Thursday, December 30, 2004

If you haven't heard this, prepare to laugh yourself silly... even if you don't get half of the british references. Yorkshire's coal miner MC (Pit-man get it) pulls no punches on British twats everywhere. And a really great beat keeps me coming back. Check out the hilarious "It Takes Tea" version of Rob Base's classic if you can find it as well. I've never seen it in shops.

Hell Yeah We Are Stingy

An important sidebar to the devastation in South Asia has been the debate about America's stinginess in this disaster - and it's foreign aid levels in general. This is not academic, as America meeting its committments to the international communitt could save at least the amount of lives we see lost this past week annually (the US was recently ranked rock bottom of developed countries in the amount given per capita).

To put the $35 million figure pledged thus far in context, this is just about the amount the Republicans see fit to spend for a glorified parade and speech we call innauguration. It is also wht we spend in Iraq in a couple hours.

Republicans are defending the President - and let them. The American people fortunately are far more generous than their Government and feel ashamed. Meanwhile the Adminstration continues to feeds homegrown misconceptions of America's generosity by erroneously claiming we give "more aid in the last four years than any other nation or combination of nations in the world" (actually the Europeans doubled us--see first linked article).

The right thought they could again throw shit at the UN, who's chief humanitarian official called "rich countries" stingy - not the US mind you. Well you can try to weasel your way out of it by ratcheting up the money and making phone calls to world leaders 4 days after the fact, but chalk it up as more proof of America's utter disregard for the rest of the world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Future jazz specialist Sunship comes through with Warrior Queen to deliver a broken-ragga-step monster. Red hot Solid Groove (whose other biggie "Flookin" has just been remixed and reissued) add dark piano lines and squelches that perfectly complement Queen's spiritual chants. Watch this sound in 2005... I sense a catchy name for this new London rhythm a brewin in Urb as we speak.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Noose Tightening on Cuba

For those who don't google Cuba news every morning as I do, here is a summary of the recent developments:

-- President Bush will be committed during his second term to the “liberation of Cuba," a top State Department official said last Friday. Roger Noriega, who heads the department’s Latin American bureau, also said that once Fidel Castro is no longer in power, the United States is ready to support broad economic and political reform in Cuba “to ensure that vestiges of the regime don’t hold on.” News story.

Things are bout to get real serious. This on top of the recent mob-like (illegal) arm-twisting manuevers the Bush Administration has been up to of late, including:

-- US Companies that legally sell food and agricultural products to Cuba are reporting that payments are not being credited to their bank accounts in the United States. Banks have confirmed receipt of payments from Cuba but have not credited the accounts of exporters on instructions from the U.S. government. News story

Already, Cuba was the only country in the world forced to pay for US goods with cash on delivery - with no line of credit. Now, it appears forces in the Bush Administration want to find a way to stop selling things to Cuba all together. But since Congress overwhelmingly approved such sales - the Adminstration is finding a back-handed "adminstrative" way to try to cut them. They are saying that cash now may have to be deposited in a US bank account before the goods can even be shipped.

-- In response to this pressure not to deal with Cuba (added to other more disgusting restrictions on family assistance and travel introduced bu Bush in May), Cuba took the step a couple weeks ago to restrict the use of the once prevalent US Dollar on the island. No doubt the "stick in eye" factor was large here, but this will also boost the Euro and put Cuban dealings with the world out of reach of the US Treasury Department. Cuba-haters (the mainstream press) says this was a ploy to confiscate dollars to help an ailing economy. Well actually not one dollar that was exchanged for Euros or Pesos will be touched or spent by the Government.
News story

-- The big story on Cuba has been that the Government has released 7 more of the original 75 so-called "independent journalists" and dissidents rounded up last year. The press has focussed on the apparent success of Spain's new socialist government in obtaining the release through talks - not US style threats. However the real story continues to be how these paid mercenaries of the US are still glorified and considered innocent... despite the fact that the trials were public, that page after page of damning evidence from the court transcripts is available on the internet and that each was connected to the United States in some way - either being directed by it, paid by directly or indirectly or received material assistance from it. No mention is made of our treason laws, which imprison people for the same crimes - working at the service of enemy powers.

Viva La Revolucion!
Hasta La Victoria Siempre!!

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Matin Luther/Viktor Duplaix live in Los Angeles

Location: Conga Room
Date: Thursday, December 9th

Stepped in about 10:30 to the sounds of underrated dj viktor duplaix. every time i see this guy spin i am impressed. i've seen 3 different sets from him - an uptempo nu-jazz set, a varied soul-dripping set at DEMF and now this one for the heads. Remembered hearing Jill Scott/Theo Parrish, Skyy can you feel Me, Down Jimmy, Glorious... etc. From an empty room the party got going pretty quick, but was killed just as quick for Mr. Legend.

