Sunday, February 12, 2012

Truest statement of the week

While George Bush was president and Congress was primarily of a Republican nature, even organizations like and blogs like the Daily Kos were on my side. I attended HUGE protests in 2005-2006 before the Democrats took control of Congress in the elections of 2006 -- but after that, the protests began to weaken or evaporate.
Once when there was an event in DC on the 5th Anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in 2008, I was told by the lead organization that it didn’t want Cindy Sheehan "anywhere near Washington DC."
I, and many others, were in favor of a large demo in DC that year, as we always did, but one of the lead antiwar (Bush) organizations actually told us, since Democrats were in the majority in the House and they were continuing to fund Bush’s wars and not impeach him, that a demo in DC would, "embarrass the Democrats."
Now that we have had two years of a complete Democratic tyranny in DC and almost four years of a Democratic regime in the White House, the antiwar movement has continued its tailspin because it was mostly populated by "liberal" Democrats, or other Democratic functionaries like the Communist Party, USA.

-- Cindy Sheehan, "Republican for President?" (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox).

A note to our readers

Hey --
Another Sunday.

First up, we thank all who participated this edition which includes Dallas and the following:

The Third Estate Sunday Review's Jim, Dona, Ty, Jess and Ava,
Rebecca of Sex and Politics and Screeds and Attitude,
Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Great Man,
C.I. of The Common Ills and The Third Estate Sunday Review,
Kat of Kat's Korner (of The Common Ills),
Mike of Mikey Likes It!,
Elaine of Like Maria Said Paz),
Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix,
Ruth of Ruth's Report,
Wally of The Daily Jot,
Trina of Trina's Kitchen,
Stan of Oh Boy It Never Ends,
Isaiah of The World Today Just Nuts,
and Ann of Ann's Mega Dub.

What did we come up with?

  • Cindy Sheehan and her statement was strong enough that we didn't feel the need for two this week.

  • Okay. C.I. and I (Jim) roughed out this editorial late Saturday night. All the translations are from her. I would like to note what TV station the Minister of Human Rights spokesperson appeared on. It's one you can stream online because I saw it while C.I. was watching it online. (It may have been Alsumaria TV.) But she was translating what he (the spokesperson) was saying and we knew it would go in the editorial. The editorial was finished late tonight. C.I.'s been at the Grammys and she (and Jess and Ava) didn't help on the editorial -- the writing of it. Again, C.I. roughed it out with sources to cite with me Saturday night.

Ava and C.I. wrote this. They cover Morning Edition and Fox's Alcatraz. This is a really strong piece and all the more so when you grasp this is one of three pieces they wrote for this edition. Because they were cutting out early, they made a point to write three pieces.

  • This was Jess, Ava, C.I. and Wally's idea. And they had a few photos for it (we use two of those). The idea came to them last week and they thought it would make a solid article. It did and we thank them for the idea and would have loved their input on the writing of it. (That's not a complaint. Just noting it probably would have been tighter with help from the four of them.)

  • Praise Wally for this one. He brought a box back with him Saturday. When he saw me, the first thing he said was, "I've got something for the TESR Test Kitchen!" I actually liked these cookies a lot but I do eat fortune cookies.

  • Ava and C.I. didn't want to write anything on Whitney Houston who passed away on Saturday. They had no interest in it. There was talk of a roundtable on it. We tried that while they were working on the TV piece. It did not work out well. People spoke haltingly and often didn't finish thoughts. The news was too fresh. When Ava and C.I. finished the TV piece, they wrote another one. Then they rejoined us and found our roundtable falling apart. At which point, they said they'd grab Whitney. Mainly because they'd heard so many press distortions by that point. And some in the press were calling C.I. for help. One call I wish she'd have included in this piece was from a person with a daily (a weekly magazine reporter would also repeat this) claiming that Whitney's first album won the Rolling Stone magazine award for best album of 1986. C.I. couldn't stop laughing. She finally asked the man at the daily where he got that s**t? He told her it was on Crapapedia (he said Wikipedia, Ava and C.I. call it Crapapedia). He was telling the truth, I looked it up while he was still on speaker. But, as C.I. pointed out, you're talking about 1985 album. Rolling Stone is hugely sexist -- C.I. pointed out that Lauryn Hill lost to the Beastie Boys on Rolling Stone's year end awards -- and they're not really known for giving awards to African-American artists. "Set aside that it's an uneven album and grasp that millions were spent on it and Jann's no fan of Clive [Jann Wenner and Clive Davis, Wenner owns Rolling Stone, Davis groomed Whitney for stardom], Whitney's not a songwriter. And she's doing peppy pop. Rolling Stone didn't give her an award for that album. That's Crapapedia offering more crap. For 1986, the album was Paul Simon's Graceland. And in 1986 -- awards given then for 1985 year -- there were something like four or five albums -- one was Talking Heads -- and there was no Whitney on that list. If someone wants to try to argue 'readers poll!' the fact is that Tina Turner and Madonna were huge audience favorites in 1985 and 1986 and, no, Whitney wouldn't have had the popularity among Rolling Stone readers to win."

  • Lynne's sentencing gets re-heard.

  • Their third piece. Approximately 30 of readers wrote in to say they were offended that Ava and C.I. saw Carnage since Roman Polanski was the director. They address that in this article.

  • That's tomorrow.

  • Senator Patty Murray holds a Town Hall.

  • The Drone War, repost from Workers World.

  • Mike and the gang wrote this and we thank them for it.

That's it for this week.


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

Editorial: Nouri, bad for Iraq in every way

Friday, Peg Mackey (Reuters) reported that Iraq is attempting to increase sourthern Iraq oil output by 100,000 barrels per day next month. This would result from a new floating port, one that Aswat al-Iraq reports is supposed to be "one of four similar projects," according to the Ministry of Oil's Asim Jihad. Nouri al-Maliki needs something and something to spin because he's not representing Iraq very well in any manner.

Business and investment wise, money and business keeps going to the north. ExxonMobil is already going with the Kurdistan region and Reuters noted, "Total’s chief executive said on Friday he was considering possible investments in Kurdistan, something which previously prompted the central Iraq government to bar companies from investing in the south of the country, and added he did not plan to chase contracts in Baghdad’s next licensing round." Tara Patel (Bloomberg News) notes the company is "Europe's third-largest oil company" and that the three provinces which make up the Kurdistan Regional Government are "home to about 40% of the country's 115 billion barrels of reserves". Carin Hall (Energy Digital) explains, "Iraq opened up its vast reserves of oil to foreign investment after the Gulf War, but many find Baghdad's terms too stringent."

Nouri will no doubt see much more business go to the KRG. Unlike Baghdad, the KRG is not forever in gridlock and leaders aren't always trying to imprison rival politicians. The government there makes public efforts at transparency. Last week, the KRG noted their attendance at an anti-corruption conference in Abu Dhabi:

A delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government participated in the 3rd Middle East Summit on Anti-Corruption. The conference was a platform for senior-level executives in both public and private sectors to discuss strategies for minimizing bribery risks in the Middle East and implementing an effective and risk-based global compliance program.
Ms Nisar Talabany, Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Barham Salih, described the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Anti-Corruption efforts and gave an overview of the KRG's reform initiatives to minimise bribery risks in public-private partnerships. She said, "We assured the senior executives who are working to combat this grave issue that the KRG is part of the global movement against corruption, and our leaders are firmly committed to this fight".
In 2009, the KRG engaged PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC) to evaluate government procedures and devise a good governance and transparency strategy.

