Thursday, July 10, 2008

marry me!

American Life in Poetry: Column 172


I don't often talk about poetic forms in this column, thinking that most of my
readers aren't interested in how the clock works and would rather be given the time.
But the following poem by Veronica Patterson of Colorado has a subtitle referring to
a form, the senryu, and I thought it might be helpful to mention that the senryu is
a Japanese form similar to haiku but dealing with people rather than nature. There;
enough said. Now you can forget the form and enjoy the poem, which is a beautiful
sketch of a marriage.

Marry Me

a senryu sequence

when I come late to bed
I move your leg flung over my side--
that warm gate

nights you're not here
I inch toward the middle
of this boat, balancing

when I turn over in sleep
you turn, I turn, you turn,
I turn, you

some nights you tug the edge
of my pillow under your cheek,
look in my dream

pulling the white sheet
over your bare shoulder
I marry you again

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation
(, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by
the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c)
2000 by Veronica Patterson, whose most recent book of poetry is "This Is the Strange
Part," Pudding House Publications, 2002. Poem reprinted from "Swan, What Shores?"
New York University Press, 2000, by permission of Veronica Patterson and New York
University Press. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The
introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant
in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited

Sunday, July 06, 2008

He came right over their pea field

An Oregon man flew 200 miles in his lawn chair Saturday.  He used helium for lift, Kool-Aid for ballast, and a bb-gun to pop the party balloons when he wanted to land, according to the AP.  

lawn chair guy

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

if we go to shantou

i talked today with david about bringing the candles I light 
for jane and ed to china. to help my mother find me there.

david said i should if i want. and that my mother
always finds us.

i didn't ask david about hal, but candle or no, he's in.

Monday, June 23, 2008


Why do they lock gas station bathrooms? he once mused.  Are they afraid someone will clean them?

from the AP

Sunday, June 22, 2008

beauty secrets

primer!   what am i doing!  Hope had to redo her make-up because she forgot the primer.  but before the primer comes moisturizer that has to sit the right amount of time.    she redid her face till pleased.

what does she think of mom?  my eyes were hit with a smudge of liner and tappity tapped with concealer, lips glossed.   in  my new finds from Loehmann's; bright orange sandals, dark amber michelle obama-type bead necklace, skimpy black short-sleeve jersey over my red tanktop.

you look great, mom.  it's great when you can wear everything you buy together.

impressed when arriving home at 4AM, she and alberto found us still up.  you're so cool.  for parents.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


harvest of pride: a
cherry tomato! will you
eat yours all at once?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

you look good for your age

is not a compliment.
It's like saying: you don't sweat much, for a fat person.

I was walking down U street and a young man smiled at me. His smile got bigger as he came closer, and then he gushed, "Hi!"

"Hi!" I said, wondering what made him flash me that smile (I was not wearing my goofy hat or my Chinese jacket that always make everyone smile).

"Hi!" said the young woman one step behind me.

I didn't turn to see whether she looked good.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

father's day

i don't do anything because i don't have a father, said Emma.

me neither, I guess.

Emma rang. Happy Father's Day, she told me. You want to talk with David? No Mom, she said, I'm calling to wish you a happy father's day.

Thankyou Emma.

I lit Ed's candle. Then I lit Hal's.


no matter how many times i try to reinvent myself, the old original keeps coming back.

there are no 60-year old cameramen. there's a reason for that.

ice cream truck, w espresso machine?

video trainer?

graduate student, bioethics?

crazy lady in tank top, walking a dog?

write a novel about Duncan Blitz?

i give these pursuits serious thought, or cloud thought.

then the phone rings.

i'm not 60 yet.

Friday, June 13, 2008

squirrel on skis? this is better!

June 13, 2008
Spider monkey uses garden hose to flee Indiana zoo

Filed at 2:36 p.m. ET

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (AP) -- A spider monkey used a garden hose to scale the wall of a moat at a Michigan City zoo before being captured at a nearby boat dealership.

One of two spider monkeys recently added to the Washington Park Zoo broke out of its enclosure this week while workers were cleaning the moat, which had been emptied of water.

Zoo Director Johnny Martinez said workers had figured the monkeys would remain inside their enclosure during the cleaning despite the lack of water in the moat to act as a barricade.

Once past the moat Wednesday, the escaped monkey jumped onto the roof of a water filtration plant. Martinez says zoo staff recaptured it at the dealership atop a white and blue speedboat.

Martinez said the monkey is sociable and posed no danger to people.


Information from: The News-Dispatch,

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press
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Thursday, June 05, 2008


“We pledged to support her to the end,” Representative Charles B. Rangel,
a New York Democrat who has been a patron of Mrs. Clinton since she first
ran for the Senate, said in an interview. “Our problem is not being able
to determine when the hell the end is.”

Thursday, May 29, 2008

American Life in Poetry: Column 166

Texas poet R. S. Gwynn is a master of the light touch. Here he picks up on Gerard Manley Hopkins' sonnet "Pied Beauty," which many of you will remember from school, and offers us a picnic instead of a sermon. I hope you enjoy the feast!

Fried Beauty

Glory be to God for breaded things--
Catfish, steak finger, pork chop, chicken thigh,
Sliced green tomatoes, pots full to the brim
With french fries, fritters, life-float onion rings,
Hushpuppies, okra golden to the eye,
That in all oils, corn or canola, swim

Toward mastication's maw (O molared mouth!);
Whatever browns, is dumped to drain and dry
On paper towels' sleek translucent scrim,
These greasy, battered bounties of the South:
Eat them.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2005 by R. S. Gwynn, whose most recent book of poetry is "No Word of Farewell: Poems 1970-2000," Story Line Press, 2001. Poem reprinted from "Light: A Quarterly of Light Verse," No. 50, Autumn, 2005, by permission of R. S. Gwynn. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Al Jazeera English Tries to Extend Its Reach

May 19, 2008

Al Jazeera English Tries to Extend Its Reach

PARIS — The English-language offshoot of Al Jazeera, the Arabic television news network, is pushing for a “breakthrough” that would make the channel available to American TV viewers and help it move beyond a turbulent start-up phase, according to its new managing director, Tony Burman.

The hiring of Mr. Burman, a former editor in chief of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Canadian public broadcaster, was announced last week.

Al Jazeera English’s first year and a half has been marked by intense scrutiny of its coverage and by the recent defection of several high-profile Western journalists who had been recruited to lend credibility to the channel.

Al Jazeera English, which is part of the Al Jazeera Network, based in Qatar, also announced distribution agreements last week in markets as far-flung as Portugal, Ukraine and Vietnam, increasing its potential audience to 110 million homes. Conspicuously absent, however, was the United States, where Al Jazeera is still largely unavailable on television. Viewers can watch it on the Web through a deal with YouTube, the online video service.

In the United States, a market of 300 million people and hundreds of pay-television services, “the idea that certain channels would effectively be banned is medieval,” Mr. Burman said.

Al Jazeera English is not actually banned, but the reputation of its Arabic sibling as the preferred outlet for videos from Osama bin Laden has made the English-language version too hot to handle for some cable operators. A lack of space on crowded cable systems has also made it difficult for operators to offer Al Jazeera English.

In an effort to make Al Jazeera English more appealing to American operators and audiences, Mr. Burman said he planned to increase coverage of American news, particularly as the presidential election approaches. Mr. Burman said Al Jazeera also planned to invest in new bureaus; it already shares more than 60 bureaus with its Arabic sister organization. And the channel plans “more provocative” current affairs programming and investigative journalism, he said.

“Our goal is to go in the opposite direction to so many other news organizations which are, sadly, cutting back on their coverage of the world,” said Mr. Burman, who left the CBC last year.

In an effort to control costs, he said, there will be more collaboration between the Arabic and English services, with news crews sharing equipment, for example. Mr. Burman insisted that the channels would still be able to keep separate identities.

“The reality is that Al Jazeera and Al Jazeera English are two different channels that cater to different audiences,” he said.

Some critics say, however, that the tone of Al Jazeera English has been shifting away from the neutral, international approach it initially took. David Marash, an American journalist who left the channel in March, said at the time he saw signs of anti-Americanism creeping into the coverage as more of it was directed from Doha, Qatar, rather than its other news hubs, in Washington, London and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Mr. Marash, a former correspondent on the ABC News program “Nightline” who served as an anchor on Al Jazeera English, quit in March, one of a handful of big names to have left recently.

Some of the departures have resulted in disputes. Jo Burgin, a former head of planning at the channel, has sued Al Jazeera English in London, contending that she was a victim of discrimination because she is white, Christian and a woman. Her husband, Steve Clark, the former head of news at the channel, left in March.

“You’ve got to keep it in perspective,” Mr. Burman said. “After a few years, it’s inevitable that some people move on. I don’t think three or four months from now we’ll look back and say there was a morale problem.”

As managing director, Mr. Burman succeeded Nigel Parsons, a former BBC executive; Mr. Parsons has been named managing director for business acquisition and development.

With so many prominent Western journalists and broadcast executives in leading roles — other big catches were David Frost and Rageh Omaar, a former BBC correspondent — Al Jazeera initially modeled itself on news broadcasts like those from BBC World and CNN International.

Some cable channels in the United States were disappointed that it wasn’t hanging people or torturing people, said a former executive, Paul Gibbs, who served as the first director of programs at Al Jazeera English, but left before it began broadcasting.

One cable company, he said, complained about Al Jazeera English: “If it looks like the BBC, why should we add it?”

BBC World, the BBC’s round-the-clock news channel, is also largely unavailable in the United States.

Because Al Jazeera English reaches audiences in places that are thinly covered by ratings agencies, it is difficult to estimate audience sizes, but analysts say the service has struggled in many places to make inroads against the likes of the BBC and CNN. Meanwhile, competition has been growing from new channels like France 24 and BBC Arabic.

As Al Jazeera English pursues new audiences, Mr. Burman said there were characteristics of the Arabic Al Jazeera that were worth emulating. “It is fearless, bold and provocative,” he said. “I don’t think Al Jazeera English should shy away from that, without departing from the norms of credible journalism. Being unbiased doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t challenge authority, from whatever side.”

Friday, April 25, 2008



Wednesday, April 23, 2008



Petraeus Picked to Lead Mideast Command
Teen arrested over video posing senile grandma as gangster
Bear gave off no reasons for concern before trainer's death
Students suspended for skipping class to meet Obama
Virtual fence on Mexican border deemed insufficient

Tuesday, April 22, 2008



Time creates a window
of opportunity
where memory becomes history,
before it is lost.

Who steered the steering committee
when we occupied the administration
building at Penn?

Fred Strober, I think
in ‘69.

