Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Keep it on the up and up

Secrets don't make friends. That is a saying I learned in elementary school, and it has stuck with me these many years. It isn't just that secrets don't make friends; they end friendships, relationships, marriages, etc. One of the largest groups of people to keep secrets these days is African American gay men. What! You might say. Gay men are out of the closet, black and white alike. We all remember the real world San Francisco, the openly gay, interracial poster couple season. You might say, 'hey, our community may be small, but we're here and all you have to do is open your eyes to see us. Well, in some cases that is true, but many eyes are open with the wool coming down, because the so-called down-low brother's are multiplying faster than rainbow flags. In case you were not aware of the term, a down-low brother is a gay man in secret; many have girlfriends or even wives, possibly children. They may or may not consider themselves homosexual, but nevertheless they have sex with other men for pleasure, in secret. Now, I am not one to even comment on lifestyle choices. To each his own, have fun and look good doing it is my motto, but don't involve anyone unwillingly or unknowingly in it. There is no excuse for lying and cheating, opposite and same sex alike, but there is something fundamentally wrong about keeping your real sexual identity from a partner or spouse. What choices do women have if their partners cannot even be honest about their sexuality? That is the ultimate in unfair. And Dangerous. Is it possible that a down-low brother, so obsessed with secrecy and denial, might disregard or forget the condom? Is it outrageous to think that a man who lies to his partners would also be inconsiderate of safe sex practices? This is not a 'straight women beware' rant. This is a get up and take responsibility for the truth and your lifestyle, be honest and forthright, get out of the shadows and into the open air where sexual freedom and choice is not only in the hands of one partner. Keep your sex on the up and up.

Anne Lamott defends God

Anne Lamott wrote an interesting article for defending her Christian faith and her liberalism (something which many people find hard to reconcile), the article is here (you need to watch a short ad to view the whole thing):

God doesn't take sides:

for more interesting discourse on christianity and liberal politics, check out jim wallis' book 'god's politics: why the right gets it wrong and the left doesn't get it' ... i haven't read the book yet but i did see him interviewed on 'the daily show' with jon stewart, and he seemed to have intriguing ideas that i hope blast the stereotype of christians standing firmly on the side of the radical right.

Think Censored

Apple gets upset over a new biography of Steve Jobs and pulls books by the same publisher from its stores.

Click here for the article

-Jean Chen

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Education, Ellerbee and Arnold

I don’t get to watch good news much; that is well –produced and meaningful. You may wonder, isn’t that a contradiction in terms? No, not if you tune into Nick News on Sunday night at 8:30 PST and see a true news artist, Linda Ellerbee has been wowing us public and commercial TV for decades and she still welcomes the audience's participation by inviting your mind to join in. Last week she did a countdown show, not of hits but of misses: What kids hate most about their school. The site posted a listing of topics and the top 10 included, I hate school lunches to bullying, problems with popularity, dress codes, guns on campus and some really incredible (and basic) educational skills; like how teachers teach to the standardized tests (not for general education and uplifting of the youthful spirit),

The most alarming concern for me was the lack of school materials including textbooks, computers and unbelievably, dictionaries. Pages for homework assignments were torn out and some kids could only share books at school, make it impossible to succeed in a class because they had no tools to learn. So they organized a student walk out to highlight the issue. Great I say, but is anyone listening? Better than that, Ellerbee decided to send the findings to the governor and Department of Education of each state and the White House.

At least in California, I hope our the Governator reads the report before he beheads anymore core players like the teachers, nurses and firefighters, In a recent L.A. Times article, Schwarznegger referred to these groups as “special interests that will run TV ads calling me cruel and heartless,” they will organize protests out in front of the Capitol. Hopefully people will march and write letters and speak up to save our suffering schools and those that keep education alive. There is the possibility of this and actions like Ellerbee’s poll of students at large, will make a difference and the governor will hang on to the promises he made during his bid to unseat Gray Davis. Otherwise our public service workers, our children and citizenry will have gained more than an actor in Sacramento, We will have gained a sorrow greater than ever imagined. If you let people down, how can they ever live up to their potential and follow their dreams? Compassion apparently is not a benefit gleaned in the school of political advancement.

