What the hell?
I was visiting movie news/rumors site Dark Horizons today, and it really hit me how low movie studios will go. It boggles the mind. They will make movies based on anything. They do not discriminate, taking all forms of media and cramming it into the movie hole. Here’s a list just from today’s DH news:
Surely you’ve heard of The Gap, the trendy/gargantuan clothing line/chain that is quite popular across the U.S.
1) Their clothing is made in sweatshops around the world.
2) The workers in Gap clothing factories are asking the rest of the world to pressure The Gap into improving their pay and working conditions.
3) To accomplish this, the Gap workers are asking us all to boycott Gap merchandise.
To get the quick info on the campaign (led by garment workers’ union UNITE), you can go to BehindTheLabel.org. For background information, including UNITE’s depressing report about working conditions in Gap factories in Lesotho, El Salvador, Bangladesh and Indonesia, click here. It’s pretty brutal, tales of poverty, sickness, violence and repression.
So, if you wanna be a nice person, don’t buy clothes at The Gap.
Yes yes, many other clothing companies use sweatshops too. But few of the workers for those companies call for boycotts.
Soda So Bad? Pols Pop Off- “A World Health Organization report links sugary sodas to obesity across the globe, but the Bush administration claims WHO is grasping at straws and its report should be tossed out.”
Edelman, Dittus Tackle Obesity Issues- two key pieces of info in this article: 1) the food and beverage industries are so worried that they will be blamed for America’s obesity problems, that they are hiring PR firms to work on the issue. 2) The American Council for Fitness and Nutrition is a front group run by such health-conscious groups as
The Company Formerly Known As- handy chart from the folks at Mother Jones magazine showing recent corporate name-changes. The hands-down winner: the “Agricultural Insecticide and Fungicide Association” has changed its name to “CropLife America”.
Aristocracy in America, part 1- interesting essay musing on the nature of aristocrats and American society. Do we have our own aritstocracy? If so, who are they and where did they come from? If not, why not and might we develop one some day? [no convenient links to individual articles on this blog, so you’ll have to find it by title and date, Nov. 25]
Well, I’d heard rumors, but it looks like it’s actually happening.
26 feet high. 250 miles long.
The wall will separate many Palestinians from land that is rightfully theirs. The article describes how Israeli troops destroyed a 150 foot wide stretch of Palestinian olive grove to make room for the wall’s construction, and it’s cutting off access to 80% of the remaining groves. It’s also separating some towns from their wells, and Israel has banned the drilling of new wells. So there’s no water.
Apparently, popular opinion in Israel is “70% believe that cooperation with the Palestinians has failed,” and since the Palestinians won’t cooperate, there’s no other way to prevent suicide attacks except to build a barrier.
The Israeli repression and the Palestinian terrorist attacks go on simultaneously, each accuses the other side of refusing to cooperate, and both sides are right.
I’m not sure whether or not the wall will make Israelis safe, but it’s certain to make the West Bank residents suffer.
Calavera- Wolf That Howls
Damon Albarn- 4am at Toumanis
Begin unintentional ‘women of hard rock’ set
The Distillers- Red Carpet and Rebellion
The Donnas- Take Me to the Backseat
Betty Blowtorch- Shut Up and Fuck
Dead Kennedys- Chemical Warfare (live)
Cee-lo- Closet Freak
Billy Idol- Rebel Yell
Johnny Cash- Hurt
Jello Biafra- Machine Gun in the Clown’s Hand
Fear- Let’s Have a War
Anti-Flag- Die for Your Government (live)
The International Noise Conspiracy- Capitalism Stole My Virginity
Against Me- Baby, I’m an Anarchist
Ozomatli- Mi Alma
Pistol Grip- Fuck the PMRC
My Kill Radio show will be on in about 2 hours now (2pm PST). I’ll be playing a large segment from Jello Biafra’s new spoken word album Machine Gun in the Clown’s Hand. It’s the good ol’ Biafra mix of politics, humor, history and absurdity.
I’m also looking for a way to increase listenership. Is there anyone who’s online all day, would like to listen to the show, but forgets? Then email me with your Instant Messgenger name, and I’ll drop you a line as I begin to remind you. The address is jake(at)straybulletins.com.
And the Mad Scientist of the Year Award goes to….
See, Morphotek has invented this new technique where you insert cancer-causing genes into plants and animals so that their offspring will be a bunch of mutants. Then, if any of the mutants have useful traits, you try to isolate the genes for those traits and patent them! Then you can insert those genes into other organisms, to make more unholy demon-spawn!
It’s like trying to write the world’s greatest poem by throwing a dictionary in a blender! Guaranteed success, every time.
And if you’re worried about the potentially disastrous consequences of this new technique, relax! If there is a terrible accident, then we’ll just have to come up with a new disastrous technology to take care of the old one!
I am in the process of writing a Stray Bulletins style of news article, one of those longer “let’s analyze the situation and put in into context” pieces. It’s a short history of Iraq-U.S. relations since the 1980s. With that phrasing it sounds infinitely dull, but it’ll be easy and readable, I promise.
It’s funny, to write a good piece about any topic, I find I have to teach it to myself first. I call it “overlearning.” I have to understand far more about the topic than will ever appear in the article. While researching my article about the Venezuelan coup back in May, I suddenly found that I was tracing the situation too far back, examining the Venezuelan petroleum export strategies. I had to tap myself on the shoulder and say “Jake, you can’t include this in the article because you will bore everyone to tears. Time to start pulling back.” I guess that’s how it works, you delve, surface for air, figure out which bits of information will matter to the reader, and try to be thorough without being anal.
So to write my article about Iraq since maybe 1970, I read documents that summed up Iraq from 4000 BC to the present. Fascinating stuff, really. It boggles the mind that this nation that we think of as “bad place where Saddam Hussein is” has such a complicated past: Sumerian roots; Mongol invasions; Islamic conflict; the Ottoman empire; struggles with Arabic unity movements, communist movements, fundamentalist movements; racial strife; tribal politics; WWII; revolution; military dictators; etc. Yet American understanding of the region seems ignorant of anything except 1990-1998.
But all the reading is burning me out. Maybe I dove down too far and can’t make it back to the surface from here.
Basically, I’m trying to put all the facts in one place, reminding everyone that the U.S. used Iran and Iraq as foils to each other to maintain the status quo during the 1980s, that Saddam Hussein was the U.S.’ pal until that fateful day in 1990, and how the cat and mouse game of sanctions worked until they broke off in 1998. Seems kinda relevant.
The Supreme Court will soon be hearing a case which could roll back the Miranda rights that you hear cops read people during their arrest on every cop drama on television: “you have the right to remain silent.”
As I understand the case, the police are arguing that they can use “coercive interrogation,” and violate your “right to remain silent,” as long as any statements they gather from those violations are not used against you in court (although I imagine they could be used to gather other kinds of evidence that would then be used against you in court).
Not surprisingly, the Bush administration has given its support to this new interpretation.
Thanks to Politics in the Zeros
This article should scare you.
The Bush administration has a plan to privatize up to 850,000 government jobs. Meaning that these positions like secretaries and computer programmers will be contracted out to private companies. And the Bush administration can put this policy into effect without getting approval from Congress. Of course, the White House claims that this privatization will save taxpayer money. Because private companies never overcharge, work inefficiently, or pay their CEOs millions more than their worth. No, private companies are lean, mean, efficient and honest. Well, probably one or two are.
When I first heard about this, I simply thought “jeez, another corporate handout by Bush.” But this article makes me much more anxious, and reminds us of the good ol’ days of the robber barons, political “bosses,” and the Teapot Dome scandal:
“By turning over half of the federal service to Corporate America, the Bush administration will create legions of employees whose jobs will depend on political loyalty to the corporations that hire them, and thus to the party that gives those corporations the employment contracts…”
“And the elimination of the federal employee unions through privatization will do away with protections for on-the-job rights, negotiated salaries and independence from corrupt political orders. (The religious right loves the plan: It renders null and void the Clinton executive order against discrimination in federal employment on the basis of sexual orientation for the privatized half of the work force.) The Bush plan is nothing less than a flying leap toward the institutionalization of the Republican Party as the party of government. It is the equivalent of a bloodless coup d’état.”
Essentially, the plan gives the party in power hundreds of thousands of “favors” that can legally dole out for any reason they see fit. And knowing recent presidential administrations, those “reasons” will usually be “to increase our power.”
That’s enough to unnerve me, but the article delves deeper into the murk. I don’t know if I entirely buy it, but it’s plausible. Once the Total Information Awareness system goes into effect, some of these low-level, privatized employees might have access to the huge consumer/legal/political dossier on every American. And every company in America would like to get their hands on that data. Which could mean a) corporations will fight each other tooth and nail to get these government contracts, or b) we’ll see a new era of industrial espionage, where corporate spies work undercover in these privatized jobs to illegally obtain our personal data records. Again, far-fetched, but not impossible.
I guess that’s what happens when you give the keys to the country to a mob of white collar criminals.
I know some fellas in a band called Anti-Flag. In these days where a punk band can make large dollars by singing pop songs about love and romance on MTV, Anti-Flag continues to sing about “unpopular” subjects like Vieques, alternative media, corporate capitalism and war. I’ve also always been impressed with the way they try to take care of their fans. At the start of each performance, the band passionately tells the crowd that “we’re all a family here,” and demand that the crowd look out for each other in the frenetic moshing and dancing that is about to take place. And the crowd enthusiastically agrees. Good fellas, Anti-Flag.
Anyhow, I visited their site today and found another way that they’re trying to take care of their fans. In these days of Patriotic Correctness (the new, more dangerous PC), some of their more politically outspoken young fans are being hassled by the students and faculty of their schools. Wearing “No Blood for Oil” shirts, or even apolitical “Anti-Flag” logo t-shirts can land them in trouble, get them yelled at, picked on, or even expelled. So Anti-Flag has written and posted a page on their site dedicated to helping students fight for their freedom of speech. It tells them what their legal rights are as students, the duties and limitations of school administrators, ways to argue in defense of their speech or clothing, and ways to fight back against rules they think are unjust. I think that’s fucking great, and it makes me feel kinda proud to know them.
In other prideful news, the Axis of Justice website is finally up. It is the site for the rock ‘n radicalism non-profit organization I am running with Rage Against the Machine’s Tom Morello (now of the band Audioslave) and System of a Down’s Serj Tankian. The goal is to bring musicians, music fans, and activist organizations together to, well, turn them all into activists. Except for the graphics and programming, the site is entirely my doing. I’m trying to make the it a resource where folks can learn about political issues, movements and organizations, and then hopefully decide to somehow take action on the matters that are important to them. I am not trying to tell anyone what political topics are important, nor tell them what goals or tactics they should embrace to save the world. But I’m certainly not going to shy away from giving them my opinion.
Anyhow, please visit the site, and feel free to send me any suggestions for it. And if you’re into political discussions, we’ve got an Axis of Justice messageboard in effect too.
Shiva H. Vishnu, there’s a lot of media news today! So much in fact that I probably shouldn’t post them all in one entry. But I will anyway!! Muhuhuhahahaha!!
Tainted Research? Tainted Journalists- while financial journalists scream about the corruption in the world of accountants and stock advisors, they carefully turn a blind eye to their own faults and corruption.
The Untold Story- article about how the increasing interrelationships, consolidation and conflicts of interests in the media world are quickly eliminating all reliable coverage of the media industry. Ironically, this article appeared in the LA Weekly, which is currently under investigation itself for anti-trust violations.
WLS Radio hanging up on callers who ’sound old’- WLS-AM is a Disney-owned talk radio station in Chicago. A confidential memo written by the station’s operations director last week announced that since their target demographic was people aged 25 to 54, that the call-screeners at the station should hang up on anyone who “sounded older” than 54. The director apparently doesn’t care how old the callers actually are, just so long as they don’t “sound old.”
Columnist says his political job is no conflict of interest- Bob Sanders is a columnist for the Merced Sun-Star newspaper. He is also the campaign manager for Rusty Areias, who is running for the California state Senate. But Sanders insists there’s no conflict of interest there. Of course there isn’t.
A pinhead editorial writer’s adventure in the No Spin Zone- newspaper editor tells of his experience as an assaulted guest on Bill O’Reilly’s syndicated radio show. When the editor criticized O’Reilly during the phone interview, O’Reilly hung up and then ranted about how the fellow was wrong.
Pentagon to Track American Consumer Purchases- U.S. government, having met such success with “racial profiling” moves on to “consumption profiling.” Better hope that the type of toilet paper you buy doesn’t fit into the “terrorist shopping profile.”
Protecting U.S. Could Boost Tech Industries- Hmm, the Bush administration pushes hard for a homeland security bill that will pour billions of dollars into the tech industry. And during the 2000 presidential campaign, the tech industry poured over $1.2 million into Bush’s campaign. Nah, must be a coincidence.
FCC’s Copps to Take Media Hearings on the Road- the FCC is considering relaxing (well, even further relaxing) regulations on media ownership in the U.S. FCC head Michael Powell (Colin Powell’s son. No, no nepotism there) is very anti-regulation (which is a good reason to put him in charge of a regulatory agency). But one FCC commissioner seems opposed to Powell’s stance, and is going to hold hearings about the issue, and hold them far away from Washington. Sounds like he’s a defiant chap. I wish him luck.
BMG to Roll Out Royalty Plan- one of the tricks of the trade for record labels to suck money out of their artists is for the labels to sign contracts with artists for a fixed royalty percentage, say 12% of the profits from each album sold, but with hidden costs. They add all sorts ot little “fees” which are deducted from that 12% (see article for details). But now, the Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) is changing their tune. They’re not going to stop bleeding the artists dry, but they’re going to stop lying about it (well, they say they’re going to stop lying about it). They claim that in the example above, they’ll sign a deal so that an artist gets 9%, but there are no hidden fees. Best quote from the article: “One reason this industry has ended up with such a bad image is because we could not look a guy in the eye and tell him, as a partner, that the contract he was about to sign was fair.”
Necessary Bedfellows- an interesting and lengthy article about press access during war. Compares the access journalists had during Vietnam to the access they had in Afghanistan, and tries to predict what things will be like during Gulf War II.
The Fox News Presidential Adviser- did I mention this yet? Fox News president and former Republican strategist Roger Ailes gave advice to President Bush about how to handle things in the wake of September 11. “We Report, We Tell the Government What to Do, You Decide.”
Media consolidation causes worries for PBS head- Pat Mitchell, the CEO of PBS… did I read that right? Public television has a CEO, just like a corporation? Funny. Anyway, Mitchell recently spoke out about bias and conflicts of interest in the corporate media. Which is very different from public television, because, um… public television sometimes has shows about tree frogs.
Media Bill loosens rules on ownership- deciding to follow another bad U.S. trend, Britain decides to deregulate their media too, largely due to the pressure of billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch.
Charlotte Sends Regrets- Charlotte Beers is a PR exec who has been given the ludicrous job of trying to make Middle Easterners like the U.S. even as the U.S. continues policies that hurt those same people. The only part of this particular article that interests me is a comment down near the bottom by “Angry PR Dude.” Of course it’s just hearsay, but allegedly hearsay from someone in the PR world who might know. He/she claims that Beers’ success as a PR professional came from her personal connections, not her skills at propagandizing. Which means that she’s not even qualified for her impossible “public diplomacy” job.
Give Peace a Chance? Not Really- mainly this article examines findings from “a report released by the National Defense University’s Institute for National Strategic Studies.” The report seems to conclude that the U.S. should should somehow encourage freedom–but not democracy– in the Middle East, and detaching itself somewhat from Saudi Arabia.
CBS Sells Fake TV News in VNR Venture- ever hear of a “video news release”? Basically, a PR agency will record a video segment that looks just like a real news segment, and then these VNRs are shipped to TV news departments. Sometimes these VNRs are aired on cash-strapped stations with no notice that they are, in fact, business-friendly editorials posing as news. Now, as PR Watch points out, CBS is going into the business of filming VNRs for paying customers. Is it a conflict of interest producing news and fake news at the same time? Probably.
Comedian, alumnus returns to College for Q&A session- wow, what an incredibly boring article title. Another fun interview with our pal Jon Stewart, as he visits his alma mater.
Smoke Signals- we’ve heard about this a few times by now, but the U.S. military is controlling the information received by the press in the most secretive and effective of ways. These two paragraphs are probably the key to understanding large swaths of journalism, regarding the “patronage system”:
“‘The Washington press corps is complicit,’ [60 Minutes’ Bob] Simon added ruefully. ‘The game that’s played in Washington—and it’s always been played this way—is the trade-off of access for patronage. If you agree to sing their song, you’ll be invited for an audience… They go easy on the president and his people, and they keep on getting invited back and getting more access.’”
“Not that the access matters—Simon says much of what the administration gives reporters is spin, masquerading as information. Take it from Washington Post reporter Dana Milbank, whose October 22 story accusing President Bush of ‘distortions,’ ‘exaggerations,’ and ‘flights of fancy’ resulted in a White House campaign to discredit him. Interviewed on NPR, Milbank dismissed the idea that he had been punished. ‘I have exactly as much access as I had when I began,’ he explained, ‘which is to say, not very much access at all. This administration does not release information.’”
Global goofs: U.S. youth can’t find Iraq- time for the annual “look how dumb our American kids are” news flurry. Why don’t American kids know anything about geography? Because their teachers don’t teach it! And when they do, it is not followed up. When I was in high school, my smart kids’ history class learned all of the countries in the world. We were given a week to learn each continent, were tested, and then we went back to talking solely about Western Europe and the United States.
Commercial Radio Station Ownership Consolidation Shown to Harm Artists and the Public, Says FMC Study- deregulation of the radio industry is not good for musicians or music fans? I am shocked, just shocked. Full report here.
It’s the Media, Stupid- “It’s the Media, Stupid” is a “pamphlet” by John Nichols and Robert McChesney about the corporate consolidated media system in the United States. It’s a short book, but this webpage condenses the 100+ page book into maybe 20 pages of quotes and summaries. Good stuff. Reminds me that I need to write a media manifesto for the LMB site one of these days.
Bush said a lot of stuff while at the NATO summit this week. Which is always a mistake, the man should keep his mouth shut as often as possible unless he wants to look like a fool.
“Should [Saddam Hussein] again deny that this arsenal exists, he will have entered his final stage with a lie, and deception this time will not be tolerated. Delay and defiance will invite the severest consequences.” So we’ll attack Iraq if Saddam denies that he has these weapons? Shouldn’t we base our decisions on what he does and what type of arsenal he has, not on the words he speaks?
I would be concerned, but I don’t think that that’s what he meant. It’s just another example of Bush’s talent for shoving his hands down the pants of the English language and squeezing till the tears come.
“The US president underlined his determination to crush ‘global terrorists who hate freedom.’” What about the terrorists who think that freedom is kinda neat, do they get a free pass?
“People tend to focus on the inspectors as if the inspectors are the end,” the president told reporters. What is important, he said, is eliminating any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. ‘He’s going to disarm one way or the other.’”
This is starting to drive me crazy. The U.S. can claim justification for attack so long as any doubt remains about Iraq’s weapons. And doubt will always remain because you can’t prove a negative. I dare anyone to prove that I don’t have a machine gun. You can search my apartment, search my car. Maybe it’s under the floorboards, maybe I left it with a neighbor, maybe I buried it in the park. I don’t own a machine gun and I’ve never owned a machine gun, but I don’t think any of us could prove that. By the rationale of the Bush doctrine, you all have every right to come invade me.
And finally, it’s fun to note that these NATO talks were never intended to be about Iraq. They’re supposed to be discussions about enlarging and reforming NATO, with Iraq not even a topic on the agenda. Yet Bush managed to force the issue in there somehow.
But nice of them to finally admit it.
Well, take that article with a grain of salt. It is in the UK’s somewhat tabloid paperThe Mirror, and is somewhat confusing. The “top security advisor” is Richard Perle and is allegedly from a meeting on “global security” with members of the British Parliament. According to the article, Perle allegedly said that if a single person in Iraq claimed to have been involved in the developement of weapons, that that would be enough of a rationale to attack.
Granted, Perle is not actually a member of the military, he’s only a civilian member of a military-advising committee. Do his words reflect the truth? Is he speaking on his own? Or his he trying to manipulate the powerful through strategically place public comments?
[Thanks to Dack. Actually, all of Dack’s articles are excellent today, go read em.]
Everyone’s favorite government-funded fearmongers, the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (remember them? They’re the ones who told you that if you bought drugs, you were responsible for 9-11) have begun a new set of TV commericals using a new set of scare tactics. They basically focus on various tragedies that could occur when someone is under the influence of marijuana (e.g. getting high while driving could cause impaired reaction time and lead to deadly car accidents). But one of them is very disturbing for an unintended message that it sends out.
“Couple” features two young white teens at a party. A young dark-haired boy is sitting on a couch, and a young blonde girl walks into the shot and collapsing all giggly onto the couch. As she hits the couch, she hands the boy a small marijuana pipe. Quick fade to the next shot, a very similar one of the giddy girl collapsing on the couch and handing back the pipe. After the third couch-fall, she seems pretty out of it, nearly unconscious. The young boy quickly sets down the pipe, moves over to the girl, and starts unbuttoning her shirt. The camera moves to a shot of the smoking pipe on table, and we hear the girl mumble “no” and the boy try to quiet her with a “shhh.” Then we see the commericial’s final taglines: “Marijuana can impair your judgement”, which fades out and is replaced by “Harmless?”
We could slowly dissect this ad all we want, but I think we can see the simple message: “girls, don’t smoke pot because then some guy will rape you.” And while it’s true that any intoxicating substance can make it easier for you to be taken advantage of, this commericial is based on a firm bedrock of “blame the victim.” This girl on the commercial is going to be raped, and the PDFA are saying that it’s her fault because she got high. Somehow the fact that someone else did the raping doesn’t get much emphasis. And that tagline, “can impair your judgement”? Are they saying that while under the influence, the girl showed “poor judgement” and decided to get raped?
The ad very clearly shows either: a) a girl got so high that she was barely conscious, and then some guy raped her, or b) a guy who intentionally got a girl really wasted so that he could rape her. And the ad says pretty clearly that this attack is because of “impaired judgement”: hers.
So in the interests of countering harmful propaganda, let me write a new ending for this ad.
[we hear girl mumble “no” and guy try to quiet her with a “shh.”]
Girl wakes up next morning, disheveled and confused. Slowly the memories return, and she starts to cry. She then stops, and wipes away the tears angrily. She seizes the phone and starts making some calls.
We see the dark-haired boy outside his home, shooting baskets. He hears footsteps behind him, he turns. Camera pans up from long shadows to blonde girl and several of her friends. They are all angry, and hold steel shovels in their hands. The blonde girl lifts hers and swings. Boy falls. The girls quickly surround his fallen form and beat him with the shovels as he protests and cries.
Tagline: “Girls, smoking marijuana can cloud your mind, hamper your motor control, and make you vulnerable. But if someone tries something, don’t let the motherfuckers get away with it.”
Tagline fade, replaced with: “Harmless?”
There are plenty of reasons to criticize Wal-Mart. They sell products made in sweatshops. They work as a force of censorship on the music and magazines they sell. And the fact that their enormous size and purchasing power end up driving small surrounding retailers out of business. PBS put together an interesting documentary last year about the crisis a small Virginia town faced when Wal-Mart wanted to open up business there. Good stuff.
There are two interlinked protests going on against Wal-Mart in the near future. The first is a union drive by the AFL-CIO. Wal-Mart workers often receive low wages, and their efforts to form or join unions are vigorously opposed by the company.
The second effort is a broader campaign which includes the first. November 21 is the Wal-Mart National Day of Action, to protest against all of these anti-social practices. That’s this coming Thursday. If you want to jump on that bandwagon, you can click the link just above and find out what’s going down in your neck of the woods.
Well, may as well give a little detail on the “no-fly zones,” since this is actually picking up some media steam.
Essentially, there are two “no-fly zones” in northern and southern Iraq because the US and UK want them there. Not because the UN put them there, not because of a declaration of surrender by Iraq, not because humanitarian groups called out for them, but because the US and UK decided to create them.
678 was passed in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and “authorizes Member States … to use all necessary means … to restore international peace and security in the area.” While “the area” is vague, the resolution seems aimed at getting Iraq out of Kuwait and stopping any of its agression against other states.
688 was passed in response to Iraqi oppression of its people, particularly the Kurds in Northern Iraq. It “condemns the repression of the Iraqi civilian population in many parts of Iraq, including most recently in Kurdish populated areas, the consequences of which threaten international peace and security in the region.”
Now watch the trick here.
If Iraqi oppression of the Kurds “threaten[s] international peace and security,” and resolution 678 authorizes all UN member states to “use all necessary means … to restore international peace and security in the area,” then….
Ipso facto, presto change-o, the US and UK have a right to bomb the bejeezus out of Northern and Southern Iraq.
No one at the UN seems to agree with this interpretation. The purpose of 678 was to issue an ultimatum to Saddam Hussein to get out of Kuwait. The purpose of 688 was to condemn Iraqi oppression. Neither was intended to appoint the West as guardian of Iraq. Hell, the whole purpose of the UN is to avoid war and bloodshed. It’s hard to argue that regular bombing raids of Iraq work towards that goal.
If you’re interested, here’s a handy dandy resource to find out when the US/UK last bombed Iraq.
Beat Junkies- Intro (from The World Famous Beat Junkies Vol. 3)
Fear- I Love Livin’ in the City (live)
Tiger Army- Incorporeal
Asian Dub Foundation- Debris
Cypress Hill- Break em Off Some
Justin Sane- If It’s Good for the Economy, I’m For It
Soundgarden- Copkiller (live)
Against Me!- Baby, I’m an Anarchist
Jake on Information Awareness Office
The Exploited- Dogs of War
Mindless Self Indulgence- I Hate Jimmy Page
Slick Rick- Bedtime Story
Venetian Snares- Dollmaker
Flogging Molly- Devil’s Dance Floor
Anti-Flag- Davey Destroyed the Punk Scene
Jello Biafra & Ice-T- Shut Up, Be Happy
Jake on “Fighting for Our Lives”
Desmond Dekker- Keep a Cool Head
The White Stripes- Fell in Love with a Girl
Run DMC- Mary Mary
The Coup- Pimps
Damon Albarn- 4am at Toumanis
Camper Van Beethoven- When I Win the Lottery
The Minibosses- Legend of Zelda (acoustic)
Beastie Boys- Gratitude (live)
The Distillers- Sick of It All
Iraq already in breach of resolution- the Bush administration can’t even wait for the inspectors to look at anything yet. They are arguing that Iraq firing on US planes in the “no-fly zone” is a breach of the recent UN resolution. (Actually, Iraq is legally in the right. The “no-fly zones” aren’t part of any UN deal or Iraqi obligation, they are simply arbitrarily-selected areas that the US and UK decreed that Iraq couldn’t fly planes. Technically, it is Iraqi airspace that the US and UK have no right to fly in. And Iraq has the legal right to shoot down planes flying in their airspace without permission).
Tombstone paper calls for militia- “Cochise County’s ‘official newspaper’ has issued a call to arms and is spearheading the formation of a local militia to combat illegal immigration.”
A few days back, I posted about the creepy Information Awareness Office and their massive spying plans. In the comments following that entry, a fellow posted a link to what appears to be a very good resource on the topic- http://geocities.com/totalinformationawareness/. Go check it out if you’re interested.
The Republican party is comprised of evil geniuses.
The Democratic party is evil, but at present, they’re as incompetent as fuck. Honestly, these days Osama bin Laden could beat a Democrat in an election. Or at least beat one in a primary.
The Republicans have a clear advantage, however. These days, elections are fueled solely by donations from wealthy individuals and corporations. Due to their pro-business philosophy, Republicans can solicit these donations easily. However Democrats (allegedly) have a business watchdog philosophy, and any donation they accept from the wealthy is a potential “hypocrite” hook on which to hang them, making their fundraising a bit more tenuous.
The current Republican diabolical scheme seems to be as follows:
In the DH article, you can see that the Republicans are trying to “smear” proposed Head Democrat Nancy Pelosi as a “San Francisco liberal.” Ooh, two smears in one, “liberal” implying that she’s out of touch, and “San Francisco” implying that she’s somehow associated with homosexuals. And if you’re a San Francisco liberal, man, you’re obviously a queer America-hating commie (the DH article also points out that conservative pundits are gleefully linking Pelosi and a San Francisco needle exchange program, which creates an unsavory link between Pelosi and homeless junkies).
But what bothers me most about this is that Pelosi isn’t liberal. Even the mainstream and quasi-liberal press are painting her as a lefty. She’s not. Near as I can figure, she’s just another checkbook Democrat, for sale to the highest bidder, like our pal Gray Davis. That article above describes all sorts of Pelosi sleaziness, and points out that her “liberal record” is more of campaign necessity than of ideological conviction.
I have an article past due for Destroy All mag that I have yet to begin. I should really be working on that, but I have this mini-rant building up that won’t be denied. So I’m trying and experiment here (whee!!), an attempt to write a quick screed without going back and editting. Stopwatches are go!
There’s a new conservative argument floating around now, that I’ve seen several times and always in the same format: “You liberals just don’t get it!” Well, that’s how it always starts. It is most recently tied to “we didn’t see the 9-11 attacks coming.” And that’s pretty much where the argument ends. The implication is that we should have taken some sort of military action before 9-11 to prevent the terrorist attacks, even if we didn’t have condemning evidence that the attacks were coming. And therefore, we should do something now (i.e. bomb Iraq) because we don’t have perfect evidence. Good thinkin’.
It’s quite interesting when your lack of evidence becomes proof that you should act on that, uh, lack of evidence. I say, why start with Iraq? I mean, we have even less evidence that we are going to face an attack by Iran. Let’s start there. Wait, it would be even more unexpected if we were attacked by France. Let’s attack France. No! Hawaii! Those native Hawaiians are sending coded Al Qaeda messages via hula dances! Bomb Hawaii!
I’m also amused at Conservatives lack of understanding of the left. Somehow, no matter what your stance, in the eyes of conservatives, we are all Clinton-loving Democrats. Doesn’t matter if you’re a moderate Democrat soccer mom, a radical enviornmentalist, or an anarchist revolutionary, somehow we all want Al Gore in the White House in 2004.
Hmm. 6 minutes. Not bad, I guess.
For about a year now, I’ve been frequently been playing a CD on my radio show by a fellow named “Baseck.” Baseck’s style is called “breakcore,” sort of a mix of industrial, drum & bass, and experimental noise: distorted, loud, jumpy yet very danceable (so long as you pay attention).
Saw a great show last night that featured Baseck (along with our Kill Radio pals Mash Up Soundsystem) where I learned that I’ve been pronouncing the guy’s name wrong. For a year (in my defense, I was instructed in the mispronunciation by folks more knowledgeable than myself). Although it is a ridiculous phonetic interpretation, I’ve been erroneously referring to the guy as “base-check,” when the correct pronunciation is “basic.” Which obviously makes more sense.
My apologies to Baseck/Basic. And my condolences on his having to leave L.A. for Milwaukee.
A small meeting of the World Trade Organization (WTO) took place this weekend in Sydney, Australia, and some local activists came up with a way to get the word out about harmful WTO policies: pirate radio.
But not the good old-fashioned “I’m going to broadcast my signal on an unused frequency and hope that someone listens” way, but in the “let’s hijack the city’s most popular radio frequency to spread our message” way.
Good work, fellas.
Yesterday (well, this morning, technically), I posted a link to a pretty decent column about portions of the proposed Homeland Security Act which will allow the government to gather data about all your business activity, all your consumer activity, all your official documents and any images of you on surveillance cameras into one consolidated file, and store these files on you with similar files about other American citizens. Cuz, y’know, any of us could be terrorists.
Found a little more info on the subject from Calpundit. This plan is called “Total Information Awareness”, and is the brainchild of John Poindexter. The Iran-Contra affair was also Poindexter’s idea. Y’know, illegally selling missiles to a totalitarian regime in Iran so we could illegally give the profits to a ruthless terrorist army in Nicaragua. Next time Poindexter has an idea, maybe he should just keep his damn mouth shut about it.
But frankly, this whole article is just leads up to me posting the IAO’s logo:
Creepy, ain’t it?
Well, all of this could have been cutting edge, if I’d've had the time to post them this morning. My actual paid workload has jumped up several notches, so the blog will not be top priority for a while.
White House Wages Stealth War on Condoms- slimy motherfuckers. Presumably to appease crazed Christian moralists, Bush is filling federal public health positions with doctors that believe that abstinence is the only way to prevent AIDS.
Daschle Criticizes Bush Terror Plan- the new version of Bush’s Homeland Security bill tosses out a planned investigation into the flaws that brought about 9-11. The White House has been opposing this very reasonable measure for quite some time now. My personal theory is that they oppose this investigation because Bush wants us to believe that the USA Patriot Act corrected any of the intelligence problems that might have allowed the 9-11 attacks, and that an investigation will show very little correlation between the new governmental powers granted by the Patriot Act and the pre-9-11 errors.
House Approves Domestic Security Bill- Congressional Republicans tossed in a few corporate welfare measures into the Homeland Security Act. It “would reverse an earlier measure and allow American companies that have moved offshore in order to evade taxes to contract with the Homeland Security Department. It would also extend protection against liability suits for airline screening companies and many other businesses that contract with the department, and adds a similar provision protecting the makers of smallpox vaccines.”
Torie, Meet John- either the Defense Department is unaware that the Government has hired propaganda masters The Rendon Group, or the Defense Dept. is lying to reporters again. I’m guessing the latter. And while we’re at it, here’s an older article with some background info on Rendon.
For whom the Liberty Bell tolls- rich UK investor class explains how citizens all over the world have lost civil rights in the wake of 9-11. Note the handy chart.
Blair broadcasts message to Iraq- Tony Blair broadcast a message over Iraqi radio to Saddam Hussein and “warned the Iraqi leader he would be disarmed by force if he failed to co-operate with United Nations weapons inspectors.” Good going, Tony. He didn’t already know that.
Catch ‘em- animated cartoon by Mark Fiore about the new CIA “assassinate terrorists” strategy.
Microsoft giveaway drowns out India’s open-source software movement- Bill Gates donates $40 million to India in hopes that it will prevent the country from using free, open-source software like Linux. Like you don’t already have enough money, gotta try to milk more from people who make $400 a year. Asshole.
Carmakers savor GOP rule- auto companies in the U.S. hope that the new Republican Congress will help them by easing back on environmental regulations and giving them big tax breaks.
Afghanistan: Police Beat Students in Hospital- I’m so glad we went into Afghanistan and made it into a peaceful democrac– did that article say that police beat students, put them in the hospital, and then went to the hospital to beat them some more?
You Are a Suspect- “If the Homeland Security Act is not amended before passage, here is what will happen to you: Every purchase you make with a credit card, every magazine subscription you buy and medical prescription you fill, every Web site you visit and e-mail you send or receive, every academic grade you receive, every bank deposit you make, every trip you book and every event you attend — all these transactions and communications will go into what the Defense Department describes as ‘a virtual, centralized grand database.’ To this computerized dossier on your private life from commercial sources, add every piece of information that government has about you — passport application, driver’s license and bridge toll records, judicial and divorce records, complaints from nosy neighbors to the F.B.I., your lifetime paper trail plus the latest hidden camera surveillance — and you have the supersnoop’s dream: a ‘Total Information Awareness’ about every U.S. citizen,” says conservative columnist.
Forget Radio: Video Games, TV Ads Are Where You’ll Hear New Music- insightful MTV News piece about the rise of non-radio means of promoting music. New artists allowing their songs to be featured in TV commericials is sometimes paying off big as consumers dash off to buy that song from the Volkswagen ad or whatever. Doesn’t explicitly say it, but is part of a growing trend of symbiotic advertising (e.g. “Halle Berry, who stars in the new James Bond movie–which premiers nation-wide this weekend!!–wears Cover Girl makeup”).
Who’d'a thunk it?
“‘Some of the comments that have been uttered about Islam do not reflect the sentiments of my government or the sentiments of most Americans,’ Bush told reporters as he began a meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
“‘By far, the vast majority of American citizens respect the Islamic people and the Muslim faith. After all, there are millions of peaceful-loving Muslim Americans,’ Bush said.
“‘Ours is a country based upon tolerance … And we’re not going to let the war on terror or terrorists cause us to change our values.’”
Bush did not identify conservative Christian leaders as his target, but White House officials said he was prompted by the anti-Islamic remarks of some of them, particularly religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, who reportedly said this week Muslims were ‘worse than the Nazis.’”
This actually took a little courage on the part of the president. The Christian Right is a powerful force in American politics, and most Republicans bow down to their will in order to harness that power. To publicly dress down one of their icons in defense of a group that is fairly unpopular in the U.S. right now, that’s the right thing to do. Never would’ve expected that of ol’ W.
Of course, I presume that he did it with the goal of not further enraging the foreign Muslims he’s attempting to entreat to support a U.S. war on Iraq. But it’s something.
The Institute for Public Accuracy, a left-wing “please interview this list of alternative experts about current events issue X” organization, has put together a very lengthy and thorough analysis of the recent UN resolution against Iraq. They put together a team of 10 experts, pundits and activists who focus on issues like US foreign policy, the UN, international law, terrorism, nuclear weapons, and civil rights. I don’t think any of them have a kind word to say about the resolution, but it’ll give you tons and tons of context.
Just a few recent headlines about a Supreme Court case regarding the use of internet filtering software on computers in public libraries. The American Library Association doesn’t want to use them. The “won’t someone please think of the children” crowd want them to.
Basically, the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) passed in April of 2001, says that any library that receives federal funding needs to install filtering software on all of their internet-accessible computers, to protect any children from viewing sites that might be pornographic, or otherwise “inappropriate.”
Sadly, it looks like the press is using this, one if its few justified opportunities, to play up the sex/porn angle and make their stories more titillating. In reality, this issue isn’t about sex, it’s a dull issue of computer coding.
The technology to effectively keep kids from internet porn does not exist. The Federal demand that libraries install filtering software to protect kids from pornography would be like Congress passing a law demanding that all passenger cars give up gasoline and run solely on rainbows and moonbeams.
Basically, all internet filtering software runs on blocking sites which use certain keywords. Picking out which keywords to use is a tricky business. Do you block “sex”? That would get rid of a lot of pornographic sites, but also elminate sites that use the word at all, sites about AIDS info, gay rights, or even the rantings of Jake SEXton. “Fuck”? Lots of sites that have nothing to do with sex use swear words. And on and on it goes. The software that is most effective in blocking porn is the one that goes too far and blocks out a myriad of unrelated sites. On top of that, the filtering software often has wierd little bugs that eliminate sites for reasons no one can comprehend. The LA Times article above notes that some filtering software “screened out a site for aspiring dentists, a second site that promotes federalism in Uganda and a third that sells wooden wall hangings of scenes from the Bible.” And while that might be okay for a parent to install on their home computer to protect their own kids, how okay is it to install on a computer used by a community’s children and adults at centers for information and research?
Honestly, wouldn’t the easiest method to this “problem” (and how many kids are actually going to their local library to look at porn anyway?) to put the computers in an area where the librarians can keep an eye on them? What’s more effective, some unpredictablly goofy software, or a rational adult that can glance across the room every few minutes and, if need be, send an offending child scurrying? “Get out of that chair, little Billy! No vaginas for you!”
Richard Perle is the head of the Defense Policy Board, a civilian panel which advises the president/Pentagon/DoD about, well, everything.
He is also ruthless, arrogant, and a complete asshole.
He has been pushing really, really hard for war with Iraq. He came up with a plan to overthrow Saddam Hussein with just 40,000 troops (a plan that was laughed at by anyone with military leadership experience), and generally just shoves and taunts his way to success.
His latest moves:
In an interview with the UK Guardian, Perle states that UN inspections will not work, that inspection team leader Hans Blix is the wrong man for the job, and more or less says that anyone in Iraq who might have information about Iraq’s weapons capabilities should be shipped out of the country for interrogation. The fact that he believes in assassinating Saddam Hussein should come as a surprise to no one.
In that same interview, Perle also lambasted all of Europe for losing its “moral compass” (cuz, y’know, there’s nothing more morally upright that dropping bombs on innocent folks). Typically, he takes the point of view that anyone opposed to war, an Iraqi invasion or US imperial aims in the Middle East is doing so because they are Saddam-Hussein-lovers.
And here’s an unrelated article about more manipulative assholes. The article begins as a somewhat humorous story about a Harvard student hired to do radio parodies of Saddam Hussein in Arabic, but evolves into a story of U.S. psyops, propaganda, and the secretive role played by the shadowy Rendon Group.
I’m not much of a Moby fan (well, I do like his cover of “That’s When I Reach for My Revolver”). But occassionally his tongue-in-cheek humor appeals to me, and I admit, I do like that he speaks out on political and social issues more than is “safe” for a famous musician.
Apparently Moby just recorded a PSA for PETA asking people to not eat turkeys for Thanksgiving dinner (Moby’s a vegetarian). In his online journal, he discusses the situation, and concludes with this fun bit:
“if you wouldn’t personally be able to kill something, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. unless it’s a mime. sweet, tasty mimes….mmmm….”
Normally I try to focus on news and commentary that is important, or at least snide and ironic. But August over at Xoverboard has a story that is so completely bizarre and strange, that I felt the need to link to it.
“This is one of those stories where the story itself is weird enough, and then suddenly there’s a seperate story inside it that’s even weirder. Except this is beyond weird. This is something that I legally am required to provide an advance warning: if you try to read this post more than two or three consecutive times, your head will simply explode.”
I can’t really tell you what it’s about, because it has layers. This story is at least three layers of crazy, maybe more. Read it all, and at least click on the second link.
Forgot to mention this.
Kill Radio now has an archives section, and I’m slowly uploading some of my past interviews so you can listen to them at your leisure.
For now, you can listen to my interview with Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine/Audioslave about the music industry. And my interview with activist Garrick Ruiz shortly after his 3 month stay in Palestine.
Both are in mp3 format.
US will attack without approval- The Bush administration states clearly that if Iraq gives the tiniest signs of “non-compliance” with the new UN resolution on disarmament and inspections, the U.S. won’t bother conferring with the U.N. about how to respond, “the United States with like-minded nations will go and disarm him forcefully.” So the nation’s of the world spent weeks and weeks drawing up a fair and peaceful resolution– why exactly?
Next Target: Iran- columnist Eric Margolis argues somewhat compellingly that the war on Iraq is all about preparing for a subsequent war with Iran, a country that poses more regional opposition to U.S. power than does Iraq. Sounds a little far-fetched at first, but Margolis is a very knowledgable fellow, and I give him more leeway than other pundits.
The Mid-Term Elections: Giving Bush a Free Ride Spelled Ruin- bit of an “I told you so” essay to the Democrats from Ralph Nader. Well, it’s actually more of an analysis of Democratic weaknesses that led to their recent loss, but I can’t imagine he doesn’t cackle madly to himself about it when no one’s looking.
Bechtel Vs. Bolivia- “Two years ago, rioters protesting increased water rates forced a U.S. company in Bolivia to pack its bags and leave. Now, in a harbinger of the loss of local control through globalization, the corporation is striking back in secret proceedings.” If anyone reading this works for Bechtel, kill yourself.
Fourteen PR Groups Work on PR for PR- you make this stuff up folks.
Iran bans adverts for US products- that don’t sound good.
A Big Fat Thanks to Record Execs (pdf)- Rolling Stone magazine buys a full page ad in the NY Times to bash the record industry’s anti-consumer practices, attacks on file-trading and attacks on internet radio (of course, RollingStone.com has its own webcast…).
The Distillers- Sick of It All
The Liars- Grown Men Don’t Fall in the River, Just Like That
Johnny Cash- Personal Jesus
Dr. Oop- Subterrean
Louis Prima- I’ve Got the World on a String
Echo & the Bunnymen- The Killing Moon
The Minibosses- Legend of Zelda
MC5- The American Ruse
Jake on Iraq
Lard- Can God Fill Teeth?
The Coup- The Shipment
KRS One- Sound of Da Police
The Transplants- Romper Stomper
Fantomas- Experiment in Terror
The Evolution Control Committee- Rocked by Rape
Jake on “synergy” in broadcasting
The Catheters- Teenage Trash
Le Tigre- Bang Bang
Anti-Flag- The System Doesn’t Work for You (live)
Eminem- Snookered (Ragtime)
Ani DiFranco- Superhero
Bill Hicks- Planting Seeds
Pistol Grip- L.A. City Jinx
Jake on Nov. 5 elections
Motorhead- Ace of Spades
Ministry- Thieves (live)
I have read quite a few articles lately about the Nov. 5 elections being a “mandate” for one thing or another: for the Republicans, for a war on Iraq, for George W. Bush, etc.
I already mentioned this once, but let’s do it again.
The Nov. 5 elections were not a mandate for anything. According to the Center for Voting and Democracy, voter turnout last week was about 39%. Most races were won or lost by a slim margin. So let’s say that the Republican candidates were favored, generally, 55-45. So [pulls out calculator] that means that about 20% of the electorate voted Republican, while about 80% didn’t.
I’d say that this vote was a mandate for the feelings of frustration and powerlessness among the American people, 61-39, if anything.
The original version of this entry stated that the average voter turnout was 37%, when the correct number was 39%. I’ve made the appropriate changes.
“There are two ways not to suffer from the inferno we are all living in every day. The first suits most people: accept the inferno and become part of it to the point where you don’t even see it any more. The second is riskier and requires constant attention and willingness to learn: seek out and know how to recognize whoever and whatever, in the midst of the inferno, is not inferno, and help them last, give them space.”
There’s this pop singer, see. She’s also a TV actress. Her name is Hillary Duff. She put out a single, “I Can’t Wait,” but it did really poorly. It got played on the radio exactly once, in Albuquerque, in September.
But the song is absolutely massive on the Radio Disney network, a series of 52 AM radio stations owned by the Disney corporation. Radio Disney has played the song 850 times in the past 6 weeks.
Have I mentioned that Duff’s album was released by a Disney-owned record label?
Or that she is the star of the show “Lizzie McGuire,” which airs only on the Disney Channel?
I’ve had about enough of this, Hilary fans. This website is not and has never been about your favorite actress/singer. I hope you’ve had a nice time, but I’m ending the comments here. Go have your Hilary chats someplace else.
Not sure how reliable any of these stories are, but on their face they seem somewhat credible. Take em with a grain of salt.
Russia Seeks Regime Change To Prevent Iraq War- the usually knowledgeable Stratfor claims that Russian intelligence operatives are working with pro-Russian Iraqi military officers to overthrow Saddam Hussein before the U.S. has a chance to invade. The reason? Because an Iraq war would hurt the Russian economy.
US troops saw Afghan slaughter, claims TV documentary- makers of a British Channel 5 documentary about the massacre of captured Taliban soldiers claim that they have evidence that U.S. special forces members were there watching at the time. The filmmakers also claim that two Afghan eyewitnesses to the American presence have been killed in the past two days.
Voting Machines - A High Tech Ambush- Joe Stalin once said that it didn’t matter who cast the votes, just who counted them. Two American reporters have launched an investigation into the voting machine industry. They found that Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel has long-standing ties to the nation’s largest vote machine companies. In fact, he resigned from the board of one such company the year before he was elected to the Senate, the very same company who’s machines counted the votes in that election…
Hmm. The ol’ LMB blog got quoted in a newspaper last week.
It’s supposed to be funny if you know the context. As the media commentator at http://www.straybulletins.com says, “Without proper context, that commercial probably doesn’t make much sense. And with proper context, the commercial becomes outright disturbing. In other words, the TV commercial’s tag line could easily be: The Saturn VUE: protection from rape by psychotic hillbillies.”
Those are my words, taken off the LMB weblog, which is technically hosted on StrayBulletins.com (a more objective, newsier project of mine).
Too bad he couldn’t properly name the author (me), the site (it’s pretty clearly labelled “Lying Media Bastards”), or even quote me properly (it’s “anal rape by psychotic hillbillies”).
Wierd. Still, nice to be noticed.
US Urges Benazir to Back Musharraf- I’ve been arguing for months now that Pakistan poses a much greater threat to the U.S. than does Iraq. Pakistan has a significant number of anti-American militant Muslims, an unpopular secular dictatorial leader, and a military that possesses nuclear weapons. While I’m not actively worried about an atomic attack from Pakistan, things don’t look pretty over there right now. Well, not for Americans anyway.
War, Simplified- an attempt to define “The Bush Doctrine.” Good stuff. Also slyly mentions Bush’s “he tried to kill my daddy” comment, which reminds me of this article…
A Case Not Closed- 1993 article exploring the alleged Iraqi plot to assassinate George H.W. Bush. Quite frankly, the evidence is pretty shaky, resting mainly upon the confessions of two suspects while in custody of the Kuwaiti police. The Kuwaiti police are known for torturing suspects till they’re willing to confess to just about anything. So maybe they were tortured into revealing the truth, or maybe they were tortured into simply saying what the Kuwaitis wanted them to.
Bush Lies, Media Swallows- why don’t the press ever point out when government officials are lying? “Part of the reason is deference to the office and the belief that the American public will not accept a mere reporter calling the President a liar. Part of the reason is the culture of Washington–where it is somehow worse to call a person a liar in public than to be one. A final reason is political. Some reporters are just political activists with columns who prefer useful lies to the truth.”
Drug Industry Poised to Reap Political Dividends- “Few industries campaigned harder than pharmaceutical manufacturers to elect Republicans to the new Congress, and few industries are better positioned to reap the rewards of the election returns.” Scumbags.
CEOs Under Fire Match Game- can you match the disgraced (and possibly incarcerated) corporate CEO to the lie he told before his downfall?
Well, the White House has finally done it. They’ve gotten the UN Security Council to approve their latest draft of a resolution against Iraq. You can read the text of it here. And you can read about how it is full of loopholes that would give the U.S. justification to invade here and here.
This is, of course, what the Bush administration has been pushing for months. In their most fervent dreams, they would have gotten the UN to agree to an international invasion of Iraq right away. In their more realisitic dreams, they would have gotten a resolution which said that if Saddam Hussein fought the weapons inspectors, that a UN coalition would invade Iraq. But what they’ve gotten instead will still suit their purposes just fine: a document arrived at through patient diplomacy that is still vague enough to arguably justify a US invasion of Iraq.
News reports tell us that George W. decided that the U.S. should overthrow Saddam Hussein back in November of 2001 (I posted a link to the article on the blog some months back. If someone can find it for me, I’d appreciate it). And overthrowing Saddam Hussein has been part of official U.S. policy since 1998’s Iraq Liberation Act, long long before we had reports about rebuilding chemical weapons plants or anything, before the (false) rumors that Saddam Hussein was behind 9-11 or the anthrax attacks.
So why is everyone going along with this farce? The entire UN negotiation process was initiated by the U.S. to create a minutely reasonable excuse for the U.S. to achieve its foreign policy goal. If Iraq makes even the tiniest slip-up or shows the tiniest resistance to weapons inspectors, the U.S. can now argue that this new UN resolution clears it to attack. And attack we will.
Fledgling Activists or Fashion Models?- the Diesel clothing company has a new ad campaign which uses images of punk and street protest to create a campy yet edgy image for their products. The Diesel website is modeled on a ‘zine meets Indymedia style, and advocates action and protest on such weighty issues as “plant more flowers” and “respect your mom.” The site seems to endorse protest as a means of carpeing the diem and expressing your campy lovey passion. Yes, I’d love it if I could spend all my free time on fashionable jeans and goofy protest signs about bowling, but I’ve got more serious things to worry about.
One of the downsides of commercial free speech is its ability to destroy the significance of any and all words, phrases, images and symbols, by equating each and every one of them with sales. When the last word crawls gasping and bloody and clinging to life, a marketing team will sedate it, dissect it into tiny bits, and sell the last word organs at a discount table at a brightly lit department store.
Words have power.
Words are dangerous.
Some people support free speech with the arguments that there’s no need to worry about restricting speech because it is essentially harmless, sticks and stones and all that. Bullshit. I know the power words have to create and destroy, and I support free speech anyway. It’s the Wild West and everyone’s packing linguistic revolvers.
That’s fine by me, cuz I’m a goddam Gunslinger.
I think that’s an important point, the dangerous necessity of free speech. I’ll muse about it again some other day.
In the meantime, someone please do me a favor and hack the Diesel website.
US Braces for Retaliation After Yemen Assassination- Wait a goddam minute. The recent CIA attack on Al Qaeda members in Yemen has actually increased the chances that my ass is going to get blown up? Who’s side are those motherfuckers at the CIA on?
Low Turnout Is a Tacit Vote for Status Quo- before anyone starts claiming that the recent Republican victory is a “mandate” for anything, remember that voter turnout was abyssmally low. Here in California it looks to have been below 45% of eligible voters. So a little more than half of the little less than half of the US population that bothered to vote favored the Republicans. Which means that maybe 26% of Americans favored the Reps while around 74% didn’t.
The Sniper Pundits- how conservative pundits are using the DC sniper to flog all of their enemies. The worst is a quote near the end, where a conservative columnist gleefully wonders if the situation is a “threefer,” allowing him to smear blacks, Muslims and homosexuals (were Muhammad and Malvo an “item”?) all at once.
Foreign Journalists Blocked from Chechnya- ” A little-noticed government directive signed on October 11 has made it much more difficult for foreign journalists to visit Chechnya … the directive does not specify how foreign journalists can obtain the necessary permission to enter Chechnya or for what period of time it would be issued.” How convenient.
What the 2002 Election Means for Tech- title explains it pretty well.
Tinfoil Hats Uncover the Wellstone Conspiracy- the same people who want more evidence that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction don’t need evidence to “know” that Sen. Paul Wellstone was assassinated by American conservatives. Or something. Actually, the article does some interesting analysis of how the public tends to inflate the importance of public officials who are the center of conspiracy theories.
Technology Beyond Product Placement- “Marketers Study New Opportunities in Video Games, Long-Form Ads, and TV-on-Demand.” Great, new advances in the field of Making People Buy Shit They Don’t Want or Need.
Wanted: Scum- classified ad looking for a PR professional who will try to smear consumer rights, animal rights and environmental organizations for a new corporate front group called Tarnish the Halo. The company behind this new effort seems to be Berman & Co., read their PR Watch dossier.
Now that the Republicans have increased their Congressional numbers, the White House can push an even more right-wing agenda:
I went in to vote yesterday, mainly for the ballot initiatives. Here in California, we actually have a smattering of direct democracy, where citizens can vote certain proposed laws into effect. While there, I took the time to vote against all the incumbents. I also voted for Pat Wright for Lieutenant Governor because:
As for the big one, state governor, the main choice for most Californians was the choice between the Corrupt Guy and the Incompetent Corrupt Guy. Well, that’s not true. The main choice was Going Out to Vote or Staying Home and Not Bothering. As I understand it, Not Bothering won by a margin of about 60 to 40.
I think Tom Tomorrow really pegged the Democratic election strategy in his latest comic, and why they lost:
“Maybe if we give George Bush everything he wants for the rest of his term, the voters will like us better. And then we might be able to hang onto our jobs a little longer.”
Spineless, spineless idiots.
Everyone here understands that the United States is not a democracy, right?
Even technically speaking. The United States is a republic, a state where representatives make policy decisions in the government. We elect these representatives, so the U.S. is a democratic republic.
But even that doesn’t work. I read a quote the other day (can’t remember who by) which said “In the 1980s, capitalism defeated communism. In the 1990s, it defeated democracy too.” That pretty much sums it up.
The only people who stand much of a chance of winning elections are people with access to huge amounts of money. And the holders of these sums of money don’t give it out for free; to them, every campaign contribution is an investment that will pay off in steep dividends. Nearly every viable candidate is bought and sold before the public has any say in the process. Nearly every third, fourth and fifth party candidate has no real chance of winning (yes, there is the occassional aberration like Jesse Ventura). And once in office, more and more politicians seem to dedicate themselves primarily to amassing more money for the next election and paying out the dividends to last election’s financial backers.
The United States is a very thinly veiled oligarchy (well, plutocracy if we want to use all our big words at once). To our benefit (sort of), the oligarch power is restrained by a very complex set of bureaucratic rules. The lucrative (relative to most countries) economy and omnipresent consumerism makes these abuses more bearable. And, I’m sad to say, most Americans seem to have bought into the Horatio Alger myth that their fate could change from poverty to riches at any moment, that at any moment they could go from assistant janitor to CEO of a major corporation. In other words, Americans are willing to accept inequality and exploitation, because they hope that one day, they might be the ones at the top doing the exploiting.
Wake up, America. You, reading this post right now. You are not going to be rich or famous. Ever. EVER! Once people starting getting that painful truth through their thick skulls, maybe we’ll see a little real dissent and progress.
I’ll leave y’all with a handy little quote from our dearly-departed pal Frank Zappa:
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, they will pull back the curtains, they will move the tables and chairs out of the way, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theatre.”
First person to say “if you don’t like it, why don’t you move?” gets a free punch in the mouth.
A couple of really excellent interviews here. I usually put all kinds of links in my articles without really caring if the reader actually clicks on the links and takes in that auxilliary information. But go ahead and do it this time. Hell, most of you are probably reading this at work anyway, and surely these interviews will be more interesting than anything else on your computer screen.
Jon Stewart vs. CNN- I love Jon Stewart. He’s the host of the scathing news satire program The Daily Show. Stewart was interviewd on “Reliable Sources,” CNN’s weekly news program that reports on the news media. Stewart skewered the news media, particularly the 24-hour news networks. His comments about their coverage of the DC sniper was hilarious and dead-on:
“By watching the 24-hour news networks, I learned that the sniper was an olive-skinned, white-black male — men — with ties to Son of Sam, al Qaeda, and was a military kid, playing video games, white, 17, maybe 40 … You know what they should’ve called the coverage, ‘You know what I heard?’ and just have people randomly showing up.”
But perhaps my favorite part was after host Howard Kurtz conceded that maybe the press had goofed by putting on pundits and analysts who didn’t really know what they were talking about, that maybe “cable folks who put these [pundit/analyst] folks in front of the camera have to bear some of the responsibility”*. Stewart refused to let him off the hook:
“Not some, all … Not some. They bear all of the responsibility. You cannot — I’m not even sure what the reasoning was behind just putting people on who didn’t know anything. I mean, you know what was my favorite part was the hand wringing. People would do this, ‘Now, I know that we’re not supposed to speculate, you know, obviously, people are nervous and it would be irresponsible to inflame passions by speculating, seriously, though, do you think it’s terrorism?’ … Unless you know the guy’s name, don’t say anything. Unless you have information, rather than speculating — unless you could say, like, ‘Oh, the sniper? Yes, it’s John Muhammad, I think.’ Unless you know that, shut up, say nothing. “
Right on, Stewart, right on.
Tom Petty vs. Pop Culture- never knew that aging rocker Tom Petty had such a rebel streak in him. This interview is a series of fiery quotes decrying radio, greed in the music industry, greed among musicians, skyrocketing concert ticket prices, shallow song lyrics, advertising, the media’s sexualization of young girls, and more. Go Tom go!
* This is a big pet peeve of mine anyway. For weeks the news media will overcover a story and really fuck it up, and after the story’s run its course, they’ll solemnly ask “did the media go too far this time?” What do you mean “the media”? It’s YOU! Not some dude in the next room, you! YOU’RE THE MEDIA! “Did we go too far, did I, my co-anchor and everyone at this news station go too far?” That’s the proper question, motherfuckers!
The New Old Slavery- slavery is back. Or maybe it never left. Fuck.
The Election- first-hand accounts of shady election goings-on on election day. Worst so far: anonymous flyers posted in African-American neighborhoods in Maryland, reminding the residents to go out and vote “November 6,” the day AFTER voting takes place.
The Unofficial Official Simulator- ever wanted to ask Dick Cheney or Skeletor Rumsfeld a question? This is about as close as you’re going to get.
More U.S. Homes Have Outhouses Than TiVos- if that don’t define the term “fun fact”…