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March 20, 2006

Sarah Waters' grand new novel chronicles love, sex and obsession among four Britons in crumbling World War II London.
Categories: News
Using bogus health facts to scare women about the "dangers" of contraception, a fledgling movement fights for a culture in which sex = procreation.
Categories: News
Can we have a rational adult conversation?
Categories: News
She competes with me in everything and demands constant attention.
Categories: News
The current ballyhoo about immigrants sending U.S. dollars home exaggerates their potential and obscures some of their more negative effects.
Source: AlterNet
Categories: News

March 19, 2006

Republican efforts to craft a policy and political agenda to carry the party into the midterm elections have stumbled repeatedly as GOP leaders face widespread disaffection and disagreement within the ranks.
Categories: News
by Greg Palast for The Guardian Get off it. All the carping, belly-aching and complaining about George Bush's incompetence in Iraq, from both the Left and now the Right, is just dead wrong. On the third anniversary of the tanks rolling over Iraq's border, most of the 59 million Homer Simpsons who **********Palast returns to the pages of the Guardian today with this column. Catch his commentaries weekly. ********** voted for Bush are beginning to doubt if his mission was accomplished. Not so. Don't kid yourself -- Bush and his co-conspirator, Dick Cheney, accomplished exactly what they set out to do. In case you've forgotten what their real mission was, let me remind you of White House spokesman Ari Fleisher's original announcement, three years ago, launching of what he called, "Operation Iraqi Liberation." O.I.L. How droll of them, how cute. Then, Karl Rove made the giggling boys in the White House change it to "OIF" -- Operation Iraqi Freedom. But the 101st Airborne wasn't sent to Basra to get its hands on Iraq's OIF. ....
Source: Greg Palast
Categories: News

Democracy for Missouri has become involved with the Leave My Child Alone program in an effort to educate parents about the student information that schools are required to provide for military recruiters as a provision of the No Child Left Behind Act. The Act mandates that public schools allow military recruiters on campus, providing them with names, addresses, and phone numbers of all high school juniors and seniors upon request, or else risk losing federal funding.

Most parents are unaware not only that schools give such information to recruiters, but also that the law also requires schools to notify parents that this happens, as well of their right to "opt-out," keeping the information private from recruiters. This is because instructions about privacy rights are often hard to find, if not nonexistent.

In the past year, 37,000 parents have downloaded opt-out forms available on the Leave My Child Alone Web site. However, according to Felicity Crush, spokesperson for the organization, parental notification "doesn't happen in some districts, and the policy varies wildly from district to district. I think that, administratively, it is not clear how to [opt-out]."

This disorganization proved fatal for John Johnson of St. Louis, MO, whose daughter, LaVena, was convinced by recruiters that joining the Army was her one shot at being able to afford college. Johnson assured LaVena that he would make sure she and her younger sister would receive a college education, even if it meant that he had to work two jobs. LaVena, however, wanted to be independent and pay her own way through school, and military recruiters aggressively painted her a picture of her doing so with military funding, assuring her that, because she was a woman, the possibility of ending up in Iraq was remote.

On July 19, 2005, little a year after graduating from high school, LaVena became the first Missouri woman to die in Iraq. She was 19.

"She thought she was safe on a military base," Johnson said. "She wasn't." Her death is currently under criminal investigation by the Army. After her death, Johnson discovered an Army flier tucked away in her dresser. It said "earn $25,000 toward college."

Sickeningly, military recruiters will not stop calling LaVena's younger sister, now a high school senior, at home and approaching her at school, even after being notified of LaVena's death in Iraq.

Frank Smith, principal of Hazelwood Central, the school LaVena attended, said that he notifies parents about the release of student information in a back-to-school newsletter, but the Johnsons never saw the notice. Smith maintained that he sees no harm in giving recruiters access to the campus and to students' personal information, and that when military fliers arrived at his house, "we just tore them up."

"The military offers opportunities like any other business," Smith said. "But the price [of those opportunities] could be death. That's the difference between what the military offers and what other careers offer."