The first Earth Day,
when was that?
Allen Ginsburg, in Philly
What did he read? was it
I was so

Kent State v the government,
They had to kill our children,
said Mark Rudd,
thirty years later

I kept your Wanted Poster
as a souvenir, I told him,
but I lost my diploma, I think

What are you, a pack rat?
Yes, I save shiny things
I save memories

Why did you go to Vietnam
I asked Larry Crowley
whose tripod I
on days he used
the sticks

I’d shot every story there is
to shoot
but I never shot a war.
A "woar"
he pronounced it.

Shot at and missed,
Shit on and hit
don’t think about scarring,
Just try to get through it.

If you remember, please
write it
record it.
There’s a window here

sleep took

me horseback riding
in the Manzanos, on trails
of love and promise

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Old people

fall asleep.
at concerts, movies, reading. watching tv.
when does it begin? i cant remember.

I slept through a Cream concert in 1968. I got high before the show and crashed during Ginger Baker’s drum solo. My mom says I fell asleep while standing in line at the Montreal World’s fair. Forty years later, are my jazz club nods a behaviorial response, or the drift of age?

Text messaging makes you cool.
Not knowing how to swipe your credit card makes you old and annoying.

Holding the hand rail is prudent, but ancient, and subjects you to cooties, especially on the steps in the subway.

Not being able to remember names is gonna happen.

I smudge cover-up under my eyes and fill in my brows. And eyeliner, for my American Cleopatra effect, but subtle. Lips, big and blushy.
I pull on a Tshirt. Gawd! No! Try a different tshirt.
This is to go running, for god’s sake. So I don’t offend anyone if I raise my sunglasses and subject them to my face, which I make friendlier by signalling, with make-up, my intention to look okay. Or as nice as I can.

you know what? im out
here running to get in shape
you’re not; so shut up

Advice from Hope:
You look really cool in your glasses, wear them on job interviews, they make you look younger, and intelligent.

I don’t want to look like an old hippie freak. I want to be modern, in the mirror.


Monday, April 14, 2008

TV news creates ignorant Americans

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Posted: April 12, 2008

If there be any lesson in America's five years in Iraq, it is this: Ignorance kills.

America went to war ignorant of almost everything important about Iraq, from Saddam Hussein's strategic plan to offer only token battlefield resistance while dispersing his most trusted forces for future insurgency, to the changes in Iraqi society over Hussein's last years, the rise of non-state forces, favored religious leaders, tribes, clans and local mafias to greater independence and power.

Already in place were the patterns of widespread and deep obligations - to party, tribe or sect - that, to this day, supersede loyalty to Iraq's so-called government.

America, top to bottom, knew nothing about it. And we have paid for it.

As Lt. Gen. William Wallace, commander of all U.S. Forces in the Persian Gulf region in 2003, famously said: "The enemy we're fighting is a bit different than the one we war-gamed against."

In the words of a 2005 Army "Lessons Learned" report on Iraq: "We've been playing catch-up ever since."

When it comes to knowledge of most of the world beyond our borders, the American people have a lot of catching up to do, and they're not getting much help from television news.

Overseas coverage of television news has never been more costly. The plunging value of the U.S. dollar, the surging price to be paid for security, the shrinking, aging audience for news, the coming recession, all give TV news executives reasonable excuses for neglecting international coverage. And the uniquely interesting and uniquely extended presidential campaign of 2008 has in itself taken a double toll, displacing both budget and air time that might have gone to covering the world.

The result is campaign coverage sealed in its own intellectual bubble, picking up every candidate "gaffe" or "conflict," like pennies off the pavement, while the world the winner will have to deal with rolls down the street, unobserved.

One example: Have you heard anyone, candidate or analyst, even mention the ongoing disaster in Somalia and the American role in creating and sustaining it?

The one place you might have become better informed about this is the place I used to work: Al Jazeera/English. It has televised reports from the ground and interviews with diplomats and experts in the region, the then-chief of naval operations and both resident and expatriate Somalis.

The picture it paints is not pretty. The American-backed military and political campaigns in Somalia are going badly. But, aside from the 3 million or so Americans who visit YouTube or the Al Jazeera/English Web site regularly, few here know anything about it.

Now, the U.S.-supported interim government in Mogadishu plans to build a "Green Zone" in Mogadishu, to provide security to "internationals" that they have no hope of providing their own citizens, against rebels who include Islamist radicals and some reputed agents of al-Qaida?

Think you should know more?

If it's been "market forces" that have kept Al Jazeera/English from an American audience - fears that it would have no audience, or that it would be "terror TV" - it is time to readjust to reality. If it's been political pressure that has kept Al Jazeera/English off America's cable and satellite servers, it's time to reject such literal "know-nothing-ism."

I recently left Al Jazeera/English because of defects I saw in its attitude toward and coverage of the United States. But I still will watch regularly for its excellent coverage of Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Without it, I'd be blind to half the planet. Why would anyone want that?

Why do we as a nation, as a viewing audience, permit it: television news that institutionalizes willful ignorance of the world?

David Marash is an Emmy-winning broadcast journalist and former correspondent with ABC News and Al Jazeera/English.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

American Life in Poetry:

Column 159


Bad news all too often arrives with a ringing telephone, all too early in the morning. But sometimes it comes with less emphasis, by regular mail. Here Allan Peterson of Florida gets at the feelings of receiving bad news by letter, not by directly stating how he feels but by suddenly noticing the world that surrounds the moment when that news arrives.

The Inevitable

To have that letter arrive
was like the mist that took a meadow
and revealed hundreds
of small webs once invisible
The inevitable often
stands by plainly but unnoticed
till it hands you a letter
that says death and you notice
the weed field had been
readying its many damp handkerchiefs
all along

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2007 by Allan Peterson, whose most recent book of poetry is "All the Lavish in Common," U. of Mass. Pr., 2005, winner of the Juniper Prize. Reprinted from "The Chattahoochee Review," Winter 2007, V. 27, no. 2, by permission of the author. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008


An American journalist's journey with Al Jazeera

Daniel Stone
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Updated: 8:51 AM ET Apr 8, 2008

Broadcast journalist Dave Marash has been a stalwart of the American TV news scene for nearly 50 years, having worked at Fox, NBC, ESPN and, until 2006, as a correspondent for ABC's "Nightline" alongside Ted Koppel. But the veteran correspondent turned heads in early 2006 when he signed on to become anchorman at the Arabic TV network Al Jazeera's Al Jazeera English, which was opening its American headquarters in Washington. The network faced what one might charitably call a public relations challenge, being best known in the United States as the first place to broadcast the anti-American tirades of Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda cohorts. But Marash was hopeful that the U.S. operation would change that. During an appearance on Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report", part of a media blitz he did upon announcing his new gig, Marash said he expected Al Jazeera English to be "the highest-class English-language news channel in the world."

Two years later Marash is leaving Al Jazeera, expressing disappointment that the global channel's American coverage was undervalued and that the concept that he originally bought into had changed into something he "could no longer stomach." A spokesperson for the network who saw things differently told NEWSWEEK that Marash is a talented journalist but that the opinions he expressed on his way out were "very much inconsistent with the sentiments of other employees of Al Jazeera—Arab, British and American." Marash spoke with NEWSWEEK's Daniel Stone about his tenure at the controversial network.

NEWSWEEK: How did Al Jazeera sell you on the development of the English network in the U.S. with you as its face?
Dave Marash:
They said it would be a very high-quality news channel, which it is, but that it would be distinguished from all other news channels by having four separate news centers: Doha [Qatar], London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia]. I was told that each of them would have a large degree of autonomy. It was known from the start that the largest share of the hours would go to Doha and the largest share of perspective would come from Doha. But the other three points of interest would be very well represented.

The implication of your departure is that it didn't happen that way.
Over the course of two years, I found that more and more of the lineups and assignments were being devised mandated and ordered direct from Doha, and quite conspicuously Washington was the only one of the four news centers that never got a news hour.

Was it just the geographic imbalance of on-air time that bothered you? What did you think about the content?
Well, every day I would see things that I would be very proud to associate myself with. The coverage of Latin America was really good. The coverage of the implosion in parts of Africa was absolutely great television. But it really hurt and embarrassed me that in the U.S. there was less concern given to that kind of excellent and authentic and knowledgeable coverage.

Were there specific stories in which that was apparent?
Here's an example: there was a series on poverty in America, which ended up being nothing more than saying "Here are poor people in the richest country on earth, what a shame." And there's nothing wrong with that statement, literally. But it's a reporter's job to get a little bit deeper than that, to say "Why is it that these people or this part of town is poor? Why is it that being poor in this town is such an unrelieved misery when other places do a better job at mitigating?"

But in any professional environment, isn't it common to have moments when you think things should be done differently?
Well, if I was just another employee, I might have felt differently. But I was sent out to represent a concept, and that concept had changed in ways I couldn't stomach.

How did you confront Al Jazeera's reputation in America, as a network largely associated with Osama bin Laden and terrorism?
Well sure, for a while the channel was the chosen means of distribution of bin Laden's squalls. But it's the same reason why the Unibomber chose the New York Times to send his writings to. If you live in America, the Number One means of distributive power is the New York Times. In the Arab world, it's Al Jazeera. The real question is, after [bin Laden] submitted his videos and press releases, how was it handled? It was excerpted, never shown in its entirety and almost always surrounded by contextual analysis or adversarial comment. In other words, it was treated as what it was: news.

So if bin Laden had mailed his latest tape to any news organization in America, do you think they would have distributed it the same way?
Without a doubt. Shame on them if they wouldn't. And the proof of that is that within 10 minutes of Al Jazeera airing something big, every news channel on earth is airing the same thing, courtesy of Al Jazeera. And they're airing for the same reason: it's news! It may be bad news but it's still news.

What was it like calling the base of sources you had built at "Nightline" and telling them you worked for Al Jazeera?
Elected officials were shy of having public association or on-the-record attribution. But the "smartocracy"—staff, analysts, pundits, the think-tank people—got it right way. They realized that Al Jazeera English had the audience of a large part of the world that isn't in the orbit of networks like CNN and BBC. I never lacked really smart and interesting guests and never felt the lack of high public officials to be disabling because they're trained not to really do anything on the record anyway.

Would you characterize any of the editorial policies at the network as anti-American?
To my great regret I let the term loose once and it is accurate in the sense that now that I'm gone there is not one American voice in an anchor role on Al Jazeera. While I worked there we were radically understaffed with correspondents for years. And the autonomy and independence that were promised are all no longer there.

Were there any instances of raw anti-American editing or what you thought was unfair oversight of content?
Nobody ever touched any of my work, but other people may have had a different experience.

What kinds of things did you hear about?
It's not something I really want to discuss, but I'll say that other people told me they received strong editorial guidance from Doha.

Having now worked for both an American network and an Arab network, what's the difference in the coverage?
I think that anyone who watches some of the in-depth shows [on Al Jazeera] will ask themselves, "Why doesn't American news do stuff like this?" Because they slow down and take a real look at some serious, positive, negative and very characteristically American issues. Nowhere in American TV do you see those kinds of things being address very seriously.