Monday, April 25, 2005

That's it no more fast food!

I've been pretty anti-fast food the past couple of months. After reading the first half of Fast Food Nation and watching Super Size Me I swore the stuff off.

The whole Wendy's finger-in-the-chili scandal turns out to likely have been a fraud. But what about this.

Jails, jails, jails

Check it out... the U.S. has the highest rate of incarceration!


Nation's Inmate Population Increased 2.3 Percent Last Year

Published: April 25, 2005

WASHINGTON, April 24 (AP) - The nation's prisons and jails held 2.1 million people in mid-2004, 2.3 percent more than the year before, the government reported on Sunday.

The inmate population increased by slightly more than 48,000 from mid-2003 to mid-2004, a growth of about 900 inmates each week, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The total inmate population has hovered around two million for the last few years: It was 2.1 million on June 30, 2002, and just below that mark a year later.

While the crime rate has fallen over the last decade, the number of people going to prison and jail is outpacing the number of inmates released, said an author of the report, Paige M. Harrison.

Ms. Harrison said the increase could be largely attributed to get-tough policies enacted in the 1980's and 1990's. Among them are mandatory sentences for drug crimes, "three strikes and you're out" laws for repeat offenders and "truth in sentencing" laws that restrict early releases.

"As a whole, most of these policies remain in place," Ms. Harrison said. "These policies were a reaction to the rise in crime in the 80's and early 90's."

Malcolm Young, executive director of the Sentencing Project, which promotes alternatives to prison, said, "We're working under the burden of laws and practices that have developed over 30 years that have focused on punishment and prison as our primary response to crime."

Mr. Young said many of those incarcerated were not serious or violent offenders, but low-level drug offenders. He said ways to help lower that number included introducing drug treatment programs that offer effective ways of changing behavior and providing appropriate assistance for the mentally ill.

The Justice Policy Institute, which advocates a more lenient system of punishment than incarceration, said the United States had the highest rate of incarceration in the world, followed by Britain, China, France, Japan and Nigeria.

According to the government's report, there were 726 inmates for every 100,000 United States residents on June 30, 2004, compared with 716 a year earlier. Put another way, in 2004, one in every 138 residents was in prison or jail; the previous year it was one in every 140.

In 2004, nearly 60 percent of prison and jail inmates were racial or ethnic minorities, the report said. An estimated 12.6 percent of all black men age 25 to 29 were in jails or prisons, compared with 3.6 percent of Hispanic men and 1.7 percent of white men in that age group, the report said.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Minutemen Project

I can't believe that a group of volunteers is patrolling U.S. borders... why are people so scared of immigrants?

Click here for Yahoo News article

Minuteman Project Website

-Jean Chen

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Pope and reconcilliation with the Jewish people

As Passover approaches, I become aware of a holiday, a celebration, a ritual highlighted by cultural awareness. I also received this article in the most modern convention, via cyber space, to remind me to look deeper than the media coverage of the Pope's death. As you read on, perhaps some ray of hope will emerge that people in power and those revered within their faith have done some good for those who they did not bless directly.

by Rabbi Marvin Hier

In terms of reconciliation with the Jews, I believe that Pope John Paul II was the greatest Pope in the history of theVaticanwith respect to his relationship to the Jewish people.
- Rabbi Marvin Hier, CNN's Larry King Live Show,Tuesday, April 4, 2005

As you read this, the funeral of Pope John Paul II is taking place.  For twenty centuries, the Catholic Church has had a turbulent relationship with the Jewish people. Jews were persecuted and held responsible for the death of Jesus, and were often the victims of Church-instigated pogroms and antisemitic attacks.

1983                                                        2003

With the passing of Pope John Paul II, we have lost the strongest advocate for reconciliation for the Jewish people in the history of theVatican. This Pope was determined to embark on a new course and leave that shameful period behind. From the very beginning of his papacy, when he first visited his native Poland, there were hints that this Pope was going to break with tradition and not follow the centuries-old script with respect to the Jews.

