September 27, 2009

hello, world

News Desk : The New Yorker

Do the marches on the streets of Pittsburgh belong in a time capsule of the past (protesters compared the police response to Kent State, though this time no one was shot or died), the present (this is what happens at G-anything conferences these days) or the future (police used a “sonic weapon” to disperse the crowd)? There was a glimpse, too, of crises yet to come, with Obama and other leaders responding to the news that Iran was building what the I.A.E.A. called a “semi-industrial enrichment fuel facility.”

August 13, 2009

always look on the bright side through a glass

The best thing I see about the current deep recession is that these damnable masters of the universe are no longer celebrities. I hope it lasts, and we make much of people who create something other than marketing campaigns and buy-out deals.

Seen Through a Glass: Hey, Mister Kiely: which of your kids do you like best? Huh? Which one?

July 15, 2009

not sure that's really that uncommon?

We’re in a strange moment in American history when a mouse-eating barefoot survivalist in the mountains of Arizona makes more sense than the chief investment strategist of Merrill Lynch.

The Atlantic Online | May 2009 | Why I Fired My Broker | Jeffrey Goldberg

February 24, 2009

forget about your house of cards and I'll do mine

…We were building a brave new world where the Chinese made things out of plastic for us, the Indians provided customer support when these Chinese-made things broke, and we paid for it all just by flipping houses, pretending that they were worth a lot of money whereas they are really just useless bits of ticky-tacky.

ClubOrlov: Social Collapse Best Practices. Caution: depressing.

February 14, 2009

it is a good picture of George Bush crying

I know you don’t want to see any pictures of George Bush any more but what about if it is pictures of him crying?

October 23, 2008

headlines, or "I always wanted a son named Zamboni"

A Proud India Launches Its First Mission To the Moon - The probe launched Wednesday will not land on the moon but will orbit it. The mission will create a three-dimensional map of the lunar surface, looking for traces of water, uranium and minerals. Government to Take Over Airline Passenger Vetting - The Department of Homeland Security will require travelers for the first time to provide their full name, birth date and gender as a condition for boarding commercial flights, U.S. officials said Wednesday. eMusic Q&A: Of Montreal’s Kevin Barnes - eMusic Spotlight I really felt this freedom to take chances and go somewhere that would have been more insecure in the past, and let it all out there. Part of that is the soul influence, the freedom that people Sly and Prince had. People that are basically — I don’t even know if this is a term, but “freak-funk.” Bracing for a Storm - Several stalwarts of American business said their profits fell over the late summer months as the financial crisis heated up. Many are now bracing for the likelihood that the world is spinning into a prolonged recession.

October 17, 2008

her life of linguistic homelessness

That strange, ghostly drifting through the haziest phrases, as if she were cruelly condemned to search endlessly for her linguistic home.

A Critic’s Notebook: Verbage: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker

July 19, 2008

Kevin Kelley watches the watchmen

Watching the transformation is like discovering that one’s favorite teddy bear has fangs and a taste for human flesh. Before long, I’ll bet we’ll see squads of Segway cops in full riot gear running down fleeing demonstrators at some future anti-globalization demonstration.

Street Use: Guns on Segways

May 15, 2008

not all white voters are alike?

Talking Points Memo | Obama’s Is an Appalachia Problem, Not a Whites Problem

What people don’t understand about Appalachia is that we’ve heard all this ‘hope’ and ‘change’ stuff since the English kicked the Scotch-Irish out in the 1700s.

May 9, 2008

Omar Wasow on the digital divide

On The Media: Transcript of "Search is the New Black" (May 2, 2008)

And what we’ve seen with the Internet is that the digital divide was really, I think, more about a moment in time where there was a lag between early adopters and mass America. It’s become something that’s much more part of the fabric of everyday America, including black America.

Where we do see a divide on the Internet continues to be around sort of class and education, less so about race.

Omar Wasow spoke with On the Media’s Bob Garfield about African-American media.

January 2, 2008

"the upgrade is empathy"

Alyssa described her project as an upgrade to traditional journalism. “The upgrade is empathy,” she said, with the severe humility that comes when you suspect you are on to something but are still uncertain you aren’t being ridiculous in some way.

“You Don’t Understand Our Audience”: What I learned about network television at Dateline NBC by John Hockenberry. “In the end, perhaps the work that I was most proud of at NBC marginalized me within the organization and was my undoing.” via Graham Leuschke’s bookmarks on

November 21, 2007

John Oliver on the writers' strike

I think sometimes when you see the writers marching up and down and laughing-–because that’s what we do, those of us who write comedy tend to laugh about horrendous situations-–I think sometimes that can look bad because it may look like people are taking it lightly. But no, it’s a horrible situation.

Gothamist: John Oliver, Writer

October 15, 2007

I think I'm turning German I really think so

The ‘Good Germans’ Among Us - New York Times:

Our humanity has been compromised by those who use Gestapo tactics in our war. The longer we stand idly by while they do so, the more we resemble those “good Germans” who professed ignorance of their own Gestapo.

Fort Hunt’s Quiet Men Break Silence on WWII - Washington Post:

“During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone,” said George Frenkel, 87, of Kensington. “We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I’m proud to say I never compromised my humanity.”

October 4, 2007

we are all radioheads now?

I would not have expected such an institutionalized and conservative offering from the editor/owner of Arthur Magazine.

I love reading an interesting blog entry only to find it upstaged by an outstanding comment. Ah, civil discourse. The ARTHUR Blog > Nothing Left to Lose: What Happens When Music Becomes Worthless?

September 26, 2007

garrett keizer's general strike

It is time for us to make a public profession of faith that the people who went to work that morning, who caught the cabs and rode the elevators and later jumped to their deaths, were not on the whole people who would sanction extraordinary rendition, preemptive war, and the suspension of habeas corpus; that in their heels and suits they were at least as decent as any sneaker-shod person standing vigil outside a post office with a stop the war sign. That the government workers who died in the Pentagon were not by some strange congenital fluke more obtuse than the high-ranking officers who thought the invasion of Iraq was a bad idea from the get-go. That the passengers who rushed the hijackers on Flight 93 were not repeating the mantra “It won’t do any good” while scratching their heads and their asses in a happy-hour funk.

An Election Day general strike would set our remembrance of those people free from the sarcophagi of rhetoric and rationalization. It would be the political equivalent of raising them from the dead. It would be a clear if sadly delayed message of solidarity to those voters in Ohio and Florida who were pretty much told they could drop dead.

Specific suggestion: General strike, by Garrett Keizer (Harper's).

July 30, 2007

Intel, Racism Inside

Penciled In: Intel, Racism Inside (via Anarchaia)

July 24, 2007

one link on the economics of libraries

Freakonomics Blog: If Public Libraries Didn’t Exist, Could You Start One Today?

Given the current state of debate about intellectual property, can you imagine modern publishers being willing to sell one copy of a book and then have the owner let an unlimited number of strangers borrow it?

(via by Jessamyn)

July 23, 2007

"the unconnected are second-class citizens"

Binary America: Split in Two by A Digital Divide -

Declare the Internet a public good in the same way we think of water, electricity, highways.

April 25, 2007

People talk about hip-hop spreading the N-word through the culture, but I take pains to point out that popular culture has always spread the N-word. There is serious precedent — in the 1920s and 1930s, you went into a white middle-class home and the N-word was everywhere. It was on the shelves, it was in the cookbooks, the sheet music on the piano, the toys children played with. Let’s not talk about hip-hop introducing this word in some new and unprecedented fashion.

Who gets to use the N word? | Salon Books

April 3, 2007

war is over

The papers will be incorporated into the artist’s Imagine Peace Tower, which will be installed later this year in Iceland. Ono was vague about the structure’s exact design and said it would be made of light.

Washington Post: Yoko Ono’s Peaceful Message Takes Root.

November 16, 2006

we should all feel bad for Santorum's kids

village voice > people > Savage Love by Dan Savage

I remember listening to the radio when Santorum said something obnoxious about gay couples: An anti-gay-marriage amendment was a homeland security measure, Santorum said, which makes gay couples terrorists. My son, who happens to be the same age as Santorum’s younger daughter (the one weeping and clutching a doll in that widely circulated photo), was in the room at the time, and he got pretty upset. So, yeah, we should all feel bad for Santorum’s kids — what kind of parent drags a sobbing child in front of the national media? — but let’s also feel bad for all the other kids that Santorum hurt.

ha ha

October 25, 2006

Po knows Oprah

The media is increasingly ignoring the true American family, and instead is putting the dramas of affluent families on Page One. It would be okay if they delivered these portraits with a sardonic wink, so that we might laugh at the foibles of the well-off. But there is no wink. Instead, we are asked to sympathize with people’s self-made problems, and these affluent-family issues are held up as representative of us all.

