry Judith Miller's byline.)

The coverage was bad. The coverage was slanted and it cheerled a war. The paper's editorials and op-eds don't change that. Nor did they or do they address the reporting in the paper.

Along with reporting, many took the airwaves. Michael R. Gordon, on CNN, justified the bombing of a TV station but now, all these years later, wants to try to weasel out of his statements with a laughable revision (poor war pornographer, the transcripts remain unrevised).

John F. Burns is getting credit, from some, for a little honesty when he was doing meet and greets (it'll take more than that for him to salvage his reputation). But the reality is his reporting remains useless because it's not reporting. He and Dexter Filkins are the face of the embeds in the Green Zone at their worst.

Burns wanted the war and positioned himself as the leading human rights activist of our times in interview after interview prior to the war as he railed against the conditions on the ground in Iraq. He all but beat his chest and screamed "Oh! The humanity!" His concern might strike some as sincere if he demonstrated any of that in his current reporting. But as he so infamously put it, he shapes his coverage for the American tax payer.

Johnny, did you learn that in j-school?

Possibly, he attended a j-school via correspondence course? He had a fit when confronted in the Green Zone (by Jeremy Schahill) and started screaming of his multiple Pulitzer wins. Hold on to those prizes, Johnny, they're all that's left you ("A time it was . . ." as Simon & Garfunkle sing).

The final line on John F. Burns goes to C.I.: "I sold my reputation in the Green Zone and all I got was this lousy occupation."

Dexter Filkins? Christian Parenti once noted the world of difference between the Dexy in print and the Dexy in person. Apparently the Dexy in person knew how awful the illegal occupation was going years ago. It's too bad he was too busy putting on the red light to inform readers of reality. Last week, we thought there might be cause for hope -- possibly the ultimate embed (when military spokespeople dream, they dream of Dexy) was going to turn it around? He reported on a possible massacre -- in real time! No one rushed to explore that story. Maybe that's why he's returned to his propaganda ways? It's too bad because if Dexy had turned it around, we would have noted it. Instead, he remains firmly hand-in-hand, skipping through the heavily protected Green Zone with Burnsie.

You'd think someone outed by The Washington Post as a propagandist swallower would be working twice as hard to report, instead Dexy just wants to fluff.

The Times refuses to address the occupation seriously. They refuse to call for a withdrawal of troops. Maybe next year? Is that how we live now? Maybe next year a major paper will say "Troops out now!" and maybe a year after that, as Bully Boy winds down his reign, the idea will get more traction. Just as with Vietnam, people who know reality refuse to address it. That's "reporters" in the Green Zone, and it's a paper that doesn't think the death of 2,500 American troops, announced by the Pentagon, makes for front page news or even a single story on its own.

What's news? While remaining silent on the 2,500 dead, the paper of no record felt a jotty, superficial piece on Wikipedia was FRONT PAGE NEWS.

How did the paper get it so wrong on Iraq? (And continue to get it so wrong?) They seem to have a serious problem determining what is news.

Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot.

Chaos and violence continue.

Reuters estimates that Saturday bombings claimed the lives of at least 43. This in the midst of the "clampdown." As Reuters notes of the "clampdown": "But the sweep, mounted one day after U.S. President George W. Bush made a surprise visit to Baghdad to bolster Maliki's month -- old government, has failed to stop attacks." Someone tell Bully Boy he needs to build a better photo-op. For photos as opposed to photo-ops, Polly suggests the BBC's photo essay on some of Saturday's violence and chaos.

So let's note three now common occurrences of the illegal occupation -- corpses, kidnappings and bombings.

Corpses? Reuters notes that ten corpses were discovered in Baghdad. AP notes "showed signs of torture."

Kidnappings? Witnesses are reporting that the two American soldiers missing Friday (these were the two that divers were attempting to find on Saturday) were kidnapped by"masked gunmen" (AP). The two currently missing have not been identified and they bring the MIA count of American troops to three. Batavia, Ohio's Keith M. Maupin has been missing since April of 2004 and declared captured by the US Defense Department April 16, 2004. Maupin's status has remained missing in action for over two years. The Associated Press reports that ten workers at a bakery were kidnapped Sunday.

Bombings? Reuters reports that four of Saturday's bombings have been claimed by the Mujahideen Shura Council which vowed in a press release to continue until "doomsday."On Sunday, KUNA reports, a bomb thrown into a Kirkuk "wine store" injured at least four people. Reuters notes that six were killed by morters in Baghdad.

Reporting on a series of shootings in Baquba, the AFP notes that the following died on Sunday:a truck driver, teacher and three brothers. In Basra, Reuters reports that, in response to Friday's mosque bombing, all but one Sunni mosque would be closed "until futher notice." Meanwhile, KUNA is reporting that a water shortage in Kuwait has led the cabinet to call on all residents to conserve water and is blaming the shortage on "obstacles" to "the implementation of the ministry's plans and programs."

The seige on Ramadi continues with mainstream sources relying on official statements from the US military. The AP notes that, on Saturday, "[t]wo long columns of U.S. and Iraqi armored vehicles . . . encircled the southern side of Ramadi". The BBC goes with "extra checkpoints" being set up this weekend and notes that Ramadi has a population of around 400,000. As Dahr Jamail has noted in numerous reports (and discussed with Amy Goodman last week on Democracy Now!), the city is under seige, US forces have set up snipers, cut off power, etc. in what strikes many as a replay of the leadup to the slaughter in Falluja in 2004. Though in multiple wire releases US military spokesperson maintain that people will be able to enter and exit, those who remember the assault on Falluja in November of 2004 where innocent civilians were killed after they'd been prevented from leaving the city (with males of all ages, including children denied exit by the US military) will remain skeptical of the official statements. As Kathy Kelly recently noted: "If the 2004 Battle of Fallujah is a precursor for an attack against Ramadi, the U.S. military may cordon off an escape route for women and children, but forbid the men and older boys to leave. It's also possible that the U.S. military will launch an offensive attack even if civilians remain trapped and have nowhere to flee and no means of getting food, medicine and water into the city."

Reuters estimates that approximately 10,000 people (around 1,500 families) have left the city and quotes resident Thair Saad stating: "We're living in a war zone. What's more, we have no electricity, potable water or even telephones."

In Canada, United States peace activist Cindy Sheehan attended a rally Saturday for American troops who have elected to leave the military, the Associated Press reports, with at least twenty, of the estimated 200 who have elected to move to Canada and go AWOL from the US military, attending the rally including Darrell Anderson and Chris Magaoay. Sheehan spoke of her son Casey Sheehan who was killed while serving in Iraq: "And I wish he was standing up here with these people because he didn't want to go" [to Iraq].

Reuters reports that in the United States Senate, Democrats will offer a plan for phased withdrawal of troops from Iraq. This is not the plan proposed last week by Mass. Senator John F. Kerry which, as Democracy Now! noted, found only five other supporters: "Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer of California, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts joined Kerry in voting for withdrawal." The plan to be proposed Tuesday is, again, a "phased withdrawal." Those with longer memories (Vietnam) will likely be unimpressed and the resolution, if backed by Republican members, would put the Senate in conflict with the House after the House passed their laughable "We Shall Win!" resolution last week.

Reuters estimates the number of Americans currently serving in the military in Iraq at 129,000. In 2004 and 2005, you may remember, the military had trouble meeting their recruitment targets (so they lowered the target). The drop from 150,000 to 129,000 might have something to do with the fact that the military continues to have difficulty meeting their targets and that 2004 and 2005 left them behind by about 20,000 recruits.

Finally, in a move seen by some as confirming press reports on Friday, the AFP reports that Junichiro Koizumi (prime minister of Japan) is considering announcing, prior to his June 29th meeting with the Bully Boy, that Japan will be withdrawing all troops from Iraq.

TV Review: There's always a platform for some

While we were doing the edition last week, Ty told us that two people had e-mailed requesting that we review an FX show. We weren't interested. Many of the readers do not have cable or satellite, so we stick to broadcast TV. Ty informed us that the show had a "special" airing on Fox (broadcast TV). Two requests and a one time airing on broadcast? [Added: Fox aired it again tonight.]

Was it bending the rule or breaking it?

As requested we watched. It's called It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Yes, and the White Boy view will always have a place on television.

We hit up a friend for copies of episodes from the first season.

Because we liked it?


There's a strain, we'll call it Libertarian Boy, that's gotten a lot of play on TV. It's an ugly strain that parades itself and attempts to pass as comedy. Sometimes it comes in animated form, sometimes it comes in the form of a three slackers who own a bar together.

This has been going on for some time now. A lot of times it will hide behind the fact that it's a "gross out" comedy when, in fact, it's just gross. The humor is, supposedly, in how "daring" they are. Isn't it interesting that the daring looks always come from White Boy eyes?

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia has "tackled" the "issues" of abortion, same-sex sexuality, racism, you name it. From the perspective of three White straight males. And we're all supposed to feel enlighted by it. When they parade one stereotype after another, we're not supposed to be offended. It's "funny."

And besides, it's "free speech."

We don't see "free speech" as something only one segment gets to utilize.

So we don't (and didn't) buy the argument that it's "okay" (as well as "funny") that Stephen Colbert trades in Asian stereotypes. Nor do we credit the audience watching that crap (and laughing at it) with taking it to the level of, "See, we're laughing right now because he's playing a right winger and, as a right winger, he's putting out hate speech." No, they're laughing at his stupid stereotype.

We've seen Comedy Central offer The Man's Show. The White, though not in the title, was ever present. They'd never offered The Woman's Show. They'd never offered much beyond The Man's Show, whatever they elected to call it.