On his 1979 visit toAuschwitz, when he approached the inscriptions bearing the names of the countries whose citizens had been murdered there, he said, "I kneel before all the inscriptions bearing the memory of the victims in their languages. In particular, I pause before the inscription in Hebrew. This inscription awakens the memory of the people whose sons and daughters were intended for total extermination. It is not permissible for anyone to pass by this inscription with indifference."

The first time I met the Pope was in 1983 when I led aWiesenthalCentermission toEastern Europe. There, at a private audience at theVatican, I expressed my concerns about antisemitism and said, "We come here today hoping to hear from you, the beloved spiritual leader of 700 million Christians, a clear and unequivocal message to all that this scourge in all its manifestations violates the basic creed to which all men of faith must aspire."

Obviously, John Paul II understood that very well, but it is important to place in proper context the considerable obstacles that he had to overcome.

During the height of the Holocaust, when millions of Jews were being gassed, theVaticanfound the time to write letters opposing the creation of a Jewish State. OnMay 4, 1943,VaticanSecretary of State, Cardinal Magaloni, informed the British government of theVatican's opposition to a Jewish homeland inPalestine. One day later, theVaticanwas informed that of the four million Jews residing in pre-warPoland, only about 100,000 were still alive. Six weeks later, on June 22, 1943, the Vatican's apostolic delegate, Archbishop Cicognani wrote to then U.S. Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, again detailing its opposition to a Jewish homeland in Palestine and warning him that Catholics the world over would be aroused and saying, in part: "It is true that at one time Palestine was inhabited by the Hebrew race, but there is no axiom in history to substantiate the necessity of a people returning to a country they left nineteen centuries before...If a Hebrew home is desired, it would not be too difficult to find a more fitting territory than Palestine." To imagine then that 62 years later a Polish Pope would have redefinedVaticanthinking regarding the Jewish people is astounding.

Twenty years after our first meeting, onDecember 3, 2003, together with a small delegation of Center trustees, I returned to theVaticanfor another private audience, this time to present the Pope with theWiesenthalCenter's highest honor, our Humanitarian Award. On that occasion, I recapped his remarkable accomplishments, "As a youngster, you played goalie on the Jewish soccer team in 1937, concerned about the safety of Ginka Beer, a Jewish student on her way to Palestine, you personally escorted her to the railroad 1963, you were one of the major supporters of Nostra Aetate, the historic Vatican document which rejected the collective responsibility of the Jewish people for the 1986, you were the first Pope to ever visit a synagogue...the first to recognize the State of Israel...the first to issue a document that seeks forgiveness for members of the Church for wrongdoing committed against the Jewish people throughout history and to apologize for Catholics who failed to help Jews during the Nazi period...the first to visit a concentration camp and to institute an official observance of Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day at the Vatican."

I did not always agree with the Pope, especially when he nominated Pius XII for sainthood or when he met with then Austrian President Kurt Waldheim. But one thing is clear - in the two thousand year history of the papacy, no previous occupant of the throne of St. Peter has had such an interest in seeking reconciliation with the Jewish people.

With his passing, the world has lost a great moral leader and a righteous man and the Jewish people have lost its staunchest advocate in the history of the Church.

A photographic exhibit, "In Recognition of Goodness," a tribute to Pope John Paul II's lifelong friendship to the Jewish people, is currently on display at the Center'sMuseumofToleranceinLos Angeles.  For more information on the exhibit, phone 310 553-8403. 

