Friday, December 16, 2005

Monica Benderman: "What Peace Needs"

Remember to check out Mike's site (Mikey Likes It!) for his commentary.

WTO Talks At Standstill in Hong Kong (Democracy Now!):
In Hong Kong, considerable divisions between industrialized and developing countries at the ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization are lowering expectations for significant agreements before talks end Sunday.
European Union Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson: "It is hard to see where progress can be achieved in Hong Kong if talks continue in their present direction. I do not want to contemplate failure at Hong Kong. So much is at stake. Equally, I see no point in an outcome here that simply locks in low ambition, diminishes benefits for developing countries and falls short of our responsibilities to the global economy."
EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson. Negotiations have stalled on a number of key trade issues. On Thursday, the Group of 77 -- the coalition of 132 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in the Third World -- announced they would reject any deal that eliminates protections for their farmers and access to foreign markets. Another group of developing nations, the Group of 20 -- which represents half the world’s population -- accused the US and European Union of holding up talks by refusing to cut state agricultural subsidies.
Meanwhile, outside the meetings, thousands of protesters continue to make their voices heard.
Oxfam’s Alison Woodhead: "The system in theory should work, but at the moment it's riggedin favour of the richest countries. The rich countries benefit from the trade rules as they exist at the moment. They're able to protect their own markets and destroy the markets of poorer countries."

The WTO probably enrages so many due to the false manner in which it presents itself. Rebecca likens it to The New Republic. It talks about "fairness" but developing nations are not idiots and they've seen what the WTO and the IMF can do (such as Argentina). Some see the orgs as modern day colonization and I would agree with that.

Report: Bush-Enacted NSA Program Monitors Phone Conversations, E-Mails (Democracy Now!):
The New York Times is reporting the National Security Agency has been eavesdropping on U.S. citizens and foreign nationals without court-approved warrants. Under a Bush administration directive enacted in 2002, the agency has monitored the international phone calls and e-mails of hundreds, and possibly thousands of people inside the country. The National Security Agency’s mission is to spy on communications abroad. Although officials said the program had helped thwart at least two potential attacks, most people monitored by the N.S.A. have never been charged with a crime.
The Times says it delayed publishing details of the program after a request from the Bush administration at least one year ago. At the request of the White House, the Times also says it has omitted information administration officials said could be useful to terrorists. The disclosure comes two days after NBC News revealed the Pentagon has kept detailed records on the events and meetings of anti-war groups across the country.

The news of the NSA spying came out at the perfect time. I'm not thrilled that the New York Times sat on the story for a year or that the government had a say in the editing process. However, in terms of today, when the Patriot Act was being pushed in the Senate, the news of the spying came at the perfect time. I really think that helped prevent the act from being pushed through for a blind renewal.

Suggested readings, Cedric's "Megachurches and a megabully," Seth's "Tales from Holiday Retail," Rebecca's "screech has no customer service skills (are you surprised)" and C.I.'s "Other Items" which rightly takes the New York Times to task for looking at Iraq and seeing only males.

Yes, if you sense that I'm rushing tonight, you are correct. But before I post and hit the door, let me note one more thing.

"What Peace Needs" (Monica Benderman, CounterPunch):
The Regional Corrections Facility at Ft. Lewis, Washington is vintage World War II. The windows are cracked and can't be closed. It's below freezing on most nights now.
I could go on--but what good will it do in this country of warmongers, idealistic pacifists, and evangelicals? Nothing like love for a cause--any cause--as long as it's impersonal enough that everyone can remain detached, can share their emotions through the war cries and protest chants, staring out into a field of people whose gazes are just as vacant as the featured speaker of the day.
The military prison is filled with the usual criminal element, narcotics and alcohol abusers, thieves, and child molesters. It has been said that the best chance of parole from this facility is for the child molesters--tells you a lot about our society--the society that professes such a high moral standard that we can dare to invade other countries to bring that same standard to their shores.

In among the criminals, sleeping on a three inch thick mattress, sitting in plastic chairs staring at the walls all day, and waiting for months at a time to have his request for a call to his attorney fulfilled, is one who is furthest from the criminal element, a man the Anti-War movement lovingly refers to as a "Prisoner of Conscience." Labels, always the labels. Sgt. Kevin Benderman stands for everything that should be right in this country. This man stands for liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, FREEDOM to be himself and live as he chooses.