That's quite a commercial for the network.
Oh yes, I'll be a lifetime viewer. I think they're a terrific network.

That seems hard to believe. You just quit, in what you're describing as a protest.
What made me nuts, and was unacceptable, was the standard of both the staffing and the authenticity of staff—meaning that we needed people who were either from the territory or at least had longtime familiarity and expertise with the territory. That standard was breached and condescended to uniquely when it came to North America, and specifically the United States.

Do you think working for Al Jazeera has undermined your reputation in America?
I'm sure with some viewers it has. But I'm confident that anyone who saw my work on Al Jazeera saw it was thoroughly consistent with all of my other projects. I think in the long term the Al Jazeera brand name will be very respected. But there are probably millions of people in America who are very, very mildly annoyed at me.

So what's next for you? Will you try to find another job in broadcast news?
I've been in broadcast news for 49 years, so there's a real imperative for me to find a gig in the business for one more year. I'm also ready to full-time advocate and teach the television news I believe in, rather than working for what I can accept. I'm also very interested in writing a book about this global competition of television news channels to define the world for audiences.

With some of the dissent you have expressed, wouldn't you want to stay with Al Jazeera and provide balance to the types of editorial decisions you opposed?
I thought I could do it from the beginning, but I was wrong. I was encouraged to be their guy in America, but unfortunately for me, only in America are they not meeting an acceptable standard of television news reporting. More and more things began to appear on the air that started embarrassing me. So because I had put my face out there for them, I felt like I had to now take it back.

Ethan Zuckerman, my heart's in accra, on Dave Marash

April 4, 2008

Dave Marash leaves Al-Jazeera English

Filed under: Africa, Developing world, Media — Ethan @ 3:07 pm

One of the highlights for me for attending Al Jazeera’s annual journalism conference in Qatar in March of last year was meeting Dave Marash. Marash is a veteran journalist who shocked many in the US journalism community by becoming the anchor - and defacto spokesman in America - for Al Jazeera English.

Now Marash has surprised journalism-watchers around the world with his decision to leave AJE. Columbia Journalism Review talks with him about his decision. It’s worth reading the entire interview, because it’s far too easy just to take away the (true, but incomplete) conclusion that Marash is leaving the network because he feels they cover the US poorly. What’s happened is a bit more complex.

When founded, the idea behind AJE was that there would be four independent bureaus - Doha, London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur. Each would have a great deal of editorial independence and would decide what to cover and how. In the past few months, news direction for the network has come more from Doha, and coverage of the US has suffered, Marash argues - he points to a piece of particularly weak reporting on poverty in the US that was conducted solely by a Doha team, with no US cooperation, which was an exposé of the remarkable fact that there are poor people in the US.

Marash theorizes that shift in reporting may be a reflection of larger geopolitical realities. He points to a rapporachment between the Qataris and the Saudis, caused by Dick Cheney’s visit to the region to drum up support for possible war against Iran. In typical Bush administration fashion, the visit managed instead to produce more solidarity between Arab nations and help them transcend traditional tensions, coming together to resist US pressure to reject Hamas and isolate Iran. This shift helped change Al Jazeera English, Marash argues:

I’m suggesting that around that time, a decision was made at the highest levels of [Al Jazeera] that simply following the American political leadership and the American political ideal of global, universalist values carried out in an absolutely pure, multipolar, First Amendment global conversation, was no longer the safest or smartest course, and that it was time, in fact, to get right with the region. And I think part of getting right with the region was slightly changing the editorial ambition of Al Jazeera English, and I think it has subsequently become a more narrowly focused, more univocal channel than was originally conceived.

There are still two very good reasons to watch this channel, Marash argues. One is that the channel continues to provide unparalleled coverage of events in the developing world, especially in Africa and Latin America. (Indeed, AJE’s Africa coverage is a must-read. And if Mugabe had been hoping that having an AJE bureau in Harare meant hands-off coverage, he made a mistake.) The second is that it’s important to see an Arab perspective on American events, even when that perspective is unfair, biased and distasteful:

We need to know, for example, in America, how angry the rest of the world is at Americans. Our own news media tend to shelter us from this very unpleasant news. So if you watched and every piece seemed tendentious and pissed you off, and I don’t think that would be the case, but even if worst case the channel turned shrill and shallow, you would still want to watch them on the principle that millions—tens of millions—of people watch them every day and you need to know what’s going on in their brains.

Marash gets a lot of points in my book both for recognizing what’s wrong with the coverage and praising what’s right. I wish he could have stayed and helped fix matters, but he deserves a great deal of credit for being open and honest about his read on the situation and his emotions.

Friday, April 04, 2008



Dave Marash: Why I Quit

The veteran newsman says Al Jazeera English’s mission changed

By Brent Cunningham Fri 4 Apr 2008 11:26 AM

In February 2006, David Marash, a veteran correspondent (and substitute host) for ABC’s Nightline, raised eyebrows in the U.S. journalism world when he took a job as the Washington anchor for Al Jazeera English, the new sister channel of the Arabic-language news operation in Qatar. For American viewers, Marash brought instant credibility to the new channel, even as it struggled to find a cable outlet that would agree to put it on the air. Eyebrows rose again last week when Marash announced that he was quitting Al Jazeera English because of what he considered anti-American bias in the channel’s coverage. CJR’s Brent Cunningham spoke with Marash yesterday.

Brent Cunningham: Would you elaborate on your decision to quit?

David Marash: It’s been a gradual process, and defining it all, is that with corporate encouragement, over the first two years of the channel’s existence, I have made myself effectively the American face of the channel and vouched for its credibility and value. And over the last seventeen months there have been several changes at the channel which put things on the air that, frankly, I could not vouch for. If I had just been another employee I might have just dropped my head and let it all wash over, because it is the nature of our business that every place you work occasionally does things that embarrass you. But I felt an extra measure of responsibility.

Now, as anchor, I was in position to vouch for at least half of the material that went on air because I got to speak it and I could edit it on the fly if I felt that there were any inaccuracies or imbalances in it. But when the proposal was made that I leave the anchor chair [he was informed of this in December and his last day as anchor was March 13] and become a sort of heavy correspondent, I knew that I would never be able to have the kind of editorial input or control that would put me in a position to honestly vouch for anything. Furthermore, when I was taken off that meant that there were zero American accents in any of the presenter roles at Al Jazeera. And it occurred to me that this was just one part of a series of decisions that diminished editorial input from the United States. It got to the point where I feel that in a globe where Al Jazeera sets a very, very high reporting standard, and a very, very high standard for both numerical and qualitative and authentic staffing, that the United States was becoming a serious exception to their role, and a place where the journalism did not measure up to the standards that were set almost everywhere else by Al Jazeera English’s very fine reporting.

BC: What are some examples of the kinds of stories that made you uncomfortable?

DM: There was a series entitled “Poverty in America” which, in the first place, was done in a way that illustrates some of the infrastructural problems that disturbed me greatly. The idea of a series about poverty in America was broached by the planning desk in Doha. The specifics of the plan were so stereotypical and shallow that the planning desk in Washington said that we think this is a very bad idea and recommend against it and won’t do it. And so the planning desk in Doha literally sneaked a production team into the United States without letting anyone in the American news desk know, and they went off and shot a four-part series that was execrable. That was essentially, if I may say so, here a poor, there a poor, everywhere a poor poor.

Now, there is poverty in America, and there is a very wide gulf between rich and poor in America and that is a trend for which there are stories to be reported. But this series reported nothing beyond the stereotype and the mere fact that there were homeless people living on the street in Baltimore, for example. Well, were they there as a consequence of mental illness that was not properly cared for because of a generation of a policy of de-institutionalization? Al Jazeera didn’t know because they didn’t ask. Frankly they didn’t know enough to ask. It was enough for them to show poor people living in wretched conditions in a prosperous American city and decry it. Then they went to South Carolina and found a town that—I know this is going to shock you, Brent—had very rich people and, on the other side of the railroad tracks, very poor people. And the wretchedness of the poor people’s living conditions was enumerated. In fact this memorable question and answer exchange occurred:

Q: What’s it like to live with rats in your home? A: Bad. [laughs]

The economic divide is a story and the reasons why, over a long period of time in this South Carolina town there should be very little transmigration across the line between rich and poor, is a story. The sources of wealth of the rich may be a story. The lack of opportunities for the poor may be a story. But again, you gotta report all these things. This series merely named them in a very accusatory way. This to me is the very quintessence of what television news should not be doing. And by the way is not the kind of reporting you see very much elsewhere on Al Jazeera English.

There was another story about the plight of indigenous people in Chiapas. Again, real story. But the point of this story seemed to be that they were victims of NAFTA. Now, again, does NAFTA create problems among rural farmers in Mexico? Yeah. But the situation in Chiapas is at best only marginally affected by that. It has much more to do with race and class issues in Mexico, their relations with the Mexican national government, the adversarialism of the Chiapas state government, and the cultural dislocation and deprivation that not only predates NAFTA, it almost predates the states of Mexico and the United States. And also has a lot to do with the command and control of the indigenous movement by the most peculiar Subcomandante Marcos and his Zapatista allies, who have an interest in isolating if not in depriving this group of people. So again, it was really shoddy reporting.

And you don’t see that in Africa, in Latin America, in the Middle East, in Asia, on Al Jazeera. You see state-of-the-art, world-class reporting, and south of the equator I don’t think anyone will give you much of an argument that Al Jazeera has become the most authoritative news channel on earth. And so, I took it particularly amiss, and it was for me, as their voucher, endorser, and brand face especially problematic, that their standard for journalism on Al Jazeera in the United States didn’t seem consistently to be as good as their standards elsewhere. And let me rush to add that yes, Al Jazeera has in Rob Reynolds, one of the best TV correspondents in America, in the world, and Kris Saloomey in New York is a very competent and growing correspondent, and Mike Kirsch, their stringer in California, is network quality. But for more than a year Kirsch wasn’t even there and they were trying to cover the country with two people; can’t be done.

BC: You must have sought assurances that this kind of thing wouldn’t happen?

DM: In fact, the prospectus for the channel and the channel that I hawked, if you will, is different from the channel today. It is different infrastructurally and editorially, in that the original concept was literally cosmopolitan—the whole world covered from many points of view representing the whole world. That was the logic of having four news centers in Doha, London, Washington, and Kuala Lumpur. All four were supposed to be autonomous, to initiate their own assignment decisions and lineup priorities. And the sum total of the four points of view was to put a truly cosmopolitan, multipolar gloss on the world. Over the last nine months, in particular, bureau autonomy has almost completely disappeared and rather than being a multivoiced, multipolar news channel, I think Al Jazeera English is now an authentic regional voice, much in the manner of Al Jazeera Arabic, although they are in no way a translation of each other—they are two thoroughly different and independent channels. Just as Al Jazeera Arabic can rightfully claim to be a first-class news organization with high professional standards, but one that authentically represents the point of view and interests of the region defined by the Arabic language, less defined by but certainly involved in the Islamic faith, and most particularly the gulf region, I think that Al Jazeera English is a very competent, very professional news organization that does a particularly great job south of the equator, but tends to report almost everything from the point of view of either the Arabic-speaking world or at the very least what you might call the post-colonial world. And since I’m not authentically those things, I don’t belong there.

