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Lying Media Bastards http://www.lyingmediabastards.com Muckraking. Media. Music. Menace. Thu, 22 Dec 2011 16:08:03 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.0.5 en July 2002 Archive http://www.lyingmediabastards.com/july-2002-archive/ http://www.lyingmediabastards.com/july-2002-archive/#comments Sat, 22 Mar 2008 17:15:46 +0000 Jake General http://www.lyingmediabastards.com/july-2002-archive/ Deprecated: preg_replace(): The /e modifier is deprecated, use preg_replace_callback instead in /home/lyingmed/lyingmediabastards.com/wp-includes/functions-formatting.php on line 83
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Lying Media Bastards

July 31, 2002

The Narcoterrorism Sideshow

Attorney General John Ashcroft gave a speech at the Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) Twentieth Anniversary Conference on Tuesday, in which he announced a “shocking” link between drug trafficking and terrorism. According to Ashcroft, “nearly one third of the organizations on the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations appear also on our list of targeted U.S. drug suppliers.” Not surprisingly, “Ashcroft did not elaborate on which terrorist groups are suspected of being involved in drug-trafficking. Justice Department officials would not comment on what organizations are on the drug trafficking list, except to say that Al Qaeda was one of them.”

First of all, this is another infuriating example of the Bush administration making claims, and then refusing to provide the public with the evidence that could prove or disprove their claims. Are terrorists making money off of the drug trade, or is this just an opportunistic ploy by the Justice Department? We’ll never know until we see their data.

Frankly, I am pretty sure that it is at least partially true. But it angers me because it is so intentionally misleading and manipulative. There are many definitions of “terrorism,” and Ashcroft is exploiting this ambiguity.

To most Americans, “terrorism” means “Islamic militants out to kill Americans.” In this context, Ashcroft’s claims should be deeply troubling. However, “terrorist” as defined on the State Department’s list includes a terrorists who don’t give a damn about Islam, or the United States. While I’m sure most Americans would support an intensified drug war that protected them from Islamic terrorists, I don’t think they would support an intensified drug war that protected the governments of Peru or Sri Lanka from their guerrilla enemies.

By allowing the issue to be confused in the minds of Americans, “drugs” becomes entwined with “terrorism,” allowing the US military and drug interdiction agencies pretty much carte blanche to operate as they see fit in the entire Western Hemisphere, Middle East, and Southeast Asia– so long as they can claim it had something to do with drugs or terrorism. Not a bad little scam.

Posted by Jake at 09:15 PM
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Now You See It…

On July 1, a US helicopter attacked a wedding party in Afghanistan, killing and wounding many. The Afghan population was outraged, and investigations into the attack were set in motion. The official US account was that the US plans had been fired upon, and the planes had simply returned fire.

The UN concluded its investigation this weekend, claiming that there was no evidence to back up the US story. In fact, the UN report suggests that US troops went into the site of the attack and removed evidence of the carnage.

The UN was to release the report to the public on Tuesday, but then abruptly changed its mind, allgedly due to pressure from the US and Afghan governments. The UN now says that the report will now be an “internal document,” only shown to the US and Afghan governments.

No, nothing fishy there.

Posted by Jake at 08:20 PM
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Chickens, Hawks and the Dogs of War

It seems that damn near everybody out there is against this upcoming war on Iraq except the crackheads of the Bush administration and the Pentagon. But not all of them. Interestingly, the ones most rabid for war are the ones who have never served in the military.

A person who strongly favors war policies is known as a “hawk.” A civilian who will never see a battlefield who strongly favors war policies is known as a “chickenhawk.”

Enter the Chickenhawk Database, a list of America’s most prominent warmongers, and the ways they avoided risking their own lives in combat.

Go see how Rush Limbaugh got out of Vietnam. I dare ya.

Posted by Jake at 05:43 PM

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Frame Ups

Some of you folks might remember the G8 protests in Genoa back in 2001. The two most striking events were the killing of militant protester Carlo Giuliani, and the brutal police raid on a building where many protesters were staying during the G8 meetings. The raid was of an area where it seemed no activists were breaking the law or acting violently, and the Italian police went in and busted heads. Journalists captured footage and photos of sleeping activists being attacked, and of the pools of blood left behind. The police then justified their assault by claiming that they’d found molotov cocktails inside.

Well guess what?

One of those police officers recently confessed that he planted the bombs there himself, under orders from his supervisor (who is also under investigation for his behavior during the G8). This officer’s confession, the investigation of his superior, and the claims of the activists that they had been nonviolent all along, all start to form a pattern. If I weren’t as skeptical as I am….

Scandal Not to Blame- I’m not one to trust the editorials of the business press, but this one does make some good points. First, it compares today’s economic and political situation (mainly regarding big business and the stock market) to that of the the late 1920s and 1930s. Secondly, it points out that the various accounting frauds are not what caused the stock market to tank. These recent failed companies didn’t fail because of their schemes, they created the schemes because they were failing. It may seem like a minor point, but it’s not, although my brainpower at 2am is not going to be able to convince anybody of that.

Posted by Jake at 01:43 AM
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Working Overtime

What the fuck is this about???

In the last 6 weeks, 4 US soldiers from Ft. Bragg have killed their wives.

Fucking astounding.

I– no.

Maybe— no.

I don’t know what to say, this just blows my mind.

At one point, the article tries to rule out domestic violence as one of the causes of death, because “there had been no deaths attributable to domestic abuse by Fort Bragg personnel in two years.” And if we properly re-phrase that, “two years ago, one of our soldiers beat his wife to death.”

Jake’s Tips for Fort Bragg Soldiers Who Feel the Need to Kill Their Wives

Step 1- shoot yourself in the face.
Step 2- repeat Step 1 until urge passes.

I suppose this would be the time to say something angry and snide like “what else would you expect from professional killers?” but my heart’s not in it. The fury and indignation have passed, and now I’m just sad.

Posted by Jake at 01:29 AM

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July 30, 2002

Tamara Back in the US

Tamara, one of the authors of the Reports from Palestine here on this site, will be returning to the US soon. She will be giving a talk and presentation about her experiences in Palestine soon after, here in Los Angeles. Details of that event follow:

From the West Coast…to the West Bank
presented by Los Angeles Jews for a Just Peace

“Join us for Tamara’s first public speaking engagement, just one week after leaving the occupied Palestinian territories. She is the only Jewish activist from the Los Angeles area to join in this year’s International Solidarity Movement’s Freedom Summer, where she spent six weeks under fire inRamallah,Gaza and Jenin. A founding member of LA Jews for a Just Peace,Tamara will give an eye-witness account from the other side of U.S. and Israeli foreign policy, bringing stories and pictures of the Palestinian people, scenes rarely seen or heard in the U.S. media.”

WHEN: THURSDAY, AUGUST 8th at 7:00 PM
WHERE: WORKMEN’S CIRCLE
1525 SO. ROBERTSON BLVD.
(4 blocks south of Pico)
Los Angeles, CA

$5.00 suggested donation
Refreshments served
For more information contact: LA JEWS FOR A JUST PEACE (LA-JJP)

khesed-ve-din@lycos.com or call: 323-769-5282

I’ll also try to get Tamara into the Kill Radio studio for an interview in the near future as well.

Posted by Jake at 02:57 PM
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July 28, 2002

Bastardos de Medios Que Mienten

Porque su lo demandado…

LMB en Español.

