Friday, October 29, 2004

Leftside's Election Special - the Californian propositions

Proposition 1A - Yes
Being a City employee, it is a no-brainer that the Governator should not be allowed to raid local government coffers whenever it needs to in order to avoid responsibility.

Proposition 59 - yes
Not really sure how this will increase public participation beyond the Brown Act., which is already the law of the land. But I am for maximum public participation in theory, even if this may indeed make my life harder one day, when I need to open up my file cabinets to nosy homeowners who want to repeal historic preservation and city planning efforts.

Proposition 60/62 - Yes and No

A vote for the status quo on Statewide elections in Cali. This is a bit tricky as the proposed change might result in 2 democrats running against each other, whereby a true progressive could take center stage. However, it is more likely that we will get Democrat versus Republican year after year, leaving 3rd parties out to dry in the election debates and election coverage.

Proposition 61 - Don't think so
A worthy cause among many on the ballot. This bond would cost us 1.5 billion to get $750 million towards building children's hospitals. Of course our health care system would benefit, but there are questions as to this being the most acute need or problem as far as child health goes. This would do nothing for access and the hospitals would probably just pass the raise costs anyway on services as they improve. I generally don't like the bonds either, which end up costing us double what a simple tax hike would do.

Proposition 63 - Yes
My favorite of them all. This tax on millionaires would go a long way towards ending homelessness by allowing funding for a wide range of social services related to mental health (housing, job-training, drug treatment, etc.).

Proposition 64 - No
The wrong approach to so-called shakedown lawsuits. This would require an actual injury in order to sue. It would not allow one to sue over environmental issues that may arise in the future, for example.

Proposition 65 - No
Like Prop. 1, except not as smart.

Proposition 66 - Yes
The three strikes law was always something than angered me, reading about it in Chicago. Since when should we apply baseball metaphors to public policy? If you commit a crime you should do the time, no more and no less... except white collar criminals should do more time and non-violent drug offenders should do less. This will help get rid of some of the worst injustices that have occurred because of the 1990's extreme crime fear mentality (like people locked up for life for stealing aspirin).

Proposition 67 - Yes
Yes, yes. Emergency health care is in crisis mode in LA; Three emergency room hospitals have closed in poorer areas of the County since I have been here (a year). For $500 million, I'll pay the extra 3% on my new (first) cel phone, plus 50 cents on the land line .

Proposition 68 and 70 - No and No
Gaming should be kept to the areas it was intended to assist - Indian tribes. However, letting them get off scott-free for 99 years without making them pay health insurance or negotiate a higher proceeds to the state is a rip-off. The public expects some benefits also for allowing Indian gaming.

Proposition 69 - Probable Yes
Should everyone who is arrested have to give up their DNA to the LAPD? It sounds awful at first, but this type of system would undoubtedly lead to better and more accurate crime fighting. I'd expect a flood of prisoners being let out of prison due to their being found not guilty because of this. But still, to get swabbed just because the police feel like making an arrest (not found guilty) opens up another pandoras box due to the existing racial profiling.

Proposition 71 - No
As much as I want to be all for stem-cell research, I do not feel this si the best venue for it. States should not shoulder the burden, and $6 billion (incl. Interest) is just too much. Let Kerry handle this when he gets in.

Proposition 72 - Yes
I strongly believe in healthcare of all, and if this will bring us part of the way there, then I support it. Though, I should acknowledge that this is not my preferred path. Being a liberal state in the capitalist country we are brings numerous contradictions. Medium sized employers should get some help form the government to cover the costs of insuring their workers, however we can deal with that AFTER we insure the millions of families that will benefit from this measure.

County Measure A - No
Though I think Los Angeles probably does need more officers, I want them to improve with what they have already first, instead of showing them an easy solution. They need to concentrate homicide officers in areas that actually have the most homicides, instead of trying to please wealthy homeowner associations and their City Councilmen. Crime is way down and the LAPD has made lots of technology advances already, so I do not believe everyone should have their sales tax increased by a substantial .5% - the definition of a regressive tax that the poor will be hard pressed to shoulder.

LA City Measure 0 - YES

Another great one. This will provide funds to protect water quality in the region's polluted lakes, streams and ocean. It will allow for a wide variety of interventions, including more green space and better planning.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

UN Votes Overwhelmingly Against U.S. Embargo on Cuba

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Friends and adversaries of the United States voted overwhelmingly in the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday against the four-decade-old American economic, financial and commercial embargo against Cuba.

The vote, conducted for the 13th consecutive year, was a lopsided 179 to 4 with one abstention on the resolution opposing the embargo. The United States, Israel, Palau and the Marshall Islands voted "no" and Micronesia abstained.

Cuba has been under a U.S. trade and travel embargo since Fidel Castro defeated a CIA-backed assault at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. In subsequent years, some foreign firms have been threatened with penalties for dealing with Cuba (more)
The mostly reliable, yet Bush backer Matt Drudge has broken a story slowly being picked up across the country that claims that ABCNews is holding back an exclusive new disturbing Al-Qaeda tape. The tape, which was verified by the CIA and FBI today, has an American-accented voice who claims to be part of the terrorist group. He warns of an attack that will dwarf 9/11 and that "the streets will run with blood," and "America will mourn in silence" because they will be unable to count the number of the dead. The voice further claims on the video that America has brought this on itself for electing George Bush who has made war on Islam by destroying the Taliban and making war on Al Qaeda.

