Sunday, October 31, 2004

Michael McColly and James T. Nguyen: What Does it Take To Tell the Truth About AIDs?

(Wisconsin Public Radio)

The statistics for the worldwide AIDS crisis are staggering, but the truth of HIV and AIDS is ultimately about humans, not numbers. After eight, on Here On Earth, join Jean Feraca and her guests as they explore personal struggles against AIDS around the world.

Guests: -Michael McColly, writer.
-James T. Nguyen (nu-win), photographer.

Listen to the Show

Appalachian Trail Threatened By Bush Rollbacks

I know its not breaking news, but still it pisses me off. Its my dream to hike the Appalachian Trail and the West Coast version (Mexico to Canada--through CA, OR, WA):

Report: Appalachian Trail Threatened At Dozens Of Points In Six States By Bush Plan To Repeal Roadless Forest Rule

BBC Report From Florida: Republican Intimidation of Poor Voters and Illegal Tactics Aimed at Disenfranchising Student Voters

A secret document obtained from inside Bush campaign headquarters in Florida suggests a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to disrupt voting in the state's African-American voting districts, a BBC Newsnight investigation reveals.

New Florida Vote Scandal: Watch the Video and Read the Article


Voters claim abuse of electoral rolls: Students say they were conned into registering twice
Greg Palast in New York

An Observer investigation in the United States has uncovered widespread allegations of electoral abuse, many of them going uninvestigated despite complaints of what would appear to be criminal attempts to manipulate voter lists.

The allegations, which come just two days before Americans go to the polls in one of the most tightly contested elections in a generation, threaten to plunge Tuesday's count into a legal minefield and overshadow even the elections of 2000.

The claims come as both Republicans and Democrats put in place up to 2,000 lawyers across the country to challenge attempts to manipulate the vote in swing states.

Although allegations of misconduct have been levelled at both parties recently, the majority of complaints that have been identified in The Observer' s investigation involved claims against local Republicans.

The claims, made by the BBC's Newsnight, follow alleged attempts by Republicans to illegally suppress the votes in key states. Republican spokesmen deny these allegations.

Watch the BBC broadcast

One of the more serious claims is that no action has been taken in a complex fraud, where more than 4,000 Florida students were allegedly conned into signing a form which could lead them to be doubly registered and void their votes. The Florida Law Enforcement Department has told the complainants that it is too busy to investigate.

In Colorado too, Democrats are complaining about an attempt to remove up to 6,000 convicted felons from the electoral roll, at the behest of the state's Republican secretary of state, Donetta Davidson, despite a US federal law that prohibits eliminating a voter's rights within 90 days of an election to give time for the voter to protest.

The attempt to purge the list of alleged felons would appear to be a re-run of the attempt by Florida Governor Jeb Bush's secretary of state to remove 93,000 citizens from voter rolls as felon convicts are not allowed to vote.

Investigations appear to have established that only 3 per cent of the largely African-American list were illegal voters.

That action led to a vote in July by the US Civil Rights Commission to open a criminal and civil investigation of the Jeb Bush administration's purge of voters, including indications of concealing evidence subpoenaed by the commission's investigators. The new claims follow the Newsnight revelation last week of confidential documents from inside Republican headquarters in Florida and Washington which the programme claimed suggested a plan - possibly in violation of US law - to stop thousands of African-Americans from voting on election day.

The programme produced two leaked emails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington DC, containing a 15-page list. The list contains 1,886 names and addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democratic areas of Jacksonville, Florida.

An elections supervisor in Tallahassee, when shown the list, told Newsnight: 'The only possible reason why they would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day.'

Ion Sancho, not affiliated with any party, noted that Florida law allows political party operatives inside polling stations to stop voters from obtaining a ballot. They may then only vote 'provisionally' after signing an affidavit attesting to their legal voting status.

Mass challenges have never occurred in Florida. Indeed, says Mr Sancho, not one challenge has been made to a voter 'in the 16 years I've been supervisor of elections. Quite frankly, this process can be used to slow down the voting process and cause chaos on election day and discourage voters from voting.'

Sancho calls it intimidation. And it may be illegal. In Washington, well-known civil rights attorney Ralph Neas noted that US federal law prohibits the targeting voters, even if there is a basis for the challenge, if race is a factor in targeting the voters.

The list of Jacksonville voters covers an area with a majority of black residents.

When asked by Newsnight for an explanation of the list, Republican spokespeople claimed that the list merely records returned mail from either fundraising solicitations or newly registered voters to verify addresses for purposes of campaign literature.

Republican state campaign spokeswoman, Mindy Tucker Fletcher, stated the list was not put together 'in order to create' a challenge list, but refused to say it would not be used in that manner.

The Observer has found that many people are soldiers sent overseas. Republicans acknowledge the list was created by compiling lists of voters whose addresses have changed whose only use, say critics, would be to challenge voters on election day on the basis that their voting address is not valid. But this 'caging' method captures those whose addresses have changed because they have been sent to Iraq or other places. The list includes homeless shelter residents, casting doubt on suggestions
the list was created from fundraising solicitations for the Bush-Cheney campaign.

View Greg Palast's BBC Television film, Bush Family Fortunes available this week on DVD in an updated edition from The Disinformation Company

To receive Greg's investigative reports

Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2004

Alternet and Project Censored: Top Censored Stories of 2003-2004

Zandt, Deanna and Evan Derkacz. “Top Ten Censored Stories of 2003-2004.” Alternet (September 8, 2004)

Project Censored’s Top 25 Censored Stories of 2004

Project Censored’s Top 25 Censored Media Stories of 2003

Quote from the Project Censored 2005 website:

"Media criticism does exist in America. But by and large, it is not citizen-based criticism designed to make media a better source of information in a democracy. Instead, it is a cynical manipulation of the discourse designed to silence even the mildest dissent from the conservative, militantly pro-corporate dogma that has come to pass for news in an era when "reporters" brag about the size of their American-flag lapel pins."
- Robert McChesney and John Nichols

Missouri Republicans: Preventing the Poor From Voting

(courtesy Watching the Watchers)

Is this the land of the free? Where our greatest distinction is freedom of speech (something that has been restricted more and more post-9/11) and that all-can-vote in elections...

Continuing Republican Effort To Prevent the Poor From Voting

Texas State Representative Debbie Riddle: Free Education for Everyone as the Work of Satanists and Communists

(quote source Rethinking Schools, Fall 2004: 20)

"Where did this idea come from that everybody deserves free education? It comes from Moscow, from Russia. It comes straight out of the pit of hell."
--Texas State Rep. Debbie Riddle, 2003

Gina J. Grillo: Between Cultures

Journey: An act of travel or passage from one place to another; to travel over or through. The journey from childhood through adolescence to maturity.

Arrival: An act of reaching a destination; to make an appearance. The attainment of an end or state; success.

Identity: The collective aspect of the set of characteristics by which a thing is definitely recognizable or known. The set of characteristics by which an individual is realizable as a part of a group. The quality or condition of being the same as something else.

Assimilate: To make similar. To absorb and integrate into the cultural tradition or mores of a wider society or culture, population or group. To compare; to liken.

Americanize: To assimilate into American culture. To become American, as in spirit.

Citizen: A Person owing loyalty to and entitled by birth or naturalization to the protection of a state or nation. An inhabitant of a city or town; especially one entitled to the rights and protection of a free person.

Citizenship: The status of being a citizen. A membership in a community. The quality of an individual's response to membership in a community.

Home: A Place where one lives: a residence, a household. A place of origin. A place where something flourishes. To go or return home. To move toward a goal: to home in on the truth.

Tolerance: The capacity for or the practice of recognizing and respecting the beliefs or practices of others; the ability to tolerate, or have sympathy for, behavior or opinions that one does not necessarily agree with. Endurance, fortitude, stamina.

(definitions from)

Grillo, Gina J. Between Cultures: Children of Immigrants in America. Santa Fe, NM: Center for American Places, 2004.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Eminem: New "Mosh" Video's Political Statement

(courtesy of Jürgen Heilig, original source Guerilla News Network)

The Real Slim Shady Stands Up

Watch Eminem's Mosh

Watch More Videos at Guerilla News Network

Human Dignity Denied: Torture and Accountability in the 'War on Terror'

(courtesy of Jürgen Heilig--can't say I'm happy to see this, but it was important I read it. I'll admit, in all honesty, I was overwhelmed and couldn't finish it)

A devasting report from Amnesty International about torture by US Forces in the War on Terror. What are we becoming in the drive for Empire?

