Lying Media Bastards

March 28, 2005

Mr. Kafka Goes to Washington

Murat Kurnaz is a German citizen who was seized by Pakistani authorities in 2001, and given over to the Americans on susipicion of being a terrorist. He was sent to Guantanamo Bay.

In the fall of 2004, a military tribunal decided that Kurnaz was a member of Al Qaeda and an enemy combatant. The tribunal made this decision based upon classified documents.

This month, the Washington Post got its hands on these classified documents (now declassified). These documents show that both American military intelligence and German police have no evidence that Kurnaz has links of any kind to any sort of terrorist activity.

“Only one document in Kurnaz’s file, a short memo written by an unidentified military official, concludes that the German Muslim of Turkish descent is an al Qaeda member. It says he was working with German terrorists and trying in the fall of 2001 to reach Afghanistan to help fight U.S. forces.”

So… with significant evidence that the man is innocent, and extremely dubious “evidence” that he is guilty, the military tribunal decided that he was indeed guilty, but that all this evidence was so “sensitive” that they couldn’t allow the public to see it.

Kurnaz’s case is the first in which the public has had any sort of access to the evidence.

To date, there have been 558 of these military tribunals. 506 of those tribunals found that the suspects were guilty, and continues to hold them in Guantanamo. The evidence in these trials has likewise been kept secret.

[via Empire Notes]

Posted by Jake on March 28, 2005 5:59 pm

March 24, 2005

Downtime

I’ll be out of town for a few days, road trip, anarchist book fair, you know how it goes.

In the meantime, feel free to stare at the page until your eyes lose focus, and pretend I’ve typed all kinds of brilliant stuff.

Posted by Jake on March 24, 2005 9:18 pm

To Reiterate…

“Due to Today’s Developments, Tens of Millions of People Not-Named Terri Schiavo May Die”

Posted by Jake on March 24, 2005 8:56 pm

Peaceful Conspiracy of Cartographers

Enlisting for Peace: A Grassroost Resistance Movement Takes on the Pentagon (.pdf)

Nice map documenting the growing “counter-recruitment” movement aimed at preventing teens from enlisting in the military, brought to you by NYC newspaper The Indypendent.

[via CounterReceruiter.net]

Posted by Jake on March 24, 2005 12:07 pm

March 23, 2005

DIY Bypass

Wow, after five tries, I can’t think of a good way to write this post. I’ll just jump to the linking part.

OurMedia.org- a new website that will host digital media files for anyone, for free, forever (allegedly). I would imagine that there is some sort of maximum storage limit, but if such a limit exists, I can’t find it on their site. How can they afford to do this? I think there’s a decent chance that they’ll add advertising to the site, if/when it becomes popular.

So that’s a good resource, although I’d still recommend Radio4All.net, if you’re looking to store political audio files.

Also, one of the early testers of the OurMedia site is the experimental band rx, known for their song in which they manipulate audio samples of George W. Bush so that he is singing U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday”. On the front page of OurMedia, there is a link to a new rx song using Bush samples, called “Dick is a Killer”. You can hear all their songs here fo’ free.

In conclusion, people helping other people to get their free media out to other people for free = good.

Posted by Jake on March 23, 2005 10:53 am

March 22, 2005

The Kids Are Alright, Part 3842

I always love hearing about young activists causing trouble.

Students at Georgetown University have gone on a hunger strike to pressure their administration to pay the school’s janitors and cooks a living wage.

Right on.

Wanna help out? Find out how here.

[update]

As of this morning, the Georgetown Living Wage website says:

WE ALL WON!

Last night, Georgetown announced its new policy: a Living Wage for campus workers and respect for workers rights!

More details soon!

Sounds good! I’ll write more once I see those details.

[/update]

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2005 7:02 pm

Eyerack

Tom Dispatch has a pretty great wrap-up of the Iraq war’s past, present and future, I’d recommend reading it.

Here is a compliation of photos from this weekend’s international anti-war protests. The last one is pretty insane.

And the Raional Enquirer has a long and depressing post about with the reality of how America supports the troops.

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2005 10:06 am

Back in the Saddle

Well, did my first LMB radio show in 2-3 months yesterday. It went okay, but it was really sloppy. I’m not that familiar with the equipment or the software, which made for lots of little stupid mistakes, and I’m a little embarassed. I’ll wait till I feel more comfortable before I start recording and posting my shows for posterity.

Don’t know when my next show will be, I’ll post that info when things crystalize.

