Off Topic - MLK & Sam Smith's Progressive Review
- Subject: [cg] Off Topic - MLK & Sam Smith's Progressive Review
- From: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Date: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 20:35:19 -0500
This is off topic, but one of my daily news sources ( in addition to the
usual left, right, center, corporate, non-corporate, Canadian, Manchester
Guardian, etc) is this free newsletter from Sam Smith. His MLK piece today is
And he does cover CGs from time to time.
Promise, the rest of my messages for the balance of the year should be on
From: SAM SMITH <email@example.com>
Sent: Mon, 16 Jan 2006 19:31:31 -0500
Subject: UNDERNEWS JAN 16 READABLE VERSION
UNDERNEWS READABLE VERSION
JAN 16, 2006
FROM THE PROGRESSIVE REVIEW
EDITED BY SAM SMITH
Since 1964, Washington's most unofficial source
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1312 18th St. NW #502 Washington DC 20036
Washington is the exact mirror opposite of Hollywood, but they're
identical: they're the only two one-industry towns that I've been
[to]. You get in a cab in LA and they'll talk to you about box office;
you get into a cab in Washington and some guy who barely speaks
English will talk about the energy bill; you go to a bar in
Washington, and instead of some B-actor that walks in, it's a
congressman. All the lobbyists are like actors. The props are big and
made of marble. But there are real similarities between those two
towns. It's intoxicating and infuriating. - George Clooney
MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY. . . BULL CONNOR YEARS
SAM SMITH - I would like to celebrate Martin Luther King Day but I
can't get Bull Connor out of my mind. I look for reminders of Martin
Luther King but they are either old and weary or in lonely, small
places. Reminders of Bull Connor are all around us.
The spirit of Bull Connor can be found in our foreign policy, in our
police methods, in our treatment of the weak and the poor, in our
abuse of the Constitution, in the implicit values of our media, in the
violent forms of entertainment we prefer and our contempt for those
who are different than ourselves, even in how we raise and teach our
children. And, of course, as Charles Rangel said, "George Bush is our
Bull Connor was more than a brutal police commissioner. In describing
William Nunnelly's biography of Connor, Neal Tate writes, "Connor had
the backing of the local corporate elite in spite of his declarations
of being free of outside influence. Connor helped the industrial elite
by 'controlling strikes...silencing radicals. . . Connor was exactly
what companies that controlled Birmingham were looking for. . . ' He
was counted on to keep the status quo. Connor 'stayed on the good side
of the business leaders... [and was] always receptive to corporate
suggestions.' His preaching about economy in government and no new
taxes reflected the influence of Birmingham's industrial and financial
interests, who 'always insisted in cheap government with only bare
essential services.' "
In short, a Bush era conservative without the social graces.
It is hard to remember without reminders: an object, a story, a
contemporary version of what we are trying to recall. The Spirit of
Martin Luther King seems to have vanished. You won't find him in the
Senate. You won't find him on CNN, nor C-SPAN nor NPR. He's even hard
to find in the pulpit or in the streets. Bull Connor, on the other
hand, is everywhere.
In that sense, we are living in a Birmingham before anything happened.
Before Bull Connor was challenged.
But eventually he was, and here is what one man named King said about it:
|||| I remember in Birmingham, Alabama, when we were in that majestic
struggle there, we would move out of the 16th Street Baptist Church
day after day; by the hundreds we would move out. And Bull Connor
would tell them to send the dogs forth, and they did come; but we just
went before the dogs singing, "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around."
Bull Connor next would say, "Turn the fire hoses on." And as I said to
you the other night, Bull Connor didn't know history. He knew a kind
of physics that somehow didn't relate to the trans-physics that we
knew about. And that was the fact that there was a certain kind of
fire that no water could put out. And we went before the fire hoses;
we had known water. If we were Baptist or some other denominations, we
had been immersed. If we were Methodist, and some others, we had been
sprinkled, but we knew water. That couldn't stop us. And we just went
on before the dogs and we would look at them; and we'd go on before
the water hoses and we would look at it, and we'd just go on singing
"Over my head I see freedom in the air."
And then we would be thrown in the paddy wagons, and sometimes we were
stacked in there like sardines in a can. And they would throw us in,
and old Bull would say, "Take 'em off," and they did; and we would
just go in the paddy wagon singing, "We Shall Overcome." And every now
and then we'd get in jail, and we'd see the jailers looking through
the windows being moved by our prayers, and being moved by our words
and our songs. And there was a power there which Bull Connor couldn't
adjust to; and so we ended up transforming Bull into a steer, and we
won our struggle in Birmingham. |||||
RESURRECTION IN A PEW
SAM SMITH - The memorial service for Gene McCarthy ran a bit long,
considering it was a tribute to a man who had once suggested reducing
the number of commandments from ten to four. And it was disturbing to
see Bill Clinton shamelessly delivering a tribute to a man of
integrity, especially one who had once suggested, as a reform, that
"we fire all the Rhodes and Oxford scholars and everyone from
Arkansas." But then there was also Peter Yarow singing and the moving
memorials and the brass section of the National Symphony and, most of
all, the guy sitting next to me in the National Cathedral pew.
With pleasant earnestness he had turned to me before the service and
asked, "Tell me, what did he do? He ran for president, didn't he? And
was he a senator?"