Human dignity denied
Torture and accountability in the ‘war on terror’
A report based on Amnesty International’s 12-point Program for the Prevention of Torture by Agents of the State

An excerpt:

Then [the guard] brought a box of food and he made me stand on it, and he started punishing me. Then a tall black soldier came and put electrical wires on my fingers and toes and on my penis, and I had a bag over my head. Then he was saying ‘which switch is on for electricity?’ Iraqi detainee, Abu Ghraib prison, 16 January 2004(1)

The image of New York’s Twin Towers struck by hijacked airliners on 11 September 2001 has become an icon of a crime against humanity. It is tragic that the response to the atrocities of that day has resulted in its own iconography of torture, cruelty and degradation. A photograph of a naked young man captured in Afghanistan, blindfolded, handcuffed and shackled, and bound with duct tape to a stretcher. Pictures of hooded detainees strapped to the floor of military aircraft for transfer from Afghanistan to the other side of the world. Photographs of caged detainees in the United States (US) Naval Base in Cuba, kneeling before soldiers, shackled, handcuffed, masked and blindfolded. Television images of orange-clad shackled detainees shuffling to interrogations, or being wheeled there on mobile stretchers. A hooded Iraqi detainee sitting on the sand, surrounded by barbed wire, clutching his four-year-old son.(2) And the photos from Abu Ghraib – a detainee, hooded, balanced on a box, arms outstretched, wires dangling from his hands with electric torture threatened; a naked man cowering in terror against the bars of a cell as soldiers threaten him with snarling dogs; and soldiers smiling, apparently confident of their impunity, over detainees forced into sexually humiliating poses. The United States of America (USA), and the world, will be haunted by these and other images for years to come, icons of a government’s failure to put human rights at its heart.

Human Dignity Denied

Reality-Based Reporting and the Fantasies of Empire-Building

(Courtesy of S.N.A.F.U.)

Ron Suskind's Without a Doubt has been circulating around the web because of mind-blowing revelations like this one:

In the summer of 2002, after I had written an article in Esquire that the White House didn't like about Bush's former communications director, Karen Hughes, I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House's displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn't fully comprehend -- but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

Now Salon has published a new interview with Suskind called Reality-Based Reporting

Ron Suskind, who exposed the ruthless internal operations of Team Bush, tells Salon that many Republicans, too, are frightened by the White House's "kill-or-be-killed desire to undermine public debate based on fact."

Also check out:

Mary Jacoby's The Dunce

David Shipler on Poverty in America; Clea Koff on Researching Genocides; Maureen Dowd on Bushworld

(courtesy of Andie, original source WYNC)

Millions of Americans live so close to the poverty line that even the smallest setback can be catastrophic. Pulitzer Prize-winner and former New York Times reporter David Shipler explains why so many of America’s working poor are stuck in dead-end jobs with little opportunity for advancement. Forensic anthropologist Clea Koff’s work has led her to the sites of some of the worst genocides of human history—including mass graves in Rwanda and parts of the former Yugoslavia. She explains how efforts to exhume bodies in these areas have not only helped to establish the identity of the victims, but have also uncovered evidence of war crimes. And Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd joins us to discuss her first book: Bushworld: Enter At Your Own Risk.

Hard Labor

Check out other shows from the Leonard Lopate Show

Household Survey in Iraq Estimates 100,000 Iraqi Deaths Since the Official End of the War--Majority are Women and Children

(courtesy of JM, and original source is Yahoo)

Household Survey Sees 100,000 Iraqi Deaths
By EMMA ROSS, AP Medical Writer

LONDON - A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months after the U.S. invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.

There is no official figure for the number of Iraqis killed since the conflict began, but some non-governmental estimates range from 10,000 to 30,000. As of Wednesday, 1,081 U.S. servicemen had been killed, according to the U.S. Defense Department.

The scientists who wrote the report concede that the data they based their projections on were of "limited precision," because the quality of the information depends on the accuracy of the household interviews used for the study. The interviewers were Iraqi, most of them doctors.

Designed and conducted by researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Columbia University and the Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad, the study is being published Thursday on the Web site of The Lancet medical journal.

The survey indicated violence accounted for most of the extra deaths seen since the invasion, and air strikes from coalition forces caused most of the violent deaths, the researchers wrote in the British-based journal.

"Most individuals reportedly killed by coalition forces were women and children," they said.

The report was released just days before the U.S. presidential election, and the lead researcher said he wanted it that way. The Lancet routinely publishes papers on the Web before they appear in print, particularly if it considers the findings of urgent public health interest.

Those reports then appear later in the print issue of the journal. The journal's spokesmen said they were uncertain which print issue the Iraqi report would appear in and said it was too late to make Friday's issue, and possibly too late for the Nov. 5 edition.

Les Roberts, the lead researcher from Johns Hopkins, said the article's timing was up to him.

"I emailed it in on Sept. 30 under the condition that it came out before the election," Roberts told The Asocciated Press. "My motive in doing that was not to skew the election. My motive was that if this came out during the campaign, both candidates would be forced to pledge to protect civilian lives in Iraq.

"I was opposed to the war and I still think that the war was a bad idea, but I think that our science has transcended our perspectives," Roberts said. "As an American, I am really, really sorry to be reporting this."

Richard Peto, an expert on study methods who was not involved with the research, said the approach the scientists took is a reasonable one to investigate the Iraq death toll.

However, it's possible that they may have zoned in on hotspots that might not be representative of the death toll across Iraq, said Peto, a professor of medical statistics at Oxford University in England.

To conduct the survey, investigators visited 33 neighborhoods spread evenly across the country in September, randomly selecting clusters of 30 households to sample. Of the 988 households visited, 808, consisting of 7,868 people, agreed to participate in the survey. At each one they asked how many people lived in the home and how many births and deaths there had been since January 2002.

The scientists then compared death rates in the 15 months before the invasion with those that occurred during the 18 months after the attack and adjusted those numbers to account for the different time periods.

Even though the sample size appears small, this type of survey is considered accurate and acceptable by scientists and was used to calculate war deaths in Kosovo in the late 1990s.

The investigators worked in teams of three. Five of the six Iraqi interviewers were doctors and all six were fluent in English and Arabic.

In the households reporting deaths, the person who died had to be living there at the time of the death and for more than two months before to be counted. In an attempt at firmer confirmation, the interviewers asked for death certificates in 78 households and were provided them 63 times.

There were 46 deaths in the surveyed households before the war. After the invasion, there were 142 deaths. That is an increase from 5 deaths per 1,000 people per year to 12.3 per 1,000 people per year — more than double.

However, more than a third of the post-invasion deaths were reported in one cluster of households in the city Falluja, where fighting has been most intense recently. Because the fighting was so severe there, the numbers from that location may have exaggerated the overall picture.

When the researchers recalculated the effect of the war without the statistics from Falluja, the deaths end up at 7.9 per 1,000 people per year — still 1.5 times higher than before the war.

Even with Falluja factored out, the survey "indicates that the death toll associated with the invasion and occupation of Iraq is more likely than not about 100,000 people, and may be much higher," the report said.

The most common causes of death before the invasion of Iraq were heart attacks, strokes and other chronic diseases. However, after the invasion, violence was recorded as the primary cause of death and was mainly attributed to coalition forces — with about 95 percent of those deaths caused by bombs or fire from helicopter gunships.

Violent deaths — defined as those brought about by the intentional act of others — were reported in 15 of the 33 clusters. The chances of a violent death were 58 times higher after the invasion than before it, the researchers said.

Twelve of the 73 violent deaths were not attributed to coalition forces. The researchers said 28 children were killed by coalition forces in the survey households. Infant mortality rose from 29 deaths per 1,000 live births before the war to 57 deaths per 1,000 afterward.

The researchers estimated the nationwide death toll due to the conflict by multiplying the difference between the two death rates by the estimated population of Iraq — 24.4 million at the start of the war. The result was then multiplied by 18 months, the average period between the invasion and the survey interviews.