Share this with your family and friends by forwarding this email.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Be afraid, be very afraid

We should all be very afraid right now. As you sit here reading this, another government agency is being turned over to the private sector. Privatization is occuring rapidly and haphazardly, so that potentiallt, before the end of the first decade of the 20th century, about eighty-five percent of government programs and services will be tainted with private sector management or distribution or both. Some people think privatization is making government services more efficient or serving people better than the government can, but that is not the case. Privatization is economically more attractive to the government and business, but it has nothing to do with making services or programs better for Americans. Privatizing government means our tax dollars are laundered into the private sector, while the government is able to take less responsiblity for the legislation congressmen and senators push through Congress to appease voters. Social services have been a basic component of the United States' way of doing things for a long time. Not always, but for a long time. We have a tradition of social service that isn't going to be reversed. voters don't demand the increase in service so that the government can pass along the work and responsibility and the private sector can make money. It shouldn't work like that. There is a new, artificial fine line between goernment and business, but it can easily be fixed and put back as thick as it has been in the past and should be today. The only way to stop the plague of privatization is to hold policymakers accountable for the programs we vote for and they pass the buck on. It takes more than a few people, it will take lots of people to accomplish. But think of it this way; At some point inyour life, now or fifty years from now, you will need the government for something. Do you want that government to treat you like an Enron employee?

Chaos at The Source

Check this out, it's from Jeff Chang's blog:

It's been another one of those weekends for The Source and people around it. Allegations of sexual, corporate, and rap violence have been flying.

On Friday, Benzino announced he was stepping down from The Source. It's Monday. Guess who's bizzack?

In the meantime, former Editor-In-Chief Kim Osorio appeared at the University of Chicago's Hip-Hop and Feminism conference on Saturday and gave a revealing, moving speech that stunned the crowd.

This morning, it was announced that she and a former vice president had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against their former magazine of employment. This comes against the backdrop of a massive exodus of staffers over the last several months.

To read about the latest chaos at The Source, go to:

Monday, April 11, 2005

A Lapsed Catholic’s Reflection on John Paul II

The day John Paul II died, I asked my husband what most stuck in his mind about this Pope, and his response was that he wasn’t Catholic, which I already knew. I thought that John Paul II’s visit to Mehmet Ali Agca, the man who tried to assassinate him in 1981, was remarkable. It was a concrete demonstration that one must forgive. I was upbeat about this Pope (thinking of him as the emissary of Vatican City, of course, not the infallible man of God). He was young, for a pope. He skied. He took on the Soviet Union’s domination of and the related miseries imposed on nations like Poland, and kicked some serious butt. But it turned out that he was a hard-line enforcer of traditional Church policy, which included rejection of birth control and ordination of women. For a man who dedicated his life to peace, alleviating poverty, and banishing a variety of inequities, this seemed an utter, heartbreaking contradiction. But then, being the Pope has always been about being a dictator of sorts, and indeed this man was a benevolent dictator, acting for the ultimate Dictator. For a man who was not trying to win a popularity contest, he did a darned good job of it. The adulation that his death summoned actually caused local officials to say, Please don’t come here, because Rome is closed.
I was up late Thursday night watching a portion of John Paul II’s funeral which ran three hours. I opted for the midnight to 1:30 shift, and then lapsed into my bed. I watched as the heads of state emerged from St. Peter’s Bascillica and the Pope’s cypress coffin was brought outside to lie before the temporary alter on the Bascillica steps. I made a decision when I was 15 years old to bag the Catholic Church for cause, but I wanted to watch the funeral because I understood that this was one of those momentary lulls in history when the world gets to take a breather before we go back to beating the crap out of each other.
Along with so very many others, I was raised a Catholic, which means that you got enough until you’d had enough. Since there were 6 kids in my family, my parents could afford to pay for a complete Catholic education for only the first two. The rest of us escaped with catechism classes, so that we could learn the vital basics of our religion and enough about strict nuns to be able to participate in jokes later in life. Even with spotty training I will always have an emotional struggle between the Catholic Church as a place of tangible, deep, rich beauty, of music, art, and learning, of the friendly smell of burning candles, and the Catholic Church of immutable positions, which defy its obligation to be kind, and generous, and even logical.
When the man born Karol Josef Wojtyl died on April 2, after nearly 27 years as the emissary of God to the Catholic Church, he showed the world what it should know about life and death. You do the job you’re given, and when you’re done, you’re done. He kept himself together and kept working while dealing with Parkinson’s disease—a disease that traps a good mind in a bad body. He did not abdicate his position and its burdens. My mother asked me the week before he died if I thought the Pope should abdicate, and her question surprised me. Catholics are taught that the Pope is infallible, so is infallibility something you can loose or hand over? Would he have become fallible and un-chosen? It made no sense that a strong man of deep conviction would step down, but it turns out that he had considered resigning in 2000, after marking the beginning of Christianity’s third millennium.
You don’t get converts and retain the faithful without publicity. John Paul II loved the spotlight, and he understood the importance of as many people as possible seeing him on his energetic world tours, plying the Church’s teachings. He allowed modern technology to fill the need of believers to hold something solid, a big-time Catholic tradition that goes from fun (patron saint devotional candles for $ 1.50 at the grocery store) to very creepy (pieces of dead folks), so he actually specified that people would be allowed to take pictures of him when they viewed his body—digital cameras, camera phones, etc. When I heard that I flashed on absurd images of people taking pictures of themselves with his body, but apparently it meant that they could take pictures of him as he lay in the Bascillica.
Representatives of over 80 counties attended the funeral, and I’m sitting on my couch in the throes of some sort of weirdo pride, saying, “Yeah, see who the big guy is now!” And what’s the big damned deal? It’s not his position, of course, but his power: a billion followers not constrained by language, politics, or geography. Influence like that is a very dangerous thing, and the various Dignitaries in Black weren’t stupid. This extends even to Bush, who was wise enough not to send Cheney in his stead, since Cheney’s last international showing was at the Auschwitz-Birkenau commemoration ceremony in January, and he showed up looking like a sullen high schooler in a hooded jacket and a baseball cap. Mrs. Bush wore the obligatory mantilla on her head, but demonstrated a breach of protocol by wearing a black skirt cut above her knees.
By day number four my husband was getting irritated, because he was getting “poped” out. He asked me if I thought the Catholic Church had done either more harm or good. After I clarified that he meant over its entire history, I definitely said that it had done more harm. The Crusades, the Inquisition, the ruin of counties and races because they were not Christians, on and on. At least the gold decorating those fabulous cathedral interiors had the blood burned off of it before it was used. Whatever solace the Church offers to the individual has been bought over history with savagery and greed. The Reformation was nothing less than what the Church deserved. John Paul II inherited both certain ancient laws and modern edicts, and he was their interpreter and enforcer without apology. Still, I will always see him with that friendly face.
So you wonder who’s next, and how much light or misery will come. Or maybe you could care less. During John Paul II’s reign I finally got around to getting a bible. About five years ago I took one from a hotel in Sacramento, then I lost it, and my dad replaced it with an edition with an index and footnotes. I figured, what the hell, the damned thing is the foundation of much of western civilization And I really needed one for my reference library.

the geisha-fication of gwen's girls

there's a really good article in salon about Gwen Stefani's new trinkets -- the 4 'harujuku girls' that tag along with her and appear in all the videos for her new album 'love. angel. music. baby.' if you haven't seen them, gwen's hired 4 japanese girls (possibly some or all japanese-american) for her videos and performances/appearances, giggling and posing behind her -- they are required by contract to only speak japanese on the job, and they're each named 'love' 'angel' 'music', and 'baby'... how precious! kind of like the spice girls. when i first saw her appear on some awards show with these girls tagging along, the whole thing felt less like a tribute to harujuku and more like another reason for westerners to fetishize asian women. the author writes:

Stefani fawns over harajuku style in her lyrics, but her appropriation of this subculture makes about as much sense as the Gap selling Anarchy T-shirts; she's swallowed a subversive youth culture in Japan and barfed up another image of submissive giggling Asian women. While aping a style that's suppose to be about individuality and personal expression, Stefani ends up being the only one who stands out. ... [her] big kiss to the East ends up feeling more like a big Pacific Rim job.


more at (non-members need to watch an ad to view the article)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Flags fly low for Pope

A friend called today to rant about the U.S. flag being flown at half -mast this week. She began her life as a catholic schoolgirl and then converted in her late teens. But she was seething.

