Saturday, June 30, 2007

Scholars React to Iran's Continuing Oppression

Earlier this month, AltTulsa noted the Iranian campaign against several Iranian-American scholars, including Dr. Haleh Esfandiari, director of the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

On a recent trip to Iran, Dr. Esfandiari was harassed and arrested by Iranian officials, who accused her of being a spy. The charges are an transparent attempt to interfere with her promotion of human rights in Iran. In recent months, Iranian government officials have cracked down on Iranian women's rights activists, student and teacher organizations, labor unions, and others working for a civil society in Iran.

We know this in part from an open letter on Dr. Esfandiari's case published in the June 28 issue of The New York Review of Books. According to the scholars,

scores of women's rights activists have been harassed, physically attacked, and detained for no greater crime than demonstrating peacefully and circulating petitions calling for the elimination of discriminatory laws and practices.

Semi-official verbal attacks on Dr. Esfandiari have been "tinged with invidious anti-Semantic rhetoric and conspiratorial worldviews," the scholars reported.

The scholars, who include a number of prominent U.S. writers and professors, call on the Iranian government to release Dr. Esfandiari and for international organizations and professional associations to protest her continued detention.

We doubt this declaration will have much effect on the Iranians. Yet it might in its own small way add to the international pressure on Iran to liberalize its policies and allow a measure of political freedom.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Recommended Reading: Gen. Taguba Gives Sy Hersh an Earful About the Abu Ghraib Investigation

In early 2004, Army Major General Antonio Taguba found himself in an extremely unenviable position. Gen. Taguba was assigned to investigate the prisoner abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, a job that put Taguba on the hot seat.

"If I lie, I lose," the general told Seymour Hersh of The New Yorker. "And, if I tell the truth, I lose."

The chilling truth about the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib was bound to be sensational, especially when photographs were discovered. Yet Hersh's June 25 New Yorker piece makes clear that the abuse was even worse than previously reported. Citing Gen. Taguba, Hersh reveals that investigators also discovered videos of sexual humiliation and other inflammatory acts that have not been made public.

It's an ugly story.

Yet Taguba tells Hersh that his military and civilian superiors did not want to hear the truth about these incidents. Nor did they want to hear about specific incidents that went beyond abuse, acts that Tabuga calls "torture."

As Taguba tells it, there was considerable stonewalling and evasion at the top of the Pentagon food chain. From Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his aides to the top generals and the CIA, there were pleas of ignorance and denial of responsibility.

In the end, the scandal was blamed on a few enlisted soldiers, the out-of-control "bad apples" in the prison. But Gen. Tabuga's paints a considerably more damning picture of official misconduct and willful ignorance, a picture that does no honor to our military or civilian leadership.

Or more bluntly: Our leaders dishonored themselves and their nation.

You can read Hersh's article in the "Recent" file at

Thursday, June 28, 2007

OU's Bad Timing: Tuition Increases 9.7 Percent on the Same Day Coaches Get Big Raises

Talk about bad timing: On the same day the State Regents for Higher Education approved a 9.7 tuition increase for OU students, the university announced major salary increases for a slate of OU coaches.

Some highlights:

Sherri Coale, women's basketball coach: $250,000 raise

Jeff Capel, men's basketball coach: $100,000 raise

Bob Stoops, football head coach: $25,000 raise (but his previous salary was already $2.6 million)

Brent Venables, football defensive coordinator: $50,000

Kevin Wilson, football offensive coordinator: $40,000

Joe Castiglione, athletic director: $30,000

AltTulsa's take: Draw your own conclusions.

Cheney's Bad Week Continues: GOP Lawyer Calls for the VP's Impeachment

We aren't usually persuaded by the arguments of conservative attorney Bruce Fein, the associate deputy attorney general under President Ronald Reagan. But Fein has unleashed a stunning attack on the legal hijinks of Vice President Dick Cheney.

Here's some of Fein's analysis of Cheney's crimes against the Constitution:

In grasping and exercising presidential powers, Cheney has dulled political accountability and concocted theories for evading the law and Constitution that would have embarrassed King George III. The most recent invention we know of is the vice president’s insistence that an executive order governing the handling of classified information in the executive branch does not reach his office because he also serves as president of the Senate. In other words, the vice president is a unique legislative-executive creature standing above and beyond the Constitution. The House judiciary committee should commence an impeachment inquiry. As Alexander Hamilton advised in the Federalist Papers, an impeachable offense is a political crime against the nation. Cheney’s multiple crimes against the Constitution clearly qualify. […]

In the end, President Bush regularly is unable to explain or defend the policies of his own administration, and that is because the heavy intellectual labor has been performed in the office of the vice president. Cheney is impeachable for his overweening power and his sneering contempt of the Constitution and the rule of law.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sen. Inhofe's Changing Radio Story

Tulsa's own Washington operator, Sen. Jim Inhofe, has been playing fast and loose with the facts again.

