Lying Media Bastards

June 30, 2007

Propaganda Placement

I probably don’t have to tell y’all that the new Michael Moore “American healthcare system is evil” movie Sicko comes out this weekend. Of course, the health care industry has been scared shitless about this for months, and we can see many members of the conservative and mainstream media lining up to demonize the film, demonize Moore, or in a soft sell version, argue that Moore’s proposal to fix the problem by switching to single-payer socialized medicine, like in Canada or the UK, just isn’t the right solution to the problem.

Of course, none of this is “public relation” or “propaganda” or “lies”, the industry is simply “rebutting” Moore’s “one-sided message”, and “educating the public” about what Moore’s movie “left out.”

One of the sleazier efforts comes from omniscient search enginge Google. Google sells space to advertisers that would make their ads appear on pages of search results that are related to the topic being searched for. The Google ads division is now actively courting members of the health care industry to put their propaganda on search result pages relating to Sicko. So even making an attempt to find out where the movie is playing near you could result in getting smacked with industry propaganda.

And this would be a good time to ask: any readers in the UK, Canada, or any other country with a national health care program, could you write a little bit about your experiences here? It is the party line here that socialized medicine would be a disaster, resulting in worse care, long lines, and government bureacrats controlling what doctor you see (unlike the private, for-profit system with moderate care, long lines, and corporate bureacrats controlling what doctor you see). Just anecdotally, I don’t know anyone who has national health care who would swap it for the American system, but I don’t know the scoop. Share your knowledge, folks.

Of course, part of the massive, anti-Sicko PR campaign probably includes agents who will post lies and distortions on blogs and messageboards and all, so maybe I’m just inviting disaster here.

Posted by Jake on June 30, 2007 2:55 pm

Law and Orders

Sometimes I find a bunch of articles on a theme, and have absolutely no choice but to bundle them all together in a unified megapost. No choice at all, I tells ya!

And it’s mostly bad news. Well, a few calls to action on how to help people out, too.

City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography- shaaaady new laws being proposed in NYC that would require folks wanting to photograph or film out in public for more than 30 minutes (or, for groups of more than 5 people, 10 minutes) to obtain a permit from the city and have $1 million in liability insurance. City representatives are going out of their way to say that these rules would not be used against tourists, which makes you wonder who would be targetted under these new rules. And knowing the NYPD as we do, I think its safe to assume that these rules would be used to prohibit or halt video or photography by activists, people filming police misconduct, and people with dark skin– particularly, I suspect, those who might “look Middle Eastern” (any Arab filming a monument in NYC is surely looking to blow it up, right?). If you’d like to send a comment to the appropriate NYC agency about this new rule, you can contact them here.

6 MEMBERS OF ORLANDO FOOD NOT BOMBS ARRESTED- on June 27, a small group of activists protested outside a campaign fundraiser for Orlando mayor Buddy Dyer by playing drums outside the event. Their primary grievance was Dyer’s passage of a bill last year which made it illegal to give away free food in more than 3 dozen public parks. Obviously, the folks of Orlando’s Food Not Bombs, who prepare and serve food to the homeless in some of those same parks, were displeased by this, and six of their members were arrested for violating “noise ordinances” during this protest. One of the six, Eric Montanez, was arrested several months earlier, for violating the anti-food sharing law.

It should go without saying that these sort of laws, being passed in more and more cities, are inhuman acts created so that tourists and middle-class residents continue to spend their money in downtown shops without having their buying moods dampened by the sight of human suffering and poverty. To city councils and entrepreneurs in these cities, the problem is not that people don’t have enough money for food and shelter, it’s that these poor people are not invisible.

Lesbians sentenced 11 years for self-defense- I got emailed this story and reposted it here on my site. Long story short, four African-American lesbians from New Jersey were just sentenced to years of prison time after being harassed, insulted with homophobic and sexist slurs, spat on, attacked by, and scuffling with a man in NYC’s West Village. The man was was later found stabbed and required hospital care. If the women had stabbed him, it seems like it could easily have been a case of self-defense that happened during the scuffle. But according to the article, the knife that one of the women was carrying at the time was never even tested to see if it had been the one that stabbed the man. Either way, the women were convicted

The article outlines how the man’s attack itself was homophobic, and that rhetoric inside the courtroom and in local media continually demonized the women for being lesbians and implied that these were man-haters who committed a hate crime on a straight person. Activist organization FIERCE is asking folks to help support these four women, details at their website.