Po Bronson’s column shows how media transmits the fears of rich and powerful parents to a mass audience who are then affected by their (natural, but inappropriate) emotional response with negative material consequences.

I think media’s amplification of irrational fear can be seen absolutely everywhere. Even this blog!

October 8, 2006

dr. eddie s. glaude jr. on tavis

Listen to Tavis Smiley interview Dr. Eddie S. Glaude Jr. about the politicization of the civil rights movement. Dr. Glaude speaks powerful truths. I’d never heard him or even of him — I welcome the discovery.

October 3, 2006

Mr. President, I think that if you could allow yourself to cry like I did this morning, you will also feel much better. It is our brothers that we kill over there. They are our brothers, God tells us so, and we also know it. They may not see us as brothers because of their anger, their misunderstanding, and their discrimination. But with some awakening, we can see things in a different way, and this will allow us to respond differently to the situation. I trust God in you; I trust Buddha nature in you.

From Thich Nhat Hanh’s letter to the President.

We have lost the war on torture. It’s devastating.

We live in shameful times :: Rebecca Blood

September 20, 2006

threat level: chartreuse

The average American is 50 times more likely to die of accidental poisioning than due to terrorism. (source)


I was very concerned that when I grew up I would somehow be turned into this zombie who sat in front of the tv watching grown ups just talk.? What a horrible fate. I found out later this abominable program was called “the News.” I never watched it.

Erin Pavlina’s Blog: Why I Never Watch the News

I worry about the people I love who watch TV news. I think it’s emotionally and spiritually toxic.

August 15, 2006

he's alive -- and dead

"Stranger and Stranger: Why is George Bush Reading Camus?" (Slate)

May 3, 2006

botched execution succeeds

It don’t work. It don’t work. It don’t work. It don’t work. It don’t work.

— Joseph Clark, as the state of Ohio tried to kill him by injecting poison into his bloodstream.

April 15, 2006

Seymour Hersh profile

He is excitable, fast-talking and uses "fucking" more than any other adjective, with a hard-edged accent honed on Chicago's South Side.

The Guardian: The Reporter Whose Scoops Give the Bush Administration Sleepless Nights. Seymour Hersh hates to pay taxes "just so they can go and bomb more people."

April 12, 2006

Get well, Raja

Elephant Eats Scores of Cookies, Gets Sick. I clicked the headline because I thought the story might be a little funny, but it's actually really sad.

March 29, 2006

veterans against war

We are very, very sorry for what we did to the Iraqi people.

Guardian Unlimited | 'If you start looking at them as humans, then how are you gonna kill them?'

March 6, 2006

larry summers et. al. 'victims' of political correctness

To align yourself with the powerful and then take aim at the powerless takes not one ounce of valour. To prop up prevailing hierarchies and orthodoxies rather than challenge them demands not a scintilla of bravery.
Gary Younge's columns in the Guardian are always superb; today on the abuse of the word brave, and more. I've always thought that majority discourses rely on claiming victimhood, while simultaneously posing as a victim of minorities.

February 2, 2006

"just face it - you look dodgy"

The only way to find out, I decided, was to grow my first proper beard, and so started my four-month journey.

The results were immediate and very intense. People were moving off Tubes to get away from me; I would sometimes have a whole carriage to myself.
Rajesh Thind grows a beard after the London bombings. His diaries are here.

January 28, 2006

the ninja's lament

New York Times correction:

A film review in Weekend on Friday about "Le Pont des Arts" misspelled a word in the title of a Monteverdi madrigal that a character sings on a recording. It is "Lamento della ninfa," not "ninja."

November 18, 2005

Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce

Downloadable wallet guide to pesticides in produce

The Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce lists the 12 popular fresh fruits and vegetables that are consistently the most contaminated with pesticides and those 12 fruits and vegetables that consistently have low levels of pesticides. If you are concerned about pesticides in your diet, the handy wallet card can help you choose produce that lowers exposure to pesticides for you and your family.

If (like me) you can't afford to buy organic all of the time, check out this guide to which foods are more and less likely to deliver pesticides.

August 16, 2005

Defend Cindy Sheehan!

For those keeping score at home, Cindy Sheehan is a "crazy," "anti-Semite" "peacenik" "kook." An "exploited," "left-wing moonbat" "crackpot" whose behavior borders on "treasonous" and is nothing more than one of the "hysterical noncombatants" camped outside Crawford, Texas. It's telling that when this story first broke, GOP pundits at least had the decency to preface their smears with obligatory nods to Sheehan's sacrifice. No more. It's war.

I don't think we've seen the right wing this collectively unhinged since the Florida recount, when the mere thought of four more years of Democratic rule drove even mild mannered pundits like George Will off the cliff. Back then it was Will who spotted Al Gore's "serial mendacity," "corrupting hunger for power," and a selfish attempt to create "post-election chaos" and "delegitimize the election."

Just like those nervous November days in Florida, before anyone knew the Supreme Court would step in and order the state to stop counting votes, partisan Republicans no doubt sense things slipping away today. When it comes to Bush's second term, the White House has entered Tom Petty territory—it's Free Fallin'. Think 1,854 U.S. casualties, $3.00 gas prices, grand jury testimony, Terry Schiavo, Social Security reform, 43 percent job approval rating.

And now think Cindy Sheehan.

From over at The Huffington Post.

The silence of the anti-war movement has been deafening. There hasn't been a national protest since the war started (unless you count the RNC protests as anti-war, which I don't.) That should change on 9/24, though it appears UFPJ and ANSWER are doing their sectarian thing and organizing separate marches. Again. But the demobilization of the anti-war movement is a tragedy.

Right now it's completely awesome that Cindy Sheehan is doing what she's doing. And it's completely terrible that at a time when 60 percent of people in this country oppose the war that it almost seems like Sheehan is standing alone. And it's completely terrible that the right-wing is going into full caricature mode on both Sheehan and the other military families and anti-war folks that have now joined the protest.

originally posted by zagg

July 25, 2005


Going on with our London lives is not something we're doing as a protest to the bombers. We just sort of have to.
Why I am fucking

July 23, 2005

sukula family must stay

'My name is Daniel and I am 15 years old.

'I am writing this because me and my family face deportation to Congo. I don't want to go back to Congo because there is a war there and, if I go back, my life will be finished.

'One of my mum's friends who was deported was killed in a prison in Congo. If we go back, we might also end up in prison, so please help us. And I am scared that if I go back, I will be forced to become a soldier. I don't want to be a soldier when I am older. I want to be a football player. I play for a local team and, when I am older, I want to play for England.'
Daniel Sukula launches an anti-deportation campaign (from Nostalgie Ya Mboka, on the best radio station in the galaxy, Resonance FM).

July 12, 2005

the story of a london street

The people who are trying to get inside our heads and rewrite our sense of our city may not realise just how much there is to rewrite.
John Lanchester's excellent essay on his favourite London street. The road leads from the Strand to Hampstead, and on the Woburn Place section, the number 30 bus was blown up last Thursday.

July 8, 2005

kodak moment

Washington Post: Patrols on Mass Transit Intensified but Scattered

At L'Enfant Plaza, Metro officers displayed their submachine guns for a phalanx of television crews from around the world. They walked through the station, sweat pouring onto their backs from beneath their bulletproof vests.

One stepped to the side to check a trash can. Another tried the knob on a door to make sure it was locked. A third looked for anything unusual near the fareboxes. They fanned out when they reached the mezzanine, some taking position next to escalators, others staring down at passengers and the rest sweeping the platform.

An astute bit of journalism points out that, in response to the London bombings, USA's first order of business was to get pictures of guns on our subway to the media. Images of security now stand in for the real thing. Are they going to shoot the bombs?

July 5, 2005


On The Media- White Noise

For most of history, journalists could afford to spend their time covering wars, famines, politics and business. The reason for this is that everyone knew where the white women were at - at home, probably in the kitchen, minding the kids.