Posted by Jake on March 22, 2005 10:00 am

March 18, 2005

Streaming Audio Slightly Wounded the Radio Star

I will be helping cover the anti-war protests this Saturday on radioActive sanDiego from 10am-noon PST, rebroadcast at 106.9fm in San Diego proper (by magical pirate radio fairies).

And I will be starting the LMB radio show up again this coming Monday, 1-3pm (although I’m going to experiment a bit with the time slots till I find one I like), also on radioActive. Things might be a little rough till I get used to the new equipment, but it should be a good time nonetheless.

Posted by Jake on March 18, 2005 10:35 pm

Is That Why They Call Them “Red States”?

Pretty fucking astounding list of quotes, comparing the rhetoric of David Horowitz’s “Mommy, there’s a liberal college professor under my bed” movement and Mao Tse-Tung’s “Mother, we must exterminate the traitorous bourgeouis college professors under my bed” movement.

The similarities are truly uncanny.

[Props to mk for the title recommendation]

Posted by Jake on March 18, 2005 11:04 am

March 16, 2005

Low Recruitment

This article is about a sickening number of cases where US military recruiters go onto high school campuses, and then sexually assault the young women interested in enlisting. The focus of the article is one particular case in Indiana, but the sidebar mentions at least five other cases around the country since 2003. As if recruiters weren’t scummy enough for targetting poor, confused teens for early overseas death.

Part of this, believe it or not, is due to a clause in No Child Left Behind Act which forces schools to give out personal information about their students to military recruiters, if they ask for them. To that end, I understand that punk band Anti-Flag is beginning a campaign to delete that clause (although that site doesn’t launch till tomorrow). Sounds like they’ve got a couple of Congressmen signed onto their cause, so maybe they’ve got a shot.

Posted by Jake on March 16, 2005 4:11 pm

PR Nation (cont.)

Tom Tomorrow has more scoops on the “fake news is everywhere” thing.

While the people producing these Video News Releases are shady, it looks as though major news media outlets are making money off of distributing them. It looks as though these networks might be above showing VNRs on their own channels, but are willing to take cash for distributing them to other stations through their subsidiaries. Two passages in the article lay it out:

The major networks, which help distribute the releases, collect fees from the government agencies that produce segments and the affiliates that show them… Several major television networks play crucial intermediary roles in the business. Fox, for example, has an arrangement with Medialink [a VNR producer] to distribute video news releases to 130 affiliates through its video feed service, Fox News Edge. CNN distributes releases to 750 stations in the United States and Canada through a similar feed service, CNN Newsource. Associated Press Television News does the same thing worldwide with its Global Video Wire.

In fact, these networks get paid twice, says Tomorrow reader Zachary Roth. The network gets paid by the VNR producers for ” transmission time on various satellite news feeds, run by CNN, Fox, CBS, AP or whoever” and then “local stations also pay the owners of the news feeds to gain access to the stories.” No wonder the networks do it, easy cash money– twice.

Posted by Jake on March 16, 2005 3:49 pm

Worst. Corporation. Ever.

So many flavors of corporate scum, but the (aptly-named) Austrailian timber company Gunns Limited may take the cake. Here’s how they operate:

First, their loggers come and clear-cut an area. Then, rather than hauling out the felled trees, helicopters are sent in to drop incendiary devices to light the slag on fire. (Side note: Due to Gunn’s practice of not hauling out felled trees, more than 4,000 timber-related jobs have been lost in Tasmania since 1994.) The dense hardwoods burn hot and slow for days, but eventually cool back down, and that’s when the loggers return—but not to plant new trees yet. Instead, they scatter the charred forest floor with carrots soaked in a chemical known as 1080. All the animals that then come to feed on the carrots — including wombats, possums, and wallabies — quickly die. Only when all the native life has been drained do the foresters return, to plant non-native trees in massive plantations, which are then aerially sprayed with chemicals.

When residents of the small Tasmanian town of Lucaston found out about Gunns’ plans to set up operations nearby, they became activists, trying to protect their city. How did Gunns respond?

Two weeks before Christmas, on December 14, 2004, Gunns stunned Australia’s conservation community by filing a 216 page, $6.3 million (AU) claim against a group of activists and organizations, including [local activist Lou Geraghty]. Gunns, the world’s largest woodchip exporter, claimed that the group had cost the company millions and demanded their money back. The most costly allegation: environmentalists conspired to pressure Japanese buyers out of doing business with Gunns. “The demands were to be accompanied by threats express and implied,” reads the writ, “of adverse publicity, consumer boycotts, and direct action against the Japanese customers and all of their operations.” For corporate campaign activists, all those tactics are fairly standard fare. Gunns, however, is asking the courts to declare such activity illegal…