"We estimate that there were 98,000 extra deaths during the postwar period in the 97 percent of Iraq represented by all the clusters except Falluja," the researchers said in the journal.

"This isn't about individual soldiers doing bad things. This appears to be a problem with the approach to occupation in Iraq," Roberts said.

The researchers called for further confirmation by an independent body such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, or the World Health Organization.

The study was funded by the Center for International Emergency Disaster and Refugee Studies at Johns Hopkins University and by the Small Arms Survey in Geneva, Switzerland, a research project based at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva.


Source Link

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Mary Jacoby: The Dunce


"The Dunce" by Mary Jacoby

His former Harvard Business School professor recalls George W. Bush not just as a terrible student but as spoiled, loutish and a pathological liar.

For 25 years, Yoshi Tsurumi, one of George W. Bush's professors at Harvard Business School, was content with his green-card status as a permanent legal resident of the United States. But Bush's ascension to the presidency in 2001 prompted the Japanese native to secure his American citizenship. The reason: to be able to speak out with
the full authority of citizenship about why he believes Bush lacks the character and intellect to lead the world's oldest and most powerful democracy.

"I don't remember all the students in detail unless I'm prompted by something," Tsurumi said in a telephone interview Wednesday. "But I always remember two types of students. One is the very excellent student, the type as a professor you feel honored to be working with. Someone with strong social values, compassion and intellect -- the very rare person you never forget. And then you remember students like George Bush, those who are totally the opposite."

The future president was one of 85 first-year MBA students in Tsurumi's macroeconomic policies and international business class in the fall of 1973 and spring of 1974. Tsurumi was a visiting associate professor at Harvard Business School from January 1972 to August 1976; today, he is a professor of international business at Baruch College in New York.

Trading as usual on his father's connections, Bush entered Harvard in 1973 for a two-year program. He'd just come off what George H.W. Bush had once called his eldest son's "nomadic years" -- partying, drifting from job to job, working on political campaigns in Florida and Alabama and, most famously, apparently not showing up for duty in the Alabama National Guard.

Harvard Business School's rigorous teaching methods, in which the professor interacts aggressively with students, and students are encouraged to challenge each other sharply, offered important insights into Bush, Tsurumi said. In observing students' in-class performances, "you develop pretty good ideas about what are their weaknesses and strengths in terms of thinking, analysis, their prejudices, their
backgrounds and other things that students reveal," he said.

One of Tsurumi's standout students was Rep. Chris Cox, R-Calif., now the seventh-ranking member of the House Republican leadership. "I typed him as a conservative Republican with a conscience," Tsurumi said. "He never confused his own ideology with economics, and he didn't try to hide his ignorance of a subject in mumbo jumbo. He was what I call a principled conservative." (Though clearly a partisan one. On Wednesday, Cox called for a congressional investigation of the validity of documents that CBS News obtained for a story questioning Bush's attendance at Guard duty in Alabama.)

Bush, by contrast, "was totally the opposite of Chris Cox," Tsurumi said. "He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." When asked to explain a particular comment, said Tsurumi, Bush would respond, "Oh, I never said that." A White House spokeswoman did not return a phone call seeking comment.

In 1973, as the oil and energy crisis raged, Tsurumi led a discussion on whether government should assist retirees and other people on fixed incomes with heating costs. Bush, he recalled, "made this ridiculous statement and when I asked him to explain, he said, 'The government doesn't have to help poor people -- because they are lazy.' I said, 'Well, could you explain that assumption?' Not only could he not explain it, he started backtracking on it, saying, 'No, I didn't say that.'"

If Cox had been in the same class, Tsurumi said, "I could have asked him to challenge that and he would have demolished it. Not personally or emotionally, but intellectually."

Bush once sneered at Tsurumi for showing the film "The Grapes of Wrath," based on John Steinbeck's novel of the Depression. "We were in a discussion of the New Deal, and he called Franklin Roosevelt's policies 'socialism.' He denounced labor unions, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Medicare, Social Security, you name it. He denounced the civil rights movement as socialism. To him, socialism and communism were the same thing. And when challenged to explain his prejudice, he could not defend his argument, either ideologically, polemically or academically."

Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him, Tsurumi said. "In class, he couldn't challenge them. But after class, he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing those students who had challenged him. He would complain that someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies.

So that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy."

Many of Tsurumi's students came from well-connected or wealthy families, but good manners prevented them from boasting about it, the professor said. But Bush seemed unabashed about the connections that had brought him to Harvard. "The other children of the rich and famous were at least well bred to the point of realizing universal values and standards of behavior," Tsurumi said. But Bush sometimes came late to class and often sat in the back row of the theater-like classroom, wearing a bomber jacket from the Texas Air National Guard and spitting chewing tobacco into a cup.

"At first, I wondered, 'Who is this George Bush?' It's a very common name and I didn't know his background. And he was such a bad student that I asked him once how he got in. He said, 'My dad has good friends.'" Bush scored in the lowest 10 percent of the class.

The Vietnam War was still roiling campuses and Harvard was no exception. Bush expressed strong support for the war but admitted to Tsurumi that he'd gotten a coveted spot in the Texas Air National Guard through his father's connections.

"I used to chat up a number of students when we were walking back to class," Tsurumi said. "Here was Bush, wearing a Texas Guard bomber jacket, and the draft was the No. 1 topic in those days. And I said, 'George, what did you do with the draft?' He said, 'Well, I got into the Texas Air National Guard.' And I said, 'Lucky you. I understand there is a long waiting list for it. How'd you get in?' When he told me, he didn't seem ashamed or embarrassed. He thought he was entitled to all kinds of
privileges and special deals. He was not the only one trying to twist all their connections to avoid Vietnam. But then, he was fanatically for the war."

Tsurumi told Bush that someone who avoided a draft while supporting a war in which others were dying was a hypocrite. "He realized he was caught, showed his famous smirk and huffed off."

Tsurumi's conclusion: Bush is not as dumb as his detractors allege. "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion," he said.

In recent days, Tsurumi has told his story to various print and television outlets and appears in Kitty Kelley's exposé "The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty." He said other professors and students at the business school from that time share his recollections but are afraid to come forward, fearing ostracism or retribution. And why is Tsurumi speaking up now? Because with the ongoing bloodshed in Iraq and Osama bin Laden still on the loose -- not to mention a federal deficit ballooning out of control -- the stakes are too high to remain silent. "Obviously, I
don't think he is the best person" to be running the country, he said. "I wanted to explain why."

Also check out:

Molly Ivins "The Uncompassionate Conservative"

and what the hell after those two articles you might as well (courtesy of Sick Day):

Give Bush a Brain

Your Voting Rights

(Courtesy of Rebecca Saunders--handy guide for first time voters--please pass it on)


If you are in line at the official closing of the polls, you are legally entitled to vote and the polling location must allow you to vote.

Bring your driver's license/photo ID with your local address or your driver's license and college campus ID with you to your polling location. You have the right to vote in the community where you live and go to school--whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.)

If your registration is in question or you've forgotten to bring a picture ID, you have the right to request and complete a provisional ballot. A provisional ballot will be verified and counted in the event of a close election. Do not leave without voting!

If you make a mistake or spoil your ballot before it is submitted, you have the right to receive a replacement ballot.

You have the right to file a written complaint at your polling place if you are dissatisfied with the way an election is being run. And you have the right to vote with out anyone in the polling place trying to influence your vote.

If you experience any intimidation or problems voting at your polling location call the Election Protection Project at the toll-free number, 1-866-OUR-VOTE. The hotline provides free, immediate and multi-lingual assistance to help voters who encounter barriers to the ballot box.

Eric Schlosser: A Writer's Life

A good profile on my favorite writers:

Eric Schlosser: A Writer's Life

Eric Schlosser: The Fine Art of Muckraking

Thomas Benton: Something More Than a Gentle Madness

I can understand this madness:

My Own Private Library

Votergate: The Documentary

Buyankasha at Pooponpolitics recommends a new documentary on electronic voting:


Also cited by Seeing the Forest

Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts: First it was the Homosexuals, Now Its the Developmentally Disabled

(Spontaneous Arising)

Not happy with erasing any hint of homosexuality from the butch organization of Boy Scouts, the junior Cub Scouts, of St. Charles, MO, decided to enact their own cleansing process by banning a mentally disabled boy from their activities:

Get Lost, Kid!: The Cub Scouts tell the mother of a retarded boy her son's no longer welcome

Parker Palmer: Living Our Values

Wisconsin Public Radio

How do we heal the great divides in our country and in ourselves? After eight, on Here On Earth, Jean Feraca talks with author and educator Parker Palmer, who says, "We must become conscientious objectors to the forces that put us at war with ourselves."