But that's the KRG, not Nouri's Iraq. Nouri's Iraq executes people. So does the US (so does the KRG), so does many countries. But none with the zeal of Nouri's Iraq. Last week saw the total number of prisoners executed since the start of this year rise to at least 65. Human Rights Watch noted their concern "that Iraqi courts admit as evidence confessions obtained under coercion. The government should disclose the identities, locations, and status of all prisoners on death row, the crimes for which they have been convicted, court records for their being charged, tried, and sentenced, and details of any impending executions" and the organization's Middle East director Joe Stork stated, "The government needs to declare an immediate moratorium on all executions and begin an overhaul of its flawed criminal justice system."

Proof that Nouri and his appointees just don't get it came quickly was Ministry of Human Rights spokesperson declaring on TV that (a) the death penalty deters crimes (that has never been established as fact despite centuries of proponets of capital punishment insisting it deters crime) and (b) Iraq began executions in 2004 and they moved more slowly but these days the process is very quick. He also vaugely appeared to indicate that Human Rights Watch's number was wrong (they say "approximately") and that it was wrong because they were unaware of some of the executions that had taken place. The actual number, he indicated, of people put to death by the Iraqi government since the start of the year is more than 65.

Nouri's a thug. We know it. He knows it.

ItalicI see Ba'athists

And it hasn't changed a thing in terms of the way he conducts himself. But as foreign companies invest and create jobs -- and as they attempt in the KRG and not Iraq proper -- Nouri may have to answer to the investment class and that might be the thing that finally rids Iraq of Little Saddam.

Corruption and violence is all Nouri al-Maliki has to offer -- to the world or to Iraqis. Al Mada reports that the Supreme Judicial Council sent a request to Parliament to remove immunity (all members of Parliament have legal immunity) from Iraqiya's Salim al-Mullah and the National Alliance's Sabah al-Saadi. That won't draw any business or help Nouri make friends either.

[Illustration is Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "I See Ba'athists" from December 25, 2011.=

TV: No one gets out alive

Fox never really had a hit with Prison Break -- except in that "only on Fox" manner. Before you e-mail, the second season saw it become the 51st most watched TV show on commercial network TV during prime time, and that was its highest ranking season. But it did get some viewers and that probably explains why they fell for Alcatraz. It shares a prison setting with Fox's earlier show but that's really it. There aren't two brothers that women are expected to compete for. In fact, Alcatraz's only sibling would be dead air. The two are closely related.


You realize all that is wrong with the show when you grasp that the premise is that the San Francisco federal prison didn't really close down in 1963, that was just a cover story for the fact that all the guards working in the prison and all the prisoners up and disappeared one day that year. And now they're coming back.

August 22, 1934, the Associated Press was reporting, "Scarface Al Capone, former Chicago gang lord, and 42 other convicts were imprisoned amid utmost secrecy today in the new federal prison on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay." May 4, 1946, Lawrence E. Davies (New York Times) reported from Alcatraz, "Penitentiary guards, from a roof-top position on the island fortress, began firing tonight through an electrically drilled hole at a little band of desperate felons who refused to surrender after an insurrection which had started nearly 30 hours earlier and caused the death of two guards and injuries to at least 13 others." June 13, 1962, John Anglin, Clarence Anglin and Frank Lee Morris demonstrated that they had most likely read Alexandre Dumas' The Count of Monte Cristo (at least chapter sixteen). The three became the only successful escapees from Alcatraz. (A fictionalized version of their story is told in Clint Eastwood's Escape From Alcatraz.) They worked to tunnel their way out, hit the water on raincoats fashioned into a boat and apparently made it to Angel Island -- after which no one knows what happened.

Any one of those years would make for a better baseline for the show than what they offer currently. Judging by the show thus far, Alcatraz Class of 1963 appears to have been nothing but a bunch of sad sacks with touchy-feely issues. Prisoners like Ernest Cobb who is a sniper due to sibling rivalry and Kit Nelson who kidnaps children for the same reason. It's not all sibling rivalry, there's also being betrayed by someone swiping your most prized possession, someone you thought was your best friend, for example.

Every prisoner tells a story, you understand, and every story is always an ABC After School Special.

Sarah Jones stars as Rebecca Madsen who has a host of issues. Including that she thought her grandfather was a guard at Alcatraz during this but she finds out that he was a prisoner. Last week, she learned her grandfather's brother was a prison guard. If it was supposed to mean anything, this destroyed belief in episode one and this new revelation in episode five, they didn't convey it. But characterization doesn't really exist on this show which appears to actually be a stop-motion program using wooden soldiers in place of actors.

Plot points exist solely to promote the actor playing this week's escaped convict. It's as though you're watching Batman & Robin and the best lines (of a bad script) are going to the villains while Clooney and O'Donnell stand around awkwardly. And you really wish it was the 70s and you were watching Columbo so that these stunt roles could be played by, for example, Leonard Nimoy.

When we first read scripts for this show, our big question was why Fox gave it a greenlight? These days our big question is who's watching? Fewer and fewer each passing week.

Is anyone listening to Morning Edition (NPR)?

It may seem off-topic but it's not. That show has become just as unbelievable as Alcatraz.

Last week, on this supposed news program, Gretchen Cuda-Kroen offered a report on spermicides. Before it could air, Steve Inskeep offered, "Some listeners may find the contents of this report -- lasting about four minutes -- uncomfortable." That had us gritting our teeth and recalling that no other science or medical report this year required a listener warning. And it was just Monday.

There was Wednesday when Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne introduced a report on the race for the GOP presidential nomination with Inkseep declaring, "Several factors may affect your thinking as you decide how important last night's voting was. Turnout was low, and no convention delegates were awarded as Missouri held a primary, and Minnesota and Colorado held caucuses." Montagne's comments included, "Then again, nobody awarded delegates when Iowa voted, either. The fact is people voted."

We agree with Renee's point: "The fact is people voted." And agree that when people vote, you report it. In fact, we agreed with that point in 2008. When Florida voted in their Democratic and Republican primaries. Did Morning Edition agree with us in 2008?

While they did file a report on the Republican primary (which John McCain won), here's the full Morning Edition coverage of the results of the Democratic Party primary in Florida, "Democrats had little at stake in Florida last night. Nobody campaigned there because it was considered too early." That's Steve Inskeep.

It wasn't "too early" for Florida voters. 1.75 million people voted.

The fact was people voted. But that fact didn't matter in 2008. And the winner wasn't covered, wasn't even mentioned on air (Hillary won). A record number of voters turned out -- the most in any Florida primary -- and NPR didn't think it was news (because the Barack Obama campaign declared it wasn't news, let's be honest about their whoring for Barack -- they can't be but we can).

Here's another fact. In addition to no delegates being awarded last week, one of the states, Missouri, was rightly called a beauty pageant. That's because the primary took place February 7th but determined nothing. A caucus will be held March 17th. People who vote in that caucus will vote for whomever they want and are not bound by the primary. This was known before the year started. By contrast, 1.7 million Floridians voted in the 2008 Democratic Party primary and Morning Edition elected to ignore it. "The fact is people voted" didn't mean a damn thing to them then as they screwed over Florida and failed at journalism.

Failed at journalism? Tuesday, Morning Edition was offering Juan Forero slamming Venezuela yet again. The Littlest Judy Miller's been grudge-f**king Hugo Chavez for years now. He started doing that while at The New York Times and, despite years of complaints, he's still doing it only now he does it for NPR.

Well maybe for the government as well. Has anyone seen Forero's tax returns?

And has anyone seen fairness at NPR?