I was stunned, wondering what had led him to enter the cathedral in
the first place, but straight forwardly described McCarthy's
experience in 1968.
The man was interested and noted, "I wasn't here then but I just liked
the way he stood up for the truth."
A light clicked. "You were in Vietnam," I said.
"Right. It really screwed you up. Every day you thought you were going
to die. I'm still screwed up."
During the service, my neighbor made copious notes and took photos
with his camera.
At the end of the service, I shook hands and said I had been glad to
meet him, adding, "Was it worthwhile?"
He smiled. "It was unforgettable. I feel alive again."
PAGE ONE MUST
EVIDENCE THAT CLIMATE CHANGE IS STARTING TO REPRODUCE ITSELF
GEOFFREY LEAN, INDEPENDENT, UK - Global warming is set to accelerate
alarmingly because of a sharp jump in the amount of carbon dioxide in
the atmosphere. Preliminary figures, exclusively obtained by The
Independent on Sunday, show that levels of the gas - the main cause of
climate change - have risen abruptly in the past four years.
Scientists fear that warming is entering a new phase, and may
accelerate further. . . Through most of the past half-century, levels
of the gas rose by an average of 1.3 parts per million a year; in the
late 1990s, this figure rose to 1.6 ppm, and again to 2ppm in 2002 and
2003. But unpublished figures for the first 10 months of this year
show a rise of 2.2ppm.
Scientists believe this may be the first evidence that climate change
is starting to produce itself, as rising temperatures so alter natural
systems that the Earth itself releases more gas, driving the
thermometer ever higher.
POLL: MAJORITY OF AMERICANS SUPPORT IMPEACHMENT IF BUSH WIRETAPPED ILLEGALLY
ZOGBY - By a margin of 52% to 43%, Americans want Congress to impeach
President Bush if he wiretapped American citizens without a judge's
approval, according to a new poll commissioned by After Downing
Street, a grassroots coalition that supports a congressional
investigation of President Bush's decision to invade Iraq in 2003. The
poll was conducted by Zogby International, the highly-regarded
non-partisan polling company. The poll interviewed 1,216 U.S. adults
from January 9-12. . . Responses to the Zogby poll varied by political
party affiliation: 76% of Democrats favored impeachment, compared to
50% of Independents and 29% of Republicans. 70% of those 18-29 favored
impeachment, 51% of those 31-49, 50% of those 50-64, and 42% of those
over 65. 56% of women favored impeachment, compared to 49% of men.
Among African Americans, 90% favored impeachment, compared to 67% of
Hispanics, and 46% of whites. Majorities of Catholics, Jews, Muslims,
and Others favored impeachment, while 49% of Protestants and 46% of
Born Again Christians did so.
Majorities favored impeachment in the East (53%), West (56%), and
Central states (58%), but not the South (43%). In large cities, 58%
support impeachment; in small cities, 56%; in suburbs, 49%; in rural
DELAY LOSES BADLY IN COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION
REUTERS - Embattled Republican Tom DeLay trails a Democratic
challenger for his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives . . . The
survey of 560 registered voters conducted Tuesday through Thursday
found 30 percent favored former U.S. Rep. Nick Lampson, a Democrat,
compared with 22 percent for DeLay, who has represented the district
for 22 years. The two are expected to square off in the November
election, although DeLay must first defeat three opponents in the
Republican primary in March.
. . . Sixty percent of those polled said they viewed DeLay unfavorably
and 28 percent said they viewed him favorably.
LOS ANGELES EMINENT TO GET DOMAIN
PATRICK MCGREEVY, LA TIMES - A year after Los Angeles seized three
acres from a private company to construct a public building, a city
councilman wants to sell the land to another private firm for a
commercial development. Both companies are furniture manufacturers.
But executives with the company that would buy the land have political
connections and have made $17,600 in campaign contributions to key
city leaders. Critics of the proposal say it's wrong for the city to
use its power of eminent domain to take property from one business for
a public purpose and then sell it to another business. "It strikes me
as an extraordinarily blatant abuse of eminent domain," said Jon
Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.
GREAT MOMENTS WITH HILLARY CLINTON
1997 - Hillary Clinton goes for her daily dose of photographic
self-aggrandizement at the pediatrics ward of the Georgetown
University Medical Center. She is to be pictured reading to the kids.
The problem: sick children don't look that cute, especially those who
are bald from cancer treatments or fitted out with tubes and such. The
solution: replace the sick children with well versions belonging to
the hospital staff. It works beautifully.
U.S. PEACE MOVEMENTS: WIN SOME, LOSE SOME
[From a forum sponsored by Historians Against the War at the annual
meeting of the American Historical Assn]
LAWRENCE S WITTNER - Let me begin by examining the provocative comment
by some observers that, rather than peace movements putting an end to
wars, wars put an end to peace movements. This is sometimes the case,
for--given the strength of nationalism--many people tend to rally
`round the flag of their nation once war is declared. Thus, not
surprisingly, substantial U.S. peace movements largely collapsed with
the entry of the United States into the Civil War, World War I, and
World War II. In more recent years, polls indicate that U.S. peace
sentiment declined significantly (albeit temporarily) after the entry
of the United States into the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and the Iraq
War. Furthermore, direct government repression in wartime--for
example, during World War I--has sometimes dramatically undermined or
destroyed peace movements.
