Sorry, no LMB radio show today. I got bidness to take care of.
I have just added a little search engine dealy over on the right hand side of the site. It says "search LMB," but technically it searches everything on this StrayBulletins.com domain. Giving thanks where it's due, I found out about it via Bob at Politics in the Zeros, who found it on John Robb's Radio Weblog, who in turn copied it from Glenn Fleishman's 802.11b Networking News site. Thanks fellas!
You could do the same thing to your own site using the html code found here and swapping the "jrobb.userland.com" with your own site's domain name.
Interesting perspective I haven't yet seen in the media, a radio interview with the author of the book "A History of Iraq." It's about 39 minutes long, and was done by NPR, so don't expect many hard-hitting questions.
It makes me feel good to see that an expert on Iraqi history has come to conclusions similar to my own about the reasons for, and potentially disastrous consequences of a U.S. war on Iraq. Maybe I know what I'm talking about after all.
While you might expect such a film to be one that seeks to prove that the camps are nice places to live and that the rights of these Americans are not being violated, the film seems to walk many fine lines. It seems to simultaneously want to show that these camps are quiet, spartan communties, while emphasizing that the internees are working hard while there , and that Japanese-Americans are as patriotic as all other Americans. It's a wierd mix that seems to be trying to assure white America that these camps aren't prisons, that they're not costing the taxpayers too much money, and that most Japanese-Americans are fine, decent folks. Interestingly, the movie makes virtually no effort to explain why, if Japanese-Americans are fine, decent folks, that they needed to be taken from their homes and placed into camps surrounded by guards and barbed-wire. Maybe they were saving that part for the sequel.
You can watch the 18-minute video online, or download it to your computer.
It's amazing on several different levels.
It's a first-hand historical document. You get to see footage of what the internment camps were like, and you get to see how the U.S. government chose to present this footage for their own benefit.
It also presents a number of facts (unless they were lies, of course) about the nature of these camps. People worked at the camps, for wages much lower than they would've gotten back in their real lives, the camps had elections for community council representatives, etc. What I found most amazing was a brief scene about Japanese-American soldiers, going off to war, and then returning to visit their families being held in these internment camps.
Then you've got your darkly ironic angle, watching the governmental doublespeak, the darkest of which are the creative word definitions. The forced removal of Japanese-Americans from their homes and placement into government-controlled communities was an "evacuation." And they weren't "internment camps," as we call them today. They were "relocation centers."
I'll list some of the best lines here, but I highly recommend watching the film, or at least reading the commentary at the linked page above.
"Evacuation: more than 100,000 men, women and children all of Japanese ancestry removed from their homes in the Pacific coast states to wartime communities established in out-of-the-way places. Their evacuation did not imply individual disloyalty, but was ordered to reduce a military hazard at a time when danger of invasion was great."
"The evacuees are not under suspicion. They are not prisoners. They are not internees. They are merely dislocated people. The unwounded casualties of war."
"Americanism, taught in the schools and churches and on the playgrounds, loses much of its meaning in the confines of a relocation center."
"Relocation of evacuees [from the camps into the outside world] is not being carried out at the expense of national security. Only those evacuees whose statements and whose acts leave no question of their loyalty to the United States are permitted to leave."
"The Americanism of the great majority of America's Japanese finds its highest expression in the thousands who are in the United States Army, almost half of them are in a Japanese American combat team ... Hundreds of them volunteered while they were in relocation centers ...They know what they're fighting against and they know what they're fighting for -- their country and for the American ideals that are part of their upbringing -- democracy, freedom, equality of opportunity regardless of race, creed, or ancestry."
Left-wing radio show Democracy Now! aired a report today with results of an informal study about U.S. public opinion regarding a war on Iraq. DN! reports that of the 26 Senators' offices they were able to contact, that "22 reported an overwhelming majority - in some cases up to 99 percent -- of constituents opposed war in Iraq."
You can listen to their radio report here if you have RealPlayer. Actually, the piece is editted very badly, but if you stick it out, you'll probably get the information you need. I'll just paste the press release that I received about this news story below.
*** DEMOCRACY NOW EXCLUSIVE ***
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 27, 2002
CONGRESS OVERWHELMED WITH ANTI-WAR CALLS FROM "THE SILENCED MAJORITY"
Republican and Democratic Senate offices report "overwhelming" opposition from their constituents to war with Iraq. This comes as Congress prepares to pass a war resolution granting President Bush sweeping powers to invade Iraq.
The national news radio show Democracy Now! conducted an informal survey on Thursday of 70 Republican and Democratic Senate offices.
Of the 26 offices which responded to our inquires, 22 reported an overwhelming majority - in some cases up to 99 percent -- of constituents opposed war in Iraq; three said the response was split and just one office
Among the findings:
* Wisconsin Sen. Herb Kohl: Aides say they are receiving 1,000-2,000 calls per week with the overwhelming number opposed to an attack on Iraq.
* Washington Sen. Patty Murray: Over 5,000 letters and phone calls were received last week on Iraq, aides say. Only about 100 came from constituents who supported an attack.
* California Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Staff in her San Francisco office reported about 200 calls a day with 99 percent of the callers opposing the war.
* New Mexico Sen. Jeff Bingaman: The D.C. office has been receiving at least 1,300 calls a day with about 70 percent opposed to war.
* North Carolina Jesse Helms: Staff declined to give figures but said the "majority is against" when it comes to calls on Iraq.
* Nebraska Charles Hegal: According to aides, constituents favor diplomacy over war at a rate of 5 to 1.
* Virginia John Warner: About 150 constituents a day are calling into the D.C. offices. "A very small minority supported military action," said one aide.
"It's extraordinary that, as Senators work with the Bush Administration to draft a war resolution, their constituents are expressing overwhelming opposition an attack against Iraq," said Amy Goodman, the host of Democracy Now! "Unfortunately we are hearing very little about this in the media. These calls represent the silenced majority, not the silent majority."
Democracy Now is a daily nationwide news show based in New York. It is broadcast on over 130 public radio and television stations around the country.
Listen to the Democracy Now report at: http://www.webactive.com/pacifica/demnow/dn20020927.html
For more information visit:
Mike Burke, Democracy Now! Producer
In a press conference Wednesday at the White House, AP reporter Ron Fournier asked Bush's press secretary a question about an apparent contradiction between two recent statements Bush had made. Fleischer responded, but didn't really answer the question. So Fournier asked again. Fleischer again responded without answering. Fouriner asked again. And again. And again.
According the folks at Cursor, Fournier asked the question six times before giving up. According to the count done by Media Whores Online, Fournier asked fourteen times. And in the end, Fleischer never really did answer the question.
What was the question?
"The President said, 'the Senate is more interested in special interests in Washington, and not interested in the security of the American people.' Did he mean to say that the Senate is not interested in the security of the American people, or did he misspeak?"
Bravo Ari, bravo.
Incidently, I saw a poll about this issue on CNN.com that really pissed me off. It went something like this.
Who is politicizing the war against Iraq?
Republicans, Democrats, or Neither
Where's the "Both" option, motherfuckers? They're politicians! Politicizing things is what they do!
I've been having some debates with folks lately about copyright law and intellectual property. Contrary to common perception, copyright was not enacted for the sake of artists. It was first enacted for the sake of society.
Here you go, Britain's first copyright law, the Statute of Ann, 1710:
An act for the encouragement of learning, by vesting the copies of printed books in the authors or purchasers of such copies, during the times therein mentioned.
I. Whereas printers, booksellers, and other persons have of late frequently taken the liberty of printing, reprinting, and publishing, or causing to be printed, reprinted, and published, books and other writings, without the consent of the authors or proprietors of such books and writings, to their very great detriment, and too often to the ruin of them and their families: for preventing therefore such practices for the future, and for the encouragement of learned men to compose and write useful books.
In other words "if artists and writers can't make enough money from their work to survive, then they won't be able to create art or write books. And that would be bad." Over time, the concept that copyright law existed to benefit society was replaced with the concept that copyright law existed solely for the benefit of the copyright holder.
We might want to think about the modern state of intellectual property. Are we fine with copyright existing for personal gain, or would we want to return to a system that is aimed at helping out the public?
My general thought on the subject is "fuck copyright," but then, I don't have to make my living through my art.
For a country we're not at war with, we certainly seem to bomb Iraq a lot. It looks like we've already bombed Iraq twice this week. I think that makes like the 37th U.S. bombing raid on Iraq this year.
Iraq is claiming that the latest target was a civilian airport, and that the U.S. attack was a terrorist act. The Pentagon is saying that it was a mixed civilian/military airport, but that there was nothing but military business going on there. Since I don't trust either government, I'm guessing that the middle ground is most likely: a mixed airport with mixed activity and mixed bomb-induced destruction.
Some excellent stuff here.
If you're unfamiliar with the story, it basically goes like this: Bill O'Reilly, presumably light on material for that day's program, lashed out at Pepsi because it had hired Ludacris as a spokesperson. O'Reilly trotted out all the tired old white, conservative anti-rap cliches about demeaning women and promoting violence (cuz Hollywood movies don't do that sort of thing), and Pepsi actually caved in and fired Ludacris.
This article is good stuff. Not only does it skin O'Reilly to the bone (exposing a number of prominant lies that O'Reilly tells to promote his folksy, "workin man" image), but points out his stupidity, hypocrisy, etc. It paints a kinder portrait of Ludacris. It concedes that some of the charges against his lyrics are accurate (misogynist, violent, pro-drug), but points out that there's a difference between singing about your own life and saying "hey kids, go out there, smoke weed and smack them bitches!"
I think I was most impressed with the article's two-quote opener:
"I was single for a long time. I was all over the world covering wars and met thousands of women."
-- Bill O'Reilly
Playboy interview, May 2002
"I've got ho's in different area codes."
If you've stumbled across my site because of that article: hey, how ya doin? Welcome aboard.
Training Hussein's Opposition- US might spend $92 million for "military training for up to 10,000 members of the Iraqi opposition." I'm not sure who this opposition is, but it seems to be the Kurds of northern Iraq. And not surprisingly, Turkey is pretty pissed off about this, because they fear that highly-trained Kurds in Iraq could aid the Kurdish separatists in Turkey. As I've been saying for months, a war with Iraq could lead to a civil war in Turkey, and a situation in which the U.S. is fighting to free the Kurds in Iraq and helping to suppress them in Turkey.
Palestinians Raise Nonviolent Ruckus Over Israel's Moves- thanks to Israel's latest attack on Yasser Arafat, even Palestinians who hate the man have rallied to his cause. Y'know folks, I think that in the U.S. war on terrorism, we should take a good long look at what Israel has done in their war on terrorism, and do the opposite, cuz their tactics don't seem to have led to much success.
Alleged 'Bumfights' Video Makers Arrested in Calif.- you might've heard about these guys. These lovely entreprenuers would pay homeless people to fight each other while they filmed it, and then sold the videotapes on the internet. What was most disturbing to me was a skit they called "Bum Hunter," like the TV show "Crocodile Hunter," where they would sneak up on sleeping homeless people, torment them, scare the shit out of them, tie them up, etc. But then they paid the people they'd just fucked with, so that makes it okay, right? Anyhow, these assholes might be going to jail. Good riddance.
Fox News Channel Called Anti-Islam- the news isn't so interesting as the reader responses. Got this link from a public relations industry news site. The article itself is about an accusation by the Council on American-Islamic Relations which claims that the Fox News Channel is biased against Muslims. But then the PR professionals who read this site went nuts, arguing in the reader feedback section that Fox News is not biased, and that Muslims and Arabs want to destroy us all. Which shocks me, because for the right price, I'm sure that all of these self-righteous anti-Muslims would take the CAIR on as a client and likewise decry Fox News.
Union Says Paper Won't Practice What It Preaches- possibly just slander by opposing L.A. media outlets, but... Alternative newsweekly the LA Weekly, which frequently takes editorial stands in favor of unions and labor rights seems to be fighting fiercely to prevent their advertising staff from joining a union. The paper argues that they are only concerned about their employees, that they think a union is not in their best interest. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, every goddam attempt by an employer to stop their workers from unionizing!
School Newspaper Takes Heat in DeKalb- this year's first edition of Blue and Gold, the newspaper of Chamblee High School in Georgia, had an article and an editorial that were critical of new school district superintendent Johnny Brown. Claiming that the papers had "factual errors," Brown ordered that the undistributed copies of the Blue and Gold be removed from the campus. Thankfully, Brown's assistant lets us know that "We didn't confiscate papers. We took up papers that hadn't been distributed yet. There's a big difference." That's a relief! For a minute there I thought a school official was abusing his power and silencing his critics!
Anyhow, it seems a good time to point out that students in American schools really have no right to self-expression. According to the law, school pricipals have the right to control just about anything which "disrupts the learning environment," a term so broad it can mean anything from publishing "disruptive" news articles to wearing "disruptive" clothing to saying "disruptive" things.
More on the UK report about Iraq's weapons capabilities.
Sifting the Old Claims from New and Suspicions from Assertions of Fact- UK Guardian closely examines the claims of the dossier and asks knowledgeable experts what they think about each allegation.
Blair's Dodgy Dossier- a much more cynical examination of the dossier.