And thanks to Judy and C.I. I take Thursdays off. Monica Benderman's article came out that day. Judy knew I wouldn't be able to note it here yesterday and suggested it to C.I.

I really feel for Monica and Kevin Benderman. I hope people are paying attention to their story. And when Kevin's released I hope Amy Goodman has them both on Democracy Now! the next day. Last hope, that everyone has a peaceful and pleasant weekend.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

"Peace won't be found in people who can't face reality"

Remember to check out Mike's site Mikey Likes It! for his take on the two headlines we selected from Democracy Now!

Pentagon Monitoring Anti-War Events Across the Country (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, NBC News is reporting the Pentagon has been extensively monitoring the events and gatherings of peaceful anti-war groups across the country. A military database obtained by the network lists small activist meetings and events among 1,500 "suspicious incidents" over a 10-month period. The events included a gathering at a Quaker Meeting House in Lake Worth, Florida, to plan a protest of military recruiting at local high schools. In total, the database listed over four dozen anti-war meetings or protests.

This is something that Matthew Rothschild's been covering. This happened in California, it happened elsewhere. It happened in this country before as well. One time that comes to mind is when another bully was in the White House, Richard Nixon. No, Bully Boy wasn't the first Bully. It's also not hard to see that when you have a Bully Boy in the White House, civil liberties go out in the window because bullies always think they're more important than democracy.

As do the those serving a Bully Boy. Which is a point Ava and C.I. made.

"TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were" (The Third Estate Sunday Review):
This is how he [Colin Powell] wants to be remembered:
"A good public servant somebody who truly believes in his country. . . . Somebody who cared, somebody who served."
Yeah well, Nixon wanted to be remembered a certain way as well. Liar's the way many remember him now. Liar's the way many will remember Colin Powell. Belief in your country doesn't allow you to lie to your country. Belief in your Bully Boy does. That's something this adminstration fails to grasp. They all think they're working for the Bully Boy. Powell makes statements to that effect. He's full of many things including his "service" to the Bully Boy.
The administration is supposed to be working for the country. Presidents come and go. The nation is what is supposed to matter. Belief in your country would mean you tell the peoplethe truth.

That's what happens when the people who are supposed to be upholding the Constitution decide that the Bully Boy, or any single person, is more important than the ideas of democracy.

Iraq Officials Deny Report on Seized Forged Ballots (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile, Iraqi officials are denying a New York Times report that said border guards have seized a tanker filled with thousands of forged electoral ballots headed from Iran. According to the Times, the driver of the vehicle reportedly told interrogators another three trucks carrying forged ballots have already crossed into Iraq.

The article being noted was by Dexter Filkins. Here's C.I. on the story:

Dexter Filkins does love what he's told. (Spoonfed in the Green Zone?) "Police Seize Forged Ballots Headed to Iraq From Iran" relies on "official said" four times. Sometimes, to spice up the single source for his story, an anonymice one, he will add a subclause between "official" and "said." Maybe you'll count more. For fun, go through the article and find named sources and note if they spoke to Filkins or not? (I think you already know the answer to that one.)

So I called C.I. and asked, "What was the tip off, other than it being written by Filkins?" C.I. said listening to Democracy Now! broke the story of possible questions about the story. Reading it, C.I. just noted that the story was basically built around a single source who was anonymous and the rest of the article was an attempt to pad out what couldn't be verified by using public statements from "official sources" on other topics.

I want to note that Mike interviewed new community member "Kansas" and that Rebecca interviewed Martha (who is wonderful) and Maria (who provided the title for this site so you know she's wonderful as well). Following Mike's interview, my name came up. Kansas wondered, actually his wife had wondered, if I'd look at the e-mail he was sent and weigh in?

So reading it, my first question would be this: What was the goal of the person who wrote this e-mail?

The backstory is that the person was supposedly wanting to contact Kansas. She apparently attempted to, after C.I. noted that we had contacted Kansas, and had problems doing so. At which point, Ava contacted Kansas who gave permission for something to be passed on to the woman.

So the woman gets Kansas' e-mail that Ava forwards. The woman writes "apology" in her e-mail heading. It would be easy to conclude that the woman wanted to apologize.

The confusion results from the fact that the woman never apologizes. She doesn't. I read the e-mail. She lectures Kansas on Kat. She notes that she had the wrong e-mail address. That's pretty much it except for the weak ending of "I'm sorry you won't be visiting" her site "anymore."

Did I think it was an apology?

That was Kansas and his wife's question?

No, I don't think it's reasonable to conclude that the text of the e-mail offers any form of an apology. I think to call it an apology is to distort what it is. I also believe, quite firmly, that whether it was intended to be antagonistic or not, it comes off as antagonistic.

Kansas felt he was at a mature site where people conducted themselves in a mature manner. When Maria pointed out the nature of the comments on that site, at that site Maria pointed this out, the woman wrote of how the comments were more than she would like or something similar. There's no statement making that in the e-mail to Kansas, the e-mail that has been labled an "apology."

The sincerity in e-mailing such an e-mail is questionable. Possibly, the woman is so focused on Kat that she couldn't focus on what she thought she was doing. Possibly, the woman wasn't even attempting to be sincere. Possibly, she just wants the last word.

But it's not an apology and labeling it that won't make it one.

Kansas and his wife are offended. They have every right to be. It is a reasonable expectation when someone writes you an apology that it, indeed, be an apology. That's a reasonable expectation. It is a realistic one.

When someone has been hurt and what's labeled as an attempt to apologize for the hurt that was caused isn't a realistic attempt to do that, you have to be realistic because it's not reasonable to expect that someone who thinks that is an apology can be realistic.

Kansas can't blink his eyes and make the woman grasp how she has now twice offended him. What he can do is take steps on his own to avoid further disappointment from the woman.

Hope that addresses the issue.

Peace Quote (from me):
Peace won't be found in people who can't face reality.

Remember Mike's motto:

The Common Ills community is important and the Common Ills community is important to me. So I'll do my part for the Common Ills community.

Monday, December 12, 2005


Remeber to check out Mike's take on the two headlines from Democracy Now! by visiting his site Mikey Likes It!

Stanley Tookie Williams Scheduled to be Executed Tonight (Democracy Now!):
In California the state Supreme Court has unanimously denied an emergency request by lawyers of death row prisoner Stanley Tookie Williams to halt his execution. Williams' life now largely rests in the hands of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. If he is not granted clemency, Williams is scheduled to be executed a minute past midnight tonight pacific time. Williams is a co-founder of the Crips street gang who became an advocate against gang violence while on death row. We'll have more on Williams' case in a few minutes.

This is what we do. You're found guilty of someone, we kill you. That's how simple we see things.

This isn't the way it necessarily is in the rest of the world. But here we just think we're right and we can only see it from that angle.

I look the issues of the case being raised and I see what looks to me like an innocent man.
Others are quite sure of themselves and not at all concerned that an innocent may be exceucted.

Ex-Iraqi General Says Shiites Torturing Sunni in Prisons (Democracy Now!):
Meanwhile a former Iraqi general told Agence France Press that he witnessed horrific scenes of torture while he worked in Iraqi-run prisons. He showed the news agency videotapes recorded inside the prison. Men were seen with whip marks and acid burns. One prisoner had lost an eye. Another prisoner had nails driven into his body. The general -- Muntazar al-Samarrai - said at least three people died as a result of torture at the prison, The general - who is a Sunni now living in Jordan - said the abuse is being carried out at nine secret prisons run by pro-Iranian Shiite militias who work for the Interior Ministry.

Every day something else. Yet even so, some people still can't find their voices. After awhile, you seriously do begin to wonder if anything can reach them?

They'll tell you about something they "read" in In Style but if you bring up Iraq, they get a blank look on their faces. If you mention Falluja, watch the confusion spread across their faces.

There are periods in anyone's life where things will be so stressful that they truly do need to shut out the world. But there are people content to veg in front of the TV and "escape" from something they can't name.

They isolate themselves. On an issue as serious as war (or peace), you need to engage.

That's my opinion.

Which brings us to the issue of opinions.

I intended to blog Saturday. That's not an apology. I participated in an all night marathon on Thursday night/Friday morning but that's not an excuse. I will have something up when I can.
On Saturday I intended to blog. Then I saw Cedric had and knew Rebecca had. Kat always blogs on Saturday.

So I thought I would save my voice for Sunday.

I hadn't thought we would end up with a more than all nighter at The Third Estate Sunday Review; however, that is what happened. It will probably happen again.

Tonight I'm blogging.

I am, of course, bothered by what happened to Kat.

I want to avoid naming anyone but obviously we're speaking of Kat. I'm refraining from naming otherwise because C.I. believe we have some sort of peace agreement. Far be it from me to ever be accused of breaking a peace agreement unintentionally.

I don't wish to break it intentionally.

However, I do wish to pick up on thoughts C.I. and Kat have both voiced but I'm not sure the point has gotten across. That will be my attempt at a contribution.

Kat's entire entry that bothered someone is about "can." The ability to do something. She's referring to the ability to hold an opinion in favor or opposed. The argument she sets forward in her post that bothered some people was that a contrary opinion was voiced and there was a dog pile from other posters. It is clear to me from the post Kat did that she was speaking of "can."

"Can" is key to her entry and it is why so many have focused on the fact that, once the responses began, "can" would be left out of a quote she made.

The point Kat was making was that we all have the ability and right to have an opinion. No one has to agree but we have that right to have one.

Dropping the "can" wasn't just missing a word, it was missing the message.

On their end, I don't think they ever grasped Kat's message.

Hopefully, on their end they were attempting to figure out where the breakdown was.

I know on our end, C.I. was trying to present their opinion, as C.I. understood it, all last week. Present it. Not agree with it or endorse it.

What it came down to, besides the message, was the style. Kat's style is not common today. There aren't many women writing about music at large outlets and when they do, they provide an NPR/PBS style of commentary. Kat doesn't speak in that voice.

Her reviews, her writing on topics other than music, are written with passion.

It is too much passion for some people because, while we're used to men arguing passionately about sports, music, film and go down the list of topics, we really don't get that from many women. Maureen Dowd writes like a lazy tiger. I'm not calling her lazy. But I'm saying she's like a tiger lying down that will still send that arm out at the most unexpected place. You may think, "Oh, pretty tiger" and that's just about the time the arm shoots out. But the tiger's not prowling.

A number of people have a problem with Dowd's writing. So it doesn't surprise me that some might have a problem with Kat's. Though she belongs to a long history of women writing about rock, most people today aren't aware of rock criticism. If they do know it, they can usually tell you Lester Bangs' name. But there's a whole history of women doing criticism that they've never heard of or read the work of.

I don't have a problem if another site doesn't like Kat's style or if they disagree with her opinion.
I do have a problem with the implication that Kat can't write as well as someone. Especially when one appears to be presenting a cool, detached look and that's held as the standard.

Kat doesn't have to meet anyone's standard but her own.

Her success, the fact that so many enjoy her writing, is due to her utilizing her own voice.

I don't feel that I do that. I feel like I come off, online, as the most monotone, drab voice in the world. That is one of the many reasons I didn't want to start my own blog. But some people enjoy this site and I'm flattered.

You may prefer me to Kat, but that wouldn't make me better than Kat. Our styles are too different to be compared.

So I think the difference of opinion stems from the fact that Kat is clearly not the style of the other site. That's fine and they can (can) pursue any style of criticism they wish to. They can disagree with Kat's opinion.

But what they cannot do is downgrade the quality or the opinion because they disagree with it when their standards are not her standards. It's not as though she wanted to write like the man involved. Kat would hate writing like that as much as he would hate writing like her. They are both entitled to feel that way.

I don't want to go into what happened but I will note that clearly I felt Kat was wronged.

But the thing that saddens me the most, if there's a peace and apparently there is now, is that I still feel Kat was graded by standards she's never tried to meet, standards she has rejected. In writing, she has rejected them. I am saddened that instead of just noting that she is pursuing a different path than they are, there was a need to downgrade Kat's abilities and talents.

I think that all stems from the same area that makes someone think "can" is just a word that Kat used in a sentence which they forgot to include in their quoting. "Can" isn't just a word. It is the whole point of Kat's writing in pretty much everything she writes.