Moreover, even when powerful peace movements have persisted in
wartime, they have not always been very effective. The War of 1812
might well have been (as Samuel Eliot Morison claimed) the most
unpopular war in U.S. history. Certainly it drew a tidal wave of
criticism, especially in the Northeast. But the frequent denunciations
of the war did not halt its progress. The same phenomenon can be
glimpsed in the case of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
century "pacification" of the Philippines. Although a powerful
Anti-Imperialist League consistently challenged this war (which
resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and 7,000
U.S. troops), it continued to rage right up to a U.S. military victory.
On the other hand, there are instances in which the peace movement
brought an end to U.S. wars. The Mexican War of the 1840s provides us
with one example. Condemned from the start as a war of aggression and
as a war for slavery, the Mexican War stirred up remarkably strong
opposition. Thus, although the war went very well for the United
States on a military level and President Polk pressed for the
annexation of all of Mexico to the United States, when Nicholas Trist,
Polk's diplomatic negotiator, disobeyed his instructions and signed a
treaty providing for the annexation of only about a third of Mexico,
Polk felt trapped. In the face of fierce public opposition to the
conflict, he did not believe it possible to prolong the war to secure
his goal of taking all of Mexico. And so Polk reluctantly backed
Trist's peace treaty, and the war came to an end.
Another example of peace movement effectiveness can be seen in its
impact upon the Vietnam War. By late 1967, as Lyndon Johnson recalled,
"the pressure got so great" that Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara
"couldn't sleep at night. I was afraid he might have a nervous
breakdown." Johnson himself seemed obsessed with the opposition his
war policies had generated. Conversations with Cabinet members began:
"Why aren't you out there fighting against my enemies?" After McNamara
resigned and Johnson was driven from office by a revolt within his own
party, it was the Nixon administration's turn to be caught, as Henry
Kissinger complained, "between the hammer of antiwar pressure and the
anvil of Hanoi." Kissinger noted: "The very fabric of government was
falling apart. The Executive Branch was shell-shocked." The war and
the peace protests, Kissinger concluded, "shattered the
self-confidence without which Establishments flounder." In a careful
and well-researched study, Johnson, Nixon, and the Doves, the
historian Melvin Small concluded that "the antiwar movement and
antiwar criticism in the media and Congress had a significant impact
on the Vietnam policies of both Johnson and Nixon," pushing them
toward deescalation and, ultimately, withdrawal from the war.
Yet another example of the peace movement's efficacy occurred in the
context of the Reagan administration's determined attempts to
overthrow the Sandinista-led government of Nicaragua. As in Vietnam,
despite the immense military advantage the U.S. government enjoyed
against a small, peasant nation, it was unable to employ it
effectively. Popular pressure against U.S. military intervention in
Nicaragua not only blocked the dispatch of U.S. combat troops, but led
to congressional action (i.e. the Boland amendment) cutting off U.S.
government funding for the U.S. surrogates, the contras. Although the
Reagan administration sought to circumvent the Boland amendment by
selling U.S. missiles to Iran and sending the proceeds to the contras,
this scheme backfired, and did more to undermine the Reaganites than
it did the Sandinistas.
There is also considerable evidence that it was the peace movement
that brought an end to the Cold War. The peace movement's struggle
against the nuclear arms race and its clearest manifestation, nuclear
testing, led directly to Kennedy's 1963 American University address
and to the Partial Test Ban Treaty of that year, which began
Soviet-American detente. The speech was partially written by Norman
Cousins, founder and co-chair of the National Committee for a Sane
Nuclear Policy, America's largest peace group. Cousins also brokered
When the hawkish Reagan administration revived the Cold War and
escalated the nuclear arms race, these actions triggered the greatest
outburst of peace movement activism in world history. In the United
States, the Nuclear Freeze campaign secured the backing of leading
religious denominations, unions, professional groups, and the
Democratic Party, organized the largest political demonstration up to
that time in U.S. history, and drew the support of more than 70
percent of the public. . .
We might also give some thought to the wars that, thanks to peace
movement activism, did not occur. Historians have maintained that the
anti-imperialist crusade against the Philippines war blocked the
occurrence of later U.S. wars of this kind and on this scale. They
have also suggested that peace movement pressures helped to block war
with Mexico in 1916 and helped to soften the U.S.-Mexican
confrontation of the late 1920s. And how many wars, we might ask
ourselves, were prevented through the implementation of many ideas and
proposals that originated with the peace movement: international
arbitration; international law; decolonization; a league of nations;
disarmament treaties; a United Nations; and nonviolent resistance. We
shall probably never know.
We do know, however, that the peace movement played a major role in
preventing one kind of war since 1945: nuclear war. . . The proof of
the pudding came during the Reagan administration, whose top national
security officials -- from the President on down -- entered office
talking glibly of fighting and winning a nuclear war. But this
position quickly changed thanks to a massive popular outcry against
it. Starting in April 1982, Reagan began declaring publicly that "a
nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought." He added: "To
those who protest against nuclear war, I can only say: `I'm with
you!'" . . . I think it is fair to say that, on numerous occasions,
peace activism has exercised a restraining influence on U.S. foreign
and military policy.