The Dishonesty of This So-Called Dossier- Robert Fisk points out that there are two miserable conclusions that can be drawn from this report. On the one hand, the UK report could be false propaganda designed to justify a war with Iraq. On the other hand, it could be true, in which case Iraq does have weapons of mass destruction, the economic sanctions against Iraq were a complete failure, and over half a million Iraqi children died for no good reason.
And while we're debunking things, you can read this piece which examines Al Gore's recent "anti-Iraq war" speech, and discovers that Gore's actual stance was less "anti-war" and more "let's attack Iraq later."
Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds- Pappa Won't Leave You Henry
Eminem- Without Me (bootleg ragtime mix)
The Adicts- Don't Exploit Me
LL Cool J- Going Back to Cali
Bad Religion- 1000 More Fools
The Liars- The Garden Was Crowded And Outside
The Distillers- I Am a Revanant
Nikka Costa- Master Blaster
Jake on Press Conferences
Squirrel Nut Zippers- Put a Lid on It
The Coup- Hip to tha Scheme
Refused- Refused Party Program
Living Colour- Middle Man
Mr. Lif- Get Wise '91
Anti-Flag- Fuck Police Brutality
Jake on the media and non-terrorism in Florida
Faith No More- War Pigs
PJ Harvey- Reeling
J-Live- One for the Griot
Pistol Grip- Runnin from the Gun
We're currently looking for ways to promote Kill Radio. Are there any of you folks out there that would like to listen to my show but forget to tune in at the right time? I'm thinking of putting together an email (or AIM) reminder list that I could send out right before I go on the air. Whaddya think?
It's always fun to watch political folks flip-flop, lie, or otherwise try to reconcile two policies they support which exactly contradict each other. While FCC chair Michael Powell talks a good game about letting the market rule the airwaves, the FCC has recently mandated that all new televisions come equipped with digital tuners by 2007. Digital tuners will be for DTV signals, that allegedly will have better picture and all that. It'll also add around $250 to the cost of each television set.
But wait, there's more!
House Representative Billy Tauzin (who is firmly in the entertainment industry's pocket) has proposed a DTV bill to Congress that would eliminate all analog TV broadcasts by 2007. Meaning that if you want to watch television in 2007, you will have to go out and buy a brand new DTV. And if you want to videotape anything off the television, you will need to go out and buy a new DTV-compatible VCR.
Is the quality of DTV that much higher? No. Prof. Russ Neuman of the Annenberg School for Communication did a study several years ago where he set two televisions at one end of a room, one DTV one regular TV. He had people come in at what would be regular viewing distance, and see if they could tell which was which. For the most part, they couldn't.
(I wish I had documentation for the above, but I don't. Neuman was a professor of mine when I attended ASC, and he described the experiment to us during a class lecture. I have been unable to find the report on the internet, but if I do, I'll will post the link here.)
But back to the legislation. Why is this happening? Is it just a big government giveaway to television and VCR manufacturers, to give them a big sales boost come 2007? Perhaps, but there's more to it than that.
It's called a "broadcast flag". It's a small code that can be embedded into a DTV signal that prevents your home VCR from recording a program, and/or sending it to your friends over the internet. Tauzin's vision of DTV makes wide use of broadcast flags.
So that's it. The TV and movie industry, afraid they won't get your dollars because you might conceivably record their programming off the television, have bought legislators to tell you that you have to spend extra money on a new television and new VCR that will actually limit your viewing options. Fuckers.
For more detail, you can read this report from the Consumer Federation of America.
The Day After- NY Times reporter in Iraq speculates on uprising and upheaval in Iraq after a successful U.S. invasion.
The Fifty-first State?- reporter James Fallows talks to several dozen "spies, Arabists, oil-company officials, diplomats, scholars, policy experts, and many active-duty and retired soldiers" about what happens after the U.S. defeats Iraq.
A 'Liberated' Iraq Could End Up Like Weimar Germany- shorter, more concise draft of the Fallows article above.
AOL-Time Warner, which owns CNN, and Disney, which owns ABC-TV, are talks about spinning off and merging their news divisions. In other words, CNN and ABC News would be the same thing.
There's no guarantees that this will happen, and the article above claims that the idea only "got a lukewarm reception last week at an AOL Time Warner board meeting."
Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction- The Assessment of the British Government- 55-page report from the UK. I read the relevant portions looking for new evidence about Iraq's weapons. Pretty much all the new information is a series of allegations, backed up only with the claim that they came from "secret intelligence" sources. There are satelite photographs of alleged chemical weapons and rocket factories, but they could be pictures of elementary schools for all I know.
Ghostwriting the Law- Mother Jones profiles the stealthy American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pro-business lobby group that helps in "drafting business-friendly bills for state legislators across the country."
Bringing the War Home- how the U.S. military's domestic violence prevention programs fail miserably.
The Audacious Courage of Mr. Blair- Monthy Python's Terry Jones ruthlessly mocks Tony Blair and his support for the war on Iraq. He "praises" Blair's "courage" to do whatever the White House wants, despite the fact that it makes him look like a foolish lapdog.
Not-So-Rosie Outlook: Her Behavior of Late Has People Talking- Really insulting article about celebrity Rosie O'Donnell. Examines the tough journalistic question of whether or not her recent "uncouth" behavior is due the fact that she's a lesbian.
Yeah, not even 24 hours have passed since I said that I was going to cut back on Iraq-related entries, and I'm already posting another Iraq entry.
Heard an interesting argument yesterday on KPFK's Daily Review radio show. The host of the show rotates, and yesterday's was Ian Masters, who I think is great, very knowledgable, very insightful. Masters was interviewing journalist Eli Lake about his recent New Republic article about a conflict between the CIA and the Pentagon over who gets to advise the president about Iraq. But the discussion shifted to a broader debate about US power, democracy and human rights.
First of all, Lake claims that the Bush administration is working on an assumption that Muslim dictatorships and Muslim terrorism are inextricably linked. And since finding and destroying terrorist cells is difficult, the administration will instead destroy these governments and replace them with democracies. So in a sense, the region-wide instabilities (instabilities that could potentially overturn dictatorships and replace them with democracy-like regimes) that a war against Iraq could cause are not an unwanted side-effect for the White House, but the actual policy goal.
Lake then goes on to pose this question: why does the Left, which is opposed to tyranny and oppression, oppose the use of the U.S. military to democratize Iraq and possibly the rest of the Middle East? He suggested his own answer about knee-jerk anti-war sentiment and a distrust of American government that he implied was misplaced. Not a bad argument, although I disagree with many of the assumptions upon which it's based.
First of all, let's bolster Lake's initial theory about the White House's goal of fighting terrorism by fighting Middle Eastern tyranny with this article, The Real Foe Is Middle Eastern Tyranny. It's written by a member of the influential conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute. The facts that the AEI is taking this position, and that it frequently contributes to American policy, supports Lake's argument that the White House does indeed hold this view.
First of all, I disagree with this viewpoint, that somehow Middle Eastern dictatorships are responsible for what we call terrorism (once upon a time, the term "terrorism" meant "brutal governmental oppression, " in which case these dictatorships would be very responsible for terrorism). These terrorist organizations seem to function fine without governmental sponsors. I get the impression that they are frequently funded by wealthy elites within some of these repressive countries, but not necessarily by governments.
So let's take on Lake's question to Lefties. And if the U.S. military was truly setting out to do what he claims they are out to do, that would be a very good debate. Is it morally acceptable to use force to remove dictators? Do other nations have the right to interfere in another country's affairs that way? Will the eventual regime change justify the inevitable death count?
But I think that those questions become moot in this case here. I don't think that the U.S.' goal is to replace the Middle Eastern tyrannies with democracies. I think that'd be just another cover story. I think that the goal would be to replace the Middle Eastern tyrannies with America-friendly regimes, democratic or not. The U.S. has a long history of supporting governments, no matter how democratic or despotic, that are amenable to U.S. interests. For PR reasons, I imagine that the U.S. would want these new Middle Eastern regimes to look like democracies, because that helps justify the intervention.
But there's still some valid questions in there for anti-war folks. Would even a sham democracy be better for the people of Iraq than life under Saddam Hussein? Would the destruction of war justify this regime change?
But an important question that I don't think anyone is asking is "what do the people of Iraq want?" As far as I know, no one's asking them. If you did ask, I imagine the first thing they'd say is "end the sanctions," the ones that are depriving them of much-needed food and medicine. But apart from that, I don't know what they would want. Frankly, it's a possibility that they support Saddam Hussein. Much the way that Americans rallied around George W. Bush in a time of crisis, maybe the Iraqi people have done the same.
So here's the Jake Sexton Might-Help-But-Certainly-Won't-Solve-the-Problem Iraq Policy:
End the sanctions against Iraq
Begin an international weapons embargo to the entire Middle East
Find out what the people of Iraq would want us to do, and see if we can help
Here's another medley of news links. And I think I'm going to try to have fewer entries about Iraq in the future. With the time and energy I'm spending on Iraq, I'm surely missing dozens of other important subjects.
Unveiled: the Thugs Bush Wants in Place of Saddam- who gets to be the new head of Iraq once the U.S. grinds Hussein to dust? Our front-runners are two military strongmen and an alleged corporate crook.
Still a Few Dots to Connect in Iraq Domino Theory- so U.S. policy in the Middle East is now "reverse domino theory"?
The Operation Was a Success (But the Patients Died)- correction of news articles I did not see. The New England Journal of Medicine published a new study about the treatment of prostate cancer, and the US media got the story wrong. While the media announced that surgical removal of cancerous prostates saved lives, the study actually concluded that there was there was "no significant difference between surgery and watchful waiting in terms of overall survival." Or, as this article puts it "if I were to say, 'Listen we have a great new procedure for people with inoperable brain cancer ... we're going to cut off every one's head and then I can absolutely guarantee that you won't die of brain cancer,' that wouldn't prove very much, would it?"
See the Mike Tyson Spot Fox Pulled Off the Air- the Fox Sports Net cable channel recently ran a commercial for their program "The Best Damned Sports Show Period" which was quickly removed because of its controversial content. It showed boxer Mike Tyson singing lullabies to a baby he held cradled in his arms as he rocked it back and forth; apparently the ad was supposed to show to what lengths athletes would go to appear on the BDSSP. But the public seemed to think that having a convicted rapist holding a baby was perhaps not the best of ideas (now that I write these words, I think I'm one of those people). But, thanks to modern technology, you can view this absurd and wildly inappropriate commercial through the wonders of streaming video.
Even though I know that the folks at the Fox News Channel are assholes, even though I know that they love televising conflict, even though I'm sure they are drooling over the jump their ratings will see if war breaks out in Iraq, I was still astounded by a piece I saw on their network this weekend.
It began as a regular Fox News segment, as the host announced that it would be a discussion between former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, and Weekly Standard reporter Stephen Hayes. I figured this was going to be the typical cable TV "shouting heads" format, where two guys who will never, ever agree, pretty much keep stating how they're right and the other guy's wrong. I decided to watch to see if Ritter had anything new to say, but presuming that I'd pretty much heard all of his arguments.
But the debate/interview quickly turned into an anti-Ritter hit squad that was truly shocking to see.
They start off with Hayes presenting a bombshell from his latest news article, an allegation that Scott Ritter had been paid $400,000 from an Iraqi-American to make pro-Iraqi propaganda. So before we're even a minute into this piece, the focus has moved from Ritter's favorite subject, whether or not Iraq has nuclear weapons, to the subject of whether or not he is a traitor to the United States.
Ritter managed to rebutt fairly successfully that he had borrowed the money from an American citizen to make a documentary that was receiving praise for its objectivity. I can't verify too much of that claim, except that Ritter's movie is indeed a documentary, called "In Shifting Sands," about the UN weapons inspections and the effects of sanctions against the people of Iraq. I tried to find an objective source for a movie review, but I failed. Looking for more information about this fellow who backed Ritter's movie, I found several conservative websites which claimed that he had "extensive ties to Saddam Hussein's government," but none of the articles spelled out what these ties were.
So all we have for certain is that some dude who was born in Iraq loaned (or maybe gave) Scott Ritter a chunk of money to make a documentary. But too late, the smear's already out of the bag.
But already we've lost sight of anything that matters. We're now talking about Ritter himself, not about Iraq and its weapons. Which is the point, I suppose. Ritter finds himself in a lose-lose situation: if he ignores the accusations against him, he loses credibility. If he defends himself, he loses the chance to talk about Iraq and its weapons.
Then the "fair and balanced" host began gently grilling Ritter about his "change of stance" about Iraq, formerly saying that it was a threat, and now saying it was disarmed. I have already commented on this argument in a previous LMB entry, so I won't repeat it here.
Then, the host invites another person to join in via videoscreen. I didn't catch the name or affiliation of this other person, but I think she was another Fox News reporter. The first words out of her mouth (as I try to accurately quote her from memory) were, "Isn't it true that you applied to join the CIA, but failed because of lie detector problems? So why should we believe anything you have to say?"
Like I said, hit squad.
The grilling continued, with all three critics badgering Ritter, and Ritter trying to defend and/or counterattack. I couldn't stand to watch too much more of it. I changed the channel, and resumed flipping around the dial. I stopped by Fox News again. The interview was still going on. I aimlessly flipped around some more. Fox News again. Still with the Ritter-bashing. All told, I would guess that the interview was like 10-15 minutes long, which is quite a lot of time for one of these 24-hour news channels to keep with a single subject.