Ever been to the school district where Brown v Board of Ed was decided?- in the wake of the new Supreme Court decision which says that schools can’t consider a student’s race in attempts to increase racial diversity, a former school teacher recounts her experiences teaching at non-diverse, predominantly black and latino schools. The conditions and resources in these schools were terrible. Which is why schools tried to desegregate in the first place: you never get “separate but equal”, not in a society as racist as ours, you get separate and stratified. The author of this piece lays out some of the naked racism involved in this segregation and in the Supreme Court’s rhetoric surrounding this decision, and goes on to say that the shitty, unequal schools are an essential part of a maintaining a class of poorly educated folks to fill the unskilled, low wage labor force.

NYC Police Brutalize Human Rights Attorney- in a true story that sounds like a parody, attorney Michael Tarif Warren (known for his work regarding police brutality) and his wife were beaten and arrested by police, in broad daylight. Why? Because they witnessed those same police beating a handcuffed suspect, told them to stop, and wrote down the cops’ license plate number. The cops didn’t like that.

Do we need to mention that both Warren and the handcuffed suspect were African-American? Of course we don’t.

Anti-Gay Language Reinstated In DC Appropriations Bill Following Bush Veto Threat- White House vows to veto funding bill for the city of Washington DC unless Congress adds an amendment to the bill that will defund the city’s “domestic partnership registry”, which allows gay couples to have some of the rights of married straight couples. And the House of Representatives went ahead and obliged.

MPAA sues Peekvid, YouTVPC- an interesting copyright/piracy case. A lot of copyrighted movies and television programs that you can watch in their entirety exist on various YouTube-like websites. Peekvid and YouTVPC are websites that have links to these specific TV show and movie files, but do not have any of the material on their own websites. Now the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is suing these two sites anyway. The sites argue that they’re not doing anything illegal, the MPAA argues that they’re making money off illicit material. Curious how that one’s gonna turn out.

Cheney Prompts Storm On Office’s Dual Role- for some years now, Dick Cheney has done his absolute best to prevent any information regarding himself or his colleagues from seeing the light of day (unless, of course, that information is total bullshit and implies we should drop bombs on civilians). I mean, Cheney won’t even tell the public the number of employees he has on staff. But his latest, craziest (until next week) ploy is to refuse to hand over documents to the Information Security Oversight Office, which all members of the Executive Branch are required to do by law. His rationale: claiming that the Vice President is not a member of the Executive Branch. Yes, you heard that right. The President is the head of the Executive Branch, yet his second-in-command, the Vice President of the United States is not. Well, Cheney actually argues that the VP is some sort of Executive-Legislative hybrid, since the VP also votes on tiebreakers in the Senate. Which is ridiculous nonsense, like saying that because you work at both a restaurant and a factory, that you don’t actually work at the restaurant. More funny analogies on that topic here.

Even crazier, if I understand this right, the Information Security Oversight Office isn’t even asking for possession of Cheney’s documents, they just want Cheney to tell them the number of documents he’s officially marked “classified.” Seriously, he could probably just lie and say “twenty” and this would all be overwith. But not, he’s got to play it like an emporer. I’ll bet every time he he goes to the bathroom, he has his shit collected and held in a secure location.

Well, okay, some of his secrecy is knee-jerk autocracy, and some of it is to hide the fact that he does terrible, harmful, illegal things on a regular basis.

Dems Call White House Out on Subpoenas- more secrecy. The White House refuses to turn over information about how they tried to rig elections and disenfranchise African-Americans, Latinos and anyone else who might vote Democrat (aka “the attorney firing scandal”) by claiming “executive privilege.” Says Bush’s lawyer, “For the president to perform his constitutional duties, it is imperative that he receive candid and unfettered advice and that free and open discussions and deliberations occur among his advisers and between those advisers and others within and outside the Executive Branch.” And there’s some truth to that; how could you be the President of the United States if all of your horrific criminal acts were revealed to the public? Of course, you might suggest that if that’s the case, maybe the president shouldn’t do horrific, criminal stuff. But remember, we’re talking about the President of the United States here, not the President of Magical Rainbow Fairy Unicorn Land.