Inhofe's latest run-in with reality surfaced last week when he told interviewers about a conversation he overheard between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer about right-wing talk radio. Inhofe claimed the senators are working secretly to undermine the power of right-wing talkers.

Typically with Inhofe, the story is a tad too murky to be credible. Inhofe told one interviewer that the eavesdropping incident occurred "the other day." Later in the week, the mentioned that he's been telling this story "for three years."

Inhofe's misremembering may be an honest mistake. Or, more likely, it may be a case of the senator's deliberate exaggeration and selective distortion—a lie, in other words.

It wouldn't be the first time.

More News Headlines We Already Knew

AT's newest nomination for Headline of the Day:
Poll: GOP support for Iraq war wavering

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Key Republican Urges New Iraq Policy

Our nomination for the Headline of the Day:
Sen. Lugar calls for a course change in Iraq

Reporting on McCarthy's 'The Road'

We promised a few days ago to offer an assessment of Cormac McCarthy's postapocalyptic novel, The Road. As regular readers will remember, we were prompted to read the book because of McCarthy's first (and only) television interview, conducted recently in Santa Fe by Oprah Winfrey, who had chosen The Road for her popular book club.

The Road, as we noted in a previous post, is a stark but richly imagined novel. In fact, one of the most striking aspects of the book is the beauty of McCarthy's language.

In The Road, McCarthy constructs a bleak father-son survival story in sentences and paragraphs that appear simple, even ordinary. And yet the music of his prose and the power of his vision grow and bloom in the reader's mind, steadily becoming something greater and more mysterious than the sum of the words themselves.

The result is an austere but compelling language that keeps the reader fully involved in the narrative, anticipating each page with a combination of fear and hope.

We admit that McCarthy's end-of-civilization landscape is not the most uplifting setting for a contemporary novel. The father-son journey through the violent twilight is by turns horrific and redemptive. Yet the pleasures and provocations of The Road are in their own way magnificent.

Dick Cheney's Reputation Continues to Sink

Vice President Dick Cheney has been on the defensive in recent days as the fallout continues over his extraordinary claim that he and his office is not part of the executive branch. Cheney advanced this novel idea as a way of explaining his office's failure to comply with an executive order concerning the handling of secret government documents.

The television pundits—even the conservative ones—have jumped all over Cheney's claim, one of them calling it "silly." Commentator Pat Buchanan called it a "dumb explanation." Comedian Stephen Cobert, tongue firmly in cheek, referred to Cheney as the "fourth branch" of government.

Cheney's claim also tied the White House spokesperson in knots. Dana Perino repeatedly tried and failed to explain away the inconsistencies in the vice president's position. A typical Perino answer: "I don't know."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post has published a revealing series on the vice president that is none too flattering.

Oklahoma voters will recall that Cheney—perhaps the most unpopular national politician in office today—appeared in Tulsa recently on behalf of Sen. Jim Inhofe.

Coming Soon To A Pasture Near You: 10th Annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival

July is almost here, which means it's time for another edition of the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival. This year's festival is set for July 11-15 in Okemah, Okla., Guthrie's hometown.

The 2007 festival will feature a number of familiar performers, including Arlo Guthrie and other members of the Guthrie family. The line-up also features Texas singer Sara Hickman and Tim O'Brien, co-founder of the bluegrass group Hot Rize. Other festival favorites returning this year include Kevin Welch, Jammy LaFave, Joel Rafael, and one of our favorites, Boston's Ellis Paul.

Oklahoma's own Red Dirt Rangers are on the program, as are Cathy Guthrie and Amy Nelson (Willie's daughter), who have a bawdy duo known as Folk Uke.

One great thing about the Woody festival is its cost: free. You do have to pay $10 for parking at the Pastures of Plenty Amphitheater, but it's a bargain considering the quality of the talent and the pleasures of the music.