Guest: Parker Palmer, author, "A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward An Undivided Life."

Listen to the Show

Jurrian Kamp: European Critique of American Pro-War Rhetoric

Wisconsin Public Radio

In Europe there have been many recent examples of political parties and political leaders that have won elections with anti-war rhetoric. Not so in America. For a European critique of the pro-war rhetoric of the American presidential election, join Jean Feraca and her guest on Here On Earth.

Jurrian Kamp is Editor-in-Chief of the international news magazine, ODE.

Listen to this Show

Joris Ivens: On Documentaries and Objectivity

"I was surprised to find that many people automatically assumed that any documentary film would inevitably be objective. Perhaps the term is unsatisfactory, but for me the distinction between the words document and documentary is quite clear. Do we demand objectivity in the evidence presented at a trial? No, the only demand is that each piece of evidence be as full a subjective, truthful, honest presentation of the witness's attitude as an oath on the Bible can produce from him."-- Joris Ivens, from The Camera and I

Jeff Sharlet: Religion and Politics in the US

Wisconsin Public Radio

While many nations have moved toward either theocracy or secularism, Americans continue to struggle daily with the role of religion in politics… and politics in religion. After eight, on Here On Earth, Jean Feraca and her guest discuss faith-and-politics in America.

Guest: Jeff Sharlet, co-author of Killing the Buddha. Editor of The Revealer, a daily online review of religion and the press.

Click Here to Listen to This Broadcast

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Slave Revolt Documentaries

(courtesy Rigorous Institution)

Check out the archive of documentaries at Slave Revolt Documentaries


The Propaganda Model of News
(60 min)

An excellent discussion about how the news is sculpted to present a certain viewpoint of events around the world. Featuring Noam Chomsky, Edward Herman and Justin Lewis.

Brian Springer
Video, 1995, (60 min.)

Using the 1992 presidential election as his springboard, documentary filmmaker Brian Springer captures the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of politicians and newscasters in the early 1990s. Pat Robertson banters about "homos," Al Gore learns how to avoid abortion questions, George Bush talks to Larry King about halcyon -- all presuming they're off camera. Composed of 100% unauthorized satellite footage, Spin is a surreal expose of media-constructed reality.

OutFoxed: Rupert Murdoch’s War on Journalism
September 22, 2004
(21:29 min)

In the US, the presidential election campaign is now entering the home straight. And there’s one man who may well determine the result - Rupert Murdoch, who owns what has become one of the most influential news outlets in the country. Fox News is now the highest rating cable news network in the States. But it’s winning enemies as well, with critics claiming it’s taking journalism to new lows with its outrageous bias in favour of the Republican Party.

and many more...

Also check out:

Internet Archive: Movies

Internet: Archive: Audio

Kevin Van Meter: Environmental Activist Wins Case Against the FBI

Earth First Journal


On May 20, in a packed courtroom filled with family and supporters, Long Island activist Conor J. Cash was acquitted of charges that have been a constant shadow over him, his family and the activist community for more than three years. Cash, who has always maintained his innocence, was one of the first individuals charged as a terrorist after September 11, 2001. In total, Cash faced charges that could have imprisoned him for more than 60 years

Read Entire Article

Open Art Call: "BoundLess" Group Exhibition

Dear Friends, Colleagues and Amateurs of contemporary art,

Check out this open call for (free) participation in the project of Jan Christensen, within the "BoundLess" group exhibition in Stenersenmuseet, Oslo, Norway, curated by Henry Meyric Hughes. I think it's a very good project in that kind of an institutional context.

Please send your material / questions directly to:

For informations about my Artinfo-l mailing list and how to unsubscribe, please have a look at the end of this mail.

Best wishes, Kristofer Paetau


This is an open call for contributing material to a project intended for a group show in Stenersenmuseet, Oslo, Norway, curated by Henry Meyric Hughes. The show is scheduled to open in February, 2005.

I have been invited as a participating artist for the show "BoundLess", which has a theme based on the idea of artists travelling, creating networks of affiliated people and the notion that creativity is relative and subject to your meetings and subsequent inspirations.

I would like to open this up further by inviting ANYBODY to submit material such as text or images - or both - which will fit on a sheet of A4 in black and white. It could be a text, an article, a drawing, a note, a photograph or whatever. Your material will be included in the show as a reproduction, without any restrictions or censorship, and I will furthermore make an effort to reproduce selected images and illustrations (blown up as posters or painted up as some sort of background decoration), as a backdrop to the show. I will even try to execute any instructions you supply, to the best of my ability. There is no limit to the number of pieces you submit, but please note that each work of art should be limited to a single sheet of paper.

Please pass this on to ANYBODY you might think would find it interesting.

You may credit this show as a group show, in which you participate by your involvement in this installation, though I can not guarantee that details regarding each participant will be included for additional printed matter, apart from what I will myself produce, as part of the show, which will be some sort of printed document consisting of all contributions, including credits (names only,) and, hopefully, a poster. The complete document will then be available for download as a PDF from my homepage Jan Christensen

I will respond personally to every contributor with detailed information regarding the exhibition. Please note that there will not be any fees or reimbursements included for participants to this project.

Please be aware that copyrights will not be respected. Popular culture is founded on appropriation.

Remembering John Peel

Katy at Satan's Kitten Club remembers the impact of John Peel, who died last night in Peru, on the lives and careers of the musicians who appeared on his radio show (I haven't seen any other reports yet--any links would be appreciated).

Michael H. of Spontaneous Arising adds his memories of John Peel:

Thivai: Thanks for posting this. My brother, a dj in Los Angeles and an activist in the effort to reassert independent music as the dominant creative force in mainstream programming, sent me news this morning of John Peel's passing. I told my brother that it was good that Mr. Peel had the chance to die in Cuzco, one of the planet's most vibrantly spiritual places. I also reflected on my seven years working in an independent record store here in Boulder, how I would often put on a John Peel Sessions disc during the final hour of a long closing shift. He was a voice for the raw creative angst that puts slickly-produced mainstream music to shame. He will be missed.

My response:

I only knew John Peel from the amazing sessions that I would stumble across in used music stores. I would snap up the rare discs and run home as if I had just found buried treasure: some of my favorites were the Jimi Hendrix, Pixies, Siouxise and the Banshees and Television recordings, but there were so many--some lost, some found (when I go home tonight I will pull them out). I used to sit in my bedroom wondering what it must have been like in those recording sessions. . .

Any other memories?

World Changing: Another World is Here

(courtesy of Andie)

Recommended collective blog that reports on "Models, Tools, and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future":

World Changing

Free Press Report: More on the Sinclair Backlash

Free Press


A new national survey on Sinclair Broadcast Group’s decision to air a program critical of John Kerry found that the overwhelming majority of Americans believe the opposing political point of view should be broadcast.
-From Consumers Union

Jon Leiberman was thrust into the spotlight when the journalist felt he could no longer remain silent and thus took a stand against his employer, Sinclair Broadcast Group. By David Folkenflik and Stephen Kiehl, Baltimore Sun

Sinclair's push to acquire more TV stations (it already owns more than any company in the country) could be hindered by the recent publicity over its plans to use its stations to influence the Presidential election. By Ron Orol,

In a rebuke of Sinclair Broadcast Group, Burger King said it "will not permit" its ads to run during the smear piece against John Kerry that the broadcasting company is forcing its stations to air this Friday. By Joe Mandese,

A look at excerpts of "Stolen Honor" -- a film that rehashes old charges about the Vietnam War -- reveals the extreme partisanship involved in its production. By Peter J. Ognibene,

Jeff Chester believes that the public outcry over the Sinclair controversy underscores the need not just to reinstate the Fairness Doctrine, but to expand its application to include new and emerging technologies. By Jeffrey Chester, Alternet

More on this issue:

Sinclair Broadcasting: Connect the Dots

Architecture of a New Consensus

The Media, Politics, and Censorship

Sinclair Stations to Boycott Nightline Broadcast of the Names/Faces Of U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq

Bush Quote of the Day

"Whether or not we can be ever fully safe is up -- you know, up in the air."
-- President Bush


As Allawi Blames Massacre of 50 Iraqi Soldiers on 'Great Negligence' of American forces that trained them and everyone wonders where 380 tons of high explosives in Iraq disappeared and who has the explosives? In case you are wondering how this dangerous situation of 380 tons! of high explosives just disappearing, check out Cyndy's post at MouseMusings:

Timeline of Looting and Incompetence

Conversation with a Conservative, Pt. 4: Peter G. Peterson

Conversation With a Conservative: Peter G. Peterson

In the fourth and final film in Mother Jones' "Conversation with a Conservative," series, Peter G. Peterson, Commerce Secretary in the Nixon administration, explains that the Republican Party "has lost its moorings" in recent years.