[Lawrence S. Wittner Dr. Wittner is professor of history at the State
University of New York - Albany and the author of Toward Nuclear
Abolition: A History of the World Nuclear Disarmament Movement, 1971
to the Present (Stanford University Press)]
RINGLING BROS, BARNUM & BAILEY USED FBI TO SPY ON PETA, EX CIA
OFFICIAL TO 'NEUTRALIZE' FREELAND WRITER
JEFF STEIN, CQ - [The FBI] has surfaced in the already bizarre saga of
how executives at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ran a secret
spying and sabotage campaign against a Washington-based journalist and
the animal rights group PETA. Ringling documents obtained in a
multimillion-dollar suit filed by PETA show that in 1990 its security
chief began sharing his reports with the FBI. Ringling also hired
former top CIA official Clair George to run a "neutralization" effort
against a freelance writer who was working on a book about the Feld
family, owners of the circus. The writer's suit against the circus is ongoing.
MONSANTO PAID AUTHOR FOR BOOK ON BIO EVOLUTION
PR WATCH - Scripps Howard News Service announced Jan. 13 that it's
severing its business relationship with columnist Michael Fumento,
who's also a senior fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute. The
move comes after inquiries from Business Week Online about payments
Fumento received from agribusiness giant Monsanto -- a frequent
subject of praise in Fumento's opinion columns and a book." Scripps
Howard general manager Peter Copeland said Fumento "did not tell SHNS
editors, and therefore we did not tell our readers, that in 1999
Hudson received a $60,000 grant from Monsanto." The grant was for
Fumento's book Bio Evolution. Fumento called himself "extremely
pro-biotech" and said he told Monsanto about the book, "The biotech
industry is going to look really good, and you should contribute."
Fumento said his recent columns, including a January 5 piece praising
new Monsanto products, were not "quid pro quo." He added, "I think
there's a statute of limitations on that.
HEALTH & SCIENCE
MEDICARE DRUG PROBLEMS A MAJOR CRISIS SAYS FEINSTEIN
ERICA WERNER ASSOCIATED PRESS - Problems with the federal government's
new Medicare prescription drug plan are creating a health crisis in
California, Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Friday, a day after the state
announced emergency drug coverage for California's seniors because of
the problems. Unlike most Democrats, Feinstein voted for the
prescription drug plan pushed by President Bush when it passed the
Senate in 2003. But in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary
Michael Leavitt, she said it was "incomprehensible" how many problems
there have been with the program's implementation since it took effect Jan. 1.
Reported problems include elderly people being denied benefits because
of wrong information in government databases. Pharmacists are supposed
to be able to get eligibility information about seniors from the
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, but the electronic systems
aren't working, forcing pharmacists to call 1-800-MEDICARE and wait
for hours on the phone, Feinstein said.
The problems appear to stem from the fact that 6 million elderly,
low-income and disabled people including 1 million Californians were
automatically switched into the new drug program Jan. 1. These people
previously had been covered by the Medicaid state-federal health care
program for the poor, called Medi-Cal in California.
The system was apparently not equipped to handle the influx.
STUDY: WOMEN HANDLE HARD EXERCISE AS WELL AS MEN
RANDY DOTINGA, WIRED - A new study by military researchers found that
many assumptions about female bodies are "astoundingly wrong." Women
are just as good as men -- in some cases, perhaps even better -- at
handling intense exercise and decompression sickness. The findings,
reported in the Journal of Women's Health, don't change the fact that
women -- on the whole -- are smaller and less powerful than men.
Still, they suggest "that human physiology is more consistent than
would be suggested by the social embellishments and exaggerations"
that come about when there isn't any actual research. . . One of the
most surprising findings "was the reversal of the age-old belief that
high-volume exercise would be harmful to the reproductive system of
women" and hurt their bones, Friedl said. . . Like men, women lose the
ability to reproduce if they expend more in energy than they take in
through food. "But if they eat enough to match the demands of work or
exercise, everything remains intact," Friedl said.
SCHOOLS & THE YOUNG
HAWAIIAN GOVERNOR'S AIDES CAN'T PASS 5TH GRADE TEST
HAWAII STAR BULLETIN - [Governor] Lingle told [Hawaii State Teachers
Assn] delegates that her own senior policy advisers took the
fifth-grade Hawaii math test and could not pass it. Lingle was arguing
that Hawaii should lower its academic performance standards so that
the state would do better under federal No Child Left Behind mandates.
OHIO CHARTER SCHOOLS DRAIN TOP DISTRICTS
BEACON JOURNAL, OH - Publicly funded charter schools, initially
created to let children escape poorly performing urban districts, will
enroll 3,000 students this year from the state's highest- achieving
public schools. Many of those students are rejecting the state's top
districts to enroll in online charters, which have some of the poorest
academic ratings in the state. The phenomenon raises questions about
the underlying state policy for the rapidly growing experiment, which
this year will cost taxpayers $476 million: Is the purpose of charter
schools to give children a chance to escape failing schools? Is it to
provide parents with school choice, regardless of how well their local
district performs academically? . . .
Twice in the last two years, state officials had to find an estimated
$75 million to pay for the influx of charter students, many of whom
previously attended private schools or were home-schooled. Changing
mission The complexion of the students changed, too. In 2001, 75
percent of the students were black. Last year, blacks accounted for 54
percent, as whites and other ethnic and racial groups flocked to
online schools and other specialty charters. Meanwhile, the mission
has become less clear. . .