La traducción automático no es perfecto, pero optimistamente es bueno bastante.

Posted by Jake at 01:38 PM
| Comments (32)

Putting Two and Two Together

1) The surprising, idiotic announcement on Wednesday that George W. Bush still supports investing Social Security funds in the stock market.

2) That same Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumps nearly 500 points.

Wall Street needs more suckers to stay afloat, and the president has just promised to deliver millions of them.

Posted by Jake at 01:30 PM
| Comments (1)

July 27, 2002

Water, Water Everywhere, and Every Drop for Sale

Just read this article.

Stop the Corporate Takeover of our Water.

On average, a human being can survive about 3 days without water. And across the country, across the globe, corporations are attempting to turn water from a public, mandatory resource into a commodity they can sell to those who can afford it.

Don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but this is going to become a major issue, if not a major crisis. It already has in other nations: there have already been massive popular uprisings against attempts to privatize water in Ecuador and Bolivia. If millions face the possibility of dying of thirst when water is in plain sight, they will take what they need by force.

Posted by Jake at 01:12 AM

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Too Late for Clever Titles

Just one of those fun hypocrisy things.

The Indian government is planning to buy a missile defense system from Israel. This development worries the United States. One State Dept. official claims that the missile defense system “could be destabilizing.” Other members of the State Dept. worry that this sale would “send a message” to Russia and China. A Pentagon official worries that the sale could violate a regional arms control treaty, the 1987 Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Strikingly similar to the US, isn’t it? A national missile defense system that could destabilize the region and violates existing missile treaties? But surely the US will not run into such troubles with their missile system. Because we’re America. And we’re different… somehow.

And a free appalling bonus!

“Meanwhile, the administration advised Congress this week that it intends to sell arms to Pakistan and India.”

Yes, two nations that were on the brink of nuclear war scant months ago, and the US is selling weapons to both sides.

Posted by Jake at 01:00 AM
| Comments (0)

July 26, 2002

Free License to Hack, Thanks Congress!

I mentioned in a recent LMB post that the RIAA and MPAA want the legal right to hack into your computer with the help of Congress. Well, the bill to do it, the “Peer to Peer Piracy Prevention Act” was introduced into the House today by Rep. Howard Berman.

But honestly, I think that the bill is doomed to failure because of poor wording, as pointed out in this article, and in more depth in this discussion on Kuro5hin. To have the right to hack people’s systems, there are three requirements:

  • you must be a copyright-holder
  • your victim must use “peer to peer” file-trading programs like KaZaA or Limewire
  • you must notify the Department of Justice what kind of technology you are going to use in your hack.

That’s it. You can hack completely legally with just a tiny bit of preparation.

Write some text. Copyright it. You’re now a copyright holder. If the above bill passes, you now have the authority to do all kinds of hacking, so long as you can argue that you were trying to “impair” the “unauthorized distribution” of your copyrighted material.

There are some restrictions about what you can and can’t do in your hacking (e.g. can’t cause more than $50 in damages, can’t actually delete files), but the bill makes it hard for you to get in trouble for breaking these rules; your victims can’t sue you unless you do more than $250 in damages (?), and they get approval from the Attorney General.

So if anyone with a modicum of sense in Congress reads this bill, I don’t think it’ll get passed, because in some ways it becomes a loophole for all hackers, not just RIAA/MPAA ones. But I don’t know how tech-savvy the House is…

Posted by Jake at 10:21 AM
| Comments (3)

Ripe for Pillage

George W. Bush might be getting his desired fast track/trade promotion authority, which would let him negotiate and approve international trade treaties all by his lonesome.

Y’know, those free trade deals that tend to send American workers to the unemployment office, foreign farmers to the urban slums, and corporate executives to vacation on their yachts in the Virgin Islands?

It’s not a death blow for anti-globalization folks, but it gives them less leverage in opposing corporate-centered free trade.

Posted by Jake at 09:50 AM
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July 25, 2002

To My Blog Homies

Wired Magazine’s website wrote an article about our pal Dack. Not about his impressive weblog about the war on terrorism, but about his hobby of creating short animated movies of stick figures being decapitated.

Our pal Brian of Blowback and his wife just had a cute baby boy. Go bask in his newborn splendor! Bask, I say!

Posted by Jake at 01:03 PM
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Palestine Update

More from Garrick & Tamara in the Occupied Territories.

Posted by Jake at 12:56 PM
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July 24, 2002

Biggest Bastard Takes Hit

The world’s largest media conglomerate, AOL-Time Warner, is now publicly admitting that the company is under investigation by the SEC. Not surprisingly, the allegations are that AOL-TW made profits and hid losses through shady business deals and fraudulent accounting.

Posted by Jake at 10:32 PM
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Recording Industry Joins Axis of Evil

In the weeks following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, corporate bullshit artists stormed Congress and tried to force their agenda onto the nation, making up crazy reasons why giving their industry huge tax breaks and dissolving all regulation would protect America from terrorism. It was literally sickening, the eternally greedy driving their fangs into the necks of a population to grief-numb to notice.

Two of these attempts struck me as particularly nauseating. The first was a garment industry push for a government crackdown on bootleg t-shirts (because fraudulent name-brand goods might, could potentially, theoretically, may be linked to groups that fund Osama bin Laden’s terrorist network).

And the second disgusting 9/11 lobby effort has come back, and might get passed.

In mid-October 2001, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) attempted to have the USA Patriot Act amended to make it legal for the RIAA to hack into your computer. The amendment would have exempted the RIAA from harsh anti-hacker penalties if it were attempting to stop people from trading copyrighted mp3 files over the internet. Go read the text of the proposed amendment. It’ll make ya mad.

What a bunch of fuckers.

Anyhow, the amendment was denied, but the RIAA, in conjunction with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has re-introduced the idea into the US House of Representatives.

According to the Cnet article on the issue, “the draft bill doesn’t specify what techniques, such as viruses, worms, denial-of-service attacks, or domain name hijacking, would be permissible. It does say that a copyright-hacker should not delete files.” Which pretty much means they could do whatever the hell they wanted.

All these organizations need to hack you up is a “reasonable basis” to believe that you are pirating music or movies. And if they were wrong, or do your system significant damage, you can’t sue them without the permission of the US Attorney General. And you could only do that if they did more than $250 in damages.

Do I even have to point out how warped this proposed bill is? The analogy these big corporate copyright-holders use is to compare piracy to theft. Using that example, this law would give a victim of theft the right to break into the house of anyone the victim had “reasonable basis” to believe had stolen their goods, and smash up their house.

All of this is based upon the idea that the record industry is in serious trouble, and that file-trading hurts them. But musician Janis Ian has penned this quality article which refutes a number of RIAA claims, and argues that file-trading is actually good for musicians. But perhaps most importantly, Ian attacks the RIAA claim that they represent musicians. They don’t. They represent record labels. Labels and artists do not always share interests. Ian also lists a number of ways that the RIAA could help artists out if they really did care about them.

Anyhow, the geniuses/shills behind this corporate hacker bill are Reps. Howard Berman and Howard Coble. Go get em.

Posted by Jake at 10:20 PM
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That Clever Idiot Box

A fucking hysterical parody of a prime-time TV schedule from our pals at The Onion:

On TV Tonight

My favorites are the Game Show and SciFi networks’ programs for the 9 o’clock hour.

