Lying Media Bastards

January 31, 2006

Sideshow

The president’s yearly State of the Union address masquerades as an update on the status of the country (as if we didn’t have this thing called “the news”) and as an outline of the president’s vision for the next year. Of course, what it’s really about is trying to score political points with your words given the existing climate in popular opinion. I’m not even sure if it rises to the level of political theater; it seems much more to me like one of many moves on a chess board in the arrogant game of power.

Therefore, the State of the Union address is meaningless, and no one should bother to pay attention to it.

[abrupt change of tone in 3… 2… 1…]

Which is why me and my fellows at RadioActive San Diego will be covering the speech live tonight! We’ll stream the speech as it goes, carving it up, pointing out the lies, and above all, mocking the Fucker-In-Chief, in the hopes that sarcasm will prevent us all from screaming.

Please join us.

RadioActiveRadio.org
Tuesday, January 31, 2006
6pm-8pm PST (-ish)

Posted by Jake on January 31, 2006 9:18 am

January 30, 2006

That Revolutionary Truth Stuff

Yesterday’s NY Times has a shockingly blunt editorial about Bush’s domestic wiretapping program. It tells the plain truth, and correctly dismisses Republican spin as ridiculous lies.

Just sad that it took them so long, and that I have to give them praise for doing their job properly.

Posted by Jake on January 30, 2006 3:41 pm

January 29, 2006

The UnNews

Once again, Project Censored has released their Top 25 Censored Stories of the year (convenient version here, full version here). Top of the list: rising presidential power, rising corporate power, ebbing democracy, Iraq.

Posted by Jake on January 29, 2006 2:54 pm

January 28, 2006

Radi0 Killed the Radio Star

(I really need to stop biting The Buggles for my blog post titles)

I’m a bit ignorant on the tech behind this, but let’s see if I can keep up…

The broadcast industry is making moves towards digital TV and radio (often called “high definition” or “HD”). Allegedly these technologies make for better media quality, but require the purchase of all new digital receivers to make them work. And at least in the case of TV, the plan is to completely phase out analog broadcasts by the start of 2009. At which point, if you want to watch broadcast television, you’ll have to buy a new TV, or converter box. Which is pretty ridiculous. When was the last time you said “this show is good, but I wish that Spongebob’s face was just a bit crisper“?

Anyhow, I’m drifting.

One of the other (supposed) benefits of digital broadcast was that you could fit more channels in there. And just this month, radio started giving this a try. As I understand it, you would tune into a regular station, like 90.7FM, and have the option of listening to the old station at that frequency, or push a button on your digital radio to hear a second station coming out of that same frequency (of course, given the state of most radio, both stations will likely suck).

Except… maybe none of this works like it’s supposed to. DIYMedia.net tells us that the technology used for this new “multicasting” is highly flawed. For example, the sound quality of a multicast signal can’t go above 96kbps. And if you want to have more than one channel coming out of there, you have to divide that 96 up between the multiple stations. Your average mp3 file is at 128kbps, and mp3s are only “near CD quality”, and most of us internet broadcasters settle for 64kbps. Frankly, I have to wonder if my source here is accurate, just because this seems so idiotic. Would you pour money into a radio station like this if you knew that the sound quality was going to be that shitty?

DIY also tells us that digital broadcasters are looking to build anti-copying technology into the mix, so that you couldn’t pirate their low quality crap.

In conclusion, it seems that HD radio is destined to die a painful death.

Posted by Jake on January 28, 2006 10:03 pm

January 26, 2006

LMB Radio 01-26-06

LMB Radio 01-26-06

Table of Contents:

- Alito filibuster
- media merger news
- bloggers vs. Chris Matthews
- bloggers vs. Washington Post
- “the gasface”
- right-wing clones exposed
- gay actors for Satan
- Bush’s health plan of death
- Israel created Hamas?

Musically, we’ve got Run DMC, Johnny Magnet, Mos Def, Ken Boothe & Stranger Cole, Boy Sets Fire, Scapegoat Wax, the Liars, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Ride, VHS or Beta, Eric B & Rakim, Evolution Control Committee, Los Villains, Editors, Jens Lenkman, the Hillbilly Hellcats, and more.

This coming Tuesday, January 31, the president will be giving his State of the Union address, and RadioActive San Diego will be airing it live, with me and DJ Al tearing it to shreds. Should be fun. I think we’ll start around 6pm.

