The Rant 

Thank goodness for Google. I thought maybe I had dreamed this, since my dreams are so vivid I can rarely separate them from reality. So I was going to beg that one of you out there tell me if this really happened, but then the good ol' Google news search engine found it for me. I was just waking up the other morning and glanced at the television and saw a cheerleader at a basketball game being taken off the court on a stretcher. She was practically bolted to the thing from head to toe, neck brace and all, but she was still cheering. The band was playing and she was flailing her arms about, I guess using them to make the shapes of the letters of her school's name. I thought it was a skit on Comedy Central, but it was CNN Headline News. Now, did anybody else see that and did anybody else fall off the sofa laughing? I know, it's not funny she was hurt, but the quintessential cheerleading moves were absolutely hilarious. There she was, strapped to a stretcher but still filled with school spirit. As it turns out, it was Kristi Yamaoka, and she was cheering for Southern Illinois University. Two pompons up, Kristi! And it was a good thing because, despite the 37 or so episodes of The Andy Griffith Show I had watched during the previous days' Andy Griffith marathon (featuring the best of the late, great Don Knotts), I needed a light moment. I touched on this briefly last week, but I have discovered a new network that I can't stop watching, and you might want to check it out. I don't know how long it has been on the air, but it's called Link TV. For those of you with Direct TV, it is channel 375. There are no advertisements and it receives no government funding (it's financed by viewers' contributions), so they can pretty much show anything they want, which is a really fresh idea these days. You won't find any stories on Botox, breast implants, diet supplements, or designer shoes. You certainly won't find any stories on the $55,000 goodie bags given to Oscar nominees, including makeup for your arms that contains 24-karat gold and ground gemstones. Yes, I'm still idealistic enough to think that money might be just a tad bit better spent feeding hungry children, but then, that's just the old hippie in me. No, this station shows mainly documentaries made by journalists and filmmakers from other countries, with a strong emphasis on what the United States is doing in the way of torture in the war on terrorism. And while it can sometimes propagandize things a bit, the station does show facts -- photo and video documentation -- that can't be disputed by any of the liars in Washington, and they conduct interviews with people who have been subjected to the torture, even those whose photos appeared during the Abu Ghraib fiasco. As is pointed out regularly, when you cordon off a block in an Iraqi city, arrest all of the men, take them to prison and torture them, find out they are really innocent and have no knowledge of terrorists, then release them back into the population with their stories of what happened to them, the military probably hasn't really made great friends with the people we claim to be there to liberate. And we wonder why there's so much hostility. But I am certainly not going to try to explain all that has gone wrong in Iraq. Even here at home, if you haven't heard the story of James Yee, you should look into it. Yee was the U.S. military chaplain at Guantanamo, who was arrested in the Jacksonville, Florida, airport while attempting to go on vacation a couple of years ago. Whatever the case was -- I think the military was afraid he might talk about what they'd been doing down there -- he was arrested, shackled, subjected to sensory depravation, locked in solitary confinement for 76 days, and threatened with the death penalty. Then, when it was found that there was no evidence against him, he was released and all charges were dropped. He was reassigned to another base, told not to talk about it, and never received an apology. All of this got plenty of press while he was in jail, but now Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's baby is due, and we'll just have to depend on Link TV and Yee's new book to get the truth. Like I said, I needed a light moment.

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