Wednesday, May 26, 2004

News Stories I'm Checkin

First of all, the toll in the floods of Hispaniola is deeply sad. Cuban doctors are on the scene (90% of the county's area is served by Cubans).

Abuse - Is common in US police stations, high school showers, frat houses, prisons and War. I think the interesting angles are the private contractor aspect, the female aspect, the photographing of it, the obvious "intellicence" involvement, the pure sickness of it, the always 180 degree Bush response, the wasteful Abu Ghraib demolition proposal. Hey, some things get a life of their own in the media - and sometimes you just let it tear a path. Kerry ain't saying nothin much though... dude wake up.

Lets get specific about SOVIERGNTY - The UN Resolution is shaping out to do just that. That's why we dislike the UN - but now we HAVE to go though it. Our faltering has re-credited the Security Council as the ultimate moral and political authority.

Venezuela - The Washington Post ran an especially nasty editorial against Hugo Chavez, next to the space they gave him. They'll call a foreign President a liar so easily but NEVER our own. Also several critical misleads: First paragraph they claim that polls consistenty show Chavez will lost the recall. I'll be my life against this. Next, they calim that the poor are worse off. Well, yes the treason-like strike by the rich alst year did cut GDP by a lot, but it is rebounding strong this year (double-digit growth is expected). Still, Chavez has monumetality increased the poor's influence in their own affairs through great concentration on participatory democracy as well as tangible doubling health care spending and tripling the education budget. The Post also claims intimidation of voters by Chavez's goons. Yet by all accounts, including the Carter Center's, the voting was very free and fair and there were no reports of such incidents - government sponsored or not. Typical half-truths the media gets away on the regular.

Olympics - Cuba and Rio lost their bids. With China preceding 2012 in 2008, neither had a chance. Greece has been run over the ringer but I think it may well be the best and most interesting Olympics in ages.

In Los Angeles - the major downtown redevelopment scheme around the Disney Center will not go to the f*cking badass architect team - Gehry, Normon Foster and the Iraqi woman who won the Pritzker. It is clear the Committee of developers went on financial merits above design. Well I should wait until the design(s) comes out. F the Lakers (had to hide that)


One of the most frustrating things about living in America is seeing perfectly well intentioned people choosing the path of liberalism rather than socialism. America is perhaps the only country in the world that does not have a major socialist party. Our Democratic party is closer in ideology to the British, Canadian or Australian Conservative Party than their (New) Labor or Liberal Party equivalents.

But the question is why socialism? The answer is simple. Only it can solve the things that we all care about - the environment, race relations, poverty, urban sprawl and slums, health care, education, housing, transportation, arts and culture, crime, equality of opportunity, peace, justice and morality. This is because a free market exacerbates the worsening of all these things. Every token gain we have gotten in these areas is because we restricted the so-called "freedom" of the privileged - think school busing, environmental regulations, zoning laws, gas taxes, housing subsidies, etc. Socialists do not hide from this fact.

Does anyone really think the Democrats can do any of this or that we won't be in the same boat as today in 50 years if we keep going the way we were. Democrats are discredited because they have no vision and go half-ass on everything. On the issues above, they propose a few more million dollars, usually in Tax Credits (that give our Tax Money as profits to big money investors). They have no housing platform, nothing to turn around the youth of today, nothing to solve the urban crisis, nothing to make Iraq work - nada, nada. Yeah Clinton presided under the best economy in a long while but what really changed? What is his legacy - a ballooned stock market, welfare reform (leading to a direct rise in homeless and hungry women and children) signing the order that made regime change in Iraq official policy, dropping bombs on pharmaceutical plants in Sudan (that was a larger catastrophe than 9/11 for the Sudanese people), lying about Kosovo, etc. etc. Kerry has nothing to offer either.