ONLY 14% OF CALIFORNIANS CAN AFFORD A MEDIAN PRICED HOME
REUTERS - The number of California households able to afford a
median-priced home with traditional financing has returned to a record
low 14 percent and will probably sink lower next month, a realtors
association said on Thursday. . . The calculations assumed a 20
percent down payment and an average effective mortgage interest rate
of 6.26 percent. . . A California family would need a total income of
at least $133,390 in order to purchase a median-priced home of
$548,400, the report found. . . California home prices have doubled
over the last four years, with prices soaring in coastal urban areas
like San Francisco and the tony enclave of Santa Barbara.
HOW THE FREE MARKET REALLY WORKS
[The fraud known as the "free market" is perpetuated by both
politicians and the media despite overwhelming evidence ranging from
Abramoff to the Federal Reserve that such a thing doesn't exist.
Here's another insight]
ELLEN MCCARTHY WASHINGTON POST - In the government contracting
industry that drives Washington's economy, the process and promise of
acquisition have become one of the underlying facts of life -- from
major deals such as General Dynamics Corp.'s proposed $2.1 billion
purchase of Anteon International Corp., to small pairings such as SRA
International Inc.'s November acquisition of Vienna-based Spectrum
Solutions Group Inc., a 90-employee firm with $15 million in annual revenue.
Small companies outgrow set-aside programs and need larger partners to
survive. Mid-size companies struggle to compete with contracting
giants and decide to join forces instead. Sometimes, offers from
potential buyers are just too rich for entrepreneurs to resist. . .
The pace of acquisition accelerated after the terrorist attacks of
Sept. 11, 2001, as federal agencies spent billions of dollars on
updated computer and management systems. . . In 2001, 47
government-services companies were bought by other firms, according to
Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin. Last year, 98 contractors were
purchased, most of them in the Washington area.
The nature of the contracting industry pushes executives to sell. Many
small businesses get started under programs that set aside contracts
for disadvantaged businesses, but after that initial help they find
themselves trying to compete with industry giants like Northrop
Grumman Corp. and Lockheed Martin Corp. Government technology firms,
for example, are no longer eligible for small business set-asides once
they reach $23 million in annual revenue.
"They get through that and emerge into the harsh light of more
competitiveness," Grossman said. "You find a lot of businesses that
reassess at that point and say, 'We just don't have the energy to plow
WHEN HISTORIANS MEET: DAY 3
RICHARD SHENKMAN, HISTORY NEWS NETWORK - Every convention there's
something to grouse about. This year it's the location of the book
exhibit. It's six floors up. Worse, in a break with tradition, it's a
full block from the AHA registration desk. So if you want to take a
break and check messages on the AHA boards and then perhaps browse the
book aisles you have to split your time between two different
buildings. Worse yet, one of the escalators to the book exhibit in the
sky was broken today. That gave historians the choice of either
trudging up one of the escalators by foot or walking to a distant
elevator. One historian in his eighties was seen huffing and puffing
his way up the escalator seemingly at risk of a heart attack, thought
Ralph Luker. . .
Several of the sessions today dealt with archival research. The panel
on "Secrecy and Access in the Archives: Washington, Moscow, and the
Vatican" was particularly interesting. Want to cull the files of the
Vatican? Sorry, that won't be easy. The Library of Congress has some
4,000 employees. The Vatican, with a collection nearly as large, has
about ... 10 or so. Ok, this may be a slight exaggeration, but it is
apparently close to the truth. One scholar recalled that whenever he
would visit the Vatican archives officials always blamed Napoleon for
the material they couldn't find. It was such a reflex with them that
one day when they couldn't locate a document from the nineteenth
century produced after Napoleon had died, they still blamed Napoleon.
American University's Anna K. Nelson, speaking about the records held
by the National Archives, said, "It's not as bad as the Vatican but
sometimes I think it is." But the longer she talked the more it
seemed, as one man screamed from the audience, that it's "worse than
the Vatican." Example. While the rule is that documents are
declassified after twenty-five years declassification can only begin
after the last document has been added to a file. Since files in the
State Department often remain open for ten or twenty years, that means
it may take fifty years (with all the attendant and inevitable delays)
for documents to be declassified.
The National Security Archive's Thomas Blanton noted that under
Clinton, rules had been liberalized, apparently as a result of an op
ed Blanton had written for the NYT in which he had chastised the
administration for a declassification policy then under consideration
that wasn't even "as good as Nixon's." Clinton, reading Blanton's
article, scribbled in the margin that he wanted his people "to do
better." They did, establishing the rule that when in doubt, let it
out. But under President George W. Bush the rule was reversed. Now the
rule is, "if there's a doubt, don't."
Blanton said that 9-11 had emboldened the Bush administration to limit
access to documents--even those that had previously been released, as
a handout featuring a document about Pinochet demonstrated. The
document was released in 1999 with no redactions. The same document,
released in 2004, was blacked out in ten places. . .
One way the administration has dealt with the criticism that it
classifies too many documents is to stop classifying many of them
altogether, labeling them instead, "Sensitive But
Unclassified,"--SBU's, for short. The trouble with this is that not
only are the documents not released, they may not even be saved,
unlike documents stamped Top Secret, which almost always are saved. . .