If the gross comedies aren't offensive, if they're just free speech, why do they all revolve around the White Boy point of view? (White Straight Boy point of view.)

The shows never revolve around women, people of color or non-straights. In most of those shows, as with It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, it's apparently important that we grasp that White Boys have problems too. Viewers really can't grasp the "too" because only the "too" is ever shown. (Grasping the "too" would require us to have first seen the problems effecing the non-White, non-Boys, non-straight -- but they don't get show after show about how tough life is for them.)

What is shown, repeatedly, is an attempt by reactionairies to whine about the evils of affirmative action or that gays won't run back into the closet.

South Park recently won an award. One of those prizes from a liberal group. South Park?

We know a woman who self-identifies as feminist in odd years only. (We didn't realize that until we were discussing this review. We knew she was a feminist, some years and others not, but when we tracked it, it did work out that she only identifies in odd years, or, if you prefer, non-election ones.) This being an even year, she's again one of the loudest champions of South Park. She's in TV and that's all we'll say because she agreed to go on the record with why she enjoyed the show provided she wasn't indentifed. (She was warned, and already knew, of how we feel about South Park.)

"It's funny, that's just it," she explained to us, this White woman, self-identified "independent" voter who voted for Al Gore in 2000 and Bully Boy in 2004.

Was she bothered by the the portrayals? (She is, after all, in programming. Woops, that slipped out.)

"Not at all. We need to hear all sides."

What sides does your network offer, what sides does any network offer, other than White Male?

"Well, there are lots of shows."

Name one.

"Well, I can't think when I put on the spot."


A talking piece of feces was offered as "innovative, you've never seen that before!" No, we certainly hadn't and didn't feel we were any better off for having seen it.

But that's the mentality at play. It's easier to get a talking feces on the small screen than it is to get the point of view of a person of color, female, GLBT, ect.

The episode broadcast Sunday on Fox wasn't that offensive. (Watch the abortion episode or when the bar the three own is turned into a gay bar to really see offensive.) It just wasn't funny. There was a lot of hope that a dead man being a Nazi would be funny, it wasn't. It wasn't even shocking.

Have we all been so exposed to the "gross" comedy that even Nazis fail to inspire a giggle? Or was it that, for all the talk of how 'cutting edge' these programs are, they always revolve around the same dogfight over a woman the audience is left to evaluate soley on her looks because no one involved in the show gives a damn about what women think?

They're happy to tell you, over and over, onscreen what little White Boys think women think. Because apparently, you can't flip the remote without coming across one female dominated show after another. Probably, they're wetting their pants that The New Adventures of Old Christine is treading on the predominately male turf that was CBS Monday nights. ("She's not married! And she works!")

But the White Boy view isn't just onscreen. Possibly all the White Boy views (all the time) have done so much damage that it's now possible for some to 'represent' and not even get how offensive they are?

Last week, we (Ava and C.I.) read a review that Common Ills community member Lynda had stumbled upon in disgust. She was outraged by it. Veronica Mars is a good show, the review argued. Great for the left, for women, economic realities and, no doubt, the ozone.

Why was it great?

The reviewer offered a synopsis of the show and little reviewing. But he praised it for its committment to exploring the issue of the haves and the have nots.

That was the selling point.

Veronica Mars, the character, is a have-not. She's talking about being a have-not. She's talking about how it's her versus the haves.

It's gritty, it's real!

Yes, it is -- if you believe that the class war will be costumed by Nordstrom Brass Plum and Neiman Marcus. For the record, that is where many of the outfits the actress wears on the show are bought. (True of the first and second season. Some might need to do a little research before they synopsize again. It took us only one phone call.)

The haves and the have-nots?

Want to reconsider that?

When Peggy Lipton was playing Julie on The Mod Squad, there wasn't a need for designer clothes. We think Julie said more and showed more about the haves and the have nots in one episode (any episode) than Veronica Mars has shown in two seasons.

We love it when Ty tells us of an e-mail that accuses us of playing 'identity politics.' We believe it Laura Flanders on RadioNation with Laura Flanders who recently asked, of that oft leveled claim, which part of myself am I supposed to identify with and which parts am I supposed to ignore?

We aren't playing 'identity' politics. We're offering a feminist point of view ("a," not "the"). Our view is a great deal more encompassing than any one wanting to push their single issue.

For the reviewer pushing the show, his single-issue was "class conflict." Class conflict lessons from the woman whose high-fashion has long been noted. Viewers going to message boards drool over the character's wardrobe (and love life). If you think the hypocritical "class conflict" speeches are registering, you're kidding yourself.

But you have to kid yourself, at the end of season two, to heap praise on a show that sold the lead character as someone who cried false rape. That might be the only detail his over long synposis left out. But it remains a key detail.

He's all jazzed and excited because he turned on the tube and some woman was talking about the haves and the have-nots. The fact that the character was presented as raped in the first season and then not raped in the second isn't mentioned. The fact that she's all about the boys isn't mentioned. She's surrounded by men. Maybe that's how he likes his women?

There are so many problems with that show but he heaps uncritical praise on it (well, it's a synopsis, not a review) because every now and then, between wardrobe changes (exactly how big is Veronica Mars' closet?) she tosses in a little speech that apparently 'keeps it real,' even though the wardrobe never does. (For the record, a frequent guest star on the show clued us in, after our first review of the show, on the hair. Attempts to do much with it make the actress look her age, as opposed to the high schooler she plays on TV. Hence the hairstyle.)

But, despite her wardrobe, she's a 'class warrior.' Remember guys and gals, the next class war may be fought on the breadlines, but first stop will be the fashion lines.

How does it tie in? Though the show's largely young audience can't stop talking about the pricey wardrobe, White Boy comes along and just hears what he wants to hear. He can't be bothered noting that Veronica cried false rape (season two development). He can't be bothered by the fact that there are countless high school males eating up air time but the show sold as "empowering" provides her with one female friend, a dead one. (Dead before the first show airs.) Those aren't issues on his radar as he talks his supposed progressive talk.

Who's playing single issue? Who's playing identity politics?

Possibly, if TV worked a little less hard to ensure that the playing field wasn't tilted in favor of White Boys and actually attempted to level it (even some), these issues would be addressed?

As it is a "progressive," grown man can babble on about every event for two seasons (except the whole rape storyline which, again, is how the show was sold: Victim Mars Overcoming!) and not even explore the reality of what's hanging on her body as opposed to what's (occassionally) coming out of her mouth. We wouldn't wax on about the class war supposedly playing out on TV in this show with a high school setting because we're perfectly aware that if it really wanted to address class war, they would have done a show long ago where a military recruiter targets the kids from families with struggling incomes.

We're still waiting to hear of the the multitude of commentaries about Neela's storyline this year on ER.

Ty told us the right-wingers wrote in laughing at the left (and the 'left') who didn't even bother to note that storyline. They're sure that they've noted it enough at their sites that ER will be cancelled. (Presumably, they mean after next season. It is on the fall 2006 schedule.) Instead of getting giddy over dead pan performance (they're not really dead pan, they're just acted by limited performers), we've explored the reactionary positions of Law & Order (in several of the franchises) and CSI (ditto).

That may be what's so offensive about so much of the TV "criticism." There are things worth watching. (We've praised some shows here.) But they don't get the 'heat.' They don't get the attention.

A White Boy decides to write about TV for the first time (in that magazine at least) and his pick is a show that's not only offensive, it's two years old and has already had more than enough uncritical coverage.

We know people who work on ER and we know the hard work that went into Neela's story (and in a just world, it would garner Emmy nominations for writing and acting). But we've noted when other shows, 'heat' or not, were worth watching as well (Everybody Hates Chris, The New Adventures of Old Christine, Medium).

We were speaking with a friend who has a pilot picked up by one of the big three for the fall. He's smart. He's politcally aware. And his show is, frankly, offensive. What the hell happened?

'Heat' happened. He needs to be more 'water cooler' were the networks notes.

Once upon a time, a few critics stood up and actually defended shows with merit, actual merit, not water cooler talk. When someone tries to pass of "It's cool!" as a critique, they don't just hurt themselves, they hurt others as well. They create the environment in which art won't be attempted because it's far more important that you have 'heat.' Those following the herd (or, in the White Boy progressive's case, trailing it) make it that much harder for art to ever grace the TV. (Or "TV art," if you prefer.)

You hear a great deal about how media consolidation has hurt TV news (and it has) but it's hurt the dramas and the comedies as well. (We would say "entertainment," but what is TV news now but entertainment?) The drive for 'heat' has put a lot of talented people out of work because they're thought to be too old to write something that could get everyone talking. (About clothes and scatology apparently.) When those who want to pass themselves off as critics waste time heaping praise on badly written, badly acted shows just because they're the flavor of the month (FYI, Veronica Mars was the flavor of the month about twelve months ago), TV has lost its last line of defense. When even the critics, who are supposed to be thinking people, rush to push crap because 'everyone's talking about it' at the mythical water cooler, there's no argument someone attempting to sell a show can make when asked, "Who's going to watch?"

"Who's going to watch? No one's going to care. It's never going to be a hit."

That's the song and dance when people actually attempt to sell a network on something other than the same crap currently airing on countless channels. In the past, they could respond, "Well it will build. It will build slowly. It's the kind of show that critics will embrace and get the word out on and the audience will build." That doesn't play today.

Not when supposed critics act as though they're writing for fanzines.