June 18, 2005

the function of journalism is not to toady to those in power but to challenge them

Big Bird is not in favor of affirmative action. Bert and Ernie are not gay. Miss Piggy is not a feminist. "The Three Tenors," "Antiques Roadshow," "Masterpiece Theater," "Wall Street Week" and nature programs do not have a political agenda. "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" is biased in favor of boring, old, white guys who appear on painfully well-balanced panels. "Washington Week in Review" is a showcase for "Inside the Beltway," conventional wisdom, power-parroting, political-geekhead, Establishment journalism -- there is nothing liberal about it.

But there is a plot to politicize public broadcasting. It is plain as a pikestaff, and it is coming from the Right.

Molly Ivins: Destroying PBS

June 10, 2005

The 2200

Apparently, 2,200 journalists have been issued credentials for the Michael Jackson trial.

As a frame of reference, at the height of combat in Iraq, there were 800 embedded reporters.

So on one hand, we have 2,200 journalists covering the trial of one man. On the other, we had 800 journalists covering a war in a nation with a population of 24.5 million--though that's only counting the ones "embedded" with the U.S. military. Seems reasonable.

The big question, of course, is whether things look like this because this reflects the interest of news consumers, or does it look like this because the corporate media and U.S. culture pushes the cult of celebrity as a distraction.

One sign of hope: Despite the shitty-ass coverage, the a majority of Americans are now against the war and Bush's approval ratings suck.

originally posted by zagg

May 9, 2005

Missing white female alert

Chicago Tribune | Missing white female alert

Continual focus on, and reporting of, missing, young, attractive white women is a televised slap in the face to minority mothers and parents the nation over who search for their own missing children with little or no assistance or notice from anyone.

April 15, 2005

say it loud

I have argued strenuously that bloggers rarely function as journalists — that, in fact, we are stronger standing outside the established media than we ever can be as junior reporters. However, all bloggers are publishers, and for legal purposes, should qualify as "the press". Consider "the press" this amendment was designed to protect. There was no establishment media at the time. It was, literally, some guys with printing presses, publishing pamphlets and the occasional newspaper. Journalism is a practice, not a professional title, and bloggers who add to the record of verifiable fact are clearly journalists. Whether this work is practiced online or on paper — or by one person with a notebook and a computer, or one person in a crowded newsroom — is irrelevant. A fact is a fact even when revealed by an amateur. Fiction is fiction, even when broadcast by an established news organization.

remembering rebecca :: april 2005

April 13, 2005

savaging the pope

John Paul II had more "no's" for straight people than he did for gays. But when he tried to meddle in the private lives of straights, the same people who deferred to his delicate sensibilities where my rights were concerned suddenly blew the old asshole off. Gay blowjobs are expendable, it seems; straight ones are sacred.

Dan Savage sticks it to the expired Pope, thank goodness. Because someone had to. Much of the media coverage of the man's death came off as dispatches from some fantasy world, where religious figureheads float above earthly reproach, capable only of selfless and saintly deeds.

April 7, 2005

The Crisis in the Green Party

Peter Camejo: The Crisis in the Green Party:

I think all Greens recognize that something rather peculiar has happened in our history. The formal Green Party vote for President dropped 95% in 2004 as compared to 2000, quite unusual even for a third party. We came in sixth not third like in 2000. We also lost ballot status in seven states and are now down to 15 (Ballot Access News). In many states the party has declined. Two important exceptions stand out at least partially, California and New York. In both states our large registration has held or increased (NY went from 36,000 to 41,000 and California remains above 150,000). In California we hit a new record of elected officials. Nationwide our total number of elected officials also increased. So while we have declined in some areas in others we have held our own or increased.

The pro-Cobb leadership needs to recognize reality and note that most Greens who did not vote corporate voted for Nader overwhelmingly. Most Greens who actually participated actively for Cobb or Nader were overwhelmingly involved pro Nader. Nader was only on the ballot in states with half the population of the country, and nonetheless he received almost 500,000 votes. If you assume in the other states his vote would have been just half of that, Nader would have received some 750,000 votes in spite of the massive ABB campaign. If you calculate Cobb's vote and also project what he might have gotten being on the ballot in all states, you end up with a combined total of both Nader and Cobb of close to 1 million people who refused to vote for either pro-corporate party.

originally posted by zagg

March 28, 2005

an inspirational feeding tube of chicken soup

Get Your War On 45: "Poor Terri Schiavo—the unwitting personification of the Christian right. Except she's not a disgusting hypocrite." (Thanks, DruBlood!)

March 23, 2005

Lessig on Brazil

O'Reilly Network: Remixing Culture: An Interview with Lawrence Lessig

I was at the World Social Forum, but much of what was going on at the World Social Forum was related to Brazil's leadership in spreading free software and free culture. So the free software movement has exploded in Brazil, led in part by the government, which is increasingly using free software in its own work and requiring it for much of the government's coding work. The free culture movement is being pushed in Brazil largely because of the culture minister, Gilberto Gil, who envisions a future where an increasingly large proportion of the content in Brazil is made available to the world via Creative Commons licenses.

Now the strategy in both cases is to increase wealth in Brazil. The view of free software is that it's far better for Brazil if the technology industry is trained in the skills needed to build and modify and extend free software than if they're trained in the skills of how to implement a patch for the latest Windows virus. That's about technology self-sufficiency.

And in the free culture context, Brazil is eager to have their music spread broadly to increase the demand for Brazilian musicians. They have a project to create a huge archive of Brazilian music licensed under Creative Commons licenses, which will encourage people to get access to it and share it for noncommercial purposes and remix it.

It's perhaps the most exciting place in the world right now for these issues. They're extremely well-educated and committed people there. And the movement is fundamentally political. It's a mix of all kinds of people from Brazil--I mean, particularly young, but all sorts of young people. Men and women, people who have a technical background, people who don't--all of whom are demanding a cultural and technological future for Brazil that is not dependent on someone else. That's the essential feature in both the software and culture contexts. They want a future where they're not dependent on Microsoft and a future in which they're not dependent on rich copyright holders in the United States.

March 17, 2005

Counter Recruitment is Where it's At

After last year's debacle where the antiwar movement decided it made more sense to try and elect a pro-war candidate than it did to build an actual movement, things are beginning to turn. United for Peace and Justice is still on spinning pointlessly. But there are glimmers elsewhere. First off, there are large protests planned for this weekend in Fayetteville, N.C. and New York (and probably other places) to mark the two-year anniversary of the Iraq war.

But even more importantly, counter recruitment is on the rise across the country. This is extremely crucial, especially at a time when the military is having trouble meeting its goals. It's a concrete way to fight the war--by cutting them off at the source.

Update (3/18): The New York Times reported on counter recruitment today.

In Georgia, Sgt. Kevin Benderman, 40, whose family ties to military service stretch back to the American Revolution, filed for conscientious-objector status and learned that he will face a court-martial in May for failing to report to his unit when it left for a second stint in Iraq.

One by one, a trickle of soldiers and marines - some just back from duty in Iraq, others facing a trip there soon - are seeking ways out.

Soldiers, their advocates and lawyers who specialize in military law say they have watched a few service members try ever more unlikely and desperate routes: taking drugs in the hope that they will be kept home after positive urine tests, for example; or seeking psychological or medical reasons to be declared nondeployable, including last-minute pregnancies. Specialist Marquise J. Roberts is accused of asking a relative in Philadelphia to shoot him in the leg so he would not have to return to war.

A bullet to the leg, Specialist Roberts, of Hinesville, Ga., told the police, seemed his best chance. "I was scared," he said, according to a police report on the December shooting. "I didn't want to go back to Iraq and leave my family. I felt that my chain of command didn't care about the safety of the troops. I just know that I wasn't going to make it back."

Department of Defense officials say they have seen no increase in those counted as deserters since the war in Iraq began. Since October 2002, about 6,000 soldiers have abandoned their posts for at least 30 days and been counted as deserters. (A soldier who eventually returns to his unit is still counted as a deserter for the year.) The Marine Corps, which takes a snapshot of how many marines are missing at a given point in time, reported about 1,300 deserters in December, some of whom disappeared last year and others years earlier. The figures, Pentagon officials said, suggest that the deserter ranks have actually shrunk since the years just before Sept. 11, 2001. Of course, many things have changed since then, including the seriousness of deserting during a time of war.

originally posted by zagg

Continue reading "Counter Recruitment is Where it's At" »

March 3, 2005

vocabulary of torture

Manipulative self-injurious behaviour
The US government’s description of 21 attempted suicides at Guantanamo Bay.

