August 2009 News
August 28, 2009
As [Attorney General Eric] Holder left an appropriations subcommittee hearing on April 23rd I spoke up loudly from the third row: “We need a special prosecutor for torture, Mr. Attorney General. Americans like the rule of law. The rule of law for everybody.”
He replied as he approached me and walked by, surrounded by body guards, “And you will be proud of your government.”
I was joined by others in replying simultaneously, “Yes, we want to be proud of our government. We’re ready. No need to wait.”
Four months later, last Monday, Holder appointed a special prosecutor, but only for particular incidents of torture and with this important, and illegal, limitation announced by Holder: “[T]he Department of Justice will not prosecute anyone who acted in good faith and within the scope of the legal guidance given by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) regarding the interrogation of detainees.” — from David Swanson’s “Holder’s Bad Applism and Our Own”
August 27, 2009
The training wheels come off in Douglas A. Martin’s latest novel, Once You Go Back, a coming-of-age tale that pedals through the trappings of childhood and adolescence with grace, despite rocky subject matter. From the outset, the book’s narrator asks the reader to “pretend you are my sister.” This begins as an innocent game, but the stakes grow higher as this boy and his sister are estranged from their abusive veteran father, displaced from their first home and left to struggle with their single mother in a not-so-imaginary world of making ends meet, making new friends and navigating developing sexualities in a repressed Southern community. In asking his readership to participate, Martin transforms what would otherwise be a hermetic first-person recollection, positioning his story as a shared experience. — from Meghan Roe’s review of Once You Go Back
August 26, 2009
David Swanson, author of Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, has issued the following challenge to anyone attending one of the many stops on his book tour:
I will publicly debate any worthy participant who is willing to argue the negative on the following resolution: “George W. Bush should be prosecuted for war crimes.” This challenge is subject to scheduling restrictions and the preferences of local organizers already arranging for me to speak about my book. Radio debates by telephone are also possible.
August 26, 2009
In this new piece, Ms. Greer refers to transwomen—me and my brave sisters and mothers and daughters—as “ghastly parodies” of women. . . . Yes, yes. Ouch. It hurts to be called a ghastly parody. And that kind of talk feeds transphobia across the world. So, shame on The Guardian for printing these hateful words. But who is Ms. Greer to be hurling these invectives, and why? Greer is no one to dismiss as an idiot or complete jerk. . . . Germaine Greer’s tragedy is that she has not considered as even possible the theory of gender fluidity. For her kind of activism to work, MAN and WOMAN can and must be essential as well as easy to tell apart from each other. . . . Ms. Greer is claiming that biology is, in fact destiny. — from Kate Bornstein’s “Has Germaine Greer Become A Ghastly Parody?”, written in response to this Guardian piece by Greer
August 25, 2009
“He was shaving when the president called,” Margaret McNamara said, letting me and
my Times photo gear into their Birmingham, Michigan, livingroom.
“We were drinking Martinis. Do you want one while you’re setting up?
I know you met him at Ford in 1953. He loves the book you did and your
picture of him in Fortune. That’s why he took your call. You said the magic
word — Ford.” Sitting next to the warm fluttering lady whose life was about
to transfer to Washington forever (to do much for needy children, as it turned out) I
sweated cold for no discernible reason. I mindlessly thought the arcane word: doom.
I would be right, eventually, because this precise moment in this precise man’s precise
life, far from anything I’d precisely learned going to war instead of college
would be the infant step leading to McNamara’s ultimate march of 56,000 kids like yours and
mine to death. So much for taking violent evasive action based on prescient knowledge. . .
— from Art Shay’s Snapshot of a Strange (Love?) Before His Time, at swans.com
August 12, 2009
. . . Though it doesn’t overtly state it, As The World Burns, at its core, is a lesson in anarchist philosophy, implying that the Earth would be better off without a government beholden to an industrial economy. Initially, the graphic novel’s underlying message may seem heavy-handed and preachy, but the writing is so acutely entertaining that the message doesn’t feel force-fed. Despite all the dark humor and doom-and-gloom, the book actually ends on a hopeful note. Plus, the drawings are so darn cute. — Broward/Palm Beach New Times
August 11, 2009
World leaders have reacted with anger and disappointment at the conviction of Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi for violating security laws. The UN called for her immediate release after she was sentenced to a further 18 months of house arrest – where she has spent 14 of the past 20 years. — BBC News
10,000 Dresses promoted by Massachusetts Family Institute, plus a call to action on the “Bathroom Bill”
August 11, 2009
The Massachusetts Family Institute: on the one hand, providing excellent free publicity for Marcus Ewert and Rex Ray’s 10,000 Dresses, on the other, fighting against extending hate crime protections to transgendered people in Massachusetts. To read more about the issue — and to find out how to take action — read within.
August 5, 2009
This intimately funny and desperately sad novel opens with a parade of visitors to Ilya Ilich Oblomov’s Petersburg flat. Most of them are introduced, in this new translation, by the phrase “in walked”, which creates a wonderful sense of flatness, repetition and invasion. All but one of the visitors are busy in some way or other, full of talk of the world, parties, work, the latest literary news. . . The very descriptions of these people make us tired, setting us up for a largely (although not entirely) disreputable identification with the book’s slothful hero. . . Oblomov is not exactly a person, and this is only partly a psychological novel. . . the story of his non-life and real death, his long kindness to himself, is really the story of a series of stances and occasions, human possibilities squandered and slept through. . . The writing here. . . offers a fine example of sly and compassionate satire, a very rare genre indeed. — Michael Wood, London Review of Books
August 5, 2009
Already a best seller in Arabic (and published pseudonymously), this Saudi novel, in which a closeted lesbian Shia girl feverishly narrates her struggles and affairs, offers a rare personal glimpse into the repressive kingdom. — New York Magazine