Heavenly- P.U.N.K. Girl
Anti-Flag- Underground Network
Tom Waits- Jockey Full of Burbon
Paris- What Would You Do?
The White Stripes- I’m Finding It Harder to be a Gentleman
Lightning Bolt- Thirteen Monsters
Begin “Mystery Icelandic Block”
The Sugarcubes- Fucking in Rhythm & Sorrow
Sigur Ros- Svefn-G-Englar
Quarashi- Stick ‘em Up
End Mystery Block
Bill Hicks- Officer Nigger Hater
Chris Rock- Race
Your Enemies Friends- A Figure of Speech
Fine Arts Militia (new Chuck D side project)- Leave with Your Own Mind
The Donnas- Do You Wanna Hit It?
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Bang
The Catheters- Teenage Trash
The X-ecutioners- One Mand Band
Jello Biafra- Die for Oil, Sucker
Sleater Kinney- Youth Decay
Radiohead- No Surprises
Blackalicious- Alphabet Aerobics
Ewan McGregor et al.- Le Tango de Roxanne
Against Me!- Impact
Q-Tip- High Heels
Bill Moyers seems to be a good guy. He’s dedicated the past couple of decades of his life to journalism and documentaries that focus on governmental fraud, corporate abuse, and the threats posed by both to democracy (he worked for the Johnson Administration back in the 1960s, and I’d like to think that his work ever since has been in atonement). While his work doesn’t usually stray into “radicalism,” it is thoroughly grounded in an honest belief that people matter, and that the people of a democratic nation ought to be in control of that nation. He gets a thumbs-up from me.
Last week, Moyers’ PBS show “NOW with Bill Moyers” covered the issue of concentrated corporate ownership of the media. Looks like some good stuff. You can read the transcripts on the page link above. Personally, I’m most interested in the segment on tyrannical radio conglomerate Clear Channel.
And if you want to watch something that will pummel you until the tears no longer come, find a copy of his documentary “Facing the Truth”. It’s about South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, an organization that allowed South Africans to confront their tormentors face to face in the wake of apartheid’s dissolution. About as powerful as television gets.
One of the aspects of American culture that keeps the poor from rebelling much against the rich is the belief in social and economic mobility in the US. No one phrases it that way, but basically everyone thinks that if they are just lucky enough or work hard enough, that they too can be rich. People aren’t too worried about inequality because they think that they might get to be the ones benefitting from that inequality someday.
Well, turns out that that belief in social mobility isn’t true. You might have guessed that from looking around your own life, but author Will Hutton has evidence that America is not the land of opportunity it pretends to be.
This article measures the ways in which the poor and middle class do not become rich in many different ways, but probably the most damning stats come from a study of the US vs France, Britain, Germany, Italy and three (unnamed) Scandanavian countries.
This article is evidently an excerpt from a longer book by Will Hutton called, “The World We’re In.” I think I’ll have to give it a look.
I was down in San Diego today and saw the headline of local paper the North County Times that read “Bush May Be Planning Attacks on Iraq.” It has been absolutely crystal clear that Bush plans to attack Iraq for months!!. The US was trying to fabricate links between Iraq and the Septmeber 11 attacks since day one!! Dick Cheney toured the Middle East specifically to drum up support for a war in Iraq back in February!! The only reason that the US has gotten involved in the latest Israel-Palestine conflict is because every Arab leader that Cheney visited told him that they couldn’t even think about Iraq until the Israel-Palestine situation cooled down!! In fact, you could argue that a significant part of ALL US foreign policy in 2002 has been created with the sole intention of attacking Iraq!!
You’d think that the headlines editor would read a newspaper every once in a while.
I’ve posted several articles in the past several weeks about the US’ attempts to undermine/destroy a prominant anti-chemical weapons organization by trying to force its director-general out of office. The US appears to have succeeded in its aim. So here’s one more, perhaps the final article on the topic. Here is the text of OPCW head Jose Bustani’s statement to the OPCW member states, trying to fend off the US attack.