So you get more of the same. Which brings us back to our sometime feminist friend (remember, it's an even/election year so she's not identifying as a feminst today). So, if these gross comedies are "funny" and she's comfortable with them, has she fought for any gross comedy starring women or people of color? She hasn't seen any. Well feedback, surely she could give a promising sitcom feedback that if the creators changed it to a gross comedy, the network might be interested?

The thought's never "struck" her. She does admit that she would be more likely to "root" for a gross comedy with males because "Everyone's got one." She's running with the herd. So are too many TV critics and that, along with media consolidation, is the reason TV is so unwatchable.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a really bad show. We could break it down for you bit by bit but there's no real point in that. If you watch TV, you've already seen it, over and over. Get used to it because when the White Boy phase passes, there'll be a new White Male format, there always is. Once upon a time, people demanded more from TV. They got a lot of crap but they got a few shows worth watching in any time period. The bar's being lowered and lowered. White Boys onscreen or sitting at their computers aren't doing anything to raise the bar.

[Note: We've used "gross comedies." We have nothing against "gross out comedies" and a few have actually been hilarious. That's not what a "gross comedy" is. There's no talent to shape a joke or plot development, it's all aim for the low road -- people will laugh because it's so gross!
We've used "White Boy" because, quite honestly, what we see -- and read -- strikes us as far too immature to be given the status of "adulthood."]

NOTE THAT WILL DISAPPEAR THIS EVENING: Everyone's tired. We're going to bed. Editorial will go up this evening. Ava and C.I. wanted to do a quick read of this before posting but knowing the e-mails that would come in if we didn't have it up, they went along with posting it now.

Incident you should have heard of

Though quite a few wanted to act as though it didn't happen, it did.

At the so-called Take Back America conference, CODEPINK attempted to do just that. Medea Benjamin outlined the events in "Peace Activists at Hillary Clinton's Speech Try to Take Back 'Take Back America'." The speaker was noted War Hawk Hillary Clinton. CODEPINK had been promised they'd be able to ask the first question. Then it was decided Clinton would take no questions. The political organization was told that they could distribute fliers "inside and outside" the hotel. Security guards prevented fliers from being passed out anywhere.

It certainly is strange that Clinton was going to take questions and then . . . she wasn't. That it was known CODEPINK would pass out fliers and security guards prevented that. One might conclude that the entire meeting held with CODEPINK was not held in good faith but to determine what actions the group might take and then prevent those actions.

Fortunately, it was CODEPINK and no one, not the GOP convention, not the DNC convention, not former FCC head Michael Powell, not Donald Rumsfeld, not anyone silences them. Not face to face. (Though some tried to after the fact in what passed for 'coverage.')

A group did make it in. They stood on the chairs waving the peace sign, they attempted to display a banner but it was confiscated. A lot went on and Ann Wright may have summed it up best:

They took away leaflets supporting Jonathan Tasini, the anti-war Democrat who is running against Clinton in New York. They searched people's bags for banners; they even took away an 'Impeach Bush' banner from Veterans for Peace. Free speech needs to be upheld by progressives and trying to curtail dissent undercuts the whole purpose of this conference.

No shit. We're in 100% agreement with Ann Wright.

You may be as well. Of course, you'd have to know about it to have an opinion one way or the other and not a lot of people ran with this story. Not a lot of people even provided you with Medea Benjamin's column (though it's frequently popped up all the over the net). (Common Dreams and CounterPunch were two of the few who did provide the column.)

What happened at the so-called Take Back America conference was disgusting. We'd love to presume that the disgust factor (with Take Back America) was why it wasn't covered by many.
Some did worse than not cover it, they rewrote history or they lectured. Take the man trying to resurrect the Florence Henderson Brady Bunch hairdo. (Ava and C.I. add, "Or maybe he likes his bed ruffle so much he decided to turn the back of his hair into one?") C.I.'s already addressed it at length, so we'll just summarize briefly: If you don't like a War Hawk's speech (at a progressive conference) the answer is not to 'heckle,' you just don't cheer as loudly at the end.
Really, Flo Henderson? And we supposed that if you didn't like segregated lunch counters, you didn't stage a sit in, you just smiled a little less wide when you walked past one.

Flo hair or bed ruffle, something's interfering with the thought process. Which might be why, in this article obviously about CODEPINK and aimed at the organization, he can't mention them. Silenced and invisble. The left should be so proud.

A similar thing happened at the DNC convention in the summer of 2004. Now it's not a surprise that when CODEPINK stands up, they're going to be escorted out -- provided it's by Bully Boys. When it's the DNC, the party reinforces the "not a dime's worth of difference" message. At that heavily planned but highly awkward convention, there was to be no mention of troops home now. That was the decree by the Johnny Come Latelys hopping onto the campaign (and onto the convention including one disgusting woman who should never be allowed any party function after her actions over a decade ago). They knew what they were doing, the war issue must be silenced. Most played along. (Al Sharpton didn't.) But a banner about ending the war was just too much for the bean counters (who keep losing elections). They were smart enough not to have Medea Benjamin arrested (must have realized how that would look), they just made sure the banner was confiscated and she was escorted off the floor.

The Democratic Party that has weathered intense debate and intense infighting in public at many a convention, now wanted to 'streamline' the process. Maybe if people saw that fights, saw the debates, they wouldn't feel the whole thing was nothing but a pre-ordained pageant? But they're still running scared from Miami (not Chicago, mind you, those some lazy minded fools would have you believe that was the case).

So you got everyone playing War Hawk. Even those who didn't serve strutted onto stage with shimmering hair to talk the war talk. Everything was war. It seemed even the kitchen table issues were combat. They played it perfectly . . . for Bully Boy. Their candidate has never had anything to offer. The only "strategy" (outside of voting issues) is to destroy the opposing candidate not by going after weaknesses but by slandering their strengths. Where JFK was turned into Prince John at his convention, John Kerry was turned into G.I. John. Of course the Republicans were ready for that. When they destroyed that image (with the help of a lazy mainstream media), what else was their to offer? Nothing. You can't start a presidential campaign in September of the election year.

(As we've said before, John Kerry deserves blame for going along with the strategies. He did not, however, devise the strategies. The ones who did need to take responsibility for that. Instead, they're now offering more strategies. Yes, James Carville, we mean you. You earned a special place for blaming the candidate for the "message" when you were one of the ones hired to devise the message -- a fact you forgot to expound upon when you were in your race, right after the election, to see who could be the first to pin the blame on the candidate.)

CODEPINK wasn't silent on the war in 2004. The Democratic Party was. And we see how well that worked for them. In race after race. Still the minority party in Congress and still locked out of the White House. (The White House race was a close one and we all believe John Kerry won.)

Now, two years later, a conference wants to call itself Take Back America. It wants to represent "progressives." Yet it wants a leading War Hawk at it's conference. Speaking. To garner press attention and to suck up. That's more important than the war, that's more important than free speech.

For those who heard of what happened (a small number, we're sure, since so many played deaf, dumb and blind), it was telling. We'd suggest that Ray McGovern make sure he birddog Rummy and others in the administration because the Democratic Party is apparently not to be questioned about the war. Try to and you'll be greeted with silence or civility lectures.

In the meantime, and in the real world, you can show your support for CODEPINK and your opposition to the illegal war with two CODEPINK sponsored actions:

Take a Stand by Signing the Voters Pledge!
What if millions decided to vote their conscience and said 'No More War Candidates'? The Voters Pledge makes visible a powerful political force, the peace vote, a force that politicians cannot continue to ignore. It sends a clear message to the hawkish minority that leads both major parties to end the occupation of Iraq and to end unprovoked attacks on other nations. Sign the Voters Pledge and ask at least 10 of your friends to sign as well. You can help get 2 million signers in 2006!


On July 4, we will launch an historic hunger strike called TROOPS HOME FAST in Washington, DC in front of the White House. While many Americans will be expressing their patriotism via barbeques and fireworks, we'll be fasting in memory of the dead and wounded, and calling for the troops to come home from Iraq. Read an interview with Diane Wilson to learn more. We're inviting people around the world to show their support for this open-ended fast by fasting for at least one day. Please sign here to join us in DC or to support us in your hometown and encourage your friends to do the same.

(And to the male Flo Henderson wanna-be, lose the bed ruffle.)

When War Hawks Lied

Dig if will a grave, you and I engaged in grief
The tears from our eyes stream down our face
Can you War Hawk, picture this?

Dream if you can a graveyard
an ocean of bones and blood.

Posturing fools strike curious poses
You'll feel the heat
The heat from the citizenry.
How can you just leave them standing on the illegal battlefield?
Don't you know people are dying
How many more will you let be killed?
I think you're just a War Hawk
Never be satisfied.
When did you catch the blood lust? This is what we wonder when
War Hawks Lie.

Look if you will at the faces
Don't you dare turn away
This is the war that was heavily sold
This is what we get when
War Hawks Lie

How can you leave them standing on the illegal battle field?
Illegal battle field.
How can you leave them standing on the illegal battle field?
When War Hawks Lie.

When War Hawks Lie.
When War Hawks Lie.

[Prince fans will recognize the song we're aping. The illustration is "Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts 'The Beat of Black Wings/ The Screech of the War Hawk'."]

RadioNation with Laura Flanders

Saturday on RadioNation with Laura Flanders (Air America Radio, XM satellite radio and streaming online Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 pm to 10 pm EST), Flanders addressed the three "I"s: Iraq, Israel and Impeachment. Her guests were Congress rep Jim McDermott; former CIA analyst and now reporter Bill Christison; and reporter and author David Lindorff (also co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of The Case for Impeachment).