Posted by Jake on January 26, 2006 9:53 pm

January 24, 2006

Roar

A gen-u-ine must read, from Buffalo NY’s biweekly “The Beast”:

The BEAST 50 Most Loathsome People in America, 2005

It’s so long, I’ve only skimmed it so far, but it’s a series of furious, no gloves screeds against some of the country’s most vile celebrities and politicians. Some of my favorite bits:

Rather than engage in the admittedly difficult task of justifying GOP policies rationally, the key to Limbaugh’s success is attracting an audience that actually yearns to be lied to. It doesn’t matter how many righteous fact-checkers assail him in print and on the web, because dittoheads don’t care that he’s lying, as long as the lies justify their prejudices. Limbaugh’s program is not just hypocritical; it is a celebration of hypocrisy for ignorant crackers, angry at smart people and strung out on the dwindling sensation that they are better than everyone else by virtue of their race, sex, nationality or level of bluster, because their character and accomplishments don’t warrant such feelings.

Rove is decidedly not a genius; he is simply missing the part of his soul that prevents the rest of us from kicking elderly women in the face.

Posted by Jake on January 24, 2006 11:19 pm

The Opposition Party

Re-discovering a fun comic strip called Idiot Box.

Quite enjoying this one, entitled Being a Democrat.

Posted by Jake on January 24, 2006 10:18 am

January 22, 2006

Western Media Bastards

I meant to post this earlier in the week. The author dissects the common stereotypical coverage that Western writers and journalists give to Africa. Actually, he doesn’t just dissect them, he knocks these conventions to the ground, slices them up the middle, deftly removes each organ, and holds it aloft, pointing out the shallowness, the sensationalism, the racism, the contempt, the condescencion, the wicked glee, the self-congratulation, the arrogance…

A taste:

Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title. Subtitles may include the words ‘Zanzibar’, ‘Masai’, ‘Zulu’, ‘Zambezi’, ‘Congo’, ‘Nile’, ‘Big’, ‘Sky’, ‘Shadow’, ‘Drum’, ‘Sun’ or ‘Bygone’. Also useful are words such as ‘Guerrillas’, ‘Timeless’, ‘Primordial’ and ‘Tribal’. Note that ‘People’ means Africans who are not black, while ‘The People’ means black Africans.

Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress…

Throughout the book, adopt a sotto voice, in conspiracy with the reader, and a sad I-expected-so-much tone. Establish early on that your liberalism is impeccable, and mention near the beginning how much you love Africa, how you fell in love with the place and can’t live without her. Africa is the only continent you can love—take advantage of this. If you are a man, thrust yourself into her warm virgin forests. If you are a woman, treat Africa as a man who wears a bush jacket and disappears off into the sunset. Africa is to be pitied, worshipped or dominated. Whichever angle you take, be sure to leave the strong impression that without your intervention and your important book, Africa is doomed…

[Thanks to Nik for the tip]

Posted by Jake on January 22, 2006 4:34 pm

Slimey Republican Irony

Today, January 22, 2006, is the 33rd anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision (and Blog for Choice Day). This Friday, as a complete and utter coincidence, the White House proclaimed that January 22 would be National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

Bush’s proclamation reads like a shopping list of Fundamentalist issues in mild code, but may as well say “soon we’ll wipe out abortion, and then we’ll work on ending sex.” And it’s just nauseating to read Bush’s lofty words about “every human being has rights, dignity, and value”, and “protect[ing] human life.” I’m sorry, but how many people did you execute as the governor of Texas? And didn’t you start a fucking war with another country? Apparently human lives have value, as long as they’re not prison inmates, soldiers, or Arabs. Or maybe only globs of human cells in the womb count as human. Hard to tell with the Bush crowd.

Of course, a large part of the Christian Right’s agenda is about the control, but controlling women’s sexual practices is a large part as well: banning abortion, banning birth control, abstinence training, and the promotion of marriage no matter what are key aspects. However, their treatment of abortion differs a bit from the rest, in my opinion.

When reading passionate arguments from pro-life folks, it often seems to me that the underlying motive is punishment. “You had sex. Now you should have to carry the baby for 9 months and give up the next 18 years of your life to raise it. Serves you right, you dirty slut.” There certainly are pro-life folks who are concerned about the life of the fetus, but the punishment angle is extremely popular. And while punishing someone for a certain behavior is a means of control their behavior, it seems like the pro-lifers would prefer a world in which sexually active people are punished more than one where everyone remains virginal till marriage.

I do occasionally hear men say “abortion’s got nothing to do with me, that’s a woman thing”, refusing to take a stance at all. Which is pretty pathetic. Most men have a mother, a sister, a grandmother, an aunt, a niece, girlfriend, wife, female co-worker or female friend who they happen to care about. In other words, it may not effect you directly, but could effect someone you’re very close to. Don’t you want the women that you care about to be able to make their own choices, to have happy and fulfilling lives?

I don’t know that I’ve said anything particularly new or interesting here, but I thought I’d say a little something. When men refuse to get involved with this fight, women lose.