Posted by Jake at 09:41 PM
| Comments (5)

Media Bastard Roundup

Bastards, fools, and jerks.

Publisher Apologizes for Headline- publisher of New Jersey tabloid The Trentonian apologizes for the rude title his paper gave an article about a fire at a psychiatric hospital: “Roasted Nuts”.

Reporters Plunge into Their Own Stories- the story of a local TV news reporter who intentionally drove car into a river to do a “news story” informing viewers how to escape from their car if they drive into a river.

Audits of Media Time and Space Find Many Ad Units Are Displaced- I just like the title of this one. I’m sure these problems will be taken care of once Stephen Hawking’s ad agency opens its doors.

President is Keeping His Messages Front and Center- interesting piece about the verbatim repetition of key political phrases by the Bush administration (e.g. “no child left behind,” “responsible leadership,” “kill em all, and let God sort em out.” Okay, he doesn’t say that last one. In public). While modern politicians are known for “staying on message”– choosing a theme for the day and refusing to deviate from it by even the tiniest bit– Bush’s team seems to be taking it to new levels. One example of this is the new administration ploy of sticking Bush in front of a backdrop adorned with the day’s slogan.

The article also argues that such repetitive slogans are effective, and cite Bush’s use of the slogans as the cause of John McCain’s withdrawl from the Republican primaries in South Carolina. But if memory serves, McCain largely withdrew due to a sneaky anti-McCain smear campaign. It was never directly traced back to the Bush campaign, but…

PR Watch has come out with their latest issue, and they have posted some of its articles on their site, all on the theme of corporate attempts to sell the government and the public on the idea of “corporate social responsibility.” Y’know, the idea that big corporations like Enron, Adelphia, WorldCom, and AOL-Time Warner can reofrm themselves and don’t need government regulation to function properly in society.

PR Watch articles:
Rio+10, Environment Zero
Ketchum (the UN’s PR Firm) Tackles Corporate Responsibility
Corporate Social Responsibility and the Crisis of Globalization

And don’t forget to check out the new Corporate Responsibility Newswire Service. Actually, do forget. It’s hideously boring, just a bunch of self-serving press releases from our favorite corporate citizens.

Posted by Jake at 09:40 PM
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Garrick on the Radio

Garrick is scheduled to be interviewed on KPFK’s Morning Show today. The show runs from 7-9am PST. Click here to listen.

Posted by Jake at 07:20 AM

| Comments (0)

New Report from Garrick

Garrick Ruiz reports about last night’s Israeli attacks and assassination. It’s scary, and if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like to cry at work, you might want to wait till you get home to read it.

Posted by Jake at 12:35 AM
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July 23, 2002

Onward Corporate Soldiers

I really don’t know what to make of this article. From O’Dwyer’s PR Daily:

“An army of mercenaries funded by U.S. companies is in the hunt for Osama bin Laden, says Los Angeles PR counselor Ed Lozzi. Publicizes Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s call for U.S. ‘privateer’ force. ‘That’s how we won the Revolutionary War,’ says the PR exec.”

Huh?

Maybe this article is nothing. It’s the word of one man, a PR man, which is the reason O’Dwyer’s picked it up. Maybe this is some crazy fellow who’s trying to gain some free publicity by telling wild lies about his private army.

Or, maybe there are 1000 foreign soldiers, running around Afghanistan with guns, accountable to no one but the men who sign their paychecks.

Honestly, my money’s on #1.

Posted by Jake at 10:50 PM
| Comments (2)

Justice Possibly Served

Back in the 1980s, around 65,000 citizens of El Salvador were killed by their own government.

Two generals who helped preside over this decade of blood were tried for their crimes in a Salvadoran court in 2000, and were acquitted.

Today, in a Florida court, those two generals were found guilty. The suit was brought by three Americans who were tortured in El Salvador, and the judge’s decision orders former Generals Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova and Jose Guillermo Garcia to pay their victims nearly $55 million. Odds are they don’t have that kind of money, but still…

And our pal Dack reminds us:

“The generals carried out America’s El Salvador policy so well that they both received the Legion of Merit, the highest honor our government can bestow on foreign dignitaries. General Vides Casanova also received a letter of commendation from President Reagan.”

Any way we can carpet-bomb the past? Can we nuke the Reagan Years back to the Stone Age?

[This message brought to you by the LMB Needs a Time Machine Fund]

Posted by Jake at 10:38 PM
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Powder Keg

I get tired of saying the same things over and over.

Afghanistan is in trouble.

Hamid Karzai, the alleged president of the country, has little power or popularity.

The warlords of the Northern Alliance do have power. And greed and ambition.

Now, to make things worse, the US is paying off the warlords in exchange for their promise not to overthrow the Afghan government. That don’t sound good.

And, finally, Tajiks and Pashtuns in western Afghanistan are killing each other.

I am not looking forward to tomorrow’s news.

Posted by Jake at 10:22 PM
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Jargon Sluts Break Paradigms

The two things advertisers love most:

- new, fancy buzzwords
- fucking with your head.

The NY Times website, nytimes.com, has refused an ad proposal from Sony Electronics. Jargon went flying, and shady advertising schemes were exposed.

“Features by Sony” was a proposal to create a number of articles written by freelancers, paid for by Sony, and then placed on a number of popular websites (e.g. People.com, InStyle.com, MovieFone.com, AOL Music, NationalGeographic.com). These articles would be a series of “lifestyle vignettes” that feature Sony products.

Websites and other publications usually have no problem with this sort of practice– they call such paid-for articles “advertorials”– but they usually include a “this article is a paid advertisement” statement at the top or bottom. Sony wanted the websites to forgo this practice. NYTimes.com declined this offer from Sony. And the jargon began to erupt.

Said a Times spokesperson, “advertorial content must be clearly labeled to distinguish it from editorial content, and we were unable to agree upon a program … that would meet these advertising acceptability guidelines.”

And the marketing schemers ( Interpublic Group’s Universal McCann, and WPP’s Young & Rubicam):

  • “We’re breaking paradigms here.”
  • “We consider ourselves a content provider.”
  • “content integration”
  • “reader-based”
  • “We’re trying to blur the line between the advertising and editorial boundary.”

So basically, Sony and its ad minions are reverse engineering product placement. Instead of approaching a media work in progress and trying to insinuate attention for your prodcut into that work, the advertisers are coming up with an idea to display their products, and are creating media to wrap around the ads. And part of this plan is to trick you into thinking that your favorite online magazines are providing you with the articles you enjoy, when they are actually advertisements.

And as a sidenote, it’s also fun to note the targets (and the advertiser’s names for the targets) listed in the article: “Alphas (early adopters and technology influencers); Gen Y; Families; Young Professionals; Small Office/Home Office; and Zoomers, (ages 55 plus).”

Posted by Jake at 10:00 PM
| Comments (1)

July 22, 2002

Advances in Post-Modernism

DJ Spooky is writing a novel (last paragraph of article). It’s called “Flow My Tears, the DJ Said,” based on the Phillip K. Dick novel “Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said.”

“My novel is a remix of the book” says Spooky.

I have no idea how to respond to that.

