News Hits was already looking forward to seeing Randi Rhodes part of Air America's lefty lineup of talk show hosts heard locally on WDTW-AM (1310) speak at an event marking the 50th anniversary of the group Peace Action. Then we heard the odd story last week of Rhodes being injured, supposedly while walking her dog in Manhattan.
One of her radio colleagues went on the air and initially reported that some crazed member of the "right-wing hate machine" intent on silencing a prominent liberal voice had attacked Rhodes. The next day Rhodes' lawyer announced that she had indeed been knocked to the ground by someone or some thing. Disoriented after hitting her head, she wasn't sure what happened.
And then Rhodes returned to the air after a few days of recuperation and gave a final version of what happened: "I was watching football in an Irish pub," Rhodes told listeners. "I went out to smoke a cigarette, and the next thing I knew I was down on the cement, face down, bleeding. ... I don't know if someone hit me from behind, or if I fainted because I hadn't eaten all day."
Rhodes is a former U.S. Air Force jet mechanic, waitress, truck driver and rock 'n' roll disc jockey. You'd think with a résumé like that she'd have learned by now that you can't be drinkin' on an empty stomach. But we'll try not to let that reduce our esteem for her too much. She's witty and incisive, with a heart that always seems to be in the right place, and News Hits is still looking forward to hear what she has to say when she comes here to help Peace Action.
The group began life as the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, which made itself known to the world with a full-page ad in The New York Times on Nov. 15, 1957. Early members included such lefty luminaries as Eleanor Roosevelt, Harry Belafonte and Walter Reuther. Thirty years later it merged with the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign and the current name was adopted. It has become, the group says, the nation's largest grassroots peace organization. Among its current priorities are stopping the Iraq war and preventing a U.S. attack on Iran.
The anniversary dinner and program will be held at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 11, at the Westin Southfield. Tickets are $50. For more information call 248-548-3920 or go to the Web site peaceactionmich.org.
While we're issuing announcements, News Hits would like to call to your attention a few more upcoming events.
Although the film Rendition tells the fictional story of an Egyptian-American engineer who is kidnapped by the CIA, taken to a foreign prison and tortured, Ann Arbor attorney John Minock says the plot line has a firm link to reality.
Minock represented a Guantanamo prisoner from Afghanistan who was turned over as a suspected terrorist to U.S. troops by a warlord who received a bounty. "He saw a way to make a quick buck, and the military took the prisoner and put him in a secret prison halfway around the world without contact with the outside world. Is that kidnapping?" he says.
Given that perspective, it's not surprising Minock plans to attend a special screening of Rendition, which stars Reese Witherspoon, Jake Gyllenhaal and Meryl Streep, at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday at Ann Arbor Quality 16 Theater, 3686 Jackson Rd. "The ACLU Michigan is hosting a discussion before the showing as part of the national organization's Don't Wait for '08 100-day campaign to end torture, restore habeas corpus, stop warrantless wiretapping and close Guantanamo Bay.
Also upcoming is an appearance by environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who will kick off Wayne State University's Forum on Contemporary Issues in Society. Kennedy, son of the namesake senator and nephew of the president killed by assassins, will talk about the issue of sustainability and how "natural surroundings influence health, work and the very identity of Americans." A champion of the environmental movement, he is author of the bestseller Crimes Against Nature. The event is at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, at Wayne State University's Community Arts Auditorium. Admission is free but reservations are required. Call 313-577-0300 or go to focis.wayne.edu/rsvp.Curt Guyette edits News Hits. Contact the column at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com