McDermott tackled Iraq. His advice was for people to start working their reps and letting them hear what they think of the war. He also advised on the need to go beyond e-mails and start doing some grassroots work in your local communities. (Such as showing up at a Democratic Party meeting, local, and making sure that the war was on the agenda. It's always on Bully Boy's.) Could constituents influence law makers? McDermott said yes and offered how his constituents had impacted his votes on AIDS issues. Some strong calls during this interview.

Christison tackeled Israel. Some crazy calls during this interview. (Were those Flanders' listeners?) Christison spent a large amount of time (as did Flanders) in correcting listeners who wanted to tell them what Christison had just said (and it was always wrong about what he'd just said) and how outraged they were by it.

We had trouble hearing Christison. We couldn't figure that out for the longest. Was it a mike issue? Was it a phone issue if he was calling in? C.I. explained it was a "resonator" issue. Christison doesn't use them. C.I. explained this once ("and I'm only doing it once") so let's see how well we understood it. Your voice is shaped by a number of things. That includes whether you speak on the breath or not. ("On the breath" means you're exhaling when you speak and your diaphragm is pushing the air out. This is a bit more important to singers who need the breath control for long musical passages than it is in talking, but it makes a difference.) It also includes your cavities. (Don't go there!) Christison's voice stops around the collar bone. He's making wonderful use of his chest cavity, but he's neglected the facial ones (including the nose) which provide much of the "brightness" in many voices. (Using your naval cavity does not mean you sound nasal. You can do a quick check of your resonators by humming -- we quickly did to find out what we were using.) So Christison is speaking using his lower resonator (his chest cavity) only. (C.I.'s saying "Yes" but we really don't think we're being listened to. Everyone's tired.) It was a low rumble and isn't that uncommon among men in law enforcement. (Where you're trying to sound authorative or intimidating -- take your pick.)

That's not us excusing the callers. They were so off the mark, it had nothing to do with the fact that they misheard due to that. They misheard, our opinion, because it was so shocking to hear, on commercial radio, someone seriously address this issue. Hopefully, some of those outraged were outraged because they were hearing those sort of questions and issues for the first time. After the shock wears off, they may think about them.

It was a strong interview but we all had to park ourselves close to our speakers. (C.I. said, at one point if we're remembering right, that Flanders is using all of her resonators which is why her voice sounds the way it does. Apparently that and on the breath makes the voice sound more alive and attractive.)

The last guest was David Lindorff. Lindorff addressed the issue of impeachment and Flanders did something in this interview that we found especially helpful. We've heard (and read) the case for impeachment. We support that. What she instructed Lindorff to do was to explain the why the faulty reasoning that we can't impeach is wrong. Lindorff did that quite well. Dismissing with the ideas of Cheney as president or Hastart as president. He also brought up the issue of the so-called Constitutional crisis that impeachment would supposedly cause. It's written into the Constitution -- how can following the Constitution create a Constitutional crisis?
It's right in there with the powers given to the president. It's a check. Using a check does not constitute a crisis. Not using it when someone is subverting/shredding the Constitution creates something worse than a Constitutional crisis -- the death of democracy.

Stealing from Kat, here's what's on tonight's show:

What's up on Sunday? Three words are all you need to know: Mark Crispin Miller. The topic is the media system and he'll be in a roundtable with Makaini Themba-Nixon and Paul Miller addressing consolidation and more. Laura has a guest on Sunday whose name I'm not familiar with but should be, Meizhu Lui, co-author of The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the US Racial Wealth Divide (going right on my to read list) and also the Executive Director of United for a Fair Economy.
So "It's all on RadioNation with Laura Flanders this weekend on Air America Radio." Make a point to listen. If you miss it, a shorter version of the program is archived (C.I.'s got a link for it on the left).

"We Were All Wrong!" Not so fast Pt. II

May 21st, we offered "'We Were All Wrong!' Not so fast." We provided ten voices that spoke out against the war in real time to dispute the mainstream media's comical notion that "everyone was wrong." The ones who were wrong are the ones who were on the air over and over -- the ones who are still on the air. It wasn't bad intell that drove the nation into an illegal war. And the media silence wasn't because no one was speaking out.

This will be an ongoing feature until we get at least fifty. This month, we offer the following ten. Two names were submitted by readers that we felt were worth inclusion. (We felt a third name was as well but we'll pick him up next time. We're not linking to the site that post his work today. We'll explain why next week -- but the easiest answer is we don't have one set of principals that matters some of the time.)

1) Norman Solomon. Right about the illegal war from the start, right about it now. Often a lonely voice but a needed one. We think he should sing two lines from Stevie Nicks' "Two Kinds of Love" to everyone (including us): "Who in the world do you think that you are fooling?/ Well I've already done everything that you are doing." That includes speaking out against war on Iraq before Bully Boy sent the troops in. (We reviewed Solomon's most recent book here.)

2 - 4) Michael Ratner, Jennie Green and Barbara Olshansky of the Center for Constitutional Rights and authors of Against War With Iraq: An Anti-War Primer. In fact, you put the entire Center for Constitutional Rights on the list, the organization itself came out against the illegal war before the illegal invasion.

5) Ruth Rosen. Rosen contributes to She's also a Senior Fellow at the Longview Institute. C.I. said "Ruth Rosen" when we were coming up with this list and, honestly, a few of us said, "Who?" It's an interesting story when you consider that Rosen was a columnist at a newspaper (was) and that Ann Coulter remains one in many papers. Rosen wrote an article on Curves (opinion: an idiotic, right-wing response to the Workout -- run by a man, naturally). Rosen confirmed the facts in her article with a publicist for Curves (on the record). Curves denied it and threatened suit. The paper, The San Francisco Chronicle, issued a correction (not noting that Rosen's assertions had been confirmed by a publicist). (The publicist wasn't the 'regular' publicist and somehow, not via any journalistic reasoning, that was supposed to make a difference.) When Rosen explained it to readers who e-mailed with questions about the article and the correction, she was accused of "disloyalty" and she lost her job. Prior to her departure from the paper, Rosen had been one of the few columnists regularly recording the peace movement in a daily paper. Confirming your facts about a company with the company's publicist would cover most reporters' asses. That it didn't cover Rosen's suggests that this had more to do with her politics and less to do with the Curves issue. If only she'd written as a right-winger, she could have poured hate into column after column because those columnists write fact-free but hate-heavy and never suffer. (Ask William Safire. Or maybe he has proof of the many charges that he leveled against Hillary Clinton during the nineties?)

6) Nicholas Kristof wrongly slammed her a "Bush hater," but would he give her credit for being right about the illegal war? The one and only Molly Ivins -- proof for those attempting to use just their red and blue crayons that something other than Bully Boy can emerge from the state of Texas. Kristof was working a grudge and it's one that fits nicely into the paper's own where the thinking seems to be (like many a first husband who realized too late that he lost the best thing he had): "Why can't she just disappear?" How good is she? So good that when the Lisper got slammed by Rebecca for his last non-inclusive list, he made a point to sprinkle in a token of women -- Ivins was one of the small number to make his list of women who should be writing for Time magazine. We picture the lisper rushing to think of women, some women, any women! -- after Rebecca's post. But he didn't think too good, did he? Ivins already write a newspaper column, she writes a monthly column in The Progressive and she contributes regularly to TruthDig. (This entry will have links to the last two sites after Monday afternoon and not before.) Is she the hardest working columnist in print? She just may be. She's also the author of several books (collections of her previously published writing as well as, with Lou Dubose, Bushwhacked). All that work didn't fry her brain -- she knew the war would go badly before it began.

7) Alexander Cockburn. Is he fearless or is that just his writing persona? CounterPunch (the magazine he created with and runs with Jeffery St. Clair) doesn't court respectibility. That may be the biggest reason we admire it so much. There's no egg head doing butt smooches to The New York Times ("I just read this amazing article in . . .") or NPR ("I was listening yesterday, as I dropped the kids off at school before heading to my yoga class . . ."). There's no attempt to play. Or to kiss up to Democrats ("appeal to their better nature!" say those who've written far too little on the war and far too much tracing every nook and cranny of a 'progressive,' White Male governor who isn't all that progressive). He can go over like acid (we meant battery, but on second thought . . .) or like a glass of ice water on a sweltering day. He may be an ink blot -- what you think of him may reveal more about you than it does about his writing. But his voice is always his voice. And he's not afraid to roar to bring attention to the silences. Right about the war before the war, right about it now. And not afraid to take names and print some ass on on those playing (including Toad! We love any one who calls out Toad!).

8) Anthony Arnove. "Where are the voices for tomorrow?" is a cry we often here. "The ones who will carry on the movement?" We can easily point to Arundhati Roy, Naomi Klein and, yes, Anthony Arnove. (We could easily point to more but we've got Dona screaming at us: "Has anyone looked at the time?) He's collaborated on books with Howard Zinn and he's a writer worth noting in his own right. Like Klein, he's faced down Prissy and won. The sole author of
IRAQ: The Logic of Withdrawal (which we noted here), he's one to read and one to look to.

9) One of the voices you could count on decade after decade was Tariq Ali and that didn't change when the war drums started booming. We weren't surprised when he wiped the floor with Hitchens. And if there's a curse to being Tariq Ali it may be the fact that, in those situations, we long ago stopped doubting and started expecting (oh, if only Kissinger could take back that December 1965 day). (Jess insists it be noted: He knew John Lennon. Not of, knew. An amazing, ongoing life.)