BC: What changed?

DM: I think that the world changed about nine, ten months ago. And I think the single event in that change was the visit to the gulf by Vice President Cheney, where he went to line up the allied ducks in a row behind the possibility of action against Iran. And instead of getting acquiescence, the United States got defiance, and instead ducks in a row the ducks basically went off on their own and the first sort of major breakthrough on that was the Mecca agreement, which defied the American foreign policy by letting Hamas into the tent of the governance of the Palestinian territories. This enraged the State Department and was one crystal clear sign that the Mideast region was now off campus, was off on its own. And it is around this time, and I think not coincidentally, that you see the state of Qatar and the royal family of Qatar starting to make up their feud with the Saudis, and you start to see on both Al Jazeera Arabic and English a very sort of first-personish, “my Haj” stories that were boosterish of the Haj and of Saudi Arabia. And you start to see stories of analysis in The New York Times where regional people are noting that Al Jazeera seems to be changing its editorial stance toward Saudi Arabia. I’m suggesting that around that time, a decision was made at the highest levels of [Al Jazeera] that simply following the American political leadership and the American political ideal of global, universalist values carried out in an absolutely pure, multipolar, First Amendment global conversation, was no longer the safest or smartest course, and that it was time, in fact, to get right with the region. And I think part of getting right with the region was slightly changing the editorial ambition of Al Jazeera English, and I think it has subsequently become a more narrowly focused, more univocal channel than was originally conceived.

BC: This doesn’t bode well for AJE as a credible journalistic operation.

DM: If the goal is to be true to the idea of multipolar transparency, then this is very bad news. And I admit that I find that to be a higher goal than being a thoroughly respectable, thoroughly professional, but somewhat regional or region-specific voice. And I think that Al Jazeera is headed in that slightly lesser but still to me very respectable, and in terms of viewing choices, very necessary channel. And the coverage of Latin America and Africa in particular is just so terrific, that if that’s the only reason you would watch is to stay up on the half of the planet that none of our networks or news channels are going to tell us much about, you would want to watch it for that alone. But you know, the thing that I loved best about the original concept was the sort of fugue of points of view and opinions, because I think that’s what desperately needed in the world. We need to know, for example, in America, how angry the rest of the world is at Americans. Our own news media tend to shelter us from this very unpleasant news. So if you watched and every piece seemed tendentious and pissed you off, and I don’t think that would be the case, but even if worst case the channel turned shrill and shallow, you would still want to watch them on the principle that millions—tens of millions—of people watch them every day and you need to know what’s going on in their brains.


Shiv Kumar [TypeKey Profile Page]
Fri 4 Apr 2008 01:10 PM

Looks like the boot is on the other foot when a non-Western country tries to view America from its own perspective.

As a journalist from India, I see this kind of reporting every day from Western media outlets. You guys cannot wait to juxtapose the elephant on Mumbai' s streets with Ratan Tata who just bought Jaguar and Land Rover and Corus earlier.

The same shallow journalism Dave complains about is thrown up every day by the Western television and print outlets that 'cover' India. The handful of local journalists who tried to educate their bosses at headquarters were often given the short shrift.

It happened in the past and is happening now. So please don't crib when the Arabs are giving the Americans a dose of their own medicine. Now the Arabs have what the Americans did in the past - money - and you can expect them to force the piper to play their tune

Thursday, April 03, 2008

cherry blossom

washington, dc

American Life in Poetry: Column 158


Putting bed pillows onto the grass to freshen, it's a pretty humble subject for a poem, but look how Kentucky poet, Frank Steele, deftly uses a sun-warmed pillow to bring back the comfort and security of childhood.

Part of a Legacy

I take pillows outdoors to sun them
as my mother did. "Keeps bedding fresh,"
she said. It was April then, too--
buttercups fluffing their frail sails,
one striped bee humming grudges, a crinkle
of jonquils. Weeds reclaimed bare ground.
All of these leaked somehow
into the pillows, looking odd where they
simmered all day, the size of hams, out of place
on grass. And at night I could feel
some part of my mother still with me
in the warmth of my face as I dreamed
baseball and honeysuckle, sleeping
on sunlight.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2000 by Frank Steele, whose most recent book of poetry is "Singing into That Fresh Light," co-authored with Peggy Steele, ed. Robert Bly, Blue Sofa Press, 2001. Reprinted from "Blue Sofa Review," Vol. II, no. 1, Spring 2000, by permission of Frank Steele. Introduction copyright (c) 2008 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

fish for dinner?

“They feel pain.”

--woman near the SEAFOOD department, Whole Foods Market, Logan Circle

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Dave Marash Quits Al-Jazeera English

Dave Marash Quits Al-Jazeera English
By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
Thursday, March 27, 2008
(03-27) 16:45 PDT NEW YORK, (AP) --
Former "Nightline" reporter Dave Marash has quit Al-Jazeera English, saying Thursday his exit was due in part to an anti-American bias at a network that is little seen in this country.
Marash said he felt that attitude more from British administrators than Arabs at the Qatar-based network.
Marash was the highest-profile American TV personality hired when the English language affiliate to Al-Jazeera was started two years ago in an attempt to compete with CNN and the BBC. He said there was a "reflexive adversarial editorial stance" against Americans at Al-Jazeera English.
"Given the global feelings about the Bush administration, it's not surprising," Marash said.
But he found it "became so stereotypical, so reflexive" that he got angry.
Marash, who's being replaced by former CNN International host Shihab Rattansi, said he was the last American-accented anchor at the network, which broadcasts from Washington, London, Kuala Lumpur and Doha, Qatar. He said there are more Canadians than Americans working at the Washington office.
Will Stebbins, Washington bureau chief for Al-Jazeera English, denied any bias against Americans.
"We certainly evaluate U.S. policy rigorously," he said. "But we do our best to give everyone a fair shout."
Al-Jazeera English has been largely unsuccessful in getting U.S. cable or satellite systems to pick it up, except for the municipal cable system in Burlington, Vt., and a small system visible in Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio. But its programming is available on the network's YouTube site.
Marash said there are other reasons for his exit. He said the network has quickened the pace of its broadcast instead of having the slower, more reflective tone than he had expected. But he praised the network for its coverage of issues south of the equator.
He said he plans to write a book and hopes to teach. His exit was first reported in the British publication The Guardian; Marash's last day was March 21.
Stebbins said Marash was recently told that he would no longer be an anchor at the network. Al-Jazeera thought Marash was better utilized as a reporter, and singled out a recent series he did on American suburbia as worthy of praise.
"We were sorry to see Dave go," he said.

Dave Marash Leaves Al Jazeera English


March 28, 2008
American Anchor Quits Al Jazeera English Channel
David Marash, the most prominent American anchor on Al Jazeera English, has quit the 24-hour international news channel, citing an increased level of editorial control exercised by the channel’s headquarters in Doha, Qatar.
“To put it bluntly, the channel that’s on now — while excellent, and I plan to be a lifetime viewer — is not the channel that I signed up to do,” Mr. Marash, formerly a correspondent for ABC’s “Nightline,” said in an interview.
Not that most Americans would notice: although Al Jazeera English, a 16-month-old companion to the Arabic-language Al Jazeera, reaches 100 million households around the world, it has so far been unable to secure widespread cable distribution in the United States.
Mr. Marash’s two-year contract with the channel ended this month. Mr. Marash was the American face of the global news operation, co-anchoring newscasts from Washington and presenting half-hour specials about the United States for the rest of the world to see.
Mr. Marash called his time at Al Jazeera English “very, very satisfying” and praised the channel’s coverage of Latin America, Africa and other regions, but said that the editorial direction had shifted during his time there.
When it started in November 2006, Al Jazeera English promoted an international point of view that set it apart from other television news outlets. As the channel matured, Mr. Marash said, the headquarters in Doha provided more and more direction about the assignment of stories, which meant that the other three regional news bureaus — in Washington, London and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia — saw their autonomy shrink.
“They started covering the whole world very well, but from the point of view and the interests of Doha and the surrounding region,” he said.
He said he also sensed an anti-American sensibility creeping into the coverage. Will Stebbins, the channel’s Washington bureau chief, told The Associated Press Thursday that it seeks to evaluate United States policy rigorously but “give everyone a fair shout.”
Mr. Marash’s departure coincides with reports of financial cutbacks at the channel. On Wednesday The Guardian in Britain reported that more than 15 staff members of Al Jazeera English had quit or resigned in recent months “amid complaints of a lack of clarity over its direction, contractual disputes and speculation over a relaunch later this year.”
Mr. Marash also expressed disappointment that, contrary to his expectations, the network did not slow down the pace of its news broadcasts to offer fewer stories in greater depth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dave Marash leaves Al Jazeera

Senior al-Jazeera staff quit English service

Mail & Guardian Online
26 March 2008 09:50

Al-Jazeera English, the global news channel launched as a sibling to the Arab-language service, has suffered its most high-profile defections yet amid growing unease among staff about its future.

Steve Clark, a former senior executive at ITN and Sky News and a driving force behind the launch of al-Jazeera English, resigned at the end of last week while David Marash, a former CBS Nightline presenter who was the senior anchor in Washington, has also quit.

Insiders say more than 15 staff have quit or resigned in recent months amid complaints of a lack of clarity over its direction, contractual disputes and speculation over a relaunch later this year.

Clark was a key figure in the long delayed launch of al-Jazeera English in November 2006, with an ambitious mission to challenge the dominance of CNN and the BBC with an "alternative worldview".

Al Anstey, another former ITN executive who has been promoted to replace Clark, sent an email to staff announcing the departure at the end of last week.

Its output has been praised for its professionalism, shining a spotlight on areas of the world ill-served by existing news operations. But rumours of a split with senior management at the original network of al-Jazeera channels, which rose to global prominence in the aftermath of September 11, have persisted.

The English version is available in more than 100-million households in 60 countries. It is still not carried by any of the major cable providers in the US but is available via broadband. It has not provided viewing figures for the United Kingdom but they are unlikely to peak at anything more than a few thousand people.

In an email to staff, Clark paid tribute to his colleagues, saying his resignation had been a difficult decision. "We have redefined international news coverage with our dynamic emphasis on the developing world. Our analysis of events in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East has been an editorial triumph."

Using the latest technology, 500 staff and 18 bureaux around the world, al-Jazeera English made a string of big name signings. They included Sir David Frost, who interviewed Tony Blair in the opening week, Rageh Omaar and Stephen Cole. It has no central base but broadcasts from four locations -- Doha, London, Washington and Kuala Lumpur -- in an attempt to "follow the sun" with its coverage.

