Thursday, September 29, 2005

Democracy Now!

I'm not being lazy. I wasn't on the phone with Rebecca and forgetting to blog. I was on the phone with Cedric who called to see if I was having the same problem that wouldn't let me log in.

Blogger's down for maintenance. So I had to wait for it to come back up.

Civil Rts Lawyer Constance Motley Baker Dies at 84 (Democracy Now!)
And finally, the first African American woman to serve as a federal judge has passed away. Famed civil rights lawyer Constance Baker Motley died Wednesday in New York. She was 84. As a young lawyer, Motley represented Martin Luther King Jr. After a brief political career, she began a distinguished four-decade span as a judge in 1966, becoming the first black woman appointed to the federal bench. Motley earned her degree in economics in 1943 from New York University, and three years later, she obtained her law degree from Columbia Law School. In 1945, she became a law clerk to Thurgood Marshall, who was then chief counsel of the NAACP's Legal Defense and Educational Fund. In the late 1950s, Motley took an interest in politics and by 1964 had left the NAACP and become the first black woman to serve in the New York State Senate. In 1965, she became the first woman to serve as president of the borough of Manhattan, where she worked to promote integration in public schools. In her career, she worked on some of the nation's most famous civil rights cases, including preparing the draft complaint in 1950 for what would become Brown v. Board of Education. From 1961 to 1964, Motley won nine of 10 civil rights cases she argued before the U.S. Supreme Court.

That was the last headline from Democracy Now! today. In case anyone's wondering about the "and finally" opening. We highlight Democracy Now! as a community and I know members know about it but I got an e-mail today from someone who'd found the site via Technocrati and she was asking a few questions.

So if anyone's new to Democracy Now! I'll do a brief history. It started in 1996 as a radio news program to cover the election of 1996. It's a one hour broadcast. In this decade, it's become a radio and a TV show. It airs Mondays through Fridays and it airs on over 300 radio and TV stations. (I hope I'm remembering that right.) Including on Dish TV and Free Speech TV. In addition to that, it's also broadcast online. That's live each morning and also where you can watch or listen at any time during the day (or night). You can do watch or listen with Real Player and Winamp. It also now Podcasts. And as Maria, Francisco and Miguel remind everyone each week at The Common Ills, Democracy Now! provides its daily headlines in Spanish for audio and text.

If you're not able to watch, and I know Charlie had a problem with that, or listen, you can go to the site and read their transcripts. It's also closed captioned for the hearing impaired. The hosts are Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez. Amy is usually on every day. I think she's been off two days since April. Juan's also a reporter for The New York Daily News.

Amy Goodman and her brother David Goodman wrote a book that I encourage everyone to read. It's entitled The Exception to the Rulers and is a hard hitting look at the too-close relationship betwen the press and those in power.

The woman who wrote said she was CBS's Evening News and is wondering what's so special about Democracy Now! (she wasn't insulting the show, she'd never heard or seen Democracy Now!). What's so special about Democracy Now!

Well, there's the fact that you hear voices you don't hear elsewhere. There's the fact that a story isn't Chatted & Chewed (to steal from C.I.) by the usual suspects. There's the fact that people like you or me can be guests on the show. This isn't another news show where the powerful are all over and the people are nowhere to be found.

They do real news and you won't hear that on the corporate media. There was no cheerleading the invasion of Iraq. Amy Goodman didn't buy the corporate line about Haiti and actually interviewed Aristide after he was removed from Haiti by the United States.

The whole world knows Cindy Sheehan now, as they should, but if you followed Democracy Now! you knew Cindy before Camp Casey.

There are serious discussions about our policies that go beyond conventional wisdom.

There is a range of voices provided by the show that you will not find elsewhere.

If that hasn't convinced you that the program is something special, I don't know what will other than sampling it, so please listen or watch or read for yourself and see if you don't find it to be a breath of fresh air, providing hard hitting looks at topics that often don't get covered elsewhere on TV.

C.I. turned me on to Democracy Now! I was really depressed because the drums were pounding for war and the media was completely abdicating its watch dog role. The first time I listened, Amy Goodman said, "Welcome to Democracy Now! The war and peace report." She says that at the beginning of every episode and that's what the show is.