10) John R. MacArthur. Since 1983, he's been the president and publisher of Harper's Magazine. Iraq? He's been exposing Bush lies on Iraq since H.W. was in the White House -- most famously by outing the refugee nurse who had worked in a hospital in Iraq where babies were being tossed out of incubators -- living, breathing babies. It must be true! She testified to Congress about it! Nayirah was her name . . . or "name." In reality, she wasn't a nurse. In reality, Nayirah wasn't her name. Her name was Nijirah al-Sabah and she played a p.r. creation (courtesy of Hill & Knowlton) -- one that gave false testimony in Congress on Iraq -- testimony played up big to get us into the first Gulf War. She was the daughter of Kuwait's ambassador to the United States. MacArthur outed her in an op-ed that ran in The New York Times. MacArthur is also the author of Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the 1991 Gulf War -- an excellent book that, surprisingly or not so surprisingly, no publisher rushed into re-release before the current invasion or since. MacArthur's written of the tragedy of this illegal war (many times). His critiques have remained strong. And he was noting the cowardice of the Dems on the war back in 2002.

Humor Spotlight: Wally Takes on the War Hawk

"Wally Takes on the War Hawk" is how we think of this piece.






Recommended: "NYT: Dexy puts on the redlight (yet again)"
"And the war drags on . . . (Indymedia Roundup)"
"2500 American troops dead"
"2500 dead"
"sillary clinton"
"Democracy Now: Rachel Meeropol and a debate on medical ethics re: Guantanamo"
"Other Items (Rachel Meeropol and a debate on interrogations on DN! today)"
"Federal Judge Rules U.S. Can Detain Non-Citizens Indefinitely on Basis of Religion, Race or National Origin"
"Randall Kennedy Defends Racist Violence"
"CCR: 'We Didn't Whine'""Talking Post"
"Basra Begins to Fall Apart"
"Baghdad Year Zero"
"'Enough is enough'"
"Rep. McKinney won't be charged in scuffle"

Cooking Spotlight: Potato casserole in the Kitchen

We are posting, we're just arguing over a top ten list.  Here's Trina's latest:

Potato Casserole in the Kitchen

I didn't post last weekend but intended to. What happened was that one of my children had gotten themselves into a jam. It was the sort of thing that was a minor detail when it happened and, if it had been taken care of then, it wouldn't have been as big a problem as it was. By the time it was brought to the "folks," it was a very huge problem. These things happen and are part of the growing process. (We continue to grow and learn, I know I still do.) So addressing that wiped me out. I did attempt a post but couldn't log in. I only tried once, I was too tired.

So that's my explanation.

Now we'll pick up where we left off, with Lila. She was proclaimed a cook when she wasn't and left in a jam that she needed out of quickly.

Potato Casserole
4 medium potatoes, sliced thin
2 cups of diced ham*
1 onion, finely chopped
salt and pepper
1 1/4 cup of milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a casserole dish (a pie dish will also work). Take the potato slices, ham* and onion slices and layer them in the dish, one on top of the other making the last layer potatoes. If that's not clear, you're layering potatoes, ham*, onions, poatatoes, ham*, onion, potatoes . . . and ending with potatoes. You need the potatoes on top. If you like pepper, you can pepper the layers as you go along. (I wouldn't recommend salting them because we all have too much sodium in our diet as it is, but it's your life, do what you want.) After you've finished the last layer (remember, potatoes need to be the last layer), add a dash of salt and pepper.

We're not putting the dish in the oven but I want to stop here to add a few notes.

*You don't have to use ham. I don't mean you can use another meat, though I'm sure you can. I mean that you can make this without meat.

I've needed a side dish before and had nothing but potatoes, onions, milk and cheese left in the kitchen. If you don't eat meat, don't eat pork, or don't have it in your kitchen, the casserole will turn out nicely without ham.

If you don't use ham, you can just use the other ingredients. If you want to add to it, Lila added a small can of mushrooms as she tried the recipe out a variety of ways. She did it using the mushrooms as she did ham. A word of caution, you need to drain the can. Beyond that, you should then set the mushrooms on a clean hand towel or paper towel so that they are not moist when you begin layering. You don't want a saggy casserole.

Before you put it in the oven, you pour the milk over the top. Then you put the dish into the oven and bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Wally's mother has used a recipe similar to this one for years. However, she skips the milk and instead uses a can of cream of chicken soup which she dilutes with a half can of water. I didn't have time to try that step because I was trying Lila's mushrooms. So to combine both their suggestions, I used a small (6 oz.) can of mushrooms and a can of mushroom soup (diluted). That was used instead of ham and it turned out very tasty. You can also (and I usually do) top it with cheese. I honestly prefer it without cheese and only add it (on top of the last layer of potatoes, after the dash of salt and pepper and before I add the milk) because little kids will often run from a dish of vegetables -- add cheese and suddenly they want to taste it. (That's actually true of many grown ups -- check the frozen food section of your grocery store and notice how many frozen vegetables have cheese added to them these days.)

If I'm making it for myself, and this is a dish I have made for just me -- many times, I'll skip the ham and the cheese and just use the potatoes, onions, salt and pepper and milk.

However you make it, you'll find that it doesn't last long.

In any form, it's expensive and it will fill you up. I had planned to do this recipe last week and then move on to a different staple but there were so many e-mails from people saying that they wish they knew what to do with potatoes that I'll offer another potato recipe next week before moving on. Potatoes are inexpensive and there's much more you can do with them besides tossing them into the mircowave. If this recipe makes you nervous, attempt it and you'll be pleased with the results. There was a wonderful recipe that Zoe sent in but it's a complicated one. I enjoyed it and maybe in time, we can share it here. But it's been a bit of surprise to hear from so many about what I'll call "oven & stove top fear." I expected that from those who'd just moved out because I've seen that phase in my own children. (Parents, if you're wondering if your adult child may suffer from "oven & stove top fear," here's a clue. When you visit, is every area 'lived in' except the kitchen? If so, the kitchen's probably not being used.)

I think that's because we're so used to using microwaves now. That wasn't always the case. I have nothing against a microwave (and actually have two in the kitchen because I may be using one to melt something while I'm preparing dinner and someone may need a quick snack heated up) but I think it's allowed us to raise a generation far from the kitchen and the stove. That's wonderful if someone has the money to eat out or bring in take out every night. Most people don't have that option. When I was a kid, even TV dinners had to go in the oven (regular, not microwave). So we got used to using it even for the quick meals. My oldest daughter (who is no longer suffers from "oven & stove top fear" -- though she did when she first moved out) brought home the changes last Sunday. (Obviously, if you read Mike's entry on last weekend's difficulty, you know she's not the one who had the problem last Saturday because Mike noted that the one with the problem did not show on Sunday.) She wanted some popcorn and went to the kitchen for a few minutes then came back to the living room and sat down.

I asked her if she changed her mind and she explained that the box of popcorn was empty. (Someone forgot to throw it out.) What about the bag of kernals? It was as though I was speaking another language. (And she's had popcorn prepared for her that way.) So we went into the kitchen and I showed her how to make pop corn without a microwave bag. At the end of which, she remarked how great this 'new' method was because now she could pop what she wanted and not worry about being wasteful (she usually can't finish a microwave bag by herself).

She has seen me make pop corn in a pan before. All the children have. But there's a difference between seeing and doing it yourself. We're very proud of our children when they're able to pop something into the microwave (and should be, it's a sign of growing up) but I think we all (including myself) assume that since they see or saw us using the oven and stove, they grasp how it's done. (My oldest son had a revelation with the stove top shortly after he moved out -- "Ma, it's just like using the fire in a camp out." Yes, it is. And yes, I laughed when he told me that.)

I don't know if toaster ovens are still popular. I doubt it because anything I'd use one for, I now use my microwave. But using the microwave is like using the toaster oven and being able to use one doesn't mean the person is able to use the stove or oven.

I enjoy all the e-mails and never think, "Well why are you so scared of the oven?" I know that exists because I've seen it in my own kids. That's why, after it happened with both the two oldest after they moved out, I made sure the younger ones were using the stove and oven. (And if you do that and think you have the bases covered, you may not. Be prepared to hear, "Oh sure, I can cook in your oven but I don't know a thing about mine.") It's normal and nothing to be ashamed of.

The only surprise for me has been hearing from so many who do suffer from "oven and stove top fear." I appreciate the sharing and the honesty and we'll continue to move slowly and try to get you more comfortable. But for those who have children, whether you're comfortable yourself or not, start thinking about including your children in the process. (Or be prepared for the Thanksgiving dinner, when you're much older, that one of them prepares which features a turkey dinner.)

To me, using your stove and oven regularly isn't a requirement. But I do think knowing how should be. No one should be chained to the oven (metaphorically women once were) and anyone who hates cooking shouldn't cook. But it does provide you with another avenue for food.

Matt wrote a wonderful e-mail about how he was addressing his "oven and stove top fear" with the recipes. He takes little breaks when he prepares a meal. He only has time on Saturday to cook and he says at first he was rushing through it like it was a race.

I think that's the biggest turn off to cooking. When I was starting out, I thought the dinner had to go on the table at a certain time. I would freak out and get so angry with myself. The truth is dinner doesn't have to be on the table by any set time. If you usually eat at six o'clock and dinner's not ready until six-thirty, no one died and no one starved from waiting a half-hour more. Betty is someone with a small window of time because she has young children. She loves the oven recipes because she's not standing at the stove, listening with one ear to make sure nothing's gone wrong in the living room. With the exception of having to cook and guard over small children at the same time, there's no reason to rush. (I told Betty what she needs is a tattle tale. I had two in the family and though I'd always say "Now you shouldn't tattle" as I turned the stove off, I secretly appreciated it. With more than one child, the odds are that she'll have a tattle tale shortly.)