Posted by Jake at 10:49 AM
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Morning News Assault

Protesting Women Seize another Chevron Facility- I posted an article last week announcing that the Nigerian women occupying a ChevronTexaco facility had agreed to withdraw. Shortly after that article, the Nigerian women changed their minds, deciding that the oil company was unlikely to hold up their end of the bargain. The prolonged occupation then ended a few days later. It seems that the success of this first takeover by Itshekiri women is now being emulated by women from other ethnic groups seeking similar redress. Around 3000 Ijaw women took over an oil facility on Friday, demanding the same sort of company concessions as the Itshekiri: jobs for their sons; housing and eletrification projects; and more environmental protection from the damages of oil extraction. The article also predicts that another takeover can be predicted by the region’s third-largest ethnic group, the Urhobos, in the near future.

U.S. Mulls Military’s Domestic Role- the Posse Comitatus Act was a law passed in the late 1800s barring the US military from being involved in national law enforcement (except in extreme circumstances). In a recent interview with Tom Ridge, it came out that President Bush wants Congress to review that law, presumably with an eye towards eliminating or softening it. Ridge says that it is “very unlikely” that such a thing would happen. My guess is that either this is a real concern on W’s mind, or it was a media ploy to make other Bush attacks on civil rights seem more palatable by comparison.

U.S. Moves to Undermine New Torture Treaty- the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) has, after 10 years of negotiations, hammered out what looks like a workable treaty on the prohibition of torture by national governments. The current draft of the treaty seems acceptable to many countries, and would create an international prison monitoring system to make sure that inmates were not being tortured. Unfortunately, the US is now calling for re-opening the negotiations on the treaty, a step that will most likely destroy the treaty’s fragile international support.

Mike Barnicle was a columnist for the Boston Globe for 25 years, before he was fired for making shit up in his columns. Seriously, he just made up quotes, and then sometimes made up people to say them. I’m flipping through the channels on TV this weekend, and there’s Mike Barnicle doing commentary on a talk news show. Who the hell let this guy on the air? And then I come to find that he’s still a columnist, now over at NY Daily News. The above article contains the latest Barnicle column fib accusation. Granted, I don’t know how reliable the article is, as it comes from a newspaper gossip column.

Coke to Treat Options as the Real Thing- one of those non-confession confessions. One of the ways that big corporations have been using creative accounting is to pay their executives in stock options. The options have real cash value, but the company doesn’t have to list it as an expense. This then makes their profit and revenue figures appear higher. The article above is about the Coca-Cola company’s decision to start counting stock options as expenses. While it’s commendable that they’re going to start doing the right thing, it’s also a quiet admission that they’ve been doing the wrong thing for quite some time.

Posted by Jake at 10:33 AM
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Measure Twice, Cut Once

We all hear quite a bit about the current corporate firestorm underway here in the US. Luckily our government is stepping in to make new laws to protect America’s most vulnerable, Financial Investors.

Some of these corporate shenanigans are related to another article I recently read about how California public schools are likewise cooking the books to look more impressive (or less appalling). Which will now cause me to put on my Social Scientist Ranting Hat.

The problem is mistaking your statistics for reality. For example, you can’t look at a chart or table and find the number for “How Well Enron Is Doing,” or “How Successful Is My Child’s School.” Instead, what you do see are a series of measurements, like “Third Quarter Revenues” or “Student Drop-Out Rate.” Sometimes that one measurement is synonymous with the question, sometimes you look at a series of measurements and interpret an answer. “Hmm, Enron’s revenues are up while they’re costs are down, they must be doing well. And my daughter’s school has a high drop-out rate and low per capita GPA, so it must be doing poorly.”

But your measurements don’t always answer the questions you thought they would. For example, when children are in school, we want them to learn. To find out if they are learning, we give them tests. Test scores are allegedly a measurement of How Well Children Are Learning. But in reality, test scores often really measure How Well Children Cram The Night Before the Test, How Well Children Guessed at Correct Answers, or How Well Children Copy Answers Off of the Smart Kid’s Paper. If kids truly wanted to learn, tests might be a good measurement of how well they have learned their lessons. But most kids in school generally want to hang out with their friends, play sports and flirt. The only reason they care about grades is that their parents will get mad at them if they don’t. Therefore many kids will simply try to figure out how to play the grade system to maintain decent grades while indulging in their favored pursuits.

Now we move to phase 2, where we look at the goals of the people making the measurements. Corporate CEOs make big dollars for keeping stock prices high. They do this by presenting investors with measurements that show that the company is not only successful, but is becoming more successful by the day. One way to provide these measurements is to improve the efficiency and income of the company. The other, simpler way is to use “creative accounting.” Is it particularly suprising that the “fake numbers” option is fairly popular?

The calculation of personal profit has a way of muddling even the most straight-forward of mathematical formulas.

[Big Stray Bulletins article on the corporate corruption epidemic is on the way]

Posted by Jake at 01:42 AM
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July 20, 2002

All the News That’s Fit to Eventually Print

From today’s NY Times- Flaws in U.S. Air War Left Hundreds of Civilians Dead

Well duh.

To quote Blowback’s commentary on this article:

“Now that operations are winding down, the New York Times seems to think that news of Afghan civilian casualties is finally fit to print. Too bad they couldn’t be bothered to report on it back when air raids were being carried out across the country on a daily basis.”

I guess my first question regarding this article is about its headline: were the killings of Afghan civilians really a “flaw” in the eyes of the US military? I’m not saying that the US intentionally killed all these Afghan civilians, I’m saying that I don’t think they care. Generals draw up a list of military targets, and then attack from the air. If those targets are near civilian populations and civilians get killed, that’s too bad. “Collateral damage.”

That’s the conclusion of a report by University of New Hampshire professor Marc Herold. Herold’s report attempted to document the number of Afghan civilians killed in the US air war by tabulating the death counts in newspaper reports from around the world. Not the most scientific study, but it seems to be the most reasonable guess we have. Herold’s estimate was that between 3000-3400 Afghan civilians were killed by US bombs between Oct. 7, 2001 and March of 2002.

Another good report, Strange Victory, comes to a lower total, estimating that 1000-1300 civilians were killed by bombing (this study claims to use a method similar to Herold’s, but “applies a stricter criteria to screen these sources and correct for likely reporting errors and distortions”). But they also attempted to calculate the number of Afghan civilians who starved to death due to the US attacks cutting off vital food supplies to the impoverished population, and estimates that between 3200 and 18,000 Afghans died due to starvation and easily treatable illness between mid-September and mid-January.

A few weeks ago I was thinking about the Rolling Stones song “Sympathy for the Devil,” which for some reason, I’d always thought was about Death, the Grim Reaper. But it takes only a moment to realize that I was obviously wrong, and it’s actually about the Devil. I suppose there’s a difference between the two, but looking at these numbers makes me sadly favor Evil over Death.

Posted by Jake at 10:35 PM

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July 19, 2002

Quality Assortment

- I’ve been told that the band “The Vines,” who are currently being hyped as “the new Nirvana,” are one of the worst live bands ever seen by man.

- Our pal Leah Wells has a nice article here about a peace education program she’s helped develop based on the core principles of Islam (which is, despite popular Western belief, what the religion is supposed to be about) that she will be teaching in Aceh, Indonesia in the coming months. You may remember Leah from my radio show, where I interviewed her about the visit she made to sanctions-crushed Iraq.

- And I found an article on a Canadian Fox-owned rock radio station about the Axis of Justice, a small political activism tent I’ve been organizing for the monster Ozzfest heavy metal concert tour. Yes, by trade I’m a political activism coordinator for rock bands. I have a strange life.