It’s not just activists and politicians who are getting sued — Gunns is also going after doctors who complain about potential health risks. In 2002, Dr. Frank Nicklason raised concerns about the possible contamination in massive woodpiles left on a harbor wharf, and called for an independent analysis. What he got instead was a letter from Gunns saying he had “recklessly, irresponsibly and negligently” misused his position as a medical practitioner to draw attention to “supposed health risks existing in the local community.” He has also now been SLAPPed with a potentially large fine, raising alarm in the medical community. As Australian Medical Association’s president told the Australian Financial Times: “Our Hippocratic oath demands we investigate any possible cause of disease, whatever that may be—tobacco, asbestos or any other concerns. It would be a dangerous development if doctors faced legal action any time they raised concerns about public health risks.”

Is Halliburton still single? Cuz we gotta set these two up on a blind date.

Posted by Jake on March 16, 2005 9:25 am

March 13, 2005

PR Nation

It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.

“Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.,” a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of “another success” in the Bush administration’s “drive to strengthen aviation security”; the reporter called it “one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history.” A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration’s determination to open markets for American farmers.

To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The “reporter” covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department’s office of communications.

They’re called video news releases, and we’ve seen them before. Someone with cash hires a PR firm to create some video segments that look like regular news pieces. These fake news pieces are then sent to cash-strapped TV news departments free of charge. And frequently, these news departments will air the fake news without bothering to notify the public that they’re watching fake news. Hell, according to this article, some departments actually go out of their way to hide the fact that the news is fake.

Well, I exaggerate slightly. Many of these “VNRs” are factually accurate, but they present selective facts and selective images. Their intent, obviously, is to manipulate the viewers’ beliefs and perceptions so that the original purchaser of the VNR can continue to covertly screw the viewer. I am worried less these days about the nuances of reality and more with the intent. While a “misleading statement” isn’t a “lie”, that’s the intent. The intent is to deceive and abuse you. Every “campaign contribution”, while it may be entirely legal, is an attempt to bribe. And the intent of every VNR is to play you for a chump. The specific goal may vary, from getting you to vote for one politicla party over another, or to send your kid off to die in a foreign land, or to trick you out of house and home.

But always always, the reality is that someone with cash wants something that you don’t, and they will try to trick you into thinking that you want it too.

I fucking hate these people.

It’s not enough to “support alternative media”, although you probably should. Whenever possible, we need to mock, expose, undermine, subvert, and utlimately replace the mainstream media.

Posted by Jake on March 13, 2005 9:33 pm

Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Children?

I guess I can’t really be surprised that US forces held children prisoner in Iraq, but at this point it would take an American Mengele to shock me.

I don’t know if these children were innocent, or if they had in some way attacked American troops. The Americans working the prison don’t seem to know either, and don’t seem to care in the slightest. In at least one of the cases, it seemed that the kid was imprisoned as a way to pressure the kid’s father. I’m sure that that’s in the rules of war somewhere, that kids are fair game as long as their parents might possibly have done something bad.

But at least none of those kids were abused, says the Pentagon. After printing this claim, the article above then cites one case where soldiers sexually assaulted a teenage girl, and another bizarre case where soldiers apparently smeared cold mud all over a teenage boy and made his father watch the son shiver as a means of extorting information from the father. But I’m sure that these were the only acts of soldiers abusing innocent child prisoners in all of Iraq. After all, the abuse at Abu Ghraib turned out to be solely the work of Lyndie England, didn’t it? Didn’t it?

Let’s up your outrage-o-stat with this link of declassified documents about torture obtained by the ACLU.

I really don’t understand my fellow Americans on this one. We claim to hold sacred principles like liberty and justice. And while I understand that many Americans buy into the idea that the war in Iraq was supposed to protect us from terrorism, how many of your sacred principles do you want to stomp on for your own safety? Cuz I’m willing to risk a little of my own security in exchange for not putting innocent children in prison. Not that I actually believe that an Iraqi kiddie jail is going to make me safer, but I think you get the idea. At what point do Americans say “I’d rather risk a terrorist attack than have that done in my name”?

But let’s end this with an absolutely astounding quote that the American head of Iraqi jails claims that “the second most senior army general in Iraq” said to her:

“I don’t care if we’re holding 15,000 innocent civilians. We’re winning the war.”

Posted by Jake on March 13, 2005 10:16 am

March 10, 2005

$tudent Activist$

Just got an email about a college scholarship that might apply to some of my readers:

The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund has applications available for student activists who are building the progressive movement and will be enrolled in school during the 2005-06 academic year.

The Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund has applications available for student activists who are building the progressive movement and will be enrolled in school during the 2005-06 academic year…

What is the Davis-Putter Fund? Since 1961, the Davis-Putter Scholarship Fund has provided need-based grants to student activists who are able to do academic work at the college level and are involved in building the movement for social and economic justice.

Who does the Fund support? Davis-Putter grantees are both graduate and undergraduate students who are enrolled in an accredited school for the time period covered by their grant. Although US citizenship is not a consideration, applicants must live in the United States and plan to enroll an accredited program in the US in order to qualify. There is a strong preference for grantees who plan to stay in the United States and build the progressive movement here.

What kind of activities are grantees involved in? Early recipients fought for civil rights, against
McCarthyism, and for peace in Vietnam. More recently, grantees have been active in the struggle against racism, sexism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression; building the movement for economic justice; and creating peace through international, anti-imperialist solidarity.

How large are the scholarships the Fund provides? The maximum grant is $6,000 and may be considerably smaller depending on the applicant’s circumstances and the amount of funding available. All of the funds for scholarships come from the contributions of individual donors and we generally make between 25 and 30 grants each year. Grants are for one year although students may re-apply for subsequent years.

Deadline’s April 1, info and applications available at www.davisputter.org.

Good luck.

Posted by Jake on March 10, 2005 10:26 am

March 9, 2005

And Sometimes You Win

Got some great news today.

After a four-year struggle, the Taco Bell Boycott is over, and the farmworkers have won.

Long story short, Taco Bell gets all its tomatoes from a produce company in Immokalee, Florida. The workers who pick the tomatoes have been making 40 cents for every 32-pound bucket they fill– sub-poverty wages. And due to laws I’ve never understood, the farmworkers are legally barred from forming a union, so they had to try a different strategy.

Their strategy to earn a living wage was to encourage a boycott of Taco Bell, in hopes that the corporation would in turn pressure the farmworkers’ direct employer to pay them better. However under this strategy, Taco Bell had complete– and justified– deniability. “We’re not underpaying these farmers, we’re not their boss” was a perfect deflection, and a true statement, one that I feared that Taco Bell would use forever. And at the same time, I couldn’t think of many more tactics the farmers could use to achieve their ends.

And then today, I discovered that Taco Bell had agreed to pay one extra penny per pound of tomatoes, to go directly to the workers, and the company has also agreed to try to help improve working conditions for the farmworkers– which is what the farmworkers have been asking for all along. That one penny almost doubles the farmworkers pay. And even if Taco Bell passes 100% of that expense on to their customers, that’s probably less than a tenth of a cent per item. I imagine that most consumers would be willing to make that sacrifice so that a few thousand farmers can feed their families.

As I am a cynic, I am torn between celebration and suspicion. I will certainly be keeping an eye on the restaurant giant for any signs that they are breaking their agreement.

This is a great success, but it was not easy. This campaign was four years of massive effort by the farmworkers, labor unions, students, muckrakers, musicians, writers, actors, religious groups, and average concerned citizens. My deepest congratulations to the Immokalee workers and all their allies. Sí, se puede.

Posted by Jake on March 9, 2005 4:21 pm

March 7, 2005

Republicans Hate You. They Fucking Hate You

On CNN this morning, the reporters talked about two competing minimum wage bills that the Senate is debating right now, a Republican version and a Democratic version. They noted that the Democratic bill called for a larger increase in the minimum wage than the Republican one, and that both parties wanted to tie the bill to the pending bankrupcty bill. Then they went on to Sports or something.

This is so fucking negligent it hurts. Wanna know about the Republican minimum wage bill? Let’s talk to our pal Nathan Newman:

while 1.2 million workers could qualify for a minimum wage increase, another 6.8 million workers, who work in companies with revenues between $500,000 and $1,000,000 per year, would lose their current minimum wage protection.

Yes, the bill will give 1.2 million works $1.10 more per hour (phased in over 18 months), but it will remove the minimum wage for 6.8 million workers.

But wait, there’s more!

The bill also pushes for “flex time” instead of overtime. The idea isn’t bad: instead of getting paid time and a half for the extra hours you work, you get to trade those in for hours off when it best suits you. In reality, flex time is you work extra hours, don’t get extra pay, and get to trade in those hours when the boss tells you to. Which means that you get hosed.

But wait, there’s more!

The bill will give states the option of banning a required guaranteed wage to workers who make money in tips. In other words, if you’re a waitress, bartender, etc., your boss could pay you nothing, as long as your tips added up to more than minimum wage.

The fact that CNN could report on this bill and not mention the fact that it would, y’know, radically alter wage labor as we know it… what kind of chump do you have to be to miss that? Remember, professional journalists must be trusted and respected while bloggers are to be derided and ignored. Beacause, that’s why.