Even NPR is Right Wing
The media watchdog group, FAIR (Fairness and Accurance in Reporting) as released the results of its in-depth look at the sources NPR uses in its stories. The results were quite suprising, even for someone like me, who suspects the right has too much control over everything. I am a die-hard NPR listener, because of its excellent world reporting and in-depth coverage of the issues. But according to FAIR, Republicans outnumbered Democrats 3 to 2 in terms of the amount of sources and non-governent, corporate or establishment media voices are almost non-existent. Still I prefer NPR to things like Pacifica Radio, which need to be more rigorous in their reporting.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Television Round-up - What I've Been Watching

Tralor Park Boys (BBC America - Thursday) - The funniest new show since Significant Others, which came and went on Bravo 2 months ago. It falls under the increasingly common (and wonderful) mockumentary genre and seems to be written by a similar, yet more witty and socially concerned (Canadian), crop of writers as Reno 911. The show follows the crazy everyday excapades of a down on their luck, yet instantly relateable, Trailor Park community. Check it out before the critical deluge swarms... as of now it seems under the radar.

State of Play (BBC America) - My political noir fix for the moment. A six-part miniseries involving politics, journalism and murder that is waaaay better than most of the dramas on network TV. To be turned into a movie...

WGN Superstarr USA (WGN nightly) - The guilty pleasure, best watched with friends. This American Idol rip-off turns the tables and gives those of us who never watched American Idol for the talent the last laugh. Yes its deadly mean and I am sure guilt will wash over us all when the scam has been revealed (they hilariously mock the good singers and sing praises upon the bad and funny), but it is entertaining to see the good get dissed and losers feel like a million dollars.

24 (Fox Tuesday) - Has gotten mad crazy and the plot inconsistencies are multiplying each episode lately... a consequence of the innately unrealistic hour by hour time period the show takes in. But I got to give it to the writers for giving us a terrorist villian who is 1)white 2)motivated by something other than money, 3) who is allowed to spout off about the injustice of American dominance and 4)who matches the hero Agent (Jack) at every move.

Independent Lens (PBS) - A Godsend from the progressive documentary supporters at PBS. Every week I am enthralled by a new and wonderfully unique socially minded doc. Last week a trio of Cambodian 19-21 year olds (2 child refugees)who now reside in San Fran's rough Tenderloin District are taken back to the motherland to reunite with left behind family members. Pure brilliance every time.

An Israeli tank drives through a battle scarred area of Rafah, May 19, 2004. Israeli forces opened fire on a protest march in the besieged Gaza refugee camp on Wednesday, killing eight Palestinians and raising the death toll in Israel's heaviest raid in the Gaza Strip in years to 31. Some witnesses reported seeing helicopter gunships launching missiles while others said tanks fired shells into a peaceful crowd of thousands, sending people fleeing in panic, some dragging bloodied comrades with them. Photo by Nir Elias/Reuters

And the Palestinians aren't supoosed to want to get revenge on the Israelis. They are supposed to renoucne violence when over 3,000 homes have been demolished in 3 1/2 years, when the death count is in the thousands, when an army comes in and unilaterally changes internationally agreed to borders, when no one else does to defend them from more weeks like this. They are supposed to turn the cheek, while Israel is "within its rights."

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Thanks to the UK Guardian Weblog and the American Leftist blog in particular for this beauty. A mosaic piture of Bush comprised of pictured of all the US Military folks killed in Iraq.

Monday, May 17, 2004

LA Students Protest Continuing Educational Opportunities, 50 Years After Brown Vs Board of Ed
The near universal tone on the 50th Anniversary was one of justified despair. Even if one conceded that we got rid of many nasty things over time, not even the most strident status-quo supporter (that i have see)n has argued that the spirit of Brown - equal education for all - is anywhere near in place. After years of negative experiences, many blacks have even conceded the basic integration principle. But that doesn't escape the fact that in many parts of the US, an all black school will too often be a struggling school as a result of property taxes, family issues and other residues of the racial aspect of poverty in America. Requiring more tests and holding kids back won't solve this (Bush's solution touted by Ed Sec. Rod Paige as being the most significant Civil Rights victory in 50 years!!). Regional Property tax sharing like in Minneapolis would help, more Federal funds to do the big things like construction and assuring minimum standards would as well. We need to have the best, most dedicated teachers in these schools and extra help needs to be all around. We must also foster, with all deliberate speed, more integrated schools all over America.