Michele Kelemen reported on two organizations that has some serious charges against it. So Kelemen did the 'journalistic' thing by presenting -- at length -- statements by the two organizations without ever exploring the charges against them (a Carnegie Endowment for Peace flack was brought on for 'balance'). The organizations were US government ones, International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute. And, yes, the two organizations have a long history following them around. If Kelemen was overwhelemed by the large search results in LexisNexis, she could have just searched recent publications. Just weeks ago, Mark Weisbrot offered an evaluation for The Guardian:

The IRI and NDI are core grantees of the National Endowment for Democracy, an organization that conducts activities "much of [which]" the "CIA used to fund covertly", as the Washington Post reported when the Endowment was being created in the early 1980s. These organizations will sometimes support democracy, but often do not, or are even against it. This is not because they are inherently evil, but because of the position of the United States in the world. The United States government, more than any other in the world, is running an empire. By their nature, empires are about power and control over other people in distant lands. These goals will generally conflict with many people's aspirations for democracy and national self-determination.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the Middle East, where the US government's policy of collaboration with Israel's denial of Palestinian national rights has put it at odds with populations throughout the region. As a result, Washington fears democracy in many countries because it will inevitably lead to more governments taking the side of the Palestinians, and opposing other US ambitions in the region, such as its desire for military bases and alliances. Even in Iraq, where Washington brags about having toppled a dictatorship, the people had to fight the occupying authorities for the right to hold national elections, and then to kick US troops out of the country.

Lisa Ashkenaz Croke and Brian Dominick (The New Standard) reported on the NED and IRI's involvement in the 2004 Iraq vote. Hernando Calvo Ospina covered the history of the NED for Le Monde in 2007. Gerald Sussman covered the NED and IRI and their role in "global electioneering" for Monthly Review in 2006. In 2003, at Information Clearing House, the late Philip Agee explained the smoke & mirrors of "private" funding with regards to these groups. William Blum has written of its history and Eva Golinger has covered its actions in Venezuela -- both reports are the International Endowment for Democracy website which has many other articles on the subversion of people's will by the NED and IRI and related groups. Bob Feldman did a two-part piece on NED's connection to The Nation magazine here and here.

Of course, Anthony Fenton and Dennis Bernstein reported (2005 at Haiti Action) on 'journalist' Regine Alexandre who covered Haiti for The New York Times and the Associated Press and also happened to be on the payroll of the NED at the same time (Alexandre denied being paid but as the article notes in an update, when AP contacted the NED, "the NED confirmed her employment"). Maybe Michele Kelemen has some undisclosed ties? Her 'report' certainly suggested a career in something other than journalism.

But even so she was far from the worst offender. A week that saw Kelemen, a parental advisory for a science report on a supposed news program and Juan Forero? It wouldn't seem possible that there could be anything freakier, right?

Wrong. There's a reporter who has so enlisted in the administration's goals that she's become a joke to even the Pentagon. She's the new Judy Miller and her name is Kelly McEvers.

McEvers was supposed to be NPR's Iraq correspondent. Originally, she had problems getting to Iraq (and finding a place to live), but she got settled in and did some reporting that both she and NPR could be proud of. But actual reporting seems of less and less interest to NPR so the Iraq correspondent began being pulled for every surrounding country in the region.

It's her reporting on Syria that's destroyed her reputation, as each day seems to find her filing yet another breathless report of the violence being witnessed in Syria, the outageous violence, the deaths, the destruction . . . All of which she observes from Beirut. (That's in Lebanaon for those not familiar with the MidEast and, no, Lebanaon is not in Syria, it is its own country which, like Iraq, shares a border with Syria.)

Sometimes, after dispensing 'facts' on bombings and deaths and shootings, 'reporter' Kelly will add something like "the activists and witnesses and citizen journalists who we talk to on a regular basis" tell her this is what is taking place. Such a statement -- not always included -- will usually pass quickly. And no one will question whether her sources are one-sided (they certainly sound one-sided). Last week, when she was 'reporting' on rockets destroying a neighborhood and a hospital (unverifiable claims on her part) this exchange did take place:

INSKEEP: Now, Kelly, we should be clear: Few, if any, journalists are inside Homs, or in any of the contested areas in Syria. We're getting information from activists here. How confident are you of the picture that's emerging, of what's happening in Syria right now?

MCEVERS: It is so difficult to verify the numbers. And over the weekend, we saw that there were discrepancies about how many, exactly, had died in some of these government offensives. You had one activist group saying it was over 300. Another activist group saying no, it was only 60. And without being able to go there ourselves and verify it and see it with our own eyes, it's very difficult.

It's very difficult? We'd say it's impossible. And when the administration is pounding the war drums on Syria, we'd say the last thing the US needs is 'reporters' 'reporting' on something they can't verify with their own eyes. Speaking to people with vested interests and basing your report on that? Not only is that not objective journalism, it doesn't even rise to the level of news reporting. At best, it's a feature article -- a lighter category.

But nearly every day, there's Kelly on Morning Edition (or All Things Considered), breathless and insisting that violence is taking place all around her . . . Well, she watches some streams online from her echo chamber inner circle -- apparantly while preparing meals based upon what she declared on Morning Edition last week. Is she doubling as a Sous-Chef at Chez Sami?

She's certainly not cutting it as a reporter and, again, she's become such a joke that even the US Pentagon is laughing at her.

And everybody's laughing at Alcatraz, especially at the other networks, as this talky go-no-where show which keeps adding characters so similar to the one the week prior and the week before that and the . . .

We honestly think Laurie Anderson nailed the show in her song "Language Is A Virus" (first appears on her Home Of The Brave):

And there was a beautiful view

But nobody could see
Cause everybody on the island
Was screaming: "Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!
Look at me! Look at me!" Why?

"Paradise," Laurie goes on to note, "is exactly like where you are right now only much, much better." To which we'd add, "And on another network." A suggestion both for viewers on Monday nights and for NPR when considering McEvers' future in broadcasting.

Saving you from a Valentine's Day nightmare

It's Tuesday evening. Everyone warned you all last week and all yesterday at work or school but you yeah-yeah-ed them and committed to last minute shopping. Now you're at the drug store/grocery store/department store and what do you see?

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Our first suggestion is, "Don't panic."

Our second is skip the grocery store. If it's empty, you're out of luck. Same with the drug store. Go for a department store. A Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Big Lots, you name it.

Let's start with that, in fact, the emergency pull together gift.

When the shelves are empty, what can you do?

If you're shopping for a non-romantic at a department store, you can immediately head to the DVDs and video games. Pick something out there. You'll be fine -- as long as they like it -- because you remembered and that's all that mattered.

But if he or she is a romantic, you're in even more luck.

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What color are those candles? Red. And those pillows? And that jar or vase? Again: red.

Using red or pink, you can go through house wares and pull together a gift that looks like you planned it. For example? Go get some plush, large red towels, grab some red candles, some bubble bath and you've got the starter for a romantic evening.

But using red and/or pink, you can go through housewares and find a number of gifts that will allow you to appear to have planned it all out ahead of time.

Let's move to a less desperate shopper. There are still V-Day gifts on the shelves, however, they're not anything you'd normally pick up. Here's a test. Which bear do you grab?

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Unless you're valentine is a Star Wars freak, you don't grab the Star Wars bear. It is a nicer bear but unless you're shopping for a Star Wars freak, it is the last one you grab. (And if you grab it for someone who may tell you where to shove the force, be sure to pull off the Star Wars sticker on the shirt. It will come off. The t-shirt on the bear will not.)

Even less desperate is the person who finds a ton of stuff at the store but it's not stuff they want, it's stuff they'd call crap. Quick, what box of chocolates would you pick below in such a situation?

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If you guessed the Panda, good! You understand kitsch. When all that is available is awful, pretend that you were sending up V-Day.

This will mean a series of (cheap) gifts. Not just one. It needs to appear planned and part of a motif. Which below qualifies as kitsch?

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No, not the milk chocolate fish. That's not kitsch, it's crap and only if your valentine loves chocolate and loves fishing might they like to nibble on a chocolate fish. Hello Kitty! That's kitsch. "Look, it's little nail polish and lip gloss!" You can laugh over it together.