Okemah is southwest of Tulsa, about an hour and a half drive. For true "Okie folkies," the drive is well worth it.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Conspiracy and Paranoia Over at Batesline

We know that Michael Bates of the Batesline blog has his heart in the right place. He wants good things for the city and he wants transparency in city government. We concur, as most citizens surely do.

But Bates can't always keep his story straight. Consider the conspiracy he predicted just last week. A Batesline headline promised duplicity from Tulsa's leaders:

Double-secret Council meeting about moving City Hall

OK, maybe he's right. Except Bates contradicts himself in the very first sentence of his report: "Actually, it isn't secret. It has been officially posted…."

So which is it?

Based on Bates own reporting, the meeting wasn't secret, much less "double-secret," a term he apparently borrowed from National Lampoon's frat boy comedy Animal House.

The best Bates can do is to pick on the timing of the meeting, Saturday morning at 8:30, a time that he says, quite correctly, "would be unlikely to draw spectators."

Yet Bates is unable to resist another conspiratorial dig, writing that "part or possibly most of the meeting will be conducted behind closed doors in executive session."

Only one problem: it wasn't, as Bates—to his credit—acknowledged in an update to his original posting:

I was there this morning, and they spent three hours in open session covering a wide range of issues. I was proud of the job the City Council did this morning.

Having predicted secrecy and failed to find it, Bates has to backtrack (again).

Let's give him credit for honesty. But wouldn't it be more efficient and less paranoid to credit city leaders with some small amount of good will and stop assuming evil intentions whenever their ideas depart from his own?

Tulsa Mayor Taylor To Seek Re-election

Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor says she will seek re-election to her office when her term expires in 2010.

Taylor's announcement, reported Sunday in the Tulsa World, contradicts rumors that she would run against Sen. Jim Inhofe, whose current term expires next year. It also means that she won't seek the governor's office at the end of Brad Henry's term.

"I love this job," Taylor told World reporter P. J. Lassek. "I love this city. I want to be mayor."

Taylor, a Democrat, might be a strong Congressional candidate in a state whose delegation is overwhelmingly Republican. But Taylor told the World that she had no desire to move to Oklahoma City or Washington.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What Do Tulsans Want? City Finds Some Expected Answers

Tulsans want a safe community, a vibrant downtown, better transportation, river development, stronger schools, and a green community.

Those are some of the concerns expressed by citizens in surveys and in a series of recent public meetings, the Tulsa World reported in its Sunday edition. Reporter Brian Barber noted that city officials used as computer program called "Many Eyes" to identify trends in the data.

Barber quoted Pat Treadway, the city's urban management director, as a source for the story. Treadway said the city is preparing a blueprint for Tulsa's future and the ideas collected in surveys and public meetings are a part of that process.

According to the World, the process is just beginning and citizens will have many more opportunities to offer ideas to city planners.

We confess that we haven't participated in the process. But we can't quarrel with the public's ideas so far: a safer, greener, more vibrant city with good schools and transportation seems like a winner for just about everybody.

Still, talk is cheap and thus far a revitalized Tulsa is just talk. But maybe, just maybe, this is the first step for the city and its citizens to forge a new vision for Tulsa.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Photoblogging from the Santa Fe Farmers' Market

Only in Santa Fe: Premium Compost!

The AltTulsa crew loves to explore farmers' markets. At last Saturday's Santa Fe Farmers' Market, some local children were cuddling lop-eared bunnies. (They are hard to see here, we admit.)

The 'Why Are We No Longer Surprised?' News Department, Part 2

A headline this week following the release of a new Newsweek poll showing President Bush's approval rating at 26 percent:
Least Popular President Since Nixon

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The 'Why Are We No Longer Surprised?' News Department

The lead headline recently on The Huffington Post:

Cheney Attempted to Abolish Agency That Tried to Oversee Him

Newt Speaks: Rewriting History in the Name of Fear

Remember our old pal Newt Gingrich, one-time conservative superstar and admitted adulterer?

Although he's been out of Congress for years, Gingrich hasn't gone away. Oh no. Just the other day, Gingrich turned up in an ad slamming the Administration-supported comprehensive immigration bill, which Gingrich says will help terrorists in the U.S.

Unfortunately for Newt, he gets his facts wrong.

In the ad, Newt says “Mohamed Atta, and several other 9/11 hijackers were in the United States illegally.”

Wrong! As the September 11 Commission reported, Atta and the other hijackers came to this country legally.

But why let a little thing like the truth interfere with a perfectly good argument, especially when you are peddling fear?