Insiders say Clark's departure was expected after his wife, Jo Burgin, the former head of planning at al-Jazeera English, launched a claim for sex, race and religious discrimination. It is expected to be heard in the next two to three months.

But they said it was a further example of the disharmony that has gripped the broadcaster, particularly in Doha, since its launch. Even before it launched, there was a split between the management of the original channels, launched in 1996 and funded by the emir of Qatar, and the new international version.

Facing competition from the new BBC World Service Arab language channel and other rivals, they are believed to want to see resources concentrated on consolidating popularity among its heartland audience.

Al-Jazeera refused to comment. - © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2008

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Watch our 22:30 minute documentary on integration, discrimination, race and real estate in the subprime economic crisis in Northern New Jersey, on ALJAZEERA'S YOU TUBE PAGE:


Sunday, March 02, 2008


Hi everybody, thank you for sharing the Al Jazeera experience with me. After two years of shooting and producing for news, sports and programming, I’m going freelance.

By signing on with David in Feb 2006, I had a chance to ride shotgun. There is no better broadcast journalist with a greater appetite for learning about the world than my husband. “Dave Marash” is a name recognized by the smartest, most literate television viewers everywhere. From the Left Bank of Paris, to the Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai, viewers approach him to say hello. David has reported some of the world’s biggest stories, and some of the best stories that were missed by everyone else in the world, because they were overlooked as too small. I worked with David on six half-hour specials for AJE and one overseas assignment, and had the pleasure of watching him report and anchor. Maybe there are others with as much knowledge of the globe who can improvise and interpret and have fun doing it. But nobody, not anybody, supports and encourages his colleagues as David does, never casting blame, always helping anyone who asks. He’s as tough as he is sensitive, as intellectual as he is intuitive, and as disciplined as he is free. He’s polite to a fault, and professional to a faretheewell.

When people announce they will spend more time with friends and family, I used to assume it meant they had nothing better to do. Now I know that there is nothing better to do, and I intend to see the people I’ve shorted over the past two years. With the rest of my time, I’m beginning an independent full-length documentary; and I hope to work with you at Al Jazeera, on a freelance basis.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

the flea circus from earth looks bigger there

The New York Times
February 15, 2008
Smaller Version of the Solar System Is Discovered

Astronomers said Wednesday that they had found a miniature version of our own solar system 5,000 light-years across the galaxy — the first planetary system that really looks like our own, with outer giant planets and room for smaller inner planets.

“It looks like a scale model of our solar system,” said Scott Gaudi, an assistant professor of astronomy at Ohio State University. Dr. Gaudi led an international team of 69 professional and amateur astronomers who announced the discovery in a news conference with reporters.

Their results are being published Friday in the journal Science. The discovery, they said, means that our solar system may be more typical of planetary systems across the universe than had been thought.

In the newly discovered system, a planet about two-thirds of the mass of Jupiter and another about 90 percent of the mass of Saturn are orbiting a reddish star at about half the distances that Jupiter and Saturn circle our own Sun. The star is about half the mass of the Sun.

Neither of the two giant planets is a likely abode for life as we know it. But, Dr. Gaudi said, warm rocky planets — suitable for life — could exist undetected in the inner parts of the system.

“This could be a true solar system analogue,” he said.

Sara Seager, a theorist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who was not part of the team, said that “right now in exoplanets we are on an inexorable path to finding other Earths.” Dr. Seager praised the discovery as “a big step in finding out if our planetary system is alone.”

Since 1995, around 250 planets outside the solar system, or exoplanets, have been discovered. But few of them are in systems that even faintly resemble our own. In many cases, giant Jupiter-like planets are whizzing around in orbits smaller than that of Mercury. But are these typical of the universe?

Almost all of those planets were discovered by the so-called wobble method, in which astronomers measure the gravitational tug of planets on their parent star as they whir around it. This technique is most sensitive to massive planets close to their stars.

The new discovery was made by a different technique that favors planets more distant from their star. It is based on a trick of Einsteinian gravity called microlensing. If, in the ceaseless shifting of the stars, two of them should become almost perfectly aligned with Earth, the gravity of the nearer star can bend and magnify the light from the more distant one, causing it to get much brighter for a few days.

If the alignment is perfect, any big planets attending the nearer star will get into the act, adding their own little boosts to the more distant starlight.

That is exactly what started happening on March 28, 2006, when a star 5,000 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius began to pass in front of one 21,000 light-years more distant, causing it to flash. That was picked up by the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, or Ogle, a worldwide collaboration of observers who keep watch for such events.

Ogle in turn immediately issued a worldwide call for continuous observations of what is now officially known as OGLE-2006-BLG-109. The next 10 days, as Andrew P. Gould, a professor of mathematical and physical sciences at Ohio State said, were “extremely frenetic.”

Among those who provided crucial data and appeared as lead authors of the paper in Science were a pair of amateur astronomers from Auckland, New Zealand, Jennie McCormick and Grant Christie, both members of a group called the Microlensing Follow-Up Network, or MicroFUN.

Somewhat to the experimenters’ surprise, by clever manipulation they were able to dig out of the data not just the masses of the interloper star and its two planets, but also rough approximations of their orbits, confirming the similarity to our own system. David P. Bennett, an assistant professor of astrophysics at the University of Notre Dame, said, “This event has taught us that we were able to learn more about these planets than we thought possible.”

As a result, microlensing is poised to become a major new tool in the planet hunter’s arsenal, “a new flavor of the month,” Dr. Seager said.

Only six planets, including the new ones, have been discovered by microlensing so far, and the Scorpius event being reported Friday is the first in which the alignment of the stars was close enough for astronomers to detect more than one planet at once. Their success at doing just that on their first try bodes well for the future, astronomers say.

Alan Boss, a theorist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, said, “The fact that these are hard to detect by microlensing means there must be a good number of them — solar system analogues are not rare.”

Friday, February 01, 2008

American Life in Poetry: Column 149

but what use is reproach?


Elsewhere in this newspaper you may find some advice for maintaining and repairing troubled relationships. Here, in a poem by Linda Pastan of Maryland, is one of those relationships in need of some help.

The Quarrel

If there were a monument
to silence, it would not be
the tree whose leaves
murmur continuously
among themselves;

nor would it be the pond
whose seeming stillness
is shattered
by the quicksilver
surfacing of fish.

If there were a monument
to silence, it would be you
standing so upright, so unforgiving,
your mute back deflecting
every word I say.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright (c) 2007 by Linda Pastan, whose most recent book of poetry is "Queen of a Rainy Country," W. W. Norton & Co., 2006 . Reprinted from "Solo Cafe 2: Oppression & Forgiveness," Vol. 2, Solo Press, 2007, by permission of Linda Pastan. Introduction copyright (c) 2007 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

baby goo goo

I don’t care if you would never name a child after him; I’m bringing Hal back, younger, in Santa Monica. We water the geranium, make coffee. His nickname: Heschel. Contact ethnicity he called it. Had a yarmulke and lit the candles.

My mother was Jane. Shayna, it means beautiful. Shaynelah. Like the word Nizhoni in the Navajo language.

Ed’s Hebrew name was Yitzchuk. No one called him that, but I like the name. If you name your baby Edward or Eddie, what would we call him? Goo-goo? Baby Goo-Goo and Mangi Mangi.

I wouldn’t blame Hopie or Emma for not wanting another Hal. It was different for them than me.

It’s a school day, the pinon and cedars are loaded with snow. Hal in his jammies. Coffee is ready. The girls eat instant oatmeal. I’ll walk them to the bus.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

wintry mix haiku

thank you, whoever
coined the cheery forecast for
freezing rain and snow

Thursday, January 03, 2008


Hope is what led me here today – with a father from Kenya; a mother from Kansas; and a story that could only happen in the United States of America

Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year

Friday, December 28, 2007


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

merry christmas!

poster in pedestrian underpass, Kowloon, China

Wednesday, October 03, 2007





Tuesday, September 25, 2007



For the half-hours from Chicago, Midland TX, Gallup NM and Fresno CA, here's a direct link to the series:


I shot this story in Dighton, Kansas. It's the second part of a short portrait of two farmers. I think I got in a lot, for the 90 seconds I was allowed:

Here's another piece, featuring my daughter Emma, at Otakon, a Japanese pop culture convention:

The link to our YOUTUBE page is

In the SEARCH box, you can enter MAIN STREET USA, or anything else.
use the lower search box in the middle of the page, not the very top.


Orangutan Injures French Tourist

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) -- An orangutan in a Malaysian wildlife sanctuary snatched a French tourist's backpack and bit her while pulling off her shoes, socks and pants, the tourist said Tuesday...//

The tourist, who asked to be identified only as Odile, was taking photographs Sunday of Delima -- a female orangutan roaming free in Malaysia's Semenggoh Wildlife Center on Borneo island -- when the animal grabbed at her backpack, said Wilfred Landong, chief park warden of Malaysia's Sarawak state....//

''We are not faulting anyone,'' he said. ''But we remind tourists that they should not go too near the orangutans.''

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

at the airport, terminal

I pass her on my way to pick up a coffee. Frizzy hair, too thin, sitting crooked, by herself, past the security checkpoint. She has a cane. She must be younger than she looks, but sick, I think. No carry-on bag or purse, nothing.

Chronic? Or fragile with disease. I want to help, is there anything you need, can I get you something while you wait? I know that look, of someone fragile, who used to be well, exhausted just sitting. She looks 60 but could be 40, and tired.

Maybe she’s dying, and wants to, needs to travel somewhere first. I want to say, I know you’re a person, you had life and energy not that long ago. I want to say, is there something I can do for you, get for you, while you wait? She sees me walk by with my two iced coffees.

“How ya doin’?” I ask, already wishing I said something genuine.


Sunday, September 02, 2007


''There was a lot of shaking in the shop for a few seconds. All my co-workers looked at each other and said 'earthquake!''' said Myong Kim, an employee at the Latte Express coffee shop in Lake Elsinore. ''It was a little scary but no damage.''

LAKE ELSINORE, Calif. (AP) -- A magnitude 4.7 earthquake shook Riverside County on Sunday but no injuries or damage were reported, authorities said.

The jolt at 10:29 a.m. was centered near Lake Elsinore, about 50 miles southeast of Los Angeles, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Published: September 2, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

what more can happen

My favorite uncle, Marvin, died. Tobe and I are going to the funeral. I've been on so many planes I'm taking the Acela, to vary the torture.

Have a look on You Tube at this 3 minute video I made for Al Jazeera.
It features Emma, in costume, at an Anime convention in Baltimore.

My friend and ex-husband Hal passed away Aug 2. I am crushed. Hope, Alberto and I were there in June and July. Emma has the dog. We'll have a memorial at on the E Mountain at the end of the month.