It's also a known brand which won't make it appear cheap. Let's say you don't have the knack for kitsch. But there are a few gifts left. Let's say these two are available.

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Do you go with no-name offering candy heart messages or candy corn or do you go with the Hershey kisses canister?

No one but four-year-olds wants those sugary heart candies with the little messages written on them and candy corn? Anything you'd throw back at someone on Halloween isn't something you want to give for Valentine's Day.

And the sugary no-name candies? They're in a paper container (you probably can't tell that from the photo). The Hershey kisses come in a nice, solid, metal canister.

Which brings us to canisters. You can't figure anything out but you see some candy. Not candy in a box, but some candy you can pull together. Should you?

Yes. But go find -- remember you're at a department store -- a canister first. It'll be in housewares.

You've bought the canister, you've bought the candy. Do you add it to the canister in the package or do you take it out of the package? You take it out. Especially if you're using the M&Ms below.

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That packaging screams CHEAP!

"Sweet sayings" looks an awful lot like "sweet savings." You're already assembling a gift, you don't want your valentine wrongly reading the package and insisting that you don't think they're worth spending a little money on.

If you follow the tips above and use your noggin, even last minute shoppers can pull together a semi-respectable Valentine's Day gift. Just remember to avoid the lips.

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A sugar cookie badly dyed is not anyone's idea of a tasty treat.

From The TESR Test Kitchen

We love chocolate! We like sprinkles! We like to read fortune cookies . . .

Luv Yu Bakery out of Louisville, Kentucky is convinced that people will love all three . . . combined! And for Valentine's Day no less.


They explain on the box, "Luv Yu Bakery's delicious and decadent Sprinkled Chocolate Dipped Fortunes are the perfect gift for the special person in your life, and will satisfy the sweet tooth of all ages. These treats are no longer just an after dinner treat, but are also a fun new way to say 'I love you'."

The box generously warns "CONTAINS WHEAT AND EGG." There's no warning about the taste.

Most importantly, there's no warning that there's paper inside. That might seem obvious to many -- it does to us -- but not everyone has had a fortune cookie and some might not assume that there's paper inside the cookie. If you're someone who's never had a fortune cookie,

Chinese Fortune Cookie explains that the fortune cookie is not native to China but was instead invented in Los Angeles by David Jung in 1918. Or else, they explain, it was invented in San Francisco by MaKoto Hagiwara in 1914. And maybe they were inspired by Chinese in the 13th century when they hid messages from the Mongols by inserting then in "moon cakes." The website adds, "The fortune cookie was not introduced to the Chinese until the 1990s and were amusingly advertised as 'Genuine American Fortune Cookies'." Fancy Fortune Cookie notes the same three orgin possibilities and adds one more, "In the early 1900’s a plan was hatched to transform San Francisco’s Chinatown from a ghetto into a cute tourist attraction. San Francisco’s Chinatown promised tourist a real Oriental experience. The city promoted Chinese decorations, pageantry and architecture. Supposedly, increased tourism led to the invention of the fortune cookie to fill the void of a dessert item. To fill the tourists demands for a dessert, a worker in San Francisco’s Kay Heong Noodle Factory invented a plain flat cookie in the 1930s. This plain flat cookie, while still warm, was folded around a little piece of paper on which a hand-written prediction or piece of Chinese wisdom would be found."

So the history is as much a mystery as what the strip of paper will say before you break open the fortune cookie. Each cookie contains a strip of paper such as "You will soon make a wise investment" or "You will travel with the person of your dreams" or "See a doctor, that itch isn't going away." (Just joking on the last one.)

People who don't eat fortune cookies but want their fortunes do like Debra Winger in the film Black Widow and smash the cookie (often while it's inside its own little plastic bag) and then pull out the fortune. People who eat fortune cookies have a sweet tooth. It can seem more sugary than a sugar cookie. Some eat them regardless of whether they like them or not, feeling that you have to eat them (or at least half) to get your fortune. People can also be very particular about them when they are laid on the table, insisting that if you (a co-diner) touched any of the cookies, that one is your fortune and you need to stay away from the others.

People who eat the fortune cookies generally split them in half, pull out the fortune and then eat.

If you've had a fortune cookie and liked it, will you like the Chocolate Dipped Fortune? We think so because the chocolate, while adding to the amount of sugar being consumed, tends to cut the sugary taste of the cookie somewhat. And they used a real chocolate on the cookie, they didn't scrimp and use something watered down. It has a velvety feel and taste.

When we panned BaconPOP in December, we got a few e-mails from bacon lovers who still wanted to try it and suggested we include websites when we're covering products that aren't available at your average grocery chain. You can visit the LuvYuCookie website. Please note two things. First, the information there insists there are 24 fortune cookies in each box. We had eight in our box. Second, they don't list another product: Chocolate Dipped Easter Fortune Cookies. They are already on the shelves. So if you're thinking, "I want to try these but Valentine's Day is almost over," you've got until Easter to find them in stores and we'd assume you can order online throughout the year.

Whitney (Ava and C.I.)


We were leaving a restaurant late Saturday night, waiting for the car to pull around, standing with a number of people including an African-American female and an Anglo-White male who were discussing Whitney Houston's death. The woman was explaining Whitney was "more pop" and she wondered why the man was calling Houston a "soul singer."

"She wasn't Aretha Franklin," the woman said in an exhausted tone.

And she wasn't. She was a pop artist who followed in the tradition of many others -- most of all Diana Ross and Barbra Streisand. Had she started out when Diana did, she'd be considered a "crossover" artist but the days when musical artists were segregated over the airwaves by race has passed. In fact, Arista's plan was to establish her on urban radio first with "You Give Good Love" but that song not only hit the top ten urban charts in May 1985 (it would rise all the way to number one), it made it into the top three of the pop charts in July of 1985.

Like Diana, she was a singles artist. Diana had 18 number one hits on the pop charts spanning the years 1964 to 1980 (16 years). Whitney grabbed the number one spot on the pop charts 11 times from 1985 to 1995 (10 years). For ten years, Whitney was one of the most successful female singers in the world.

Like Barbra, she was an incredible singer. While Barbra used that voice for albums, Whitney wrongly used it for singles. Wrongly? If she wanted to be a singer of popular hits, she used it wrongly.

Like Barbra, Whitney had an incredible range of notes she could access. That wasn't a good thing for the future of music as it aided in spawning the Vocal Gymnastics that so many bad singers would attempt to compete in, mistaking musical exercises for actually conveying the meaning of a song.

And most songs revolve around five notes. Most popular songs. You're not trying to run the scales, you want something that people feel they can sing along with -- in the car, in the shower -- without embarrassing themselves. Holland-Dozier-Holland, Motown's most successful songwriting team when it came to writing top forty hits grasped that and Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Edward Holland made a point to keep the melodies easy to reproduce. (Resulting in such classics as "You Can't Hurry Love," "Stop In The Name Of Love," "Where Did Our Love Go?," "Come See About Me," "Heat Wave," "Come and Get These Memories," "Baby Love," "Baby I Need Your Loving," "Back In My Arms Again," "How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You," "It's The Same Old Song," "I Hear A Symphony," "My World Is Empty Without You," "You Keep Me Hanging On," "Love Is Here And Now You're Gone," "Jimmy Mack," "The Happening," "Reflections," "Band Of Gold," "Forever Came Today" and many, many more.)

Diana Ross is a singles artist. Her range is less than Barbra's (and Whitney's) but she charted more often on Billboard's Hot 100 than any other female artist in the 20th century. She also topped that chart 18 times more than any other female artist in the 20th century. Barbra was an album artist who rarely broke the top ten on the pop charts.

Her first charting single was in 1964 with "People" which made it to number five. She was already a Broadway star by that point, had three top ten albums (all of which had gone gold), had won the Grammy for Best Female Vocal and Best Album. She did all of that without a hit single. Her next top forty hit would be "Second Hand Rose" in 1966 which made it to number 32 but she wouldn't hit the top ten again until the 70s despite the fact that she would be one of the sixties strongest album sellers.

In 1971, 24 singles after "People" broke the top ten, Barbra would again hit the top ten with "Stoney End" -- a cover of Laura Nyro's song which Michael Douglas noted was a note-for-note reproduction of Nyro's version. In 1974, she'd hit the top ten again with "The Way We Were" which was also her first number one hit, she'd do the same in 1977 with "Evergreen" (both were themes to movies she starred in). Also in 1977, she'd release "My Heart Belongs To Me" which would make it to number four and be at number one again in 1978 with Neil Diamond on the duet "You Don't Bring Me Flowers," and back at number one in 1979 with Donna Summer on the duet "No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)." Barry Gibb would produce her 1980 album Guilty which would give Barbra a number one with "Woman In Love" (her last number one) as well as a top three hit with the title track and "What Kind of Fool" would make it to number ten. She wouldn't score another top ten hit again until 1996, singing "I Finally Found Someone" with Bryan Adams (number 8). To date, it's her last top ten hit.

Barbra only made the top ten singles chart eleven times in her career; Diana topped it 18 times (18 number ones; 30 top ten hits; 52 top 40 hits). But Barbra's sold more albums than Diana (in fairness to Diana, Motown did a lousy job of cashing in on the CD boom) and more albums than any other female artist. A Barbra album is usually an event. As in: It's a gospel album! She's back to Broadway! She's doing contemporary pop again! She's returned to torch songs!

That could have been Whitney and maybe should have been after the disaster of 2002's Just Whitney. See, an artist with pipes like that can't just do the top 40. If she tries, it'll seem like vocal showing off and also like, with all that talent, she's slumming.

Whitney generally got away with the gymnastics because she put emotion into the delivery and was rather inventive when it came to her phrasing. In about ten years, her phrasing is probably what she'll be most critically praised for.

But the bulk of attention will be on her life. She got involved with drugs early in her career and, over time, drugs began controlling her. By her 1999 American Music Awards performance, drugs had overtaken her talent. Stamping the floor in frustration as she attempted to hit notes that were escaping her on live TV while her voice frequently cracked and she sweat profusely, the industry knew Whitney's addiction had just gone from whisper to roar. In 2000, she'd hit number 27 on the pop charts with "I Learned From The Best" and that would be her last top forty pop hit in her lifetime though she'd release ten more singles.

While her media moments during those last twelve years didn't help her any (her "crack is whack" interview with Diane Sawyer made her a laughingstock), the reality is that even if each media moment had impressed, Whitney still would have career problems.

Her singing was more mature on 1991's I'm Your Baby Tonight. But there were no huge pop hits and only one song cracked the top ten ("Miracle" at number nine).

What happened?


Grunge happened. And the woman who owned the big power ballad format was left to hunt for relevance. In 1992 and 1995, movies would give her number ones. But the reality was you can't just sing about love. Not even the greatest love of all.

Not if you want a top 40 career on the singles chart. Her material suffered from the sameness. That was obvious on the first album but more so on 1987's Whitney. All those love songs, all in the same tempo, all in the watch-how-high-on-the-scales-I-can-go, all 'hear me hold this note!' overwhelming.

Whitney was high fashion and stylish in the latter half of the eighties but sorely out of touch with the music purchasing public of the early 90s. My Love Is Your Love is her finest album of the 90s and the only one to successfully (in terms of both critical and commercial success) establish a different and contemporary sound for her. But the gift of self-recreation really wasn't something Whitney possessed. Which means, like her cousin Dionne Warwick, she'd need to be out of the public eye for a bit in order to resurface with a successful music project.

When your life is considered to be tsk-tsk worthy, you're not going to get the chance to take the break you and the public need. And when you take part in a reality show that brings you and your entire family ridicule, you have to take some of the blame for the tabloid-ization of your life.

Whitney Houston passed away on Saturday and already you see the effort to hype her into a supernova to justify all the press coverage that's coming. Remember her right now, if you can, because in a week or two, you won't recognize the person they're speaking of.

By Saturday night, the lies were already making their way into print. Some we read, some we heard of, one had us waking up an editor and lodging a complaint about the lies in his reporter's obit. That did get changed. It needed to be.

The false claim was that Whitney Houston broke ground with MTV the same way Michael Jackson did but for Black women. That Whitney was the first African-American woman to make it into heavy rotation on MTV. Considering that Grace Jones' "Pull Up To The Bumper" was an early MTV staple, that's a questionable claim. Factor in that 1984 saw Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" in heavy rotation on MTV along with various hits by the Pointer Sisters ("Automatic," "Jump For My Love," "Neutron Dance" and the re-released "I'm So Excited") and Sade's "Smooth Operator." Or, maybe more importantly, 1984 was the year a woman broke through that MTV couldn't ignore. She wasn't pop, she was rock. (MTV always had a line about women being "too soft" for heavy rotation. A line that never applied to, for example, the group Chicago.) And she was number one on the singles chart.

Her name?

Tina Turner. "What's Love Got To Do With It" (which would go on to win the MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video of the Year) and "Better Be Good To Me" would dominate MTV from summer 84 through the end of the year. She'd stay in heavy rotation in 1985 with "Private Dancer," "I Can't Stand the Rain," "Show Some Respect," "We Don't Need Another Hero" and "One of the Living."

So claiming Whitney was the one who broke the MTV color barrier for Black women was always going to be a stretch. Even more amazing was the article insisted she paved the way for Janet Jackson and Sade. As already noted, Sade was on MTV a year before Whitney. In 1984, Sade was a multiplatinum album artist with a unique musical sound. Janet?

In 1982, Janet cracked the Billboard Hot 100 with "Young Love" (number 64) which also hit number six on the R&B chart. "Come Give Your Love To Me" would also crack the Hot 100 again (58) and hit number 30 on the dance charts and 17 on the R&B charts. 1983, she'd hit number 11 on the dance chart with "Say You Do" and number 17 on the R&B chart. 1984, she'd be at 23 on the dance chart and number 9 on the R&B chart with "Don't Stand Another Chance." Before any of those songs were ever recorded, she was already famous as the sister of the Jackson 5 and as Penny on Good Times. Janet didn't follow Whitney.

But that's how the hype machine works.

And the hype machine is no longer just newspapers and TV. It's now things like Crapapedia. A few friends working on stories called to check some facts Saturday night. We couldn't stop laughing when we were asked if Whitney Houston's debut album won the Rolling Stone magazine's best album of the year award? Crapapedia said so! It said it won the 1986 award for best album.

Her debut album received a so-so review from the magazine. 1985 (when the album was released) saw no woman get the honor of best album from the magazine's writers. The readers' picks were Tina and Madonna. In February 1987, when the 1986 honors were awarded, the best album of 1986 picked by RS was Paul Simon's Graceland. You can, and they do, make up any s**t at Crapapedia.

It's not enough to note that Whitney was a gifted singer with an impressive range, knew how to put a song over and make it believable, sold millions, influenced a crop of singers (Mariah Carey was a Whitney clone in the 80s and for much of the 90s), starred in three successful films (Sparkle is set to hit theaters this August) and delivered the definitive performance of the "Star Spangeled Banner." While most people would be thrilled to have just one of those things attached to their name, the press can't be satisfied with that. If that's all they have to offer, then it's a one day story. They don't want a one day story, they want a cottage industry and so they'll hype her and hype her until no one can recognize her. And a year or two after her death, as with Janis Joplin, Cass Elliot and others who died young, a music lover will discover Whitney for the first time, be moved by her recordings and think, "They've got her all wrong." And she or he will be right.


Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 note from Ava and C.I.: The last two paragraphs were added after this published because of e-mails asking about this story mentioned in Jim's note to the readers.

Political Prisoner Lynne Stewart


On last week's. Black Agenda Radio, hosted by Glen Ford and Nellie Bailey, (airs each Monday at 4:00 pm EST on the Progressive Radio Network), featured an interview with journalist Ralph Poynter, husband of the people's attorney, political prisoner Lynne Stewart (illustration above).

Lynne's sentencing is scheduled to be reviewed by the court February 29th
. And that has to be appealed before the issue of the verdict itself can be. Glen Ford discussed these issues with Lynne's husband. Excerpt.

Glen Ford: On the last day of Feburary, a court will hear the appeal of movement lawyer Lynne Stewart imprisoned for 10 years on charges of supporting terrorism. Stewart was the attorney for Omar Abdul Rahman the so-called "blind Sheikh" charged with the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Attorney Stewart is in federal prison in Fort Worth, Texas. She was first sentenced to only two-and-a-half years but then the courts decided to pile on some more years. Her husband and co-activist Ralph Poynter explains.

Ralph Poynter: This is an appeal of the re-sentencing Lynne received. She received a sentence of two-and-a-half years. 28 to 30 months. Then, when she was appealing, when she was free on her appeal, they called her back for a re-sentencing because a government appeal to the 2nd Circuit of a sentence 'too light' was taken up and two of the three judges agreed that the sentence was 'too light.' And besides Lynne Stewart continued "traveling around the country at the law schools and universities corrupting our youth." These are the words of the judges of the 2nd Circuit.

Glen Ford: In other words, her sentence was increased -- five times -- to ten years based upon her speech?

Ralph Poynter: Based upon her speech and they said it: "traveling around the country at law schools and universities corrupting our youth." Now Lynne Stewart said that the treatment of Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman was racist and government funded and that there was no terror plot, that the government had done it. And it was all done by an Egyptian double agent, Emad Salem, who was hired by the Egyptian government and the American FBI --or CIA -- and so she had him on the witness stand and she caught him lying 32 times. And it got to the point where he just said, "Well I guess, Miss Stewart, I mis-stated, I lied," and put his head down. The jury heard that and yet they convicted Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman.

Glen Ford: So when Lynne went to these universities and law schools, she was not just exercising her own freedom of speech to say whatever she said, but also she was speaking on behalf of her client as a lawyer?

Ralph Poynter: Yes, the blind Sheikh, on his appeals, and his right for the First Amendment. And she answered all questions and she gave these law students a history lesson on racism in America. And she would use her own experiences -- experiences the people of the sixties, the activists, because remember Lynne Stewart was a teacher and an activist, she was a Christian Dutch Reform and honor student. And when she came to New York City as a 23-year-old who was born not five miles from Harlem, she didn't know it existed. So she said, "This is American miseducation. Not only do they not treat the Black children to read, write and count, they don't teach White children what America is and I'm the example." And you could imagine what effect that had on the students. So no wonder we are where we are: Islamophobia. And then she went into law, what law is about, understanding the Bill of Rights and what a lawyer's job is and how it came to this formulation. And one of the things that Lynne and I have an argument about, she says that with all of the warts and flaws in the new US justice system, she thinks it's the best model. But it will only be that if the lawyers play their proper role of being the person between the government and the accused and explaining that that is what protects all of us -- a vigorous defense by attorneys -- and if one person doesn't have that defense, none of us do.

Glen Ford: So when Lynne is talking to university students and law students about her principles and explaining her actions and what she thinks it means to be a citizen and a lawyer she is then faced with this massive retribution -- an increase of five times her sentence -- and in her appeal she's calling that substantial unreasonableness in terms of legalese.

Ralph Poynter: And this is what the appeal is. Now, before you can appeal your basic sentence, you know, her basic guilt -- she was found guilty in the federal court of terrorism, supporting terrorism, she has to go through the Second Circuit so this is a double. She's opposing the unreasonableness and the unfairness and the illegal upping of her sentence before she can before the Supreme Court on her original trial, the trial of being found guilty of supporting terrorism. Now the question is: How are they going to defend this? My answer to that is: If there were law in the first place, Lynne would never be in jail. And one of the first speeches that she made, they were holding a conference in California on the coming of the police state and Lynne was the speaker and she said, "The coming of the police state? The police state has always been here for certain members of our nation and now it's coming to White people and I'm the evidence." And it was standing ovation. The police state has always been here, the people didn't recognize it because it was against us [persons of color -- Ralph Poynter is African-American].

Glen Ford: And that statement was one of those -- and reports on that statement in the press was one of those factors in the judge multiplying her sentence by five?

Ralph Poynter: You got that 100% right.

Glen Ford: And thus verifying that the police state had arrived.

Ralph Poynter: And as I said to Lynne, you have to understand, we just got out of
COINTELPRO, they listened to everything. She felt that one of the most embarrassing things of the left was allowing our defenders of the community to lay in jail all of these years.

He's a criminal (Ava and C.I.)

"It was not safe there, people get killed there." So says an ass in a film full of them. The film is Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired and we'd managed to avoid this garbage. But we added a note to "Foul but not funny" last week and Jim noted in his note that we'd seen Carnage last Sunday. A number of e-mails poured in (e-mail address is asking how could we when the film was directed by Roman Polanski?

We saw the film because of Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet. Roman Polanski is sometimes one of the great directors of the big screen. Rosemary's Baby, Chinatown, Death and the Maiden and Repulsion are his classics. The rest? Not so good. (The Vampire Killers is a solid B picture.) We honestly weren't even thinking of the film as a Polanski film. (Neither was he, judging by the pedestrian direction.) If others have a boycott policy regarding Polanski's films, good for them. We don't. We were going to the movies and wanting to see something we hadn't seen and something that wasn't going to disgust us -- the latter ruled out a number of films sight unseen.

Ty responded to the e-mails, often seeking comments from us, all last week.

We're commenting here. Yes, what Roman Polanski did was rape. We've never stated it was anything else, check the archives. We don't justify it, we don't minimize it.

We also don't hate, for example, Rosemary's Baby because of what Polanski did offscreen. We can (and will) refer to him as "sometimes one of the great directors of the big screen" and at the same time acknowledge that he raped a 13-year-old girl.

One e-mailer found it "particularly interesting that you've never weighed in on Roman Polanski Wanted and Desired in all your years of reviewing."

We cover broadcast TV.

When Jane Fonda returned to films with Monster-In-Law, this site chose to cover her comedy films. And that was a group effort that quickly got farmed out to us. Fine. Jane's a remarkable comedian, one of film's funniest actresses. And we were happy to do our part to help remind people of that in the lead up to the premiere of Monster-In-Law. But other than the comedy films of Jane Fonda, we're not remembering any time when we -- just us -- have covered films. There are film pieces here at this site. More often than not, we don't take part in them and, when we don't, that's noted in Jim's note to the readers. There was a piece here about who the real stars of X number of years ago were. And our participation was minimal but one of us (C.I.) still had five friends who were very angry that they weren't mentioned in that piece. Because of reactions like that (and that's just one example), we participate in "hype" pieces -- what's coming up in film -- and we participate in pieces about people who are dead. That's the extent of it here because we piss off enough people we know just in covering TV.

The reader (who's been reading this site for at least three years) felt we were avoiding reviewing the so-called documentary.

What we were avoiding was having to sit through that garbage.

But for the reader we did.

It didn't change our opinion of Polanski as a film maker (often inspired) or our opinion of his being guilty of rape.

It did depress the hell out of us.


1) Mia Farrow. Mia's a wonderful person (and one we both know) and we don't always agree. That's fine. We are strongly pro-abortion and Mia is just as strongly pro-life. (She actually is pro-life and not anti-abortion.) In every disagreement, we can usually see consistency on Mia's part. With her opinion of Roman, we don't. She knows him. One of us does as well (C.I.). So? Mia was outraged (rightly) when she caught Woody Allen having an affair with one of her teenage daughters. Mia wondered if the daughter was even mature enough to know what was happening. The daughter was many years older than Roman's 13-year-old victim. And that daughter wasn't said to have been drugged. For Mia to show up in the 'documentary' vouching for Roman is a bit strange.

2) Sharon Tate. A beautiful woman. Also one who has been dead for sometime. So it's a bit pathetic to watch this 2008 'documentary' repeatedly try to get sympathy for Roman Polanski by using his second wife's memory over and over. Yeah, second wife. You won't catch that in the documentary. Tate was murdered in 1969. Roman was caught with a 13-year-old in 1977. Are we to believe Roman was nonfunctioning and insane for 8 years?

3) In the film, a clip is shown of Dick Cavett asking Roman in the early 1970s about the press and Polanski insists they turned on him. They did but not due to Sharon's murder. They turned on him because they built him up and he was a success. He tries to pin everything on Sharon Tate, doesn't he? If she hadn't died, the press would still love him!

The press roots for you when you're down and tears you up when you're soaring. That's what the press does.

It's cute the way the 'director' of this documentary distorts the press after Sharon's death. Was Roman accused of having killed his wife? Even what the 'director' displays doesn't back that up. But the reality is what Roman's home was known for kinky sex -- rightly or wrongly -- and for rituals. After the deaths at the house (Roman was out of the country), people began talking about what went on there. That's only natural.

Is it fair? No, but it's not new and has gone on since the press began.

It would be months before the nutcases of the Charles Manson family would be discovered to be the killers. In all the time that followed, various people were suspected. Since Polanski was out of the country when the murders took place, the idea that he was a press suspect is rather ludicrous.

4) The rape victim.

She's an adult now and she just wishes people would leave Roman alone.

Guess what? We don't care.

It wasn't about her. It was about power. That's what rape is. And she wasn't the only underage girl he was with.

Fortunately, today, if the police come out on a domestic abuse call, it's not supposed to matter whether or not the woman with the black eye or bleeding lip says, "Don't arrest him!" The man's supposed to be arrested. (Or the woman if the attacker/victim roles are reversed.)

We're glad that, in the late 90s, she finally got the last half-a-million plus from him from her civil lawsuit. And that may have influenced how she sees the case now.

5) Though the victim tries to make nice and say nice things about Polanski, the 'director' wants to sully and muddy the 13-year-old. She'd had sex before, a man insists. Had she? They don't back it up with any evidence. But to even go there? This woman who says nice things about Polanski, even she gets trashed in the film.

6) When you don't have evidence, by all means rely on what someone's father overheard in the bathroom of a country club. If these urinals could talk, eh?

7) If you were married to a sexist pig with a sexist brother whose claim to fame in the last two decades has been how many bitchy things he could say about Barbra Streisand, we're not surprised you rush to defend Roman and base that defense on how he threw a great party.

8) Following a 'witness' in the 'documentary' recanting some statements he makes in the 'documentary,' the 'director' insisted that didn't matter because "we still have a judge who was instructing the prosecutor and defense lawyer on how to behave, and doing it based on how he would look in the media." What we still have is Roman Polanski taking a plea deal and admitting to actions with a 13-year-old that are illegal in the United States and were illegal when they took place. And that's before we get into the fact that he drugged her. That's what we still have in place.

The 'director' of the 'documentary' wants to get worked up over the fact that Roman's a victim!

What's he a victim of?

45 days in jail for rape?

45 days in jail after he entered a guilty plea?

Oh, that's right, he's a victim of what the judge was going to do.

What was the judge going to do?

Something nefarious the 'documentary' tells you. And when that happened, believe you us, Roman was going to be a victim.

So he left the country.

The 'director' fails to grasp that there's no victimization of Roman Polanski here. He entered a guilty plea (to unlawful intercourse) and he was sent for a psychiatric evaluation that lasted 45 days (when everyone thought it would take 90). And then he leaves the country because he's sure the judge is about to do something awful to him. Though nothing awful had yet to be done.

9) The US is one country. Polanski's not from the US. He chose to leave it and, when he did, he knew that being a fugitive from justice would mean he couldn't come back to the US without risking imprisonment. He knew that. He may or may not have grasped how extradition would make it harder for him in other countries. But he knew there was no coming back to the US.

He made his choice. If he doesn't want to live with it, he turns around and comes back to the US to face the legal system.

Those are the choices today. He raped a 13-year-old girl. He admitted to "intercourse" with her in a plea agreement. He testified to the court that it happened. His actions are not in dispute. Excuse us, his crimes are not in dispute.

It's really cute the way Roman's defenders are so offended by 'justice.' They are so silent so often when innocent people are convicted. But for Roman Polanski who publicly admitted to his guilt of a serious crime, they whine about the so-called lack of 'justice.' And they whine about how unfair it was for Roman to be in a prison because "people get killed there." But they don't say a damn word about prisons except as it applies to Roman Polanski.

In other words, these dangerous prisons (we're not disputing that they're dangerous) are not fair for Roman Polanski. But they're fine and dandy for the many Americans who are incarcerated there? Apparently so since the people in this documentary* will whine to the cameras for a celebrity but won't give a second thought to the prison when the one being sent there isn't a celebrity but, for example, a scared kid that just got sentenced on some silly three-strikes-you're-out law that tied the judge's hands.

Roman has directed four great films. He may direct four more great films or even more than that. But it won't change what took place offscreen. And we don't confuse offscreen and onscreen. You might, for example, forgive a tyrant who yelled and screamed you on set if the film ended up having one of your best performances. That's fine. But this isn't about the time Roman ran in Jack Nicholson's trailer and attacked Jack's TV set with a broom or when Roman reached over and pulled out Faye Dunaway's hair on the set of Chinatown. This is about Roman Polanski drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl.


* We are not referring to Mia who has no problem calling out unfair sentences in the legal system and revolting conditions in US prisons.

Monday, Burn Pit Symposium at Stony Brook U

Tomorrow, the first ever burn pit symposium:


1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deplyoment to Iraq & Afghanistan
February 13, 2012

sponsored by
Office of Continuing Medical Education
School of Medicine
Stony Brook University

Health Sciences Center, Level 3, Lecture Hall 5
Anthony M. Szema, M.D., Program Chair
Stony Brook
Medical Center

This program is made possible by support from the
Sergeant Thomas Joseph Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.


* Register with your credit card online at:

* Download the registration form from:
fax form to (631) 638-1211

For Information Email:

1st Annual Scientific Symposium on
Lung Health after Deployment to Iraq & Afghanistan
Monday, February 13, 2012
Health Sciences Center
Level 3, Lecture Hall 5

Program Objective: Upon completion, participants should be able to recognize new-onset of lung disease after deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.

8:00 - 9:00 a.m. Registration & Continental Breakfast (Honored Guest, Congressman
Tim Bishop

9:00 - 9:30 Peter Sullivan, J.D., Father of Marine from The Sergeant Thomas Joseph
Sullivan Center, Washington, D.C.

9:40 - 10:10 Overview of Exposures in Iraq, Anthony Szema, M.D., (Assistant
Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Stony Brook University)

10:10 - 10:40 Constrictive Bronchiolitis among Soldiers after Deployment, Matt
King, M.D. (Assistant Professor of Medicine, Meharry Medical College,
Nashville, TN)

10:40 - 11:10 BREAK

11:10 - 11:40 Denver Working Group Recommendations and Spirometry Study in
Iraq/Afghanistan, Richard Meehan, M.D., (Chief of Rheumatology and
Professor of Medicine, National Jewish Health, Denver, CO)

11:40 a.m. - Microbiological Analyses of Dust from Iraq and Afghanistan, Captain Mark

12:10 p.m. Lyles, D.M.D., Ph. D., (Vice Admiral Joel T. Boone Endowed Chair of
Health and Security Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Newport, RI)

12:10 - 12:20 Health Care Resource Utilization among Deployed Veterans at the White
River Junction VA, James Geiling, M.D., (Professor and Chief of Medicine,
Dartmouth Medical School, VA White River Junction, VT)

Graduate students Millicent Schmidt and Andrea Harrington (Stony Brook
University) present Posters from Lung Studies Analyzed for Spatial
Resolution of Metals at Brookhaven National Laboratory's National
Synchrotron Light Source

1:20 - 1:40 Epidemiologic Survey Instrument on Exposures in Iraq and Afghanistan,
Joseph Abraham, Sc.D., Ph.D., (U.S. Army Public Health Command,
Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD)

1:40 - 2:10 Overview of the Issue Raised during Roundtable on Pulmonary Issues
and Deployment, Coleen Baird, M.D., M.P.H., (Program Manager
Environmental Medicine, U.S. Army Public Health Command)

2:10 - 2: 40 Reactive Oxygen Species from Iraqi Dust, Martin Schoonen, Ph.D.
(Director Sustainability Studies and Professor of Geochemistry, Stony
Brook University)

2:40 - 2:50 BREAK

2:50 - 3:15 Dust Wind Tunnel Studies, Terrence Sobecki, Ph.D. (Chief Environmental
Studies Branch, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research
and Engineering Laboratory, Manchester, NH)

3:15 - 3:45 Toxicologically Relevant Characteristics of Desert Dust and Other
Atmospheric Particulate Matter, Geoffrey S. Plumlee, Ph.D. (Research
Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

3:44 - 4:15 In-situ Mineralogy of the Lung and Lymph Nodes, Gregory Meeker, M.S.
(Research Geochemist, U.S. Geological Survey, Denver, CO)

Continuing Medical Education Credits

The school of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brook, is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education to provide continuing medical education for physicians.
The School of Medicine, State University of New York at Stony Brooke designates this live activity for a maximum of 6 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)TM. Physicians should only claim the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Disabled Amerian Veterans' Virtual Town Hall

senator murray
Senator Patty Murray (above) is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Commitee and her office notes the following:


Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834

VETERANS: Senator Murray Participates in Virtual Town Hall Meeting hosted by Disabled American Veterans

Murray fielded questions, concerns, and suggestions from veterans, members of the military, and their family members across the country.

View full transcript of the Disabled American Veterans' Virtual Town Hall

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, had the opportunity to chat one-on-one with veterans across the country in a Virtual Town Hall Meeting, organized by
Disabled American Veterans, a non-profit charity dedicated to building better lives for America's disabled veterans and their families. In the hour-long chat, Senator Murray discussed a wide range of issues including mental health care, VA claims wait times, women veterans, and veteran jobs. Over 3,000 veterans, members of the military and family members participated in the chat. Senator Murray will use the struggles, stories, and suggestions she heard today to continue to fight for veterans in Washington, D.C.

The ever expanding Drone War (Abayomi Azikiwe)

Repost from Workers World:

U.S. escalates drone use against Somalia

Published Feb 12, 2012 10:33 PM

The Pentagon and the White House continue to deny that United States military forces are directly involved in the current war over control of the Horn of Africa state of Somalia. Nevertheless, a Washington-directed drone struck an internationally supervised displaced persons camp just outside Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

Washington’s escalation of military involvement in the Horn of Africa is designed to control the geopolitical situation and to dominate the exploration and exploitation of oil that has recently been discovered in Somalia.

Over the last several months, U.S. drones have killed and injured hundreds of Somalis. The escalation of military actions aims to liquidate the al-Shabaab Islamic resistance movement inside the country. The most recent attack on Feb. 3 drew international attention to the Obama administration’s role in East Africa.

Raxanreeb Broadcasting Corporation Radio reported, “The unmanned drone went down at Badbado [displaced person] camp which is in the Dharkenley district, south of Mogadishu. According to Badbado resident Ahmed Abdi, ‘It was around noon that we saw a white small aircraft flying over our camp and in minutes we saw it fall down here.’” (Feb. 3)

Reports indicated that soldiers from the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) and Somali officials entered the camp, removed the crashed drone and turned it over to the government.

This is the second reported drone crash in Somalia over the last three months. Last year the U.S. administration admitted that it had set up a base for surveillance drones in neighboring Ethiopia.

That Washington has deployed drones in Somalia and other regions represents an escalation of military aggression. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta recently revealed a 30 percent increase in U.S. use of pilotless aerial vehicles, including predator drones.

A Feb. 5 Boston Globe article acknowledges that drone use is a new U.S. strategy in its so-called war on terrorism: “Drones are much cheaper than boots on the ground; they avoid putting American troops at direct risk and allow us to target enemies wherever they may be. By using unmanned weapons, the argument goes, we can avoid the kind of protracted, costly wars that have been so disastrous in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Previously used mainly for surveillance purposes, drones now target and kill “perceived” enemies of the U.S., along with innocent civilians who have no involvement with organizations that the White House has deemed “terrorists.”

The same article explains, “When the United States invaded Iraq in 2003 it had only about 60 unmanned aircraft. Today we have more than 7,000 as well as 12,000 ground-based robots.”

These weapons have flown more than 80,000 missions worldwide, hitting targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Somalia and spying on other countries.

The legality of the usage of such weapons for targeted assassinations is never raised within the U.S. corporate media or debated in Congress. The United Nations Charter, which the U.S. says it abides by, allows for national defense of a nation-state, but prohibits the use of deadly weapons to settle disputes outside borders.

There has been no formal declaration of war against Somalia or Pakistan. Thus the CIA, which ostensibly launches drones under its command, is not compelled to reveal or acknowledge the deployment of these weapons. The CIA’s budget is classified, and therefore the public has no access to the cost of these deployments or the frequency with which these weapons are utilized.

U.S. proxy war kills hundreds

In October 2011, the Kenyan Defense Forces crossed over into neighboring Somalia and began a war against the Al-Shabaab resistance movement, which controls large sections of the central and south of the country. Since October, the KDF has said it has killed hundreds of Somalians and displaced thousands more.

The RBC Radio report stated, “The spokesman for Kenya’s military says an estimated 100 Somali militants were killed after helicopter gunships targeted a gathering of more than 20 al-Shabaab fighters in Somalia.”

The Kenyan government, in cooperation with the U.S., had planned the intervention in Somalia for nearly two years. Also the White House has pledged ongoing funding for AMISOM forces, which are based in Mogadishu and are carrying out the war against al-Shabaab in the capital and other areas in the central region of the country.

Famine ‘over’ with millions still at risk

On Feb. 3, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and the Famine Early Warning System declared the famine in Somalia over. Yet the latest data indicate that 2.3 million people are still at risk and are in need of life-saving assistance.

In fact, if international assistance does not continue in Somalia, by May the food security system could worsen again. Mark Bowden, who is the U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, said in the same RBC dispatch, “The gains are fragile and will be reversed without continued support.”

Consequently, the imperialist states must refrain from continuing their militarism in the region and allow the unimpeded distribution of food and other relief assistance there.

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