The Washington Post was one of a handful of papers to report the story today. They say that ABC staffers believe that a Bush administration official leaked the story to Internet gossip Matt Drudge as a way of pressuring the network into airing the tape, which would heighten concerns about terrorism in the final week of the president's reelection campaign. They note that whoever gave the information to Drudge had a transcript of the tape.

This is serious stuff. Releasing the video would obviously significantly raise terrorism fears days before the election, likely helping Bush.... which immediately should make everyone suspicious. The quote about this being payback for electing George Bush seems scripted out of Rove's playbook. However, it could also be the worst fears are about to come true... after the election. A horrible punishment of the American people for electing Bush again.

And a story that should be just as massive, that I only learned about because of the beauty of Google news: The Bush Administration knew of the Pakistani AQ Khan's nuclear bomb making ring prior to 9/11 in 2001 and did nothing about it until 2004. In the meantime, in 2001 and 2002, experts believe that Khan's network delivered tens of thousands of gas centrifuge parts that brought North Korea to the threshold of unlimited bomb production. In 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Dr Khan was also supplying Iran. So all the while Bush was talking about stopping the spread of WMDs in Iraq, he actually knew about the biggest proliferation disaster in history happening a couple countries to the East.

It is extremely illustrative to note that the US press, following the Administration, seems to bend over backwards to apologize for the Pakistani's - saying that in no way could the military leadership have known about their chief nuclear scientist's activities. The same goes in South Korea, where supposedly rogue scientists have admitted to unauthorized nuclear experiments. But in Iraq

This adds insult to the fact that most of the players in the Khan network, many of whom retain valuable expertise, are free. Khan himself was pardoned by the Pakistani dictator because the father of the country's nuclear program is more popular than he. Many of the businessmen and global contacts have not been tracked down and the US is not allowed access to Khan or his associates to further the investigation.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Movies I got to check:
PS - even though the weekly hated it (i liked roger dodger)
Sideways - is it up to the hype?

Movies I know I'll hate that I still have to see:
Team America - if it's the spineless nihilism that ebert says, i will hate - hard.
Sky Captain - for the cityscape only... ditto for I-Robots

Friday, October 22, 2004

Bugz in the Attic - Booty La La (v2)

A massive broken-electro bomb from the Bugz crew, who blew up the Conga Room here last week, dropping that next level. Who says it has to be complicated? Will it cross over like Gilles said?

(guess they were right about the 2 month average blog life span. i pledge not to fall into such medicracy.)

Had a nice work day in City Hall looking and hearing the nationwide October 22nd march and protest against police brutality in front of the Parker Center. Not sure what kind of crowd was expected but the few hundred that I saw marching past my bus stop afterwards were (symbolically) probably outnumbered by the LAPDs finest. I saw about 25 motorcycle cops clock off intersections, about 25 squad cars pacled with 4 cops each and about 20 riot team guys hanging off their souped up black truck strapped with new aluminum clad sprays and "non-lethal" tools - that probably killed the poor Bostonian.

D'Angelo - Spanish Joint (off Voodoo LP)

We'll have to start with one of a few MP3s I've got sitting on the Mac. But it is a top tier tune - D'Angelo over an uptempo jazzy tune on the slept on Voodoo album. Should wake anyone up in any room.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Che Hits the Big Screen
On the whole Che as an enigmatic icon thing that mainstream rags love to write such as the LA Times' "Keeping Che Alive -- With Capitalism." The gist: that Che's combination of good looks, untimely demise and anti-authoritarianism must explain the lingering global facination with Che - and that Capitalism's lazy standards has ironically facilitated such a role. This is because his ideas were (self-evidentally) rigid, stupid and wrong.

For the millions of us around the world who choose Che as our personal model and political symbol, I can not tell you what a load of crap that is. We don't wear Che shirts because it's sexy or in style now (though i'm not denying that this exists). Those of us who have read his thoughts and are paying attention today knows why his ideas are soo important. The Hemisphere is still dominated and only Cuba has managed to house, feed, care for and teach all is residents. It is not just that he took up arms in revolution - it was the model of self-sacrifice and total dedication to the possibility of the moment. Capitalism has not won, it bowled over competing ideas for 20-30 years - and the record is clear - there has been no decrease of poverty in Africa and Latin America and Eastern Europe is worse off since becoming free. Wars are increasing and international cooperation is on the wane. Socialism may not be a pancea, but it has proven to be honest, to transform lives for the positive and to be just. It respects the dignity of man and treats the poor as a true brother.

As the experiment below shows (don't click), we're trying to figure out Audioblogger. I thought I was misunderstanding the whole phone thing, but guess not. Expect the finest broken soul jazz beats and rhymes.