In the interview, Peterson tells Mother Jones:

- "We've lost our moorings here. We've become theological about tax cuts.... It's morphed into 'Any tax cut, any time.'"

- "This president, who says he's a conservative, is the first president since John Quincy Adams not to veto a single bill."

- "One of the almost criminal things we did, we took our kids' surpluses and we spent them."

Click here to view the video

A full transcript of Peterson's comments

Erica Pedersen: The Day the Music Voted

Punk's role in the drive to unseat Bush:

The Day the Music Voted

A Soldier Speaks: Robert J. Acosta

The first article in an ongoing Alternet series profiling returning veterans of the current Iraq War:

"One bad day in Iraq and a 19-year-old boy faces a lifetime without his right hand. This veteran speaks about his hopes and fears – and the long, hard road ahead."

A Soldier Speaks

Monday, October 25, 2004

For a Student Shocked by the Injustice of the Verdict in the Emmet Till Case

What is even more sad is that legal injustice and inequality is rampant in the American judicial system, now, 50 years later... why? Here are other links if you are interested in finding out more (of course I left out reports on the prison abuses that involve the US military in other countries—unless they related to domestic conditions—because it would have included hundreds of reports)

Looking at the Death Penalty

Death Penalty History Made at Northwestern

Burden of Innocence Frontline (PBS: May 2003)

The Plea: Nearly 95% of All Cases Resulting in Felony Convictions Never Reach a Jury. They are Settled Through Plea Bargains In Which a Defendant Agrees To Plead Guilty In Exchange For a Reduced Sentence. But What Are the Implications of a System That Relies on Pleas to Expedite Justice? Frontline (PBS: June, 2004)

The Strange and Tragic Case of Sherman Austin

US Prison Boom

US Government Paranoia in Action: FBI Abducts Artist, Seizes Art

Kentucky National Guard Soldier Beaten During Training Exercises in Guantanamo Bay

Women Prisoners in Connecticut, Saudi Torture of British Citizens, Brave Heroes During the My Lai Atrocities and the State Boys Rebellion

And just for good measure… one of my all-time favorite musicians who believed in the humanity of prisoners:

Remembering Johnny Cash

What are other reports--anyone?

Eric Schlosser: The Fine Art of Muckraking

(updated entry)

I just got done with the third part "Empire of the Obscene" of Eric Schlosser's book Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market, not only is it great muckraking journalism, but it is also gripping reading in a narrative sense. Schlosser's success equally resides in his narrative sensibilities, combine that with his thorough research and nose for a powerful story and voila! you have some great reading... in fact four of my most favorite reads (as in enjoyment) this year are Schlosser's book, Jerome Charyn's hardboiled novel "Blue Eyes," Pete Dexter's first novel "God's Pocket" and Arundhati Roy's "The God of Small Things"... for me it says a lot that Schlosser's journalistic narrative can hang with these three brilliant, poetic novels (of course Dexter was a journalist for 15 years, Charyn writes non-fiction documents of NY--he also wrote what is supposedly the best book on Ping Pong as sport--and Roy has long been publishing political/journalistic essays). The story of Ruben Sturman and his war with the U.S. government (in Reefer Madness) was riveting and left me wanting more (in a narrative sense)...

I've been using excerpts from Fast Food Nation in my courses and I'm planning on using parts of Reefer Madness in the summer/fall... His third book in this loose trilogy is supposed to be an exploration of prison culture/industry in the U.S.!

Schlosser's power is his awareness of the interconnected relations of the players/insitiutions in his narratives, his critiques of the broader abuses and effects of the system, and his ability to allow the story/participants to speak for itself/themselves (whether through interviews, documents, or actions).

Excerpt from "The Eat Generation: A review of Safe Food and The Pleasures of Slow Food"
by Ali Macalady
Grist Magazine

In 2001, Eric Schlosser published Fast Food Nation -- an expose of America's increasingly consolidated and industrialized food system, and how that system contributes to a whole range of societal ills, from obesity and resistance to antibiotics to urban sprawl, habitat destruction, and poor labor conditions. The book was a smashing success -- 66 weeks and running on the New York Times bestseller list -- and it captured the nation's attention in a way no book about food has since Upton Sinclair's The Jungle, the 1906 classic about the Chicago meatpacking industry.

In a new afterword to Fast Food Nation's paperback edition, Schlosser says the reason his book struck a nerve didn't have much to do with his prose, or even his politics, but rather with his timing. "Not just in the United States, but throughout western Europe, people are beginning to question the massive, homogenizing systems that produce, distribute, and market their food." Indeed food -- the most fundamental bond between people and the environment -- is becoming a nexus for outrage and activism on issues ranging from globalization and trade to land use and conservation.

Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market
By Eric Schlosser


Adam Smith believed in a God that was kind and wise and all-powerful. The great theorist of the free market believed in Providence. "The happiness of mankind," Smith wrote, "seems to have been the original purpose intended by the Author of nature." The workings of the Lord could be found not in the pages of a holy book, nor in miracles, but in the daily, mundane buying-and-selling of the marketplace. Each purchase might be driven by an individual desire, but behind them all lay "the invisible hand" of the Divine. This invisible hand set prices and wages. It determined supply and demand. It represented the sum of all human wishes. Without relying on any conscious intervention by man, the free market improved agriculture and industry, created surplus wealth, and made sure that the things being produced were the things people wanted to buy. Human beings lacked the wisdom, Smith felt, to improve society deliberately or to achieve Progress through some elaborate plan. But if every man pursued his own self-interest and obeyed only his "passions," the invisible hand would guarantee that everybody else benefited, too.

Published in 1776, The Wealth of Nations later had a profound effect upon the nation born that year. The idea that "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" were unalienable rights, endowed by a Creator, fit perfectly with the economic theories of Adam Smith. "Life, liberty and estate" was the well-known phrase that Thomas Jefferson amended slightly for the Declaration of Independence. The United States was the first country to discard feudal and aristocratic traditions and replace them with a republican devotion to marketplace ideals. More than two centuries later, America's leading companies—General Motors, General Electric, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Wal-Mart, Boeing, et al.—have annual revenues larger than those of many sovereign states. No currency is more powerful than the U.S. dollar, and the closing prices on Wall Street guide the financial markets of Tokyo, London, Paris, and Frankfurt. The unsurpassed wealth of the United States has enabled it to build a military without rival. And yet there is more to the U.S. economy, much more, than meets the eye. In addition to America's famous corporations and brands, the invisible hand has also produced a largely invisible economy, secretive and well hidden, with its own labor demand, price structure, and set of commodities.

"Black," "shadow," "irregular," "informal," "illegal," "subterranean," "underground"—a variety of adjectives have been used to describe this other economy. Although defined in numerous ways, at its simplest the American underground is where economic activities remain off the books, where they are unrecorded, unreported, and in violation of the law. These activities range from the commonplace (an electrician demanding payment in cash and failing to declare the payment as income) to the criminal (a gang member selling methamphetamine). They include moonlighting, check kiting, and fencing stolen goods; street vending and tax evading; employing day laborers and child laborers; running sweatshops and chop shops; smuggling cigarettes, guns, and illegal immigrants; selling fake Rolexes, pirating CDs. Economists disagree about the actual size of the underground economy and how to measure it. Some studies look at the discrepancy between the amount of personal income declared on tax returns and the amount of money that is actually spent. Other studies examine changes in currency supply, the velocity of money, levels of electricity usage. Each of these methodologies has its merits. All have produced conclusions that are debatable. There is general agreement, however, on two points: America's underground economy is vast—and most of its growth occurred in the past thirty years.