India Correction - oops, spoke too soon on the coronation of Sonia Gandhi (below). The Communists held to their principles and staying out of the Indian coalition Government, led by the Congress Party. Though both have the same ideology after the battering of neo-liberalism in recent years, they compete vigorously for the progressive Kerala and West Bengal states, which have been Communist for years - and provide excellent examples of places where Socialism has done wonders in literacy, health, education and quality of life. Now Mrs. Gandhi has bowed out, under immesne pressure from Nationalists worried about where she was born and Capital markets, which dropped a record 18% upon the news.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Sonia Gandhi, New Prime Minister, Leads Upset of Strong Left Wing Parties to Indian Government

Tears nearly welled up in my eyes Wednesday night when I read about this magnificent election upset. India will no longer be a place run by one ethnic group, or a place of ethnically motivated mass murder, of a "Shining" India that forgets about its poor or a place that instinctively backs the US. Communists were the Queenmaker for Gandhi's Congress Party and therefore should have a strong say in the economic policies of the nation. Already investors are running scared.

Commentary from major newspapers here. The UK Guardian's is reprinted below:

Britain's "The Guardian" daily says that the losers in India were everybody except those who matter most. The newspaper editorializes: "The result came as a complete surprise to everyone but the people who matter in an Indian election. Not online India, the India of software developers, the India that produces 2 million graduates a year, the India with a runaway economy widely predicted to become a global power in the 21st century. But its rural poor, its illiterates, the villagers who live without electricity in mud and thatch houses, those who have to walk 2 miles to fetch water, some 300 million people in all, or twice the population of Russia."

The editorial concludes: "If this was a protest vote against Coca Cola consuming the aquifers of Kerala, or Monsanto being awarded the patents for wheat used for making chapatis, then Congress will be hard put to respond. It sees nothing wrong and much right in neoliberalism. But the genuinely good news of this result is what this vote was against. The Hindu nationalist BJP were not just voted out of power, they were drummed out of it. In the western state of Gujarat, where more than a 1,000 Muslims were killed by Hindu mob violence, the BJP lost half its seats, despite attempts by the BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee to reach out to India's 140 million Muslims. This too was a vote against nationalism and sectarianism. If Gandhi uses this mandate, it may herald a new era in Indian politics."

CAPITALISM/WALL STREET WANTS HIGHER UNEMPLOYMENT! The above reminds me of a story I think happened Monday or late last week. It was when the latest unemployment figures came out. They were quite positive numbers by all accounts. This was the boost in the economy that all were waiting for to solidify the perceptions that we are really on the way up, so the markets should have been pleased right? NOOO - instead the news coincided with the largest drop in the stock market in quite a while.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Check out the new Six Feet Under trailor video, which utilizes Nina Simone's "Feelin Good" to amazing effect. Absolutely perfect - dark yet joyous, absurd yet all too real - the new season starts June 6th and I can not wait.

Now I just gotta hold my head for the new Wire - my favorite but of TV around.
The US Government's Plan for Bringing Down the Cuban Revolution - And Stepping in To Assure US and Cuban Exile Dominance There Afterwards

"It is not right, nor do we accept, any external element, whether from the United States of America, Europe or anywhere else, trying to design the Cuban transition process or supposedly becoming an actor in that process," said Oswaldo Payá, leading anti-Castro dissident.