Posted by Jake on January 22, 2006 2:38 pm

January 19, 2006

LMB Radio 01-19-06

LMB Radio 01-19-06

Featuring:

- technical glitches
- a belated Coil tribute
- Martin Luther King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech
- Jake risks sounding naive and preachy to explain his hopes and fears
- Soderbergh battles/embraces piracy
- HDFM/multicasting
- govt vs google
- Congressional “reform”
- random idiocy

Musically, we’ve got A Tribe Called Quest, Failure, Hot Chip, Anti-Flag, the Prix, the Coup, Korn, the Flesh, Smashing Pumpkins, Camera Obscura, Dramarama, and more.

Oh, and the interview I referred to in the show did not take place (damn dude wouldn’t answer his phone), but you can read about the UCSD Darfur divestment protest here.

Posted by Jake on January 19, 2006 11:37 pm

January 17, 2006

What Up, Jake?

Sometime near the end of high school, I came to realize that I had some sort of long-term mental/behavioral cycle. I’d have an absorption phase, where I’d read like crazy, taking in all sorts of knowledge and literature. Some months later, I’d have sort of an output phase, where I’d have synthesized a bunch of this new info and now I was constantly thinking and writing. Then months later, I’d have an art phase, where I’d do a bunch of drawing, painting and experimenting.

Once I started getting into politics, I sort of excised the art phase. It seemed too self-indulgent. And years later, I thought I was done with these cycles altogether. Until now, where I clearly seem to be in an absorption phase. The lack of posts on this site is a dead giveaway. On top of that, I’m spending all my time on the net, reading articles, as well as reading books on Iraq, media, agriculture, and the drug industry, and listening to all sorts of news and politics on the radio.

I’m not sure if I should try to fight this urge and put more effort into writing, or just do my light blog posting and keep on filling my brain.

Anyhow.

It’s my birthday today, so I think posting will be light this week no matter what (I tend to stretch these things out). It’s been a life-saving year, where I was able to pick my battered self up off the floor, dust myself off, get my bearings and rest up a bit. This is in no small part due to the generosity of my dad, who’s let me stay at his place all these months. I can’t thank him enough for that. Also many thanks to the boss at my new(-ish) job, who hired me when she probably didn’t need to, and gave me a path out of LA.

But I have stayed here too long. I’ve gotten a bit complacent about things, and have also been infected by the unique relaxation that comes with beach communities. I mean, you’ve got a home, a family, and you live by the beach, you probably feel like you’ve made it. There’s just not a sense of urgency around here, but I’ve got no interest in this particular rut/groove. I plan to soon move down closer to San Diego proper, towards the more politicized and creative folk I’ve met through my radio work (big howdy’s and thanks to RadioActive folk).

Looks like my writing work with Amnesty International is finally going to kick off into… well, not “high gear”… maybe first gear. And I’ll be on the lookout for additional writing work, and I plan on writing a book, if I can figure out a politics & media topic that hasn’t already been done to death (although maybe I’ll hold off on the new writing projects till I’m out of my “absorb mass quantities” funk). I’m also hoping to hit up a couple of indymedia/activist conferences before the year’s out, so I’ll get in a little traveling and networking.

So there you go, a fairly selfish post, me me me and where I’m at.

Posted by Jake on January 17, 2006 1:46 am

King Kaleidoscope

Every year around Martin Luther King Day, my friend Geov Parrish writes a column to remind everyone that King was not the faded, huggable icon of goodness that has come to replace him. He wasn’t an orator saying “can’t we all just get along?”, he was a rebel, who spoke out and organized against racism, poverty, violence, exploitation, American foreign policy, materialism, and American hypocrisy. During his lifetime, many people hated King. Hated him. Feared him. Demonized him. Threatened him. And, of course, eventually murdered him.

I’m kicking myself for missing it, but the cartoon The Boondocks recently aired an episode in which it turns out that King survived his assassination, and woke up from a decades-long coma in modern day. Needless to say, he was quickly denounced as an enemy of America and terrorist sympathizer.

Just a reminder, but the government was against King too:

The government began spying on MLK in the late 1950s for his alleged Communist influences but quickly shifted to investigating King’s role as a civil rights leader.

In a 1963 internal memo, counterintelligence specialist Charles D. Brennan stated that civil rights agitation represented a clear threat to “the established order” of the U.S. and that “King is growing in stature daily as the leader among leaders of the Negro movement.” COINTELPRO head William C. Sullivan responded in a letter: “We must mark [King] now, if we have not before, as the most dangerous Negro in the future of this Nation from the standpoint of communism, the Negro, and national security . . . it may be unrealistic to limit [our actions against King] to legalistic proofs that would stand up in court or before Congressional Committees.”

Instead of sticking to the law, then, the FBI aimed to discredit King by any means necessary. Agents tapped his phone, bugged his rooms, trumpeted his supposed commie connections, and his sexual proclivities, and sicced the Internal Revenue Service on him. When it was announced in 1964 that King would receive a Nobel Peace Prize, the FBI grew desperate. Hoping to prevent King from accepting the award, the Bureau mailed him a package containing a tape of phone calls documenting King’s extramarital affairs and an anonymous, threatening letter (shown here in censored form). In barely concealed language, King was told to commit suicide before the award ceremony or risk seeing his “filthy, abnormal fraudulent self” exposed to the nation.

