....LMB: "The Answers"....

April 13, 2003

Very interesting post/summary over at Politics in the Zeros that I'm going to reprint in full here (it's short).

I was listening to Alternative Radio yesterday on KPFK, with host David Barsamian interviewing Noam Chomsky on the current Iraq invasion.

Barsamian asked Chomsky, "Many people ask, what can we do? How would you answer that?".

Chomsky's reply was fascinating. He said he travels worldwide, meeting many different kinds of people. He said when he's speaking with campensinos in Mexico or labor organizers in a third world county, they never ask, what can we do? Instead, they tell HIM what they ARE doing.

It's only elites in highly technological countries, he continued, who ask, what can we do, hoping for some quick fix so they can get back to the normal routine of their lives. The campesinos know better than that, they know struggles like this require long term dedication.

Two interesting things going on there. The first is that, in Chomsky's experience, people outside of "the West" are figuring out how to fight their struggles on their own. I think that a lot of Americans have trouble with this because they don't understand the struggles themselves. These labor organizers know the problem: their employers-- often in concert with the police, government, organized criminals and corrupt unions-- are not paying them a decent wage. The struggle is to achieve that wage, and to beat back the power of their exploiters. I think that many Americans don't understand the forces at work in the injustices they seek to rectify. Our schools and media aren't very good at educating us about these things.

The second is that "quick fix" thing. There's probably some truth to that too. The best example I know is the issue of sweatshops. People want to know what companies produce their clothing in sweatshop factories so that they can avoid that company's products. Then they wouldn't have to worry about the issue. But it's not nearly that simple. It's a good bet that just about every major clothing company in some way utilizes sweatshop labor. The only fix is quite long-term: if you want to avoid buying sweatshop-made clothing, you have to join the struggle to organized factory workers and demand responsibility by corporate clothing companies to pay workers fairly. And even if you achieved that, you'd have to forever keep an eye on those companies to prevent them from slipping back into their old habits.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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