Monday, October 03, 2005

Iraq and The Third Estate Sunday News Review

Here's my section from The Third Estate Sunday Review's news review. We're trying to make sure people know about the news review because it's a feature that Dona came up with and it's proved to be pretty popular. If someone's new, The Third Estate Sunday Review only publishes on Sunday. They're an online magazine. They were the second blog to spin off from The Common Ills. And C.I.'s a member of The Third Estate Sunday Review now. At first, it was just "I help out" but C.I. always helps out and C.I. and Ava do the TV reviews there so C.I. really is a part of it.

A lot of us help out. I help out when I can and I never get to make it to the end because I've always got to get to bed for church. They do this on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings and it's always an all nighter. So I usually bail half way through. But I'm glad to help out in my own little bit. I think, if nothing else, it helps to have one more African-American voice. Betty of Thomas Friedman Is a Good Man helps out and Ty is a member of The Third Estate Sunday Review.

The news review is done like it's a radio or TV show. C.I. is anchor (and hates being anchor) and Dona and Jim are going around making sure everybody's got enough material and helping edit if time is short. They're really the producers. All of us doing reports know what we're going to say basically. C.I. has no clue what we're doing until right before when someone's finishing and Dona will whisper over the phone "Okay, Cedric's coming up and he's going to discuss Dahr's latest article on Iraq" and then C.I. will do the introduction and we'll do our report and C.I. may stop you in the middle to ask a question.

The reason for the news review is that it can take a little over an hour. We start at 15 minutes before and then once we start Dona's watching the time and she and Jim will say, "We're long, you'll need to lose a minute" or something similar. They stick to the hour because the whole point of Dona figuring out a new feature was to try to find something we could do that wouldn't take all night. By doing the news review like it is a radio or TV program, we're confined to the hour and that's it. At the end of the hour, it's over. If C.I.'s asking questions, sometimes it's because Dona's just whispered, "We're not ready, stretch." It's fun but I know C.I. would rather do a report and thinks it's just sitting there asking questions. I disagree because you need a strong anchor who has knowledge and if you read the thing and watch for the questions and realize that Dona's just said "stretch" and C.I. has to think "What do I ask or what do I say?"
you realize that you really need someone like that who can think on their feet.

My friends at the nursing home asked me yesterday about how we did this feature and when I got done explaining, they said I should just do a post about it.

They were wondering if we were assigned topics. That doesn't happen. Jess's parents are looking at stuff in the 15 minutes before, looking all over the web, and they'll tell us some topics and if we're interested in one of those, we can grab it. Most of the time, people have an idea of what they want. It might be a topic Jess's parents found or it might be something else. After we pick our topic, we tell Dona and Jim and they may ask, "Why do you think this is important?" After you explain why, they say, "Make sure you're making that point in your report." Kat always closes because she's really good at cutting. So if there's only 2 minutes or if there's 5 minutes, Kat can get up there and wing it. She doesn't even have to time her stuff. She asks Dona to tell her when there's 1 minute left and that's really all she needs.

I think it lets everyone bring something they're interested in to the table.

So once C.I. says "Welcome to The Third Estate Sunday Review News Review," the clock is ticking and everyone's rushing around. The person who's ready in the 15 minutes prior goes first and while that's going on the rest of us are working on our reports and Jim and Dona are checking and seeing if you need help finding stuff and Jess's parents are looking for your topic so it's a real group effort on research. Then it's up to you to figure out what to use and how to say it.

It's better to go early because you can do your full report. If you don't go early, you may get cut. So everyone tries to finish as quickly as possible. But sometimes it's hard to finish early and that's when you end closer to the end. Ava's usually ready early but she waits because she can do the edits easy if we're running short on time.

So that's the process and the story behind it. Now here's my section of the news review:

C.I.: Thank you, Elaine. Still on Iraq, we go to Cedric of Cedric's Big Mix. Cedric, you're focusing on Dahr Jamail, correct?
Cedric: Yes, on Dahr Jamail's most recent article,"Securitizing the Global Norm of Identity: Biometric Technologies in Domestic and Foreign Policy." Elaine just got finished discussing the latest torture revelations and noting how the techniques migrated from Latin America to Iraq.Dahr Jamail, unlike Dexter Filkins of The New York Times, has never shied from discussing realities in Falluja. The "pacification" techniques used in Falluja. As Elaine noted while we researching, the Falluja reporting also depended upon the mainstream accepting military statements as fact and refusing to give voice to the people of Falluja. Jamail writes:

Out of these ruins, occupation forces argued they were erecting a 'model
city', replete with a high-tech security infrastructure centered on biometric
identification strategies to manage returning citizens. Returnees are
fingerprinted, retina scanned, and issued a mandatory identity badge displaying
the individual's home address and collected biometric data.

Cedric (con't): People should be aware of this. They should question whether it's an "American" thing to do in order to "build democracy" and they should ask themselves how they'll respond when the technique migrate back to the United States with calls for a national i.d. card.
C.I.: Cedric, some may hear "biometric" and think, "What is that?" Retinal scans in the film The Minority Report may help illustrate but could you give some more examples.
Cedric: Certainly. Jamail goes into this and explains "the body as passport." Some examples of biometrics include facial scans, iris scans, digitized finger prints and things such as body heat emitting from the face. As Jamil points out, the debate over national security leads to some advocate similar tactics in this country.
C.I.: You mentioned the national i.d. card which would be hard to implement for a number of reasons, among which is the GOP's long so-called support of 'state rights'; however, the way around that has been to require that states develop their own i.d.s and do so under general guidelines. What are your thoughts there?
Cedric: As an African-American male, I worry that digitized cards will be one more technique to disqualify African-Americans. For instance, you go to vote, "Woops, your card doesn't read, you can't vote." The disenfranchisement in the last two presidential elections is enough to cause me to worry whenever a Republican controlled Congress wants to "help" America because some people get helped and some people get hurt and, from my viewpoint, it's the powerless that get hurt and a few years after the fact, the mainstream press can note that in passing while remaining silent in real time. I think you see that in the "pacified" areas in Iraq which result not in safety but in people losing homes and ending up living in tents as evacuees.
C.I.: Thank you, Cedric. With other updates from Iraq as the constitutional referendum approaches, we go to Mike of Mikey Likes It!


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