Everyone’s favorite tobacco and snack food giant Philip Morris has decided to change its name to Altria. “Snack foods” you ask? Philip Morris owns Nabisco (although it seems likely that the two companies will diverge so that the negative image of tobacco doesn’t harm the food businesses).
And damn do they have a snappy and uplifting slogan: “Altria — where people and performance make a difference.” They certainly make a difference to the 430,000 Americans who die each year from smoking, and to the shareholders who split the $90 billion a year they make in sales.
Note: I found this article via the nice folks at PR Watch, but I highly recommend the occasional reading of the advertising, marketing and public relations imdustry publications. They don’t expect average folks like you and me to read them, so they speak openly of their strategies. Granted, there might be a lot of jargon, or coverage of seemingly insignificant events in the industry, but you can often find little nuggets of perspective in articles at some of the following sites: Advertising Age, AdWeek, BrandWeek, American Demographics (my personal favorite, it’s about how advertisers see you and how they hope to con you into buying their products), and O’Dwyer’s Public Relations Daily (the latest news on professional lying).
“Just Get Out!” is a very good article just written by columnist Gabriel Ash about the Israel-Palestine conflict. But rather than just facts, interpretations and apt analogies, this article is overflowing with passion and fury. The author is outraged, he’s anguished, he’s tormented. He’s had his full of lies and bullshit, he’s can’t stand to see any more death and suffering, and whoever is responsible is going to face the brunt of this guy’s verbal onslaught.
A choice passage:
“Call the army home. Call the occupation off. And get out of the Occupied Territories. Just get out!
“Don’t mumble about how ‘difficult’ or ‘complex’ the situation is. It isn’t. You are the oppressor. You are the occupier. You park your tanks on plundered land. You fill your swimming pools with stolen water. You kill and destroy in order to inherit. So don’t bullshit about ‘the situation.’ Just get out!
“Stop abusing people. Stop abusing language. Stop spinning your own moral cocoon. Stop turning your country and your people into a metaphor of evil. Just get out!
“Don’t wait for Bush. Don’t wait for Arafat. Don’t wait to negotiate with the mythical Palestinian leader who will finally accept your dominion. There is nothing to negotiate about. Just get out!”
The “Saudi peace plan” (as it’s coming to be known) has been getting a lot of positive press lately. The interesting thing, according to Noam Chomsky, is that a plan nearly identical to this one was brought to the UN and approved by virtually every nation on Earth back in January of 1976.
It’s one snippet from a pretty good interview. Check it out.
And here’s the conclusion to the US’ attempts to destroy weapons inspections so that no one can impede their plans to invade Iraq for having weapons of mass destruction, whether they have them or not.
It’s a very good article, explaining the many illegal tactics used by the US government to have an effective chemical weapons inspector fired. It also gives some detail about a failed US attempt to have a nuclear weapons inspector fired, and a successful effort to have a knowledgable (and pro-Kyoto Protocol) scientist removed from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: George W. Bush is going to get us all killed.
Just read today that ten million people went on strike in India on April 16. Sounds like bankers, insurance office workers, coal miners, and longshoremen all held a one day strike to protest government policies which could cut their wages and make their jobs much less stable.
I’m trying to figure out whether the US media covered this story and I somehow missed it, or if the media just didn’t bother covering it. Because in my opinion, when 10 million people do something, that’s news.
Don’t ask any questions, just go read this. It’s about the eternal struggle: Coca-Cola’s attempts to oust water as the world’s most popular beverage.
Seriously. The Coca-Cola company feels that it is in competition with water, that every glass of water someone drinks is a glass of Coke that they’re not drinking. Never mind the fact that water is necessary for a person’s health and survival, and that the caffiene in Coke actually dehydrates you. In a way, Coke is anti-water.
Can’t wait till they spike the resevoirs with Coke, and drain the oceans and replace them with bubbly cola.