I took my bike for a spin in DC today. Splat, a squirrel fell from a tree, right in front of me.
What more can happen?

Here is Hal's obituary:

Hal Francis Bowers died at home in Tijeras, New Mexico, Aug 2, after a short struggle with cancer. Mr. Bowers left a lasting impression on friends and co-workers in New Orleans, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and San Bernardino, CA where he graduated from Pacific High School. A documentary sound recordist and network news audio technician for NBC, CBS and ABC News for over 15 years, Hal covered news events including the Mount St. Helens volcano, the Mexico City Earthquake, several space shuttle landings at Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, and the annual Academy Awards. He won an Emmy Award in 1985 for “Invisible Soldiers,” a documentary about Vietnam veterans in Los Angeles, hosted by Martin Sheen, and was assistant editor on “Opening Night,” a film by John Cassavetes.

Bowers combined computer skills with his interest in space and aviation in a second career as a technical animator at Shafer Corp in Albuquerque. Hal was also a horseman, a fabulous cook and musician who played acoustic bass and drums. He read astronomy and military history, and collected firearms, specializing in Russian sniper rifles.

A loving father, smart and sensitive friend, computer-buddy to the technically challenged, and an unusual humorist, Hal leaves his daughters Emma Bowers of Santa Monica, California and Hope Bowers and husband Alberto Tonizzo of New York City, his mother Barbara Nolte of Cherry Valley, CA and his father Hal Bowers of Tucson, AZ. Hal and his wife, TV crew partner Amy Bowers (now Marash, of Washington, DC) were divorced in 1997 but remained friends to the end. Mr. Bowers was 60.

The family will announce plans for a memorial in Tijeras.


Friday, June 08, 2007


denver & the west
Bones, weapons likely fugitive's from '98 slaying
By Electa Draper
Denver Post Staff Writer
The Denver Post
Article Last Updated:06/07/2007 02:30:15 AM MDT

Several ribs, bits of hand and skull, and a few arm and leg bones found in
southeastern Utah are likely those of the final fugitive sought for
killing Cortez police officer Dale Claxton, who died in a hail of gunfire
nine years ago.

Jason McVean, a 26-year-old Durango man, disappeared along with two
accomplices on May 29, 1998. The two others already have been found dead
miles apart in the desert, apparently of self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Claxton was struck 19 times with an automatic weapon after stopping the
three camouflage-clad men riding in a stolen water truck.

His death launched the biggest manhunt in the region's history, involving
500 officers from 64 agencies. At the end, three deputies in two states
had been shot and seriously injured after encountering the fleeing

Four Corners lawmen say a cowboy found the bones, five pipe bombs, an
AK-47 rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition, mostly buried below a crumbling
wall of Cross Canyon, on Tuesday.

The body of 26-year-old Robert Mason of Durango was found by authorities
near Bluff, Utah, on June 4, 1998, just below a cliff where he shot and
critically wounded San Juan County Deputy Kelly Bradford. Authorities said
Mason died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head, although his
family and some medical authorities disputed the suicide theory.

A band of Navajo deer hunters found the skeleton of 30-year-old Alan Pilon
of Dove Creek on Halloween 1999 in Cross Canyon just inside Utah. He died
of a gunshot wound to the head, which authorities also concluded was
self-inflicted, within 2 miles of where the fleeing men ditched a getaway
truck and set off on foot.

It was never known what the three friends, who shared an interest in
survivalism and love of illegal pot hunting, were up to in the stolen
water truck. Authorities speculated they might have been en route to
robbing the Ute Mountain Casino at Towaoc.

The mystery will endure, said San Juan County Sheriff Mike Lacy, but it
nevertheless was time for a last chapter to be written.

"Last night it was just like Christmas," Lacy said. "I couldn't sleep I
was so relieved ... and tickled."

Dolores County Sheriff Jerry Martin said he and many other investigators
always have believed, based on two eyewitness descriptions, that McVean
was the one who fired at Claxton, while the others waited in the truck.

A local cowboy, who asked that his name not be released, was riding his
horse in Cross Canyon in Utah when he looked at the same tattered bits of
cloth he'd noticed on a ride last year and, this time, decided to unearth
whatever it was.

The body was less than 2 miles as the crow flies from where the men fled
their truck and a little more than 2 miles west of where Pilon's remains
were found.

"He thought he saw a saddle blanket," Lacy said. "It was a bulletproof vest."

The cowboy then found a backpack made of camouflage material. When he dug
up several pipe bombs, he decided to call the sheriff. The pipe bombs are
like the ones found near Mason's body, Lacy said.

People walk up and down that wash all the time, but it is thick with tall
tamarisk and other brush, Lacy said.

The serial number of the recovered AK-47 should be legible after the gun
is cleaned, Lacy said. McVean was known to possess a small arsenal.

Martin said he believes the three men had a suicide pact, but the skull
found is so broken that it might be impossible to determine whether he was
shot in the head.

"We have no clue to the cause of death," Lacy said.

But one theory is that a gunshot might have triggered the landslide that
obscured Mc Vean's fate for so long.

A watch was found, Lacy said. It had stopped on May 30, at the same hour
but one day after Claxton's death. Searchers also found camouflage
netting, a water canteen and other survival gear, Martin said.

Lane said the news, while it stirred up old memories and feelings of loss,
is welcome.

"I'm glad it's over," Lane said. "We'll never know why, but at least it's

Claxton's widow, Sue, could not be reached for comment. Her son, Corbin
Claxton, joined the Cortez Police Department about three weeks ago.

Staff writer Electa Draper can be reached at 303-954-1276 or



Tuesday, May 15, 2007







Sunday, January 14, 2007


I love New York. I'm glad I was born here. Last night after work we took the subway from Harlem to Tribeca. I stepped on gum in the subway car but it didn't actually stick to my shoe (good thing: I was wearing spikey suede boots). I took a piece of paper from my purse and set it on top of the gum to protect the citizens of New York riding the 1 Train.

A guy and a kid came in and performed a hip hop that wasn't the prettiest but used the whole car, including the ceiling. They danced a double somersault, guy-over-kid rolling all the way down the car, right past my piece of paper covering the gum.

We had a fabulous meal with the Swobodas and Tracy and Amy at Mai House, the Nieporent's new restaurant, around the corner from Nobu, their most fam place, and Tribeca Grill, where we had dinner after David and I were married.

We subwayed up to Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, the jazz place in Columbus Circle. (Tony Bennett was there, they gave a shout-out). They were out of tables so we sat in chairs just in front of the audio booth. Todd Barkan, the owner, said all his friends in Paris watch Dave on Al Jazeera.

We took the A train to Harlem, like the song. On the way home, I drew yummy animals and plants from Mai House to mai tummy. Clam, shrimp, yam, frog, duck, lamb, chocolate, orange.

If all this weren't enough, The New Orleans Saints won their division.

Friday, January 12, 2007

American Life in Poetry: Column 094


While many of the poems we feature in this column are written in open forms, that's not to say I don't respect good writing done in traditional meter and rhyme. But a number of contemporary poets, knowing how a rigid attachment to form can take charge of the writing and drag the poet along behind, will choose, say, the traditional villanelle form, then relax its restraints through the use of broken rhythm and inexact rhymes. I'd guess that if I weren't talking about it, you might not notice, reading this poem by Floyd Skloot, that you were reading a sonnet.

Silent Music

My wife wears headphones as she plays
Chopin etudes in the winter light.
Singing random notes, she sways
in and out of shadow while night
settles. The keys she presses make a soft
clack, the bench creaks when her weight shifts,
golden cotton fabric ripples across
her shoulders, and the sustain pedal clicks.
This is the hidden melody I know
so well, her body finding harmony in
the give and take of motion, her lyric
grace of gesture measured against a slow
fall of darkness. Now stillness descends
to signal the end of her silent music.

Reprinted from "Prairie Schooner," Volume 80, Number 2 (Summer, 2006) by permission of the University of Nebraska Press. Copyright (c) 2006 by the University of Nebraska Press. Floyd Skloot's most recent book is "The End of Dreams," 2006, Louisiana State University Press. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gerald Ford

When we shot "At Home With Betty Ford" in Rancho Mirage for CBS NEWS, her husband, Gerald Ford came by to say hi. Crossing the living room to introduce himself to the crew, the former President of the United States asked, "would anyone like a sandwich?"
This was in the mid-eighties.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Comedy Central has visited Al Jazeera English in Washington, DC. On the Daily Show tonight.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


on the air in some countries, on the cable or dish in others, on the web at

or go to

click on TV NEWS NOW and click on 56 MODEM FREE TRIAL to see AL JAZEERA ENGLISH, streamed for 15 minutes, and refreshable

here's a link to an article in the Washington Post:


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I buy it because Dave Marash is on p. 74



Monday, September 04, 2006

Overheard at the Levi's Store: How much denim?

Shopper: "I don't think these fit very well."

Saleswoman: "That's because you're not size 11; You're a 9."

Shopper: "How did you know that?"

Saleswoman: "I look at people's butts all day long."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

our american viewers

"Are you from Al Jazeera?" asked a middle-aged woman on the Brooklyn-bound #3 Train. "When will you go on the air, where can we see you?" asked other subway riders. "Good luck," they said. We do have well-wishers in the United States. Many of them underground.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


We met at Compo Beach, a bunch of the old crowd from Westport, and my Mom's sister Bertie, her daughter Debbie, and Tobe and Pauline (his sig other), plus my childhood friend Wendy Winnick. David and Tom Fay picked up burgers and dogs from the beach stand, and brought them to a couple of picnic tables conveniently available under a shelter. I brought photos, we told stories about the fun the old "crowd" had, the parties they threw every Saturday night, the practical jokes they played.

When we lived in Westport, my mother had her summer place on the beach sand, not far from the lifeguard station, and her winter place: in the footwash, protected from wind, catching maximum sun.

Tobe brought a scoop of Jane and Ed, for the footwash. Someone asked, isn't it illegal, Tobe? Tobe said, of the many illegal things he had done at Compo as a teenager, this would not be the one he would get arrested for. Two dozen people attending "got" that this was an appropriate and wonderful place for Jane, it would make her happy to be there with Ed, and that Ed would be happy for Jane.

We gathered around Bing Broido, who had prepared some simple words about Jane and Ed, and their lives in different locales near the water (Cynthia, from St Maarten, now residing in Brooklyn, was there, too, with her daughter Deana).

My aunt Bertie rolled up her pants. When Tobe dropped the ashes (they're referred to as "cremains" by people who know), Bertie hopped in the footwash and washed her feet.

Before we left, I had a swim and used my parents' beach towel to dry off. I wanted to call to tell them.