I'm not saying this as some kind of Ritter-worshipper or something. He seems reasonable, rational and credible to me. He's certainly not above criticism, but I haven't found much that seemed justified. One potentially valid criticism came from a recent interview with British weapons inspector Greg Goldin. Ritter has been frequently claiming that Iraq's chemical and biological weapons are no threat because they have a shelf-life: biological weapons deteriorate into uselessness after 3 years, and chemical weapons after 5. However Goldin argues, correctly, that Ritter is no biological or chemical weapons expert. Ritter was sort of the police detective of the weapons inspectors, not the biologist or the chemist. Goldin claims that Ritter's figures for weapon shelf-life are completely false. As I am also neither a biologist or chemist, I can't verify either Ritter's or Goldin's claims.
I'm a little embarassed now, as I realize that I don't know how to conclude this entry. That's alright, just stay with me and we'll figure something out.
How about "what else could we expect from the Fox News Channel?" Or "that's what you get when you publicly oppose American war plans"?
Or maybe even "Fox News drinks pee-pee"?
Yes, that'll do nicely.
Just a few days ago, I threw a fit about U.S. opposition to UN weapons inspectors returning to Iraq without a strong UN "or else" resolution.
But after days of no mainstream media outlets focusing on this story, I decided to track it to the source, a statement made by Colin Powell to Congress (specifically, the House Committee on International Relations). While the initial news reports seem to be correct, Powell's speech is not worded so dynamically:
"Many United Nation members, including some on the Security Council, want to take Iraq at its word and send inspectors back in without any new resolution or new authority. It's a recipe for failure, and we will not support that."
Couple that with a few other choice phrases sprinkled throughout:
"We must not believe that inspectors going in under the same conditions that caused their withdrawal four years ago is in any way acceptable or will bring us to a solution to this problem."
"If inspectors do go back in because the UN feels it is appropriate for them to do so, they go back in under a new regime with new rules."
All of this adds up to "inspectors without a tough, new UN resolution is unacceptable, and the only acceptable plans are inspectors with a tough, new UN resolution, or unilateral U.S. 'action' to 'defend our country' and 'our interests' (i.e. military force)."
Perhaps the long, indirect nature of Powell's statement explains the lack of media coverage. Not exactly soundbite-friendly.
Maybe this entry was completely unnecessary, but sometimes I feel the need to back up my kuh-razy claims with as direct evidence as I can muster.
"Thousands" of protesters plan to take to the streets of Washington, DC this coming week to protest at an annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank. Well, they will if the police let them.
Let's see, how to summarize...
The World Bank and IMF are international loan/aid institutions that are frequently criticized for doing more harm than good to the poor struggling countries they seek to help. Jake's nutshell analysis: the IMF and WB loan money to impoverished countries on the condition that they restructure their economies in such a way that it makes them more attractive to foreign investors. These "structural adjustments" usually involve the elimination of social programs, workers' rights, and environmental regulations. For more thorough criticisms, you can read the Anti-Capitalist Convergence's critique, and a more conservative argument from the anti-IMF/WB organization 50 Years Is Enough. But probably the best evidence that the IMF and WB are a bad idea is that Argentina, now currently facing economic armageddon, followed every IMF and WB recommendation to the letter.
Anyhow, large protests are planned against the IMF/WB for Sept. 25-29 in DC. But now the DC police are discussing legal manuevers to shut down the protests before they begin. Their rationale for this is a series of allegations (which are not backed up by evidence in the news article cited) that protesters plan acts of civil disobedience and vandalism. One bit of evidence is a page on an anarchist website about an "anarchist scavenger hunt" which would award points for acts like breaking a McDonald's window or hitting a CEO. The page's author, Infoshop.org webmaster Chuck0, says that the page was a joke. I'm inclined to believe him, as I don't see how the awarding of abstract "points" would really encourage an anarchist (or anyone else) to do get themselves into dangerous situations which could land them in jail.
Hard to say whether the police actually believe that these protests pose a threat to the city, or if they're simply hyping the danger so they can prevent the protests and save themselves the trouble of dealing with it. The former is simply sloppy police work: if you think someone's going to commit a crime, you search for evidence and arrest the prepetrator, you don't shut down the events where these crimes might take place. And the latter is an assault on free speech because policing a mass protest is such a pain in the ass: closing streets; setting up road blocks; making sure the protesters don't get violent; trudging around in heavy helmets and body armor all day, just so that a bunch of punk kids can yell about some obscure group of bureaucrats and call you a "pig"? Why bother when you can avoid all the trouble with a couple of white lies?
"But in Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell testified before a congressional panel that the United States will block any attempt to send U.N. weapons inspectors back to Iraq without a new mandate from the U.N. Security Council."
Here, paragraph 15.
I'm going to go bang my head against a wall repeatedly, then go to bed.
Wonder why this isn't getting more coverage.
US Sends Forces to Wage Secret War in Horn of Africa- Apparently the U.S. is going to send troops into Yemen to fight/capture Al Qaeda members there: "it was revealed yesterday that 800 US troops and an unknown number of special forces personnel had been dispatched to Djibouti, the tiny African nation that faces Yemen across the Gulf of Aden. The assault ship Belleau Wood is also in the area and could be used as a platform for troops." (although Yemen denies the whole thing)
You see an awful lot of "Lying Bastards" and "Media Bastards" on this site, but not all that much in the field of "Lying Media," bastard or otherwise. Lately I'm more of the opinion that the journalists themselves aren't doing much lying, they're simply repeating the lies that they've been told without bothering to check on the facts.
They could attend a press conference where Dick Cheney said "Look out! Osama bin Laden is right behind you!" and they would write "at today's press conference, Vice President Dick Cheney stated that Osama bin Laden was right behind us," without so much as turning their heads to look and see for themselves whether or not the statement was true.
A really good journalist might go so far as to check with an opposing Democrat for a counter-quote, "Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle said that he didn't know if Osama bin Laden was hiding behind the press corps, but that he was strongly opposed to all the same things that Republicans are strongly opposed to."
Whatever you want to call it, I did manage to find many examples of poor journalism-- negligence or outright lies, you decide.
First off we have some straight press criticism from FAIR alleging that a recent ABC News report by Peter Jennings on the reintroduction of wolves into Idaho was very misleading and inaccurate. According to FAIR, the story had a very strong moralistic tone, sadly decrying an abusive federal government's efforts to force life changes on local people who wanted nothing to do with it. Except that apparently, the people of Idaho seem to have no problem with the wolves. You can read Peter Jennings' response to the criticism of his story, in which he more or less admits it: the story was never meant to be about the reintroduction of the wolves, but about the struggles between federal government and individual rights. In other words, he was completely unconcerned with getting the story right, he just wanted to use his version of events as an illustration to the point he was trying to make.
A few weeks back, I wrote about an erroneous news story alleging that the National Education Agency was sympathetic to Al Qaeda, that was picked up and gleefully repeated by America's conservative pundits. Now Spinsanity has a follow-up piece showing even more journalistic fraud in the initial fraudulent story, and how pundits and journalists are continuing to pretend that this fiction is truth.
The LA Times reports that a government commission has found that "Madison Avenue-style advertising aimed at 'selling' America to Middle Eastern audiences isn't likely to work and could backfire. While the lying bastards of the PR industry report the exact opposite finding, that these efforts need more money.
I wrote earlier this week about the fictional terror threat in Florida. Virtually every allegation of wrong-doing against these fellows had been debunked, and now I think the very final accusation has now bit the dust. A toll-booth worker in Alligator Alley, Florida stated in a sworn affadavit that one of the three non-terrorists sped through her lane without paying the toll. Now police have a video tape of the lane which shows definitively that the man did indeed pay the toll. Amusingly, the toll booth attendant has now changed her sworn affadavit to say that "a toll may have been paid."
But many cable journalists have learned never to let the truth get in the way of a good story. After the three men were found innocent of anything relating to terrorism, local law enforcement tossed around the possibility that the men had said suspicious things in public on purpose as a prank or hoax. Then the officers seemed to abandon that theory, because there was no evidence to support it. But the press held that story tight, and debated endlessly whether or not these men should be punished for their "sick joke."
This entire story is based upon one woman's memory of what she thinks she overheard from a conversation among some men at a nearby table in a restaurant. She claims they made some menacing (if you interpret them in a certain way) comments about 9/11, while the men claim that they didn't say a word about the date. And from that, the media concludes that these men played a mean-spirited joke on an innocent patriotic woman. That's some of the worst journalism you could possibly imagine.
Saddam's Nukes are a Western Myth- columnist Eric Margolis argues persuasively that Iraq does not have nuclear weapons.
Senate to Vote on Iraq Resolution Before Election- "Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday agreed to vote before the midterm elections on a resolution supporting action against Iraq, dropping their complaints that they were being rushed to judgment before the Bush administration had fully made its case."
I really don't understand the Democrats. Are they intentionally trying to lose in this upcoming Congressional election? As KPFK commentator Ian Masters has been saying, "voting on this war before the election turns it into a referendum on patriotism." Meaning that anyone who wants to get re-elected will have to vote in favor of the war or face an electoral opponent who will smear them as un-patriotic and soft on terrorism. Which ends up playing into the hands of the Republicans anyway, because the American public seems to feel that Republicans handle war situations better than Democrats.
Number of Gay TV Characters Plummets- not that there were many to start off with. Last TV season, the major networks had 20 gay characters in 16 different series. This coming season there will be 9 gay characters in 8 different series. Also mentions the possiblity of the creation of a gay cable TV channel.
Special Weapons Primer: Nuclear Weapons- do you really want to decide for yourself whether or not Iraq has nuclear weapons, and examine the evidence personally? Well, you'll probably want to read this first, a relatively easy-to-understand, step-by-step explanation about what is needed to create nuclear weapons. By the Federation of American Scientists, an organization of scientists dedicated to ending the arms race.
Group May Estimate Effects of Tax Cuts- Republicans in Congress lobby for the use of Enron-style kwazy accounting methods in reports by the Congressional Budget Office.
Rumsfeld Makes Case for War- Skeletor Rumsfeld speaks before the Congress about how Saddam Hussein is bad. LA Times prints a misleading sub-head for the article based on Rumsfeld's testimony. "Congress: Iraqi regime is world's greatest threat, he tells lawmakers. U.N. remains unconvinced" says the LAT. Rumsfeld's actual words, "No terrorist state poses a greater and more immediate threat to the security of our people and the stability of the world than the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq." What the hell is a "terrorist state?" Anything you want it to be, really, which makes the sentence meaningless.
AJC Launches Pro-Israel Ads- the American Jewish Committee has prepared 30-second commercials to air in the U.S. to rally support for Israel. It praises Israel's government as democratic and its protection of the rights of its citizens, trying to draw parallels between Israeli society and American society. But I found it disturbing that the ad seeks to drum up U.S. support by claiming that it is "America's only real ally in the Middle East." The ad continues with that sort of thread, that Israel is good and the other Middle Eastern nations suck. I also couldn't help but snicker at the ad's conclusion. With the U.S. itching for war with Iraq, and Israel sending tanks into Arafat's compound, who could disagree that the U.S. and Israel have "shared visions of peace for the future"?
Rumsfeld Indicates Nuclear Status Key to Pre-Emption Policy- Stratfor analyzes recent statements by Rumsfeld and surmises that the new U.S. "pre-emptive attack" policy is not about making sure that no "evil" nations have nuclear weapons, but is about preventing non-nuclear nations (like Iraq) from obtaining nuclear weapons.
My mom was a big fan of the summer TV series "American Idol." She's always had great respect and fondness for folks with a talent for singing.
We were discussing the show, and my mom mentioned that the finalists for this show were "set for life," meaning that with this publicity and their singing skills, they were certain to become successful recording artists. "I don't know," I said, and speculated that to even join in the musical competition that they probably had to sign all kinds of legally binding documents giving up their rights. I figured that the finalists had it even worse, that they'd probably had to sign contracts giving American Idol-owned recording labels all rights to their works.
Looks like I was right.
Inspectors Face a Daunting Task If They Are Allowed In- overview of the responsibilities of any UN weapons inspections team in Iraq.
Inspections Map- map of Iraq that shows the locations of some of the past, and allegedly current, nuclear, biological and chemical weapons sites.
Saddam Does Not Have "Weapons of Mass Destruction"- slightly technical article which argues that the term "weapons of mass destruction" only applies to nuclear weapons, not to biological or chemical weapons.
Spy Scandal Has Reduced America's Control of Mission- pretty much what the headline says. The weapons inspectors who left Iraq in 1998 committed acts of espionage for the U.S. government. To make sure that doesn't happen again, the new U.N. weapons inspections will not have much contact with Americans.
UN to Upset Bush's War Plans with One-Year Deadline for Iraq- the plans for careful and thorough weapons inspections of Iraq wouldn't have much evidence about Iraqi WMD for at least a year. Which pushes the war back by a year, provided that Saddam Hussein continues to talk with the weapons inspectors and doesn't do anything that pisses George W. off too bad.