Oh, and “high water incidence” is the best phrase in the history of mankind.
Actually, Coca-Cola is not opposed to all water, just water not purchased from one of its subsidiaries. Their 2001 Annual Report boasts that “three of our water brands, Dasani, Ciel and Bonaqua each achieved sales of over 100 million unit cases for the year.” If you’ve lost track, Dasani is the water that will “restore balance to your body, mind and spirit,” not to be confused with its rival Naya, the water you’re supposed to drink when you go skydiving on your extreme mountain bike.
Coca-Cola doesn’t mind if you buy their water instead of bottles of Coke, but they are opposed to drinking relatively-free tap water (as evidenced by the H2NO project described in the original link).
I had originally intended for this weblog to be exclusively media analysis, but since it’s an outgrowth of my radio show, I figure I may as well post my playlists here too.
Seat Belts- Tank! [The official LMB opening theme]
Rage Against the Machine- Vietnow
Alice in Chains- Angry Chair
The Von Bondies- Please Please Man
Noam Chomsky & DJ Nobody- Poverty, Debt and Colonialism
Skinny Puppy- Assimilate (R-23)
Plastilina Mosh- Afroman
System of a Down- Metro
Echo & the Bunnymen- Killing Moon
And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead- It Was There That I Saw You
Juan Esquivel- Mucha Muchacha
KRS One- Sound of Da Police
Talib Kweli- 2000 Seasons
Dead Kennedys- Let’s Lynch the Landlord
The Exploited- Sing Along a Bushell
Alkaline Trio- I Lied My Face Off
Nine Inch Nails- We’re in This Together Now (As Deep As Can Be mix)
The Coup- The Shipment
Refused- Rather Be Dead
Rob Swift- My Style
DJ Muggs, RZA & GZA- Third World
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Awake
Just last weekend, the president of Venezuela was overthrown, a new president was installed, the new president was kicked out, and the old president was reinstated. It all took about 4 days. I am in the process of writing a comprehensive article about the chaos. I hope to have that one done sometime this coming week.
Former Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley was found dead this weekend. Won’t ramble on about this too much, but AIC was a very good band. Staley had an excellent voice, and at one point was dubbed by me “the scariest man alive” (watch the video for “Would” and tell me he doesn’t creep you out)(I have subsequently decided that Nick Cave is actually the scariest man alive. Read his book “And the Ass Saw the Angel” and you’ll need a year’s worth of rainbow-and-bunny therapy to regain your emotional footing). His crippling heroin addiction hurt the band’s later albums, and seem to have caused his death. I’ll be featuring some AIC tunes on my radio show tomorrow.
Two bombs killed 14 and injured 50 in the Philippine city of General Santos this Sunday. Given that my last post here was about how the alleged Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayaff was more a group of thugs than a group of terrorists, I should either be coming up with fanciful theories to maintain that I’m right, or backpedal madly and admit that I was wrong. Truth is, I don’t know if I’m right or wrong yet.
Someone called a General Santos radio station, claimed to be an Abu Sayaff member and claimed that his group was responsible for the attack. Unfortunately, no one can verify if the caller’s claims are true or not. Might have been them, might have been one of the other two rebel groups in the nation. Might have been Abu Sayaff turning to political terrorism, might have been Abu Sayaff trying to increase their scary image by blowing things up (or by taking credit for someone else’s terror).
Either way, it still seems more reasonable to me that the 3000+ US troops are in the Philippines to aid the governent’s fight against the rebel groups than the idea that they are there to help the Philippine government to take care of a small bandit/terrorist(?) cell of around 60 people.
Some months back, the US sent several hundred of its soldiers to the Philippines to train that nation’s soldiers to fight terrorists. The terrorist target was a rebel group called Abu Sayaff.
Even the mainstream American press has described Abu Sayaff not as a terrorist organization, but a group of thugs and bandits who kidnap innocent people and hold them for ransom. While certainly frightening and violent, they clearly seem to be something other than terrorists.