At first I thought about how I barely pay attention to the news related to the Pope's death (there so much it's a tricky act). But then I realized, yet again, civil liberties were in question. Why in a country filled with people from all backgrounds; religious, ethnic, racial, economic, geographic and geopolitical to name a few, should we bring our flag down in honor of the church? When other leaders die (or as we now politely say, pass) should we bring the flag to half -mast or is this again a power-laden sign from the Prez and the Governator? Fire the teachers and praise the lord.

Will this commandeering of authority be considered the first in a series of laws based on "action speaks louder than words"? What precedents are set up and what acquiescence of rights are we agreeing to by letting this go unnoticed? Isn't there a separation of church and state? But above all else I wonder, when will fly our flags at half-mast for those who have died on both sides of the war in Iraq, among all the other nameless and faceless whose lives we undervalue with regularity.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

It takes a dictator to Privatize Social Security.

NPR : Examining Private-Account Pensions in Chile
Click on the link and listen to the story. Chile has had private-account-style social security for 20 years, and it's pretty successful. How'd they do it? Pinochet, the murderous dictator that the US supported, slashed spending to make it work, and you can bet he didn't cut back on the military. The radio story also compares social security programs in many nations, particularly in Latin America. The number one factor leading to a successful system: Fiscal solvency of the government as a whole.

Bush could take a lesson here. When he tells us the social security trust fund is just a bunch of paper IOU's, he's telling the world he has no confidence in the US economy (or more precisely, the US government's finances). US Treasury bonds are widely regarded as one of the most secure investments there is. And Bush tells us we're in danger because that is "all" we have in the trust fund? When what we need is solvency, he spends irresponsibly and stirs up needless fear that our government is not solvent. Great. Just great.


From the Washington Post:

Counsel to GOP Senator Wrote Memo On Schiavo

By Mike Allen

The legal counsel to Sen. Mel Martinez (R-Fla.) admitted yesterday that he was the author of a memo citing the political advantage to Republicans of intervening in the case of Terri Schiavo, the senator said in an interview last night.

Brian H. Darling, 39, a former lobbyist for the Alexander Strategy Group on gun rights and other issues, offered his resignation and it was immediately accepted, Martinez said.

Martinez, the GOP's Senate point man on the issue, said he earlier had been assured by aides that his office had nothing to do with producing the memo. "I never did an investigation, as such," he said. "I just took it for granted that we wouldn't be that stupid. It was never my intention to in any way politicize this issue."

Martinez, a freshman who was secretary of housing and urban development for most of President Bush's first term, said he had not read the one-page memo. He said he inadvertently passed it to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who had worked with him on the issue. After that, officials gave the memo to reporters for ABC News and The Washington Post.

Harkin said in an interview that Martinez handed him the memo on the Senate floor, in hopes of gaining his support for the bill giving federal courts jurisdiction in the Florida case in an effort to restore the brain-damaged Florida woman's feeding tube. "He said these were talking points -- something that we're working on here," Harkin said.

The mystery of the memo's origin had roiled the Capitol, with Republicans accusing Democrats of concocting the document as a dirty trick, and Democrats accusing Republicans of trying to duck responsibility for exploiting the dying days of an incapacitated woman.

Conservative Web logs have challenged the authenticity of the memo, in some cases likening it to the discredited documents about Bush's National Guard service that CBS News reported last fall.

The staff of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, at the request of a Democrat, spent a week trying to determine the memo's origin and had come up empty, said an official involved in the investigation.

The unsigned memo -- which initially misspells Schiavo's first name and gives the wrong number for the pending bill -- includes eight talking points in support of the legislation and calls the controversy "a great political issue."

"This legislation ensures that individuals like Terri Schiavo are guaranteed the same legal protections as convicted murderers like Ted Bundy," the memo concludes.

It asserts that the case would appeal to the party's core supporters, saying: "This is an important moral issue and the pro-life base will be excited that the Senate is debating this important issue."

The document was provided to ABC News on March 18 and to The Post on March 19 and was included in news reports about congressional intervention in the Schiavo case. Bush returned from an Easter vacation in Texas and signed the bill shortly after 1 a.m. on March 21.