Posted by Jake at 12:34 AM
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07-15-02

Whoops, should’ve posted this days ago.

Flogging Molly- Devil’s Dance Floor
Ministry- Thieves (live in Seattle)

Mos Def- Umi Says
Magnetic Fields- Let’s Pretend We’re Bunny Rabbits
Luther Wright and the Wrongs- Comfortably Numb
Tomahawk- God Hates a Coward
The Evolution Control Committee- Rocked by Rape
The Donnas- Do You Wanna Hit It?

The Coup- The Coup
System of a Down- War
Anti-Flag- Die for Your Government
Luther Wright and the Wrongs- Another Brick in the Wall Pt. 2
Coil- Love’s Secret Domain
David Bowie- Heroes

Massive Attack- Teardrop
Nirvana- Verse Chorus Verse (live)
Sugar Cubes- Fucking in Rhythm and Sorrow
Outkast- Bombs Over Baghdad
Justin Sane- Thanks for the Letter
Ewan McGregor et. al- Tango de Roxan

Mike Ladd- Animist
Motorhead- Ace of Spades
Fishbone- Lemon Meringue

Posted by Jake at 12:23 AM

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July 18, 2002

More from Palestine

Two new reports from Garrick, one from Tamara. Go check em out.

This means that they’re both doing (relatively) okay, and that the Palnet shut-down hasn’t effected their ability to send out their email reports.

Posted by Jake at 10:37 AM

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July 17, 2002

Blinded Me with Science

Two common journalistic problems in two different articles about the same topic.

The problems: poor coverage of scientific issues, and misleading/erroneous headlines.

The topic: a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation about the portrayal of public health policy issues on TV medical dramas (authored by Joe Turow, a University of Pennsylvania professor who was one of my advisors for my Master’s thesis). The above link takes you to the press release about the study, the full text of the study can be found here.

First we have an article from CNN.com (although we should note that reports on CNN.com are frequently different from those broadcast on the CNN network), “Study: TV dramas shape health attitudes”. The opening paragraph reads:

Prime-time television dramas based on hospital staff and their patients aren’t just helping Americans unwind at the end of the day, they are shaping attitudes about health care, according to a study released Tuesday.

And now we jump down to the 3rd to last paragraph (17 of 19):

The study did not venture to guess exactly how these shows might be shaping public opinion.

So apparently the report tells us how these TV shows shape public opinion by not telling us how these TV shows shape public opinion. Great. Or, to put it more accurately, this article doesn’t know what it’s talking about.

I skimmed through the study. It basically examines what health issues are discussed on TV medical dramas (like “ER”), and in what ways. It would be similar to do a study looking through the works of Shakespeare and counting up how many times the topic of love was discussed. Turow’s study doesn’t really talk about how these depictions of health topics influence the general public. The study makes some vague claims that these shows might cause viewers to think more about these policy issues, or perhaps discuss them with friends, but nothing more specific than that.

We’ve got another article on this topic by the Reuters news service caled “Hospital TV Shows Evenhanded on Policy Issues”. While this title is much more accurate, it is still somewhat misleading.

The study found that most of the policy issues discussed on these programs presented both sides of the issue, and therefore were “even-handed.” However the study also found that certain issues were discussed frequently, while others were discussed very rarely. 78% of the topics discussed were “ethical issues,” which dealt with the morality of specific patient treatment policies (e.g. “should doctors give free needles to drug addicts”); only 9% were “resource issues,” which dealt with the broader institutions of medical organizations, business and government (e.g. debates about Medicaid). So while the individual debates depicted are even-handed, the coverage of the American medical system is not.

Interestingly, about the last half of the article is about an HMO trade organization working to get more positive depictions of the health insurance industry into television and movies. And 4 of the articles 13 paragraphs are criticisms of the negative portrayal of HMOs in TV and movies, with very little rebuttal by the TV and movie people.

The “wrong headline” error occurs fairly regularly, with an article’s opening lines being directly contradicted by the article’s conclusions. This is a problem because not everyone reads every article all the way to the end. This way, an article can be techinically correct, yet still mislead a reader. Add this to the fact that many reporters seem unable to correctly interpret the results of any scientific studies, and you get a lot of people walking around misinformed.

Posted by Jake at 09:15 AM
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July 16, 2002

Tamara is Okay

Earlier today I posted an article about the closing of Palestine’s primary internet provider, and wondered if this would prevent Tamara and Garrick from sending back any more email reports from the West Bank and Gaza.

Shortly after posting that, I received another email report from Tamara, so it looks like she will still be able to contact us. However she wrote after a hard day’s work as a medic, and she felt that her report was probably of poor quality due to her exhaustion. I thought it was fine, but she asked that no one post it around. So I’ll honor her wishes and wait for her to send a revised version.

Posted by Jake at 03:55 PM
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Mini News Roundup

Justice for Bhopal — Corporate Crimes and Their Bodycount- Three Indian activists (and according to an email I just received, one Texan) “are on hunger strike in New Delhi, ready to fast to the death in protest of proposed Indian government actions that would essentially eliminate the responsibility of Union Carbide and Dow Chemical (which acquired Carbide in 2001) to provide any further restitution for the approximately 150,000 surviving victims of the 1984 Bhopal disaster.”

[You can send a letter of support for the strikers to the Indian Embassy in the US by clicking here]

Deal to End Nigeria Oil Protest- over 600 Nigerian women occupy an oil terminal and force ChevronTexaco to aid their struggling communities through the odd strategy of threatening to get naked.

The Minutes Waltz and a Skeptical Press Corps- it has been revealed that George W. Bush may have been involved in corporate scandals of his own back in the early 1990s while he was on the board of Harken Energy Corp. To deflect this, Bush has cleverly said that critical reporters need to go look at the minutes of Harken’s board meetings from 1994 for answers, while also saying that he has no way of making Harken release those records. Thanks to our pals at Cursor, maybe YOU can. You can call Harken’s CEO Mikel Faulkner and ask him to release the records at 817-424-2424.

Read Cursor every day. Seriously.

Posted by Jake at 09:39 AM
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Irrationale

The Bush Administration wants to attack Iraq. America’s Western allies don’t want the US to attack Iraq. America’s Middle Eastern enemies don’t want the US to attack Iraq. America’s Middle Eastern allies don’t want the US to attack Iraq. And now, even Iraqi dissidents in exile don’t want the US to attack Iraq.

I still have yet to hear a single credible reason for why the US should invade Iraq. The only reasons I can think of are financial (re: oil) and political (re: boost Bush/Republican popularity), and neither of those strike me as justifications for mass destruction and risking the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of Iraqis.

Granted, I’ve always been suspicious of this exile group, the Iraqi National Congress. They strike me as the standard issue Western-friendly intellectuals that the US frequetnly installs as replacement leaders for regimes they don’t like. Do the members of the INC have the greater good of Iraq at heart, or are they out for their own personal power? INC leader Ahmed Chalabi hasn’t lived in Iraq since the late 1950s, how popular would he be among his people if the INC successfully took control of the country? Chalabi doesn’t even seem popular among other Iraqi dissident groups. About the best thing I can say about him for sure is that he is anti-Saddam Hussein.