[See a copy of the threatening letter here]

King always not always successful in his campaigns. Witnesses in this article argue that King accepted a weak deal when campaigning for an end to housing segregation in Chicago. Despite all our stereotypes of Southern racism, the raw and furious hate from whites in Northern Chicago seemed too much for King and nonviolence to overcome.

I find that King’s most powerful speech is not his “I Have a Dream” speech, although that one of course is moving and inspirational. I think the speech that everyone needs to read is Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence. Some of it is very time-sensitive and detailed, information about US actions in Vietnam (but not so specific that Juan Cole can’t look at the text of the speech and make a very compelling argument for what a modern day King’s position would be on the Iraq war). But more than anything, it is a call for global revolution, for the end of war, injustice, riches and poverty, for the destruction of all of the values and institutions and beliefs that stop human beings from taking care of each other, the way we so obviously could.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life’s roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life’s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: “This is not just.” It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: “This is not just.” The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: “This way of settling differences is not just.” This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

There’s another part of this speech which helps spell out something I’ve been unable to adequately phrase myself, something important.

It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken — the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

It seems clear to me that the United States is on the wrong side of many issues, and that the actions taken by our government, our corporations, and ourselves as individuals often make things worse for the other 5+ billion people on Planet Earth. Masses suffer for us to live with the convenience we do, and we are scarcely aware of it. And it is my belief that if you lay the facts out for Americans, if you expose them to these truths and let them see things in a new way, that most of them will say “oh God, this is wrong! What are we going to do to fix this?”

That is my belief. But my fear is that they won’t. That when faced with the choice between radical lifestyle change and global injustice, that they’ll choose the injustice. That folks will say “yeah, my shoes are made by 14 year old girls in Vietnam who make pennies a day, but so what?”, or “it’s sad that all those Arabs have to live in ruthless dictatorships, but I can’t live without my gas-guzzling SUV”.

I guess that’s one of the core reasons I write, hoping that my fellow Americans aren’t beyond redemption, that we can play a role in the reshaping of the world for maximum benefit, that we are not truly the enemies of humanity.

Posted by Jake on January 17, 2006 12:52 am

January 13, 2006

LMB Radio 01-12-06

LMB Radio 01-12-06

This is largely a theft show. I replay elements of The Daily Show, and radio shows Counterspin and Mindwalk. Muses and rants:

- TDS on “responsible political debate”
- Counterspin reviews 2005 media
- iPants, digital vinyl, and cell records for sale
- more spying on activists
- anarchist morality
- bicycling is not a crime
- Iraqi journalist attack

It’s a good mix, even if it’s only partially my fault.

Musically, we’ve got Blur, System of a Down, Tones on Tail, Dokaka, The Sword, Dropkick Murphys, Colectivo Error, Metric, Squirrel Nut Zippers, Luminescent Orchestrii, Sonic Youth, and more.

And why is my November 11 show so popular? You kids are downloading that one like it’s going out of style.

Posted by Jake on January 13, 2006 1:06 am

January 11, 2006

Yoink!

What the fuck?

The IRS has frozen refunds for hundreds of thousands of low-income taxpayers without telling them they’re being investigated for tax fraud or giving them a chance to defend themselves, the IRS taxpayer advocate said Tuesday…

More than three-quarters of the returns investigated were for low-income families who claimed the earned income tax credit, a program that provides tax refunds for the working poor. Delayed refunds cause a “significant hardship” for these taxpayers..

The taxpayer advocate’s office estimates up to 1.6 million refunds have been frozen over the past five years. Once a taxpayer’s refund is frozen, the IRS will automatically freeze future refund claims until the taxpayer files an undisclosed number of “legitimate” returns, the taxpayer advocate report says.

The IRS doesn’t notify taxpayers that their returns are being investigated for fraud. And even if taxpayers inquire about their refunds, IRS employees are usually barred from providing any information until six months after the taxpayer’s inquiry.

So, I file my taxes, expecting a big refund, or at one that I really need to pay the bills. The IRS decides that I might have lied on my tax forms, so they freeze my refund without telling me. If I call them up to find out what’s going on, they will refuse to tell me for six months. If I don’t try to find out what’s going on, they will freeze all of my subsequent refunds until I’ve sent them a number of tax returns that they think I didn’t lie on. How many tax returns? The IRS won’t say.

Seriously, how much money do they think they’re really recovering here? Enough to justify leaving thousands of families waiting for their refund out to dry?