Any estimate of illegal economic activity is bound to lack precision, since it attempts to quantify things that people have carefully tried to hide. Nevertheless, the best estimates convey a sense of scale and proportion. In 1997 the Austrian economist Friedrich Schneider calculated the rise of America's "shadow economy" by tracing changes in the demand for currency. According to Schneider, in 1970 the size of the underground was between 2.6 and 4.6 percent of America's gross domestic product (GDP). By 1994 it had reached 9.4 percent of the GDP—about $650 billion. Using a different methodology in 1998, Charles Rossotti, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, told Congress that during the previous year Americans had failed to pay about $200 billion of federal taxes that were owed, an amount larger than the government's annual spending on Medicare. Assuming an average federal tax rate of 14 percent, that means Americans somehow neglected to report almost $1.5 trillion in personal income. The IRS estimate did not include undeclared earnings from criminal activity.

Two other periods in modern American history were marked by thriving underground economies. From 1920 to 1933, the prohibition of alcohol led to widespread trafficking and the rise of organized crime. At the height of Prohibition, Americans spent about $5 billion a year on alcohol (roughly $54 billion in today's dollars). This black market constituted about 5 percent of the U.S. gross national product at the time. When Prohibition ended, some bootleggers became well-respected businessmen. During the Second World War, the imposition of rationing and price controls created even larger black markets. A system designed to distribute scarce commodities fairly had some unanticipated effects: a burgeoning trade in ration books and a hidden cash economy. Perhaps 5 percent of the nation's gasoline and 20 percent of its meat were soon bought and sold illegally. According to one estimate, by the end of the war Americans were failing to report as much as 15 percent of their personal income. The underground subsided amid the prosperity of the Eisenhower era. Wages increased, tax evasion decreased, and no illegal commodity generated the sort of profits once supplied by bootleg alcohol. And then at some point in the mid- to late 1960s the underground economy began to grow. Conservative economists point to high income tax rates and excessive government regulation as the fundamental causes. Liberals contend that declining wages, unemployment, union busting, and the business deregulation of the Reagan years were much more responsible for shifting economic activity underground. The explanations offered by the left and the right are not mutually exclusive. A stagnant economy prompted Americans of every background to work off the books. The hippie counterculture of the 1960s and the anti-tax movement of the late 1970s shared common ground in their dislike of government, encouraging defiance of the IRS. A new drug culture provided new opportunities for organized crime. The expansion of America's underground economy over the last thirty years stemmed not only from economic hardship and a desire for illegal profits, but also from a growing sense of alienation, anger at authority, and disrespect for the law. During roughly the same period similar phenomena occurred throughout the western industrialized world. The underground economy of the European Union may now be larger than that of the United States. Years of high unemployment, high tax rates, illegal immigration, and widespread disillusion with government have created enormous undergrounds. According to Friedrich Schneider's estimates, these shadow economies range in size from an estimated 12.5 percent of GDP in Great Britain to an estimated 27 percent of GDP in Italy. Countries that were once part of the Soviet Union have even larger black markets. In Estonia the underground is now responsible for an estimated 39 percent of GDP; in Russia, for an estimated 45 percent; in Ukraine, for an estimated 51 percent. The underground is sometimes the most vibrant sector of these transition economies, the place where free enterprise has finally bloomed. But in many ways the growth of black markets in the developed world represents a step backward. An expanding underground economy is often associated with increased corruption and a greater disparity in wealth. For years government officials and members of the Communist Party secretly profited from the Soviet Union's "second economy," offering services and commodities unavailable through the mainstream. The largest undergrounds are now found in the developing world, where governments are corrupt and laws are routinely ignored. In Bolivia the underground economy is responsible for an estimated 65 percent of GDP. In Nigeria it accounts for perhaps 76 percent.

The U.S. dollar now serves as the unofficial currency of this new global underground. During the late 1960s and early 1970s American economists began to notice that the amount of currency in circulation had grown much larger than the amount ordinary citizens were likely to use in their everyday transactions. The discovery led to the first inklings that an underground economy was emerging in the United States. While business publications heralded the advent of a cashless, credit-based economy, the use of banknotes quietly soared. The $100 bill soon became the underground favorite, not just in the United States, but overseas as well, thanks to its high face value and the relative stability of the dollar. During the late 1970s the outflow of currency from the United States averaged about $2 billion a year. By the 1990s, about $20 billion in U.S. currency was being shipped to foreign countries every year. Today approximately three-quarters of all $100 bills circulate outside the United States.

The supremacy of the dollar in the global underground has proven a boon to the American economy. The outflow of U.S. currency now serves, in essence, as a gigantic interest-free loan. Every time the U.S. Treasury issues new banknotes, it purchases an equal value of interest-bearing securities. Those securities are liquidated only when the currency is taken out of circulation and put into a bank. In 2000 the U.S. Treasury earned an estimated $32.7 billion in interest from its banknotes circulating overseas. The 1996 redesign of the $100 bill was partly motivated by fears that Middle Eastern counterfeiters had created a convincingly real $100 bill, a "supernote" that might threaten the role of U.S. currency in unofficial transactions. The latest threat to the $100 bill comes not from organized crime figures, but from the central bank of the European Union. The new 500-euro note is perfect for black market activity. It has roughly five times the value of a $100 bill, allowing drug dealers and smugglers to lighten their suitcases. Portugal has banned the 500-euro note for those reasons, and its acceptance in other foreign undergrounds is not yet certain.

The three essays in this book shed light on different aspects of the American underground—and on the ways it has changed society, for better or worse. "Reefer Madness" looks at the legal and economic consequences of marijuana use in the United States. Pot has become a hugely popular black market commodity, more widely used throughout the world than any other illegal drug. The enforcement of state and federal laws regarding marijuana guides its production, sets the punishments for its users, and suggests the arbitrary nature of many cultural taboos. Americans not only smoke more marijuana but also imprison more people for marijuana than any other western industrialized nation.

"In the Strawberry Fields" examines the plight of migrant workers in California agriculture, who are mainly illegal immigrants. The state's recruitment of illegals from Mexico started a trend that has lately spread throughout the United States. Many employers now prefer to use black market labor. Although immigrant smuggling looms as a multi-billion-dollar business in its own right, the growing reliance on illegals has far-reaching implications beyond the underground, affecting wages, working conditions, and even the practice of democracy in the rest of society.

"An Empire of the Obscene" traces the history of the pornography industry through the career of an obscure businessman and his successors. It describes how a commodity once traded only on the black market recently entered the mainstream, turning behavior long thought deviant into popular entertainment. Profits from the sale of pornography that used to be earned by organized crime figures are now being made by some of America's largest corporations. The current demand for marijuana and pornography is deeply revealing. Here are two commodities that Americans publicly abhor, privately adore, and buy in astonishing amounts.

Linking all three essays is a belief that the underground is inextricably linked to the mainstream. The lines separating them are fluid, not permanently fixed. One cannot be fully understood without regard to the other. The vastness and complexity of the underground challenge the mathematical certainties of conventional economic thinking. Hard numbers suddenly appear illusory. Prices on Wall Street rise or fall based on minuscule changes in the rate of inflation, the unemployment rate, the latest predictions about the GNP. Billions of dollars may change hands because an economic measurement shifts by one-tenth of a percent. But what do those statistics really mean, if 20 percent, 10 percent, or even 5 percent of a nation's economy somehow cannot be accounted for? America's great economic successes of the past two decades—in software, telecommunications, aerospace, computing—are only part of the story. Marlboro, Camel, and Philip Morris are familiar names, and the tobacco industry is one of the most powerful lobbies in Washington, D.C. But Americans now spend more money on illegal drugs than on cigarettes.