But wait, there’s more!

These bills are buried within a larger bankruptcy bill, which will make you cry!

The bankruptcy bill is supposed to be about “ending abuse” of bankruptcy, which allows you to get out of paying some of your debts when you’re broke. Creditors don’t like it much, because they want their money, even if it means that you end up lying broken and bloody in a ditch. As Kevin Drum’s post notes, the bill seems aimed at people who went broke due to legitimate reasons and medical catastrophes, and leaves loopholes for the wealthy to abuse the system.

In another post, Drum also notes that targetting the poor to make money off of the subsequent penalties and late fees is the de facto business plan of most credit card companies today. It’s thuggery by quill, death by fine print.

But we did dodge half of this bullet. The Senate decided to vote down any minimum wage riders to the bankruptcy bill. Hooray, kinda.

“‘All for ourselves,
and nothing for other people,’
seems, in every age of the world,
to have been the vile maxim
of the masters of mankind.”
-Adam Smith

Posted by Jake on March 7, 2005 9:13 pm

March 3, 2005

Doubleplusfuckedup

We all know that “downsizing” means firing people from their jobs and “collateral damage” means dead civilians. We’ve got a new fave on the docket.

“Extraordinary rendition”.

It means kidnap and torture. Sweet, isn’t it? Not a chance you’d read that phrase and think “kidnap and torture”.

More specifically, it means being kidnapped by American agents, who then ship you to a human rights abusin’ country to be interrogated.

Back in the 1990s, Saturday Night Live had a chronic skit called “Deep Thoughts”, where a guy read off some quirky, crazy ponderings. I remember one was “I hope in the future Americans are thought of as a warlike, vicious people, because I bet a lot of high schools would pick ‘Americans’ as their mascot.”

Mission Accomplished.

[via Politics in the Zeros]

[update]

My friend David has sent me some more in-depth links about extraordinary rendition. Haven’t had a chance to read em yet myself.

Outsorcing Torture

Aboard Air CIA

Rule Change Lets C.I.A. Freely Send Suspects Abroad to Jails

[/update]

Posted by Jake on March 3, 2005 9:47 pm

French Kissing Big Brother

Okay, it’s over. We’re done.

Bill O’Reilly:

So look, I’m declarin’ war on the ACLU. I think they’re a terrorist group.

This comes from a rant that he was giving about how “every single thing the United States government tries to do to protect us against terrorism, these people [the ACLU] oppose and they’ll sue.” He then jumps to the conclusion above. I don’t think that O’Reilly actually believes that, I think he just wanted to send some sparks flying.

But just the same, this asshole has now put the idea out into the mainstream that civil liberties are terrorism.

Well, okay, Media Matters tells us that this isn’t exaclty the first time O’Reilly has said such things.

“I have to pick on the ACLU because they’re the most dangerous organization in the United States of America right now. There’s by far. There’s nobody even close to that. They’re, like, second next to Al Qaeda.”

Hitler would be a card-carrying ACLU member. So would Stalin.”

After reading those, I’m going to be picking up chunks of my brain off the floor for weeks. The most dangerous organization? So many other candidates come to mind, the LAPD, Wal-Mart, the IMF, Phillip-Morris, Monsanto, DuPont, the Aryan Nations, Congress… And why two totalitarians would want to join a pro-civil liberties group is beyond me. Maybe they have that “fear of success” I’m always hearing about.

In conclusion, Bill O’Reilly is high on goofballs, and is a fucking dick. Thank you and goodnight.

Posted by Jake on March 3, 2005 9:22 pm

March 2, 2005

Reverse Perestroika

I really wish this was a joke.

With President Putin’s popularity in sharp decline, the Kremlin has set up a new Russian youth movement to ensure its control of the streets in the event of mass anti-government protests.

Hundreds of youths, many belonging to the president’s cultural society “Walking Together”, held a meeting in a house owned by the Kremlin Property Department to launch the group at the weekend. The organisation, which leaders hope will attract 300,000 members, was christened “Nashi” [Ours], a word which in Russian has chilling nationalist overtones.

Are you fucking kidding me? Putin’s putting together his own Hitler Youth, and calls these kids “Nashi”?

Oh, it gets better.

When two outsiders – one from an opposition party, the other a journalist – sneaked into its founding conference, they were humiliated and one was beaten.

Okay, maybe they’re not Hitler Youth 2.0, maybe they’re neo-brownshirts. Or those jackbooted motherfuckers running around near the end of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”.

Posted by Jake on March 2, 2005 4:31 pm

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