Are there any presidents of any country, past or present, who weren’t rotten, lying, thieving, murdering bastards?

Didn’t think so.

Posted by Jake on June 30, 2007 1:34 am

June 26, 2007

LMB Radio 06-27-07

LMB Radio 06-27-07

The Glorious Return!

The majority of this week’s show is a 2002 lecture by novelist and activist Arundhati Roy. It’s an excellent speech about war, power, imperialism, globalization, history, grassroots resistance, and hope. Please give it a listen.

Also features music by Sonic Youth, 65daysofstatic, Against Me, a Radiohead/De La Soul mashup, Devotchka, and more.

This also marks a probably transition for the format of the show. I currently find myself in Info Absorb Mode, constantly reading, listening to interviews, watching video lectures, and trying to mentally synthesize it all at a rapid rate. This is one of the reasons I haven’t been writing or recording much; I’m all about input, not output. So I think that one way I can remain an information sponge and continue to produce useful material for y’all would be to do interviews myself. Find a smart guest, pick their brain about an issue and/or the activist work they do, and upload it for shared listening. So the show might be more about other people’s thoughts than my own for a while. Which is a good thing; sometimes even I get tired of hearing about what I think.

And there will be music, of course. I think I’m too obsessive to give that up.

Thanks for the patience and support, y’all.

Posted by Jake on June 26, 2007 11:34 pm

God Save the Something

I’d like to wish a heartfelt congratulations to our British comrades for finally getting rid of their rat bastard Prime Minister Sinister, Tony Blair.

Of course, now the papers are saying that Blair will become an “envoy” to the Middle East. I imagine he’ll be real popular over there, seeing as how he helped invade and ruin two Middle Eastern nations.

Posted by Jake on June 26, 2007 10:34 pm

June 21, 2007

Sound Waves and Legal Ink

As I’ve mentioned here before, new US government policy was crafted several months back that would essentially bankrupt all internet radio stations with excessive royalty payments to record labels. Honestly, I think things are looking up on that front, with public pressure, webcaster action, and a handful of politicians who seem to be on the right side of the issue. But the webcasters have called for a Day of Silence on June 26, where internet radio stations will simply stream silence; there is also a call for folks to contact their Congressmen and local media on that day as well, to support the Internet Radio Equality Act, which would drag the royalty rates down to something reasonable.

Not that I think anyone owes these record companies a dime, but it would be nice alter the law to prevent internet radio outlets from being bled to death.

In other positive radio news, several Congressmen have announced the creation of the Local Community Radio Act of 2007. As I understand it, the bill would stop the FCC from using the “we can’t issue licenses for low-power radio stations because their frequencies might interfere with big commericial stations” excuse (they don’t). And this change, say microradio activists, could lead to the creation of thousands of new community radio stations nationwide. Sounds good to me. Learn more here, and sign a petition in support of the Act here.

[update]

One more radio story, not a positive one. Just got this communique from Regeneracíon Radio in Mexico City. They are a political station based that has done a lot of work with the Zapatista’s “Other Campaign”, an effort to link up the anti-capitalist, anti-globalization movements within Mexico. The station is based out of a high school, and the principal of that high school is threatening to have the station demolished and its members arrested. Regeneracíon Radio pledges to resist the efforts to shut them down. I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if there’s anything we can do to help.

Posted by Jake on June 21, 2007 10:35 pm

June 18, 2007

Oaxaca Vive

Last week, the people of Oaxaca took to the streets on the one year anniversary of the repressed teachers’ strike which led to the mass uprising and takeover of Oaxaca City. In the summer and fall of 2006, the people of Oaxaca, furious at the government crackdown, worked to make the state “ungovernable”, which would lead to the legal ouster of Oaxaca’s corrupt governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. After many months of struggle, the government upped their terror campaign, assassinating protesters and eventually taking back the city and driving many organizers into hiding.

But the people have returned, and have put the barricades back up, which had allowed them control and protection during last year’s campaign.