So what Matt does is put on some music before he goes into the kitchen. (He says if he used the TV, especially during a ball game, he'd be going back and forth and burn something.) Then he slices and dices what he needs. As he preheats the oven, he sits down, reviews the recipe and just relaxes for a few minutes. Then he goes back to cooking with additional breaks as needed. He says that sometimes means what should be ready in less than an hour takes two but it's the only time when he's not rushing. He wrote that he got the idea while he was at the gym and on a break between sets. You're apparently supposed to rest muscle groups when working out with weights. While he was resting a muscle, he realized that those rests were the only time he wasn't rushing (rushing to work, rushing at work) and thought he might enjoy learning to cook more if he wasn't looking at it as some sort of race.

It shouldn't be a race. (Racing leads to people thinking, "I know the temperature is supposed to be X, but if I double it, it will be ready twice as fast!" No, it will burn in half the time.) If you can, invite a friend over (or speak on the phone). It can be a social time. It can be a quiet time. But if you're seeing it as one more deadline, it's going to be a very aggrevating time.

There are enough of those already. Such as the fact that we passed the 2,500 mark on American soldiers who have lost their lives in Iraq in Bully Boy's illegal war. I was very disappointed with the coverage and spoke with C.I. about that. C.I.'s comment didn't make it up at The Common Ills so, with permission, I'll share it here:

The Pentagon announces Thursday that we've hit the 2,500 mark and the press pretty much stays silent. It may be the only official statement they haven't glommed on in the last few years.

Our paper either didn't get tossed this morning or 'walked off.' My daughter was going out so I gave her money to pick up a paper and she came back in the afternoon with the New York Times. Our paper runs stories from the Times (I assume most do) but I'm not a regular reader of it. (Our paper is actually owned by the New York Times, by the way.) On page A7 of the New York Times is a small box with the headline "Names of the Dead." It lists a Michael A. Estrella, twenty-years old, from Hemet, California who was with the Third Marine Division. Before that, it tells you: "The Department of Defense has identified 2,492 American service members who have died since the start of the Iraq war. It confirmed the death of the following American yesterday." Yes, and it confirmed the death of 2,500 earlier this week. But apparently readers of the reporting in the paper will have to wait for eight more names to be released before they do a story on the fact that 2,500 Americans have died. (C.I.'s noted the lack of coverage in Friday's paper in "NYT: Dexy puts on the redlight (yet again).")

Apparently, we're all supposed to look the other way. The New York Times, which has a bad reputation for running with official sources and with anonymous plants. The Pentagon annouces that 2,500 troops have died in Iraq and the paper's suddenly waiting for all the names to be released?

Michael A. Estrella shouldn't have died, none of the 2,491 before him should have died. (Nor any troops from other countries or Iraqis.) The illegal war should have never been launched. Acting as though the Pentagon didn't announce 2,500 doesn't change the fact that they did. But sitting on it, waiting to report it, may be an attempt to minimize the shock some who will learn it from the New York Times when the paper finally gets around to covering it.

I'm with Ruth, people need to get real about the war. Shrugged shoulders won't bring anyone home alive.

Recommended: "War Hawks in America, War Cheerleaders in the Green Zone"
"The 'revolutionary' Thomas Friedman"
"Hillary and The Beat of Black Wings"
"Iraqis protest, Take Back America silences protest"
"TV Review: Windfallen Perry and Gedrick "
"extra "
"Editorial: Administration attacks the American Way of Life "
"Guns & Butter, the war hawk Hillary"
"Law and Disorder, Dahr Jamail & Amy Goodman on Falluja, the death of two Iraqi women, Ramadi and more, and Jason Leopold"
"Law and Disorder discussed Tasers plus some other stuff "
"'the way i see it,' he said 'you just can't win it'"
"The American people are demanding answers" (Barbara Lee)

Do you Yahoo!?
Everyone is raving about the all-new Yahoo! Mail Beta.

Brief note

Yes, we're posting. Yes, we're running late. Dallas discovered CODEPINK buttons for websites. C.I. talked us through (repeatedly) as we attempted to get them on all of our sites (they are now on all community sites -- you can read that statement however you want, see Elaine's "'The American people are demanding answers' (Barbara Lee)"). But it was a long process and we're running behind. Ava and C.I. have the TV review completed -- readers do not panic!

It's finished, it will go within an hour. We're discussing highlights right now and once those are up, the rest will follow.

Humor Spotlight: The 'revolutionary' Thomas Friedman

Betty's latest chapter, went up last night.  Prepare to laugh.

The 'revolutionary' Thomas Friedman

I blame Amy Goodman.

The last week or so, I blame it all on Amy Goodman.

Sometimes I curse her. I know it's not her fault. But I'm the one living with the problem.

Since Thomas Friedman did his call-in on "Democracy Now!," he can't shut up about it.

He barges into my study groups, mixers, you name it -- once I was emerging from a classroom and there he was in the hall entertaining people with, yet again, "As I was saying to Amy Goodman . . ."

It's all "Amy this" and "Amy that" -- all the time.

He's completely rewritten the exchange in his mind -- as I knew he would, as he was already starting to the day of the interview.

Now it's, "Well you know, Amy, Amy Goodman, did say to me, 'Thomas Friedman, you are the last hope for humanity, for the animal kingdom, for our solar system and beyond!'"

He'll usually shrug after making that statement, in an attempt at false modesty, a very showy attempt.

How much is it working?

So much that some of my classmates are buying the nonsense.

"Oh, Betinna, you are so lucky being married to Thomas Friedman! He is such a radical!"

Thomas Friedman? My husband Thomas Friedman? The man whose only act of 'civil disobediance' involved protesting the local cable company?

I ask that and suddenly I hear, "Oh, he's for digital freedom as well? He is so incredible!"

Digital freedom?


He protested outside the cable company about the cable going out! The sign he carried read: "Stop the censorship! Demand Manhattan Cable replay the 'Saved by the Bell' episode we missed yesterday when the cable went out!"

He even had a little chant:

Screech, Screech
I beseech
Zach, Zach
Bring him back
Slater, Slater
No one's greater
Manhattan Cable
You suck!

But ever since that embarrassing performance he gave on "Democracy Now!," he's convinced himself that he's now "conquered the new media medium."

We were shopping, for him naturally, last weekend, for new black turtlenecks, and he couldn't shut up about that to the saleswoman.

"Well, that is wonderful," she said smoothly, "but you do realize that you're in the women's department, Mr. Friedman?"

Thomas Friedman explained he had very weak muscles in his lower back and therefore needed to purchase his clothing from the women's department.

She looked at him, then at the black turtleneck he was holding, nodded cheerfully and led us over to the women's lingerie to show him the collection of women's thongs he had been inquiring of. If he showed half the enthusiasm for "Democracy Now!" that he did fondling the thongs, he might learn something.

Instead, he turns on the TV to 'watch.' But he never watches. He may glance at the TV while it's on as he makes countless calls.

"What are you doing?" he'll ask whomever is on the other end and, without giving them a chance to respond, declare, "I'm watching 'Democracy Now!' You know I was recently on. It's the largest independent media collaboration in the country, airing on over 420 radio and TV stations. On Pacifica Radio stations, community radio stations, some NPR stations, college radio stations, on public access TV, on some PBS stations and on satellite TV -- DISH network: Free Speech TV ch. 9415 and Link TV ch. 9410, DIRECTV: Link TV ch. 375, and on the Community Broadcasting Association of Australia, in addition to podcasting and streaming online at Monday through Friday."

Hopefully, with all the people he's calling, the program's getting some new listeners and viewers, but I'm not sure. Any interest they might have in the program is probably killed as soon as he explains that he's "taken Amy Goodman under my wing. I even wrote a column for her 'Access of Evil' that's in the current edition of 'The Nation' magazine. 'Access of Evil.' What's it about? It's about how we give too much access to a bunch of blowhards and not enough to the people like me. It was inspired by Amy, Amy Goodman, saying to me, 'Thomas Friedman, the world needs more you.' Of course, I attempted to disagree but she's a very intelligent and persuasive person so even I had to agree that, yes, the world did need more of me. She's begging me to do a weekly gig on her show and I'm telling her I'm too busy for that but we need to schedule a time for me to come back on where we can be face to face. She said, 'Oh Thomas Friedman, you opposite me? I'm not sure I could think straight!' I told her I'd carry her, the way I do everyone when I appear opposite them. You know how you could help her? You could e-mail her at and say, 'That Thomas Friedman is a hoot, a holler, and a gas. Thank you for having him on!' Or better yet, call 1-888-999-3877 and purchase a copy of the broadcast featuring me. Oh, gotta run! Talk at you later!"

And with that he's on to the next call, over and over throughout the hour. Tuesday night, I heard him on the phone with Simon Rosenberg discussing how to best care for wigs and pantyhose, when he slipped in, "Did you hear? Amy Goodman's trying to drop Juan Gonzalez as her co-host and give the job to me?"

As soon as he was off the phone, I confronted him.

"Thomas Friedman, how dare you spread lies?"

He looked hurt and replied, "Well, I couldn't tell Simon that the Farrah Fawcett wig looked bad on him! He's already bought a red one-piece bathing suit, Betinna!"

"I'm not referring to your shared tips on cross-dressing. You know damn well that Amy Goodman is not trying to replace Juan Gonzalez with you."

"She could be!" he screamed getting agitated. "She could be! You don't know every thing. You don't know every damn thing, Betinna. How dare you listen in on my private phone call! Who do you think you are anyway? Alberto Gonzales!"

With that, he tossed his head wildly to make the blonde ringlets on his wig bounce and shimmer.
That wig.

