Our pal Geov Parrish turned in this column last week, cataloging the globe's dire straits. He highlights the key problem, that some countries refuse to act in a democratic, cooperative, fashion, and instead try to bully other nations into following their will (hint: the name of one of these countries rhymes with Q.S.A.).
But, offering a ray of hope, Geov also points out the progress that has been made in the past twenty years by ordinary people in fighting repressive governments, and winning without bloodshed. He then takes another step further and looks at the progress that was made this year alone. It's not puppies and rainbows, but if we look in the right direction, and squint just right, there is light at the end of the tunnel. And maybe if we work real hard, we can reach the daylight at the other end.
PR Watch's book Mad Cow U.S.A.: Could the Nightmare Happen Here? is now available for free download.
Click here to read (in pdf format).
Our photoshopping pals at Fark take some creative license with conservative asshole Sean Hannity's new book, "Deliver Us from Evil: Defeating Terrorism, Despotism, and Liberalism". Now that's good parody.
Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I've caught that devil-flu that's going around, haven't felt like spending much time working.
Main blog entries go here
Main blog entries go here
A federal appeals court Friday handed a serious setback to the record industry's legal strategy of tracking down and suing alleged file swappers.
Overturning a series of decisions in favor of the Recording Industry Association of America, the Washington, D.C., court said copyright law did not allow the organization to issue subpoenas for the identity of file swappers on Internet service providers' networks.
In Debate on Antiterrorism, the Courts Assert Themselves- federal courts strike down two messed-up Bush policies allowing the government to hold people in prison forever. The Jose Padilla case was always ridiculous; saying that the president can just clap an American citizen in chains on a whim, without trials or evidence, for as long as he likes? The Guantanamo prisoners are a less clear-cut situation, but again, at its core, it's about holding people captive with no legal right to do so. I'm not pro-terrorist, I'm anti-Government-Locking-Up-Innocent-People. If they can lock up Padilla, they can lock up me. And I don't like that.
Saddam on Lips At Ground Zero- very sad. NY newspaper columnist goes down to Ground Zero the day after Saddam Hussein's capture was announced. Everyone he spoke to was thrilled, because they were convinced that Saddam Hussein was behind the September 11 attacks. Even sadder, one woman rejoices because she thinks that now that Saddam has been captured, that her soldier son will surely be sent home from Iraq soon.
Bush: What's the Difference- from a 12/16/03 interview:
DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction, as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still --
GEORGE W. BUSH: So what’s the difference?
Can I trade in my president for someone who knows the difference between real and imaginary please?
FEC Fines Ashcroft's Senate Bid For Breach- the job of the U.S. Attorney General is to enforce the laws of the United States. In 2000, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft violated at least four federal campaign laws during his failed Senate campaign. Irony so thick it's trapping dinosaurs and mammoths as we speak.
Demagogue v. Instigator- Bill O'Reilly goes insane again. He publicly states that his book is outselling those of rivals Al Franken and Hillary Clinton. And it is-- at Costco stores. But nationally, outside that particular chain of stores, Franken and Clinton are kicking his ass in sales. Journalistic hack Matt Drudge exposed O'Reilly's, well, let's be generous and call it an "error", and O'Reilly then reportedly got on a radio interview show, said that Drudge was a crack addict and should be killed.
Y'know, I might stop mocking O'Reilly. It's just too easy.
“Free-Speech Zone”- conservative author speaks out against "free speech zones", (an Orwellian term if there ever was one), as an immoral political tactic aimed at silencing criticism, and if left unchecked, possibly a "war on dissent."
Headbangers Ball- a few weeks back, I wrote about the police brutality at the FTAA protests in Miami. Here's a more in-depth look at that.
Woo hoo! Classes lighten up- this semester, Centenary College of Hackettstown, New Jersey, is offering a class about TV phenomenon, The Simpsons. I, of course, already hold a PhD in the subject.
Washington Post ombudsman and NY Times editorial board member Geneva Overholser has printed this column about the media's most undercovered stories of 2003. Her list:
- FCC media ownership changes (gee, why didn't the media cover that one?)
- questions about the Iraq war before they happened
- changes in environmental policy
- political and business influence on scientific research
- income inequality in America (I think that's what she's talking about)
- growth of the "Hispanic" population ("Hispanic" is a term mainly used by advertisers, while just about everyone else uses "Latino")
- aftermath of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and the Balkans
- failure of the war on drugs
- the entire continent of Africa
- effects of corporate welfare
- effects of tax cuts
In short, the media really, really sucks.
I am also amused/irritated by her (completely predictable) use of the third person. While she begins with the phrase "stories we missed" and "what should we be sure we DO cover in 2004?", the rest of the article blames these lapses on "the press" and "the media." Of course, she IS the press, she IS the media. With her position within two of the nation's largest news institutions, she can't act like she's not a part of this. And that in some ways, she could have prevented these lapses from happening.
Found out yesterday that I'm (apparently) helping organize a benefit concert for the southern California grocery workers. The show is Thursday. Talk about short notice. So I spent half my day talking to various union members, artist managers, and publicity folks. Would've been nice if my employers had given me a bit more forewarning.
That's part of my job, for those of you who don't know. I run a non-profit political organization for a couple of far-left rock stars (the ex-guitarist of Rage Against the Machine, and the singer for System of a Down). The job pays enough that (when I'm not swamped with work) I can do this site and DJ my internet radio show (for free) on the side. Yes, I have a strange life.
Things for the concert are still coming together, but the show is planned for this coming Thursday, December 18, at the Roxy Theater. Tom Morello, Brad Wilk, possibly Serj Tankian, Janeane Garafalo, Boots Riley, Lester Chambers, and maybe others. I should be at an info table in the back, letting people know where they can shop without crossing a picket line.
If this musical line-up doesn't float your boat, we should be helping organize a bigger benefit show with some bigger name bands in January or February.
And if you want to toss the strikers a few bucks, you can do so here
Serj Tankian has confirmed, and we have also added Corey Taylor (Slipknot) and the band Phantom Planet. Tickets on sale from the Roxy box office, 310-278-9457.
Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers will also be joining us.
Show sold out. Thanks everybody!
I have to give the honest answer about the Saddam Hussein in custody thing. I don't know what to make of it.
Back in March, the U.S. drove him out of office, broke up the Iraqi army, moved into his palaces, etc. Saddam Hussein no longer ruled Iraq, and the odds of him coming back were miniscule. But still, if I was an Iraqi, I'm sure I'd have a twinge of anxiety, fearing that he could possibly come back and make my life 10x the hell it had been before. And once he was in chains, I could relax a little easier.
And it's always nice having another dictator in prison, waiting to be held accountable for their crimes. Doesn't actually solve anything or rewrite the past, but gives people a bit of closure and maybe, just maybe, makes the next autocrat a bit more reluctant to rape and pillage. I do worry that if too much time passes, we might see another case of "aging dictator syndrome," the illness that seems to occur when an old tyrant is on the verge of punishment. Pinochet was ruled to be too senile to hold trial, Pol Pot managed to evade trial by making claims about his failing health, Hussein might get off in a similar fashion.
Unfortunately, I don't think that the capture will have much impact on the violence in Iraq. While it's likely that some of the guerrillas attacking American soldiers were hoping to reinstate Saddam as their leader, it seems less likely that he was running the show. Why? CUZ HE WAS LIVING IN A FUCKING HOLE!!!
Apart from that, most information seems to point in a different direction. Politicos in DC and administrators in Baghdad tell us that the insurgents are Saddam loyalists and international terrorists. Journalists who travel around the country, talk to the people, and interview some of the alleged insurgents, say that they are Iraqi nationalists or angry anti-occupationists.
And here in the states, conversation seems to follow two veins: 1) how will Saddam Hussein be tried? and 2) look at the Democratic scum trying to spin this event to their best political advantage.
And of course they're trying to spin it. That's what politicians do, 24/7. The party in power, too. They're spinning the Hussein capture as justification for their war. And if Saddam had escaped and killed a bunch of Americans, the party in power likely would've blamed the Democrats for not supporting the war enough.
Iraqi Oil Workers Throw Out KBR, Reconstruct Their Own Workplaces Autonomously- can't verify this story, and haven't heard it from any other sources. It's written by a member of Occupation Watch, and she seems to have written quite a few pieces from Iraq, which leads me to believe that the article is probably accurate. After all the recent stories of corruption and incompetence by Halliburton (and its subsidiary KBR) in Iraq, this story is a nice change of pace. KBR had a contract to rebuild oil facilities in this part of Iraq, and the locals said "no thanks, we'll do it ourselves," and rebuffed every attempt KBR made to take over the operation.
Sony and BMG sign music merger deal- ah, lovely. The music departments of Sony and Bertelsmann join forces. This allows them to better compete with industry leader Universal, and again narrows the number of players in the world of music. Keep an eye out for future mergers between Warner Music (from Time Warner) and British label EMI. Or, perhaps Warner and Universal.
But in a way, talk of competition in the music industry is rather silly, as Sony, BMG, Universal, Warner and EMI are all members of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which works to support the interests of all the mega-labels over the indie labels. And the parent conglomerates of these companies are so intertwined with various business deals and joint ventures and so on, I have to wonder if any of the big names are really competing with each other at all.
That was a rather clumsy segue into this article here.
Downhill Battler and RIAA Radar are two anti-corporate-music organizations trying to support indie labels and unsigned bands. And on the busiest shopping day of the 2003, these activists went on a spree, taking thousands of stickers and putting them on major label CDs at Wal-Mart, Target, Best Buy, etc. The stickers had a simple message:
The link above is a brief article, filled with photos of the activists actually putting the stickers on the CDs.
I think the kicker for that whole article is that when the activists made their first stop, Wal-Mart, they bought a digital camera to document their action. Then, when the day was done, they went and returned the camera and got their money back.
I first heard this "news" story some months back on a local newspaper website somewhere, and it only took moments to set off my bullshit detector. As the weeks passed, I saw the story pop up again and again in local TV reports, local papers, etc.
It's about those colorful, rubbery translucent bracelets that are a fad with teenagers right now.
News reporters began telling lurid tales about how these fashion accessories are nicknamed "sex bracelets" because of a sexual game that its wearers play. You see, each color corresponds to a sex act, and if someone snaps or breaks off one of your bracelets, you must perform that sex act with them.
Okay, let's say you're a 13 year old girl walking down a school hallway with your friend. Some boy comes screaming by, and you feel your arm get wrenched forward. Boy comes back leering, holding a bracelet that you bought at the mall that weekend with your own money. He's just snapped it in two. Your wrist and shoulder hurt. Is your reaction to a) go to have sex with this stupid young man, due to the sacred laws of "sex bracelet", or b) slap him and call him an asshole?
When I was in high school, there was a game like this with the pull-tabs from cans of soda. Supposedly, if a boy gave one of these tabs to a girl, she was supposed to kiss him. And if the pull tab he gave her had the little metal circle on the bottom intact, she was supposed to have sex with him. This lead to much pulling of tabs by the boys (double entendre slightly intended), but to absolutely zero kissing and sexing. The only difference between my stupid teen game and this one is that mine didn't make the nightly news.
What's hilarious is that half of the news reports about "sex bracelets" talk about the game, and then point out that most of the teens their reporters talked to don't play it, or have never heard of it. One even said that many teens were not learning about the game from each other, but from these reports on the news. Begging the question, "what are you fuckheads in the newsroom doing?"
So today, we get another "story", from the AP, questioning whether or not this story is true, or just an urban legend. Even in partially admitting they fucked up they get more mileage out of it.
This is a combination story. On the one hand, it's the "parents, you should be very afraid for your children!" story. And on the other hand, it's a "ooh, we get a chance to talk about a lurid, taboo topic like teen sex!" story. Almost makes you long for reports on good old fashioned murders.
"My grandfather died in a war. My father died in a war. Me? I'm holding out hope for a zombie attack."
"The comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally to change the status quo, which we oppose."
Indeed. We should always oppose political leaders who unilaterally decide to change the international status quo.
Allen Roses, vice president of genetics at the pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline just went public with something that is (apparently) common knowledge within the industry.
Let's look at that again, because that seems rather counterintuitive. We buy and take medicine because we think it will cure us. Saying that most of the time it doesn't work is disconcerting. What exactly does Roses say?
"The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn't say that most drugs don't work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don't work in everybody."
Drugs for Alzheimer's disease work in fewer than one in three patients, whereas those for cancer are only effective in a quarter of patients. Drugs for migraines, for osteoporosis, and arthritis work in about half the patients, Dr Roses said. Most drugs work in fewer than one in two patients mainly because the recipients carry genes that interfere in some way with the medicine, he said.
In other words, about 10% of drugs will work on just about everyone. The other 90% only work on people with specific genetic patterns, and less than 50% of the population tends to have those genetic patterns.
The only grain of salt I'd take with this is something the articles speculates about, that perhaps Roses is a proponent of a new pharmaceutical business strategy focusing on targetting a smaller group of consumers, those with the "right" genetic makeup.
Then again, in the follow-up article, none of the pharmaceutical companies contacted would actual contradict Roses' statement...
I think that more people should know about this.
Muddy Waters- Nineteen Years Old
The Pixies- Little Eiffel
Sleater-Kinney- All Hands on the Bad One
Nirvana- Verse Chorus Verse
Run DMC- It's Tricky
The Rezillos- Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight
Tiger Army- Never Die
Hepcat- No Worries
Planet Asia and Madlib- Definition of Ill
Christian Parenti- Capitalism: Crisis and Response
Interpol- Obstacle 1 (live)
Powerman 5000- Megatronic
The Plugz- Hombre Secreto
Fear- Fuck Christmas
Sex Pistols- Pretty Vacant
Dinosaur Jr.- Boy with a Thorn in His Side (acoustic)
Le Tigre- Bang! Bang!
Blackalicious- Rhymes for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind
Lightning Seeds- You Showed Me
Ozomatli- La Misma Cancion
Lush- Shake Baby Shake
There's a new book out that I'm going to encourage you to all go out and get:
The book is shaped roughly like a brick, which probably prompted one of the books' blurbs of praise: "This isn't a book, it's a brick with which to shatter cynicism." No Logo author Naomi Klein says in the foreward, "this is the first book to truly capture and emody the exuberant creativity and radical intellect of the protest movements."
The book does seem intent on being more of a celebration than ink on pages. It's a compilation of essays, personal stories, fiery quotes, informative history, tactical analysis, and inspirational photos. The book itself is sort of an extended collage which tells the tale of what is commonly known as "the anti-globalization movement."
Except that most Westerners get that term wrong. The antiglobalizers aren't just a handful of white American union members, treehuggers and black-clad radicals. Most of the movement is action by people worldwide, facing life or death stakes: peasants fighting water privatization in Bolivia; farmers fighting biopiracy in India; rebel Zapatistas fighting for autonomy in Mexico; the landless poor hijacking farmland in Brazil; AIDS activists fighting pharmaceutical giants in South Africa.
Sadly, much of this international resistance to domination has been hidden since 9-11, if it ever got much coverage in the first place.
This book is about the whole globalization movement, Latin American campesinos, crusty punks from Oregon, environmentalists in Niger, students in Mexico city, pie-throwers in San Francisco, squatters in Ontario, anarchists in Italy, refugees in Australia, factory workers in Poland, landless farmers in Thailand. The list goes on.
As you might imagine, the book is assembled by many authors from many lands, doing many types of work in many different ways.
This books is about the power, the tumult, the joy, the passion, the fury, the humor, the defiance, the courage. It's about finding new ways to resist, new ways to work together, ways of building bridges and sharing power.
I think quite a few of the liberal/progressive folks out there could use a good dose of this book, to remember that politics is not just about unseating George Bush and preventing specific invasions. Don't settle for that.
This is a world gone mad, where the ruthless reign and the lives of millions are snuffed out in blinding flame and in quiet darkness. Freedom is not about a wide selection of DVDs to purchase or faxing a letter to your Congressman. Freedom is life. And for many, its absence is death.
To me, activism and politics is not about battle, or destroying the folks who exploit us. It's about everyone in the world slowly turning their backs on all of the governments, corporations, armies and institutions and saying "we don't need you any more." And when our backs face an evil past, our eyes face nothing but us, and a future we get to write ourselves.
As I've said before:
Naive? Idealistic? Fucking right.
"Gotta give the White House credit on this one! My colleagues and I are incredibly impressed by how well we were misled. And this was for a good cause! Just imagine if they were doing something they were ashamed of! We'd never find out! This just proves that we journalists shouldn’t even try. Which we don’t."
- Stephen Colbert, "White House Correspondent", The Daily Show
Can someone explain this to me?
According to the Sacramento Bee (a legitimate newspaper despite its funny name), Governor Schwarzenegger is proposing a repeal of recently passed bill AB 231 (aka the "Save Money, Fight Hunger Act") in order to save the state money.
Near as I can figure, the SMFHA simply makes it easier for poor Californians to get food stamps. Since the food stamp program is a federal program, that money won't be coming out of the state's pocket. Basically, the SMFHA removes several rules which make it harder for folks to receive food stamps. This relaxation of the rules would hopefully increase the number of Californians who use the service (only 49% of Californians eligible for the program use it).
Apparently there is some cost to the state to enroll people into the federal program, but the state Department of of Social Services says that the cost to enroll these new folks woud be "modest." And some of this cost would be made up by the rules eliminated by SMFHA (e.g. the former rules demanded that Californians applying for food stamps needed to be fingerprinted. Estimated cost per year: $10 million). And even with its limited participation, the food stamp program brought $1.7 billion in federal aid to California; surely AB 231 would raise that number.
So what's going on here? Are the costs of enrollilng new folks into the program that high? Is Schwarzenegger uninformed? Is the new governor so set on cutting items out of the budget that he'll keep a few million of his hungry constituents from getting fed? These aren't rhetorical questions, I actually want to understand.
The Invisible Recovery- nice interview with lefty economist Doug Henwood. Reminds me that economic statistics always, always need context. Occasionally overly technical, but very informative and insightful. You really should read it.
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.
All brought to you by Jake Sexton, The Most Beloved Man in America ®.
December 19, 2003
A federal appeals court Friday handed a serious setback to the record industry's legal strategy of tracking down and suing alleged file swappers.More Media News
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"My grandfather died in a war. My father died in a war. Me? I'm holding out hope for a zombie attack."
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Columnists Of Note
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CreditsDesign and Layout by Mark McLaughlin and Quang Tang
LMB Logo by Quang Tang
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