Posted by Jake on January 11, 2006 10:00 pm

January 9, 2006

Last Amendment

Every issue of free speech or censorship is not necessarily a “First Amendment” issue. The First Amendment simply says that the government can’t take away your right to free speech (although it can and does, but you know what I’m saying). It’s not the First Amendment when the newspaper won’t print your letter, or your record store only carries censored albums or your friend tells you to shut up, because the government was not involved. And it’s definitely not a First Amendment issue if censorship happens outside of the US. It makes me wince a bit when my fellow Americans occasionally rail against “First Amendment violations” of someone living in the UK, or Spain or someplace.

And of course, we’ve got some examples today.

First off, we’ve got “the gay cowboy movie.” Apparently the movie was schedule to play at Mexaplex 17 in Salt Lake City, but was cancelled literally hours before the first screening was going to begin.

My first thought was that the theater was facing threats of boycotts from local conservative groups. I mean, what else could explain a theater violating its contract with a movie distribution company to turn down a movie that’s earning around $12,000 a week for each theater that shows it? That’s bad business sense any way you look at it.

But I think there’s a different reason. Apparently the owner of Jordan Commons, the shopping center that houses Megaplex 17, had the plot of Brokeback Mountain described to him for the first time about two hours before the theater cancelled the shows. So the smart money’s on the “owner pressured theater” angle. And why did the owner make such a decision? Presumably thinking that gay movies are bad for his family-themed mall, or simple prejudice.

I know that some folks have been brainwashed by their holy books to think that homosexuality is wicked, but come on, the theater didn’t cancel their screenings of Hostel. Have you seen the ads for Hostel? Near as I can figure, it’s 90 minutes of people chained to chairs, being tortured. Gory, sadistic, blowtorch and power drill torture. But at least it doesn’t have men kissing. That could set a bad example for young people.

First Amendment: no.
Censorship: yes.

Next up, we’ve got censorship online. Apparently the newly News Corp.-owned MySpace.com is deleting parts of messages sent to and from MySpace users if they happen to contain links to MySpace rivals. I tried this on my own MySpace page, and so far no deletion. Granted, it’s only been a few hours… I think it would be great if folks left MySpace in droves so that News Corp’s $600+ million investment became worthless.

First Amendment: no.
Censorship: yes.

Then finally, we’ve got the Iraqi journalist who was seized from his home by US troops and then interrogated… several days after the journalist (Ali Fadhil) informed US forces that he was investigating the tens of millions of dollars which have gone missing under US control. The troops are claiming that they were “looking for an Iraqi insurgent”, and took some of Fadhil’s videotapes. If all they did was bust in, take some tapes and leave, that might not be too far-fetched of an explanation. But they bust in after learning about Fadhil’s investigation, shoot the place up, seize tapes for the pending investigation, seize Fadhil, interrogate him, and then send him home… well, fishy doesn’t begin to cover it.

First Amendment: no. First of all, this took place outside of the US and secondly, it was more analogous to a violation of the Fourth Amendment, against unlawful search and seizure. It may indeed have violated the Iraqi constitution as well, as Juan Cole points out.
Censorship: Seems to me that unless this was one of those krazy US military mix-ups we hear so much about, that the intent of this raid was likely to shut Fadhil up. More intimidation than censorship, but with both goals achieved.

Now that I write this, I feel a little silly including movie cancellations and MySpace accounts in the same article with gunfire and illegal detention. If only computers came with delete keys…

Posted by Jake on January 9, 2006 11:16 pm

January 8, 2006

Super Listy

The most recent issue of the LA Weekly is stuffed to bursting with “of 2005″ lists, of varying levels of usefulness and surreality. My favorites:

Fish in a Barrel- ruthless political cartoons from “Mr. Fish”
2005 in Words- various, mostly political quotes, the majority of which are used to damn former FEMA head Michael Brown.
3 Happy Endings for 2005 News Stories- rewritten history for brain-splattering effect. My favorite:

The Terri Schiavo Incident

Just as the doctors were about to disconnect Terri from her feeding tube, Terri sat up and said, quite clearly, “Stop! I’m fine!”

The doctors, amazed, looked at each other. Finally one shrugged and said what everyone was thinking: “Call the Republicans and tell them they’re right. Science isn’t real.”

Posted by Jake on January 8, 2006 4:21 pm

January 7, 2006

Jiggy

Album Review of the Year:

Will Smith, Lost and Found (Interscope).
Rapping about subjects other than murder and ass, Will Smith has a sort of candy-corn, Everly Brothers, ranch-dressing, Frosty the Snowman style of rhyming. Like a sock puppet with attitude, his lines flow like ketchup.

Posted by Jake on January 7, 2006 7:48 pm

January 6, 2006

We’re From the International Monetary Fund and We’re Here to Help!