Bad Religion- Turn On the Light
Devo- Girl U Want
The Gossip- On the Prowl
Blackalicious- 4000 Miles
Faith No More- Midlife Crisis (live Hollywood 1993)
The Distillers- Sick of It All
Bill Hicks- The War
The Coup- Fat Cats, Bigga Fish/Pimps
Anti-Flag- Die for Your Government
Wyclef Jean- We Are Trying To Stay Alive
!!!- There's No Fucking Rules, Dude
Country Joe & the Fish- Vietnam
Pistol Grip- LA City Jinx
Negativland on KJR
Fishbone- Party at Ground Zero
Scapegoat Wax- Almost Fine
Quicksand- How Soon Is Now
Rancid- Lady Liberty
The Soggy Bottom Boys- In The Jailhouse Now
The Minibosses- Legend of Zelda Rock
Ewan McGregor et al.- Tango de Roxan
Powerman 5000- Megatronic
The Fucking Champs- What's a Little Reign
Special edition of LMB for the Seattle NAB protests
The Vandals- Anarchy Burger
Scapegoat Wax- Aisle 10 (Hello Allison)
Bad Religion- Entropy
Justin Sane- These Are the Days We Will Never Forget
The Catheters- Teenage Trash
Norman Solomon & Augustus Pablo- Corporate Media and Its Discontents
The Beatings- Jailhouse
The Coup- The Coup
Jake on Corporate Media
Rage Against the Machine- Bombtrack
System of a Down- Metro
And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Dead- It Was There That I Saw You
Negativland attacks KJR
ZZ Top- Just Got Paid Today
Eric B & Rakim- Let the Rhythm Hit Em
Jake on Iraq
Le Tigre- Bang Bang
The Liars- Mr. You're On Fire Mr.
Anti-Flag- This Machine Kills Fascists (live)
MC5- The American Ruse
(I think that means "goodbye" in Arabic)
I've posted Garrick's final Report from Palestine. By now he should be on his way back to Los Angeles. I imagine he will write a few reflections upon his trip, and I will post those on the RfP page as Garrick sends them to me.
I'm sure that soon after his return, Garrick will be giving many presentations and doing many interviews here in Los Angeles, and beyond. I will also keep you informed of these presentations and media appearances.
Garrick's email address is at the bottom of every message, feel free to write him a note. I think the man deserves a lot of praise. He voluntarily spent months and months in a goddam war zone, with the sole goal of trying to help people that he felt needed help. Whether or not you agree with his politics, whether or not you support the Palestinians, you've got to admit that that our world could use a lot more of Garrick's kind of compassion and courage.
Today Nike is holding their annual shareholders meeting, which they will be webcasting live.
Two anti-sweatshop activist friends of mine, Jim Keady and Leslie Kretzu, will be attending the meeting. They've had some Nike stock donated to them, which entitles them to speak at the meeting. Jim and Leslie have spent months and months living with and talking to Nike's factory workers in Indonesia, and will probably have some interesting things to say to the company's board of directors. Could be interesting.
The meeting starts at 1pm EST, and you can view the webcast here. You have to register with the Nike investor site to watch, but I just put in an email address I never use, and registered as "Reba McEntire."
For more on Jim & Leslie's work, you can check their site Educating for Justice.
Respiratory Ills Plague Ground Zero Workers- more and more of the rescue workers from the WTC clean-up are coming down with serious respiratory problems.
Cronies in Arms- top members of the Bush administration are corporate criminals. But you already knew that.
Anti-Land Mine Group: India, Pakistan Lay Massive Number of Mines Along Border- sigh. Yeah, laying down massive amounts of land mines, that always has cheery outcomes.
Drop the Bomb: Why War Talk Is Cheap- Ted Rall's vain plea to eliminate the use of aerial bombardment in warfare. Makes a kind of sense though.
Larger Aim in Iraq: Alter Mideast- what I've been saying for a few weeks, while trying to not sound like a crackpot. Since the weapons of mass destruction and "Saddam is bad" arguments for attacking Iraq are not very persuasive, there had to be some other reason. And that reason seems to be "if the U.S. can get Saddam Hussein out of power, it could completely reshape the balance of power in the Middle East in the U.S.' favor." The article only quotes "experts" on foreign policy, which undermines the idea that this is the "real" plan of the Bush administration, but still makes a decent case.
Iraq Attack Could Cost $200 billion- estimated war costs run between $100-$200 billion.
Iraq Attack May Deal Blow to World Economy- like the headline says.
Crude Tumbles as Iraq Bows to Pressure- oil prices drop when it looks like war is temporarily averted.
Saddam-less Iraq Could Be Key Player in Oil Market- argues that unlike others have theorized, Iraq could not surpass Saudi Arabia as the world's predominant oil power. The map depicted is interesting as well.
The Fire Sale- how the U.S. is bribing many national governments in exchange for their support of an invasion of Iraq.
America Plans PR Blitz on Saddam- "The Bush Administration is to launch a multimillion-dollar PR blitz against Saddam Hussein, using advertising techniques to persuade crucial target groups that the Iraqi leader must be ousted. The campaign will consist of dossiers of evidence detailing Saddam’s breaches of UN resolutions, and will be launched this week at American and foreign audiences, particularly in Arab nations sceptical of US policy in the region ... The campaign ... will initially receive over $200 million." Yeah, I can't think of any better uses for that money.
Pepsi Marketing Looks to Outer Space- "Pepsi-Cola Co. is negotiating a deal for what could be one of the highest-profile promotions in marketing history: an unprecedented $35 million program that would award the winner a ticket to ride on the Russian Soyuz space shuttle."
We'll just have to see how this goes. At the UN last week, Bush more or less aid that the U.S. would go to war with Iraq if that country wouldn't allow weapons inspectors back into the country with no conditions. Iraq now says that it will do that. And the White House says that Iraq's offer is just another trick.
Why would Iraq suddenly allow inspectors back into the country? Only two probable reasons: 1) Saddam Hussein fears that the war will force him from power, or 2) it's just another trick to buy time and try to derail the U.S. momentum. Either way, I fear that the U.S. government is going to try to find any flaw, real or imagined, in Iraq's compliance and use it as an excuse to attack.
Can Anyone Out There See Me?- profound post 9/11 comic strip.
CD Players Glued Shut to Stop Piracy- Hee hee. "A US record company has issued reviewers with portable CD players that are glued shut to prevent two new albums from being pirated online before their official releases."
Inside Radio- report from last week's National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) meeting in Seattle, and the corresponding protests.
The President's Iraq Ultimatum, as Delivered to the United Nations General Assembly- more news parody from WhiteHouse.org. Amazing how accurate fiction can be.
Something I don't understand about this software I'm using, maybe someone with more know how can help me out.
What is XML? What does it mean to "syndicate" someone's blog, and why would you want to do that?
If you have a answers, please post a comment, or send me an email.
Interesting poll was taken lately, less for its results than that it was done at all. In multi-ethnic California, where 40% of the population is non-white, a post 9-11 poll was taken in 12 different languages. The results claim that unlike many white Americans, who seem to be putting the WTC attack behind them, that ethnic minorities in California are facing serious decreases in their quality of life and feelings of safety.
I don't have much faith in polls, but it's good to see that someone's bothering to pay attention to the opinions of people who can express themselves more fully and accurately in non-English languages.
The Bush Administration Explained- biting satirical history of the Bush administration, with toungue so far in-cheek the author is probably tasting his wallpaper. Sarcastic and reference-heavy, reminds me of old-skool Dennis Miller (maybe I'm dating myself here, but I can actually remember back when Dennis Miller was funny).
Former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter is on a mission to avert the U.S. war on Iraq, and replace that plan with one to get weapons inspectors back into Iraq. As you might expect, Ritter is now being slandered as an apologist for Saddam Hussein, a traitor, etc. The kindest of these attacks is that perhaps Ritter is "inconsistent". Hard to say if the media is just shallow, or if they're intentionally making him look bad.
The anti-Ritter arguments only work if you force the facts into a particular frame. In 1998, Ritter quit the UN weapons inspection team because he felt that the U.S. was maniuplating the team for their own political ends. At the time, he warned that the U.S. should take the issue of Saddam's weapons seriously. And now, in 2002, Ritter is saying that there is no evidence the Iraq has these weapons, and that the U.S. should not attack Iraq.
So the shallow readings are:
#1- That's not what Ritter is saying. Ritter's claims are a bit more subtle than that, and what newsman worth his salt is going to bother with details? In 1998, he said that Iraq was 90-95% disarmed. Today, he says that there is no evidence that Iraq has these weapons because no inspectors have visited the country in 4 years. "Does not have" and "there is no evidence" are not synonyms. In addition, Ritter points out (although the media frequently ignores) the fact that many chemical and biological weapons naturally break down. Ritter has said that most of these substances are no longer dangerous after about 3 years, which means that unless they've made new chemical and biological weapons, the ones they had when he left Baghdad in 1998 are probably gone.
#2 Ritter supports a war on Iraq if they have WMD. He doesn't support one if there isn't. And since he doesn't think there's enough evidence to justify a war, he wants to send weapons inspectors back into Iraq.
#3 Typical "you're with us or you're against us" bullshit. Either you want war on Iraq and all of its related consequences, or you hate America and love Saddam Hussein. No grey areas like concern for human life, or wanting weapons inspectors instead of war, or fear that a war will have terrible future consequences. There's only war and treason.
Those are the mild arguments against Ritter. Here's a Ritter interview with Time Magazine in which they practically call him an agent of Iraq. Although Ritter gets in this nice rebuttal:
Time- Some on the right call you the new Jane Fonda, and joke about what you'll call your exercise video.
Ritter- (Long pause?) Those on the right who say that disgrace the 12 years of service I gave to my country as a Marine. I love my country. I'll put my record of service up against anyone, bar none. If they want to have an exercise video then why don't they come here and say it to my face and I'll give'm an exercise video, which will be called, "Scott Ritter Kicking Their Ass."
You go, Scott!
As you probably heard, there was a terrorism scare in Florida this weekend, which ended up amounting to nothing. Heavy "breaking news" coverage of the event blew things way out of proportion, but then so did just about everyone involved with the situation. Remember folks, the facts you hear in "breaking news" type stories usually turn out to be about 80% false. Truth doesn't fully reveal itself till the dust has settled.
The story is this: a woman in a restaurant in northern Georgia overheard the conversations of three men sitting near her. She claims she heard one man say "Do you think we have enough to bring it down?" and another reply "If we don't have enough to bring it down, I have contacts and we can get enough to bring it down." She also claims that one of them said "if Americans were sad on 9/11, wait until 9/13." All three men were Muslims, at least two of them were of Arabic descent (I haven't been able to ascertain the third man's ethnicity).
The woman called the police, thinking that she'd just heard three Muslim terrorists discussing their plans to blow up Miami (I presume she overheard them mention their travel destination, but I haven't seen it explicitly mentioned in news articles). The police came and detained the men, handcuffing them and keeping all three in separate police cars overnight. They searched the men's car, and closed down 20 miles of a major Florida highway. They found nothing. The police then began to hypothesize that this was a hoax planned by the three men, or that they had been playing a trick on the woman at the restaurant. Then, realizing that there wasn't even evidence of that, let the men go.
The fuller story now coming out is that three Muslim medical students were driving to Miami to begin internships at a hospital there. The students claim that their "bring it down" conversation at the restaurant was about having a car shipped down to Miami for the length of the internship. The men deny that they said anything about 9/11.
Sadly, the students' internships have been cancelled. The hospital claims that they have received a number of racist, threatening phone calls and emails since the news stories hit.
So there you go, one woman's paranoia has fucked up the careers of three innocent men. I guess I can't blame her too much, she was acting out of fear. But unfortunately, fear destroys common sense. Common sense might've said "why would three terrorists sit here in a public restaurant and discuss their plans to blow up Miami in English?" Or "the phrase 'bring it down' can mean a whole lot of different things?"
Well, what's done is done, and the men claim that they bear no ill will towards the woman.
Turok is the name of an unpopular comic book which became a fairly popular video game franchise. It's about a member of a fictional Native American tribe who somehow or another has to fight off an army of dinosaurs and aliens to save the Earth. It's produced by Acclaim Entertainment, Inc.
To help publicize the release of a new Turok game, the London office of Acclaim launched the My Name Is Turok contest. Five winners were selected from 10,000 entrants to legally change their names to "Turok" for a full year. The prize: £500, an X-Box video game system, and all of the Turok games. By my estimation, that can't be more than $1000 total.
But Acclaim USA (with help from their PR firm, the HighWater Group) did them one better, with their Turok Labor Day contest. Basically, parents expecting to give birth to a child around the Labor Day holiday could pre-register as possible winners. The first entrant to give birth to a baby on 9-1-02, and willing to name their newborn child "Turok" (and agree not to change it for a full year) could win a $10,000 savings bond.
Radically political rap group Public Enemy has reconstituted itself, and is putting out records and playing live shows. They also filmed a video for their new song "Gotta Give the Peeps What They Need," but there's a good chance most folks will never see it.
According to a statement/column by PE's Chuck D, MTV is refusing to air the video until changes are made to certain political lyrics and images.
Specifically, MTV said that they wouldn't play the video till all auditory and visual references to Mumia Abu-Jamal and H. Rap Brown were removed from the video (the song's chorus contains the lyric "Free Mumia and H. Rap Brown," and at one point shows images of the two men's faces).
D's article does not tell what reason MTV gave to explain their request for the edits. He angrily presumes that it's racism on the part of network executives who are only too happy to rake in the cash when a black artist makes a mindless hit song, but when a black artist has something to say, will tell them to shut up. I think it's safer to say that MTV fears that controversy could in some way hurt their profit margin, and would rather go without the PE video than risk offending viewers (and therefore potentially advertisers) who may not like PE's opinion about these two men.