For those who don't track US-Cuba relations as much as I do, a quick recap: Bush is in deep debt to the Cuban exile community in Florida for the election results - and desperately needs them on board in November. Therefore, despite both Houses of Congress approving the right for Americans to travel to Cuba last year (it is now the one county we are not allowed to go to in the world), Bush has continued looking for ways to make the Miami nutters happy by tightening the screws even tighter. This past weekend Bush approved (again around Congress) a hand-picked Commission's recommendations to do just that by:

+Provide an additional $60 million to finance the counter-revolution in Cuba by aiding mercenaries and funding PR efforts around the world to harm the reputation of the Revolution and reduce foreign tourism there. Airplanes will also be used to send propaganda to Cubans by overtaking their radio and TV broadcasts.

+To limit the remittances Cuban-Americans can provide to family members in Cuba. Now cousins, uncles, aunts are no longer eligible - making them the only family members in the world unable to receive familial assistance. Also remittances are not allowed to go to "government officials" and Communist Party members. So a Cuban would have to quit his job or renounce his political rights in order to get assistance.

+To limit trips to Cuba by Cuban-Americans to once every 3 years from every year, and the amount they can spend while there was lowered from $164 to $50 - a completely random and unrealistic sum.

I am comforted in that I am not alone in my strong condemnation of this disgraceful act by our Government. Every major newspaper outside Florida and New Jersey that has commented has blasted these measures as 1)likely to be ineffective in their arrogant goals - because it plays right into Castro's hands, and 2)is extremely politically motivated and 3)is morally reprehensible to choking thethee Cuban people's right to development even further. In addition, the major so-called dissidents active in Cuba ave all criticized the recommendations.

In reading this report though, something even more sinister comes out. There are clear plans to overrun the country,witht the help of the exile country - and make major changes to the country outside of legal bounds. In just the first few pages of thefarcicall titled Chapter 2 "Meeting the Basic Human Needs in Health, Education, Housing and Human Services" (lets try meeting our own basic needs first on the level of Cuba first please), there are plans to literally invade the country withbureaucratss and Miami exiles in order toprivatizee education and health services, rewrite all school textbooks and carry our "needs assessments."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


Flaming Lips leader Wayne Coyne makes a unique entrance. "If I crushed your head, I'm sorry," he said to the crowd afterwards.

Overall, the weekend was pure magic. The music was all on-time and on-point. Sound was excellent, food was decent, beer and bathroom lines were manageable and nightime brought out a slew of cool things to see and do... many difficult to describe but there was 3D mazes, massive smoke rings, fake lightning, james brown concerts projected, fela movies, robots battling fast food, etc. The downside was some unfortunate overlapping of must-see artists. I tried to choose variety over seeing entire sets. As far as stand-outs, I'd start with these:

Dizzee Rascal - While his between-song cockney banter went painfully through the ears of the crowd without comprehension, his set did manage to get one of the more enthusiastic responses of the weekend. He proved his emcee chops to me.

Prefuse 73/Savath and Savalas - Mr. Herren graduated his stage show from his Mac to a full band, complete with 2 lovely female vocalists. I thought the live drumming might not be able to re-create some of the more banging drum bits, but just the opposite. And the massive jazziness and soulfulness sometimes buried in his music really benefitted.

Da Lata - Perhaps the most sparsely attended show (during Radiohead) was one of the best. Just love their brand of Brazilonica music, period.

AIR - Pretty boring for the most part, but when sunset hit and they started playing their older space out jamz (and we got lifted) the world seemed in perfect order. That was a moment.

Atmosphere (+other rap) - Vinyl melting straight on the turntables after 2-3 minutes made things difficult for the battle-tested duo. Slug alienated half the crowd but had the other half in his hand. He did have the best line though - saying how he couldn't wait to get back to his hotel room the day before 9to wank) due to all the gorgeous bitties walking around. Their ish sounded better live than Living Legends and Heiro though. I didn't stay for the whole thing, but they both played mostly new stuff... Heiro's oldies consideted of b-side "Eye Exam" and one of the merely decent songs off 93 Til... i liked it but c'mon guys, this is Coachella. Kool Keith tore it up with all the classics - to a lost crowd.