Rumsfeld processing
Colloquial term for removing prisoners from army camps and holding them in CIA facilities, which the Red Cross is not permitted to visit.
Torture vocabulary at UK Channel 4's website accompanying its current series on torture.

February 18, 2005


White House Stages its Daily Show.

On "Countdown," a nightly news hour on MSNBC, the anchor, Keith Olbermann, led off with a classic "Daily Show"-style bit: a rapid-fire montage of sharply edited video bites illustrating the apparent idiocy of those in Washington. In this case, the eight clips stretched over a year in the White House briefing room - from February 2004 to late last month - and all featured a reporter named "Jeff." In most of them, the White House press secretary, Scott McClellan, says "Go ahead, Jeff," and "Jeff" responds with a softball question intended not to elicit information but to boost President Bush and smear his political opponents. In the last clip, "Jeff" is quizzing the president himself, in his first post-inaugural press conference of Jan. 26. Referring to Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton, "Jeff" asks, "How are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality?"

If we did not live in a time when the news culture itself is divorced from reality, the story might end there: "Jeff," you'd assume, was a lapdog reporter from a legitimate, if right-wing, news organization like Fox, and you'd get some predictable yuks from watching a compressed video anthology of his kissing up to power. But as Mr. Olbermann explained, "Jeff Gannon," the star of the montage, was a newsman no more real than a "Senior White House Correspondent" like Stephen Colbert on "The Daily Show" and he worked for a news organization no more real than The Onion. Yet the video broadcast by Mr. Olbermann was not fake. "Jeff" was in the real White House, and he did have those exchanges with the real Mr. McClellan and the real Mr. Bush.

"Jeff Gannon's" real name is James D. Guckert. His employer was a Web site called Talon News, staffed mostly by volunteer Republican activists. Media Matters for America, the liberal press monitor that has done the most exhaustive research into the case, discovered that Talon's "news" often consists of recycled Republican National Committee and White House press releases, and its content frequently overlaps with another partisan site, GOPUSA, with which it shares its owner, a Texas delegate to the 2000 Republican convention. Nonetheless, for nearly two years the White House press office had credentialed Mr. Guckert, even though, as Dana Milbank of The Washington Post explained on Mr. Olbermann's show, he "was representing a phony media company that doesn't really have any such thing as circulation or readership."

How the ... what the ... did they really do this? What the hell is wrong with these people?!

originally posted by zagg

February 17, 2005


SpongeBob Mapplethorpe

February 4, 2005

RIP Ossie

Actor Ossie Davis Found Dead in Hotel.

Ossie was a tireless advocate for social justice his whole life speaking out against racism and the criminal justice system.

He was gracious enough to speak on anti-death penalty panels my wife organized in New York City on several occasions. In 1965, he delivered a Eulogie for Malcolm X.

He will be missed.

originally posted by zagg

January 28, 2005

relics of the ages

Someone claiming to be a disgruntled National Public Radio staffer is selling an NPR fleece jacket supposedly worn by Bob Edwards. "I'm parting with this new and perfect item because I miss Bob and the memories are too painful." Up next: a vial of sweat.

December 21, 2004

did you vote for this?

Detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were shackled to the floor in fetal positions for more than 24 hours at a time, left without food and water, and allowed to defecate on themselves, an FBI agent who said he witnessed such abuse reported in a memo to supervisors, according to documents released yesterday.

FBI Agents Allege Abuse of Detainees at Guantanamo Bay (

December 19, 2004

Tavis Smiley quit, faults NPR on diversity

"I just felt like the pace of progress at which they are comfortable moving is too slow," he says. "The audience can handle a quickened pace, and the country can't afford a slower pace."


NPR needs more creative marketing to reach underserved audiences, the host says. He takes the network to task for lacking a diverse staff. Even President Bush, he says, recognizes the symbolic importance of having a diverse Cabinet. "I'm not really sure that NPR has even gotten on base symbolically," Smiley says.


Some white listeners complained that Smiley's delivery, which diverges from the more reserved sound of most NPR hosts, is too loud and energetic. | Tavis Smiley leaves NPR show, 2004

''The most difficult thing that I have had to do,'' he said, ``is fight a culture at NPR, a culture that is antithetical to the best interests of people of color.''

Tavis Smiley's Departure: A Loss to Blacks -- and NPR

December 13, 2004

a tremendous source of distinction

This Magazine: The Rebel Sell

What we need to see is that consumption is not about conformity, it’s about distinction. People consume in order to set themselves apart from others. To show that they are cooler (Nike shoes), better connected (the latest nightclub), better informed (single-malt Scotch), morally superior (Guatemalan handcrafts), or just plain richer (bmws).

December 12, 2004

no political consequences

Poor Salvadorans Chase the 'Iraqi Dream' (

Juan Nerio, a 44-year-old mason's assistant, was sick of living in a mud hut on the side of a volcano. When he heard that an American company was offering six times his $200 monthly wage, he signed up. Six weeks later he found himself holding an AK-47 assault rifle and guarding a U.S. diplomatic complex in Iraq.


"This is the equivalent of a poverty draft," said Geoff Thale of the Washington Office on Latin America, a rights and policy group in Washington. "The United States is unwilling to draft people, so they are recruiting people from poor countries to be cannon fodder for us. And if they are killed or injured, there will be no political consequences in the United States."

December 4, 2004

waste my beautiful mind

Act the Angel, Be the Brute

When The New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh spoke at Hampshire College in Massachusetts a few weeks ago, he told two stories about the mental damages of war. The first came from his reporting of the massacre at My Lai in Vietnam.

"There were 547 people killed in My Lai," Hersh said. "People don't know this, but the blacks and Hispanics shot into the air. It was the white rural farm kids who did most of the shooting. One rural mother said to me, 'I gave them a good boy, and they sent me back a murderer.'"

When he was reporting on the Abu Ghraib prison scandal in Iraq, Hersh got another call, this time from a devoutly Catholic mother. When her daughter, young and newly married, returned from serving in the military police at Abu Ghraib, she immediately left her new husband and her family, cut off all contact with them, and started living alone. Every weekend she gets more big, black tattoos - enough so they now cover most of her body.

The mother said she began to understand what happened to her daughter when Hersh's Abu Ghraib stories started coming out. She began to clean out the files on her daughter's laptop and found one labeled "Iraq." It contained over 1,000 pictures.

"One of them was run in The New Yorker," Hersh said. "It was the one with the man with two dogs on either side, and they were coming to attack him. The whole thing was photographed. The dogs attacked. You can imagine what they bit. There was a lot of blood... This is something no mother should see, something no child should see. On that level, we're dealing with enormous atrocity."

November 5, 2004

"I once was blind -- and still can't see"

It seems that the Democrats are insensitive to "moral values." This puzzles me because I think that opposing a war, or working for economic justice, or making health care more available in America all derive from a moral vision. Apparently, it is not the moral vision -- the set of faith and family values -- that helped re-elect George W. Bush.

I am now taking seriously the theory that we mainstream journalists are different from mainstream America. "Different" is too pale a word. We are alienated. We may live in the same country, but we treat each other like aliens. Maybe it's worse than that because we usually see and suspect the alien in our midst. The churched people who embrace Bush, in spite of a bumbling war and a stumbling economy, are more than alien to me. They are invisible.

"Confessions of an Alienated Journalist" by the Poynter Institute's Roy Peter Clark. Clark, a journalist, is writing for journalists here, but others might relate.

Will no one speak of this? (Part 2)

Piggybacking off my earlier post, there is more evidence of some real fucked up things going on.

Dr. Menlo has a bunch of links on this site, including a graph exhibiting bias in the electronic voting towards Bush. There's also a follow up from Greg Palast arguing that Kerry actually won. Unsurprisingly, the media has passed on the story. Lastly, there's more cataloguing of voter irregularties.

(Most of these stories have lots of other links launching to more stories with more evidence of spoilage and/or electronic voting discrepancies.)

originally posted by zagg

Continue reading "Will no one speak of this? (Part 2)" »

November 3, 2004

Will no one speak of this?

Greg Palast's An election spoiled rotten.

The total number of votes siphoned out of America's voting booths is so large, you won't find the issue reported in our self-glorifying news media. The one million missing black, brown and red votes spoiled, plus the hundreds of thousands flushed from voter registries, is our nation's dark secret: an apartheid democracy in which wealthy white votes almost always count, but minorities are often purged or challenged or simply not recorded. In effect, Kerry is down by a million votes before one lever is pulled, card punched or touch-screen touched.