Michael Moore's New Film, 'Sicko,' Comes to Tulsa's Circle Cinema

Muckraking film-maker Michael Moore's new film, Sicko, opens next weekend in Tulsa. The film will be playing at our favorite Tulsa theater, Circle Cinema.

We haven't seen the film (yet), but it promises to be both entertaining and infuriating. For those AT readers who don't know, Sicko is Moore's cinematic critique of the U.S. health care system. It goes without saying, we think, that Moore is not a fan.

From reports we've read, Sicko reveals gory details of the health care system's many inconsistencies and injustices.

Given Moore's inflammatory persona, Sicko has received a surprising number of glowing reviews, including some from folks normally associated with right-wing positions.

We don't know what such praise might mean, unless—like the rest of us—these citizens get sick too, and find themselves at the mercy of an expensive, irrational and consistently irritating medical establishment.

Book Buzz: How Secrets Undermine Democracy

Ted Gup's Nation of Secrets, released earlier this month by Doubleday, is creating a buzz in some significant circles. From the reports we've seen, the book explains the corrosive effects of government secrecy on American democracy.

The book's subtitle makes Gup's message clear: "The Threat to Democracy and the American Way of Life."

James Fallows, a writer for The Atlantic Monthly, calls the book "an eye-opening and very important book." Writer Kevin Phillips also has good things to say about the book.

Gup, a former reporter at the Washington Post and Time, now teaches journalism in Ohio. Find out more by checking out this link:

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Republican Hopeful Passes the Smell Test

U.S. political analysis may have reached a new low this week when CNN reporter Alina Cho volunteered this vital information about GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney:
He looks great, sounds great, smells great.
Looks great? Smells great? This has something to do with leadership? With policy? With character? With values?

Are American voters so superficial that they really care about how a candidate looks and smells? Let's hope not.

This is not the first time Romney has made news for his ruggedly handsome appearance, as AltTulsa has previously noted.

But we suspect this is the first time a candidate's smell has made news. We hope it's the last.

Alternative Eating: Brookside Gets New Local Food Market

Eating well is one of the great passions of the AltTulsa team. So we were pleased this week to see an new alternative market opening in the 3500 block of South Peoria in Tulsa's Brookside neighborhood.

The Center One Market brings together four local vendors who will offer an indoor farmers' market in Brookside on the site once occupied by a Wendy's restaurant.

The new market includes Nuyaka Farm, Farrell Bread, Dawson's Market, and Petals and Soup. These vendors will offer organic produce, antibiotic-free beef, take-home dinners, homemade soups, artisan breads, and much more.

Center One Market will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Expect to see us there.

Monday, June 18, 2007

'The Road' Provides Compelling Journey

Regular readers of AltTulsa will know that we try to keep up with a number of contemporary writers, including the masterful but mysterious Cormac McCarthy.

McCarthy broke precedent a few days ago when he gave an interview to Oprah, who had selected his novel, The Road, for Oprah's Book Club. McCarthy's first television interview inspired us to buy a copy of the book and find an easy chair.

We're happy to report that we've spent a few hours with the novel thus far and it is an amazing story. At the halfway point, where we are, we confess to being fully involved in this bleak but vivid tale.

Since we haven't finished the book, we don't want to offer a final verdict on McCarthy's novel. But based on the pleasure we've found so far in this richly imagined father-son story, we enthuiastically recommend The Road.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Lying for Bush: The Corruption of Tony Snow

Pity former Fox newsman and current White House spokesman Tony Snow. After all, Snow has one of the hardest jobs in the world: making George Bush and his Administration look competent.

With the White House press corps half asleep much of the time, leave it to Jon Stewart of The Daily Show to catch Snow lying for Bush this week. The topic, not surprisingly, was the on-going scandal over the firings of eight (or more) U.S. attorneys.

Critics said the firings were political. In March, Snow denied it, on camera. This week, after accumulating evidence that the firings were indeed political, Snow was asked about the earlier denial. Never said that, Snow said.

Today's Crook & Liars has video for your viewing pleasure.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Inhofe on Bush: 'The Biggest Nothing'

Sen. Jim Inhofe, quoted in today's Tulsa World, has offered a blunt assessment of President Bush's declining political power.

Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, and aide Karl Rove were on Capitol Hill yesterday to push the President's immigration plan. "Here it comes, [the] full-court press," Inhofe told the World. "And it was the biggest nothing."