Martin Luther came onstage with his patch-filled jean jacket, which notibibly included loser nineties band Live. I soon realized that this electric guitar player was not the gospelly piano player I thought I was coming to see - John Legends, who had been in Hollywood the prior week. I confused this Roots protege with Kanye's protege I guess. Anyhow, I kind of got the feeling the crowd felt the same way, giving him a lackuster reception. I felt worse for Mr. Saul Williams, who as the special unanounced guest, expected at least a couple hoots and claps. He did a great poem as part of the obligitory political portion of the set. Nothing really grabbed me as part of the rock-heavy set... but i did stay feeling that such a song would come...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

We Need A Massive Nationwide March for the Innauguration

We must demand:

The resignation of Donald Rumsfield, for mismanaging nearly every aspect of the War, for standing against the 9/11, for innocent families paying for deceptive "stop loss" policies, for countless number of disproportionate uses of force -- not counting torture and disregarding the Geneva Convention.

The gradual hand over of complete soviegnty to a fully-representatve Iraqi democratic structure. A time table schedule to draw down troops.

A re-committment to consider working with the Kyoto Protocol - under an "alternative path" that has yet to be disclosed by the bush Administration.

A sincere recommittment to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and establishment of a Palestinian state this after the elections results are accepted - regardless of the outcome.

No more tax cuts for the rich, no to privitization of Social Security, no to political Jusicial nominations.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

US Bans Books from Countries We Don't Like

Will voices of dissent still be heard?

U.S. firms now need OK to publish authors from nations under sanction.
By Scott Martelle
Times Staff Writer

Dec 7 2004

In the summer of 1956, Russian poet Boris Pasternak — a favorite of the recently deceased Joseph Stalin — delivered his epic "Doctor Zhivago" manuscript to a Soviet publishing house, hoping for a warm reception and a fast track to readers who had shared Russia's torturous half-century of revolution and war, oppression and terror.

Instead, Pasternak received one of the all-time classic rejection letters: A 10,000-word missive that stopped just short of accusing him of treason. It was left to foreign publishers to give his smuggled manuscript life, offering the West a peek into the soul of the Cold War enemy, winning Pasternak the 1958 Nobel in literature and providing Hollywood with an epic film.

These days, Pasternak might not fare so well.

In an apparent reversal of decades of U.S. practice, recent federal Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations bar American firms from publishing works by dissident writers in countries under sanction unless they first get U.S. government approval.

The restriction, condemned by critics as a violation of the 1st Amendment, means that books and other works banned by some totalitarian regimes cannot be published freely in the United States, a country that prides itself as the international beacon of free expression.

"It strikes me as very odd," said Douglas Kmiec, a constitutional law professor at Pepperdine University and former constitutional legal counsel to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. "I think the government has an uphill struggle to justify this constitutionally."

Several groups, led by the PEN American Center and including Arcade Publishing, have filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York seeking to overturn the regulations, which cover writers in Iran, Sudan, Cuba, North Korea and, until recently, Iraq.

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Monday, December 06, 2004

Los Angeles Mayoral Debate Round-Up

In effort to be more locally oriented, Leftside will be focusing on the upcoming Los Angeles Mayoral election. As Leftside works in LA City Hall, hopefully we can bring some insight.

First off, watching the debates last week was a difficult chore. I didn't think this would be the case, but this debate was downright wonkish, boring and unpolished compared to the slicker high-stakes Presidential debates. Even as someone in City Hall, I found it hard to follow the insider jabs at each other.

In terms of focus, it appears the press and majority of candidates, are content to have the contest be about two non-issues in my opinion - corruption and the police. This is a shame as they crowd out time and space for critical locally-decided issues such as affordable housing, transportation and planning for growth. Instead we got half the debate wasted on these two issues, along with 20 references to "scandal" and "special interests" This is not the same as proof. Everyone should be more concerned with the passing the pretty bold solution the Mayor has proposed, that is banning contractors and developers from buying influence at City Hall by funding campaigns. (Alacron seemed to come over to this idea already). On police, Hahn seems intent on repeating declining crime stats, his push for more officers on the streets and reminding voters of his popular (white) Chief (thereby reminding them of times when white officers were babbling to the press about not being happy under (black) Chief Parks - now also a Mayoral candidate.

Bernard Parks appears to be running as the anti-political candidate... there always has to be one I guess. I never get this... imagine going to a job interview to be a CEO in the private sector saying you hate capitalism and stress your lack of immediate experience. Nevertheless, Parks looked meek and sounded uninspired, even as he argued with the Mayor on crime statistics.