More photos of the happenings here.

Not sure what will happen next, but I will keep following the story. Also, my friend Ryan will be working in Oaxaca this summer, you can check his blog for news and photos here, once he finds some time.

Posted by Jake on June 18, 2007 10:06 pm

You Got Your Science in My Fundamentalism

I don’t know why, but this picture makes me extremely happy.

Okay, I’m lying. I know why.

Posted by Jake on June 18, 2007 10:04 pm

June 15, 2007

Made of People

The Yes Men strike again!

Posted by Jake on June 15, 2007 6:37 am

June 12, 2007

Green Scare Interview

Democracy Now just did a good interview with Daniel McGowan, one of the activists arrested in the US crackdown on environmentalists. Read/listen here.

Posted by Jake on June 12, 2007 6:52 pm

June 5, 2007

Then They Came for the Environmentalists…

For some time now, corporations that have faced opposition by environmentalists and animal rights’ activists have sought out ways to have those people marginalized, silenced, or jailed. Since 9/11, these companies have had much luck in lumping radicals in these movements with “terrorists”, sometimes using the clever title “eco-terrorists”. True, some of these folks participate in acts of property destruction, which would make them “eco-vandals” or “eco-sabotuers. But no, timber companies and companies that experiment on animals and the like want you to think of vandals as scary folks who want to kill and maim.

Recently, a handful of activists were sentenced for committing arson against timber companies in Oregon, and the judge decided to add a “terrorism enhancement”, essentially declaring that these defendants were terrorists, and tacking on years of extra jail time. Fucked up.

As I understand it, the law that allowed for these “terrorism enhancements” pretty much allows the police and courts to call anyone involved in civil disobedience regarding animal rights a terrorist. Again, fucked up.

Posted by Jake on June 5, 2007 10:30 pm

June 4, 2007

Shocking

FCC Commissioner proposes that FCC actually do its job.

Kinda nice to see, top guy at a regulatory agency pointing out that his agency is failing to regulate anything, and that perhaps they ought to start (although his solution is really just a baby step or two). I also like that he points out that “America lets radio and TV broadcasters use public airwaves worth more than half a trillion dollars for free”, something that most folks don’t seem to think about, and continues that these broadcasters fail to meet even the pathetic minimal “public interest” requirements demanded of them for their half a trillion dollar gift.

Posted by Jake on June 4, 2007 10:53 pm

We Liked Him When He Was Angry

As many of you may have heard, liberal/progressive blogger Steve Gilliard died over the weekend, succumbing to his long illness. Steve’s blog was a surprising mix of news, analysis, military history, cooking tips, New York politics, and anger. That’s what I liked most about his writing, the anger. When so many liberal blogs were wishy-washy, or moderate, or merely snarky, Steve was quick call people out on their bullshit, loudly. A smart guy who let his passion run through him, wasn’t afraid to step on toes or make enemies when trying to debunk lies or make a point.

We weren’t on the same ideological page, but Steve was against a lot of the same things I’m against. And sometimes, seeing someone scream shit at fuckers you can’t stand either can be a wonderful thing.

At the link above, you can donate money to Steve’s family for his funeral, if you like.

Posted by Jake on June 4, 2007 9:12 pm

June 3, 2007

Edumacation

Learned a lot this weekend.

I learned about the city of Santa Barbara, which I visited to see an old friend, in which all manner of impressive vistas, local hangouts, and unusual attractions were observed.

I also learned a ton about the American food system while listening to an audiobook on the drive up to Santa Barbara. In a recent blog post, I talked about the five most-subsidized food crops, and how those crops dominate the ingredient list of most of our meals. But listening to the first few chapters of The Ominvore’s Dilemma, I come to see that corn easily tops this list of those five crops, and the magnitude of corn’s impact on the country’s food supply and ecology is blowing my mind. While some folks could maybe see this in a positive “look at all the uses George Washington Carver thought up for the peanut” way, I am seeing it in a horrified, mad science/perversion of nature/over-reliance on a single option can lead to disaster sort of way. I’ll try to do another podcast to talk about it this week, as I am cleverly working six days in a row again.

Posted by Jake on June 3, 2007 11:13 pm

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