At the time, other Senate Republican aides claimed to be familiar with the memo but declined to discuss it on the record and gave no information about its origin.

In a statement issued last night, Martinez said that Harkin asked him for background information on the bill and that he gave him what he thought was a routine one-page staff memo on the legislation. "Unbeknownst to me, instead of my one page on the bill, I had given him a copy of the now infamous memo that at some point along the way came into my possession," the statement said.

Harkin said that when he read the part about the politics of the case he thought that was "rather out of line," but he said he did not discuss the matter with Martinez. Harkin said he has no complaints about Martinez.

"I really worked in good faith with Senator Martinez on this issue and I found him to be a decent, caring person to work with on this, and so I have a lot of respect for him," he said.

Martinez said Harkin called him about 5 p.m. yesterday and told him that the memo had come from his office. Martinez said he then called in his senior staff and said, "Something is wrong here." He said that Darling later confessed to John Little, Martinez's chief of staff, and that he said he did not think he had ever printed the memo.

"It was intended to be a working draft," Martinez said. "He doesn't really know how I got it."

Reached by telephone last night, Darling said it would not be appropriate for him to discuss the matter at this time.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), a member of the Rules and Administration Committee, wrote to the panel's leaders last week to ask for an investigation into the "document, its source, and how it came to be distributed."

"Those who would attempt to influence debate in the United States Senate should not hide behind anonymous pieces of paper," he said.

A Republican Senate official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he is not a committee spokesman, said yesterday that an informal inquiry began almost immediately and is likely to be concluded within a week.

Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in an interview Friday that he considered it "ludicrous" to suggest that his party created the document and said Republicans were using such talk to divert responsibility.

"I guess the best defense is a good offense -- that's their theory," he said.

In interviews at the Capitol yesterday, senators from both sides said they found the case perplexing, and a sign of the intense partisanship that permeates the building. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) said that the torrent of accusations reflects the bitterness over the life-and-death issues in the Schiavo case, which he said were a proxy on both sides for what provokes "every other ugly political conversation -- that's abortion."

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said he believed that the memo originated with the GOP because it is "totally consistent" with how the Republicans have operated for the past four years. "They just shouldn't lose their memos," he said.

Same Sex Civil Unions

The Connecticut state senate just approve same-sex civil unions...

Check out the article.

What's interesting is the fact that a majority of people in a poll approve of civil unions, while a majority are opposed to gay marriage. It's all about the wording.

- Jean Chen

Saturday, April 02, 2005

Tragedy at Red Lake; why is it only in small print?

The tragedy at Red Lake High School has gotten little coverage and yet it is no less of crisis than the natural attrocities facing Indonesia nor the killings at Columbine. We have short-term memory loss and the mainstream media depends on it. Only the fact that one of the conspirators in this horrific occurence was related to the tribal leader draws any attention. And yet many lives were lost, an entire community was emotionally disemboweled; still we grieve loudly for the pope and Ms. Shiavo, when so many more need our help.

The shooting deaths of students at the school at Red Lake Indian Reservation shatter our collective souls. Again we are reminded of how tentative life is, how close we are to not being able to open a door ahead and continue on. The tragedy at Red Lake High School has gotten little coverage and yet it is no less of a tragedy than the natural atrocities facing neither Indonesia nor the killings at Columbine. We have short-term memory loss and the mainstream media depends on it. Only the fact that one of the conspirators in this horrific occurrence was related to the tribal leader draws any attention. And yet many lives were lost, an entire community was emotionally disemboweled; still we grieve loudly for the pope and Ms. Shiavo, when so many more need our help.

Following are two takes on the event at Red Lake, one from the NY Times and another from the University Wire during the week of March 28th. After you read them, and are so inclined, there is a list of donation resources for those that are left. To nurture their families and dispel the enormously sad specter of a world gone mad, a child killing his family, peers and then himself. It is like the Sex Pistols warned, "No Future"! I certainly hope this is just a lyric.

So the arrest over the weekend of Floyd Jourdain's 16-year-old son, Louis, in connection with the shootings last week at and near Red Lake High School that left 10 people dead, is not just another blow to a wounded community, tribe members said.

What had been a path of loss and grief over the actions of one troubled young man has become more complex with the suggestion that a member of a family that has been central to the community might have shared the same violent thoughts.

"It seems like this has gone from bad to worse," said Eileen Sumner, 46, who works at Red Lake Hospital, as she stood beside a memorial to those killed. Her daughter Katie, 20, said that what had stunned everyone was that Louis Jourdain seemed to have such a positive family.

"If this kid could be in this kind of trouble," she said, "anybody's kid could be in trouble."

Floyd Jourdain, who as tribal leader led the mourning last week, was compelled as a father on Tuesday to defend his son, who government officials say was intimately involved in planning the attack, although the police say it was also clear that the gunman, Jeff Weise, acted alone.

an oped piece on the u wire states:Red lake(U-WIRE) LINCOLN, Neb. -- Funeral ceremonies for the victims of last Monday's school shooting on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in
Minnesota began this weekend with friends, family and an entire community in
remembering the 10 people who died.

On March 21, Jeff Weise, 16, killed his grandfather and his
grandfather's longtime companion, before proceeding to the school, where five
students, a schoolteacher and security officer were shot, before the teen killed

While the nation, and especially the media, openly questioned that
day's unfolding, the reservation community has been reluctant to do so.

The Associated Press reported: "It simply is not their way. For much of
the week, they slammed the door of their reservation to the prying eyes of
television cameras and reporters who wanted to know why . . ."

As the story hit the presses, more community members came forward
testifying to Weise's mystifying and depressive behavior. Stories explained
Internet sites where Weise detailed his views about himself, his depression, his
fading hope in the world and the "nightmare" of a reservation he called
home, his entire life.

The AP, in an article over the weekend, cited a Minnesota survey
stating, "Red Lake students said they assaulted other classmates and used more
alcohol and drugs than other students across the state."

Other figures reported on life for American Indian teenagers - they
"commit suicide at three times the national rate," are "involved in
alcohol-related arrests twice the national average" and "die in alcohol-related
incidents at 17 times the national average."

The majority of articles about yet another school shooting have
targeted life on the reservation, but few articles are commenting on the
alarming facts of violence in American school culture.

The focus shouldn't be on violence of teens on American Indian
reservations or the disparaging and emotionally charged story of another high school

Many researchers are studying youth violence and aggression. In the
University of Nebraska-Lincoln's youth violence and aggression lecture
series, internationally known researchers such as William Pollock and
Susan Limber, and the upcoming Andy Horne and Nicki Crick, have presented
their research nationwide.

But it seems America isn't listening, or is failing to target a
solution, to this seemingly American phenomenon of violence. Our question is: Why

With each yearly figure reported on violence in America, and each story
about a school shooting that questioned the school or region, why isn't
the nation examining the source of this violence in detail?

Before the Red Lake tragedy fades to a news brief blip on the press
wires, it would behoove all Americans to take a hard, long look on public
school culture.

The nation's children have more to say about their learning
environments than can be captured by large-scale test results. And perhaps school
shootings like Columbine and Red Lake are more than just the horrific
actions of individuals. Perhaps they are symptoms - proof that the
collective we call America is letting its children down.

**Support the Red Lake High School Community**
Here is a short list of organizations collecting donations to help the
people of Red Lake.

General Donations:
Red Lake Nation Memorial Fund
P.O. Box 574
Red Lake, MN 56671

Red Lake School Tragedy Assistance Fund
St. Philip's Catholic Church
702 Beltrami Ave., NW
Bemidji, MN 56601

Food and Fuel:
Gasoline cards ($25 recommended) and grocery gift certificates for
family traveling back to the reservation.
Red Lake Urban Office
Franklin Business Center
1433 E. Franklin Ave., Suite 13A
Minneapolis, MN 55404

Funeral Expenses:
Victim's Families of Red Lake Memorial Fund
First National Bank, Bemidji
P.O. Box 670
Bemidji, MN 56619