Update: There's a few more pieces on disenfranchisement.

Indymedia's election coverage details a lot of irregularities, including in New Orleans, LA; St. Petersburg, FL; Toledo, OH; Columbus, OH; Beloit, WI; and Milwuakee, WI. Other reported voting problems posted to IMCs include Felton, CA; Nashville, TN; Michigan and Ohio; Portland, OR; Boston, MA; Pittsburgh, PA; Florida and Pennsylvania; St. Louis, MO; Tulsa, OK; Manhattan, NY; Urbana, IL; Brooklyn, NY; and elsewhere.

originally posted by zagg

Continue reading "Will no one speak of this?" »

November 1, 2004


Many people have told me that if [insert name of candidate] wins or there is a draft, they are going to leave the country. If you really mean it and are interested in getting a Masters degree in Computer Systems, you might consider a Masters program I am running. It focuses on operating systems, networks, distributed computing, parallel computing, grids, multiagent systems and other systems areas. Knowledgeable observers consider my group to be one of the top three systems groups in Europe.

Andrew Tanenbaum is the man behind the nerve-wracking

October 28, 2004

Most important election

This is the most important election of our lifetime.

originally posted by zagg

October 21, 2004

pine ridge

[S]kepticism of campaign pledges runs deep in Indian country, given the government's history of broken promises. The federal government has acknowledged that it has grossly mishandled money it began collecting in the late 1880s, when it leased reservation land to oil, mining and timber interests and held the proceeds in trust for Indians.

The government owes Native Americans billions, but a class-action lawsuit filed eight years ago on behalf of nearly 500,000 Indians is still unresolved.

Meanwhile, on Pine Ridge, three and four families live in single-family houses, eight to nine out of 10 people are out of work, and more than half the population, helpless against disconnect notices, has no phone in any given month.

Washington Post: On Pine Ridge, a String of Broken Promises.

October 16, 2004

randomwalks hearts you, craig murray

From Confessions of a British diplomat by Paul Reynolds:

Should an ambassador speak out over human rights even if this upsets his or her own government?

The question has been posed by the dismissal from his post as British ambassador to Uzbekistan of Craig Murray, whose disagreements with his own government about how to handle human rights abuses by his host government have become very public. (...)

The last straw for his bosses came when a memo he wrote to London complaining about its attitude was printed in the Financial Times.

He denies having leaked it himself, but he has confirmed that what was said in the telegram is indeed his view. (...)

For his part, Mr Murray is unapologetic.

He has seen appalling evidence of torture and murder and feels that the war on terror declared by President Bush has led to a blind eye being turned in Uzbekistan where the authoritarian President Islam Karimov has clamped down not only on Islamic dissent but on all dissent.

One of his most searing memories is that of being told that, six hours after he met a professor of literature from Samarkand who had complained about the torture of dissidents, a body was dumped on the man's doorstep. It was his grandson. One arm appeared to have been boiled until the skin fell off.

"I wrestle with my conscience greatly over whether I caused that boy's horrible death," Mr Murray said later.

His view now is that the Foreign Office is being "politicised" and that his dismissal is indeed for political reasons, because he blew the whistle on the practice of accepting intelligence from the Uzbeks which they got from torture.

Would that more public servants -- not just in the UK -- were as brave as Mr Murray.

[ via die puny humans ]

October 13, 2004

my fellow non-americans

You would be forgiven, though, for feeling increasingly helpless as you hear the "most important election" mantra repeated daily: unless you happen to be a voter in a handful of swing states, there's little you can do about the final result. If you're not American, the situation is more acute. [...] And yet, though the US Declaration of Independence speaks of "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind", you don't, of course, have a vote.
Your 'democracy' is about to be subverted/assisted (?) by hordes of Guardian readers. Decent respect to the opinions of mankind my arse, it's time to get scribbling to a voter in Clark County, Ohio.

October 2, 2004


"Rush Limbaugh is perpetuating the stereotype that conservatives are uptight losers who hate sex. We think that’s just wrong."
Votergasm's press release on how Rush Limbaugh tried to shut them down.

September 29, 2004

Iraqi Refuseniks

Help spread the word about the more than two dozen U.S. soldiers that have refused to fight.

Hopefully this is just the beginning.

originally posted by zagg

September 27, 2004

Best of CNN

CNN breaks down Bush's energy policy.

September 14, 2004

NOLA hurricane threat

Hurricane Risk for New Orleans: "if that Category Five Hurricane comes to New Orleans, 50,000 people could lose their lives. Now that is significantly larger than any estimates that we would have of individuals who might lose their lives from a terrorist attack. When you start to do that kind of calculus - and it's horrendous that you have to do that kind of calculus - it appears to those of us in emergency management, that the risk is much more real and much more significant, when you talk about hurricanes. I don't know that anybody, though, psychologically, has come to grip with that: that the French Quarter of New Orleans could be gone." (Nb. this excerpt from a fascinating 2002 American RadioWorks documentary does not refer specifically to Ivan.)

September 3, 2004

now tell us how you really feel, Garrison

The party of Lincoln and Liberty was transmogrified into the party of hairy-backed swamp developers and corporate shills, faith-based economists, fundamentalist bullies with Bibles, Christians of convenience, freelance racists, misanthropic frat boys, shrieking midgets of AM radio, tax cheats, nihilists in golf pants, brownshirts in pinstripes, sweatshop tycoons, hacks, fakirs, aggressive dorks, Lamborghini libertarians, people who believe Neil Armstrong’s moonwalk was filmed in Roswell, New Mexico, little honkers out to diminish the rest of us, Newt’s evil spawn and their Etch-A-Sketch president, a dull and rigid man suspicious of the free flow of information and of secular institutions, whose philosophy is a jumble of badly sutured body parts trying to walk. Republicans: The No.1 reason the rest of the world thinks we’re deaf, dumb and dangerous.

Garrison Keillor in In These Times.

September 2, 2004

bloviation tracker

This cool New York Times graphic tracks how many times speakers at the Republican and Democratic conventions use certain words, including "war," "jobs" and "girlie men."

August 26, 2004

The Girls In Their Summer Hot Pants

The RNC is coming to town, and area sex workers are ready to accommodate the demand:

The on-again-off-again prostitute with streaked pixieish hair looks less like a hooker than a bartender at Galapagos—which made her ideal for one politically charged client last year. He’d asked her to show up at his apartment wearing a black hoodie with patches and no perfume or deodorant. "I said, ‘Do you want me to dress like a protester?,’ and he said, ‘Yeah.’ He tied me down, spanked me, and wanted to yell at me a lot. He said, ‘You bad girl! You smashed the Starbucks!’ He was a very conservative Wall Street banker, and he basically wanted to fuck the movement."

Sex Industry Poised to Profit When RNC Comes to NYC

August 21, 2004

nytimes journalists for truth, for once

New York Times: Swift Boat Veterans for Truth Connections and Contradictions infographic.

August 19, 2004

Come to New York!

If anyone is still trying to figure out what to do to protest the Republican National Convention, I offer Counter Convention, RNC Not Welcome, United for Peace and Justice,, and Still We Rise.

Every protest event that's known should be covered in those sites.

originally posted by zagg

August 12, 2004

it was a long bill

I had a conversation with Kerry. It was pretty disheartening. I asked how he felt about civil liberties. He said, "I’m for ’em!" That’s great, but how do you feel about Section 215 of the Patriot Act? He said, "What’s that?" I said, it basically says any privately generated database is available for public scrutiny with an administrative subpoena. He says, "It says that?" I say, "You voted for it!"

Reason: John Perry Barlow 2.0: The Thomas Jefferson of cyberspace reinvents his body -- and his politics.

August 3, 2004

"I think they suspected the ethnic media doesn't matter."

From Ethnic press fights for access to RNC by Xiaoqing Rong:

Gaining access to the Republican National Convention has become a tortuous struggle for a slew of local ethnic publications, even though there are 15,000 media credentials available for domestic and international media.

While the ethnic press had little trouble accessing the Democratic Convention, at least 10 publications, including major Haitian, Bangladeshi, Polish and Muslim newspapers, all had their applications for press credentials turned down by the Republican National Committee. Only under pressure from the New York chapter of the Independent Press Association, an umbrella organization for local ethnic publications (where this reporter was once a fellow), did the Republicans eventually reconsider.