I'd almost gotten used to it in the apartment. Then I see him on campus without it and realize, the next time he's at home with the wig on, how ridiculous he looks. He doesn't think so. He's even found an artist to paint him wearing it. He's been sitting for the portrait in his "spare time." His life is nothing but spare time!

Mid-week, I was wishing he would show up on campus in that wig just so everyone could see a real side of him. But there he was, in his silk, black, women's turtleneck, with a brown beret perched on his head (he wanted green but it clashed with his blouse), an unlit Gitanes dangling from his mouth, as he spoke about the coming 'revolution' of which he is, of course, one of the leaders. As he poisoned young minds, I was prepared. I'd printed up the transcript of his appearance so that they could read what had really happened a week ago as opposed to the way he was portraying it.

As Thomas Friedman continued speaking, bit by bit, there were bursts of giggles as people read through the transcripts. Slowly the crowd vanished. As they walked away, his confused eyes trailed after them and then slowly came to rest on me.

"You!" he hissed. "Betinna, what did you do?"

I just waved at him and walked on to class with a broad smile across my face.

When I got home he was on the phone with Simon Rosenberg, attempting to explain to him why cotton did not make for good stuffing material when you were going to the beach. He eyed me for a moment, then clip-clop, clip-clop, clip-clopped out of the living room in his high heels -- the phone cord trailing behind him. (We must be the only home in Manhattan without a portable phone!)

Why he even bothered is beyond me. The more excited he gets, the louder he gets. I could hear him throughout the apartment.

"She will not stop our goal! This revolution belongs to you and me, Simon. Us and all the other full figured boys."

I'd hear something like that and burst out laughing. But he was quite serious. I made a mental note to drop "fat ass" and use "full figured" the next time I needed a favor from him.

Who knows what Simon Rosenberg was saying, but Thomas Friedman was full of tossing out "morsels to the masses" that would let them think they were in control when, in reality, nothing had changed.

"Mark my words, Simon, we will get our war with Hugo Chavez!"

I'm sure he thought he sounded quite masterful, possibly even diabolical, but the reality is he sounded just as pathetic as any of the female characters on 'Desperate Housewives'.

But he puts the pathetic talk where his mouth is. I saw that Friday when a friend slid his latest column over to me in class. "Seeds for a Geo-Green Party" has all the sloganeering you'd expect from a fraud like Thomas Friedman. Just enough to make you think he might be doing something when the reality is that he's doing nothing. "Tax the people, not the corporations" is inscribed in his DNA. And, just as he promised Simon, he was pushing Hugo Chavez as the great, big-bad, even if it made no sense in the context of the sentence. (Unless the peroxide from his newly blonde wig has seeped into his head and damaged his memory, Thomas Friedman does know that Venezuela is not part of the "Arab-Muslim" world. He must have been so giddy on war pornography that he forgot that basic fact.)

My friend, Dona, a journalism major, asked me, "Why does he act like he's unsure of the Iraq war now while he's wanting war with Venezuela?"

I told her what my neighbor Rebecca had told me: If the detergent doesn't work, you don't keep claiming it gets clothes clean while you're trying to market your new product.

Thomas Friedman's new detergent is war with Venezuela, he can't promote that and still stand by the illegal war he cheerled us into -- not when it's gone to hell.


Yahoo! Groups gets better. Check out the new email design. Plus there’s much more to come.

"Vicepresidente Iraqui le pide a Bush que fije fecha de retirada" (Democracy Now)

"Vicepresidente Iraqui le pide a Bush que fije fecha de retirada" (Democracy Now)
Miguel: Benos dias. Aqui estan diez noticias de "
Democracy Now!". Buen fin de semana.

Vicepresidente Iraquí le pide a Bush que fije fecha de retirada
Mientras tanto, el gobierno iraquí anunció que uno de sus principales funcionarios le pidió a Estados Unidos que establezca una fecha para la retirada de los soldados extranjeros. El gobierno dice que el Vicepresidente Tariq al-Hashimi formuló el pedido el martes, durante una reunión con el Presidente Bush. En una declaración, el Presidente Jalal Talabani dijo que apoyaba la exigencia de Hashimi. El gobierno de Bush rechazó los pedidos de fijar una fecha para la retirada.

Congreso debate guerra de Irak mientras el número de estadounidenses muertos llega a 2.500
Mientras tanto, el Pentágono anunció el jueves que el número de estadounidenses que murieron en Irak ahora superó los 2.500. Esta cifra fue alcanzada el mismo día en que la guerra en Irak fue tema de intenso debate, tanto en la Cámara de Representantes como en el Congreso. En el Senado, los legisladores decidieron -por 93 votos contra seis- no aprobar una medida para retirar a los soldados estadounidenses de Irak antes de fin de año. La medida fue presentada por republicanos que aseguraron que actuaban en base a una propuesta del senador John Kerry. Cinco demócratas --Russ Feingold de Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer de California, Robert Byrd de Virginia Occidental, Tom Harkin de Iowa y Edward M. Kennedy de Massachussets- se unieron a Kerry para votar a favor de la retirada. Se espera que la Cámara de Representantes vote hoy su propia resolución acerca de Irak. El jueves, el Presidente de la Cámara -el republicano Dennis Hastert- exhortó a los legisladores a apoyar la medida.
Hastert dijo: "Ellos saben que sus sacrificios en las costas extranjeras mantienen a la lucha contra el terrorismo fuera de nuestras ciudades. Saben que utilizando la violencia, mantienen a salvo a los estadounidenses, y saben que están ayudando a personas dignas pero crueles a combatir la tiranía y recuperar su orgullo. Saben que son liberadores, no ocupantes. Nuestros hombres y mujeres militares saben todo esto y están orgullosos de ello. Es hora de que la Cámara de Representantes le diga al mundo que también lo sabemos, que sabemos que nuestra causa es correcta, y que estamos orgullosos de ella. Defiendan la libertad. Adopten esta resolución".
Los demócratas acusaron a los republicanos de restringir el debate al centrarse en la medida sobre la llamada guerra contra el terrorismo y no en la guerra de Irak. Las normas de la Cámara de Representantes también impiden que los demócratas propongan enmiendas o resoluciones alternativas. La líder de la minoría de la Cámara de Representantes, Nancy Pelosi, expresó las preocupaciones de los demócratas.
Pelosi dijo: "Todo el país está debatiendo la guerra en Irak, exceptuando a la Cámara de Representantes. Así que finalmente este debate iba a llegar a la Cámara, y entonces, un ratito, la semana pasada, será sobre esto y aquello y también otras cosas, porque saben que el caso en contra de esta guerra es tan comprometedor que realmente no deben querer que se debata en la Cámara, por lo tanto ahora expandieron los temas a tratar en el debate".

Encuesta muestra disminución en apoyo mundial a políticas estadounidenses y guerra en Irak
Una nueva encuesta realizada en catorce países muestra una disminución continua en el apoyo mundial a las políticas estadounidenses. Según el centro de investigaciones "Pew Research Center", la mayoría de las personas de diez de los catorce países creen que la guerra en Irak ha hecho al mundo más peligroso. Estos países incluyen a Gran Bretaña, donde el apoyo a la llamada guerra contra el terrorismo ha disminuido a menos del 50%. La mayoría de las personas en trece de los países encuestados creen que la guerra en Irak representa una mayor amenaza para la paz mundial que las ambiciones nucleares de Irán.

ACLU demanda al Pentágono por espiar a activistas por la paz
La Unión Estadounidense por las Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por sus siglas en inglés) presentó una demanda que exige al Pentágono que entregue la información que recabó sobre grupos en contra de la guerra. En diciembre, NBC News reveló la existencia de una base de datos secreta del Pentágono para rastrear información dentro de Estados Unidos, incluyendo información sobre protestas y manifestaciones en contra de la guerra. La base de datos incluía información sobre reuniones contra el reclutamiento militar llevadas a cabo en una sede de los Cuáqueros en Florida y protestas antinucleares llevadas a cabo en Nebraska. ACLU ya presentó demandas contra el FBI por espiar a grupos de paz.

Gasto militar mundial supera los 1.1 billones de dólares; gasto de Estados Unidos es 1.600 dólares por cabeza
El gasto militar mundial llegó a una cifra histórica de 1.1 billones de dólares, dentro del cual Estados Unidos representa casi la mitad. Según el informe del Instituto Internacional de Investigación para la Paz de Estocolmo (SIPRI, por sus siglas en inglés), Estados Unidos gastó 1.600 dólares en sus Fuerzas Armadas por cada habitante estadounidense. Mientras tanto, China gastó únicamente 31 dólares por persona, y la India a su vez gastó menos de 19 dólares por persona. El estudio también determinó que el gasto militar en realidad está disminuyendo en Europa, habiéndose registrado los mayores recortes en Inglaterra y España.

Maestros en huelga de Oaxaca protestan contra redada policial
En México, miles de maestros en huelga se congregaron el jueves en el centro de la ciudad de Oaxaca. Esta es la tercer semana que los maestros están en huelga para exigir salarios más altos y más fondos para el sistema educativo de México. La congregación tuvo lugar sólo un día después de una redada policial, que según los maestros causó la muerte de dos colegas y de un niño. En respuesta, los maestros dijeron que ahora pedirán la renuncia del gobernador del Estado, Ulises Ruiz.
Hermenegildo Sánchez, uno de los maestros en huelga, dijo refiriéndose al gobierno: "Nosotros no confiamos pues, no confiamos en ellos. Ahorita con el apoyo de todo el pueblo y las organizaciones, este, estamos tomando nuevamente aquí el Zócalo y nos volvemos a reinstalar hasta que Ulises Ruiz de respuesta a nuestras demandas y se castigue a los culpables de, a los policías, a todos".