Well put, Sen. Inhofe. But let's not confine this dismissive description to the immigration bill.

The "biggest nothing" is a useful way of describing a large part of the Bush agenda—six years of the "biggest nothing."

Monday, June 11, 2007

Who Should We Kill? Tulsa Blogger Advocates Shooting Illegal Immigrants

Tulsa blogger David Arnett has the answer for all those illegal immigrants sneaking across the southern border: Shoot 'em.

In an "editorial analysis" on his Tulsa Today site, Arnett calls on President Bush to send U.S. troops to the border to prevent illegals aliens from coming to the U.S. If the illegals persist, Arnett writes, the border should be "secured by whatever force is required."

Arnett continues:

Let [the world] note that citizens caught in the act of committing crime may be shot dead if they do not surrender to the authority of law. Should we do less for foreign lawbreakers? Are foreigners greater than citizens?

Sounds good, doesn't it? With the U.S. military armed to the hilt and ready to fire, those dirty illegals will run back to deepest Mexico never to be seen again.

Or maybe not. Why not? Because this is jingoistic nonsense of the lowest kind. It's also unethical and immoral. It's not what Jesus would do.

Does Arnett's "whatever force is required" include, say, mining the border? That would kill a lot of illegals. How about bombing the illegal aliens? Hey, we can bomb Mexican cities—that might slow 'em down. How about using nuclear bombs? We have a stockpile and we haven't used them since 1945.

And who exactly do we want to shoot? Men over 18? What about teenage boys? Or boys under, say, 10 years of age. (We're sure the soldiers will be able to tell the difference.)

And then there's the illegal women and children crossing the border. Are American GIs supposed to shoot them too? Can we overlook pregnant women or women carrying babies, or do we have to kill them too?

Memo to David Arnett: Next time you advocate genocide, think about what your saying. And stop peddling fear.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Photoblogging from Quartz Mountain in Western Oklahoma

Who says Oklahoma is flat? Here's proof that the Sooner State has actual rocky mountains. This is one of the Twin Peaks that rise above Lake Altus at the Quartz Mountain Nature Park, about 250 miles southwest of Tulsa.

A view of the long footbridge at Quartz Mountain Nature Park in southwestern Oklahoma. The bridge leads from the Quartz Mountain Lodge to the Twin Peaks Performance Hall, which can be seen across the cove. Thanks to recent rains, Lake Altus is full this year.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Oh, Those Strong, Handsome Republicans!

We used to think that politics was about ideas. It was about political philosophy, about "wonky" policy details, about getting things done.

These days, however, politics often gets reduced to appearance. Who looks presidential? Who looks strong? Who looks like he (or she) could stand up to the evil-doers?

Consider the latest Mitt Romney assessment by Politico chief political columnist Roger Simon. Simon declared Romney the winner of this week's GOP debate, writing that Romney is “[s]trong, clear, gives good soundbite, and has shoulders you could land a 737 on.”

This is not Simon's first verbal crush on Romney. In an earlier post, Simon wrote that Romney has “chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest."

Oh, now we get it. Vote for Mitt because he looks presidential—right out of central casting.

Sticking It to America: Iran Detains U.S. Activists

The leaders of Iran continue stir the diplomatic pot, admitting for the first time today that they are holding a fourth Iranian-American citizen on security charges.

Ali Shakeri, a peace activist from Lake Forest, Calif., holds dual citizenship. His detention by Iranian officials was reported today by the Associated Press, citing a report from the semiofficial Iranian Student News Agency.

Besides Shakeri, the Iranians are holding three other Iranian-Americans . They are Haleh Esfandiari, a scholar associated with the Woodrow Wilson Center; Kian Tajbakhsh, a planner with the Open Society Institute; and radio journalist Parnaz Azima. The three have been charged with espionage, charges that have been disputed by their families and U.S. officials.

To its credit, the Bush Administration has objected to these detentions. The AP quoted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as saying the Americans were "being wrongly held" and "being accused of things that clearly are untrue." The President himself has also spoken out, demanding the unconditional release of the four Americans.

As regular readers of AltTulsa will know, we believe in ideas, as well as the free and unfettered expression of those ideas. That's why we agree with the Bush Administration. Iranian-American citizens ought to have the right to work in and visit their home country free from government harassment.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Oklahoma Political Quote of the Week: Republicans Eat Their Own

Former Oklahoma congressman Mickey Edwards, a Republican, quoted in the June 4 issue of The New Yorker:

This Administration is beyond the pale in terms of arrogance and incompetence.