The IPA first realized there was a widespread problem last week. The organization’s election coverage coordinator, Karen Juanita Carrillo, had been calling IPA members to make sure they applied for credentials for both conventions on time and to help iron out any problems. But she began to hear complaints from members saying their publications had been denied access to the RNC. (...)

Carillo said it was only after she made phone calls and threatened to put out a press release that the RNC changed its tune. "I think they suspected the ethnic media doesn’t matter," said Carrillo. "Then they are a little shocked to find out that we do."

[ via infojunkies ]

July 26, 2004

rebecca blood at the DNC

what's in rebecca's pocket?

I am volunteering at the Democratic National Convention this week. I'm looking forward to it: I've never been to a political convention before. From what I know of my schedule, I likely won't have time to update my weblog during the next week. While my duties will leave me little time to post here, the tradeoff should be access to events and areas which would, were I credentialled, be off limits.

Farouk, thank you and goodbe.

As Dru and others have pointed out, the biggest problem with Fahrenheit 9/11 is that it glosses over the racism that has been at the heart of the U.S.' so-called War on Terror.

Specifically, when the movie discusses the PATRIOT Act, Moore makes no mention of the thousands of Arabs and Muslims within the U.S. that have been rounded up, detained illegally and sometimes deported with little or no justification.

The face of the PATRIOT Act is not Peace Fresno, the group that Moore chronicles in the movie, it is Farouk Abdel-Muhti.

Farouk was a Palestinian activist that was illegally detained for more than two years before finally winning back his freedom in April. But while he was detained Farouk, in his 50s, was denied his medication. And sadly on Thursday Farouk died only moments after doing what he's done his whole life — speaking out against injustice.

In yesterday's Philly Inquirer, the mainstream media acknowledges that "Jail may have hastened activist's death".

Democracy Now has a page up on Farouk with a story of his passing and some excerpts of past speeches.

Free Farouk also has much on his life and his words.

(More at my place)

originally posted by zagg

July 20, 2004

I don't know

U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General: Special Reports — why is 2001 missing?

July 19, 2004

Jesus was not a patriot

LA Weekly: Jesus and the Patriots by Judith Lewis.

No version of Jesus, be it the "radical egalitarian" who emerges from Dominic Crossan's Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography or the mystic described in The Gospel of Thomas, said anything about what constitutes a marriage. According to Crossan, Jesus was an itinerant Mediterranean peasant who considered the family an instrument of oppression, a microcosm of political hierarchy, and he sought to destroy it. ("From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three," he foretold in Luke 12:52.) The real Jesus is frightening, revolutionary, inimical to the economic doctrines upon which we base our lives. Churches, which as Emerson observed, "are not built on His principles, but on His tropes," are wise to have little to do with Him. Governments should have even less. And the less churches and governments have to do with each other, the better for Jesus' reputation.

But if presidents and legislators can't be persuaded to see Jesus this way and give Him up altogether, then perhaps they can at least start taking the words he allegedly handed down in the Gospels a little more seriously. DeLay, for instance, might be compelled to examine his desire to further slash welfare according to Mark 10:21, "Give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven." Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback could rise up and shout, "Woe unto you who are rich!" And ultra-pious Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma would respond wisely to Bush's assertion that the atrocities at Abu Ghraib were the actions of a "few bad apples" with the Lord's words from Matthew 7:18: "A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit."

July 7, 2004

now that's hate!

Virginia lawmakers are expected to move swiftly to correct legislation which mistakenly bestowed the right to a weekend day off to millions of Virginians.

July 3, 2004

all Christian citizens need to vote

Churchgoers Get Direction From Bush Campaign ( Am I the only one who missed this?

Continue reading "all Christian citizens need to vote" »

June 28, 2004

we all lose if cops have all the power

We All Lose if Cops Have All the Power, says Larry Dudley Hiibel.

I hadn't been argumentative; I wasn't picking a fight. Basically, when Deputy Dove demanded my papers — and he didn't ask for them, he demanded them — I didn't say, "Hey cop, I'm not going to give you nothing." I just asked why he wanted them. "What have I done?" I asked. If he'd explained what he was doing there, perhaps it could have been settled on the spot. But his position was that he wanted the papers first.

Here's why this was so important to me: I don't believe that the authorities in the United States of America are supposed to walk up to you and ask for your papers. I thought that wasn't lawful. Apparently I was wrong, but I thought that that was part of what we were guaranteed under the Constitution. We're supposed to be free men, able to walk freely in our own country — not hampered, not stopped at checkpoints. That's part of what makes this country different from other places. That's what I was taught.

June 23, 2004

Waiting for Bill

Who waits in line at the Clinton book signing in midtown Manhattan? Salon answers the question. (Free day pass, blah blah blah.) By far, the best person profiled is the precocious 10-year-old who came all the way from Westport, Conn.:

And then there was Matt Lloyd-Thomas, who said he was 13, though he was really 10, because the lady at the door had said that the age limit for kids to get signatures was 12. His younger sister, Sophia, who was really 7 and a half, was posing as 12.

Continue reading "Waiting for Bill" »

Ryan Matthews is home.

Ryan Matthews, an innocent man on death row who I posted about here and here, is home for the first time in five years and hopefully is on his way to being exonerated completely.

originally posted by zagg

June 22, 2004

Silicon Valley is back?

Silicon Valley (Version 2.0) Has Hopes Up says the New York Times.

Among the optimists is a member of a startup company producing products for the "Web log" market:

"It feels like we're 12 months, 18 months away from the equivalent of the Netscape I.P.O.," said Andrew Anker, a former venture capitalist who this month became executive vice president at Six Apart, a start-up based in Silicon Valley that aims to help businesses publish Web logs, or blogs.

The article is curiously focused on secondary indicators such as traffic:

In 2000, according to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, 55 percent of the region's major freeway miles were snarled in traffic during commuting hours, compared to less than 40 percent in 2002, the latest year with data available.

and fancy restaurants:

"The bleeding has stopped," said Alex Resnik, a part-owner of Spago Palo Alto. No longer do "three youngsters in their late 20's spend $3,000 on dinner," he said with a frown, but the restaurant is starting to do a brisk business again in wines that sell for $60 a bottle.

The press would like nothing better than another chance to churn out 1998 style fluff pieces on the wild and crazy spending of the young geniuses of the New Economy. After all, the end of the millenium wasn't just a boom for the tech industry. The media had a pretty good ride as well.

I'm a space crank

I love space as much as the next monkey, but I have no idea why this private ascent into space is such a big deal. To me, it heralds an age of unaccountable space polluters, shitty space meal service, and, quite likely, low earth orbit space ads. Will my daughter remember a time before the giant Pepsi logo in the sky eclipses the sun twice a year at sunset?

June 21, 2004

God bless America

What's to limit this policy in the future? If a school district reverts to racially segregated classrooms, does a divorced black mother have no standing because the father prefers that policy? If — in direct violation of Supreme Court precedent — a public school district starts teaching the biblical account of Creation, is a scientist prohibited from challenging that practice because the other parent is a fundamentalist Christian?

And what if a mother agrees with her daughter's teacher that it's proper to start off every school day by having the class stand up and say that it's fine to treat atheists (like the girl's father) as second-class citizens? Wait a minute: that's precisely the case that, after tens of thousands of hours invested over six years, the Supreme Court simply dismissed last week.

The New York Times Op-Ed Contributor: Pledging Allegiance to My Daughter — Michael Newdow was the plaintiff in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow.

June 15, 2004

Nader's Crash

Nader sold his soul to the devil, or at least to Pat Buchanan.

originally posted by zagg

June 14, 2004

bugmenot, your friend and mine

Chris Hoofnagle of the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington, D.C. says sites will be pushing for even more invasive disclosures as demographic data becomes muddied by peeved users who practice "self-defense" by registering themselves as 110-year-old surgeons from Bulgaria named Mickey Mouse.

"The marketing is becoming less effective, so the marketers are pushing for more invasive registrations," he said. "They know specifically what articles I'm reading, they know all about me, and I know very little about them. It's a complete imbalance of power."

AP: Online news registration may not deliver.

June 13, 2004

Guantanamo Bay

General Granted Latitude At Prison (

Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, the senior U.S. military officer in Iraq, borrowed heavily from a list of high-pressure interrogation tactics used at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and approved letting senior officials at a Baghdad jail use military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns, sensory deprivation, and diets of bread and water on detainees whenever they wished, according to newly obtained documents.