And today it was announced that the US was sending an additional 2700 soldiers to join the 660 soldiers already there. Again, the stated goal is training and “joint military exercises.” 3300+ US troops in the Philippines to train thousands of Filipino soldiers to fight a group of maybe 60 kidnappers. Since this makes no logical sense, we’ve got to take a look underneath.
In my bewilderment about these developements, I almost missed the important paragraph right near the article’s end:
“The New People’s Army, or NPA — the armed wing of the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines — claims it and a Muslim separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, will be the next targets of the expanded U.S. war on terrorism after the Abu Sayyaf. Philippine defense officials have repeatedly denied the claim.”
Okay, now things are starting to make more sense. The kidnappers claim to be terrorists, giving the US a rationale for coming to the Philippines’ aid. Then they train a bunch of Filipino soldiers to fight the real threat to the nation’s power structure, the Maoist and Muslim militants. “Philippine defense officials” may deny that they will turn their anti-terrorism sights towards these groups, but it’s about the only explanation that makes any sense.
A number of American Filipino organizations are pretty pissed off about the US involvement in the Philippines, and are organizing to protest it on April 20. Unfortunately, the information that I have does not say where (it looks like either the Bay Area or Washington, DC, I can’t tell from the email). But if you want more info, it does give a phone number: Campaign Hotline - 415-820-1557
Here’s a mystery. You’ve probably heard about the US dropping bombs on Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan. Killed four, wounded eight.
Now, this is just the latest in what seem like extremely common accidents caused by the US military. Accidentally bombing someone, accidentally shooting someone, “friendly fire.” Are US servicemen that incompetent? I mean, this seems to happen A LOT. The only other possibility I can think of is that maybe the US military is so huge that although these events are very rare, but multiply the rarity times the immense number of troops in the field and you’ve got a lot.
Here’s a companion piece to yesterday’s article about the US asaulting the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
If you read the entry prior to this one, you’ll see how the US attempting to maintain its “Iraq might have weapons of mass destruction” mantra by trying to remove a very effective chemical weapons inspector from his post. Now we’ve got this article here about how the Defense Department and CIA tried to dig up incriminating facts about the UN’s head nuclear weapons inspector, Hans Blix. Again, I say that making sure that there are no deadly weapons around is a good thing, and that trying to remove anti-nuke safeguards so that the US can blow the bejeezus out of Iraq is, in my opinion, a bad call. Did I say bad call? I meant to say utter fucking stupidity.
And just to keep us up to date on our long acronyms, the UN Special Commission that was in charge of searching for weapons of mass destruction in the late 1990s (before they were thrown out) went by the acronym “UNSCOM.” It looks as though a new monitoring agency might replace UNSCOM, the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). Now we’re all equally enlightened.
The real news story that bothered me today was this one.
The short version is that the US government is trying to get Jose Bustani, head of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) fired from his job. The OPCW is one of the most successful disarmament agencies in history and has done great things under Bustani’s leadership. In the past five years he has overseen the destruction of 2 million chemical weapons, 2/3 of the world’s chemical weapons facilities (I admit, that number seems a little fishy. Surely there are secret facilities that can’t have factored into that statistic), and increased the number of countries who prohibit chemical weapons from 87 to 145. Sounds like the man is doing some great work. So why does the US want to get him fired?
Poor Bustani does not understand politics, or has chosen not to let political considerations influence his judgement. For example, made the ludicrous effort to send weapons inspectors to facilities in the US. While this is perfectly rational and egalitarian, the US government has shown time and time again that it feels that it is above the law and will not tolerate attempts to hold it accountable to international rules (for example, just last week the International Criminal Court came into being. The US opposed it because the Court would not make US citizens immune from its prosecution).