The stealth-like Mayor, in the first real extended glimpse I have ever gotten of him, seemed as I though - aloof and somewhat cocky though in a boring way. After not even wanting to be at the debate, he was really not there in other much than body. His "everything is cool, don't worry about it" attitude may turn off his Valley and middle-class supporters.

Bob Hertzberg on the other hand, is running an inspired and well-organized campaign thus far - big on blogs and ideas for change. He probably came off best for most people in the debate - he challenged the Mayor and seemed to mean it. It is just that I think his ideas are pretty clearly a disguised right-wing, growth machine, Valley-oriented agenda. While everyone else was bemoaning the bad development LA gets stuck with, he said we have too many regulations already on development. He wants to split up the already fractured LAUSD system even more - and give the nascent Neighborhood Councils a significant role in making local planning and zoning land-use decisions. While I am all for more participatory democracy (I wrote my thesis on it), I am afraid that the City has not made the commitment yet to truly build the Councils strength and competence - let alone deal with the rampant NIMBY (city needs be damned) attitudes one often hears come out of them.

Richard Alacron perhaps suprised me the most, not knowing much about him until last week. He spoke in the clearest terms about working class struggles and seemed sincere in his desire to address them. But I did not hear enough in terms of policy proposals to really feel like he's serious about a vision to make it happen.

Antonio Villagriosa, my favorite candidate, on account of long-distance newspaper articles from the last election (i know i'm eweird for reading about other city's elections but...) was about what I thought he woul be - mild mannered and not too controversial. He has already scared the rich people of Los Angeles and desperately needs the business community's support to stay on top the list of contenders. With this, he has already appeared to back off from his support of the critical affordable housing proposal called "inclusionary zoning." We'll be watching Antonio closely.

Some Left Out Facts on UN's Iraq Oil for Food Scandal

Below is a copied and pasted article from The Nation, part of the Daily Outrage section, written by Ali Berman. It is need to know information as the battle between the US and the UN is picking back up.

It often seems like the right-wing media inhabits a different reality from the rest of society, constantly cherry-picking facts to justify disproven conclusions. Its reporting on the oil-for-food scandal at the UN usefully illustrates this delusional tactic.

Earlier this month, when the CIA released the final examination of Iraq's WMD- capabilities, the mainstream media correctly highlighted the Duelfer report's most significant finding--that Saddam Hussein could not have actively resumed a chemical, biological or nuclear weapons program before the war. Why? Because UN sanctions worked, particularly the embargo on oil exports, making it financially impossible to maintain a secret weapons program.

The conservative media all but ignored this major finding in order to save space to inflate a second, smaller point--that Hussein gamed the Oil-for-Food program by bribing the UN, France, Russia and China to the tune of $11 billion.

"Oil-for-Food pretty much was Saddam Hussein's weapons program," Claudia Rossett wrote on National Review Online, of the UN system that allowed Iraq to sell oil in exchange for food and medicine from 1996-2003.

A few days later CNN host Lou Dobbs invited Rossett--a fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, whose board of directors comprises Steve Forbes, Jack Kemp and Jeane Kirkpatrick--on his show. "Should the United Nations hold Kofi Annan responsible for the oil-for-food scandal?" Lou's poll asked. Absolutely, Rossett said. "It was dangerous. It corrupted the United Nations. It brought arms into Iraq that may now be killing both Iraqis and our own soldiers." After Lou's one-sided segment, 64 percent of viewers agreed.

But the right-wing blame-the-UN-and-France-first-crowd--which in this case includes Fox News, the Washington Times, the New York Post, the New York Sun, the National Review, the Weekly Standard, Commentary, the Wall Street Journal opinion page and William Safire--ignores one crucial fact. American oil companies also did half a billion dollars worth of business with Saddam in possible violation of sanctions.

Though originally kept anonymous by the Duelfer report (a courtesy not extended to "the weasel" corporations), their identities soon became public in the New York, Los Angeles and Financial Times: Chevron-Texaco, Exxon Mobil, El Paso, Valero, and the Coastal Corp. Why would the Right exclude these companies from criticism? Maybe it's because the five corporations have given at least $8.4 million to Republicans since 2000, and helped underwrite conservative publications and think tanks.

Yes, corruption did exist in the management of Iraqi oil accounts. That's why five Congressional committees, the district attorney of New York, and the UN itself (led by Paul Volcker), are all investigating.

But please, let's at least put this "fiasco" in perspective. To hear conservatives tell it, you'd think it was the UN and France, not the US, who invented the WMD-threat, drafted no-bid contracts, isolated the international community, botched the occupation, fueled the insurgency and tortured prisoners.