The day ended with the annual business meeting. Arnita Jones announced
that 4500 people were participating at this year's convention. . . One
of the reasons for the higher than usual list, she explained, was that
many teachers had taken up the AHA's new offer to attend the
convention at a reduced rate--and to bring along up to five students.
That solved the mystery of the sudden appearance this year of so many
high school students. . .
At the Sheraton, sitting in a stuffed chair in the lobby, his leg
twitching a bit nervously, there was a young historian reading over a
paper he planned to deliver. Only he wasn't just reading silently. He
was reading out loud. Loud enough for the people seated nearby to hear
him. Did he realize this? It was hard to tell. . .
Overheard Conversation Between Two Historians: "What we missed by not
going to Ivy League schools is that we didn't learn to talk fast.
Those guys think talking fast means they're smart." . . .
RICE THREATENS NORWAY OVER ISRAEL BOYCOTT
AFTENPOSTEN, NORWAY - US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
threatened Norway with "serious political consequences" after Finance
Minister and Socialist Left Party leader Kristin Halvorsen admitted to
supporting a boycott of Israeli goods. The reaction was reportedly
given to the Norwegian embassy in Washington DC, and it was made clear
that the statements came from the top level of the US State
Department, newspaper VG reports. VG claims that two classified
reports promised a "tougher climate" between the USA and Norway if
Halvorsen's remarks represented the foreign policy of the new
red-green alliance of the Labor, Socialist Left and Center parties.
Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Jonas Gahr Stxre, responded
immediately with written explanations to both Israel and the USA,
clarifying the government's stance, while Halvorsen distanced her
party's policy from that of the government's.
RICE THREATENS PALESTINIANS OVER HAMAS
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - The United States warned the Palestinians on
Monday that inclusion of the militant group Hamas in any new
government could affect US-backed efforts to establish an independent
Palestinian state. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stopped short
of threatening a cut in US aid to the Palestinians if they form a
government with ministers from the hard-line Islamic movement after
parliamentary polls on January 25.
RELIGION & ITS ALTERNATIVES
POPE MAKING SECRET VISITS TO OLD APARTMENT
HILLARY CLARKE, TELEGRAPH, UK - The Vatican, citadel of secrets and
intrigue, has thrown up another little mystery: what has the Pope been
doing on a spate of night-time missions to his old cardinal lodgings?
Over the past few weeks, the German pontiff has been seen sneaking
back to his old room outside the Vatican walls three times, La Stampa
reported yesterday. . . A Vatican security guard is always waiting in
front of the apartments in a pedestrian zone tucked behind St Peter's
Square. The Pope gets out of the car disguised in the plain black
priest's robes he wore when he was the Catholic Church's senior
theologian. Wearing a black hat and with his head down, he opens the
wooden door himself, as he did for all those years, and tiptoes inside
followed by Don Georg. "Its is not a question of just dashing in for a
few minutes to grab a bag or a book," La Stampa said. "He spends at
least a couple of hours there."
NSA USED BALTIMORE POLICE TO TRACK PROTESTORS
DOUGLAS BIRCH, BALTIMORE SUN - The National Security Agency used law
enforcement agencies, including the Baltimore Police Department, to
track members of a city anti-war group as they prepared for protests
outside the sprawling Fort Meade facility, internal NSA documents
show. The target of the clandestine surveillance was the Baltimore
Pledge of Resistance, a group loosely affiliated with the local
chapter of the American Friends Service Committee, whose members
include many veteran city peace activists with a history of nonviolent
civil disobedience. . .
An internal NSA e-mail, posted on two Internet sites this week, shows
how operatives with the "Baltimore Intel Unit" provided a
minute-by-minute account of Pledge of Resistances' preparations for a
July 3, 2004, protest at Fort Meade. An attorney for the demonstrators
said he obtained the document through the discovery process from NSA. . .
AL QUAEDA ADVISES HOW TO BEAT LIE DETECTORS
JEFF STEIN, CQ - Al Qaeda "knows that polygraphs are unreliable and
has an idea of how to beat them," says a former U.S. Army linguist.
George W. Maschke, a translator fluent in Arabic and Farsi, discovered
an article on an al Qaeda-linked Web site last week that instructs
followers on specific countermeasures to use when U.S. interrogators
hook them up to polygraph machines. . . "We must realize that the idea
of the device is based on measuring the body's physiological changes.
Thus, if the mujahid [holy warrior] is able to control these changes,
it will enable him to fool the device." The article goes on to
describe numerous methods a prisoner can use to control his breathing
and blood pressure, evidently taken from articles and discussions
challenging the science behind polygraphs posted by former U.S.
intelligence and law enforcement personnel at an anti-polygraph Web
site in the United States.
PAUL B. BROWN, NY TIMES - A second front has broken out in the battle
for Hispanic television viewers - and this time the programming is in
English, Hispanic magazine reports. There are now two cable networks -
the independent SITV and Mun2, the 2001 spin off of NBC's Telemundo -
that are offering English-language programming aimed primarily at "the
18-to-34-year-old English-dominant Hispanic audience." SiTV says it
reaches 10.5 million Hispanic homes via cable, while Mun2 says it has
10 million. . . The majority of American Latinos are bilingual; they
watch and listen to media in Spanish and English. Up to now, however,
most of the efforts to reach this audience have been in Spanish, so
there may be a niche in the market.
BBC - Spain has said it will go ahead with the sale of 12 military
planes to Venezuela despite US objections. However, the aircraft will
be made with more expensive European parts because the US has blocked
the use of its technology for Venezuela.
ARIEL DAVID, CHICAGO SUN TIMES - Italy has proposed loaning important
antiquities to New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art if it returns
several prized artifacts that Italy says were looted, a government
lawyer said Friday. The offer was aimed at ending a dispute over
cultural treasures that Italy claims were illegally removed from the
country and are now in foreign collections. . . Metropolitan spokesman
Harold Holzer said the museum has yet to receive Italy's proposal.
BBC - Thousands of gay rights activists have demonstrated in Rome in
support of same-sex marriage. A senior judge celebrated "weddings" for
10 same-sex couples, in a ceremony of symbolic rather than legal
value. The move has been denounced by Pope Benedict XVI, who says gay
marriage would "obscure the value and function of the legitimate
family". Meanwhile in Milan, in another challenge to the Roman
Catholic Church, women marched in defence of abortion. Police said it
had attracted 50,000 people. Gay marriage - illegal in Italy - has
become an important issue ahead of forthcoming general elections,
while conservatives and Catholics are behind efforts to tighten the
country's liberal abortion law. . . Police said 50,000 people gathered
to protest in Milan. "These demonstrators are really nauseating,"
said Reforms Minister Roberto Calderoli.
SHAILA DEWAN, NY TIMES Over the years, the city that the Rev. Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr. called home has grown accustomed to stagnation
and disrepair at the institution established in his name by Coretta
Scott King in 1968, even as it has paid her sons six-figure salaries.
But now as Mrs. King is recovering from a stroke that left her partly
paralyzed and unable to speak, problems at the nonprofit institution,
the King Center, have become so bad that some family members are
pushing to sell its buildings.
That proposal and myriad other difficulties - including a federal
investigation into the center's use of taxpayer money and an estimate
by the National Park Service that the complex of buildings needs $11
million in repairs - have deepened a rift among Dr. King's four
children, two of whom vehemently oppose a sale, and further reduced
the center's standing.
FASCINATING COMPARISON BETWEEN GERMANY AND U.S.
PRISONS CHARGE USURIOUS RATES FOR PRISON CALLS
NY TIMES EDITORIAL - One way to cut down on the number of inmates who
end up right back in prison shortly after being released is to make
sure that they preserve their ties with their families, especially
with spouses and children, while they are serving time. But keeping in
touch is often impossible for inmates and their families because of
state prison systems that earn huge profits from inmates' phone calls
by forcing the family members who receive those collect calls to pay
usurious rates. As a result, a family must often choose between
talking to a loved one in prison and putting food on the table.
A bill introduced in Congress by Representative Bobby Rush, Democrat
of Illinois, would help end this shameful practice by requiring the
Federal Communications Commission to set fair rates for interstate
phone calls made from prison. The bill will surely face fierce
opposition from the telecommunications lobby and from state prison
systems that have grown accustomed to gouging the poorest families in
the country to subsidize some prison-related activities. But the
current arrangement is both counterproductive and morally indefensible. . .
Prison systems are likely to argue that the current arrangement is
just fine because it helps pay for programs that benefit the inmates.
But the high phone rates are actually a hidden tax on people who
already pay for the prisons through their taxes. Beyond that, the
states should not be in the business of bleeding low-income families -
and fraying already fragile family ties - to pay for services that the
state itself is obligated to provide.
ROBUST climbed a shocking 99 million since the last time we checked.
It is now in 7th place. ALL NEW soared 42 million. Other big climbers
included ON THE GROUND, SEND[S], SENDING A MESSAGE and SHIT.
POP FICTION DRIVING TOURISM
MALTA INDEPENDENT - Places that up to now have been relatively
unknown have suddenly acquired huge popularity as thousands of
tourists started to make pilgrimages there. And other places that were
already well known have seen their popularity increase and multiply. . .
Take, for example, the Louvre, in Paris. In 2005 no less than
7,300,000 tourists visited it, a 600,000 increase in just one year
from 2004's 6,700,000. According to the general administrator of the
museum, Didier Selles, "Dan Brown (the author of the Da Vinci Code) is
mainly to blame for this increase."
And the museum, M. Selles adds, expects a further huge increase as
from next spring when the film of the book, with Tom Hanks and Audrey
Tatou, comes out. Scenes of the film were shot in part of the museum. . .
The extraordinary success of the book has also inspired many tour
operators (some have even been expressly created in view of this
phenomenon) to organize tours with visits to cities and places
mentioned in the book. Thus, those who go to Paris, stay at the Ritz,
where one of the protagonists of the book stays, and, after a visit to
the Louvre, rent a Smart (as is done in the book), drive down the
Champs-Elysies, visit the Gare Saint-Lazare and the Bois de Boulogne,
not forgetting to visit the church full of secrets, Saint-Sulpice.