But Bustani is not under fire for his “arrogance” in expecting the US to live up to its part of the treaty agreements. You see, Bustani’s agency is so well-known for its impartiality and fairness, it looks as though Iraq may agree to allow OPCW inspectors into the country to search for chemical weapons. If the inspectors can verify that there are no chemical weapons in Iraq, the US rationale for invading Iraq crumbles. For some reason, George W. seems hell-bent on invading Iraq and has trotted out the flimsy excuse that Iraq has “weapons of mass destruction.” If Bustani and the OPCW can disprove that excuse, George W’s evil schemes are foiled.
Of course, that’s not how the US tells it. They accuse Bustani of a poor “management style,” “financial mismanagement,” “bias,” and “ill-considered initiatives.” The US seems to be the only country that feels this way though. The US asked Brazil to recall him; they refused. They proposed a vote of no confidence; they lost. In May 2000, Bustani was elected unanimously to continue his work of the OPCW. And yet the US may get its wish just the same.
Apparently, the US holds many of the purse-strings for the OPCW, and will force another vote on Bustani this coming Sunday. The US seems poised to demand that Bustani resign or it will allow the OPCW to wither and die. Sad. Sounds like Bustani was doing a good job of keeping Sarin, VX and mustard gases out of my lungs. The US makes my lungs a little more vulnerable, and some months from now will probably turn Iraq into an even smokier, more desolate hell-slum of doom. Granted, they might oust Saddam Hussein, but there’s no guarantee that the new boss’ll be any better than the old boss.
This seems like a good time to mention a little historical footnote. Remember back in 1998 when Saddam Hussein accused the UN weapons inspectors of being spies? And then the US used his expulsion of the inspectors as a pretense to bomb Iraq some more? Well guess what! It turns out that the weapons inspectors were spying on Iraq! (check the old article here. And the final icing on the cake in that story is that American journalists found out that the inspectors were spying on Iraq in October of 1998, but chose not to publish that information until January of 1999. If they’d printed the story when they first learned of it, the US might not have bombed Iraq again, and many people might not have died.
“Booty Shakin Rulz!”
-graffiti on a windowframe in my apartment
Managed to see two bits of absurdity within mere minutes on CNN’s Headline News. First, their little text news ticker announced “Just one month till Coca-Cola begins shipping Vanilla Coke.” That’s news?! Okay, one could make an argument that when Vanilla Coke becomes available that it could be considered a news story (although that’s a bit of a stretch). But to announce that there’s one month to go before questionably newsworthy events take place? Wonder how much Coke paid CNN for that bit.
The other fun news was White House spokesman Ari Fleischer’s claim that the US had nothing to do with the recent coup in Venezuela. Okay, such denials, true or false, are to be expected. But then Fleischer makes this absurd claim that “The tradition, the history in the last 20 years in Central America and South America has been a tradition of democracy, thanks in great part to the United States’ efforts”. Actually, the history of the region is much more a tradition of dictatorship, death squads, sham democracies. But he’s right, that this tradition of oppression and death is “in great part to the United States’ efforts.
Dear God! I have to turn off the TV or I’ll spend the rest of my days documenting their craziness. A US politician is demanding that the US start drilling for oil in the Alaskan wildlife preserve. Why? Because it will “send a message to Saddam Hussein that we don’t need his oil.” Well, it will send him that strong message until the estimated 6 month supply of Alaskan oil is depleted, and then we’ll send him a message that we do need his oil, will he pretty please give us some? Although now that he’s been properly threatened, maybe Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez will now start giving the US better oil deals.
Last week, George W. began using a new term to describe Palestinian terrorists. He made the change from calling them “suicide bombers” to “homicide bombers.” Tres clever. While there seem to be obvious rhetorical reasons for making such a change, let’s face it: Bush’s incompetence with both the English language and public speaking make it just as likely that this was a slip of the tongue as a devious political manuever.