According to D, after some battle with the network, MTV backed down and said that they could include the names and images of the two men, but they had to remove the word "free" from the lyric. Which of course turns a political call for action into the random recitation of two names. From the article, it seemed as though the band would still refuse to make the demanded change.
See the video for yourself here.
Alright, I should be doing my Lying Media Bastards radio show today on killradio.org from 3-5pm PST. If there are any changes or complications, I will post here.
Gotta love those radio pranksters. They're broadcasting insightful anti-Clear Channel parody programming up in Seattle during the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) conference. Read the story here. I'm told that the fellas behind this are the culture-jamming band Negativland.
You can hear their parody programs here. I highly recommend you do, they're pretty damn brilliant.
Also, I think I'm going to be broadcasting on Kill Radio this afternoon, since some of these microbroadcasters might be rebroadcasting our signal. I think I'll play some of the Negativland tracks. Unless I repost here otherwise, I think I'll be on from 2-4pm PST today.
Don't Mention the O-Word- Economist magazine article that highlights the oil-related effects of a U.S. conquest of Iraq (well, in their words "the opening up of that country's enormous reserves of oil"). Speculates that if Iraq produced and sold huge amounts of oil, it could wrest control of the oil market away from Saudi Arabia, and weaken or destroy the OPEC oil cartel. And since any leader of Iraq after Saddam Hussein (whether that leader was U.S.-friendly or not) would need huge amounts of cash to rebuild the country, it is likely that they would break ranks with OPEC and try to sell as much oil as possible. So we can put "destruction of OPEC" down as another potential reason for the Iraq invasion.
What War Would Do to the Economy- In a nutshell, "a short and decisive conflict could provide a boost. A long one has the potential to spark a global recession."
Before rigor mortis sets into the corpse of Napster, one-time king of the file-sharing world, others are looking to pick at its bones.
Porn company Private Media has made Napster an offer to buy its brand name and website to create some sort of legal porn file-trading service.
Oh how the smug and mighty have fallen. Makes me giggle.
Oh yeah, meant to post this article too.
How Did Iraq Get Its Weapons? We Sold Them- "The US and Britain sold Saddam Hussein the technology and materials Iraq needed to develop nuclear, chemical and biological wea pons of mass destruction ... up until March 1992."
Guess that was a gentler, simpler time, when it was okay to use chemical weapons on enemies, or your own people.
I want to repeat something I wrote in an earlier post because I think it's important, and might have gotten lost in the avalanche of text I brought down.
In Bush's speech to the UN on Thursday, he issued a series of ultimatums to Iraq, ultimatums which Saddam Hussein is unlikely to agree to:
I think that this was Bush's primary reason for speaking to the U.N. Not to get multilateral support, not to get weapons inspectors into Iraq, but to issue ultimatums which would go unheeded and give the U.S. a "justifiable" reason to invade Iraq.
I'm not sure how binding his words are, but Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz says that Iraq "[does] not accept Bush's conditions".
And on an unrelated note, I also want to remind everyone that the U.S. is selling weapons to both India and Pakistan despite the fact the two countries were on the verge of nuclear war earlier in the year (last two paragraphs). That's kinda not right.
According to USA Today (yeah, surprised me too), George W. Bush decided that Saddam Hussein needed to be overthrown about 10 months ago.
Let's add one more story to that. It makes sense that if you were the president, pondering whether or not another nation posed a threat to the U.S., you would order a National Intelligence Estimate, which combines all of the data from the various national intelligence agencies into a single document, a single analysis. The U.S. has not issued one of these reports for Iraq for two years.
Just about every news commentator seems to be missing the point. They all argue that Bush's plan doesn't make sense, that he needs more evidence that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction before attacking, that weapons inspectors would make more sense as a means of eliminating these weapons, that the U.S. needs international support for this campaign.
The point is this: Whether or not Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, Bush wants to attack Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein.
Really, it seems like the only reasonable conclusion. Given the lack of evidence, and lack of attempts to even investigate Iraq, I don't see how anyone could reasonably say "Iraq poses a real threat to the United States."
And if there is no evidence that Iraq poses a real threat to the U.S. (I'll call this the "WMD reason"), yet the U.S. seems determined to attack, there must be some other reason. And the fact that the WMD reason continues to be presented as the true reason, implies that the true reason(s) for the attack would not be seen as acceptable to Americans, or possibly anyone else on the globe.
So what is this reason? I'm working on that. It's safe to say that any U.S. policy regarding the Middle East is going to be largely based upon oil. However I think that the reason is probably complicated enough that it will seem implausible to most folks (if the reason was obvious, everyone would already know).
In my opinion, the most plausible of the implausible explanations can be found in articles like this. Far-right pundits and advisers who seem to have Bush's ear have been pushing for a U.S. campaign to radically alter power relations in the Middle East, in which the first step is to put a U.S.-friendly leader in charge of Iraq and its oil supply.
Yeah, I'm sure that sounds far-fetched to a lot of you. I'll keep digging and try to find out what's going on. It's what I do.
I say that the WMD debate is a red herring which distracts us all from looking at what's going on behind the scenes, especially from trying to figure out what Bush is up to.
With all of the 9-11 stuff, I forgot to mention that I had posted more reportbacks from Garrick. He says he'll be leaving Palestine for the States sometime next week. I'll keep y'all posted of his speaking and media engagements so you can hear his grim tales.
Brave new cross-corporate marketing partnership- NBC television and Baskin-Robbins ice cream.
Now you can buy ice cream flavors inspired by popular NBC programs.
Like the "Will & Grace" "Rocky Road of Romance" ("Chocolate ice cream loaded with almonds and miniature marshmallows"), or the "Ed" "Stuckey Bowled Over Brownie" ("Hometown chocolate fudge ice cream loaded with fudge brownie pieces and walnuts"). Or my favorite, a "Fear Factor Sundae," "a scoop of Cookies 'n Cream ice cream with an eerie drizzle of lime slime, topped with crushed cookies and gummy spiders."
Observers: Evidence For War Lacking- Bush Administration releases report with "proof" that Iraq has WMD and is linked to terrorists. Experts read report and say "where's the beef?"
Backing on Iraq? Let's Make a Deal- Can't say I'm surprised. "After struggling for months to talk other nations into helping oust Saddam Hussein, President Bush is beginning to use terms they might find easier to understand: cash, weapons, business deals and favors. Bush's speech Thursday at the United Nations marked the start of intense behind-the-scenes negotiations to see what inducements will help convert countries that so far have been balking, at least publicly, at joining the anti-Hussein campaign."
The Speech Bush Should Give- what George W. might have said in his UN address if he were compulsively honest.
Hawks Hit by a Rhetorical Ricochet- argument that neo-conservatives in and around the White House pushed too far when they talked up the Iraq attack as Step One of reshaping the entire Middle East.
CNN's Hatchet Job on Scott Ritter- Scott Ritter, one of the last UN weapons inspectors out of Iraq, has been lobbying hard, talking to anyone who will listen, to say that the US has no evidence to support the coming Iraq war. Understandably, the US news media has to try to smudge his credibility.
A couple of articles by Robert Fisk with a few creepy tidbits.
Fisk points out that the missiles used to destroy Palesitnian homes in Beit Jala and the planes that destroyed the WTC were both manufactured by Boeing (can we freeze their assets or declare them enemy combatants or something?)
Actually, dark humor aside, that whole article is a very good reflection on the present, and recent past. One interesting dichotomy Fisk brings up: the US wants everyone to know that the 9-11 terrorists were Arabs, but doesn't want to talk about what's going on in Arab nations. Arab countries don't want to talk about the terrorists' ethnicities, but want everyone to know about the dire situations facing many Arab countries.
But now we get to the scary bit. Fisk watched Bush's speech at the UN and notes that towards the end, Bush said "The United States has no quarrel with the Iraqi people.'' Which sounds like empty rhetoric, but which Fisk's memory turns into a grim omen:
Before President Reagan bombed Libya in 1985, he announced that America "had no quarrel with the Libyan people.'' Before he bombed Iraq in 1991, Bush the Father told the world that the United States "had no quarrel with the Iraqi people''. Last year Bush the Son, about the strike at the Taliban and al-Qa'ida, told us he "had no quarrel with the people of Afghanistan". And now that frightening mantra was repeated. There was no quarrel, Mr Bush said – absolutely none – with the Iraqi people. So it's flak jackets on.
Folks, I'd like to tell you that we all need to band together, and bravely say that we need to organize a massive anti-war resistance to stop this war.
But I don't feel that hope. It seems to me that Bush will launch this war even if he and his warhawk buddies are the only beings on Earth who support it.
Hmm, but every war needs soldiers...
Jake's Open Letter to All U.S. Soldiers
Dear Members of the U.S. Military,
It seems to me that George W. Bush wants war with the nation of Iraq, to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Virtually no one on Earth thinks that Iraq is a threat, and nearly everyone agrees that invading Iraq may very well have extremely dangerous consequences: more war; more terrorism; more weapons of mass destruction; economic crisis; death.
By law, you all are under the command of the President of the United States, but in your hearts, I imagine you all are in the military to protect the people of this country-- your friends, your family-- and to fight for principles like freedom and justice.
I'm afraid that the wishes of the President are in direct opposition to the well-being of the people of the United States these days.
So I'm asking you, if President Bush orders you to this insane war with Iraq, don't go.
I'm not talking about revolt or mutiny. Just don't get on the ship, don't get on the plane, don't endanger the lives of your fellow Americans by letting this war go forward.
I don't know how to stop this war. If I did, I would do it. But I do know that without you, it can't start.
Just don't go.
Yeah, sounds like a good idea. Why settle for only 6 corporations controlling the U.S. media when we could have 5, or 3?
Found out this morning that George W. Bush wrote a letter to the editor of the NY Times yesterday. Well, more accurately someone in the Bush White House wrote a letter and Bush signed his name to it (probably in crayon). I read only a few sentences and started composing a letter of reply that I hoped the NYT would print.
Dear President Bush,
You lying sack of shit.
Then I realized that the Times wouldn't print that. So I tried again. But each time I tried, I found I was unable to write more than a few sentences without calling the president a lying sack of shit. So I gave up.
"Bush's" letter, gallingly titled "Securing Freedom's Promise," will blow your mind. Nearly every sentence is not only false, but is almost the complete opposite of the truth. It's mainly a bunch of tripe about how the U.S. is peaceful, that free trade will lift everyone out of poverty, how-- hell, I can't even stand to talk about it any more. The damn thing made me so angry I damn near went into convulsions.
And we also saw Bush's speech to the United Nations making his case against Iraq. And the White House also released a report to the UN outlining their argument for war against Iraq. The main thrust of both is that Iraq has broken many UN resolutions. It's a valid point, but it's blatant hypocrisy, as the US has violated many UN resolutions, and so has its pal Israel.
Bush's arguments then follow the usual "Saddam is bad," "we have a couple of pieces of flimsy evidence that he might have dangerous weapons" and "we have no evidence that Saddam is linked to terrorism, but he's linked to terrorism" pattern.
Most seriously, Bush's speech laid out a series of ultimatums, many of which Saddam Hussein is unlikely to honor (e.g. "immediately and unconditionally forswear, disclose, and remove or destroy all weapons of mass destruction, long-range missiles, and all related material," "cease persecution of its civilian population," "return the remains of any who are deceased, return stolen property, accept liability for losses resulting from the invasion of Kuwait"). This was one of my fears. Now that Bush has issued his "or else" decrees, with a little extra, undeserved credibility because of the UN's presence, Bush has his rationale for war. "We tried diplomacy," he can say after Saddam refuses, "no we have no choice but to go in and use force."
All of this on the 9-11 anniversary, where Bush could clothe his crusade in the shrouds of the dead. He was able to give his drooling bloodlust a sacred graveyard solemnity, with the brave colors of Old Glory flapping majestically behind.
I’m not going to pretend to know what to say here.
I’ll just tell one brief tale.
In the hours and days following the terrorist attack, I was glued to the internet, and watched many a conversation flow via email lists and bulletin boards.
It was ugly out there. Real ugly.
Anger, hate, bloodlust, vengeance. Calls for the death of the “sand niggers” and “towel heads.” Normally rational people suddenly announcing that they were going to join the army so that they could kill some Arabs. One memorable message saying that the U.S. and Russia should line up all their nuclear weapons and incinerate everything from Marrakesh to New Delhi.
And there was fear. Lots and lots of fear. Some who were certain that Los Angeles was going to be hit next, that same day. A man said that we should organize a citizen patrol to guard the local reservoir, because maybe the terrorists were going to put anthrax or smallpox in the water supply. A fellow who thought that it would be a miracle if he were still alive by Thanksgiving.
I suppose I was better equipped mentally to deal with the terrorist attacks and its fallout than many. Some years previous I’d done research and writing about Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and the Taliban. Not extensively, but enough to have a decent understanding of the situation. Enough to know who bin Laden was and what his grudges were against the United States. Enough to know (well, believe) that another imminent terrorist attack against the U.S. was unlikely. Enough to know that a U.S. assault on Afghanistan was a possibility.
What I saw most clearly, though, was a direct parallel between the behavior of the angry, fearful Americans, and the terrorists.