Jane and Ed Berkovitz, second row, center

Monday, May 01, 2006

road trip

i don't want to die.
everyone says it the day
they realize they will

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Why I Joined Al Jazeera

From the NY Daily News:Why I joined Al Jazeera
Monday, April 3rd, 2006

Let me start by answering another question:
Why did I choose a career in television news?

Answer: To communicate reality. That's what I've always tried to do, as a radio reporter, a television news anchor in New York and Washington, and, for the past 16 years, as a correspondent on ABC's "Nightline": show people as truly and transparently as possible, "what's there," and how it got to be that way.

So, the reason I joined Al Jazeera International is that it offers me a unique opportunity to communicate the reality of events everywhere in the world to a unique global audience.

Yes, but why Al Jazeera?

Al Jazeera in Arabic has become, in 10 short years, one of the most significant and positive developments in centuries in the Arabic-speaking world.

In a decade, Al Jazeera has won a large and influential audience in its region and global recognition by replacing a brain-dead oligarchy of tightly censored, state-controlled Arabic-language news broadcasters with hard-hitting and professional news coverage, and uncensored public discussion of the full palette of political and social ideas.

Al Jazeera International will exhibit those same standards of intellectual integrity and fearless inclusiveness in communicating to an English-speaking audience around the globe a daily video record of our shared reality.

What's new and different about Al Jazeera's product?

First, our points of view. Unlike CNN, which, since Ted Turner founded it, has aspired to a single, objective point of view toward a planet on which nothing is "foreign," or Rupert Murdoch's Fox or Sky News, which are often very homeland-specific, Al Jazeera International will reflect our four autonomous news bases: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Doha, Qatar; London and Washington.

Each base, and I as chief Washington anchor, will be expected to reflect "reality" as seen from the point of view, the interests, and cultural and political heritage of its home region.

I, unalterably, a 63-year-old American newsguy, will be exactly that on television.

The "take" on the day's top global news stories will be mine and those of my colleagues, all of whom are based in and drawn from the countries of the Western Hemisphere.

We offer an all-American view, North, Central and South; English-speaking, French, Portuguese and Spanish-American, too, mixed with reports and analysis produced from our other bases, from points of view representative of Asia and the Western Pacific, the Middle East, Indian Ocean basin, Africa and Europe.

Al Jazeera International will do fewer stories each half hour than our cable news competitors, and our selection is likely to be different. Hopefully, this will allow us to probe a little bit deeper into stories that matter, to add some real value to your information bank.

Think of news on Al Jazeera International as a daily kaleidoscope that will show you, better, we hope, than you've ever seen, not just "what's there" around the world, but some of the several ways of looking at "what's there."

And, for me, here's the clincher: We're going to spin that kaleidoscope, and cover our new stories, at the speed of thought.

D on TV

Dave Marash and Riz Khan sked as Katie's guests on the TODAY SHOW, Friday April 7, 8:35 AM

Saturday, April 01, 2006


text message: im in the hospital mom i swalowd a penny.
PHONE CALL: Do you need an operation? If you do, I'm coming.
Do you know the date, Mom?
April 1.
April Fools!!
hahahahaha. oh Hopie you got me bad!
text message: I love u mom, its so nice to know u would come to ny if i needed u.
date: Apr 1, 2:48 pm

Saturday, March 25, 2006

ghost children

Jane and Ed are on my dresser
i talk to their candles

My father’s quilt
and my mother’s nightee
need unpacking

smile from their picture frames
here since day one

Monday, February 20, 2006 NOT

"The al-Jazeera television network has no connection with that particular website ( and has a separate website ( which did not carry the same inflammatory comments," the Times [of London] said.

"We apologise to al-Jazeera for this mistake." lists its address as a post office box in Dubai but has a London telephone number. In the "about us" section of the website, it states that it was established more than 12 years ago and is not associated with the al-Jazeera satellite channel.

Al-Jazeera International, the English-language version of the Qatar-based broadcaster's successful Arabic channel, will launch in the spring.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Dave Marash, Anchor

Amy Marash, Video Journalist



Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Roots, Shoots, Leaves, Eats

It was reported that the Cheney hunting party had dinner after his victim was taken to the hospital.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

EDWARD BERKOVITZ, aug 18, 1919 - feb 9, 2006

What happens when you die? asked Emma, on the way home from pre-school. Your body goes back to the earth, I said, and your soul is released. “Who will pick me up?” asked Emms. “Everybody. Me and Dad and Boobie Jane and Papa Eddie and everybody.”

My father, Edward Berkovitz, graduate of Boston Latin School and Carnegie Tech (we forgot to mention the schools he was proud of, in his obituary), was finally at peace, after 3 unhappy months. Unable to save, or even to feed my mother who was attacked by cancer in October and gone in November; adrift without her in December and suddenly facing his own death by cancer in January, my dad was sweet and charming and accepting of everyone around him, but cursed and cried in private. “I’m going to die,” he said, “and then I’ll be ashes, under the television, next to Jane.”

He was uneasy, restless like a dog that circles, sits, gets up and circles again. David and I in the middle of moving to DC, Hope had no place to live after April, Emma was in California; Tobe in Boston and Jane was dead.

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” said my father.

Sunday we secured an apartment in Harlem for Hopie. Monday we packed our apartment on Riverside Drive and drove to Washington DC. I called my Dad. “I’m coming to you tomorrow, Daddy.” “Why?” “Because I can. I’m coming to stay with you.”

Tuesday Tobe and I each headed to Florida. I called from the cab. “Tobe is wonderful,” my dad told me, “you are stupendous!”

Tuesday evening I sat on my father’s bed. “You look gorgeous,” he said. He was clean, clear, and happy. In his sleep, my father lifted his brows and smiled. He started singing! “Go this way and that way, and that way and thissa way,” and finished, “boom-boom!”

The hospice nurses gave my father methadone, “magic mouthwash,” and a 4-way crème that relieved him of anxiety and pain. Van, Steve, Maria, and Russ, came by, friends who loved and looked after Ed when Tobe and I were away. Dad smiled like a happy kid. Hopie talked with him on the phone.

When he woke up Wednesday morning, my dad made a long, gurgly weird cough. “Oi,” he said, looking straight up at the ceiling. “Vey!” he finished. Lying next to him, I burst into laughter, loud.

Tobe and I were both in the room when my father, staring somewhere, suddenly announced, “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” It sounded like, I can’t believe this is happening, maybe he was freaking out because he realized he was dying?

“It’s so wonderful,” he said. “I can’t believe it’s so wonderful! It’s so wonderful.”

“It’s wonderful,” said my father. “It’s okay to go,” I told him. “I know,” he said. I knew he knew. “I love you Daddy.”

He heard his friend Ruben say hello on the phone. He heard his brother Sidney and thanked him. He heard my husband David describe the land of boxes in our new apartment. He drifted too deep to hear.

I called Emma and she sobbed. Her birthday would be tomorrow and her grandfather would die on that day.

My brother kissed Ed at bedtime and sacked out on the couch. I slept next to my dad and held his hand. I decided I was doing it for me, not him, and felt he had already shed this mortal coil. Gone beyond me. Following my mother. I went to bed in the guest room

Tobe got up at 3:30 or so and kissed my father. I woke, and didn’t.

Some time between 4:30 and 5A, the night nurse realized she didn’t hear my father breathing. She woke my brother. Your father passed. He woke me. We went in to look.

I wept, loud.

We each, both, had long visits with our daddy, his body the same, but different.

I wept, loud.

The sun came up; I got dressed and called David. “Both of them,” I sobbed.

They cleaned him up and laid him out. They took him away. My brother went in the guest room, I waited on the lanai. The undertaker walked in. I hugged his dark suit and cried. “We’ll take good care of him,” he said. I took it to mean they’d be careful not to drop him.

My mom and my dad died in the same room; Tobe will add Daddy’s ashes to Mom’s. In a beautiful Chinese urn. Not under the television.

I called Hopie and she cried. I told Emma it was fitting that her Papa Eddie died on her birthday, because it was Emma who opened Ed’s heart to a new dimension the day he first held her. She reads mythology, she knows about fates. She was going with a young man named Bill to a comedy club for he birthday. She didn’t cry. I went to the beach and saw dolphins in the surf line. They smiled.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

D on TV



Sunday, January 29, 2006



Thursday, January 26, 2006


Committee to Protect Journalists
330 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001 USA Phone: (212) 465‑1004 Fax: (212) 465-9568 Web: E-Mail:
Contact: Joel Campagna

Telephone: +967 7118 41197

CPJ delegation alarmed by worsening press situation in Yemen


Sana'aa'a, Yemen, January 26, 2006—A delegation from the Committee to Protect Journalists expressed alarm today at the deterioration of press freedom in Yemen. Over the last several months, a growing number of Yemeni journalists have been the victims of brutal assaults, arrests, intimidation, and government-sanctioned newspaper closures. They now also face the prospect of a new press law that would impose harsh restrictions on the media.

At a press conference in the capital, Sana'a the press freedom watchdog called on Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to ensure that a number of recent violent attacks on journalists are thoroughly investigated and that the perpetrators are brought to justice. The delegation included CPJ board members Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune and Dave Marash of the soon-to-be-launched satellite channel Al-Jazeera International, along with CPJ Senior Program Coordinator Joel Campagna.

The delegation met over two days with journalists, press freedom lawyers, and civil society activists, who described a climate of intimidation and mounting restrictions on Yemeni journalists over the last year. Witnesses and evidence point to involvement by government officials and suspected state agents in a number of brutal assaults, according to CPJ research. Journalists who covered protests, reported on official corruption, criticized the president or government policies, or discussed the possibility of President Saleh's son succeeding him as president have been targeted.

Yemeni authorities have not credibly investigated the attacks or identified the perpetrators. Nor have government officials condemned the assaults.

Recent attacks include:

• Jamal Amer, Al-WWasat
On August 23, armed men seized Jamal Amer, editor of the weekly newspaper Al-Wasat, and bundled him into a waiting car. The men beat him and threatened to kill him while warning him against criticizing high-level government officials. He was released about six hours later. Amer said he believes a car used in the abduction belonged to the Yemeni Republican Guard, based on the numeric configuration of its license plate, 11121/2. Just before the attack, Al-Wasat, alleging nepotism, published the names of relatives of government officials who were recipients of government scholarships to study abroad.

• Hagi al-Jehafi, Al-Nahaar
In July, Hagi al-Jehafi, editor of the weekly newspaper Al-Nahar, was wounded when he opened a file folder that was delivered to him at his office and it exploded. Al-Jehafi believes that a local sheikh whom he had criticized in his newspaper was behind the attack.

•Nabil Subaie>

On November 12, two men assaulted 27-year-old freelance journalist NabilSana'aaie near Sana’a University while he was on his way home. One of the assailants stabbed Subaie twice in the back and once in the hand using a curved Yemeni dagger. The men fled in a blue Mazda without a license plate. Subaie had been a frequent critic of President Saleh’s policies, wrote about his son as a possible successor, and reported on government misdeeds.