On then to London with tours to Fleet Street, the circular church The
Temple, and King's College in Cambridge. And finally to Rosslyn
Chapel, a splendid, mysterious gothic church in a mining village in
Scotland where the book's final surprise takes place. The church,
until recently known to only a few, is one of the places where the
protagonist searches for the Holy Grail. . .
MALE ANCHORS DISAPPEARING ON TV
SUZANNE C. RYAN, BOSTON GLOBE - After dominating TV news for decades,
male anchors are now in the minority nationwide, according to a study
by the Radio-Television News Directors Association and Ball State
University. . . The numbers of anchor men, which started declining 10
years ago and now are at an all-time low, have left station managers
scratching their heads and college journalism professors pondering
their enrollment. At Emerson College, there is just one man in the
graduate broadcast journalism program. There are 20 female students.
FURTHERMORE. . .
ALITO DOESN'T LIKE THIRD PARTIES
TRANSCRIPT OF TRANSLATOR'S TRIAL FINDS LACK OF EVIDENCE
NOTE: You can post your comments on any of the above stories by going
to our Undernews site and searching for the headline. Once posted, a
copy is immediately mailed to the Review and we pick some of the most
interesting to publish here. http://prorev.com/indexa.htm
BLAIR ADMITS SMACKING HIS KIDS
B SPOCK MD - The only thing you teach a child by hitting him is to
hate and fear you.
A READER - Yeah, if you have to hit a kid to get them to do what you
want, you've already lost them. They won, because you showed them that
you are out of ideas.
But if you want them to learn a little about hitting, just sign em' up
for a karate class and let a paid professional do the hitting. It's
way more fun and educational that way.. They take the abuse out of the
GIRL SCOUT COOKIES
KATHY STEVENSON - I live in a high rise apartment with 127 apartments
and the Girl Scouts never come here to take orders for their cookies.
I live in Memphis Tennessee. We have security but if they came before
5:00 p.m. the management will let them in to sell them. I have heard
many people comment about this same thing who live here. So will you
please answer back and see if we can make some kind of arrangement to
have the cookie orders taken here
[We passed along her request to the Mid South Gircl Scout Council]
SKILLS OF COLLEGE GRADS
A READER - As someone who has taught at the college level for 24
years, I wasn't surprised by this article. Quite frankly, many
students enter college with abysmal skills in the areas of reading and
writing - incapable of reading and comprehending a technical book - or
writing a coherent paragraph (let alone a credible research paper).
Many students are self-labeled "visual learners", which I have (in
some cases) come to see as code for "I have no attention span and no
interest in grappling with difficult material -- particularly if it
I love what I do, and I really enjoy working with students. But we
have done many students a disservice. They have gone through 12 years
of dumbed-down education, and many of them are incapable of rising to
the occasion upon entering college. As a result, many of us find
ourselves dealing with students who really aren't prepared to do
college-level work. Everyone (including those students who are
actually prepared) suffers in this situation.
A READER - "Kids today are no damn good." Same ol' story. C'mon, Sam,
you can do better than this.
CH - C'mon Anonymous. . . Sam didn't write the article, and, since it
reflects the results of a scientific study it is hardly the mindless
cliche you're trying to turn it into. However, as someone who was once
a high school teacher, I would concede that it's not entirely the
kids' fault since the educational system has become just like the
business world: you fudge the figures to get a result that looks good
with no thought to the negative consequences this can produce.
LOCAL FOOD CHASES OUT MCDONALD'S
LARS - One of my favorite haunts when I'm home in Western
Massachusetts is located in the Amherest Town Center. This small
pizza joint that has since sent franchises out to other college towns
like Providence and played a role in closing down a McDonald's in
Amherst. Not only that, but every other chain that tried to do well
near the Antoino's Pizza had poor luck as well. So it's not just
Italians beating back the Arches.
MORTON MINTZ' QUESTIONS FOR ALITO
DENNIS WILSON, CA - Oustanding. I was just thinking about the same
lack of questioning about corporate power as this, but certainly not
with the degree of legal history displayed by Mr. Mintz.
A READER - Missed a question: Mr. Alito, do you sodomize your wife?
Be sure to swear his wife in, to confirm his answer either way. Maybe
the NSA can stick some video cameras in his bedroom for good measure.
A READER - Morton Mintz would be a fine Supreme Court justice.
MEANEST CITIES FOR THE HOMELESS
A READER - Here's one for all of the Bible thumpers who claim they
have a grip: "Behold, this is the iniquity of Sodom your proud sister:
she and her daughters had abundant food and lived in tranquility, but
she did not help the poor and the needy." ---Ezekiel 16:49
A READER - interesting how so many of the cities listed sweep right
through the Bible Belt.
A READER - We don't like poor people in this country. They are a great
beast and must be dealt with harshly. If you turn your back on society
by living outside our laws and taxes and social norms, then don't be
surprised when we give you our worst.
WE CHOOSE WHAT WE FEAR
A READER - As of a month and a half ago, there were still 6644 people
missing from Katrina. That's a lot of milk cartons, and when added in
with the Katrina dead is more than twice the Sept. 11 disaster. The
government claims "record-keeping efforts haven't caught up with them
in their new locations." Sounds about right, after all, they counted
30,000 dead in Iraq and missed the other 150,000 victims. They won't
be looked for, and most won't turn up. You have a better chance of
being found if you go missing in Aruba.
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