The terrorists, furious with the U.S. government and its treatment of the people of the Middle East, attacked the citizens of the U.S., as though the government and its people were one and the same. They killed thousands of people who’d maybe never even met a Muslim, let alone oppressed one, when their real grievance was with a handful of policy-makers.
And some of the angry and scared Americans I saw were making similar generalizations. I saw them calling for the deaths of all Afghans, all Arabs, or all Muslims, confusing the actions of a murderous few with a much larger group. Just as very few Americans set U.S. foreign policy, very few south and central Asians have committed terrorist atrocities.
People around me were calling for the blood of many. And when I argued that killing the innocent should be avoided, they said that I was on the side of the terrorists. That was a low point.
I realized that the people who were the most irrational, the ones who called out most fiercely for war, the ones who were most utterly fucking terrified, were the ones who were the least informed.
This stayed with me. The most fearful were the ones who had the least knowledge.
It’s something I’ve been doing for years, learning things and then teaching what I’d just discovered to others. Back in high school I was often sort of an unofficial teaching assistant, quickly absorbing the day’s lesson in math or physics or history, and then helping out my classmates who hadn’t caught it on the first try.
I’m still doing it, I suppose, but I’ve switched from the classroom to the newsroom. I do my best to figure out what the hell’s going on in this crazy world of ours, and then pass my opinion along. Not everyone has the time, energy or resources to research every little thing like I do, so I try to help fill that gap.
I’d stopped writing back in 1999, just too many things to juggle in my life. But then I saw these terrified folks last September, and realized that maybe if they’d had some of the facts in advance, maybe they wouldn’t have been so frightened, maybe they could have coped a little easier. It was a sort of kick in the pants that got me to resume this self-appointed task, to learn and to teach, in my own particular way.
Well, while we're on the topic of what drives me, I’ll go one step further. I have three main goals through all my writings and political activism:
1) get people to really see and think about the world around them;
2) get people to really think about what kind of world they’d like to live in;
3) get people to take action, any action, that will make the real world a little more like their ideal world.
That’s it. No matter what your beliefs or goals or passions, there’s probably something you can do move them closer to reality. And you’re probably going to have to do it yourself, because no one else is going to.
There you go.
We now return you to the sound and fury already in progress.
[This article was originally printed in the 9/11/02 edition of Eat the State!. They've actually done a bit of editting and improved it. So I'm using their version instead of my original]
This is not a 9/11 retrospective that reminds us about national heroes, reflects on the psyche of the nation, or tells how celebrities are coping with last year's tragedy. You can get all that and more if you turn your television on any time this month (the channel won't matter).
There were two obvious outcomes of the attacks the subsequent war on terror: thousands of people were killed in NYC, DC, and Pennsylvania; and the US unseated the Taliban from Afghanistan. But many aspects of the stimulus and the response have been forgotten in the shuffle. Here are a few.
Environmental disaster in NYC. The transformation of two enormous skyscrapers into a mountain of rubble and an immense cloud of dust endangered the lives of many New Yorkers. Modern buildings are filled with all sorts of materials that human beings should not inhale: asbestos, mercury, lead, concrete dust, ground glass, and who knows what else. Even today, New Yorkers are finding significant levels of asbestos, mercury and lead floating about.
The EPA seemed reluctant to do anything about the toxic cloud, but under public pressure, eventually agreed to clean up the residences in lower Manhattan. What long-term effects the pollution might have on the health of the people living in the area is unknown.
"Anti-Terrorism" Worldwide. After George W. Bush announced the beginnings of a War on Terrorism, many other national governments realized that they could also cry "terrorism" and use it as an excuse for violent conflict with unruly portions of their population. We saw Israel crack down on the Occupied Territories, Russia crack down on rebels in Chechnya, China crack down on the Uighur rebels in Xinjiang, India cracked down on militants in Kashmir, the Philippines cracked down on terrorist/thug group Abu Sayyaf, and Colombia cracked down on its Marxist rebels. Most of these rebel groups would claim that they are fighting for freedom against a repressive government, while of course those governments claim that the rebels are terrorists. Either way, the US is currently looking the other way while these governments bring in the big guns. Had the American "war on terrorism" not happened, it is unlikely that these nations would have used this additional force in their battles.
Afghanistan: Aftermath. Afghanistan was a nation already impoverished and torn to bits by both the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, the civil war between the mujahadeen warlords in the early 1990s, and the battles between the Taliban and the warlords in the later 1990s. While Hamid Karzai was given the Afghan presidency, the position held little power. The real power belonged to these warlords. The US has managed to keep the warlords peaceful for the most part, but this peace seems to be rapidly deteriorating as the warlords begin to again fight each other for power. With last week's assassination attempt upon Karzai, perhaps this peace is drawing to a close.
As though that wasn't bad enough, there are now reports that the Taliban and Al Qaeda may be regrouping for an attempt to reclaim their territory once the summer heat recedes. Also, under the warlords' rule, the heroin trade has skyrocketed.
India-Pakistan. The US attack relied heavily upon Afghanistan's neighbor to the south, Pakistan. This new close relationship terrified Pakistan's biggest enemy, India, and increased tensions tremendously. When Kashmiri militants attacked the Indian parliament, India and Pakistan teetered on the brink of war--a conflict made more frightening by the fact that both nations have nuclear weapons. Somehow, that barely-averted crisis seems to have slipped from everyone's minds--so much so, that no one is complaining that the United States is currently selling weapons to both India and Pakistan.
Attack on immigrants' rights in US. Almost immediately after the hijacked planes crashed, the FBI and INS began rounding up as many as 2,000 Arabs, South Asians, Muslims, and Sikhs and held them secretly for extended periods of time, denying many of them contact with their families, or even lawyers. Some were held on no charges. These detentions were illegal. None of these detainees have been publicly alleged to have any connection to the 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda, or any terrorist organizations. Most of them were found guilty of some sorts of violations of immigration laws and were deported. Scores remain imprisoned, many remaining in isolation.
Civil Liberty Erosion. Soon after the terrorist attacks, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. Many members of Congress admitted that they approved the bill without even reading the 342-page document first. The new law, and subsequently adopted regulations based upon it, greatly expanded the powers of law enforcement, in some ways to scary degrees. Law enforcement's restrictions on surveillance and searches have been relaxed. Public access to government information is being limited.
The Bush administration has also fabricated an entirely new legal term, "enemy combatant." In the past, persons being held by law enforcement or the government had to be classified as suspects, arrestees, or prisoners of war. Each of these terms are attached to laws which determine how they are to be treated, how long they shall be held, etc. Since "enemy combatant" is not a legal term, there are no such laws about their rights and treatment. The Bush administration argues that it can classify individuals, even American citizens, as "enemy combatants," and hold them as long as they like with no evidence and no charges, and with no access to courts, lawyers, or any outside contact. Others being held as "material witnesses" face similar conditions.
Revival of Bush's Political Career. Just prior to the terrorist attacks, George W. Bush's popularity was down to 51%. Only days afterwards, his approval rating jumped up to 90%, the highest numbers that Gallup polls have ever recorded for a sitting president. Politically, the terrorist attacks were a windfall to Bush, who then could get nearly anything he proposed passed through the Congress.
Iraq Attack. Immediately after 9/11, the Bush administration tried to link the terrorist attacks to Saddam Hussein. They failed. Now the White House alleges that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, is developing further weapons, intends to make those weapons available to terrorists, and that a "regime change" is necessary for the safety of the United States. There is virtually no evidence to support these claims (that Iraq has these weapons, or that Hussein must be removed). Nearly every day there is a new story that makes it seem like the White House is backing away from war, and another that makes it look like a US war with Iraq is inevitable.
Budget Deficit. Thanks to Bush's massive tax cut and the skyrocketing of military expenditures, an estimated $170 billion surplus will become by year's end a $165 billion deficit. Just in time for a sagging economy. Yay!
General Destabilization of Central/Southern Asia. Afghanistan is still in chaos since the fall of the Taliban. The Northern Alliance, long an ally of the Russians, now rules northern Afghanistan. Pakistani "president" Gen. Pervez Musharraf has strengthened his dictatorship, but the Islamic militants in his country are angry that he aided the US against the Taliban (in fact, Pakistan's version of the CIA was a staunch ally of the Taliban since its inception). Iraq might be invaded by the US. Israel and Palestine are still locked in guerrilla war. The US and Saudi Arabia are falling out since neo-conservatives inside the US claimed that that nation is a threat. And tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir remain unresolved.
US Troops Abroad. The US not only has troops in Afghanistan, but also in a number of other countries with regard to the "war on terrorism." Thousands of US soldiers recently returned from the Philippines after training Filipino soldiers. More than 100 US soldiers were training the army in the former Soviet province of Georgia, which just announced for the first time ever that it would join Soviet efforts to attack Chechen rebels. Another few hundred are in Yemen, training Yemeni soldiers. The United States armed forces are now active in over 60 countries around the world.
Anthrax. Anthrax-tainted mail infected more than 20 people and killed five of them in the weeks following 9/11. While the anthrax spores have been determined to be of military grade and to have a US source, the investigation has lagged. The culprit(s) behind this crime have still not been found.
Camp X-Ray. The United States is still holding hundreds of detainees from the battles in Afghanistan in camps at Guantanamo Bay marine base in Cuba. Are they members of Al Qaeda? Are they members of the Taliban? Are they dangerous anti-American terrorists? Who knows? All we're told is that they're "enemy combatants" (see above).
Where's Osama? What happened to Al Qaeda? Probably the most important question to ask, what happened to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden? No one knows where bin Laden is, or whether or not he's alive or dead. Therefore we can't really say whether or not the "war on terrorism" has been a success or a failure, because we just don't know. And with the Bush Administration's focus having shifted from "preventing terrorism" to "eradicating evil" to, well, whatever it is now, it no longer seems to matter whether the War On Terror is successful. It just is. And, should the Bush Administration's vision take root, it will continue to be.
"Fighting crime by building more jails is like fighting cancer by building more cemeteries."
Around the time that George W. was running for president, a group of mothers wrote an open letter to his mother Barbara Bush, asking why when her son did drugs it was considered a "youthful indiscretion," but when their own kids did drugs they were sent to prison. The obvious answer is "duh, because the Bush family is rich and powerful and yours isn't." But of course, these mothers weren't asking a question, they were trying to make a point.
And now we see George W.'s niece, Jeb Bush's daughter, Noelle Bush, undergoing court-mandated drug rehab, and found with crack cocaine. We see the press giving Ms. Bush the same sort of biased-towards-the-rich treatment as this AP story puts it, she was found with a "0.2-gram rock" that "tested positive for cocaine in a police field test." Come on, if this were your average Joe, or someone poor or dark-skinned, the article would read "was found with a big ol' hunka crack."
The Catheters- Teenage Trash
Ministry- Just One Fix (live)
The Distillers- Sick of It All
"Corporate Media Sucks" Block
Jim Hightower- Media Democracy
Norman Solomon- Corporate Media and Its Discontents
Howard Zinn- Media Democracy
Jake Interviews Tom Morello About the Recording Industry
The Evolution Control Committee- Rocked by Rape
DJ Disk & Buckethead- Skin Cracked Canals
The Liars- Mr. You're On Fire
Le Tigre- Bang Bang
Anti-Flag- Die for Your Government (live)
The White Stripes- Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground
Mr. Lif- Jugular Vein
Rage Against the Machine- In My Eyes
Nirvana- Verse Chorus Verse
The Gossip- On the Prowl
The Adicts- Love Sucks
Eminem- Ragtime Snookered
Nine Inch Nails- Burn
Hmm, awful lot of "The Plural Nouns" bands.
About a month ago, I wrote several blog entries about a rash of murders at Ft. Bragg, NC.
Out of the blue today, I remembered that I had run across an article which could possibly explain why a number of soldiers in the same small city would suddenly kill their wives. So I hunted it down. Here ya go.
Apparently just prior to returning home from Afghanistan, the killer soldiers were taking an anti-malaria drug called Lariam (or mefloquine). The drug's manufacturer said that its side effects can include anxiety, aggression, suicidal thinking, hallucinations, and paranoid or psychotic reactions.
Sigh. Be all that you can be.
A new report from our pal Garrick in Palestine. Actually, it's more like half a report; he abruptly has to leave before he's said all that much.
This one sounds too ludicrous to be true, but it's from the quasi-reputable Associated Press:
Town Gets Sponsored Police Cars- "This Florida Panhandle town is getting new police cars for only $1 each, but there's a catch. The cars will be festooned with corporate sponsorship logos similar to those on race cars."
Corporations sponsoring cops. Surely there's no conflict of interest there.
Can't wait for the inevitable, "this racist police beating brought to you by Snapple!"
And in other treacherous advertising news:
Marketers Explore Product Placements in Music- to de-jargonize it, rap record label Island Def Jam is talking with Hewlett-Packard about a deal in which Island Def Jam would get money for its artists inserting the names of Hewlett-Packard products into their song lyrics.
Agence France-Presse (AFP) recently printed a brief article which quoted American warhawk Richard Perle's comments in an Italian business newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore:
"'Mohammed Atta met Saddam Hussein in Baghdad prior to September 11. We have proof of that, and we are sure he wasn't just there for a holiday,' Perle told Italy's business daily Il Sole 24 Ore.
"'The meeting is one of the motives for an American attack on Iraq.'"
I see. The Bush administration, which wants war with Iraq so badly that it can taste it, finally has a smoking gun linking 9/11 to Saddam Hussein. And instead of having Bush or Rumsfeld or Powell take this evidence to the NY Times or CNN or the UN, they have Richard Perle make vague reference to it in an Italian business daily.
Also, Donald Rumsfeld recently went before the US Congress to brief them on all the "evidence" that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. But his presentation seemed to be a bit... lacking. Said Rumsfeld, "There are three issues here. There is the issue of what we know. There is the issue of what we don't know. And there is the issue of what we don't know we don't know."
We can get a probably more complete version of his presentation in this briefing he gave to members of NATO around the same time:
"There are no knowns."
"There are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns - that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know but there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we do not know we don't know.
"So when we do the best we can and we pull all this information together, and we then say well that's basically what we see as the situation, that is really only the known knowns and the known unknowns.
"And each year we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns."
Presumably at this point, Donald Rumsfeld and the March Hare gently took the sleeping Dormouse and stuffed him into a teapot.
Swiped these two articles from Cursor. As I am fond of saying, read Cursor every day. Seriously.
‘A Greedy Bully’- Foreign Journalists Say Regard for the U.S. Abroad Has Dropped- a mild article in which ABC News quotes interviews with foreign journalists about foreign public opinion about the United States (it's always a little irritating when the media ask a "respected representatives" of a country to tell us what the people in that country think rather than actually asking the people of that country). However this article tends to focus on one rather whiny criticism, that the US government doesn't take other nations' interests into consideration when making decisions. That makes it sound like they're just pouting because America hurt their feelings.
Drain the swamp and there will be no more mosquitoes- article by Noam Chomsky about "why they hate us." And his answer is that "what they hate is official [U.S.] policies that deny them the freedoms to which they too aspire."
Sigh. A local paper from near where I grew up in San Diego is printing "community remembrances" of 9/11. This one from 14-year old Janell Peske:
"The events of Sept. 11 didn't change my everyday life as much as it changed my goals for the future"
"I would like to attend the U.S. Air Force Academy and become a pilot. After visiting ground zero and Washington, D.C., with a school group, I realized how much I had taken for granted as a citizen here and discovered that I, we, my generation, need to defend our freedom and rights so that nothing, not even terrorism, can stop these United States from dominating." [emphasis mine]
Mildly interesting debacle on Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor last week.
On September 3, Bill O'Reilly interviewed Pat Roush on his show (partial transcript at the preceding link). 17 years ago, Roush's daughters were kidnapped and have been held in Saudi Arabia ever since. Things start to get tricky here.
O'Reilly managed to arrange an off-camera interview of Roush's two daughters via Saudi Arabia's Foreign Affairs Adviser Abel Al-Jubeir. Al-Jubeir flew the two girls to London, where they were interviewed by O'Reilly Factor producer Stacey Hocheiser. O'Reilly then interviewed Hocheiser about the interview, in which she claimed that the daughters "don't want to see their mother and they don't want to come to the United States."
O'Reilly then "interviewed" Roush in typical O'Reilly "I appreciate your opinion but I'm right and you're wrong" style, essentially telling Roush that she was too emotional and that her kids had made their choice to stay in Saudi Arabia and that she just needed to deal with it. He then interviewed Dria Davis, another woman who'd been kidnapped and held in Saudi Arabia who managed to escape. O'Reilly managed to gloss over the part where Davis said "They're probably scared to death. My father threatened me. He told me that he'd kill me if I ever said anything," which would have been a possible alternative explanation for why the Roush girls would decry their mother and state that they wanted to stay in Saudi Arabia.
What turned me on to this whole story was an editorial in the Wall Street Journal by William McGurn. After receiving criticism of the interview, O'Reilly invited McGurn onto his show to discuss it. McGurn was very critical, accusing O'Reilly of "stabbing an American mother in the back," and "colluding with the Saudis" in such a way that helped derail efforts to get the daughters back to the United States, charges which seem to be fairly accurate. In response, according to McGurn's editorial, O'Reilly "became unglued and screeched 'liar!'" And McGurn's not some arch-liberal, he's a WSJ columnist who refers to the Fox News Channel as a "national treasure."
So, in conclusion, Bill O'Reilly's a dick.
Just read a transcript of Sunday's Meet the Press interview with Dick Cheney. Cheney laid out damning new evidence about Iraq's efforts to acquire The Bomb:
"...Aluminum tubes... the kinds of tubes that are necessary to build a centrifuge. And the centrifuge is required to take low-grade uranium and enhance it into highly enriched uranium, which is what you have to have in order to build a bomb."
Quake and shudder, ladies and gentlemen. Iraq is trying to acquire aluminum tubes.
Well, let's try to be as accurate as we can. Cheney references a Sunday morning NY Times article on the subject. According to the article:
"Speaking on condition of anonymity, the officials said that in the past 14 months, Iraq had attempted to purchase thousands of special aluminum tubes they believe were to be used in devices to enrich uranium."
Okay, so according to an unnamed government official, Iraq is trying to acquire "thousands" of "special" aluminum tubes. Tubes that some government officials think could be used to build a centrifuge. Which could be used to enrich uranium. Which could be used to build a nuclear bomb.
Did a little Yahoo search for "aluminum tubes." Apparently they can be used to construct gliders, telescopes, mynah bird aviaries, windchimes, cigar cases, car radiators, camping furniture, and bicycle frames.
Aluminum tubes- our no-longer-misunderstood friends!
For the discriminating culture jammer:
As I've mentioned in LMB in the past, one of the incidents that helped galvanize US support for the Gulf War was a fabricated story about Iraqis killing newborn infants and stealing incubators from Kuwaiti hospitals. Our pals in the news media didn't notice that this story was bullshit till it was too late and the war was done.
It wasn't the only pre-Gulf War lie. More on the topic here.
And the new lies are upon us.
There was an AP article on Friday which stated:
"Satellite imagery shows unexplained construction at several sites of interest to U.N. inspectors seeking entry to Iraq to look for evidence that Baghdad is developing nuclear weapons, the inspection team's leader said Friday.
"French physicist Jacques Baute, the leader of the U.N. nuclear inspection team, said in a telephone interview that reviews of commercial satellite images since 1999 show 'some buildings that have been reconstructed ... and some new buildings (that) have been erected,' at sites his team had visited in the past.
"Without identifying them, Baute, based at the International Atomic Energy Organization in Vienna, described the sites as having potential 'dual-use capabilities,' meaning they could potentially be locations for both civilian and military nuclear programs. He did not further specify what sort of facilities his team viewed from the photos."
This certainly makes it look as though Iraq may be up to something shady. Tony Blair brought it up at a press conference in Texas on Saturday. President Bush riffed off of Blair saying "I don't know what more evidence we need."
Turns out it's not true, of course.
After the AP printed the article above, the IAEA released a press statement to correct its erroneous slant:
"With reference to an article published today in the New York Times, the International Atomic Energy Agency would like to state that it has no new information on Iraq's nuclear programme since December 1998 when its inspectors left Iraq. Only through a resumption of inspections in accordance with Security Council Resolution 687 and other relevant resolutions can the Agency draw any conclusion with regard to Iraq's compliance with its obligations under the above resolutions relating to its nuclear activities."
So in other words, the IAEA has no new evidence that supports either the AP's or Bush's arguments that Iraq is working on nuclear weapons.
A Bush official has since admitted that Bush had "misstated" the report.
Please spread this far and wide. There is not evidence that Iraq is getting nuclear weapons. But these sorts of disinformation can stick around.
And perhaps we've already seen the biggest lie of all? Bush's repeated claims that no decisions have been made, that war is not inevitable, when, according to this article, "the United States has begun the massive military build-up required for a war against Iraq, ordering the movement of tens of thousands of men and tonnes of matériel to the Gulf region."
I think that the next step in this ludicrous sideshow will be George and Tony going to the UN with their "evidence," and demanding that the UN send weapons inspectors into Iraq immediately. And if Iraq refuses to allow the inspectors in, or raises any sort of fuss once the inspectors enter, the US and UK will use it as an excuse to attack.
Of course, if you're Saddam Hussein, there isn't much incentive to let weapons inspectors into the country. Since 1998, Iraq has said that they won't allow inspections unless the UN agrees to then lift the sanctions on the country. Y'know, the ones that have killed over a million Iraqis.
(Remember, sanctions that kill more people than a half dozen Hiroshoma bombs aren't a "weapon of mass destruction." They're "diplomacy")
Frankly, the war on Iraq has been on in slow motion for a decade now.
Just read the full text of the Bush-Blair Texas press conference. Check out how Bush signs off:
"I'm honored to be the president. And so long as I am the president, I'm going to work hard to make America safe and the world more peaceful."
Didn't someone say that irony died on September 11?
"U.S. military investigators concluded that an American airstrike that killed dozens of Afghan civilians at a wedding party was justified because the plane had come under fire."
"An internal army investigation on Friday cleared Israeli soldiers who killed 12 Palestinians in three incidents last week."
Funny how that works.
Damn, talk about throwing your weight around!
Clear Channel's Radio Pacts Irk Labels- the most open mainstream news article I've seen about payola (i.e. record labels paying radio stations to play certain songs). The "independent promoters" mentioned in the article are middlemen. To make this payoloa legal, the record labels have to pay "independent promoters" who then pay the radio stations to play the labels' songs. Looks like Clear Channel stations and the promoters are colluding to rip off the record labels. Which wouldn't bother me at all, if I didn't hate Clear Channel and bullies in general.
Y'all wanna join me in a media boycott for 9/11?
We all know what's going to happen. Every media outlet everywhere is going to swamp us with retrospectives. Beautifully tragic video montages of smoky skyscrapers and dashing firemen, with softly triumphant music wafting in the background. Images of a defiant president Bush, grim photos of Osama bin Laden and anonymous cheering Arabs. Slow motion shots of grieving women turning to cry on a loved one's shoulder. Incongrous shots of a man in an expensive suit all covered in ash, maybe helping out a more blue-collar-looking person near Ground Zero. Lofty talk about Freedom and Liberty, with no mention of how it's being taken from us. Eulogies and wan rhetoric about how the whole world changed, about healing, and American determination and the American spirit.
Join me on September 11 in leaving the goddam television off. And maybe write your local TV stations and tell them you're not going to watch their sentimental tripe, just to let them know that they're losing audience.
And while we're at it, would all of my fellow writers and bloggers and pundits do me a favor and quit talking about Ann Coulter? She's a ravenous opportunist who feeds on attention, any attention. Every time you point out her newest fanatical hyperbolic quote, it's like giving her a foot massage while dumping money into her pockets. Cut it out.
I'm just gonna go ahead and reprint this AP article:
Some of the fundamental changes to Americans' legal rights by the Bush administration and the USA Patriot Act following the terror attacks:
* FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION: Government may monitor religious and political institutions without suspecting criminal activity to assist terror investigation.
* FREEDOM OF INFORMATION: Government has closed once-public immigration hearings, has secretly detained hundreds of people without charges, and has encouraged bureaucrats to resist public records requests.
* FREEDOM OF SPEECH: Government may prosecute librarians or keepers of any other records if they tell anyone that the government subpoenaed information related to a terror investigation.
* RIGHT TO LEGAL REPRESENTATION: Government may monitor federal prison jailhouse conversations between attorneys and clients, and deny lawyers to Americans accused of crimes.
* FREEDOM FROM UNREASONABLE SEARCHES: Government may search and seize Americans' papers and effects without probable cause to assist terror investigation.
* RIGHT TO A SPEEDY AND PUBLIC TRIAL: Government may jail Americans indefinitely without a trial.
* RIGHT TO LIBERTY: Americans may be jailed without being charged or being able to confront witnesses against them.
You might want to print this out and keep a copy with you at all times, to remember what you are and aren't allowed to do anymore.
Conservative pundits and politicians play to win. With the exception of the hard-hitting Democrats James Carville and Paul Begala on CNN's Crossfire TV show, conservatives usually mop the floor with their centrist-liberal opponents in public debates. Occassionally, the conservatives win by playing dirty.
Among many, many targets, conservatives have the National Education Agency in their crosshairs. Why? Because conservatives want to eliminate public education and replace it with privatized education. Y'know, cuz the free market makes everything better (and when your kid's school pulls an Enron on you, and your child is educationless, well, that's just the market correcting itself). And conservatives are currently having a field day smearing the NEA with a story that just ain't true.
The conservative story is that the NEA has suggested that American teachers use lesson plans that blame America for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. This makes the teachers and the NEA look awful, as most Americans find the concept (that America was anything other than a complete and utter victim that day) to be downright repulsive. Apparently this one misleading article by the Washington Times (above) was the origin for this myth, and conservatives don't want to let it go, true or false.
What's the real story? Apparently an affiliate of the NEA, the NEA Health Information Network posted links to several dozen potential lesson plans about 9/11 designed by various teachers around the country, presumably to help any teacher think about how they should present the issue to their students. Exactly one of these lesson plans contained these "blame America" sections. Unfortunately, the lesson plan is no longer available at the given URL, so I can't even tell if it does blame America for anything. From the quotes I've been able to find from the Washington Times piece and Spinsanity, it appears that it's more of an anti-racism/anti-discrimination/pro-tolerance lesson based on terrorism and the 9/11 attacks.