Columbia, MO school board member Darin Preis began looking into the issue last year, at the urging of Democracy for Missouri president Bill Monroe, who invited him to an informational meeting about the provisions mandated by the No Child Left Behind Act.

"I became concerned about the inconsistencies between what the law says and what parents are told," Preis said. As a result, he said, "there will be a page in the student handbook next year that very explicitly says parents have the option to withhold their children's information." An opt-out form will also be included in the student handbook.

Jeff Stack of Mid-Missouri Fellowship for Reconciliation, who has been providing information to students and parents on countering military recruitment efforts for ten years, said that "this is a good beginning," and wants students to realize that "the military is primarily a fighting force, not a job training program."

Stack does not believe that the district has any "malicious" intents, but rather that they "are just trying to work through new ground," and would like to see letters sent out to parents in the summer, allowing them to opt-out before recruiters acquire lists at the beginning of the school year.

—Meredith Adams

Categories: Blogs
A top Senate Democrat said Sunday that President Bush should be held responsible if he violated the law in authorizing the domestic spy program.  But Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said it is too early to tell if either censure or impeachment of Bush is called for.
Categories: News

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign GenerationDFA group has been producing high-quality newsletters for distribution on campus. The newsletters, called The Liberal Media, contain not only news updates and bracing commentary, but humor as well. The folks at GenDFA UIUC have generously offered their permission to redistribute these high-quality newsletters—take a look:

Pat Robertson's Age-Defying Pancakes—they're real!

Issue 3: Abortion
Issue 2: Privacy Rights/Wiretapping
Issue 1: Culture of Corruption

Categories: Blogs
The top commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said Sunday that U.S. troops likely will remain there for the next few years though the numbers will be scaled back as Iraqi forces gain strength.
Categories: News
As the war in Iraq enters its fourth year, former US soldiers joined in demonstrations in many American cities over the weekend. Christian Parenti accompanied one group of Vietnam and Iraq War veterans who marched from Mobile to New Orleans to draw attention to Bush Administration policies that have led to the devastation of both Iraq and the Gulf Coast.

Categories: News
Today’s story from the Boston Globe: Lowell voting problems probed Translating ballot into Khmer eyed By Stephanie Ebbert, Globe Staff  |  March 19, 2006 The US Department of Justice is conducting an investigation into voting problems in the city of Lowell, as advocates called for an increase in voting assistance to growing immigrant populations in the Bay State. The Lowell [...]
Categories: Blogs

This Week (ABC) - Military veterans Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) will join the program to talk about how they rate success in Iraq and when U.S. troops may head home. George Will, Cokie Roberts and Sam Donaldson will come together for a roundtable discussion of this week in politics.

Face the Nation (CBS) - CBS Evening News anchor and Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer will be speaking to Vice President Dick Cheney in an exclusive live interview.

Meet the Press (NBC) - This week on "Meet the Press," Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, will talk about the status on the ground in Iraq and their view of the length of this conflict.

Chris Matthews Show (NBC) - Chris will be discussing the dissent within the ranks of Bush's administration, as well as the possible presidential run of Hillary Clinton in '08 with Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, David Gregory of NBC News, Elisabeth Bumiller of The New York Times and Andrew Sullivan of New Republic Magazine and Time Magazine.

Fox News Sunday (Fox News) - This week, Fox News Sunday will be talking to Sen. Richard Durbin on the censure of President Bush over NSA surveillance program.

Late Edition (CNN) will feature Ahmed Chalabi: Iraqi deputy prime minister, Sen. Richard Lugar(R-IN): Foreign Relations Committee chairman, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-DE): Foreign Relations Committee, Abdullah Abdullah: Afghanistan minister of foreign affairs, Zbigniew Brzezinski: former national security adviser and Henry Kissinger: former secretary of state to speak about the state of Iraq, three years after the start of the war.

60 Minutes (CBS) This week's 60 Minutes tells the story of the 37,000-person strong New York Police Department. Larger than the national army of a small country, this mammoth police force has been charged with the critical task defending the city and becoming an "army against terror."