Edwards continued:

This guy [Bush] thinks he's a monarch, and that's scary as hell.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Cormac McCarthy Sighting: Oprah Snags Elusive Tennessee Author

The Literary Division of AltTulsa keeps up with the enormously talented but extremely elusive Tennessee writer Cormac McCarthy. So were surprised and pleased to see McCarthy yesterday on the Oprah show, where he sat for an interview with the great lady herself.

Although we had met McCarthy at a lunch many years ago in Knoxville, it was great to see him on television talking about himself and his work. McCarthy seemed relaxed and friendly, more like we remember him and less the secretive author some McCarthy watchers have speculated about.

The occasion for McCarthy's first television interview ever was his 2006 novel The Road, which was an Oprah Book Club selection. That fact, or perhaps Oprah herself, apparently softened McCarthy's media shyness. In any case, McCarthy proved to be a soft-spoken and likable fellow. He answered Oprah's questions thoughtfully and without apparent ego. We even liked the interview setting, a "think tank" for scientists in Santa Fe. McCarthy confessed that he preferred the company of scientists to writers.

We don't expect that McCarthy will be showing up on television much in the future. But based on this Oprah appearance, we'd like to have lunch with him again sometime soon.

Meanwhile, we'll be working our way through The Road.

Republicans Applaud Bush Bashing

Another highlight from last night's Republican debate:
Audience cheers as Tancredo slams Bush

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

More Headlines We Already Knew

From tonight's Huffington Post:

Republicans Run From Bush in Third Debate

Recommended Alternative Reading: Love, Life and Books in Post-Taliban Kabul

We recently finished a fascinating but distressing book about life in Afghanistan after the fall of the fundamentalist Taliban regime. The book is Asne Seierstad's The Bookseller of Kabul, originally published in 2002.

Seierstad, a Norwegian journalist, tells the story of a remarkable Afghan family headed by a man named Sultan Kahn. Kahn is, as the title suggests, a book lover. He also has two wives and a large extended family, which he rules, in traditional fashion, with an iron fist.

Kahn's power over his family may be traditional, but it's also the source of considerable family grief. As Seierstad documents in painful detail, Afghan women are second-class citizens in and out of the household. The women in Kahn's family have minimal control over their lives and almost no personal freedom, even without the Taliban's violent religious police on the streets.

The romantic lives of young Afghan men and women are particularly vexing. Courtship is nearly impossible and marriages are usually arranged by families among related families or clans. This means that many young women are often married off to widowers or older men for what amounts to political or economic reasons.

Couples who seek affection—or even a casual smile—outside of the family's arrangements risk banishment or worse—especially the women. Transgressing women are shamed and cut off from their families for activities as innocent as holding hands. In the most extreme cases, the women are killed by their own families—murdered because they "dishonored" their families. The men are sometimes shamed as well, but they usually escape any physical mistreatment.

The Bookseller of Kabul is a moving, sometimes disturbing portrait of a remarkable Afghan family. We recommend it. The stories in Seierstad's book made us proud of the equality American women and minorities have achieved over the past several decades.

Photoblogging from Saturday's Cherry Street Farmers' Market

The AltTulsa team was out early Saturday at the Cherry Street Farmers' Market, one of several area venues for local growers and producers. As you can tell, we weren't the only ones.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

New Golf Plan Contradicts City Hall Rumors

Recent reports in the Tulsa World appear to contradict speculation about Tulsa Mayor Cathy Taylor's secret plans for two city-owned golf courses.

The World reported this week that Mayor Taylor will seek private operators to run the Page Belcher and Mohawk golf courses. The newspaper also quoted City Councilor Rick Westcott, whose district includes Page Belcher. Westcott approves of the mayor's plans.

The city has been subsidizing the golf courses at an annual cost of about $1.5 million, according to press reports.

Last month, former City Councilor Chris Medlock's website, Medblogged, cited unidentified sources who claimed the mayor had arranged a backroom deal with a prominent developer to sell Page Belcher for residential development. Medlock did not name the developer or provide a single named source in his report.

A sale of the property for residential was considered, according to news reports. This week, however, Susan Neal, the mayor's director of community development and education, told the World that the legal restraints prevented a residential development option, undercutting Medlock's unconfirmed conspiracy theory.

We keep checking Medlock's website for a clarification on these developments. So far, he's been silent.