The proper role of the state and the proper limits on the free market are central themes of this book. The political system of the United States and the economic system proposed by Adam Smith are ostensibly dedicated to freedom. Since 1776 Americans have been willing to fight and to die for freedom. You will search long and hard to find an American who thinks freedom is a bad thing. The question that has been much more difficult to answer is: Freedom for whom? Should the government be protecting the freedom of workers or employers? Of consumers, or manufacturers? Of the majority who live one way, or the minority who choose to live differently? In the abstract, freedom is always easy to celebrate. But adherence to that lofty ideal seems impossible to achieve. Despite the best of libertarian intentions, giving unchecked freedom to one group usually means denying it to another.

What happens in the underground economy is worth examining because of how fortunes are made there, how lives are often ruined there, how the vicissitudes of the law can deem one man a gangster or a chief executive (or both). If you truly want to know a person, you need to look beyond the public face, the jobs on the résumé, the books on the shelves, the family pictures on the desk. You may learn more from what's hidden in a drawer. There is always more to us than what we will admit. If the market does indeed embody the sum of all human wishes, then the secret ones are just as important as the ones that are openly displayed. Like the yin and yang, the mainstream and the underground are ultimately two sides of the same thing. To know a country you must see it whole.

Excerpted from Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market. Copyright © 2003 by Eric Schlosser.
Excerpt Link

More Reefer Madness

Introduction to Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal

Society's Quiet Crusader

Audio Interview

Atlantic Monthly Interview

A Grief Like No Other

Powell's Interview

Would you like ground spinal cord with that?

Operation Clark County: The World Calls America and We Hang Up

(courtesy of Jürgen Heilig, who graciously helps this American see the world from another perspective)

America Let Us Love You Again

Ian Katz on the Experiment

Telegraph Report of the End of Operation Clark County

60 Minutes: Justice, Delayed But Not Denied

A riveting, heart-rending story of teenager Emmet Till’s murder. This case was closed, the men who were charged with Till’s brutal beating and murder were declared innocent by a white Southern jury, but the murderers admitted six months later in a magazine article (for which they were paid $4,000) that they did it to teach Northern blacks a lesson. Now, 50 years later a determined young man—a documentary filmmaker—has taken the law enforcement community by surprise by researching and rescuing the information of the other people involved and has forced the government to re-open the case against those that are still alive. Silenced history—quiet no longer.

Justice, Delayed But Not Denied 60 Minutes

The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today

The Long Shadow of Jim Crow: Voter Intimidation and Suppression in America Today

For more on this issue catch ISOU's ongoing discussion.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Raymond Federman: On Understanding the Stories We Tell

An experience, whether tragic, comic, or banal, only gains meaning when it has passed through language, when it has been recounted, recorded, told, spoken, or written. But since language is also deficient and unreliable, the recounting of an experience is also deficient and unreliable. As such, meaning is never absolute and cannot precede an experience, nor can it precede language. Meaning is produced by language. The act of speaking or writing is what produces meaning. It is in this sense that the meaning (or the truth) of an experience, or the meaning (or the truth) of history comes after it has happened, after the facts. History, whether collective or individual, is made of the stories one tells of what happened.

We are surrounded by [these]discourses: historical, social, political, economic, medical, judicial, and of course literary. Discourses about sports, about television, entertainment, about pollution, about the weather, about the political situation in Eastern Europe, about the political or religious situation in the Middle-East, and so on.

Discourse impregnate us, confuse us, traverse us, guide us, influence us, determine us, confuse us—willingly or unwillingly. We are made of discourses—words: spoken and written.

Therefore, the importance of always questioning, always doubting, always challenging these discourses. But less to know what they say, or what they mean, than to find out how they function, how they are constituted, how they become possible within the complexity of our modern world. Obviously, for our purpose, it is the literary discourse that must be questioned. But the problems remain the same. Where and how to begin this questioning? By asking how a discourse is written (and notice, I say HOW and not WHO writes a discourse)? That is to say, by asking what are the rules (external and internal) that govern a discourse, what are the fundamental norms that permit the formulation of a discourse? And also by asking how a discourse is read? What is the process by which one apprehends a discourse, what are we looking for in a discourse?

--Raymond Federman, Critifiction (1993)

Raymond Federman

The Politics of Information; Alt-X Ebooks; and وب‌لوگ


Alt-X ebooks are cutting edge collections of new media theory and experimental fiction... the first one I clicked on was The Politics of Information whicj should keep me busy for awhile...

Wisconsin Public Radio: Here on Earth

Here on Earth

A radio program hosted by Wisconsin public radio that you can listen to online—the first program listed features theologian/educator Parker Palmer discussing the concept of “soul.” Lots of great eco-awareness/spiritual/intellectual/theoretical thought pieces that could inspire and motivate any writer.

A good antidote to the cynicism and anger that can build up like plaque on our angry lives...

Jeff Sharlet: Our Magical President

Following in the footsteps of Ron Suskind's recent article Without a Doubt Sharlet examines Bush's faith as a New Age "power of belief":

An excerpt:

Believing, it seems, is more important to the President than the substance of his belief. Jesus Christ’s particular teachings -- well, those are good, too. But what really matters is that if you believe you can do something, you can.

What Suskind misses, and what Bush’s more orthodox Christian supporters seem to dodge, is that this is not Christian doctrine by any definition. It is, in fact, a key element of the broad, heterodox movement known as New Age religion.

A common aspect of many New Age schools of thought (though not all) is a gentle disdain for perceived reality. That's different from the fundamentalist aversion to worldliness; rather, this approach views the "real world" as that which is within the mind or heart or spirit of the believer. That idea is often dismissed as a modern bastardization of psychology, but many New Agers argue that their beliefs are actually ancient; and, despite the fact that the superficial characteristics are often of a recent vintage, there’s some truth to that assertion. New Age religions are, literally, reactionary, responses to what’s been called the disenchantment of the world. Another word for that process is the Enlightenment, with its claims of empirical accuracy. New Age movements attempt to revive -- or create anew --pre-Enlightenment ideas about magic, alchemy, ghosts, and whatever else practitioners can glean from a record for the most part expunged by institutional Christianity.

Our Magical President: How Bush goes beyond the Bible to create his own reality

Eqbal Ahmad: Terrorism--Theirs and Ours

(courtesy Social Criticism Review)

Ahmad's look at the vague, mutable usage/understanding of the words "terrorism" and "terrorist":

Terrorism: Theirs and Ours

I Heart Huckabees

I saw this new movie tonight. I'm not going to give anything about it away--just trust me, go see it as soon as possible. It is wildly original, intelligent and damn funny--I think I even gained a few insights into life. One of my favorite crazy wisdom movies since "Human Nature."

Project Censored's Top 25 Censored Stories of 2003-2004: (#1) Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy

(#1) Wealth Inequality in 21st Century Threatens Economy and Democracy
Report Link

MULTINATIONAL MONITOR, May 2003, Vol. 24, No. 5
Title: "The Wealth Divide" (An interview with Edward Wolff)
Author: Robert Weissman

BUZZFLASH, March 26 and 29, 2004
Title: “A Buzzflash Interview, Parts I & II" (with David Cay Johnston)
Author: Buzzflash Staff

LONDON GUARDIAN, October 4, 2003
Title: "Every third person will be a slum dweller within 30 years, UN agency warns"
Author: John Vidal

Title: “Grotesque Inequality”
Author: Robert Weissman

Faculty Evaluators: Greg Storino, Phil Beard Ph.D.
Student Researchers: Caitlyn Pardue, David Sonnenberg, Sita Khalsa



In the late 1700s, issues of fairness and equality were topics of great debate—
equality under the law, equality of opportunity, etc. Considered by the framers of the Constitution to be one of the most important aspects of a democratic system, the word “equality” is featured prominently throughout the document. In the 200+ years since, most industrialized nations have succeeded in decreasing the gap between rich and poor.

However, since the late 1970s wealth inequality, while stabilizing or increasing slightly in other industrialized nations, has increased sharply and dramatically in the United States. While it is no secret that such a trend is taking place, it is rare to see a TV news program announce that the top 1% of the U.S. population now owns about a third of the wealth in the country. Discussion of this trend takes place, for the most part, behind closed doors.

During the short boom of the late 1990s, conservative analysts asserted that, yes, the gap between rich and poor was growing, but that incomes for the poor were still increasing over previous levels. Today most economists, regardless of their political persuasion, agree that the data over the last 25 to 30 years is unequivocal. The top 5% is capturing an increasingly greater portion of the pie while the bottom 95% is clearly losing ground, and the highly touted American middle class is fast disappearing.