In addition, it is my understanding that Saddam Hussein is still popular in Iraq. The people hate his repressive policies, but they see him as a brave man standing up to their evil American attackers; the US still bombs Iraq fairly regularly, and maintains brutal economic sanctions against the country. Attacks on the homeland will do wonders for a leader’s popularity. Remember how popular Bush was before 9/11? And after? Imagine if the US was attacked semi-regularly for 10 years straight. Imagine how popular Bush would be then. He could eat human babies on live television and still hold down a 60% approval rating.

So, to sum up: attacking Iraq is a dumb idea.

Posted by Jake at 08:51 AM

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Enemy

Well, I don’t know if we’ll be getting any more email reports from Garrick and Tamara in Palestine, the Israeli army has shut down Palestine’s main internet provider, Palnet. According to Palnet’s manager Samir Sabri, Israeli Defense Forces entered the Palnet office in Ramallah and apparently arrested all six employees there without giving a reason. This cuts off about 70% of the Occupied Territories from internet access. Much of the area is still under curfew and can’t even leave their own homes.

Of course to militant Israelis, this plan makes sense. You must stop your enemy. And since you don’t know which of the millions of Palestinians are technically your enemy, so you must assume that all of them are your enemy. And enemies must be destroyed.

Posted by Jake at 08:27 AM

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Stupid Stupid Stupid

PBS, America’s half-assed version of public television, is adding a character to the South African version of its educational children’s TV show Sesame Street (known as “Takalani Sesame” in South Africa), an as yet-unnamed female muppet that is HIV positive. While that may sound funny at first, it actually seems quite reasonable when you realize that 1 in 9 South Africans is HIV positive. Sadly, in South Africa , an HIV positive muppet is probably the equivalent of an American muppet that doesn’t celebrate Christmas.

Now comes the stupid part.

Six members of the US House of Representatives wrote a letter to the president of PBS which stated “hello, we’re six morons.” Well, not literally. Literally, it stated that they were concerned about the “age-appropriateness” of teaching the show’s 2-4 year old audience about AIDS, and more or less warn that they don’t want this character to appear in US versions of the show.

Let’s tip our caps to these rocket scientists of the Potomac:

Rep. W. J. “Billy” Tauzin of Lousiana (shown on page, holding fish)
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas (below the .gif of barbed wire)
Rep. Richard Burr of North Carolina
Rep. Charles “Chip” Pickering of Mississippi

Rep. Cliff Stearns of Florida
Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan (wedged awkwardly between radio DJs in photo)

I’ve taken the liberty of writing up a letter that you can send to these representatives to express your feelings about their stance on the issue. Ahem.

Dear Rep. ________,

No one gives a fuck about your opinions regarding South African puppet shows.

Sincerely,

[your name here]

The Clever Six’s letter to PBS apparently had some small threat involved, asking how much money PBS was spending on this new character. Congress always has this sort of power over public TV and radio, because they hold the purse strings. Conservatives often make such threats against PBS and NPR when they get “too liberal.”

Which leads me to my second sample letter.

Dear Rep. ________,

Government officials like yourself have your salaries paid by hard-working Americans like me. I am writing to ask how much of your taxpayer-funded time you have spent writing letters about puppets. As a citizen, I would like you to reimburse me, and the rest of the American people, for this time you have wasted while on the clock. I feel strongly about the issue of puppet-oriented letter-writing, and I truly believe that it does not belong in a governmental workplace.

Please send my portion of the national puppet-letter tax refund to the address below.

Sincerely,

[your name here]
[your address here]

Posted by Jake at 02:13 AM

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July 15, 2002

From Palestine

I’ve altered the “Garrick in Palestine page to include reports from another LA activist named Tamara, who’s also in the Occupied Territories right now. So now the page is called “Reports from Palestine”. If you are passing around the URL for the page, please use www.straybulletins.com/palestine in the future, although the previous URLs will continue to work.

Anyhow, today brings us a new report from Garrick, and a new report from Tamara (although all of Tamara’s reports are probably new to you).

Posted by Jake at 10:25 AM
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July 14, 2002

The War

I’m probably due to write a “Jake Looks Back at the War on Terrorism” piece around now, but Ted Rall has summed up about 80% of what I would’ve said in this piece here. While something certainly should have been done in the wake of September 11, the Bush plan seems to have made Americans less safe, and fucked up a good portion southwestern and central Asia.

And, the latest news in fatherland security, the US government is looking to recruit 4% of the US population to spy on the other 96%. So if you’re a nosy, gossipy type that wants to set the Feds on people you dislike, go ahead and sign up

Posted by Jake at 11:33 PM
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Pranks

Media activists in Seattle re-wrapped hundreds of copies of the Seattle Times with their own 4-page fake front page, entitled the Seattle Crimes. The new covers parodied local politics, primarily racial inequality and police impropriety. You can read .pdf versions of the Crimes here and here.

Posted by Jake at 11:17 PM
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July 13, 2002

US and UN Declare Truce

U.N. Passes Deal on War Crimes Court

After doing its best to disrupt/destroy the new International Criminal Court by threatening to get a whole lot of Balkan people killed, the US has finally agreed to a compromise. Instead of continuing to demand that all US soldiers be exempt from international law forever, it accepted the UN offer to grant the US a one-year exemption, which could then be renewed each and every year that the Security Council decides to do so.

This frees up the US to commit genocide or crimes against humanity this year. Better hurry up fellas, the clock’s ticking! Only 364 more killin’ days till the Security Council rubber stamps a renewal!

Posted by Jake at 02:02 PM
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Coca-Cola Combats, Creates Rumors

An article on O’Dwyer’s PR Daily announced that the Coca-Cola company had created a new page on its website to “debunk or refute” false rumors about Coke products. Given the fact that there are only three main categories of rumors, and that the first of the three is “Middle East Rumors,” I think it’s safe to say that the goal of this new page is to try to placate Middle Eastern Coke consumers who might be contemplating a boycott of the brand (there has been a lot of talk in Muslim nations lately about boycotting large American companies as a way of making a statement about US support of Israel). The Middle East page basically plays up Coke’s good works in Arab countries, and denounces claims that Coke “contributes profits to Israel,” or that “Coca-Cola runs ads that promote violence against Muslims.”

But frankly, I’m much more intrigued by the rest of the “rumors” that Coke tries to debunk. A number are related to the negative health effects of Coca-Cola. And, not suprisingly, Coke chooses to try to misdirect and confuse readers into concluding that Coca-Cola is, in fact, as healthy as garden full of vegetables. No, caffiene is not addictive (although they admit that people who stop drinking Coke can experience withdrawl symptoms). No Coca-Cola does not cause dehydration, because it contains water (although the caffiene acts as a diuretic, causing the body to lose lose water). Strangely, this page does not even do a good job of providing false answers. I think the average reader would notice that frequently the response doesn’t really answer the question.

All Coke’s rumor management efforts are more amusing due to their current attempts to create false rumors about their new product Vanilla Coke (”oh boy, here he goes with the Vanilla Coke again”).

As part of a fairly lame advertising ploy, Coke is trying to spread a rumor on the internet, via their slightly anonymous site VCoke Lounge, that there is some sort of conspiracy or scandal behind Vanilla Coke. We’re supposed to believe that the anonymous site creator is a Fox Mulder of the beverage world, and we’re supposed to be intrigued by his mysterious tale of a secret formula and Coke’s attempts to quash it. They might want to think about re-tooling that site, because that “mysterious tale” is boring as fuck.

