Wednesday, March 29, 2006

"Peace comes from being able to contribute the best we have"

Rachel wrote that Rebecca added Law and Disorder to her links and wondered if I could add another Pacifica Radio program to mine. I'll add two and they're favorites of Rachel's but I'm also adding these two for Tracey and Ruth. I've added Law and Disorder, which is one of Ruth's favorites, and I've added Wakeup Call which is one of Tracey's favorites. Tracey is Ruth's granddaughter (I'll assume most of you already know that). Tracey's wonderful and she's got every bit of Ruth's strength and determination. So those are radio programs and they're independent radio. If you're unfamiliar with them, you must not be reading Ruth's Public Radio Report. Rachel also ranks them as among her favorites as well. While I'm talking about radio, not this Thursday, but next week's Thursday is the first Thursday of the month which means the new episode of the Christmas Coup Players. All three air on Pacifica's WBAI and you can listen online if you're not in their broadcasting area. This is public radio and they do not ask you to pay to listen. However, if you have the money to donate and "keep free speech alive" as Janet Coleman of the CCP would say, please consider doing so.

I'm one member of The Common Ills community. Unlike C.I., I don't have to speak for the community. So I can say this and if anyone's upset, be upset with me. NPR's not doing anything. It's not worth saving, in my opinion, because it's a monumental waste of time. There is nothing "public" in the so-called public radio of NPR. Pacifica Radio is public radio. They bring you live broadcasts of hearings because those are important events. They provide a range of voices because that's what public radio is supposed to do. They provide you with views that you do not get to hear on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, et al. You also don't get to hear them on NPR even though NPR is supposed to provide you with those voices. So if you're someone who has the money to donate, please consider donating to Pacifica Radio. One of the things I enjoy (one of many) about the gina & krista round-robin is reading members talk about how before Ruth's reports, they didn't even know about Pacifica Radio and now they've got a favorite program (or two, or three or . . .).

Which is the second thing I'll hit you up for. If you can't donate, you can't donate. That's just the way it is. You shouldn't feel guilty. But whether you can afford to give money or not, you can get the word out on Pacifica Radio. You can make sure that more people know about the network and its various websites. Shortly after the illegal invasion of Iraq, a survey was done to find out who was the most informed media consumers. Pacifica Radio wasn't on the list. Now maybe their listeners are too smart to participate in endless surveys or maybe the organization didn't want to survey them. But I'd argue that Pacifica Radio listeners were much more informed than NPR listeners (or any of the other media outlets that they noted). Why? Well do you get unembedded reporters on the big corporate media? No, you don't. You don't hear Dahr Jamail or David Enders (I hope I got his name correct). And in the lead up to the invasion when dissent couldn't be heard anywhere else, it could be heard on Pacifica Radio. So I'd argue that their listeners were better informed than anyone else.

I'll also add that The Pooper did an attack on Pacifica Radio where he was gleeful at the thought of the radio station being in a struggle. Don't let people like The Pooper win. Make a point to support independent radio. You can do that with money but that's really the easiest thing. Whether you are able to donate or not, the harder thing is to get the word out. Contributing takes about five minutes tops. Spreading the word never stops. So make a point to spread the word.

Again, these are my statements. Do not read them to be C.I.'s statements. I do know C.I.'s opinion on this but I also know that there's a balancing act that C.I. has to do because The Common Ills isn't just a blog where C.I. gets to write about whatever. I think the membership is moving towards a forget-NPR attitude. But C.I.'s not made a personal statement at the site and won't unless the membership is in agreement because C.I.'s role is to speak for a community.

I couldn't handle that. It's a heavy obligation. Today, C.I. had to deal with a book (I knew which one and I bet you did too even if you weren't one of the ones writing in about it) that the membership was disgusted by. My question, if anyone had written me, would have been, "Why did you read it to begin with?" You should have known going in that it was gas bag city. That's the sort of thing I would've written.

I have known C.I. forever. I will never cease to be amazed. But I couldn't speak for a community. I certainly couldn't keep track of all the members and their likes and dislikes the way C.I. does. Activism doesn't surprise me, from C.I. The level often does, but the activism itself doesn't. But I am surprised by how well C.I.'s handled the role of spokesperson because I am a member of the community and I know how diverse it is.

Now there was a question about Sunny that came in on Monday and I passed it on to her with the advice that she didn't have to say anything if she didn't want to. But someone was curious how her date with the delivery man had gone? Sunny said to pass on that it went very well and there have been two dates with a third one scheduled for this weekend. She said to say, "Thank you for asking." She also joked that her mother must have written the e-mail under a psuedonym.

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Landmark Gitmo Case (Democracy Now!):
In Supreme Court news, oral arguments began Tuesday in a case that will decide whether the Bush administration can use military tribunals to try detainees at the Guantanamo Bay military prison. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who worked as Osama bin Laden's driver in Afghanistan, is challenging the tribunals. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia took part in Tuesday's hearing despite growing calls for his recusal. In a recent speech, Scalia dismissed the idea detainees have rights under the U.S. Constitution or international conventions.

Mike and I are both impressed that in the above, Democracy Now! managed to cover so much. They did better than two corporate news organizations writing articles on the topic. Why do you suppose that was? If Scalia was voicing, from the bench, skepticism of the Guantanamo prisoner's appeal, wasn't it logical that this had to do with the comments he made in his speech? So why was it that two reporters for two big daily papers overlooked that speech when writing of Scalia's comments today? Did the speech not occur to them? Or was it something else?

By the way, please visit Mikey Likes It! for Mike's take on the above. We're choosing different second items (but both on the topic of activism).