After the recent Iraqi parliamentary elections, I planned on having a good laugh at the expense of Ahmed Chalabi. He’s the con artist who helped pave the way to the invasion of Iraq, hoping that he could seize power in the new regime. He failed, but has proved to be amazingly Rasputin-like in the political world, repeatedly losing it all only to miraculously appear in yet another high ranking position. But his election returns from December were pitiful (e.g. he got 9000 votes in Baghdad out of a potential 6 million), which put quite the grin on my face.

But just as I prepared to mock, I found an article announcing that Chalabi had suddenly become the new oil minister of Iraq. How the hell did that happen?

Well, I guess it wasn’t as abrupt as I thought. Turns out that prior to this shift, Chalabi had been the deputy oil minister, so he was already most of the way there. Which also meant, really, that I had no basis for mocking him. Sure, he lost his run at parliament, but he was second-in-command of one of the largest oil reserves on planet Earth. Nice work if you can get it.

But Chalabi’s “promotion” was abrupt and shady. The former head of the ministry, Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, was relieved of duty for 30 days, because he publicly objected to the government’s plan to raise the domestic price of oil. After finding out that he’d been put on “mandatory administrative leave”, Uloum resigned.

Why would the government choose to raise the price of oil for its own people, especially in the midst of such chaos? Ah, now we get down to it.

On December 24, the Iraqi government cut a deal with the International Monetary Fund for an emergency loan of $685 million and a “debt exchange” (which if I understand correctly means that Iraq’s $14 billion in foreign debts somehow gets converted into $3 billion). And to receive these financial incentives, the government agreed to cut public subsidies that kept prices low for the staples of gas, kerosene, and cooking oil. Without these subsidies, the price of gas has jumped up about 13 times, and will likely continue to around 20 times.

As you can imagine, when the price of gasoline suddenly increases by a factor of 10 or more, people get angry. Because not only does that mean you’re paying more at the pumps, it means that everything you buy that needs to be transported from one place to another also increases. Add to that the increase in kerosene, which you use to heat your home at night, and cooking oil so you can prepare meals for yourself and your family, and, well, here come the riots.

It’s estimated that the cost of the fuel subsidies was about $6 billion. So $6 billion of the $11 billion in debt racked up by the tyrant Saddam Hussein is being taken out of the hides of the Iraqi people he oppressed. Sounds like freedom to me.

And this is just the first of presumably multiple deals between the Iraqi government and the IMF (I stress the term “Iraqi government”, because the Iraqi people probably wouldn’t make these deals, and it’s unlikely that Iraqi officials will feel the same hardships that these deals will cause the majority of the Iraqi people). The IMF’s typical gameplan is to help a country become economically successful is to get that country to make itself “friendly to foreign investment.” This usually means that the government has to cut subsidies, cut social services, curtail workers’ rights, eliminate environmental protections, and privatize state-owned industries. Ironically, the country that most closely followed IMF mandates, Argentina, saw its economy utterly collapse due to these policy changes. You’ve gotta wonder who’s side they’re on.

The absolute kicker to the Iraq-IMF deal is that the the post-occupation Coalition Provisional Authority was given $12 billion by the US Congress to rebuild Iraq, and somehow can’t explain where $8.8 billion of it went. While I suppose it could be bookkeeping snafus, it seems most likely that this money was embezzled, stolen, wasted, and used in other corrupt manners. If the Iraqi government had that money now (and if the government was at all accountable to its people), they wouldn’t have needed this $635 million emergency loan, they could’ve paid off much of Saddam’s debt, and they wouldn’t be following the grisly IMF plan for success.

Posted by Jake on January 6, 2006 4:55 pm

We’ll Bomb Our Way Out

This story is just not getting the coverage it needs.

It’s the US exit strategy for Iraq: decrease the number of American soldiers on the ground, and replace them with air support for Iraqi troops and police. This decreases the number of American casualties and makes the Iraqi forces look more effective.

Of course, dropping 500 pound bombs from thousands of feet above the target means that more civilians will be accidentally killed in this new strategy, but when has the White House shown concern for Iraqi lives?

How much bombing are we talking about? Well, for the first 8 months of the year, the US averaged 25 airstrikes in Iraq per month. In November there were 120, and December 150.

True, the US will be using laser-guided bombs, which means that there will be fewer civilian deaths than if they were simply dropping bombs blindly. But it seems undeniable that many more innocent people will be killed than would be by US ground troops. The article above gives one example of a US airstrike against three men allegedly planting explosives in Kirkuk. Two laser-guided bombs later, all three were dead– along with seven other people who were standing nearby. And just today, CNN has reported about another US attack gone awry. The bomb hit the wrong building, destroying a family’s home, killing six and wounding three of them.

And the bombing is clearly ramping up at an incredible rate, as this strike was reportedly one of 58 airstrikes that happened in one day.

Spread the word, folks. This is terrible news that’s just going to get worse.