Evidently if you email the site, you are informed that it is indeed a fictional story used by Coke for marketing purposes.

The only good part of the site is the message board, where most visitors blast the site, Vanilla Coke’s flavor, and marketing in general. My favorite post is the one entitled “Advertising Execs should all be rounded up and slaughtered”.

Thanks to Jeremy for furthering my “Vanilla Coke is evil” fixation.

Posted by Jake at 01:53 PM

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July 11, 2002

Garrick in Palestine 7/11/02

Read Garrick’s latest report from Palestine here. Read all of his past reports here.

Posted by Jake at 09:54 AM

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July 10, 2002

Get Your Land Mine Removal On

GYWO.gif

One of my favorite comics in the post-9/11 world is Get Your War On. Take your favorite “fractured take on modern life” comic strip, and then expose it to the most brutal extremes of fury, confusion, grief and despair. Those primal forces would crush that comic into the bleak, bitter, gleaming genius that is Get Your War On. It’s like gnawing on your own heart while being tickled.

Of course, I have a taste for dark humor. Other folks might find it distasteful and repugnant. It’s all those things.

Anyhow, GYWO is being published in book form (previously it was just a web comic), which I normally wouldn’t catch my eye much. But when I heard that its author David Rees was donating all the book’s profits to organizations removing landmines from Afghanistan, I figured I should drop a check in the mail (okay, click and type in credit card numbers).

So if you wanna buy the book and stop Afghans from having their limbs accidently blown off by hidden explosives, click here. Or you could just give your money straight to the landmine people. I’m fine either way.

Posted by Jake at 08:40 PM
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Shams Revealed

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is a late night TV program on the Comedy Central cable channel (a joint venture of Time-Warner and Viacom) that is a mix of news parody and celebrity interviews. The show frequently excels in clever, offbeat humor, although I don’t like many of their “special reports,” which usually mock eccentric, everyday people behind their backs.

The Daily Show for 7/9/02 featured an interview with CNN’s White House correspondent John King. Stewart interviewed King about Bush’s recent speech about corporate crime, and King made a number of revelations that made me wonder if he knew that he was on television.

First of all, King gave a brief description of his role in Bush’s speech. Evidently King and many other Washington reporters were nowhere near Bush as he spoke. They were watching his speech on TV in a “filing room,” presumably where they could write and film their commentary (although I don’t know if King writes his own reports or not). This should strike everyone as odd that the man who is supposed to be telling me about this event from first-hand experience watched it on TV, just like the rest of us do. He also briefly described the filing room, and it sounded a little on the posh side.

Second, he mentioned that Bush made a rare appearance in the filing room, and the reporters actually got to ask him a couple of questions. Wait, you’re a news reporter for one of the largest news outlets in the world, covering the Bush administration and you rarely get to ask questions of President Bush? What the hell good are you? You know who else watches Bush’s speeches on TV and doesn’t get to ask him questions? Me, and 99% of America.

And finally, when Stewart asked King if it was frustrating how Bush was able to announce his reform plans in a staged event with little external input (”like a CEO announcing his company’s new soft drink,” I believe was Stewart’s line), King matter-of-factly described it as part of the “marketing” of issues. Wait, you’re just going to accept that these parlor games are just the way things are, and only bother exposing them in off-hand comments on a talk show? You fucking jerk, exposing these guys is your job! You probably went to journalism school, I’m sure you’ve heard about serving the public, keeping an eye on those in power, the Fourth Estate, comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.

But of course, that’s my righteous indignation based upon idealistic fantasy. John King is a television news reporter. He has a powerful position, and I’m sure he’s very comfortable himself. The more power and wealth you have, the more unlikely you are to take actions that might upset that. I imagine that King is always balancing his actions between the news that will garner him acclaim for his journalistic skills, while carefully skirting the stories that will anger the politicians he depends on for access.

That’s the best report I can do from memory. I hope to get my hands on a tape or transcript of the interview so I can write a more thorough entry.

Posted by Jake at 08:24 PM
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“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.”
-Upton Sinclair

Posted by Jake at 06:17 PM
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July 08, 2002

Stabbing at News

Our pals at Fox News are airing a new television “newsmagazine” this week, called “The Pulse”, starring the best and brightest from the Fox News Channel.

The show will be anchored by the smarmy, condescending Ken doll Shepard Smith, with special investigative segments by wannabe action hero Geraldo Rivera, and commentary by the smug, arrogant, “I’m too busy condemning you to listen to what you have to say” posterboy Bill O’Reilly.

Near as I can figure, “The Pulse” is going to be the broadcast equivalent of food poisoning.

Posted by Jake at 05:10 PM

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July 07, 2002

More from Garrick

A new dispatch is up over at the Garrick in Palestine page.

Posted by Jake at 11:34 AM

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July 04, 2002

A Waste of Gunpowder and Sky

“I’ve spent a lifetime defending the flag and the law. Maybe I should have battled less - and questioned more.”

-Captain America

Posted by Jake at 12:08 AM

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July 03, 2002

Dropping Dissent

If you like hip-hop and dislike the war on terrorism, go out and buy the new Mr. Lif album, “Emergency Rations”.

It’s a “concept album,” fairly rare among rap albums, in which we learn via short audio sketches that no one has seen our hero, Mr. Lif, since he recorded a number of tracks criticizing the government and the war on terror. The implication is that the government made him “disappear.”

The songs on the album are all pretty good, sort of like Eric B. & Rakim-style grooves and flow, with lyrics like a hip-hop Howard Zinn. The central themes are freedom of speech, government repression, government dirty tricks, the sham of a war on terror, and the absurdity of dropping both bombs and food on the same population. Plenty of the lyrics are clever, and some of the dramatic interludes are pretty amusing as well.

Although it’s easy to get free music off the internet, I always like to plunk down my dollars to support artists who are creative, especially when I like what they’ve got to say.

[edit]

Brought to my attention by the mighty Michele, who in turn discovered it via Pitchfork.

Posted by Jake at 11:22 PM
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Garrick In Palestine (cont.)

L.A. activist Garrick Ruiz is currently in the Occupied Territories, and he’s sending regular reports back from the area. I’ve been posting them here in the weblog, but I decided they needed more space than the average blog seems to allow. So I made a new page here on the Stray Bulletins site solely for his missives.

Check out Garrick In Palestine, the website.

Posted by Jake at 06:05 PM
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July 02, 2002

A Pox on All Our Houses

According to a new report by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the AIDS epidemic is much, much worse than anyone predicted. How much worse? The report’s most staggering figure is that between 2000 and 2020, 68 million people could die of AIDS in the world’s 45 most affected countries (more summary stats here).

That’s more than two Californias. The Black Death that decimated Europe in the mid-1300s killed about 25 million people. Dead.

We all know what it’s like to have a loved one die, the pain, the chaos, the upheaval, not just for the immediate family, but extending in long ripples outward. Multiply that by 68 million, mainly in countries where people are dirt-poor, where a lost relative not only brings grief, but might bring your own death sentence as well.

You can read the whole report here.

Posted by Jake at 09:57 PM
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Casualties in the War on Multilateralism

I wrote a series of LMB entries back in May about Jose Bustani, the head of the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, and the (successful) US efforts to get him thrown out of office. The US claims that they wanted Bustani gone because they didn’t like his “management style.” Seriously, that’s about the most detailed explanation they gave.

A more reasonable explanation is that Bustani’s OPCW could possibly inspect Iraq for chemical weapons, and give the US one less rationale for attacking Iraq in the near future.

Mother Jones magazine has an interview with Bustani, the first I’ve seen since his ouster. He talks about his experience, the current state of the OPCW, and the US battle against all international cooperation.

Posted by Jake at 05:23 PM
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… or Forever Hold Your Peace

You may have already heard about yesterday’s US bombing of an Afghan wedding. Estimates state that 40 people were killed, and 100 were wounded.

People with a good memory will recall that this is not the first time that the US has bombed an Afghan wedding. This is actually the THIRD TIME the US has bombed an Afghan wedding since November. This seems to be due to an Afghan wedding tradition of firing guns into the air in celebration. Nearby US pilots then decide that they are under attack, and unleash hell. On one hand, you could say that the Afghans should learn and discontinue this tradition. On the other hand, you could say that they can do whatever the hell they want in their own damn country and that the US should stop dropping bombs on them.

Of course, that’s if you accept the US explanation in the first place. Distrust of military spokespeople is very healthy.

Posted by Jake at 05:12 PM
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July 01, 2002

Rogue State Strikes Again

As mentioned several times in this blog, the US is trying to destroy the International Criminal Court. The latest attempt by the US to do is crossing the line between distasteful to inhuman.

The US is currently involved in the UN peacekeeping mission in Bosnia. The US threatened to use its Security Council powers to veto proposals to renew the Bosnia mission, and is also threatening to withdraw its troops from the mission. Then the US backed off slightly, agreeing to let the mission continue 3 more days. But unless the US desires are met and its soldiers are made immune to prosecution by the ICC.

Without US involvement, the mission could collapse, and conflicts in the region could resume.

So cuz the US doesn’t want any limitations placed upon it whatsoever, it’s willing to risk the lives of a few million people in Eastern Europe.

“Why do they hate us?” Cuz our leaders are scum.

Posted by Jake at 11:12 PM
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07-01-02

Long day. Phone tag, email flurries, errands, radio show, drive to the yuppie and gutter punk hangout Third Street Promenade to see a free outdoor Rasputina show (hence the abundance of Rasputina tunes on the show), drive back to Hollywood, finish a magazine article for publication (hopefully), more phone calls, spin straw into gold, work on website.

Rasputina- Thee Olde Headboard

Spearhead- Red Beans and Rice
Newcleus- Jam On It
Nortec Collective- Polaris
The Coup- The Coup
Rasputina- You Don’t Own Me
Original Sinners- Birds and Bees

Propellerheads- You Want It Back
Asian Dub Foundation- Free Satpal Ram
:wumpscut:- Down Where We Belong
Mr. Lif, Esoteric, Virtuoso & DJ Vadim- The Higher Standard
Justin Sane- If It’s Good for the Economy, I’m For It!
Slayer- Jesus Saves

Tomahawk- Sir Yes Sir
Cypress Hill- Pigs
Rasputina- Stumpside
Los Infernos- Demons
Massive Attack- Safe from Harm
Bill Hicks- Gays in the Military

Dinosaur Jr.- Just Like Heaven
White Zombie- Black Sunshine
Blackalicious- Swan Lake
MC5- American Ruse

Posted by Jake at 10:54 PM

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Garrick in Palestine pt. 2

Another report from L.A. activist Garrick Ruiz in Palestine:

Hello all,

Sorry for the abrupt ending to my update yesterday. My access to email has been sporadic and the group was leaving and I didn’t realize it untill the last minute. I will try to add some stuff I couldn’t get in the last message but first I want to tell you about today. I’m back in Jerusalem now but we had a very eventful day in Ramallah. We had planned a trip which has now been postponed untill tomorrow. Instead, we heard that the Israeli army was rounding up men in the Al-Amari refugee camp in Ramallah. We walked over there from the Ramallah hospital, about a 10 minute walk.

I’ve heard about this practice, I’ve even seen pictures, but nothing prepares you for seeing it first hand. I’ve come to the conclusion that the IDF must look to the nazis to inform their actions. A refugee camp, a place where people have been refugees from their homes in what is now Israel for 54 years and never allowed to return home. And in this camp we witnessed the army going from house to house rounding up every man between the ages of 15 and 50. Simply arresting all of them and taking them to a field where they were held for hours. Some had shade but others did not, and it is hot here in the middle of the day. At least 90 degrees. Supposedly they had some water and a little bit of bread but they were held there for hours and hours waiting to be interrogated for no other reason than that they lived in the camp. We were not allowed to get close enough to actually talk to the prisoners and check on their status. Some of our group did manage to talk to a few at about 2:00 pm who said they had been in the field since 5:00 am waiting. They did not manage to communicaate with anyone who had been interrogated so we do not know what means the Israelis were employing but it was not likely to be very pleasant. One of the soldiers fired in the air a few feet away from us to scare us. Bastards! We later heard the explosion as the army blew up a grocery store in the camp. I’ve never heard such a loud explosion before. Luckily the kids in the camp warned us so most of us had our ears covered and avoided any possible damage to our ears. Apparently a food store is a threat to Israeli security. The soldiers absolutely refused to give us their names or unit number or any other type of information and had none of this on their uniforms (which is a violation of international law [as if simply being an occupying military force for 35 years was not a violation of international law]). We asked them if they weren’t doing anything wrong why wouldn’t they tell us who they were. They had no answer. They also really didn’t like us taking pictures, again if they weren’t doing anything wrong whats wrong with taking some pictures? The worst part about it is that one of the people who we were with who lives here told us that as far as these types of situations go this was not that bad. To me it was one of the most horrible scenes I have ever witnessed personally.

After we left the camp (which was extremely hard to do not knowing what was going to happen to the hundreds of men we saw) we caught a ride back to Jerusalem and are preparing for another excursion tomorrow. I am working with an affinity group of 10 people, All from the US except for 1 Canadian. I think we are actually majority Jew which is really excellent. It is really good to know that there are so many Jews who oppose the racist, fascist policies of Israel.

If people would like more info on what’s happening here please try the Palestine Independent Media Center or the International Solidarity Movement Website.

Once again I need to cut this short. Just so all of you know I’m not communicating either by phone or email what our plans are for future travels because we don’t want either to be intercepted by the military and have that not allow us to get to our destination. I will get another update out as soon as I am able.

I urge everyone, particularly those of you in the US to fight back against Bush’s agenda. We heard about his speech calling on the Palestinians to elect new leadership. There are many problems with Arafat and the PA but only Palestinians can determine a leadership for Palestinians, he has no say on the subject. Tell him that. Organize demonstrations, letters, phone calls, whatever. But untill the flow of weapons from the US is cut off things will not change here. There is very little hope that Israel will stop its fascism without pressure.

As I learned before the Palestinians are an amazing people where else would a woman invite us all into her house and offer us coffee while soldiers are going door to door in the refugee camp she lived in and probably her husband and sons had already been rounded up (We had to decline). Where else would a people so opressed by Jews be so happy to see Jews here in solidarity and understand so well that Israel despite its claims does not represent the Jewish people as a whole. Hope all is well. Interesting times here and many more to come I’m sure. I have many other stories, hopefully I will report them soon.

Love, rage and solidarity from occupied Palestine,

Garrick

Posted by Jake at 12:27 AM
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