October 16th, 2007

Chris Keeley

Imagine Peace: Yoko Ono on the New Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, Art & Politics, the Peace Movemen

Imagine Peace: Yoko Ono on the New Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland, Art & Politics, the Peace Movement, Government Surveillance and the Death of John Lennon

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007


Today, we spend the hour with Yoko Ono: Artist, musician, peace activist. She joins us in the firehouse studio just days after returning from Iceland where she unveiled a project 40 years in the making -- the Imagine Peace tower. Dedicated to her late husband John Lennon, the tower shoots light into the sky and bears the inscription “Imagine Peace.” It will light up every year between October 9th, the day of Lennon's birth, and December 8th, the day of his death.


Today we'll speak with Yoko Ono about this latest project, and her long and sometimes overlooked career as a prolific artist and innovator. We'll also talk about her husband John Lennon -- and how their political activism together led to government surveillance and deportation attempts from the Nixon administration. But first, this an excerpt of Ono's speech unveiling the Imagine Peace tower, one week ago today.

  • Yoko Ono, speaking in Reykjavik, Iceland.
Among those joining her to unveil the statue was Sean Lennon, her only child with John Lennon. John Lennon's fellow Beatle Ringo Starr was also there. Yoko Ono joins us now in the firehouse studio for the hour. Welcome to Democracy Now!
  • Yoko Ono, musician, artist, and peace activist. Last week she unveiled the Imagine Peace tower in Iceland, dedicated to her late husband John Lennon. More info: ImaginePeace.com.



Chris Keeley

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living

The shark has landed. On Tuesday Damien Hirst’s killing-machine-in-a-box begins its three-year stay at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It lies in wait on the second floor, close to a bank of south-facing windows, entombed in a steel-and-glass tank that suggests a collaboration between Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt. On sunny days the light should intensify the azure cast of the 4,360 gallons of formaldehyde. After dusk, when I saw it, the window reflects the tank back at you, doubling the piece into a shark gantlet.

How does it look? Weird. Usually “The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living,” as the sculpture is formally titled, is seen in like-minded company. A few of Mr. Hirst’s sliced-up cows and sheep would set the stage, or works by his fellow Young British Artist, or Y.B.A., shock jocks.

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Chris Keeley

Gore Derangement Syndrome

Gore Derangement Syndrome

On the day after Al Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize, The Wall Street Journal’s editors couldn’t even bring themselves to mention Mr. Gore’s name. Instead, they devoted their editorial to a long list of people they thought deserved the prize more.

And at National Review Online, Iain Murray suggested that the prize should have been shared with “that well-known peace campaigner Osama bin Laden, who implicitly endorsed Gore’s stance.” You see, bin Laden once said something about climate change — therefore, anyone who talks about climate change is a friend of the terrorists.

What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

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Chris Keeley

Verizon Admits It Handed Over Records 94,000 Times to Gov't

Verizon Admits It Handed Over Records 94,000 Times to Gov't
Verizon Communications -- the nation's second largest telecom company -- has admitted it turned over the private telephone records of its customers to the government 94,000 times since 2005. Verizon made the admission in a letter to Congressional Democrats. The Washington Post reports that in about 700 of the cases, Verizon turned over records even when federal investigators did not have a court order. AT&T and Qwest also responded to inquires from Congress but declined to say how often they handed over customer records. All three companies refused to answer most questions about their involvement in the government's domestic surveillance program. 

Report: U.S. & Iraq Negotiate Blackwater's Exit
U.S. and Iraqi officials are reportedly negotiating Baghdad's request that the private military company Blackwater be expelled from the county within six months following last month's deadly shoot out in Baghdad. Meanwhile the Wall Street Journal reports Blackwater is attempting to expand its operations elsewhere. The company recently outbid Lockheed Martin, Northrup Grumman and Raytheon for a five-year, $15 billion Pentagon contract to fight terrorists with drug ties. The U.S. government reportedly wants to use contractors to help its allies thwart drug trafficking and provide equipment, training and people.

Chris Keeley

Tibet’s Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, at the Communist Party’s 17th National Congress in Beiji

Tibet’s Communist Party boss, Zhang Qingli, at the Communist Party’s 17th National Congress in Beijing today.

China Warns U.S. on Dalai Lama Trip

The Dalai Lama, a Nobel laureate, has lived in exile since the Chinese army crushed an uprising in his homeland in 1959 and is revered as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. He is scheduled to receive the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday after President Bush receives him at the White House today.

A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, emphasized that the meeting was “with a spiritual leader,” not a political official, and he said it was thus appropriate that it be held in the president’s residence, not the Oval Office. 

The Dalai Lama says he wants "real autonomy," not independence, for Tibet. But China demonizes the spiritual leader and believes the United States is honoring a separatist.

Chris Keeley

[Note: My TV Guide says that in the Washington area this Frontline

Subject: FRONTLINE - Cheney's Law - Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2007 at 8.00 pm on PBS

FRONTLINE's new season begins this Tuesday night, October 16th. It also will
mark our 25th anniversary on PBS. Last month we were honored with a Special
Emmy Award for Excellence in Television Documentary Filmmaking for
"outstanding, well-crafted and intelligent documentaries that examine
complex and controversial subjects in a thoughtful and dispassionate
manner." Also winning an Emmy was veteran producer Michael Kirk, whose
documentary, "The Lost Year in Iraq," won in the category of "Outstanding
Historical Programming."

It is to Kirk, co-producer/reporter Jim Gilmore, and the other professionals
on their team that we have turned for the premier report of FRONTLINE's
special new season.

On Tuesday, in "Cheney's Law," Kirk tells one of the most significant
stories of our times. In this report Kirk outlines how two men -- Vice
President Dick Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington -- used a
little-known group inside the Justice Department to interpret the law so as
to greatly enhance presidential power. Their assertion of virtually
unlimited presidential authority to conduct the war on terror, both abroad
and at home, raises profound constitutional questions. Especially
controversial is the role of Congress to act as a check on executive power.

But Kirk discovered that it would be a revolt inside the Justice Department
itself -- triggered by a conservative law professor, Jack Goldsmith, who had
been appointed by the president -- that would finally lead to a "no" to
Cheney's lawyer, David Addington.

For awhile, under Attorney General John Ashcroft, that "no" stood. But when
Ashcroft left and President Bush appointed his old friend Alberto Gonzales
as attorney general, some of the "no's" were then reconsidered.

Just recently The New York Times revealed that secret new Justice Department
memos, approved by Gonzales, permit the CIA to engage in the harshest
interrogation practices ever - practices that some have called torture.

We invite you to join us Tuesday night and learn more about the secret
battles of the lawyers -- a clash that ultimately shapes how far the
executive branch of our government can go in waging the war on terror.

And then be sure to visit our Web site to watch the program in full online.
And explore more of what insiders and journalists have to say about the main
themes and issues covered in this story, plus join in the online disscusion
about it.

Louis Wiley, Jr.
Executive Editor