British Workers Demonstrate Against Government Pension Measure (Democracy Now!):
In Britain, up to 1.5 million government workers went on strike across the country Tuesday over a government measure that would make it more difficult to retire at an earlier age. Eleven unions took part in the strike -- one of the biggest Britain has seen in 80 years.

Gareth, Polly, Pru and James in Brighton have been alternating in the gina & krista round-robin to cover this topic. (Yes, I have their permission to write of this and Gina and Krista's as well.)
If you're a community member who receives the round-robin, you know what's going on there.
If you're not, it's a complex issue. It has to do with the Labour Party and their decision to become "New Labour" as well as the "leadership" Tony Blair offers. (You're also aware that his chosen successor will bring no meaningful difference on this issue or any other.) New Labour is a great deal like the New Democrats of the nineties. They have sold out to corporate interests and abandoned the people. Tony Blair and Bill Clinton were very close, Tony Blair and Bully Boy are very close. There's a reason for that. Neoliberalism and Neoconservatism aren't that different. Which is why Tony Blair's had Rupert Murdoch's support in England. In England (and throughout Europe), the workers are under attack. I called Pru to ask what I should add for American audiences and she suggested that, when choosing whom to support for president in 2008, we look beyond "I care about poverty statements" and at the actual records of the politicians in the running. She also strongly suggested asking questions about anyone who's endorsing a presidential candidate this early in time.

After the Bully Boy, she noted, the "easist fix is an easy fix" and that's what we're likely to see promoted. Someone who will come along and offer up suggestions for a minor detail or two about the economy that will slightly elivate a few middle class Americans but leave the poverty figures largely untouched. So words of wisdom from Pru. Pay attention.

(I also complimented on her latest on-the-spot series. I miss the Alan Cowell series because he was so clueless. I also thought he looked clueless in the photos that would run with Pru's column but I am enjoying the new on-the-spot series. It would be better if he was as easy to stump as Alan Cowell. Pru said that I could note this series will run for at least three more months and then she'll select another American correspondent in England. Though her latest is more informed than Cowell, apparently not a very difficult feat to accomplish, there have been a few laugh out loud moments and Pru says this Friday's will include another. I told her she's providing a wonderful service to American audiences because we've seen how the pompous may strike informed poses but they really don't know the basics. I almost forgot this part, Pru says there's a hilarious photo to go with her column Friday so be prepared to laugh.)

Polly told me that I could pass on that her newsletter will have it's official name this weekend and that it will go out on Sundays from now on. She thinks that will let her start the week since Gina and Krista are really ending it with their Friday round-robin. She also asked me to "please, please" put in a thank you to C.I. from her. She said she wrote something for The Common Ills on that and C.I. shot it down because it was praise on C.I. If you been following it, C.I. now has a Friday column in the round-robins and is also doing another column for Polly's newsletter. All members have pitched in, whether they have websites or not, and Polly says thank you to everyone for their help. But she wanted to specifically note Gina and Krista (for their advice "and generosity of time and spirit") and C.I. for taking on the "obligation" of another weekly column. I told Polly that it wasn't seen as an obligation and that C.I.'s really proud of her for starting up her own newsletter. (We all are very proud of her.) She has a special report from DK on Germany this Sunday and Gina and Krista have a special report from Billie on student activism against the hideous Congressional proposals on immigration in Friday's round-robin. I'm not sure what DK's writing about but I know Billie has done a series of interviews including with some of the students who stormed a city council meeting. That's right, in Dallas, Texas students marched into a city council meeting and made themselves heard. Billie's got her own first-hand report on that as well as having interviewed some of the participants over the last few days. This wasn't one day of activism for them either or even just one school or one section of the city. Gina and Krista have read three early drafts so far and they say members better prepared for in depth reporting "like nothing you'll ever see in the New York Times." One young woman, taking part in the activism, apparently lost an arm. (She fell out of a vehicle downtown if I understood correctly.) Activism has been blazing in Dallas and the students have really put themselves on the line. Good for them and good for Dallas. I know the community has a huge number of members in that area. I think that's wonderful and amazing and that it proves that no matter what the mainstream media tells you about states being one color or another, there is passion, activism and compassion all across the United States. Cedric's also writing about student activism on the immigration issue in his area so look for that. (I'm mum on Cedric's because I'm not sure Cedric's location is "out." I know all members -- and outsiders -- know where Billie is located due to her contributions to The Common Ills. "Outsiders" because of the number of slams Billie has gotten from a few other websites. She offered to do this for The Common Ills and C.I. told her it would be wonderful but asked her if she wouldn't prefer to take it to the round-robin where she wouldn't have to deal with the petty minds of "psuedo liberals." Billie told me that when she thought about and how hard she's worked on this, she decided to take it to the round-robin. She's worked very hard on this and it will be the main feature of the round-robin, Gina and Krista say. Billie's busted her rear for this story and used vacation time to be present to report. She said C.I. read the first draft and told her it was "amazing." I know C.I. would love to run it at The Common Ills and I'm not surprised that the attacks on Billie made C.I. the one to suggest she run it in the round-robin.) Let me also note Billie's strength because a lot of people would read the psuedolibs' attacks and think, "Fine, I'll never share another thing again." Billie's not going to let those DLC-ers silence her.

In fact, I want to dedicate the quote tonight to Billie and everyone else who stays in the fight even when they're personally attacked (and distorted in Billie's case -- one blogger, in particular, had a great deal of "fun" knocking Billie). Billie lives up to this quote in every way.

"Peace Quotes" (Peace Center):
Peace comes from being able to contribute the best that we have, and all that we are, toward creating a world that supports everyone. But it is also securing the space for others to contibute the best that they have and all that they are.
Hafsat Abiola