•Mujeeb Suwailih, AAl-Arabiya, and Najib al-Sharabi, Al-Ekhbariya
On November 4, Mujeeb Suwailih, a cameraman for the pan-Arab news channel Al-Arabiya, and Najib al-Sharabi, a correspondent for the Saudi Arabia-based satellite channel Al-Ekhbariya, were covering a strike by employees of a publicSana'atile factory in Sana’a when they were attacked by Yemeni security officers. Suwailih was beaten when he refused to hand over his camera, suffering three broken ribs. Both journalists were detained for several hours at a nearby police station where they were threatened by the same officers who attacked them earlier.

• Mohammad Sadiq al-Odaini, Center for Training and Protecting Journalist Freedom

In December, Mohammad Sadiq al-Odaini, head of the independent Yemeni press freedom group the Center for Training and Protecting Journalist Freedom, was threatened at gunpoint by a man he recognized as a member of the security forces. A few days later the same man assaulted him along with two other attackers. Al-Odaini said he believed he was targeted because his organization's annual report accused authorities of failing to investigate attacks on the press.

“These attacks are an affront to all Yemenis and a stain on Yemen’s international reputation,” said Clarence Page, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. “Months have gone by in some of these cases and we are still waiting for the government to find out who committed these crimes. Yemeni officials need to explain what they are doing to bring those responsible for these reprehensible crimes to justice. The failure to do so suggests official tolerance for these brazen attacks.”

Journalists in Yemen also face increasing legal harassment and other forms of government interference. The CPJ delegation expressed profound concern about a new draft press law currently before Yemen’s parliament. The proposed law spells out a range of bureaucratic controls and harsh restrictions on the media that include vaguely worded prohibitions such as a ban against offending the president or harming state interests. Newspaper may be suspended and journalists banned from their profession under the measure. The draft prescribes professional requirements to practice journalism, including membership in the country’s Journalists Syndicate and a minimum experience level. It also stipulates expensive capital requirements for launching publications.

“Any press law that restricts the free discussion of ideas and opinions, as this does, robs citizens of their right to know and is incompatible with a democratic society,” Marash said. “The world is watching. Yemen’s restrictions on the press are damaging its reputation and deterring badly needed foreign aid.”

The Millennium Challenge Corp., a U.S. government aid agency, suspended Yemen from its program on November 8, citing corruption, fiscal irresponsibility, the absence of democratic reform, and a lack of press freedom. According to The Washington Post, the program “would have meant at least $20 million in development aid next year and hundreds of millions of dollars after that.”

Authorities have been active in using the existing law to prosecute journalists. In recent months, Yemeni courts have heard several new criminal lawsuits against press critics, and at least four newspapers have been suspended.

Authorities have also used extra-legal means to harass the press as well. Security services are believed responsible for recording a personal telephone conversation of a local correspondent for Al-Jazeera satellite channel and distributing it to journalists by e-mail this month. In recent years, Yemeni security services are also believed responsible for “cloning” outspoken Yemeni newspapers—estabblishing similarly titled and similar-looking newspapers to undercut them and confuse readers. On August 26, suspected state agents burglarized the offices of The Associated Press and the independent weekly Al-Nida which were in the same building at the time, stealing computers, cameras and other expensive equipment.

“Over the last 15 years, Yemen has boasted some of the region’s liveliest newspapers and the government has often been responsive to concerns about its press freedom record,” Campagna said. “But we are deeply disappointed by the government’s failure to put an end to this current crackdown on journalists. We call on President Saleh to assume a leadership role and ensure that investigations into violent attacks on journalists are carried out, that the current press law draft is scrapped, and that authorities cease their harassment and censorship of the press.”

After today’s press conference, Prime Minister Abdelqader Bajammal met with the CPJ delegation at his residence for more than an hour. The prime minister said that attacks against citizens are unacceptable but suggested that some of the assaults on journalists were staged to gain attention and were unrelated to their work. CPJ, however, welcomed Bajammal’s promise to thoroughly investigate the attacks and make the results public. While the prime minister disagreed with CPJ’s opposition to the restrictive press bill, he offered to withdraw it and urged CPJ to provide input to the parliamentary committee considering the legislation.

CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonpprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

headlines from the associated press

Passenger Jumps From Jetliner Onto Tarmac
Grandmother Watching TV Bitten by a Snake
Pooch Bites the Hand That Governs It
Miffed Wife Reportedly Snips Hubby's Penis

Monday, January 23, 2006

Top Ten Questions On The Al Jazeera Anchor Application

10. "Have you worked for any propaganda organizations besides FOX News?"

9. "Would we need to provide you with a company camel?"

8. "If things don't work out, would you rather be shot or hanged?"

7. "Photos of Saddam in his underpants: news or entertainment?"

6. "Where do you see your beard in five years?"

5. "Are you willing to work with our cranky commentator, Ahmed Rooney?"

4. "Do you mind being paid in hummus?"

3. "Do you promise not to tell anyone we've been hiding Osama in the supply closet?"

2. "Can we put a hidden camera in your turban?"

1. "How many different languages can you say, 'Death to America'?"

Thursday, January 19, 2006


David Marash, guest on Bill Hemmer, Fox News Live
12:30PM EASTERN, Friday

Monday, January 16, 2006


TUESDAY, 8P EASTERN, 11P repeat..

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

why is this couple laughing?

inquiring minds want to know

Monday, January 09, 2006

i don't know

I don't know, I don't know, repeats my father, lost without my mother, and now seriously ill himself.

I know even less.

happier times

Wednesday, January 04, 2006


From the Committee to Protect Journalists:

From Iraq to the Philippines,
murder is top cause of journalist deaths in ‘05
Death toll is 47 worldwide; Iraq becomes deadliest recent conflict

New York, January 3, 2006—Kidnappers in Iraq, political assassins in Beirut, and hit men in the Philippines made murder the leading cause of work-related deaths among journalists worldwide in 2005, a new analysis by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows. Forty-seven journalists were killed in 2005, more than three-quarters of whom were murdered to silence their criticism or punish them for their work, CPJ’s annual survey found. That compares with 57 deaths in 2004, just under two-thirds of which were murders.

Iraq, the most dangerous place for journalists in 2005, also became the deadliest conflict for the media in CPJ’s 24-year history. A total of 60 journalists have been killed on duty in Iraq from the beginning of the U.S.-led invasion in March 2003 through the end of 2005. The toll surpasses the 58 journalists killed in the Algerian conflict from 1993 to 1996.

CPJ’s analysis also documented a long-term trend—those who murder journalists usually go unpunished. Slayings were carried out with impunity about 90 percent of the time in 2005, a figure consistent with data collected by CPJ over more than a decade. Less than 15 percent of journalist murders since 1992 have resulted in the arrest and prosecution of those who ordered the killings.

A complete list of journalists killed, along with details about each case, is available at:

Although the 2005 toll reflected a decline from the previous year, it was still well above the annual average of 34 deaths that CPJ has documented over the past 10 years. In fact, 104 journalists were killed in 2004 and 2005, making it the deadliest two-year period since the war in Algeria raged a decade ago.

“Too many journalists have lost their lives just because they were doing their jobs, and unresponsive governments bear responsibility for the toll,” CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said.

“The war in Iraq might lead one to think that reporters are losing their lives on the battlefield. But the fact is that three out of four journalists killed around the world are singled out for murder, and their killers are rarely brought to justice. It’s a terrible indictment of governments that let warlords and criminals dictate the news their citizens can see and hear.”

Iraq accounted for 22 deaths in 2005, or nearly half of the year’s total, CPJ found. Yet even in that conflict zone, murder accounted for more than 70 percent of the deaths documented by CPJ. The prevalence of targeted killings reflected the evolving threat in Iraq, where crossfire had been the leading cause of death the previous two years. Fatal abductions emerged as a particularly disturbing trend as at least eight journalists were kidnapped and slain in 2005, compared with one fatal abduction the previous year.

Iraqi journalists bore the brunt of these attacks as it became increasingly hazardous for foreign reporters and photojournalists to work in the field. American freelancer Steven Vincent was the only foreign journalist to be killed in Iraq in 2005; five foreigners died there a year earlier.

At least three journalists were killed as a result of fire from U.S. forces, compared with six such deaths in 2004. U.S. forces’ fire has killed 13 journalists between March 2003 and the end of 2005. An analysis of casualties in Iraq is available at:

The Philippines, where outspoken radio journalists have been murdered in alarming numbers, was the second deadliest place in 2005. CPJ documented four murders in the Philippines, a decline from the eight recorded in 2004. The drop was due in part to more concerted national law enforcement, CPJ’s analysis found.

Six countries recorded two deaths each in 2005. Prominent Lebanese columnists Samir Qassir and Gebran Tueni—both of whom were well-known for their biting criticism of the Syrian government and its influence over Lebanon—were killed in separate car bombings in Beirut. A third Lebanese journalist was maimed in another car bombing. The other countries with two killings were Russia, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Somalia.

The Americas showed a marked improvement with four confirmed deaths in 2005, down from eight a year earlier. But many journalists in the region attributed the drop to increased self-censorship, a phenomenon that CPJ found prevalent in Colombia and Mexico.

Two journalists went missing in 2005—Alfredo Jiménez Mota in Mexico and Elyuddin Telaumbanua in Indonesia. Details about missing journalists are available at:

CPJ considers a journalist to be killed on duty if the person died as a result of a hostile action, including retaliation for his or her work; in crossfire while covering war; or while reporting in dangerous circumstances such as a violent street demonstration.

CPJ continues to investigate the cases of 11 other journalists killed in 2005 to determine whether the deaths were work-related. CPJ staff has compiled detailed information on journalists killed around the world since 1992. Statistical information and case capsules are available at:

KEY POINTS in 2005:

· Forty-seven journalists were killed worldwide in 2005. Of those, 37 (or 79 percent) were murdered. Five journalists died in crossfire during war and another five as a result of dangerous assignments.
· The war in Iraq accounted for 22 deaths overall. Of the deaths in Iraq, 16 (or 73 percent) were murders.
· At least eight journalists in Iraq were abducted before they were executed. There was only one such case last year.
· Twenty-one of the 22 journalists killed in Iraq were Iraqis. The only foreigner killed in Iraq was American Steven Vincent.
· Sixty journalists have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion began in March 2003, surpassing the 58 killed during the Algerian war from 1993 to 1996.
· The Philippines ranked second in deaths worldwide in 2005 with four, a 50 percent drop from the previous year.
· Two prominent Lebanese columnists critical of the Syrian government were killed in Beirut, both in car bombings.
· Deaths in the Americas dropped to four from the eight recorded in 2004. Some journalists attributed this to self-censorship, particularly in Colombia and Mexico.

Call Judy Blank at 212-465-1004 ext. 105 to arrange for interviews. CPJ is a New York–based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit