I guess I have three potential milestones at which I could reflect and commemorate: the year’s end, having a nice round number of blog entries (#500 is fast approaching), or the anniversary of the LMB weblog. Fuck it, I’ll just give some year-end thanks now and worry about the right and proper at some later date, when I’ve exhausted all other possible worry topics.
I’d like to thank y’all for reading. I would probably be writing obsessively on this website whether or not it was frequently visited, but the constant site traffic buoys my spirit with the knowledge that I must be doing something right. Or that if I’m doing something wrong, I’m doing it in a popular way.
More to come in 2003, of course. Hell, probably more coming in an hour or so.
This is getting too long. Better wrap it up.
The Fuck You’s go out to:
And finally, Double Fuck You’s to a select few:
Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.
Now go hug somebody; they’ll like it, I swear.
The (International) Noise Conspiracy- Capitalism Stole my Virginity
Johnny Cash- Personal Jesus
Scapegoat Wax- Aisle 10 (Hello Allison)
Mindless Self Indulgence- Clarissa
Mclusky- Day of the Deadringers
Mr. Lif & Edan- Get Wise ‘91
The Distillers- Sick of It All
The Candy Snatchers- Fuck My Family
System of a Down- Nuguns
System of a Down- ADD
Slick Rick- Bedtime Story
Pistol Grip- LA City Jinx
The Catheters- Nothing
Refused- New Noise
The People Who Do That- Pre-emptive Strike
The Coup- Dig It
Lightning Bolt- Thirteen Monsters
The Liars- grown men don’t fall in the river just like that
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Miles Away
The Magnetic Fields- Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits
Flogging Molly- Devil’s Dance Floor
Pearl Jam- Soon Forget
Against Me- Baby, I’m an Anarchist
Inquiry into weeklies is coming to town- as I mentioned some weeks back, the pretty decent alternative newsweekly, the New Times L.A., was closed recently as part of a business deal between the Village Voice Media and New Times Media companies. Now the deal is under investigation for possibly violating federal and state antitrust laws. The investigators are examining whether or not the deal has decreased the quantity and quality of local news coverage, but I presume that the real reason for the investigation is the second reason listed in the article: increases in prices charged to local advertisers.
Copyright Concerns Lead the Year’s Big Fusses and Flaps- “In 2002, the important developments in the computing business had little to do with hardware or software; instead, they revolved around a comparably bug-ridden realm, that of politics — specifically, copyright politics.” The film and music industries used their political clout to try to drive policy about computer and video technology this year, in order to maximize their own profits. And to the detriment of users of computer and video technology. Fuckers.
Unions blast FCC’s studies on media-ownership rules- the business-too-friendly FCC has released a number of studies recently which say that it is better for the country if all the mass media is in the hands of a few big corporations. Many of the major media worker unions disagree. Lefty economist Dean Baker is quoted in the article reviewed the studies and was surprised to find that in some of them, the conclusions were the opposite of what the data supported. Nice work, FCC.
Show and Prove: Bill O’Reilly’s Hip-Hop Problem- you may remember some months back that the folks at Soundbitten wrote an article taking a hatchet to “newsman” Bill O’Reilly’s hatchet job on the rapper Ludacris. The author of that article has now written a new article based upon the first, discussing Bill O’Reilly’s relentless and not-really-justified criticism of all hiphop. Well, it actually is an examination of O’Reilly as a producer of cheap, mildly fact-based melodrama, focusing on the ways in which O’Reilly has created this melodrama using famous hiphop icons as the mustache-twisting villains in his morality plays. Fairly long, but defintely good stuff.
Rubbish!- In March of 2002, police officers in Portland went through the garbage of a fellow officer without her permission looking for “evidence” that she was using drugs (an investigation that looks more to me like an attempt to punish and smear the officer in question, because she had won a sexual harassment suit against the department). Among the garbage/evidence was a bloody tampon that the cops sent to the lab for tests. And the Law found this privacy invasion to be perfectly legal.
So why am I giggling?
Because a local newspaper, the Williamette Weekly decided that if there was no such thing as private garbage, that the judges and cops who approved the garbage invasion wouldn’t mind if the WW reporters went through their garbage… Which leads to a fun article examining the trash of the local police chief, mayor, and district attorney, hopefully causing them a bit of shame of their own.
Just saw a television commericial that is supposed to encourage me to go out and vote. Not sure who made it or paid for it.
A young man is in his car at the drive-thru window of a fast food restaurant. He announces his order to the clerk over the loudspeaker, when suddenly another young man comes walking up to the speaker. The walker pretends to be the driver, and claims that he wants to change his order, and places an order for a completely different meal. The driver restates his original order, and the walker again tries to change it. The two start speaking faster and louder, talking over each other, each trying to order different meals for the driver. The ad then cuts away and says something like “frustrating when someone else makes decisions for you, isn’t it? That’s what happens when you don’t vote.” So now, feeling sympathetic frustration for the poor fast food ordering victim, I’m supposed to vow to engage in American democracy from now on.
But the HUGE irony here is that voting explicitly authorizes someone else to make decisions for me. Representative democracy is about choosing someone to make all legislative and executive decisions in your place, with only minimal accountability to the people they are allegedly representing. The commercial presents a problem, but their proposed solution to the problem actually causes the exact same problem.
Voting in this country is not like giving your order to the fast food cashier without interference, it’s like being allowed to choose the person (from a VERY narrow field) who will walk up alongside your car and fuck with your order.
What a stupid ad.
To quote our man Dack:
“Northrop Grumman is positioned to profit nicely from the War on Terror. The company is the prime contractor on the B2, and a major subcontractor on both the F-18E/F and the new Joint Strike Fighter. Northrop Grumman makes the unmanned Global Hawk (which got rave reviews in Afghanistan), is building the X-47 UCAV for the Navy, and, like Boeing, has a strong UCAV program. The best thing about owning this company, however, is its strong connections with current officials in the Bush administration (the secretary of the Air Force is a former Northrop Grumman president, for crying out loud), and its well-targeted campaign contributions to key members of both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.”
Just a tip to any of you amoral investors out there.
US wrecks cheap drugs deal- “Dick Cheney, the US vice-president, last night blocked a global deal to provide cheap drugs to poor countries, following intense lobbying of the White House by America’s pharmaceutical giants.”
Good to see that Cheney remembered a holiday gift for his pal, the Grim Reaper.
My pals over at Eat the State! have compiled a list of the most overhyped and underreported news stories from 2002. It’s a very well done, so I won’t bother trying to top it with my own. You can read the whole list over on their site, or, if you’re the type that doesn’t like playing follow the link, I’m copying and pasting their article here (minus the stories that only effect the authors’ hometown of Seattle).
2002 Media Follies
by Geov Parrish & Maria Tomchick
ETS! Volume 7, #8
This is the seventh year ETS! has compiled the most overhyped and underreported stories of the year. We started the list in 1996 with the perception that the U.S, public, instead of getting the information it needed to make informed decisions in a democracy, was being distracted with an endless barrage of feel-good trivia.
Ah, the good old days. Now, that same trivia is mixed in with active disinformation being cynically fed by politicians from the White House down, self-interested corporations, and media that could know better if it only dared rock a boat now and then. As a result, two-thirds of Americans in a recent poll were reported to believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. That’s a combination of a cynical and extraordinarily effective propaganda campaign, and corporate reporters not doing their job — or at least, not the job they’re supposed to be doing. Instead, network news gives us 45 second standups in front of the State Department followed by ten minutes promoting some new movie or TV series put out by the same corporate octopus. Then you’ll see the same entertainment footage on local news, right after the car wreck and the sports, and before Super-Double-Doppler ™ 14-day weather.
In such a climate, it’s more important than ever to seek out — and create! — alternative media; to take in more than one source; to decide for yourself; and to not believe everything you read. We’ve already been told this administration will lie to us; at least give them points for honesty on that score. Pity that’s the only time corporate media didn’t believe them.
The Most Overrated Stories of the Year
Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: Nobody — except the Bush Administration and Tony Blair — believes they exist. Seldom have so many words been wasted on weapons that, if they did exist, would be few in number, poorly made, and impossible to deliver more than a couple hundred miles. Instead, Bush’s obsession becomes our obsession. Worse, constant repetition of “Iraq = Saddam = Terrorist” has successfully shifted post 9/11 focus — and blame — away from the very real threat posed by Islamic terrorists, most of whom seem to come from countries we consider allies.
Axis of Evil: News Flash!! Iraq, Iran, and North Korea are three different countries. Iraq and Iran’s governments loathe each other, and neither has any connection with North Korea. They are radically different in politics, history, religion, and culture, linked only by the rhetorical flourishes of George Bush’s marketers — er, speechwriters. Apparently that’s enough.
The Economic Recovery: It’s coming, remember? And coming, and coming, it’s just around the corner. Who’d have guessed this funhouse had so damned many corners?
John Walker Lindh: Amazing how a dirty filthy traitor can become a confused kid with a heart of gold when Dad can afford good lawyers.
Catholic Sex Scandals: Yes, they were horrific crimes. But media coverage routinely failed to distinguish between the recent priestly crimes and coverups and the ones that happened two or three decades ago. How come we can care so much about someone who committed sex crimes in the ’70s, but a documented war criminal in the ’70s or ’80s can completely avoid criticism for engineering mass murder, even when nominated to a high-profile national position? That would be Mr. Kissinger. Come to think of it, it could also be a dozen other people in the Bush Administration.