Pixies - just a perfect band - for the 80s/early 90s.
Radiohead - ditto, for the 00s
Cure - a disappointment for the lack of energy. But "I will always love you" sounded sooooo good. Goosebumps.

Laurniet Garnier - worried me at first but then broke out of the prog tech house ghetto that was this poorly programmed tent. his breakbeat and d&b tracks were firin.
Mark Farina - weak
2 Many DJs - i expected more of a mash-up party vibe rather than the trendy punk-funk stuff at first. But then then versions of Cure's Sanctuary, Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers," Nirvana's "Lithium" and "Crazy in Love" started rolling. Still I wasn't in to it and left to catch Sage Francis' typically earnest set.

Kraftwerk - 4 nutty Germans lined up with their Macs whose music I had to remember was nearly 30 years old. Loved their realist visuals.

Bassment Jaxx killed it. "Good Love" is a big big choon on par with their older classics. Dizzee Rascal guested to nice effect.

Broken Social Scene was by and away the best indie thing I was introduced to there - with the Stills 2nd. I also liked Ian McKeye's (fugazi) 2 man side project as well as the (also 2 man) Black Keys.

Beck - I was one of the lucky few able to elbow my way into the side of the tent to see his unplanned acoustic performance. Well worth it for the new "eternal sunshine" song, funny adlibs and see him trying to work a game boy into an drum machine type thing. Best joke was about being sorry for the Goths in the 106 degree temperature...

LA's Koreans Get Into the Foul Exile Behavior
A couple North Koreans came on a rare visit outside of their New Yoambassador'sr's Row confines only to get soaked with water, be the brunt of nasty jeers and have the door to the facility barred for 40 minutes. They were in LA to pick up $20,000 the local community had put together for victims of the recent train station explosion. Nice.
An American Hero - General Taguba, Author of the Classified Iraqi Prisinor Abuse Report

This is truly an interesting case study in a couple things: 1) how the media ignores something until it becomes official, 2) how the military and administration respond to bad news (deflect, compatmentalize and deny the worst) and; and 3) how in denial the country is about war.

Number one and two should be self-explanatory. On the last point, I've had two people I respect be totally aghast and caught off guard by this. Both had to ask out out whether this was really true, that these were OUR soldiers. This may be because these people have never been arrested, nor been in a barracks or firestation or other bastion of unbridled masculinity. But more likely is that the propaganda we are fed works suprisingly well. Most people simply don't put together the ample evidence of systemic unneccesary and unlawful violence in eery war we've ever engaged in. This is war does to even good-intentioned soldiers - it turns you into an animal who no longer sees humanity in an enemy.

General Taguba (a hero) at his word that the problems are systemic and

Monday, May 03, 2004

More Cuba Madness - Sorry but I find this stuff incredible

May Day in Havana - Over a million people vow to carry on the struggle against injustice, inspired by the 8-hour workday victory by leftists after the execution of 4 Chicago Anarchists in 1887.

Regime Change Plan for Cuba Now US Policy
A Bush appointed Commission has isued a 500 page report that proposes steps to make regime change, not merely democratic transition, the new US policy on Cuba. Steps likely will include rudely overpowering Cuba's radio and television channels with our own propoganda, stepped up funding of so-called dissident activites and limiting the amount of money family members can send to Cuba in remittences. This is all part of an attempt to keep Bush's support in the critical Florida Cuban community, rightly thanking them for his election.

US Govt. Spends More to Track Cuban Tourists than Bin Laden and Hussein's Money
The US Treasury Department devotes two dozen staffers to tracking down and fining people like me who want to visit a place without McDonalds, while it has just 4 persons total working to track down Osama Bin Laden's and Sadaam Hussein's money trail. Since 1994, that has translated into more than 10,000 investigations against US citizens and just 93 for cases related to the duo that has ben threatening the free world.