Dos mil inmigrantes arrestados en redada del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional
En Estados Unidos, el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional anunció que más de dos mil inmigrantes indocumentados fueron arrestados en una ofensiva masiva que comenzó el mes pasado. Funcionarios del gobierno dijeron que prácticamente la mitad de las personas que fueron arrestadas tienen antecedentes penales. Más de 800 personas ya fueron deportadas.

Se prohíbe acceso de periodistas y abogados a Bahía de Guantánamo
Estados Unidos prohibió temporalmente el ingreso de periodistas y abogados a la prisión militar en Bahía de Guantánamo. El miércoles, un grupo de periodistas fue obligado a abandonar la isla por una directiva del Pentágono. Un portavoz del Pentágono dijo que se ordenó que los periodistas se retiraran tras quejas por parte de otros medios de comunicación de que se les negaba el mismo acceso. Pero surgen cuestionamientos acerca de si esta decisión estuvo motivada por el hecho de que los periodistas realizaron una cobertura el sábado tras el suicido de tres detenidos. Dicha cobertura incluía entrevistas con los abogados de los detenidos, quienes criticaron el modo en que sus clientes fueron tratados. Los periodistas trabajan para el "Los Angeles Times", el "Miami Herald" y el "Charlotte Observer". Un portavoz del Pentágono dijo que la orden de revocar los permisos no fue dada por los comandantes de Guantánamo, sino que surgió de la oficina del Secretario de Defensa Donald Rumsfeld. Mientras tanto, también se le prohibió a abogados que representan a detenidos de Guantánamo que visiten a sus clientes en la prisión. Una abogada que representa a un grupo de detenidos dijo que le informaron que la prohibición será levantada el lunes. En una declaración, el Centro para los Derechos Constitucionales -que ha representado a muchos detenidos- dijo: "En un momento en que el gobierno debe ser transparente con respecto a las muertes en Guantánamo, están construyendo un muro para mantenerlas en secreto y está evadiendo la responsabilidad pública. Esta ofensiva contra la libertad de prensa hace que todo el mundo se pregunte qué otras cosas están escondiendo allí... El gobierno de Bush le tiene miedo a los periodistas estadounidenses, a los abogados estadounidenses y a las leyes estadounidenses".

Corte Suprema dictamina que el gobierno puede utilizar evidencia obtenida ilegalmente
Esta noticia es de Estados Unidos. La Corte Suprema dictaminó que la constitución no exige descartar evidencia obtenida mediante allanamientos ilegales. La votación, de cinco votos a favor y cuatro en contra, fortalecerá las facultades de la policía para entrar a residencias sin anunciarse. La corte dictaminó que los costos sociales de descartar evidencia obtenida ilegalmente eran más importantes que los beneficios de proteger las garantías anteriores. En una opinión disidente, el juez Stephen Breyer escribió: "El argumento de los "grandes costos sociales" de la mayoría es un argumento contra el propio principio de exclusión de la Cuarta Enmienda. Y es un argumento que ésta Corte, hasta ahora, consecuentemente había rechazado".

Miguel: Good morning. Here are ten news headlines from this week's Democracy Now!

Iraq VP Asks Bush For Withdrawal Timetable
Meanwhile, a leading Iraqi official has asked the US for a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops. The government says Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi made the request during a meeting with President Bush Tuesday. In a statement, President Jalal Talabani said he supported Hashimi's demand. The Bush administration has firmly rejected calls for a timetable for withdrawal.

Congress Debates Iraq War As US Death Toll Reaches 2500
Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced Thursday the US death toll in Iraq has now reached 2500. The milestone was reached on the same day the Iraq war was the subject of intense debate in both Houses of Congress. In the Senate, lawmakers voted ninety-three to six against a measure to withdraw US troops by the end of the year. The measure was introduced by Republicans who claimed to be acting upon a proposal by Senator John Kerry. Five Democrats -- Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, Barbara Boxer of California, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Tom Harkin of Iowa and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts joined Kerry in voting for withdrawal. The House is expected to vote on its own Iraq resolution today. On Thursday, Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert urged lawmakers to support the measure.
House Republican Speaker Dennis Hastert: "They know their sacrifices on foreign shores are keeping the battle against terrorists out of our cities. They know by going in to harm's way, they are keeping Americans safe, and they know that they are helping a proud, but brutalised people to throw off tyranny and stand tall once again. They know that they are liberators, not occupiers. Our men and women in uniform know all this and they are proud of it. It's time for this House of Representatives to tell the world they we know it too -- that we know our cause is right, and that we are proud of it. Stand up for freedom. Adopt this resolution."
Democrats have accused Republicans of constraining debate by focusing the measure on the so-called war on terror rather than the Iraq war. House rules also prevent Democrats from proposing amendments or alternative resolutions. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi voiced the Democrats' concerns.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi: "The entire country is debating the war in Iraq, except the House of Representatives. So finally this debate was going to come to the floor, and then - a little while, within the past week, well it's going to be about this and that and other things as well because they know the case against this war is so incriminating that they really shouldn't want to bring it to the floor, so they've now expanded what the debate will be about."

Poll Shows Decline in Global Support for US Policies
And a new poll of fourteen countries shows a continuing decline in support for US policies around the world. According to the Pew Research Center, a majority in ten of fourteen countries believe the Iraq war has made the world more dangerous. That number includes Britain, where support for the so-called war on terror has dropped to below fifty percent. A majority in 13 countries believe the Iraq war poses a bigger threat to world peace than Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

ACLU Sues Pentagon Over Peace Activist Spying
The American Civil Liberties Union has launched a lawsuit demanding the Pentagon turn over information it’s collected on anti-war groups. In December, NBC News revealed the existence of a secret Pentagon database to track intelligence gathered inside the United States including information on anti-war protests and rallies. The database included information on counter-military recruiting meetings held at a Quaker House in Florida and anti-nuclear protests staged in Nebraska. The ACLU has already filed suit against the FBI for spying on peace groups.

Global Military Spending Tops $1.1 Trillion; U.S. Spends $1,600 Per Capita
Global military spending has reached a new record high of over $1.1 trillion dollars. The United States accounted for nearly half of the world's military spending. According to the report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States spent $1,600 on its military for every American. Meanwhile China spent just $31 per person. India spent less than $19 per person. The study also determined that military spending is actually decreasing in Europe with the biggest cuts recorded in England and Spain.

Striking Oaxaca Teachers Protest Police Raid
In Mexico, thousands of striking teachers converged in the center of the city of Oaxaca Thursday. The teachers are in the third week of a strike demanding higher wages and more funding for Mexico's education system. The gathering came just one day after a police raid that teachers say killed two of their members and a third child. In response, the teachers said they would now call for the resignation of state governor Ulises Ruiz.Striking teacher Hermenegildo Sanchez: "We don't trust (the government) now. With all the people's support and the organizations, we're here taking over the Zocalo again and we'll stay here until [the governor] responds to our demands and punishes the guilty-- the police officers, all of them."

2,000 Immigrants Arrested in DHS Sweep
Here in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security has announced more than 2,000 undocumented immigrants have been arrested in a massive crackdown that began last month. Government officials said close to half of those arrested have criminal records. Just over 800 people have already been deported.

Reporters, Attorneys Barred From Guantanamo Bay
The US has barred journalists and lawyers from the military prison at Guantanamo Bay. A group of visiting reporters was forced off the island Wednesday under a directive from the Pentagon. A Pentagon spokesperson said the removal was ordered following complaints from other media outlets who had complained they were being denied equal access. But questions are being raised over whether the removals were motivated by the reporters' coverage of the aftermath of Saturday's three detainee suicides. Their articles included interviews with the detainees' attorneys who criticized their clients' treatment. The reporters work for the Los Angeles Times, the Miami Herald and the Charlotte Observer. A Pentagon spokesperson said the revoking of the permissions came not from Guantanamo commanders but from the office of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Meanwhile, lawyers representing Guantanamo detainees have also been barred from visiting their clients at the prison. A lawyer representing a group of detainees said she was told the ban will be lifted on Monday. In a statement, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented scores of detainees, said: "At a time when the administration must be transparent about the deaths at Guantanamo, they are pulling down a wall of secrecy and avoiding public accountability. This crackdown on the free press makes everyone ask what else they are hiding down there… The Bush Administration is afraid of American reporters, afraid of American attorneys and afraid of American laws."

Police Raid Closes South Central Farm
Here in the United States, hundreds of police officers shut down the fourteen-acre South Central Farm in Los Angeles Tuesday. More than 40 protesters were arrested as they staged an encampment to resist removal from what is considered the largest urban farm in the United States. It took authorities nearly eight hours to forcibly clear the farm. Police bulldozed vegetable gardens and used bolt cutters to remove the protesters who had chained themselves to trees and picnic tables on the property. Since an eviction order last month, occupants have staged an encampment to resist removal from the land they've tended for over a decade.

Supreme Court: Government Can Use Illegally Obtained Evidence
Back in the United States, the Supreme Court has ruled the Constitution does not require prosecutors to forfeit evidence obtained through so-called “no knock” illegal searches. The five to four vote will strengthen police’s abilities to enter residences without announcing themselves first. The court ruled the social costs of throwing out illegally-obtained evidence outweighed the benefits of protecting previous safeguards. In a dissenting opinion, Justice Stephen Breyer wrote: "The majority's 'substantial social costs' argument is an argument against the Fourth Amendment's exclusionary principle itself. And it is an argument that this Court, until now, has consistently rejected."
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