Code Yellow: Or amber, or chartreuse, or whatever other attempt to transform routine risk into public fear is being trotted out this week. As warnings, they’re pointless; nobody pays attention. But as attempts to make the White House look good and prop up its other policies, it works like a charm.
9/11 Conspiracies: Internet is media, and this is a media phenomenon — an embarrassing one in which Someone, usually Bush or the CIA or Israel. either Knew And Did Nothing or Planned It All Themselves. It’s an alternate universe in which circumstance is proof, every connection has meaning, every action is intentional and perfectly executed, and the thousands of people in on it are either too craven or scared to Tell What They Know. It’s an impulse for order. Life isn’t random: it must have some higher cause. This is religion, not news. And it’s horseshit.
The Smallpox Threat: The chances of a terrorist group getting its hands on smallpox and being able to effectively store, transport, and disperse it in a biological attack are vanishingly small. Even the suicidal smallpox terrorist who coughs on folks at the shopping mall would infect maybe one or two people before he died (and their chances of surviving are pretty good). We have better drugs and better sanitation nowadays. But media loves a scare tactic and they’ve seized on this one.
Dirty Bombs: As if smallpox wasn’t a big enough scare, the Bush administration and US media want you to forget about arsenic in your water and nuclear waste being trucked through your town on its way to Yucca Mountain. Instead, we’re supposed to worry about dirty bombs that don’t exist.
Kidnapped Children: So often the story started with “little Suzy disappeared yesterday…” and ends with “Suzy was found early this morning. She had wandered away from her backyard to visit the neighbors…” It was pointless, horrible, and pandered to parents’ worst fears. And the “epidemic” of high-profile cases masked that abduction rates were normal this year, and most involve custody disputes, not strangers.
Royal Butler Bitchiness: Who cares what they stole, saw, heard, said, did, or whatever: the royals are rich weirdos, and their butlers are ass-kissing jerks. So what?
My Big Fat Greek Wedding–The Highlight of My Pathetic Life: If only women were encouraged to spend as much time on their intellectual lives as they spend on catching “Mr. Right,” we’d probably have a cure for AIDS by now. Screw Maid in America. Repeat after me: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, the Cinderella myth has got to go!”
The Most Important Underreported Stories of 2002
White House Propaganda: Particularly while justifying its Iraq obsession, the Bush Administration told one whopper after another this year — exaggerations or outright lies not even consistent with each other, let alone reality. The individual statements are rarely challenged, and the Bush Administration’s overall pro-war propaganda campaign — one of the most effective in a half-century — is itself rarely acknowledged by media that instead willingly participate.
America’s Weapons of Mass Destruction: While Iraq’s weapons got the attention, it’s America’s that still could wipe out life on earth. Yet abolition of the ABM treaty and the world’s arms control structure got very little attention, the obscene cost and (after abolition of ABM) global first-strike potential of Star Wars remained invisible, and the potential for terrorist attacks against our own vulnerable facilities was simply verboten.
Say, Who Sent Those Anthrax Spores, Anyway?
Majority of Americans Are Not Fooled: Surveys have showed, time and again, that U.S. citizens think that war with Iraq will increase our chances of being attacked by terrorists, yet the U.S. media continues to call it The War on Terrorism. Go figure. And the “broad public support” consistently reported in polls is only under the conditions of international support for war and few American casualties — both highly unlikely.
Revitalized U.S. and World Peace Movement: Half a million people marched in Florence, Italy. Hundreds of thousands participated in various marches and rallies in U.S. But where was the U.S. media? Missing the key story: a peace movement organized to prevent a war. That’s not just news, it’s historic.
Afghanistan: And if we’re to instigate “regime change” and democracy in Iraq, how about looking at the country where we promised exactly the same thing only a year ago? Afghan democracy American-style has been a disaster, with a puppet regime in Kabul and new U.N. offices sucking up the foreign aide, while the rest of Afghanistan remains impoverished and terrorized by many of the same warlords, committing many of the same crimes, that turned the wretched country into the killing fields during the Northern Alliance’s first reign of terror. And those warlords are being funded with U.S. dollars via the Pentagon, who’s been paying them to hunt the Taliban. Oh, and it was a record harvest for poppies this year…
Palestine: Meanwhile, the one country in the Middle East with confirmed nukes, a track record of defying international law and UN resolutions, and a consistent refusal to allow outside inspection remains our closest ally and biggest aid recipient. Moreover, Israel has committed systematic, horrific abuses against civilians within its militarily-occupied lands all year. Excepting a brief flurry during the Easter Offensive, it’s mostly been media background noise, second fiddle to suicide bombings. And this, remember, is the one issue above all others motivating the people who did and would attack America.
Colombia: Then there’s our other war — well, the biggest of them, since the U.S. military is now in 60 countries. Colombia’s new far-right government and its paramilitary thug friends are getting not just Pentagon help, but a whole crew of private armies, mercenaries, arms dealers, and other American corporations making good money from dead Colombian peasants. That Saddam sure is a menace.
Indonesia: While rigged tribunals pardoned Indonesian officers for their role in the East Timor election massacres, the Bush administration quietly sought to reestablish ties and provide training, money, and weapons to the worst and bloodiest military in the world. The Indonesian military is responsible for massacres in Irian Jaya and Aceh provinces, plus the arming and training of Islamic fundamentalists that have been responsible for massive sectarian killings. In short, they’re perfect candidates for a White House dinner.
Military Corporate Welfare: It all adds up to the post-9/11 conversion, without media attention or public debate, of the United States into a country built on permanent war. It’s most evident in the budget, which gives blank checks to the Pentagon and to a dozen other agencies — and that’s just the overt ones — with war as part of their mission. Most of the money is going into hardware, not personnel, meaning juicy new contracts for triply redundant hi-tech kill toys. Along with tax cuts, it means all war, all the time, and tremendous fortunes for the people least likely to get caught in the crossfire.
The Rest of the Corporate Scandals … and What Happened to Corporate Reform?: Enron was a star. WorldCom got some ink (although not much discussion of why its debt tripled from $3 billion to $9 billion), and Harken and Halliburton even put in (too) brief appearances. But the long, long list of other corporate scandals this year almost never made past the business section. And the systemic reasons why such “scandals” are the norm, or slight variations on the norm, were almost never discussed. Neither, after 20 years of deregulation and privatizing, was the complicity of most major figures in both political parties, or the total cost to consumers and taxpayers. Reform? With one SEC Chairman down and one head of the new Accounting Oversight Board resigning before his term even began, you can bet “reform” is a lost cause.
White House Power Grab: Occasional flurries, like Dick Cheney’s noisy refusal to release information on who wrote his energy policy, made the news. But on endless fronts, this White House and its Congressional allies have reserved for themselves an unthinkable array of powers — everything from keeping details of legislation secret until the last moment to imprisoning Americans without charges or counsel on nothing more than the President’s say. A full list of the ways in which our unelected president is becoming emperor would be useful. We’re still waiting.
Incumbents Forever: Why aren’t Democrats rocking the boat? Because they’ve got their own yachts. At every level from Congress to dogcatcher, 2002 saw a record low in the number of close elections. For Congress, fewer than 10% of the races were ever in doubt, and only one — sort of — in Washington state. Why? Money, of course, but factor in toothless campaign finance reform and 2000 Census redistricting, which, in state after state, saw the two parties agree on plans that maximized the number of incumbents with permanent sinecures.
Bush’s Foxes, Our Henhouses: Turns out our emperor put a stop to the revolving door between corporate America and the White House — by appointing people who never stopped working for the industries they came from. Particularly at the Undersecretary level, almost every conceivable segment of America’s corporate economy now has a friend on the inside looking for ways to maximize its profits. Food safety, media ownership, land use, bankruptcy law, tort reform, pollution, tax law, anti-trust protection, and on, and on. Any one of these is a scandal. Three are a trend. Several dozen and you’ve got a looting spree of historic proportions.
Bush Flunks the Economy Test: His tax cut was supposed to bear fruit by stimulating the economy this year. It didn’t, and next year’s cut won’t, either. He’s a “supply-sider”–and the Reagan administration should have proved long ago that supply-side economics is a joke.
High Consumer Debt Drags Down the Economy: All those years of taking out second mortgages, home improvement loans, and racking up credit card debt are starting to tell on the US public and the economy. Bankruptcies are up, way up. Consumer spending, the engine that really drives the economy, is way, way down. A tax cut for a few rich guys isn’t gonna help.
Environmental Catastrophe: The Bush Administration’s abolition-by-decree of numerous major protections could have been the story of the year, and served as the basis for other important stories: global warming (and the increasing isolation of America as Atmospheric Enemy No. 1), the Spanish oil tanker disaster, the impending final plunder of remaining Northwest old growth forests, the Klamath River fish kill, massive (and needless) forest fires, and the potentially enormous disaster if the Gulf War’s Kuwaiti oil fires are replicated in Iraq.
The Rest of The World Goes Ahead with Kyoto: The Europeans are trading carbon credits, the Japanese are cutting emissions, and Canada has ratified the Kyoto Protocol. In January, when Russia ratifies it, it’ll go into effect as international law–for everyone except us. Oink.
Privatizing Water: The natural resource in greatest demand this century won’t be oil — it’ll be potable water, already in desperately short supply in much of the world. And throughout it, access is being privatized. Anyone who thinks Bechtel will make that water affordable just because millions of people need it to survive hasn’t been paying attention to the pharmaceutical industry, AIDS, and Africa. But how could they? That’s underreported, too — as is the health care crisis in this country, which makes this list for the 7th consecutive year.
The Collapse of the Neoliberal Consensus: While most governments still salute the IMF flag — caught between the debt squeeze and loyalty to their own countries’ elites — all over the world, the public isn’t buying it. In South America’s two biggest countries, Brazil and Argentina, popular outrage threw such governments out. In Venezuela, a coup attempt backed by the business elite and the U.S. (another underreported story) was undone by popular demonstrations. Salvadorans just defied free trade (see article, this issue). Mexico’s much-vaunted maquiladoras are shutting their doors, as companies flee for China and other still cheaper labor markets. The rich get richer, the poor get more desperate, and around the world, the free market model now presented as inevitable in this country is anything but. And lots of people hate our genetically engineered food, too.
Fast track: Meanwhile, back in DC, far-reaching legislation giving the president virtually total authority to commit the US to neoliberal trade agreements was whisked through Congress — in the dead of night, with no congressional, let alone public, debate.
The Smallpox Vaccine Scandal: It’s a tale of contractors sucking up taxpayer money to make an unnecessary product that will do more harm than good. The vaccine program was stopped 30 years ago for a reason: more people were killed and permanently injured by the shots than would ever get the disease. Nothing has changed, except the Bush PR/Terrorism campaign. And with a large population of HIV-positive people and immuno-suppressed people with organ transplants, it’s sheer murder to set a live vaccine loose. Meanwhile, flu vaccine shortages are an annual ritual, while 20,000 people per year die of it.
The Whole World Doesn’t Hate Us: Sure, much of the world does (for good reason), but a substantial number simply think our government is run by certifiable lunatics. That perspective almost never shows up in US media.
Shredded Safety Nets: Beyond all the false cheerleading and Greenspan-worship, the one piece of the rotten economy that did, in fact, make news — beyond tanking 401(k)s — was budget crises. But these were inevitably painted as local stories. Washington is only one of 46 states — almost all of them — with severe budget shortfalls this year. The feds send less money to the states, the states send less to the counties and cities, and at every level revenues suffer as politicians (or Eyman figures) rail against taxes. The first thing to get cut, at every level, is the safety net. And thanks to the aforementioned global warming, the winters will get colder on the street, too.
[Eat the State rocks and you should read it every bi-week- Jake.]
It was 1994, my freshman year at college. A state election was nearly upon us. And one of the most controversial measures was a ballot initiative known as Proposition 187. 187 had three main provisions: 1) cracking down on illegal immigration to the U.S., 2) preventing illegal immigrants from attending public schools, and 3) preventing illegal immigrants from treatment at public health facilities. And, since this is California we’re talking about, that didn’t mean “all immigrants from all over the world,” it referred primarily to the poor latino immigrants who come to the U.S. looking for work, or fleeing from their dictatorships back home.
But I don’t think I’ll ever forget a single, brief conversation I had on the subject of Proposition 187. Two (white) friends/acquantainces of mine were telling me a bit stridently about their plans to vote in favor of 187, because of all of our tax money that was being spent educating and healing non-citizens. There was a long pause before I made my slow contribution to the discussion.
“I haven’t studied the bill that much… But it seems like it’s about strongly enforcing the current immigration laws… I’m not really familiar with the state of our immigration laws, so I really can’t take a stand on 187 yet.”
Then a looooooooooooooong embarassed silence from my pals.
They realized that what I said was just as true about themselves as it was about me. Even though they’d both been enthusiastically explaining their reasons for supporting the bill, they also knew nothing about immigration.
The whole Prop. 187 debate was loud and messy. Basically, the law appealed to the racism in white voters, giving them an acceptable outlet for it: they weren’t denying latinos health care out of hostility, they were doing it because it was a drain on the state budget. They weren’t denying latino children education because of bigotry, but because it wasn’t fair to California taxpayers. Of course, there probably were some voters who made their decision based upon their strong feelings about California’s finances, but I suspect that there were many who didn’t, or at least many who let their decision-making process get tainted by some of their racial fears.
My thoughts on the issue were pretty simple: kids need to be educated and sick people need doctors, no matter on which side of an imaginary line they were born. Let the kids learn and the injured get treatment on my dime, it’s okay with me.
And my pragmatic side wondered how 187 service denial–building a population of young, uneducated immigrants, who might be running around with infections diseases that they couldn’t have treated at a clinic–was beneficial to legal California residents.
I bring this up now because of the current detentions of Middle Eastern immigrants. Locking them up or deporting them because “they might be terrorists” is just as “rational” as denying illegal latino immigrants access to the classroom because it’s “a drain on the state budget.” If you buy into these policies, just ask yourself if you agree because of the logic and outcomes of the policies, or if you agree because it will keep you away from a group of people who’s appearance and culture frighten you.
I wrote earlier today about the INS detaining many immigrants of Middle Eastern descent when they showed up as ordered by the state. I imagine it’s hard for many American natives to understand why this situation is so heinous. I mean, they’re not American citizens, so what’s the big deal? I don’t like copying and pasting from other blogs, but I think that Atrios does a good job of putting our feet in someone else’s shoes:
“Look folks - imagine you’re dealing with your DMV. Imagine Flunky #1 messes up your driver’s license application and tells you to come down to the office. Then, when you do go down to the office as requested Flunky #2 notices you drove there AND you don’t have your driver’s license (because, well, they screwed up your application). Flunky #2’s boss recently decided they now had a no-tolerance policy on such things and he has you arrested and thrown in jail.
“Then, of course it doesn’t stop there. The special DMV judge operates his own special DMV court which has its own rules. Speedy trial? Nah. You could be there awhile. Who will support your family? Who knows. Chances for appeal? Not really.
“The DMV judge deports you back to a country you haven’t lived in for 10-15 years. Your American children wave goodbye, as does your wife.”
Real live people with real live families are getting fucked by this policy.
“Among the nation’s 9,040 black elected officials, the Joint Center for Political Studies counted
only 50 from the GOP.”
“Lines began forming before dawn today outside the downtown federal building here as hundreds of men from five Muslim countries showed up to register with immigration authorities under a sweeping national dragnet designed to identify potential terrorists.”
“Attorney General John Ashcroft issued an order last month requiring virtually all male noncitizens over the age of 16 who come from 18 countries, mostly Arab and Muslim, to be interviewed, photographed and fingerprinted by federal authorities. The program affects tens of thousands of immigrants from those countries, most of whom hold valid work and study visas.”
And, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that
“Over the past week, agency officials enforcing the program have handcuffed and detained hundreds of men who showed up to be fingerprinted. In some cases the men had expired student or work visas; in other cases the men could not provide adequate documentation of their immigration status. At one point on Friday, officials in the Los Angeles office ran out of plastic handcuffs as they herded men into the basement lockup of the federal building.”
As you might expect, many immigrants are pissed. These people who chose to come live in the United States, who also tried to comply with the law and recent rule of the Justice Department are thrown in jail, where many may be deported.
The most obvious analysis:
“If they were terrorists, they would not show up to the INS for the registration.”
Seriously. The same way that asking drug dealers to turn themselves into the police would probably not result in many arrests. All you get with this is people who are a) innocent, b) naive, c) guilty and really, really stupid.
Looks to me like another one of those “let’s make mainstream America think that we’re working hard to fight the war on terrorism by taking completely ineffective action and targetting the nation’s most vulnerable” sort of things (see war on drugs, war on poverty for examples).
FCC May Ease Cap on Cable Ownership- at present, US law prevents any company or individual from owning cable outlets that would give them access to more than 30% of the population. Now, the FCC is talking about raising that cap to 45%. This is ridiculous.
Back in 1996, the FCC eased restrictions on cable station ownership, and there was a buying/consolidation frenzy. As a result, American cable subscribers pay about 36% more in 2002 than they did in 1996 (granted, about 15% of that could be explained by general inflation). How much are rates going to increase this time?
MTV’s Playlist to Focus More on Popular Acts- the first question should be “is that even possible?” MTV will achieve this goal by decreasing the number of different videos it shows during the seven and a half minutes per day that it devotes to music videos (the remaining 99.8% will still broadcast “reality” programs and commercials). So the homogenous MTV will further decrease its diversity, lovely.
Actually, a lot of amusing things are going on in that article. 1) “When our audience asks for something, we have to deliver it to them,” says an MTV exec (after claiming that these changes are being made because of audience research). Wrong. MTV has a monopoly on music videos on television. Its only real rivals are MTV2 (owned by MTV’s parent company, Viacom), the rap and R&B video shows on BET (owned by Viacom), the country music videos on CMT (owned by Viacom), and the Canadian station MuchMusic (which very few households in America receive). Since they have a monopoly, they can do whatever they damn well please. 2) It speaks quite plainly about the business of music and pushing/promoting artists on the public. You don’t hear too much about that in the press.
Patent Creates IM Wrinkle- In 1997, America Online applied for a patent for its “instant messenger” technology. In September 2002, their patent was granted. Then, in December 2002, someone decided it was an issue worth writing about. Theoretically, this means that AOL could sue/destroy all of the other instant messenger networks out there, namely MSN and Yahoo. But the patent itself is goofy, because it is so broad: “a system where you have a network; you have a way to monitor who’s on the network; and if you want to talk to them you hook them up,” according to a tech patent geek.
As a side note, I’d like to mention that for my IM needs, I use a free program called Trillian, which you can use to simultaneously use accounts with AOL, MSN, Yahoo, and IRC. And it doesn’t have the irritating advertisments that AOL’s program does.
Journalists are Under Fire for Telling the Truth- Robert Fisk describes how Western are generally a bunch of cowards, and that those who do speak the unpopular truth about the Middle East are slandered and attacked.
Pensylvania Town Revokes Civil Rights for Corporations- hot damn! A small town votes that people and citizens are endowed with certain inalienable rights, and that corporations are not. Somewhere, a CEO is reading this and quietly wetting his pants.
The NYPD Wants to Watch You- “Nation’s Largest Law Enforcement Agency Vies for Total Spying Power”. Fucking cops.
A few days back, I predicted that Senator William Frist would replace Trent Lott as majority leader, if Lott were driven from the position. Tom Spencer gives us some dirt on the man. And it’s some pretty creepy dirt at that.
First of all, it seems that Frist built his fortune from the family business, the immense HCA/Columbia hospital chain. And HCA/C apparently got rich by purchasing non-profit hospitals, kicking out the poor patients, and then making them for-profit hospitals. And by defrauding Medicare for hundreds of millions of dollars. And illegally preventing its workers from forming unions.
But that’s just slimey, where’s the creepy?
Here you go.
Frist is a doctor. His dream in the 1970s was to make heart and lung transplants a reality. He began trying to make this dream a reality by experimenting on animals, and in the process, killing them. When Frist had trouble finding new animals to experiment on, “he went to the animal shelters around Boston and promised he would care for the cats as pets. Then he killed them during experiments. ‘It was a heinous and dishonest thing to do,’ Frist wrote. ‘I was going a little crazy.’”
Yes, the probable new head of the Senate spent his earlier years performing deadly medical experiments on stray housepets.
That’s pretty fucked up.
And given my sick sense of humor, I want to hyper-exaggerate Frist’s past, and portray him as a mad scientist. In my mind’s eye, he roams the shadowy back alleys of Nashville, keen eyes scanning for fur or movement. As the first fingers of dawn streak the sky, he skulks home, the sack on his back that writhing and mewling. He retreats to his underground laboratory, AND BEGINS BUILDING AN ARMY OF UNDEAD REPUBLICAN ZOMBIES OUT OF THE LIMBS AND ORGANS OF DEAD KITTENS!!
I don’t know about you, but I’m locking my doors and windows tonight.
Dinah Washington- Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby?
Fear- Fuck Christmas
Prince & the NPG- Sexy M.F.
Jake gives American Newspeak quiz
GG Allin w/ Antiseen & the Murder Junkies- Kill the Police
Massive Attack and Mos Def- I Against I (Mos Def misidentified Tricky during webcast, sorry)
Anti-Flag- Underground Network (live)
The Coup- Dig It
National Corporate Radio- Headlines 1
Mclusky- What We’ve Learned
Desaparecidos- Happiest Place on Earth
System of a Down- A.D.D.
National Corporate Radio- Bush Press Conference 2
Against Me- Baby, I’m an Anarchist
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club- Awake
Jake on anti-media insurrections
One Minute Silence- It’s Just a Ride
Mindless Self Indulgence- Last Time I Tried to Rock Your World
The Candy Snatchers- Fuck My Family
The Minibosses- Legend of Zelda
Mclusky- To Hell with Good Intentions
Ewan McGregor et al.- Tango de Roxan
Jake on Trent Lott and racism
The Pixies- Where is My Mind?
Okay, get ready for this one.
Remember the “Office of Strategic Influence”?
It was a new agency proposed by Donald “Skeletor” Rumsfeld back in February of this year. The OSI would try to drum up support for American foreign policy in other nations.
But the OSI came under heavy fire because one of the methods that it proposed to use was to plant false stories in foreign news media. There was a good deal of outrage among journalists that there was open talk of lying to them. After all the controversy, Rumsfeld publicly announced the closure of the OSI.
From the New York Times, 02/19/02:
“The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said.“
From the New York Times, 12/15/02
“The Defense Department is considering issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral countries, senior Pentagon and administration officials say.“
Okay, did I just step into a fucking time machine here? Is the New York Times printed on paper twisted into a Mobius strip? Those descriptions are virtually identical! The only difference is that the second quote uses the broader term of “covert operations.” Which of course, can include “provid[ing] news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations.”
To their credit, the more recent NYT piece does make reference to the failure of the OSI. But its failure to put two and two together is sheer neglect.
But all in all, I guess the story isn’t that groundbreaking. “It’s official government policy to lie to people? Say it ain’t so!”
Reasons why you, the person reading this, should not trust anything that the media tells you for the rest of your life.
Hezbollah Media Debacle- about two weeks ago, a reporter named Paul Martin wrote a story for right-wing semi-loony newspaper The Washington Times in which he claimed that a Hezbollah leader named Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said the following in a televised speech in Lebanon: “Martyrdom operations — suicide bombings — should be exported outside Palestine. I encourage Palestinians to take suicide bombings worldwide. Don’t be shy about it.”
The following day, Canda’s National Post and Globe and Mail used Martin’s article as a source for their own page one stories on the topic. And about a week later, the Canadian government added Hezbollah to their list of “banned terrorist organizations” (they have an unbanned terrorist organization list?).
As it turns out, Nasrallah never made the statements that Martin claimed he did. Hezbollah has not called for worldwide suicide bombing rampage. Some dumbass reporter just claimed that they had. And apparently Martin has lied in his reporting before, even writing under pseudonyms so that he can’t be caught for his bullshit.
Leaked Scare Stories- a looked at leaked disinformation reported as fact, erroneous reporting, and charged terminology that help build public opinion for war.
I’ve got one more, but it’s so ridiculous it’s getting its own entry. In fact, you probably already read it, due to the wierd time-sensitive layout of these blog things.
“In a move to increase the safety and security of American citizens, President George W. Bush has embarked upon a radical new program. The new strategy will focus on obtaining real, useful intelligence about Al Qaeda in order to disrupt its operations, while simultaneously eroding the terrorists’ popular support by radically altering American foreign policy in the region. This two-pronged attack will certainly save more American lives than that dumb-ass ‘Missile Defense Program’ that the president has been peddling for the past two years. I mean, for Christ’s sake, the largest attack on American soil in decades was performed with boxcutters! Guys with steak knives! How the hell could an anti-missile system protect us from that?”
Oh wait, I read that wrong.
“President Bush has decided to deploy a limited system designed to protect the United States against a ballistic missile attack, with the first phase of the controversial system scheduled to be deployed within two years.”
Stupid fucking country.
Man, Trent Lott is going down.
I saw part of his interview on Black Entertainment Television tonight, and I shut it off because it was so pathetic.
Lott’s response to the tsunami of criticism of his roundabout endorsement of Jim Crow is “I’m sorry that what I said hurt people, it was a terrible thing to say,” and to float the idea that maybe he can make things right with the African-American community by passing some legislation on their behalf.
That’s it? You think that lame-ass half-apology and a promise of vague pro-black law is going to keep you your job?
You got caught, Trent. You’ve been doing the two-faced two-step for years, wooing White Racist Mississippi and mainstream racist-hating Mississippi at the same time. You got caught using one of your “I hate the darkies too” code phrases in public. At this point, you really had to make a choice about which of these two voting blocs, the mainstream or the racist, you wanted to keep. But you got greedy and tried to keep both, and now you’re toast.
If on day one, Lott had said something like “I greatly admire Strom Thurmond’s intelligence and tenacity, and although I disagree with many of this personal opinions, I think his personal characteristics would have made him an excellent president,” then he might have survived. But in doing so, he would have alienated the racist voter bloc by backing down from his subtle racist rhetoric. Or, he could’ve said “yes, America would have been better off with the contiuation of segregation,” then he would have held on to his racist supporters but alienated everyone else.
Instead, he’s trying to take the middle road, and everyone can see right through him. His apology doesn’t convince in the slightest, and he dodges around the central question that (depending on his answer) could condemn him or set him free: Is Trent Lott a racist? If he could convince people that, despite his words, that he was not a racist, then he could possibly hold on to his position.
My prediction is that Lott will remain in the Senate, will be removed from the majority leader position, and will be replaced by Tennesee senator Bill Frist. The mainstream press is arguing that second-in-command Don Nickles will take the reins, but since his voting record is nearly identical to Lott’s, I think that the party will try to innoculate itself against further criticism by putting another high-ranking Republican–with a bit more credibility on racial issues– in charge of the team. (I don’t really feel like Senate staffing decisions are actually very important, but I wanted to try my hand at some wonky political prognosticating)
From reader Jim Downey:
“Whether I have too little sense to see, or too much to be imposed upon; whether I have too much or too little pride, or of anything else, I leave out of the question; but certain it is, that what is called monarchy, always appears to me a silly, contemptible thing. I compare it to something kept behind a curtain, about which there is a great deal of bustle and fuss, and a wonderful air of seeming solemnity; but when, by any accident, the curtain happens to be open- and the company see what it is, they burst into laughter.”
From Thomas Paine’s “Rights of Man” part 2
..then they kick its ass.
Hmm, how to summarize this twisted, yet brilliant story…
Some subversive activist types bought the domain name dow-chemical.com. On December 3, dow-chemical.com sent out an email press release masquerading as the real Dow Chemical company. The press release was about the Bhopal disaster of 1984, an industrial accident at a Union Carbide factory which killed tens of thousands of Indians. Dow now owns Union Carbide, and December 3 was the anniversary of the accident (I think you can see where this is going…).
The press release more or less said “We, the Dow Chemical company, probably did cause the massive death of the Bhopal disaster, but we can’t acknowledge that we did because it would cost us money, and our shareholders wouldn’t like that” (go read the full version, it’s great). And if anyone wanted to double check the dow-chemical.com report by going to the corresponding web address, they would find a remarkably sly parody Dow site which looks almost exactly like the Dow site. Apparently, hundreds were taken in by the hoax, and wrote back with outrage.
The real Dow was obviously, um, “displeased” with these events, and was able to shut down the site with relatively little fuss (it’s actually pretty funny. In order to maximize realism [and irony], the pranksters registered dow-chemical.com under the name of the son of Dow’s CEO, complete with his real home address. So when Dow went to shut down the site, they found that they already legally owned it, and just changed all the content). But people are mirroring the site all around the world, including most appropriately DowEthics.com.
In related news, a different fellow set up a parody website of Burson-Marsteller, the PR company that helped Union Carbide/Dow try to spin its way out of responsibility for Bhopal (site has since been changed). B-M promptly sued the college freshman, who wrote up a lengthy, satirical legal brief in response. I’m reading through it now, and it’s pretty funny.
To read all about it, check some of these reports:
Excellent work amigos, excellent work.
Quality columnist Eric Margolis is interviewed on CNN’s “American Morning with Paula Zahn” about the new “Iraq sells nerve gas to Al Qaeda” rumors. I was happy to see that he is also highly skeptical of the report, both for its sketchy presentation, and due to his extensive knowledge of Middle Eastern regional politics. Or, in his words:
“Well, it seems to me to be a planted story that has come from someone in the administration, and when they don’t have a hard story with facts and figures to it, they simply say, Well, we can’t really deny or confirm it, we don’t know it’s true.
“But the net effect of this is that people who listen to the news here and say, Yes, Iraq is applying chemical or biological weapons to terrorist groups.
“Now, this story is interesting because it alleges that Iraq sold some amount of VX to an obscure Lebanese group, that is almost unheard of in the north of Lebanon, which then smuggled it out across Turkey, and somehow it has gotten into the hands of al Qaeda, it just — the pieces don’t add up…”
And here’s a story about the conflict in Venezuela. An article in Spanish by reporter Hans Dieterich, translated to English and posted by Narco News, called “Why Are the Coup Plotters So Impatient?”. It is a very well thought-out piece that asks a very vital question. The rich folks of Venezuela have now tried four times to oust Hugo Chavez this year. Yet the Venezuelan Constitution says that a sitting president can be ousted in an election after serving half of the term. Which means that Chavez could be legally removed, with little muss or fuss, by August of 2003. What is so pressing that the coup plotters risk violence and defeat now? (If you think that the answer has something to do with money, you’re correct)
So Trent Lott, one of the most powerful leaders of the Republican party, has publicly stated that Jim Crow segregation is neat. I can’t imagine that’s going to help them win over minority voters in the coming elections.
When I first read the quote, I was willing to believe that Lott wasn’t making a statement about policy, but was merely intending to compliment Strom Thurmond, the Senate’s most lovable Cro-Magnon, on his 486th birthday. I could easily imagine a situation where Lott meant, “Gee Stromy, you’re a great fella! You shoulda been president.”
But in 1980, Lott again said that Thurmond should’ve been elected president– but it couldn’t have been a light-hearted compliment then, because Strom wasn’t present… And if you believe it, some anonymous guy has contacted cartoonist Tom Tomorrow, claiming that he has a tape of Lott again wishing that Strom was president at a bill-signing in 2000. And if Lott made these comments not intending them as compliments, then you have to look at their actual content, and it ain’t pretty.
Back when Strom ran for president in 1948, he had a one issue platform: segregtion now, segregation forever. Or, in Strom’s own words, “I want to tell you, ladies and gentleman, that there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the nigger race into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches”. And Trent Lott said last week that if America had elected this redneck piece of shit president in 1948, that “we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years.” (One wonders which “problems” Lott is referring to)
So now the media is reporting the whole event like a chess game, which political actor makes which move when, and what repercussions it might have for party politics and personal careers. But there’s a lot more serious shit going on here that is not getting touched.
1) Whether or not Lott is a racist, he has been pursuing racist policies in Congress for decades.
2) “Segregation” was not just a policy of separate but equal, but a regularly violent and oppressive system to keep whites on the top of the social order. It wasn’t just separate drinking fountains, but KKK attacks, lynchings, intimidation, illegal police repression, and, well, terrorism against African-Americans that lasted for about a century after the Civil War.
3) If Lott is not a racist, he is serving a racist constituency in his home state. Frankly, my opinion is that “Strom should have been president” is one of those non-racist-sounding code phrases that mainstream politicians use as a tip of the hat to bigots. It’s called the “Southern strategy”, and was big during the Nixon years.
But my biggest concern of all is how shallow and limited this discussion of racism is, when it could be doing so much more. I don’t care if Trent Lott is a racist, I hated him before the idea had ever been broached. I’d like him, and every member of Congress to resign, and then jump into a live volcano. But plenty of white politicians and pundits seem to be trying to earn anti-racist credentials by denouncing Lott as a racist. “There, see, I am saying that the guy who said racist stuff is wrong! I still don’t give a shit about minorities, and once this controversy blows over, I can go back to pretending that racism doesn’t exist!”
I’m going to quote my pal Geov Parrish here, because he says it better than I will (hell, feel free to quit reading my article and read his instead):
“In Washington yesterday, on the very day Senator Lott was issuing his half- hearted ‘I’m sorry if I was misunderstood’ apologies, it took the famously assimilationist Clarence Thomas to remind his fellow Supreme Court justices, in arguments regarding the free speech rights of cross burners, that burning a cross is not just a source of warmth. It had been used by the KKK for a solid century as a threat of violence. It is a threat every bit as real and pointed as a mobster putting a gun to your head, and as such should be every bit as illegal. But why should Thomas’ fellow justices, among the most powerful people in the country, know such a thing? We don’t talk about it in polite company.
“We also don’t talk about the epidemic of fatal shootings of black and other non-white citizens by police forces across the country; or of law enforcement, and laws themselves, whose very structure impacts non-white communities most heavily. (The War on Drugs is the most obvious but hardly the only example.) The 1860 United States census counted 3,950,546 slaves in the country; in 2002, we’re up to over half that number of inmates in our prisons, and growing rapidly despite declining crime rates. It’s a population that is heavily non-white. Outside the prison walls, from the reservation to the farmworker encampment to the ghetto, the worst poverty and the most toxic environments in America are suffered by nonwhites. People of color have lower birthweights, do worse in school, get lousier jobs, get paid less at those jobs, get worse health care, and die younger than their white counterparts. Trent Lott is a symptom. Trent Lott is not the problem here.”
White America has chosen a very convenient definition for racism: “hating someone of another race.” Therefore, as long as you don’t go around stringing up people from other races, then you’re not a racist. Hell, let’s take it one step further. I know a lot of white folks that act like they’re candidates for sainthood for not being bigots. Great, you’ve got one friend who’s Chinese and another who’s black. What do you want, a fucking medal?
Bottom line: it’s easy for us white folks to point at Trent Lott, or Strom the fossil, or neo-nazi skinheads and denounce them for their overt, crazy racism. What’s hard is actually looking at the regular racist attitudes and practices in our society, and the way that WE BENEFIT from racist institutions. And perhaps hardest of all is to decide to voluntarily give up these privileges, and to begin the work to examine our culture, minds and behaviors, and begin making changes.
Writer bell hooks has written a lot about the feminist movement, and one thing that has alwasy intrigued me was the idea of the consciousness-rasing groups that were formed at the movement’s birth. Sexism is a series of beliefs, attitudes and practices, and these groups existed so that both men and women (women first), could talk and explore what they thought and felt, to get to the root of it all. Women finding out that deep down, they actually had come to believe that women were inferior to men, men finding out that they also held sexist beliefs which hurt both themselves and the women in their lives. This sort of thing was important, because without seeing the problem, you can’t fix the problem. Once the people realized the sexism within them, they could start to combat those beliefs, replace harmful behaviors with helpful ones, etc.
Frankly, I think we need some consciousness-raising groups about race and race relations, but I doubt that that will ever happen. White people are very afraid of talking about race. They “know” that they aren’t racist (i.e. they don’t fervently hate other races), but are afraid that they’ll “misspeak” and be permanently branded as racists. In the groups that hooks talked about, the thoughts, not the people who held them, were the problem. You weren’t judged to be a bad person for having sexist thoughts, you identified them so you could try to conquer them. But these days, judgements would probably come. And therefore I’m pretty sure that few white people would get involved with this sort of thing. I’m an activist, but not an optimist.
This has to be one of the longer rants that I’ve ever written on here, but it’s important. After Trent Lott is expelled or punished or what-have-you, White America will go back to pretending that racism is just a minor matter. And thanks to our popular theology of social evolution (i.e. “American society just naturally moves towards more freedom, more equality and more justice”), white folks will feel like they don’t have to take any action to fix those minor problems. They’ll just fix themselves, eventually.
So go ahead and flame away now. I’ll take the heat, and I’ll stay in the kitchen.
I don’t trust polls, this is strictly for humor value.
Saw a recent news article with the headline Fundamentalists Losing Favor with Public. The article appeared on a gay news website, so the authors have to really contain their glee at the bad news for their natural predator, the Preachy Fundamentalist Christian.
You can see the detailed results of the survey here.
The question asked 1002 American adults was “Is your impression of people in this group generally favorable, generally unfavorable, or somewhere in-between?” and then they were given 11 “types” of people to rate. Military officers beat out everybody. “Evangelicals” came in second to last, just below “lesbians” and just above “prostitutes.”
Which is hi-larious on many, many different levels.
Newspaper reporters are taught that news stories should follow an “inverted pyramid” structure: the most important aspect of the article should appear first, and then facts should be reported in order of declining importance. This is done because many people will read the headlines, fewer will read the beginning of the article, and even fewer will read the story all the way to the end. Therefore a sloppily written headline and opening can mislead many, even if the rest of the article is technically correct.
The latest article of this type: Report Cites Al Qaeda Deal For Iraqi Gas: U.S. Suspects Nerve Agent VX Was Smuggled Through Turkey
To the casual reader, this headline and subheading will probably leave three impressions: Iraq and Al Qaeda are working together; Al Qaeda now has chemical weapons; somehow, Turkey is working together with Al Qaeda and Iraq.
But, if we deconstruct the story, we find that it’s really a flimsy tale. Perhaps the allegations of Al Qaeda and Iraqi chemical gas are true, but the evidence sure isn’t in this story.
When you take a closer look, nearly every piece of “evidence” for this story is based on the statements of two unnamed “officials with firsthand knowledge of the report and its source.” These two anonymous sources claim that they received information from another source. They don’t disclose this other guy’s identity either, but they say that they are confident that the other anonymous guy’s information is accurate.
And that guy’s “information” is that “Islamic extremists affiliated with al Qaeda took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq” in October or November. There is not much hard evidence to support this claim. But running with the allegation, some military analysts have speculated that the chemical weapon could be VX nerve gas, and that the weapon could have been smuggled through Turkey, but there is no evidence to support those claims either.
It’s not really “news” when two guys tell a reporter something that somebody told them. It’s called “rumor.”
The headline should have read something like “Anonymous Sources Believe Al Qaeda Affiliate Has Obtained Chemical Weapons”. Or more accurately, “Anonymous Sources, Possibly with Their Own Goals and Agendas, Tell Washington Post Reporter That Some Guy That They Say Is Trustworthy Told Them That An Al Qaeda Affiliate Has Obtained Chemical Weapons: Analysts Admit They Have Few Facts, but Make Speculations Anway”.
CNN.com has printed what is almost the counter-article to the one above, “Officials: No hard evidence in nerve agent report”. But again, the article is based solely upon the alleged statements of anonymous government officials, so there’s not really much more reason to believe this article over the first one. Since I am a skeptic (a person who needs substantial evidence to believe anything), and the second article quotes “officials” who counsel against premature conclusions and speculation, I find it more credible. But, it could just as easily be a government cover-up of an alarming story. We have no way of knowing.
Note to news reporters: until you actually have a news story based on facts and evidence, shut the hell up.
Media Juggernaut Coalition- cable conglomerate Liberty Media is looking to create a satelite TV system, possibly with the help of the News Corp. media giant. Also, Viacom is expecting the FCC to relax regulations that will allow it to buy even more television stations in 2003.
Postal Service May Be Urged to Privatize- “President Bush plans to name a commission today to look into privatizing part of the United States Postal Service, warning that the government cannot continue to provide universal mail service at current rates, administration officials said.” Yes, Bush wants to privatize the post office. FedEx board of directors become erect at the news.
Aliens Pledge Their Support in War with Iraq- look out peace activists, Weekly World News reports that a group of America-lovin’ extraterrestials are backing Bush’s war plans.
A People Defends its Democracy Against Media Power- another coup attempt is underway in Venezuela, the rich trying to convince the world that the nation’s masses are fed up with President Hugo Chavez, when in fact the rich are simply tired of not being the ones in control. The country’s media are in on this anti-Chavez conspiracy, and the people of Venezuela have had enough:
“An amazing sight: Thousands of people have surrounded the headquarters of five commercial television stations (RCTV, Globovision, TVS, Meridiano TV, Venevision) and are treating them to one hell of a cazerolazo (pot-banging). They are shouting ‘medios golpistas!’ (putschist media) and ‘terroristas!’. The channels have stopped (probably only briefly) broadcasting anti governmental propaganda and are at last giving some pro governmental demonstrations some coverage.
“The television commentators keep reminding their audience of the grave threat to their lives and their profession … But these declarations somehow fall flat when you see the images of the demonstrators: many women, old men (banging away impressively for their age), very ordinary looking citizens, many still in their work clothes. No sticks, no guns, no people trying to climb over the fences and walls of the establishments. Just peaceful groups of citizens saying: we’ve had enough, how about showing a little bit of us now instead of always showing rich folks demonstrating in the east of Caracas and instead of trying by any means possible to make your audiences think that this government is undemocratic, dictatorial, and ‘castro-communist.’”
Protesters storm Defender’s offices- ” A crowd of people angry about the Chicago Defender’s coverage of a fatal police shooting over the weekend stormed the paper’s South Side offices Tuesday and roughed up at least two newsroom employees … The paper’s publisher, Eugene Scott, said the protesters were angry that a story in Monday’s Defender about the police shooting of Donnell Strickland, 24, did not mention that many people at the Hilliard Homes public housing complex contended Strickland was attempting to surrender when he was shot.
“Scott said the Defender, historically the most influential black paper in America, often takes an advocacy position on African-American issues. He said that he was disappointed that the paper’s coverage Monday did not include community criticism of the police reported by other media outlets.”
While I don’t like that these protesters smacked around some random news personnel, I can’t argue with much of the rest of it.
I CANNOT believe this shit. I’m so angry I can barely type.
“The Pentagon is preparing to use anti-personnel land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere in the world except Korea by 2003.”
The people of Iraq got bombed back to the Middle Ages during the Gulf War, irradiated by the US’ depleted uranium tank shells, have suffered through a decade of economic sanctions that’s killed more than a million civilians, get bombed fairly regularly by US & UK planes in the illegal “no-fly zone,” and now we’re going to fill their country with landmines so that a generation of “liberated” Iraqi youth can know the wonders of shrapnel scars and prosthetic limbs?
I’m actually beginning to hope that there is a Hell, because there ain’t no Earth suffering that can punish these Washington warmongers enough to balance the scales.
[An enraged thanks to Dack.]
Probably the biggest media news story of the day:
Australian plutocrat Joseph Gutnick sued Barron’s magazine for defamation this year. Even though the magazine is based out of the U.S., Gutnick insisted on suing the magazine in Australia, since you could read the internet version of the story in Australia via the internet. In addition, freedom of the press laws in Australia are much weaker in Australia than they are in New Jersey, making the lawsuit that much easier to win.
Today, Australia’s highest court agreed that Gutnick had the right to sue the Americans in Australia.
This isn’t entirely new, we saw a similar case earlier this year regarding journalist Greg Palast and the Barrick Gold mining company (hmm, Gutnick is in the minining industry as well, wonder if there’s a connection).
Basically, this court ruling gives further credence to the idea that you can publish an article on your personal webserver in your own hometown, and be subject to the free speech regulations of a different society, thousands of miles away.
“When the man who feeds the world by toiling in the fields is himself deprived of the basic rights of feeding, sheltering and caring for his own family, the whole community of man is sick.”
There’s this corporation called ProdiGene. In their words, “ProdiGene is a private biotechnology company pioneering the use of transgenic plants to produce recombinant proteins for the pharmaceutical, animal health and industrial protein markets.”
Apparently, some of ProdiGene’s genetically-engineered corn contaminated a crop of non-genetically-engineered soybeans. The company was forced to buy around 500,000 tons of the contaminated soybeans and destroy them at a cost of $2.8 million, and then pay a fine for $250,000.
What makes this story so scary is that ProdiGene doesn’t just engineer tomatoes that stay fresh longer or corn that is resistant to weed-killer. ProdiGene creates crops that internally produce medicinal chemicals. And as the headline above says, neither the government not the corporation will tell the public what bio-pharmaceutical was present in the tainting corn. Vegan Blog has investigated the company and speculates that the soybeans could’ve been tainted with an AIDS medication, a blood-clotting agent, an insulin-production stimulant, an industrial adhesive, or a vaccine for hepatitis B.
Mmm. Tastes like… The Future!
[Thanks to Politics in the Zeros]
“Neighbors of Vice President Dick Cheney are being shaken and rattled at least once a day by mysterious blasts on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory where Cheney lives.
The Navy says the explosions are part of a construction project that has been going on for several months now, but won’t say more because the project is classified.”
Go ahead and read that article. It’s kind of spooky. Mysterious explosions as part of a classified construction project at Dick Cheney’s house. Hmmm… Maybe it’s just an attempt to make his home sturdier, and offer the VP more protection from possible attacks. Or maybe it’s something more sinister:
Artist rendering of Dick Cheney Memorial Superweapon
And I can’t help reading that above article without thinking of this.
I was very happy to see this music news headline:
I was happy to see the positive review given to Audioslave, my friends and quasi-employers, but I was even happier to see the second half of the title.
I was pleased to see that folks seem to finally be fed up with the weak-ass Christ-rock stylings of Creed. The article says that the audience booed the band, and that half of them left before the band had finished their set.
Which leads me to wonder: the fact that audiences are turning on this Christian band–is it proof that there is indeed a God, or is it proof that no such God exists?
A lot of folks seem to have linked to the blog because of my entry about Viggo Mortensen’s anti-war dialogue on the Charlie Rose show. I traced one of these referrers back (lies.com. Good site name), and found a good link for those of you who are sad that you missed it.
You can download a large video clip of the interview at this link. It’s the file crtt120302a.zip. It’s a zipped .asf file, and if that doesn’t make sense to you, maybe the download won’t do much for you. The part with Viggo about the war kicks in around the 10 minute mark, and lasts till pretty near the end of the 18 minute file.
(If the owner of that site doesn’t want that link there, just let me know and I’ll take it down with an apology)
The Evolution Control Committee- Rocked by Rape
A Tribe Called Quest- Excursions
The White Stripes- Fell in Love with a Girl
Rancid- Lady Liberty
Cursive- The Martyr
System of a Down- Boom!
Blackalicious- Alphabet Aerobics
The Feederz- Love in the Ruins
Tom Waits- Step Right Up
Pissing Razors- Mass Corruption
The People Who Do That- Bush Press Conference
Lightning Bolt- Thirteen Monsters
The Coup- Funk
Necromantix- Alice in Psycholand
Bill Hicks- The War
Dead Kennedys- Jock-O-Rama
System of a Down- A.D.D.
Mindless Self Indulgence- Royally Fucked
Cee-lo- Closet Freak
System of a Down- Roulette
Eric B & Rakim- Juice Know the Ledge
Loooong weekend. Work-related entertainment mainly, organizing political tabling at rock shows. “Saw” four concerts in two days. For two of those concerts, I was in the lobby attending to activist volunteers, not watching (of the remaining two shows, at one I saw only one band, and then had to leave to see one band at the second concert. Did I really attend 4 concerts of more than two dozen bands and only catch two performances?). Which was actually a good thing, since so many of the bands sucked. Trust Co.? Taproot? Who listens to this shite?
At tonight’s tabling, I had one of my fellow Kill Radio DJs spread the word (this wasn’t me being an opportunist, it was time constraint. Folks dropped out, and I had to turn to my colleagues to help me out). Which was frequently satisfying, as we were promoting our “destroy corporate radio” movement inside one of corporate radio’s largest yearly concert events. I’m not trying to pretend that our little stunt dealt corporate media a stunning blow, but I do enjoy any and all things subversive, even the little ones.
Sorry, no insightful political commentary today, I’m barely conscious. Well, okay, one tidbit: Al Qaeda now seems intent on creating its holy war between Islam and Judeo-Christianity by attacking Israel and trying to draw it into the “war on terrorism.” I can’t think of anything that could draw more Muslims to Osama bin Laden’s cause than that. They’re some clever evil bastards, those Al Qaedans.
Should’ve posted this last week. Thanks to everyone who tuned, and stayed tuned and re-tuned in, due to that day’s massive technical difficulties. Tomorrow’s (12-9) show should run much more smoothly.
Ministry- TV II
Atari Teenage Riot- Revolution Action
The X-ecutioners- Turntablists Anthem
Ozomatli- La Misma Cancion
Quarashi- Stick em Up
The People Who Do That- Architect of Peace
The Donnas- Gimme My Radio
Refused- Hook Line and Sinker
The Coup- Dig It
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs- Art Star
The Vendettas- Hidden Evil
Rev. Horton Heat- Big Little Baby
Mr. Bungle- Desert Search for the Techno Allah
Nine Inch Nails- We’re In This Together Now (As Deep As Can Be Mix)
Against Me- Those Anacho punks Are Mysterious
Henry Rollins & Bad Brains- Kick Out the Jams
Radiohead- Let Down
Teresa Stratas- Youkali Tango
TPWDT- Bush Press Conference
Talib Kweli & dead prez- Politics as Usual
The White Stripes- Hello Operator
Anti-Flag- This Machine Kills Fascists (live)
Buju Banton- Circumstances
Bauhaus- Ziggy Stardust
I hate the PR industry more than just about anything.
Which is why recent turmoil in the field of corporate lying has got me a’chucklin’.
First of all, I find that O’Dwyer’s PR Daily–the most prominent site for “breaking public relations news”– has switched from a free website to a subscription service. That would imply that they are having trouble financially. Hee hee. Actually, I think I am going to end up paying the $20 for a yearly subscription, because I want to keep an eye on these bastards.
Second, we have a crisis over at the PR firm of Qorvis. One of Qorvis’ biggest clients was the government of Saudi Arabia. Now, as more and more evidence comes to light suggesting that members of the Saudi elite have been funding Al Qaeda, the former heads of Qorvis are fleeing. That’s some good PR, knowing when your clients’ reputation is starting to damage your own.
Sorry folks, not much time to post things lately.
Two articles that have struck my attention though:
HBO Recycling Gulf War Hoax?- The HBO movie channel is showing an original TV movie called Live from Baghdad, a “true story” movie about CNN reporters during the first Gulf War. Unfortunately, the movie is standing one tale on its head. I’ve written here numberous times about the baby incubator lie spun by a PR company that helped sell the Iraq war to the American public. But according to FAIR, the HBO movie implies that just the opposite was true:
CNN correspondent: You are aware of the allegations, doctor?
[Kuwaiti] Doctor: I have heard these stories.
CNN producer Ingrid Formanek (whisper): This sucks. He’s scared.
CNN producer Robert Wiener (whisper): Yeah, this is bad.
Doctor: I can tell you, nothing has happened at this hospital… that I know.
Correspondent: But at other hospitals?
Doctor: I cannot tell about other hospitals.
Iraqi handler: Finish! Finish! We go now!
Formanek: To the other hospitals?
Handler: No, back to Baghdad!
Wiener: Hey, hey, that was part of the deal!
Handler: That is story.
Sadly, as a decade has passed since the original story, a new generation of people might come to believe the lie again. I have to wonder if corporate synergy is at work here. A movie about CNN reporters on HBO, when both networks are owned by AOL-Time Warner. Perhaps the movie is meant as a puff piece about the news network.
UN: Water Deemed As Public Good, Human Right- with the increasing efforts by mega-corporations to privatize water in Third World countries (and don’t think that we’re not next), this story comes as a bit of good news. “The United Nations Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights issued a statement Wednesday declaring access to water a human right and stating that water is a social and cultural good, not merely an economic commodity.” Granted, UN declarations are ignored at the drop of a hat, but still…
There’s this little movie trilogy called the Lord of the Rings. Maybe you’ve heard of it.
Two of the movies’ stars and its director were on America’s dullest talk show, Charlie Rose this evening for a half-hour to talk about it.
The guy on the far right is actor Viggo Mortensen. In the Lord of the Rings movies, he plays Aragorn, a noble warrior who is reluctantly assuming his country’s throne.
Check his t-shirt in the photo. It says “No More Blood for Oil”.
Charlie Rose asked Viggo about his shirt, which then turned into about 5-6 minutes of debate about the war on Iraq on national television, a sad rarity.
Viggo said that he has heard many people compare the good vs. evil plot of LOTR to the U.S. vs. terrorism events running through real life. Viggo wanted to oppose this point of view, and proposed a counter-analogy in which the terror and loss of innocent life caused by the U.S. war on terrorism would make the country more like the movies’ villains than like their heroes. Host Charlie Rose seemed to want to shut Mortensen up, and took some cheap shots in an apparent effort to beat him into submission, something like “well what action would you have taken after 9-11 that would have prevented the recent terrorist attacks in Kenya?”
Mortensen managed to weather Rose’s inquisition, and the host seemed to realize that it was best just to let the man say his piece and then move on to talking about the movies. Mortensen’s main point seemed to be that the U.S. response to the 9-11 attacks is dangerous, deadly, and nearly unquestioned. He came across as extremely intelligent and reasonable, and managed to hijack 5 minutes of movie promo time to express a politically unpopular point of view.
For all that, he’s got my respect.
This shit is GENIUS.
As I’ve mentioned here before, the recent Homeland Security Act authorizes the government to create an amazingly huge database to be used to spy and collect data on American citizens. [Insert your own horrified “1984″ allusion here] It’s called “Total Information Awareness,” a program of the Information Awareness Office. And this office will be run by all-around scumbag John Poindexter, the dude who brought us the Iran-Contra affair. Violations of privacy will become legion.
But blogger John Gilmore has an idea (which he says was inspired by SF Weekly columnist Matt Smith): the Total Information Awareness Demonstration for Poindexter.
“The SF Weekly’s column by Matt Smith in the Dec 3 issue points out that there may be some information that John M. and Linda Poindexter of 10 Barrington Fare, Rockville, MD, 20850, may be missing in their pursuit of total information awareness. He suggests that people with information to offer should phone +1 301 424 6613 to speak with that corrupt official and his wife…
“Matt Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org has offered to ‘publish anything that readers can convincingly claim to have obtained legally.’”
In other words, these fellas have made the brilliant call to action to gather all possible personal information about John Poindexter and his wife Linda. If Poindexter wants to take away all our privacy rights, let’s make sure he gets the first taste. Find everything you can on the motherfucker, and get it to Smith.
[Thanks to Politics in the Zeros]
You’re gonna love this one.
The Bush administration and the Pentagon want a war with Iraq, and know that the best way to justify such a war would be to publicly display damning evidence that Iraq is a threat to the United States.
Unfortunately for them, the CIA–the primary source for this kind of evidence–can’t find any.
To rectify this situation, the Defense Department has begin a campaign to create its own damning Iraqi evidence, and to discredit the CIA. Talk about playing hardball.
Now get this.
The Defense Department is relying heavily on the Iraqi National Conference (INC) for their damning evidence. The INC presents itself as a dissident force ready to step in and take the reins of Iraq from Saddam Hussein’s cluster-bombed corpse after the US invasion. Frankly, most of the information I’ve read about them paints them as Westernized intellectuals, out of touch with the Iraqi people, who like to embezzle money when they can (perhaps including $2 million from the US State Dept. that they’ve somehow “lost”).
In other words, the Defense Department is paying money for fake intelligence data to justify a war with Iraq, because the real intelligence data does not.
Which hopefully leads you back to the question, “why are we attacking Iraq again?”
Britain accused of providing Saddam torture instruments- One of the biggest PR backfires this year. The UK government’s Foreign Office released a report today accusing the Iraqi government of torturing political prisoners, presumably as just one more brick in the “Saddam is so evil that we must bomb his country” wall. But the man the Foreign Office chose to present the report to the press, former Iraqi prisoner Hussain al-Shahristani, hijacked the event. Most embarrassingly for the British government, al-Shahristani claimed that during his own detention, he was held with British-made handcuffs, and that when the torturers used drills to put agonizing holes in their victims’ bones, that the drills were also made in Britain. Then, when it was Q&A time, the press corps asked if the British government was so concerned about human rights violations in Iraq, then why had it been silent during Saddam’s chemical warfare attacks during the 80s.
Bush: Iraq Inspections ‘Not Encouraging’- “The lack of a confrontation thus far between Iraq and inspectors has the White House worried that the Iraqi president might be winning the early public relations battle by creating an impression that he is complying. Aides said those fears prompted the president and Vice President Dick Cheney to deliver separate speeches Monday casting doubt on Saddam’s intentions.”
Cable Charges Ahead with Higher Rates- the Comcast corporation is raising the rates it charges its customers for cable television. Significantly. And other cable companies are following suit. Since the wondrous Telecom Act of 1996, cable prices have risen 45%.
Critics fear Comcast’s new muscle could hurt competitive Internet offerings- the Comcast corporation has just purchased AT&T Broadband, a cable and high-speed internet company. The merged company is now the nation’s largest cable service, twice as big as its nearest competitor, the also enormous AOL-Time Warner. As broadband internet becomes more and more popular, Comcast may have a lot of leverage in shaping the future of the medium.
FDA Finds Day-After Contraceptive Ads Inaccurate- “Plan B” is the name of a pill that a woman can take after sex that can prevent them from becoming pregnant. The pill can be taken up to 3 days after the sex and still be effective. Plan B is marketed as such, saying in their ads that a woman can “has 72 hours after unprotected sex to prevent pregnancy with Plan B emergency contraception.” But after review, the FDA finds those sorts of claims are misleading. The pill can be effective 72 hours after, but its effectiveness decreases the longer you wait. In other words, the ad should probably say something like “if you take this after unprotected sex, Plan B can prevent pregnancy. Best if you take it right after, but if you take it as late as 72 hours later, it still might work.”
The DiIulio Letter- John DiIulio was an assistant to President George W. Bush, and was appointed to run the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. He quit the job in August of 2001. In October of 2002, DiIulio wrote a scathing letter about the Bush administration to Esquire magazine, focusing on the regime’s politics-over-policy style (especially Karl Rove). This letter, which was explicitly on-the-record, became the basis of an article being published in the January 2003 edition of Esquire. News of the story hit the NY Times on Sunday morning. By Monday morning, Ari Fleischer was denying the story wholesale, and that same day DiIulio issued an official “apology,” whatever that means. Sounds like someone pressured the man hard.
More on the DiIulio apology. He actually issued two statements yesterday. The first argues that the finished Esquire article contains two specific quotes that he did not say, and that the article was unfair to Rove. He apologized for “any and all misimpressions.” But later that day, he issued a second statement through a spokesperson for the University of Pennsylvania, where he works. Shortly after Ari Fleischer called DiIulio’s criticisms of the White House “baseless and groundless,” the UPenn spokesperson stated that “John DiIulio agrees that his criticisms were groundless and baseless due to poorly chosen words and examples. He sincerely apologizes and is deeply remorseful.”
Bush anything but moronic, according to author- Mark Crispin Miller has made himself a small cottage industry out of documenting the language-manglings of George W. Bush. But now he’s taking a new stance, claiming that patterns in Bush’s proper and tortured syntax: “Bush is not an imbecile. He’s not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he’s incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he’s a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss.” Miller makes these claims by arguing that Bush makes his verbal gaffes whenever he talks about “compassion, or idealism, or altruism.” But Miller finds no such mistakes whenever Bush talks about violence or revenge. I think it’s a stretch, but you can read it for yourself.
1) Patriot Act earns council’s `no’ vote- The city council of Eugene, Oregon has unanimously called for a repeal of the USA Patriot Act. Turns out that they are the 15th American city to do so. Want your hometown to join the list? Go harass your local councilman.
2) The Perpetual War Portfolio- Our pal Dack has created a small theoretical stock portfolio of companies that will flourish and prosper during America’s Unending War. Y’know, companies that make fighter jets and cluster bombs and tank shells. Dack is fast becoming the Jimi Hendrix of dark, bitter political satire.
I saw my fair share of anti-Thanksgiving articles this year, the standard “you are celebrating the genocide of the Indians” pieces. On one hand, they are correct, and it is probably a good idea to get up in the faces of white Americans on a regular basis to remind them (or teach them for the first time) about the aspects of their history that they tend to forget.
But on the other hand, the anti-Thanksgiving pieces tend to knowingly pretend that anyone who celebrates Thanksgiving actually does so because of their great affection for or gratitude towards the pilgrim colonists of the 1600s. Thanksgiving is more or less a forced annual family reunion, filled with poultry-centric gluttony and football games, officially marking the start of the dark consumer frenzy known as “the holiday season.” I think that the anti-Thanksgiving writers know full well that to most Americans, the holiday has nothing to do with pilgrims and Indians. So when they lean on the “official” meaning of the holiday to make their point, I feel they are being slightly deceptive.
Anyhow, I found one good critical Thanksgiving piece that doesn’t fall into that trap. It focuses on the history of Thanksgiving– not the 1621 New England feast, but looks at how the holiday was or wasn’t celebrated from that day till the present.
1621- “The First Thanksgiving”
November 1777- The Continental Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for an American military victory over a powerful British general.
July 1861- Confederate Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for their victory over the Union in the First Battle of Bull Run
April 1862- President Lincoln declares day of Thanksgiving to thank God for the Union victory over the Confederacy at Shiloh
September 1862- Confederate Congress declares a day of Thanksgiving to thank God for their victory over the Union in the Second Battle of Bull Run
August 1863- President Lincoln declares day of Thanksgiving to thank God for the Union victory over the Confederacy at Gettysburg
(see a pattern developing here?)
December 1865- President Andrew Johnson establishes a national Thanksgiving holiday to celebrate the Union victory in the Civil War
October 1931- President Hoover becomes the first president to actual make a rhetorical connection between the national holiday of Thanksgiving and the pilgrims
Maybe I’m just a history geek, but I find that fascinating. What we have come to think of as a centuries-old tradition honoring the roots of American society, was more often a series of quasi-religious celebrations to say with joy “our enemies are dead, but we are not! Thanks, God!” The “roots” aspects were inserted centuries later, and by now have largely been replaced by a more New Age “what should I be thankful for in my life” philosophy coupled with shopping and nostalgia poisoning.
I think the important lesson in there is about the evolution of meaning. Stories change, ideas mutate, “ancient” tradition dies and is reborn in unrecognizable new forms.
Also, for you L.A. folks, GYWO author David Rees will be in town promoting his book from Dec 3 & 4. I think I’m going to his odd appearance Dec 4 at the Knitting Factory at noon with jazz musician Les McCann to raise money for Afghan landmine removal.
“The People Who Do That” is a sketch comedy troop (troup? troupe?) here in Los Angeles that has a weekly show on Kill Radio. They are now releasing a CD based on their excellent stage show “National Corporate Radio”, a beyond-scathing take on the pompous NPR network, the White House’s war on terrorism, and on modern journalism in general.
You can listen to some choice samples here:
You can buy a copy of the album at the bottom of this page. Support subversive comedy!