June 9, 2004

Soldiers Speak Out

The first U.S. soldier to go public with his refusal to fight Bush’s war in Iraq was convicted of desertion on May 21. Staff Sgt. Camilo Mejia was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge and one year of hard labor.

One of the reasons Mejia cited for not wanting to go back was that he witnessed the same type of abuse documented at Abu Ghraib where he was stationed, at Al Asad.

(W)here he witnessed the abuse and sleep deprivation of detainees in May 2003. The detention center was controlled by three interrogators, who were in civilian clothes and operated with pseudonyms. One of them called himself "Rabbit," and one called himself "Whitey."

They were in charge and telling the troops which detainees "to soften up," which meant 24 to 48 hours of sleep deprivation. They would take unloaded pistols and pull the trigger with the gun on the detainee’s temples. They would pound the walls with sledge hammers, and they would constantly wake them and make them walk around.

The one-year sentence handed down to Mejia is the same as that handed out to the "bad apples" convicted for the Abu Ghraib abuse. So Mejia was given the same punishment for refusing to dish out the same kind of abuse that resulted in one-year sentences for other soldiers.

I think that speaks volumes about how much the U.S. government really cares about the torture and how systemic it really was. They're scapegoating individual soldiers, but it's clear that in some ways they were faced with no choice at all. Either lose your soul and do what you know to be wrong or face punishment for not following orders.

That seems to be the message of the Mejia case.

Anyway, Mejia is not the only soldier to have spoken out. His case is only the most pressing because he is being imprisoned now. There's information here not only about him, but about Stephen Funk, who has been freed, and about Ghanim Khalil, who refused to be deployed when the war began.

Camilo Meija info.
Another story.
And another.
Citizen Soldier is a resource for soldiers looking for ways out of the military.
Ghanim Khalil
Stephen Funk page
More on Funk

originally posted by zagg

June 8, 2004

news blogging

Steve Outing discusses a blogger's attempt to get his news from blogs, and only blogs, for a week. Outing writes:

What, if anything, can we take away from Rubel's blog-only diet experiment? Probably that blogs remain in their infancy, despite the wave of press they've received in the last year. They provide a reasonable, but far from perfect, entry point into the news space, better at offering commentary and starting conversations than serving a current-events-indicator role.

Blogs are in their infancy? Perhaps as a conduit for the latest news--but that's not what blogs are for. This is like saying phones are in their infancy because we can't use them to boil water.

Also at "Labor Pains" by Chip Scanlan.

If you are not discouraged about your writing on a regular basis, you may not be trying hard enough. Any challenging pursuit will encounter frequent patches of frustration. Writing is nothing if not challenging.

May 26, 2004

the only thing we have to fear

The New York Times > Washington > As Ashcroft Warns of Qaeda Attack, Some Question Threat and Its Timing

The Bush administration said on Wednesday that it had credible intelligence suggesting that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the United States in the next several months, a period in which events like an international summit meeting and the two political conventions could offer tempting targets.

But some intelligence officials, terrorism experts - and to some extent even Mr. Ashcroft's own F.B.I. director, Robert S. Mueller III - offered a more tempered assessment. And some opponents of President Bush, including police and firefighter union leaders aligned with Senator John Kerry, the expected Democratic presidential candidate, said the timing of the announcement appeared intended in part to distract attention from Mr. Bush's sagging poll numbers and problems in Iraq.

the New York Times and the Bush administration and Judith Miller and Iraq and Iran

The questioning of hundreds of Iraqi prisoners last fall in the newly established interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison yielded very little valuable intelligence, according to civilian and military officials.

The New York Times > Washington > Prison Interrogations in Iraq Seen as Yielding Little Data on Rebels

we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > From the Editors: The Times and Iraq

do not stand for this U.S. military arrests war's 'bargaining chips'.

In a little-noticed development amid Iraq's prison abuse scandal, the U.S. military is holding dozens of Iraqis as bargaining chips to put pressure on their wanted relatives to surrender, according to human rights groups. These detainees are not accused of any crimes, and experts say their detention violates the Geneva Conventions and other international laws.

May 24, 2004

democracy now! - Amy Goodman Live Online

One recent guest we had from Guyana was talking about globalization. As I moved onto another discussion, on the US elections, she said she wanted to be a part of that too. I asked "why?" She said, "The whole world should get to vote for the president of the United States."

stupid analogers just don't get how things work now

In the face of the atrocities committed by US Soldiers guarding prisoners in Iraq, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has banned cameraphones. Banned cameraphones! This harkens directly to his testimony before Congress last week when he lamented the new digital world that allows anyone to effortlessly beam information from where ever they are. Restated: We're very truly sorry we got caught. We'll take steps to ensure we get away with this from now on.

Jeffrey Veen: Ringtones and Torture Pictures Want to be Free

May 19, 2004

cicadas relieve professor of "Friends" burden

"Cicadas are the sound of summer, of that year when you were young," said Professor Thompson, happy that he was no longer being asked to fit the end of "Friends" into some cultural gestalt.

The New York Times > New York Region > Cicadas Respond to Their 17-Year Cue

May 8, 2004

dehumanizing with words

Ehrlich Calls Multiculture Idea 'Bunk' (

These kinds of comments from leadership, from people who are in high-level positions, are really fueling an environment that is very dangerous and negative. It says it is okay to consider people who are different as something less.

Which echoes what Zagg has said about the racism inculcated in our troops and our culture flowing from the very top. It's not difficult to see, once you know what to look for.

May 7, 2004

Torture at Abu Ghraib is typical of U.S. prisons, says New York Times

The New York Times > National > Prisoners: Mistreatment of Prisoners Is Called Routine in U.S. "Physical and sexual abuse of prisoners, similar to what has been uncovered in Iraq, takes place in American prisons with little public knowledge or concern, according to corrections officials, inmates and human rights advocates."

May 5, 2004

unpleasant musings about who believes what about skin color

Appearing Friday in the Rose Garden with Canada's prime minister, President Bush was answering a reporter's question about Canada's role in Iraq when suddenly he swerved into this extraneous thought:

"There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern."

What does such careless talk say about the mind of this administration? Note that the clearly implied antecedent of the pronoun "ours" is "Americans." So the president seemed to be saying that white is, and brown is not, the color of Americans' skin. He does not mean that. But that is the sort of swamp one wanders into when trying to deflect doubts about policy by caricaturing and discrediting the doubters.

George Will: Time for Bush to See The Realities of Iraq ( Will goes on to conclude, somehow, that a) Bush is not racist and b) people who practice the Muslim faith cannot self-govern, but I thought it was a quote worth sharing.

May 1, 2004

an American soldier reported the abuse

There are some things going on here that I can't live with.

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | US military in torture scandal

April 25, 2004

hello, Google

The New York Times > Technology > Rich to Get Richer if Google Goes Public

The current prediction is that Google, if it decides to sell shares to investors this year, would probably end up with a market value of $20 billion to $25 billion by the end of its first day as a publicly traded company.

A $25 billion market value would instantly make Google worth more than Lockheed Martin, the big military contractor; Federal Express, the package delivery service; or Nike, the sports clothing maker.

April 22, 2004

Mary McGrory, 21 April 2004

Mary McGrory, the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for The Washington Post and, before that, The Washington Star, died April 21, 2004. She was 85.

I have two mommies

In a First for Mammals, Mice Are Created Without Fathers (

Lacking any paternal genes, all the mice born this way were females. But they are not clones, because each is a genetically unique animal developed from its own egg.

The feat does not suggest that men will soon become irrelevant for human reproduction. The extreme genetic manipulations used by the team are for now, at least, technically and ethically infeasible in humans.

The experiments produced far more dead and defective baby mice than normal ones.


As a defiant Mordechai Vanunu headed out of prison on Wednesday after 18 years, flashing the victory sign and declaring he was proud of what he had done. Mr. Vanunu, 49, appears to be as widely reviled today as he was in 1986, when he was kidnapped by Israel's intelligence service in Rome after giving a detailed interview on Israel's clandestine nuclear program to The Sunday Times of London.

The New York Times > International > Middle East > Vanunu, Disdaining Israel, Is Freed to Chants vs. Cheers

supreme court hears guantanamo case (npr audio)

NPR : Justices Hear Arguments in Guantanamo Detainees Case

The Supreme Court hears arguments in the case of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The detainees have requested a ruling on whether U.S. courts can review challenges to their incarceration. The Bush administration argues foreign prisoners picked up on the battlefield and held outside U.S. borders do not have the right to access the courts. NPR's Nina Totenberg reports.