Categories: Blogs
Pushy therapists, bickering models and corrupt cops may keep you riveted, but be honest: Has your favorite show outlived its premise?
Categories: News

March 18, 2006


Democracy for Tennessee has been holding successful campaign trainings for the last few weeks. Check out their photos and stories from the Knoxville event!

Our largest crowd yet filled the Knoxville Center Mall's community room to capacity as over 60 activists, volunteers, and candidates turned out for Democracy for Tennessee's "Root Camp" grassroots campaign training seminar.

There was an early-morning scramble to round up enough tables and chairs, but thanks to the efforts of Knox County Democratic Party Chairman Jim Gray and Democracy for Knoxville's Paul Witt, the seating crisis was averted! As usual, there was a brief presentation by DFT Chair Mark Naccarato on the people-powered progressive movement that Democracy for Tennessee is spreading across the Volunteer State. After that, it was time for our "Creating a Campaign" interactive workshop, where "Campers" learned about campaign themes and the types of messages that reinforce those themes. Campers then were introduced to our perennial fictitious candidate, Jane Smith, who is running in a nonpartisan Mayor's race against the uber-conservative incumbent Jack Jones in the Tennessee town of Stepford. Before long, Campers were laying out Jane's campaign theme and her positive platform to bring change to Stepford County.

After constructing Jane's campaign platform, it was time to figure out how to get the message out about Jane and her campaign. Our guest trainer, Jim Grinstead (pictured above), a veternan journalist, publisher, and public relations expert, led the "Read All About It!" workshop on communications and press relations. Thanks to Jim's expertise and real-life media experience, Campers now have a better idea on how to get free media for their candidate, issue, or event.

Freda Player, Outreach Director of the Tennessee Democratic Party

After the communications workshop, it was time for a working lunch session on "Crunching the Numbers". Freda Player, Outreach Director of the Tennessee Democratic Party (above), gave an a/v presentation that showed Campers how to analyze a voter data list, sort it along various geographic and demographic categories, and create a "walk list" for canvassing or phonebanking. She also talked about "scoring" candidates by political party, issue interests, or by their voting patterns. This was an invaluable tool in helping activists target the voters they are trying to reach.

Then came our "For the Cause" workshop, led by DFT's Field Director Georgia Weindling, which taught Campers how to manage the most valuable resource in any campaign... volunteers! It was a great 'How To' guide in making sure that campaign volunteers are used efficiently, are properly trained, and - most importantly - feel like they are appreciated and respected by the campaign and the candidates.

And then, as is the custom of all Root Camp programs put on by DFT, the day ended in a Door-to-Door Training and Roleplaying session. Here is where most of the day's skills pulled together as our Campers broke up into groups and practiced their door knocking skills by trying to get voters (the trainers) to support and vote for Jane Smith for Mayor. As always, this workshop was the most fun and our Campers learned alot about themselves and about how difficult it is to have genuine conversations at the doors of total strangers. In the end, all of the Trainers agreed that this was one of the best groups of canvassers so far in the Root Camp program.

After the workshops officially ended, we celebrated Georgia Weindling's birthday with chocolate cake and a rousing chorus of "Happy Birthday".

Then it was on to our special session, where local candidates found out about Democracy for Tennessee's Candidate Training School and about our endorsement process.

This was undoubtedly one of the most successful Camps to date and DFT's thanks goes out to all who attended Camp Knoxville! If you live in East Tennessee and want an even more intense and detailed grassroots training, make sure to sign up for the DFA Training Academy, coming to Asheville, North Carolina on May 6 & 7.

Categories: Blogs
A NEWSWEEK poll shows President Bush's approval rating dropping to new lows on domestic issues and rising public anger over Iraq and homeland security.
Categories: News
In an attempt to inspire Democrats to call for change, Hillary fails to mention Iraq.

Categories: Blogs
A week after the New York Times identified a human rights advocate as the iconic hooded figure at Abu Ghraib, the paper admits it made a mistake.
Categories: News
Congress authorizes billions more for Iraq; isn't it time to Vote for Peace?

Categories: Blogs