Anyhow, enter Fox News. Like dutiful robots, they immediately changed their own language to match Bush’s. They too have decided to switch to the “homicide bomber” phrase. Fox News producer Dennis Murray tries to explain that the change is not due to it’s rabid conservative slant, but because there was “growing unease about how accurate the [suicide bomber] term” was. Sure there was. If there’s one thing that Fox News prizes above all else, it’s accuracy. Well, accuracy and smug, condescending grins.
“Homicide bomber” is for the most part a redundant term. Bombers explode bombs. Bombs kill people. Killing people is homicide. Granted, it’s possible that a bomb could explode and not kill anyone. I suppose you’d call them an “incompetent bomber.” A bomber who kills himself (or herself as is now occasionally the case) is somewhat unique, as in previous years, the goal of bombing was to hurt your enemies and not yourself. Therefore adding “suicide” to the front of “bomber” seems accurate and appropriate. But to make everyone happy, how about “suicidal, homicidal bombers”?
Oh, and one more fun snippet from our Fair and Balanced Fox friends.
From an unnamed Fox News senior Vice President, November 28, 2001:
“Let’s not get sidetracked worrying about the plight of Afghans this winter, or how many children are undernourished. We can help that country as soon as they cough up the guys who killed 5,000 Americans. When in doubt, take a look at the WTC collapsing.”
You can find that quote here, about halfway down the page.
Day One of the ranting and wankery (rankery?) that is weblogging.
It really is sad that I consider myself a media critic (well, journalism-type media), yet can’t get myself to absorb any of said media to critique these days. Mainstream news is so bad at present that it makes me want to goudge my eyes out with a crayon. But hopefully I can stomach enough of the crap to make some nice points here and there in this quasi-journal.
Saw UK Independent reporter Robert Fisk give a speech yesterday. While I thought it would mainly be a presentation about the Middle East, to my happy surprise it was actually more of a presentation about the ways in which Western journalists (are forced to) cover the Middle East. The official title of his talk was “9/11: Ask who did it, but don’t ask why!” Fisk pointed out that when he asks “why” questions about Midde East politics and/or terrorism, people think he’s a criminal. And when he begins to answer those “why” questions, people think he’s Lucifer’s big brother. Probably the most interesting portions of Fisk’s speech were his examples of how journalists use and abuse language to avoid asking or answering “why” questions. The Occupied Territories aren’t “occupied,” they’re “disputed.” Israeli soldiers aren’t “assassinating” suspected terrorists, those men were “victims of targetted killings.” And of course, Israeli soldiers never “kill” innocent civilians, those civilians are “caught in the crossfire.”
Fisk seemed to conclude that many journalists are quite capable of doing the thorough and informative type of coverage that, well, he does, but he thinks that journalists stick to safer ways of telling stories fearing reprisal. While it makes some logical sense–why write stories that get you death threats?–it does seem a bit skimpy as a theory. He also proposed that the West’s near-unconditional support for Israel was based upon it’s symbolism. He argued that the creation of Israel was seen as a healing, as a move towards peace in the years following the Second Great War. After the nation had been imbued with mythical qualities in the minds of Americans and Europeans, movements against the Jews there were subtly equated with Nazism. Therefore any movement against Israel is seen as an attack on peace and a replaying of WWII. While both theories make some intuitive sense, I find the first (about journalists) a bit weak, and the second a bit of a stretch.
Anyhow, I’d highly recommend attending one of Fisk’s speeches if he comes to your town. And if he doesn’t, there is an online version of his April 13 speech at USC available at here. This video feed starts after Fisk has been speaking for a couple of minutes about how he was beaten by grief-mad refugees on the Afghan-Pakistan border last year, but I imagine you’ll catch on to his train of thought pretty quickly.
I also plan on airing the audio version of this speech on my Lying Media Bastards radio show as soon as Kill Radio is up and running again. I’ll also be interviewing some activists who have recently returned from the Occupied Territories and Iraq in the coming weeks. When we’re not plagued with anti-technological spasms, my show’s on Mondays, 2-4pm PST.