April 21, 2004

Media and the War


I think if the media broadcast the true images of war, if the media showed us the sheared-off limbs of Iraqi children, of U.S. soldiers, of women and innocent civilians killed in Iraq, I think we would eradicate war.


All war.

New York Press interviews Amy Goodman

originally posted by zagg

a sea change in the constitutional life of this country

On April 28, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear oral arguments in two cases that New York Times reporter David Stout noted are likely to result in rulings of "profound importance, drawing the lines between the powers of courts and the administration and, perhaps, affecting the civil liberties of Americans in ways not yet imagined."

The justices will hear the cases of two American citizens, Yaser Esam Hamdi and Jose Padilla, who have been held as "enemy combatants" in Defense Department prisons on American soil indefinitely, incommunicado, without charges, and without the continual Sixth Amendment guarantee of access to a lawyer.

The Village Voice: The Hidden Supreme Court by Nat Hentoff: How many of you can recognize the nine most powerful Americans?

April 15, 2004

Free Ryan!

Ryan Matthews, an innocent man on Louisiana's death row who I posted about in August, yesterday won a new trial based on DNA evidence that shows he did not commit the crime.

Coverage from the New Orleans Times-Picayune, the Associated Press and the Los Angeles Times.

originally posted by zagg

April 13, 2004

13 questions for Bush

What do you say to the families of victims of 9/11 who wonder why not a single official has been fired or publicly reprimanded for any failures regarding 9/11?

What did you think of Richard Clarke's apology at the outset of his testimony to the 9/11 Commission?

Have you read Richard Clarke's book or do you plan to do so?

Do you agree with your national security adviser, Condoleeza Rice, that the Aug. 6 PDB, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Within the U.S.," is merely a 'historical' document?

Why did you not make the Aug. 6 PDB available to Attorney General John Ashcroft? Do you believe, in retrospect, that this was a mistake?

Editor and Publisher: 13 Questions for Bush on the day of one of the President's rare formal press conferences (via Romenesko). Of course, it's unlikely anything but softballs will be thrown, both because Bush will play favorites and because vain reporters too often like to hear their own chatter.

April 8, 2004

I see dead people

Aljazeera.Net - Falluja siege in pictures (warning: photos of children killed by US)

April 5, 2004

happy birthday dj

hello, 28!

April 1, 2004

Mercenaries are not civilians

While the US is promising an "overwhelming" response to the
"bestial" act, a Reuters article confirms that the civilians killed in Iraq were employees of a North Carolina-based mercenary company, Blackwater USA.

Blackwater Security Consulting, a part of Blackwater USA, issued a statement confirming the four were its personnel


The Moyock, North Carolina firm's Web site, which features a man in a black mask and reflective goggles and others in combat gear pointing weapons, says it staff are "renowned for dealing with high-risk situations and complex operations."

The site advertises courses in sharpshooting, has an aerial photograph of what it called "the most comprehensive private tactical training facility in the United States" and boasts of providing "training and tactical solutions" around the world.

The Guardian earlier this month did a lovely piece on Blackwater USA's tactics, which included recruiting Pinochet-era Chilean commandos.

"We scour the ends of the earth to find professionals - the Chilean commandos are very, very professional and they fit within the Blackwater system," he said.

Chile was the only Latin American country where his firm had hired commandos for Iraq. He estimated that "about 95%" of his work came from government contracts and said his business was booming.

"We have grown 300% over each of the past three years and we are small compared to the big ones.


In an interview with the Chilean newspaper La Tercera, a former
Chilean army officer, Carlos Wamgnet, 30, who was going to
Iraq, said: "We are calm. This mission is nothing new for us. "

Mercenaries are not civilians folks.

The act itself was ugly, but we're not talking about "contractors" here, we're talking about soldiers for hire.

This piece by Robert Fisk gives more background on the use of mercenaries throughout Iraq, which includes this little gem of a line:

Casualties among the mercenaries are not included in the regular body count put out by the occupation authorities, which may account for the persistent suspicion among Iraqis that the US is underestimating its figures of military dead and wounded.

Still think the occupation is about "stabilizing" Iraq?

originally posted by zagg

March 31, 2004


NYT: Reason to Run? Nader Argues He Has Plenty:

Mr. Nader's argument that he can draw more support from Mr. Bush than from Mr. Kerry has yet to be proved. A New York Times/CBS News poll earlier this month found that when voters were asked to choose between Mr. Bush and Mr. Kerry, 46 percent chose the president and 43 percent Mr. Kerry. When Mr. Nader was added to the mix, Mr. Bush's support stayed at 46 percent, Mr. Kerry's dropped to 38 percent and Mr. Nader drew 7 percent. More than half of Nader supporters preferred Mr. Kerry in a two-way race.
"Conservatives for Nader," the comic Jon Stewart mused recently. "Not a large group. About the same size as 'Retarded Death Row Texans for Bush.' "

March 26, 2004

it's a grown-up kind of love

From the New York Times' recent 10 Questions For... Al Franken:

Q. 9. Why do liberals like you, Al Franken, hate America?

A. Liberals like me love America. We just love America in a different way. You love America like a 4-year-old loves his mommy. Liberals love America like grown-ups. To a 4-year-old, everything Mommy does is wonderful and anyone who criticizes Mommy is bad. Grown-up love means actually understanding what you love, taking the good with the bad and helping your loved one grow. Love takes attention and work and is the best thing in the world. That's why we liberals want America to do the right thing. We know America is the hope of the world, and we love it and want it to do well. We also want it to do good.

Franken's radio show debuts soon on Air America.

March 25, 2004

it's not, mind you, that I cannot abide change

The firing of the mellifluous Edwards, my morning companion through all these years, portends bad things. The telling sign was not just that he was axed as the program's host but that no one can tell you why.

Richard Cohen: Empty Talk at NPR (

March 24, 2004

Where is the sense of Caucasian solidarity, milky brother?

Poynter Online - "USA Today Scandal A Threat To White Privilege, Mediocrity" in which Dr. Ink asks will Jack Kelley's sins be visited upon other white journalists?

March 21, 2004

you could run a really efficient society

In the 21st century, having leaders who don't really think the Earth is warming is a little like having leaders who don't really think the Earth is round.

The Seattle Times: Opinion: Americans have yet to learn the hard political lessons of the Arab oil embargo.

March 19, 2004

what kind of movie do I like?

Boing Boing: Send-up of "Respect Copyright" PSAs

I don't know why anyone would ever steal a movie. Unless of course it's to avoid this commercial which we now play in front of every single movie you could possibly go to, telling you you're bad for stealing even though you just spent $11 to see some movie and instead you have to sit there and listen to me whine at you and accuse you of being a thief.

Fantastic. These moralizing ads just enrage me every time I go to the movie theater these days.

March 15, 2004

spain withdraws from iraq?

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, whose socialist party yesterday won the Spanish general election, has today promised to pull Spanish troops out of Iraq. From the BBC:

'José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero said: "The war in Iraq was a disaster, the occupation of Iraq is a disaster."

Also at The Guardian.

March 12, 2004

Everything you ever wanted to know about offshoring

originally posted by zagg

i believe in the beeb

Click here to find out why.

I've long wanted one of these on randomWalks, but didn't know where to put it. Here it is.

March 11, 2004

police coverup alleged after mass arrests

Police in Washington, D.C., mishandled a 2002 anti-globalization protest by not telling participants to disperse and then arresting them for disobeying the nonexistent order, according to a D.C. Council report. The report also faults D.C. police for its dealings with protesters as far back as 2000, says the Washington Post. Police chief Charles Ramsey calls the findings "bullshit."

October 9, 2002

bush opens west coast ports

"We're absolutely furious," said Richard Trumka, secretary-treasurer of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. "The P.M.A. locked the workers out, contrived a phony crisis and then gets rescued by the administration. They're getting their way and have the weight of the government behind them."
A rare and successful use of the Taft-Hartley Act ended the longshoremen's lockout on the West Coast yesterday.

September 24, 2002

My view is that given

My view is that given all we have said as a leading world power about the necessity of regime change in Iraq means that our credibility would be badly damaged if that regime change did not take place.

Defense Policy Board member James Schlesinger.