[update]

A reader wrote to me and pointed out that although the bombing campaign has clearly stepped up, that there is no evidence that the US is using fewer ground troops, nor that they are sending any troops home soon. Maybe I’m wrong and this is not an exit strategy (although Seymour Hersh thinks it is), and bombs and troop levels are unrelated. So we get the worst of all possible worlds, more dead Iraqis and just as many dead Americans.

[/update]

Posted by Jake on January 6, 2006 12:36 am

January 5, 2006

LMB Radio 01-05-06

LMB Radio 01-05-06

We discuss:

- the WV coal miner tragedy,
- Iraq, Ahmad Chalabi & the IMF
- invisible airstrikes
- government spying on CNN?
- Time magazine’s “Rich Man of the Year”
- wiretapping scandal
- Republicans vs. Conservatives
- post-Sharon Israeli politics?

Musically, we get Missy Elliott, Giant Drag, Primus, Against Me, O’Death, Chemical Brothers, Morcheeba, the Donnas, the Fatal Flying Guillotines, Born Against, Faith No More, Nouvelle Vague, International Noise Conspiracy, Bad Religion, Okkervil River, some mash-ups from Aggro1 (M.I.A. vs MSI), DJ BC (Flaming Lips vs Snoop Dogg), and DJ Payroll (Beastie Boys vs RATM), and more.

Also, I should mention that my station RadioActive San Diego has a new schedule page in which we actually tell you what each show is about, so you might find more shows to enjoy. Also, we’re adding a number of new shows both local (hip-hop, world beat, news about political prisoners…), and from other parts of the country/globe that might enrich your life. Stay tuned for that.

Posted by Jake on January 5, 2006 6:28 pm

January 4, 2006

Under Arrest

Over the past year, law enforcement has kept up a campaign of harassment and arrest of environmental activists in attempt to solve “eco-terrorism” cases that they have made no progress (of course, “eco-terrorism” is a propaganda term used to demonize; terrorists kill and torture human beings, while the acts committed by so-called “eco-terrorists” are solely aimed at inanimate objects. “Eco-vandals” or “eco-sabateurs” might be a better term). Here in San Diego a number of environmental activists were harassed by police in the blind hope that when faced with jail time, that one of them might give them a clue as to who had set fire to a local apartment complex in the name of the Earth Liberation Front 2 years ago.

And last month, we had the arrests of half a dozen environmental activists on flimsy evidence, alleging that they were involved in arsons in Oregon in the late 1990s. One of these activists could be facing life in prison with the charges he’s up against. From his support network:

Daniel McGowan is an environmental and social justice activist, unjustly arrested and charged in federal court on 16 counts of arson, property destruction, and conspiracy, relating to two incidents that occurred in Oregon in 2001. Daniel has plead “not guilty” and denies any knowledge or involvement in the crimes he is being charged with. He is facing a minimum of 30
years in prison and the possibility of life in prison if convicted.

Daniel is from New York, and has been an active member of the community, working on diverse projects such as the demonstrations against the Republican National Convention, Really Really Free Markets, and supporting political prisoners such as Jeff “Free” Luers and others. Daniel was attending graduate school for acupuncture and was working at Women’s Law, a nonprofit group that helps women in domestic abuse situations navigate the legal system, which is where he was arrested by federal marshals on December 7th, 2005.

Daniel was indicted separately, but his arrest comes in the context of a well-coordinated, multi-state sweep of six activists by the federal government, which has charged the individuals with practically every earth and animal liberation case left unsolved. The arrests were made primarily from information investigators received from activist-turned-informant, Jacob “Sketcher D” Ferguson. Jacob is cooperating with federal investigators and wore wiretapping devices while speaking with several of the defendants, including Daniel. Since then, one of those arrested, Stanislas Meyerhoff, has also decided to cooperate with the prosecution, hoping that the court will show “mercy.” Daniel has stated that there will never be any cooperation on his part with his “captors.”

In order to help Daniel, his family and friends have created a support network (Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan) in order to help fund Daniel’s legal representation which is expected to be hundreds of thousands of dollars. We are asking his friends and supporters to donate what they can to help Daniel’s family with the legal bills. The support group will also be covering the cost of postage and telephone calls, travel expenses for prison visits, reading material for Daniel, his commissary fund, and whatever other needs might arise.

Donations can be made by going to the Daniel McGowan support page at:
http://www.myspace.com/danielmcgowan

In addition, we want to make sure that Daniel is getting the emotional support he needs to remain strong throughout this process. He really appreciates letters and we are asking everyone to please write to him.

Daniel McGowan
# 1407167
Lane County Jail
101 West 5th Avenue
Eugene, OR 97401

Please remember when writing to not discuss his pending case, do not use any nicknames, do not discuss legal information or offer legal advice (even if you are a lawyer), don’t discuss any illegal activity, and be smart– remember that ALL mail is read by prison officials.