So therefore, because an NEA-affiliated website linked to a lesson plan which encourages teachers to tell children that racism is bad, the NEA is obviously a bunch of pro-terrorist traitors who hate America. And therefore, all schools should be privatized so that rich kids can get a quality education and everyone else can go rot.
Well, I apparently have acquired a new gig as a political columnist for the punk magazine Destroy All Monthly (no, it doesn't have a website). My life is wierd.
The magazine is like 80% ads for punk albums, and the rest is mostly music reviews and interviews with bands. The mag's editor wants it to become an open forum, eventually printing pieces by left-wing crazies like myself alongside right-wing crazies like... I dunno. Somebody. Henry Kissinger maybe.
So it's not that this guy's out to indoctrinate the masses, he's just big into freedom of speech. I dig that.
Sounds like a good opportunity to reach out and touch some eyeballs, the magazine has a circulation of like 35,000 here in California, and I can rant about whatever I want for 1200-1300 words. First topic: Iraq.
No, I'm not getting paid for it. Which is pretty punk, I suppose.
A Los Angelan named Garrick is in Palestine right now, and I have been printing his emailed reports here on the website (well, here actually). He sent me another email a few days back, but it's not really a report, so I'm not sticking it up on the Reports page. Here it is:
I'd like to urge you all to read the call for the International Solidarity Movement's next campaign this fall, located below. I'd like to urge anyone who can to come and join in this extremely important campaign. The attacks of Israeli settlers on olive farmers and the Israeli military assaults against the trees themselves are one of the most brutal forms of economic warfare waged by the Israelis against the Palestinians. There is a great desire on the part of many Palestinians I have talked to personally for internationals to participate in the olive harvest at the hottest spots to try and lessen the amount of violence. Who would ever think that harvesting olives could mean risking your life? But here in occupied Palestine that's exactly what it means if your land is near an Israeli colony/settlement or a settler road.
This campaign is extremely important and if there is any way that any of you could participate it would be a very important way both to show your support for the Palestinian people and get to see Palestine under occupation for yourself. With the added bonus that much of your time will likely be spent in smaller villages where international visitors are few and far between. Breaking the isolation people feel in these villages is also extremely important. Please check out the websites below for more info and of course feel free to contact me directly for more information.
Entrepreneurial GENIUSES at work here.
After massive, MASSIVE hype about the bland singing competition program "American Idol" has become a national obsession. The winner of the contest was announced yesterday. Someone named "Kelly," I think.
In a masterpiece of exploitative timing, Fox has managed to get their new star invited to sing the national anthem at the memorial service at the Lincoln Memorial on 9/11. Six days before her first single is released.
Whoever said that "the world changed after 9/11" sure as hell wasn't in marketing.
Okay, that's possibly the worst pun I've ever used as an entry title.
I've come across the second example that advertisers are seeking to overcome America's commercial-savvy by creating their own programing (the first example was mentioned here). This article is about the clothing company Aeropostale, and its new advertising campaign. Aeropostale will air a two and a half minute "short film" on MTV (built up with 30 second teaser ads in the weeks leading up to the film's debut):
"In the film, six teens drive around in a convertible, but the action centers on a shy boy and girl getting to know each other in the back seat. At one point, a magical storm of red petals encircles them, and the boy reaches up to pull some of them out of the girl's hair. She then tucks them in her pocket. Unlike sexually provocative ads from competitor Abercrombie & Fitch, the spots are intended to portray an 'innocence,' said Julian Geiger, chairman-CEO, Aeropostale."
Three more such movies are planned. The idea behind them is that TV audiences just don't give the same attention to commercials that they used to, and therefore advertisers need to better integrate their marketing with programming. They're calling it "content-commerce convergence". Make sure to add it to your jargon dictionary.
Actually, I guess it's not a very new trend. American radio and television programming was born as advertiser-created entertainment like Texaco Star Theater and the Goodyear TV Playhouse and the Crisco Ain't Them Negroes Funny Variety hour (okay, I made that last one up). I haven't researched it much, but I think programming control shifted from the sponsors to the networks themselves in the wake of the Quiz Show scandal of the 1950s.
And in other advertising news, the NY Times is claiming that politicians are no longer depending on TV ads to get their message out. In fact, if this article is to be believed, the difficulties of reaching voters through TV are so great that some politicians and their staff members are planning to do door-to-door canvassing! Get ready to slam some doors in some faces! Much more satisfying than yelling at the advertisements on your deaf TV set.
Although it is the job of the US Attorney General to enforce the nation's laws, it seems pretty evident that current AG John Ashcroft is trying to realize his conservative political views by selective enforcement of said laws.
The latest example of this is his appointment to the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women (NACVAW)- both of his new appointees are members of an organization that has actively lobbied to undermine the power of the Committee.
New appointee Nancy M. Pfotenhauer is the president of the Independent Women's Forum (IWF), and appointee Margot Hill is on the board of directors of the IWF. The IWF is basically against everything that mainstream feminism supports, and campaigns to eliminate virtually all feminist legislation, including the Violence Against Women Act which established the NACVAW. Says the IWF on the NACVAW, the law "will do nothing to protect women from crime" but would "perpetuate false information, waste money and urge vulnerable women to mistrust all men."
Appointing someone to head a committee based on the Violence Against Women Act when that someone is opposed to the Violence Against Women Act? Why, that's as crazy as appointing someone to the head of the FCC who feels that the FCC shouldn't regulate the broadcast media!
Here's some strange news: Greece has banned video games. If you are found playing video games within the nation's borders, you can face fines from 5000-75,000 euros (1 euro pretty much equals 1 dollar) and 1-12 months in jail. Why? Apparently, it's an attempt to ban electronic gambling. Since the Greek government can't tell the difference between gambling games and non-gambling games, they went and banned all electronic games. An English translation of the law can be found here, and you can sign a petition opposing the law here.
And here's an interesting article about a form of movie censorship here in the US. Maybe you've heard of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). It's an independent organization, founded and funded by the major motion picture studios. The MPAA is most famous for rating movies' content, giving their opinion of how old you should have to be to see the movie. Nearly every movie released in the US faces the MPAA board, who judge the movie primarily based upon its use of violence, sexual imagery, and naughty language.
The MPAA has amazing control over the movie industry in the United States, because most movie theaters refuse to show movies that have not been given an MPAA rating, and also refuse to show movies that receive the most mature of ratings, NC-17 (no one under 17 years of age admitted).
Meaning that if you are a film director, and you're movie gets an NC-17, you're fucked. Instead of having your movie show on thousands of screens nationwide, you'll be lucky to have it seen on hundreds. The same goes for films aimed at younger audiences. If you made a film for kids or teenages, you'll need to have a rating of 'PG-13' or lower. If your film's ratings are too high, you can re-edit the film, trying to cut out the "objectionable" scenes, and re-submit it to the MPAA. Films sometimes go through this process for months, scooping out the meat until all that's left is a hollow, offense-less shell.
The MPAA has virtual veto power over which films will receive wide release, and which will not. And the board of the MPAA is made up of the chairmen and presidents of the seven largest US movie studios (Disney, Sony, MGM, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros.). Indie films are reviewed by the CARA, which is essentially the same thing (in fact, the MPAA and CARA share a mailing address).
See where I'm going with this?
The article above argues that the MPAA/CARA discriminates against indie films due to its relationship with the big studios. But even worse, the MPAA seems to discriminate against films that don't hold to a bizarre, quasi-Puritan standard of values. It's okay to show graphic sex and incredible violence, just so long as the film lets you know that these things are bad (except for violence against "bad guys." That's perfectly fine). If you don't want to follow their rules, fine, but you'll get an NC-17 and your film's reach and profits will be cut drastically. Which means that if you want to have a successful film, you probably have to abide by their standards.
But it's not censorship. Heavens no.
If Blair keeps on with this, it seems like there's a good chance he's going to lose the next election.
Since 9/11 this seems somewhat common, a world leader is forced to choose between what the US wants, and what his people want. While you certainly don't want to make the US an enemy, you also want to remain in office. Rock and a hard place.
Couple of articles that take the Bush administration to task on Iraq:
The Munich Analogy Does Not Hold Up This Time- columnist points out that Rumsfeld's "Saddam as Hitler/Iraq as Nazi Germany" analogy just doesn't work.
How Low Can We Go?- angriest anti-Iraq-war editorial I've seen yet in a mainstream newspaper. Dares to ask the question(s) "Invade Iraq? Are you nuts?" (Incidently, a good 60% of the article is made of sentences ending in question marks).
And, if this article is to be believed, nearly half of all Americans think that we have too much freedom. Which, if you're an American who thinks that freedom is pretty keen, should scare you shitless. Maybe Americans believed Bush when he said that the terrorists hate us because they hate freedom, and said to themselves "damn, then let's get ridda all this freedom!"
Or maybe the poll is wrong. Either way.
According to "collector of modern presidential arcana" Mark Knoller:
Some weeks back, I wrote about a court case in which the Israeli government was considering deporting some Palestinians merely because those Palestinians were relatives of suicide bombers. I condemned such policies as colelctive punishment and the opposite of justice. Well, the court has made a decision, but it's not exactly what you think.
The court ruled that 2 of the 3 men that the government wanted deported can be sent away, but that the third man could stay. The decision basically says that it's nice and legal to deport the relative of a terrorist, if that relative had helped out with the terrorism. The court found that 2 of the men had "aided [the terrorist] in carrying out attacks by helping him hide from Israeli security forces and by moving bombs."
While that's better than collective punishment, it does seem to be an end-run around regular law enforcement channels. You can now deport/punish someone with some evidence that they might be aiding a relative with terrorist acts instead of having a trial to prove that the suspect was involved in aiding and abetting a terrorist.
Gotta admit, I enjoy watching these evil motherfuckers in the White House have to backtrack and perform all manner of verbal ninjistu when things don't go their way.
The media is making a big deal out of the fact that last week, VP Dick Cheney said that the US should invade Iraq post-haste, while Secretary of State Colin Powell said this weekend that weapons inspectors should be sent into Iraq. The press is gossiping about this as evidence that there is a "split" in the Bush administration.
Of course, for anyone who's been paying attention, this split has been quite evident since at least the spring of 2001. It's been obvious that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld enjoy talking tough and threatening people while Powell preferred diplomacy. Pre-9/11, there were quite a few cases of Powell doing his diplomatic thing abroad, and then face embarassment as his cohorts in Washington shot their mouths off (at the time, I wondered if this was a ploy to get Powell to quit, to keep undercutting him until he left the Bush administration out of frustration).
But White House flak Ari Fleischer would have us believe that there is no split on White House policy towards Iraq. And that Bush's goal is now, and has always been, to have weapons inspectors back in Baghdad. Which is, of course, a load of horseshit.
Bush has been calling for a "regime change" since at least May 2002, as you can see in this press briefing by Ari Fleischer.
Ari makes one good point about US-Iraq policy, although he doesn't mean to make a good point, he means to dodge a question. A journalist asks "What is the President's rational for invading Iraq?" to which Ari answers that Bush is simply carrying out the US-Iraq policy set by Bill Clinton when he signed the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998.
And he's right. According to Section 3 of the Act:
"It should be the policy of the United States to support efforts to remove the regime headed by Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and to promote the emergence of a democratic government to replace that regime."
(Although the very last section of the Act says that "Nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize or otherwise speak to the use of United States Armed Forces")
Is there going to be a war in Iraq? I don't know. It seems as though the Bush administration might be dialing down its aggression, and hiding its defeat by re-writing history. And hey, if they're willing to call off this war, they can call themselves the princes of peace and blame all the war-mongering on me personally, if they want.
It takes quite a bit of gall for an acting president to quit office for month-long vacations whenever they damn please. Of course, President Bush told us that his time in August would be spent on a "working vacation." And boy, did he burn the midnight oil, spending last month on photo-ops, a sham economic summit, and lots and lots of fundraising for his political cronies.
Bush participated in nearly a dozen fundraisers for Republicans running for state governorships or Congressional seats, raising nearly $9 million for their November election campaigns. Which brings Bush's summer fundraising total up to 22 events taking in about $51 million, and his year-to-date total up to around $110 million. He's doing all this while on the job, and using Air Force One to get from place to place.
And apparently, even as the vacation ends, Bush isn't done stumping for cash. On Thursday, he'll be in Kentucky raising money for two Republican House candidates.
According to US government policy, the airwaves used to broadcast television and radio signals are a public resource, like oxygen or a national park. Yet most of these TV and radio frequencies are handed over to huge corporations to do with as they see fit, which usually means the creation/transmission of entertainment programming as a means of creating advertising revenue. In other words, the public resource is being used primarily for the private profit of some of the world's wealthiest.
In the US, the TV and radio industry has their own lobby group, the National Association of Broadcasters. And the NAB is having a large conference September 12-14 in Seattle, Washington. And a number of activists who are interested in more democratic, public-oriented media are going to be on hand to old a counter-conference, and to protest the NAB meeting as well.
If the protest or counter-conference interest you, you can get more info here at the Cascadia Media Alliance website. The counter-conference runs from Sept 9-14.
I won't give anything away, but I think you might be hearing some Kill Radio in Seattle that week...
Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.
Both projects focus on our media-marinated world, political lies, corporate tyranny, and the folks fighting the good fight against these monsters.
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