You can hear voices objecting to the war. That's a little less shocking (only a little) now that the media's finally woken up. But in Janurary 2003, it was a huge deal. It's still a huge deal. War's not discussed by a bunch of old generals and administration's flacks. You get guests who work for peace and that's a balance that the "balanced" corporate media showed no interest in during the lead up to the invasion/occupation.

Each day, C.I. highlights Democracy Now! At this point, the community knows of the show. But it's partly to counteract the links to the New York Times because sites are measured by the amount of links they get. So they always get three links minimum from The Common Ills each day. Mike has started really trying to get us to all highlight the show because his dream is that Democracy Now! is the most popular, most linked to site online.

As for me, links have value and I'd rather not throw mine away on something that does a good job at spin (corporate media) but not a good job at reality.

I listen to the show. I don't usually have time to listen to the full broadcast. Most days, I get the first half hour and then do some work before my next patient arrives. On a good day, I can listen to the full hour. But even on the days where I'm only able to spare a half hour, I'm still getting more reality than I would from ten minutes of corporate media.

As a Common Ills member, I appreciate that C.I. notes the segments each Monday through Friday. Sometimes there's a segment announced or coming up that I really want to hear but there's not time. So I tell myself that I'll pick it up later. But you know how that goes, you forget. But if I'm reading The Common Ills at home, I can go online and catch the broadcast from a Pacifica station (which is usually what I do) or from the site itself.

Some people prefer to watch the show. Ruth watches it and Rebecca watches it. They prefer watching and are probably more visual people than I am. Mike likes to watch it but due to his work and class schedule, he's usually catching it on the radio most of the time. Betty gets one episode a week on a good week. She just doesn't have time. She really enjoys being able to see the rundown and be informed just from reading of the segments. If she has time, she'll go to a transcript. Kat listens via her local Pacifica radio station. Cedric also listens. So there's not one way you can receive or follow the program.

But you should be aware of the segments. Just knowing the topics or even the headline titles will inform you. Not as deeply as if you listened, read or watched the segments, but you will be getting informed.

So that's what's so special about Democracy Now! and I'm sure there's a quite a bit more that's special about it as well.

Reuters Protests 'Long Parade' of Media Deaths in Iraq (Democracy Now!)
The Reuters News Agency says the conduct of U.S. troops in Iraq, including increasing detention and accidental shootings of journalists, is preventing full coverage of the war from reaching the American public. In a letter to Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Reuters said U.S. forces were limiting the ability of independent journalists to operate. The letter from the agency's Global Managing Editor David Schlesinger called on Warner to raise these issues with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who is due to testify to the committee on Thursday. Schlesinger referred to "a long parade of disturbing incidents whereby professional journalists have been killed, wrongfully detained, and/or illegally abused by U.S. forces in Iraq." At least 66 journalists and media workers, most of them Iraqis, have been killed in Iraq since March 2003. U.S. forces acknowledge killing three Reuters journalists, most recently soundman Waleed Khaled who was shot by American soldiers on Aug. 28 while on assignment in Baghdad. The Pentagon says the soldiers were justified in opening fire. Reuters believes a fourth Reuters journalist, who died in Ramadi last year, was killed by a U.S. sniper. Schlesinger said the Pentagon has refused to conduct independent and transparent investigations into the deaths of the journalists, relying instead on inquiries by officers from the units responsible, who had exonerated their soldiers.

And be sure to check out Seth in the City the latest site by a community member.

"'Why Are You Here' and 'What's Changed'" (The Third Estate Sunday Review)
87) Benny, 17, high school student: For the first time it feels like maybe a difference can come. We're studying about government and it really seems wild and out there but it's about us and I guess Cindy Sheehan drives that point home to me. So I am here for that reason and the change is that people wake up and you can see it in my class. We're debating and discussing what does free speech mean and what are your duties to be an American and stuff that I have never taken time to think on and it just seems real and connected to me. Maybe it's selfish and all too because we got the guys on campus goin, "Sign up and we'll take care of you. Free college." All these promises and you ask about war and like injuries and they don't talk about it. They brush you off or say, "You just watch out for yourself and you're fine." And I bet the 1900 men and women who are dead were watching out but that didn't save them. So it's just a lot to think about and maybe having government this year drives it home.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center)
The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.