On behalf of Daniel, we thank you for your support.
Questions and concerns can be directed to friendsofdanielmcg@yahoo.com

It seems pretty clear that unless people support arrested activists like Daniel, that the courts will run right over them.

More information on the case:

Democracy Now
NYC IndyMedia

Posted by Jake on January 4, 2006 9:10 pm

January 2, 2006

\”CD\” Stands for \”Content Licensing Agreement Between the Consumer and the Party of the First Part\”

Fellow buys new Coldplay CD. Opens package, and finds ridiculous copyright restrictions all over it. Essentially, you probably can’t play the CD in any device that might possibly be used to copy or rip the music. This includes high-end CD players that play multiple disc formats. Meaning that there’s a decent chance that you didn’t buy a musical recording so much as you bought a useless circle of plastic,

If you’re a CD manufacturer, it might make sense to make this sort of CD, to cut down on piracy. And it wouldn’t be that shady, if you clearly marked the CD with some sort of label stating “This disc will only play on certain machines.” But this one doesn’t. You wouldn’t find out about this till after you’ve taken it home and cracked it open.

It would also be helpful if the company told you what specific CD players or models will play this disc. But they don’t bother

And once you open your disc and find out that you don’t have any equipment that will actually play it, the insert in the packaging alerts you that “except for manufacturing problems, we do not accept product exchange, return or refund.” You just sold me a CD that won’t play on most CD players without telling me, fucker! You better give me a refund!

Irony of ironies, the blogger who posted this info tells us that he managed to rip the disc to mp3 just fine. Consumers: 1, Paranoid Corporations: 0.

This article is getting a lot of buzz, but few are pointing out that this CD was purchased in India. No word on whether or not this tech is used on all Coldplay CDs, all EMI CDs, all Coldplay CDs in India, all EMI CDs in India, or if this is a fairly isolated event.

Posted by Jake on January 2, 2006 5:51 pm

Better Living Through Idiocy

It’s a little early in the year for something this moronic, but as a stupid character once said, “stupid is as stupid does”, and who are we to question that?

Concerned Women for America is a conservative organization who’s goal is to “bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” I’d mock them to point out how insane this agenda is, but I think I’ll do that with a one-word summary of their beliefs: “pro-theocracy”.

Now, you wouldn’t think it would be hard for a group like CWA to find plenty of outrage-able examples of homosexual tolerance in this country that they wouldn’t have any trouble spreading the Biblical principle of “smear the queer”. But the CWA must be fresh out if they’re trying to peddle this one.

Y’see, Mattel Toys has a website for Barbie. And on one of these pages, they have a poll, aimed at children age 4-8 years old.

“In January, you’re all about:

- Playing in the snow!
- Ice skating or skiing!
- Staying cozy with cocoa!
- Wearing way-cool winter clothes!”

CWA informs us that this poll is promoting the homosexual agenda. At first, I thought it might be due to all those dirty, dirty, phallic exclamation points. But no, the CWA accuses Mattel of promoting “gender confusion”, because after asking you your age, the poll asks you your gender, and gives you the options

- I am a boy
- I am a girl
- I don’t know

Now, it is a little known fact, but children are stupid. Oh sure, you get the occasional Bobby Fischer or Mozart, but most children age 4-8 are too busy playing with mustard, or trying to put clothes on the dog, to spend much time pondering the heady biological, sociological, psychological, and spiritual issues surrounding gender identification.

I would propose to the CWA that Mattel’s extensive research in child manipulation marketing to children has illuminated them to the “stupid child” issue, and that this knowledge prompted them to say, “I wonder if some of these kids don’t know if they’re a boy or a girl. Maybe we should give them an ‘I don’t know’ choice so that the dumb kids don’t feel left out.” True, if any transgendered children dealing with their identity at such young age happen to visit the website’s poll, perhaps they’d be grateful for the third option (although I doubt that was in anyone’s thoughts when drawing up the poll).

But promote gender confusion? If Mattel had added a “I don’t know” answer to the age question, would they be promoting age confusion? If they’d added an “I don’t know” to their January question, would they be promoting recreational confusion? Did all the multiple choice test I took as a kid with the “Don’t Know” option promote educational confusion? Or are they just additional choices for people without the knowledge or enthusiasm to select an answer?

In conclusion, we must all do the best we can to promote a society as friendly to people of all genders and sexual orientations as possible, or else the CWA has to use pathetic examples like this to scare up followers. And Lord knows we don’t want that.

Posted by Jake on January 2, 2006 4:13 pm

January 1, 2006

Subersive Cinema (Maybe)

Interesting article from a columnist in Philly about the most political movies of 2005 that weren’t blatant about their political message. Frankly, I’ve seen very few of the movies on the list, so I couldn’t say.

Posted by Jake on January 1, 2006 4:45 pm

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