According to economic journalist, David Cay Johnston, author of “Perfectly Legal,” this trend is not the result of some naturally occurring, social Darwinist “survival of the fittest.” It is the product of legislative policies carefully crafted and lobbied for by corporations and the super-rich over the past 25 years.

New tax shelters in the 1980s shifted the tax burden off capital and onto labor. As tax shelters rose, the amount of federal revenue coming from corporations fell (from 35% during the Eisenhower years to 10% in 2002). During the deregulation wave of the ‘80s and the ‘90s, members of Congress passed legislation (often without reading it) that deregulated much of the financial industry. These laws took away, for example, the powerful incentives for accountants to behave with integrity or for companies to put away a reasonable amount in pension plans for their employees—resulting in the well-publicized (too late) scandals involving Enron, Global Crossing, and others.


As always, America’s economic trends have a global footprint—and this time, it is a crater. Today the top 400 income earners in the U.S. make as much in a year as the entire population of the 20 poorest countries in Africa (over 300 million people). But in America, national leaders and mainstream media tell us that the only way out of our own economic hole is through increasing and endless growth—fueled by the resources of other countries.

A series of reports released in 2003 by the UN and other global economy analysis groups warn that further increases in the imbalance in wealth throughout the world will have catastrophic effects if left unchecked. UN-habitat reports that unless governments work to control the current unprecedented spread in urban growth, a third of the world's population will be slum dwellers within 30 years. Currently, almost one-sixth of the world's population lives in slum-like conditions. The UN warns that unplanned, unsanitary settlements threaten both political and fiscal stability within third world countries, where urban slums are growing faster than expected. The balance of poverty is shifting quickly from rural to urban areas as the world's population moves from the countryside to the city.

As rich countries, strip poorer countries of their natural resources in an attempt to re-stabilize their own, the people of poor countries become increasingly desperate. This deteriorating situation, besides pressuring rich countries to allow increased immigration, further exacerbates already stretched political tensions and threatens global political and economic security.

UN economists blame "free-trade" practices and the neo-liberal policies of international lending institutions like the IMF and WTO, and the industrialized countries that lead them, for much of the damage caused to Third World countries over the past 20 years. Many of these policies are now being implemented in the U.S., allowing for an acceleration of wealth consolidation. And even the IMF has issued a report warning the U.S. about the consequences for its appetite for excess and overspending.

In developing countries, the concentration of key industries profitable to foreign investors requires that people move to cities while forced privatization of public services strip them of the ability to become stable or move up financially once they arrive. Meanwhile, the strict repayment schedules mandated by the global institutions make it virtually impossible for poor countries to move out from under their burden of debt. "In a form of colonialisation that is probably more stringent than the original, many developing countries have become suppliers of raw commodities to the world, and fall further and further behind," says one UN analyst. World economists conclude that if enough of the world’s nations reach a point of economic failure, such a situation could collapse the entire global economy.

For further information on this story, please check out the following excellent websites:
Dollars and Sense
Politics and Income
UK Guardian

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Drunken Boat: Norman Mailer Interview

Textual and Audio versions:

Norman Mailer Interview

Frozen Frame Political Film Series (Lexington)

Regardless of your political affiliation we all recognize there is a problem with the electoral system in America. Get ready for Nov 2nd by coming to the Ice House: Frozen Frame Film Series

Installment #2 - Fall.2004
Sunday, Oct. 24th 9:00 What America Needs and Unprecedented: the 2000 Presidential Election

Unprecedented: the 2000 Presidential Election
Filmmakers Joan Sekler and Richard Ray Perez rehash the dramatic events of the 2000 presidential election, exposing a chain of incidents they claim led up to the battle for the presidency in Florida and the undermining of democracy in America. Narrated by Peter Coyote, this revealing documentary examines an allegedly suspicious pattern of irregularities, injustices and voter purges all in a state governed by the wining candidate's brother.

What America Needs
A film that asks the simple question posed in the title ?What does America need??. Traipsing across 10 cities and interviewing over 500 individuals, filmmaker Mark Wojahn creates an idealistic tapestry of what we all want from America. Taking the thoughts, dreams, and opinions of everyday Americans ?What America Needs? transcends political boundaries and creates the America we all want. All politicians should view ?What America Needs? and realize that this is true democracy in action, the needs and wants of the American People.

@The Ice House 412 Cross Street (just off West Maxwell, where Versailles Rd.
meets Maxwell)

Free to the public, with donations of $3 accepted to help cover expenses.

The Ice House is a retired warehouse that has been a viable venue option for many Lexington events such as art shows, film screenings, dance parties, etc. The space is an open warehouse with some chairs provided but you might want to bring some floor cover to sit on.

Future FFFS Dates:
Oct 31st (Special Halloween Films and Festivities) and Nov 14th. Films TBA

100 Facts and 1 Opinion: The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration

A must read with full citation of source materials:

100 Facts and 1 Opinion: The Non-Arguable Case Against the Bush Administration

AIDs In Africa: Reflection and Interpretation

AIDS in Africa: Reflection and Interpretation

An eight-member team from southern Africa including policy-makers, social workers, researchers, agriculturalists, and clergy will share diverse perspectives on the African AIDS experience, its consequence, and future. Panel discussion w/ Q&A. (Reception to follow.)

Monday October 25
7:00PM - 9:00PM

Singletary Center for the Arts (corner of Rose and Euclid Sts)President's Room

Free Admission
Open to the Public
For more information, please write to

Sponsored by: Kentucky Global AIDS Campaign, UofL Medical School, IFMSA, UK Newman Center


Friday, October 22, 2004

Gilles Delueze and Felix Guattari: The Big Question

The big question is--why!???:

... the fundamental problem of political philosophy is still precisely the one that Spinoza saw so clearly ... : 'Why do men fight for their servitude as stubbornly as though it were their salvation?' How can people possibly reach the point of shouting: 'More taxes! Less bread!'? ... after centuries of exploitation, why do people still tolerate being humiliated and enslaved, to such a point, indeed, that they actually want humiliation and slavery not only for others but for themselves? (29)

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari. Anti-Oedipus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia (1984)

May Day Leeds Group: Moments of Excess

(courtesy of وب‌لوگ, originally posted at Interactivist Info Exchange by Hydrarchist)

Excerpted from Moments of Excess by May Day Leeds Group (I recommend you read the whole thing--but I have included excerpts for easy reference)

The phrase ‘moments of excess’ helps us make the connections between exceptional moments and everyday life. Work in a capitalist society automatically carries an element of excess because it is ultimately based on co-operation that can never be reducible to capital. Our abstract potential always exceeds and tries to escape the conditions of its production (that is, the capital relation). That’s why we think there’s ‘life despite capitalism’; because as a living, breathing mass, our needs, our desires, our lives constantly transcend the limits of capital.

What do we mean when we say ‘limits’? Capital needs to make a profit and to do this it needs to impose measure upon our activities, cramping our creativity. For example, most of us in work have some job description, however vague, laid down by management. Yet if we restrict our workplace activities to those duties, nothing meaningful would ever get done; which is why a ‘work-to-rule’ can be so successful. Similarly, capital needs to codify everyday practice into laws which relate to sovereign, rights-bearing individuals, even though this contradicts the way that innovation actually occurs. In fact capitalist culture tends to reduce all collective products of creativity to the sole property of individuals. ‘Brunel built this…’, ‘Farraday discovered that…’ On top of all this we have to factor in our everyday (partly unconscious) refusal to be homogenised, flattened, measured or made quantifiable.

In the most obvious sense then, there is an excess of life. In work, at home, on the bus, we produce a surplus of collectivity. This is our humanity, and it is this which capital is constantly trying to appropriate, harness, regulate or contain. All this has become more obvious over the last half-century, as capital – capitalist social relations – seems to have leaked into every aspect of our lives. At the same time, and of course related to capital’s colonisation, work – our daily activities – has become ever-more socialised. It’s no longer just a matter of the extraction of surplus value in the workplace: capitalist production is now inserting itself deep into the texture of our day-to-day social existence, in such a way that it now makes sense to think that society itself functions as a factory. But this increasing socialisation of labour has opened up new possibilities for cooperative and creative collectivities within capitalism that seem to lead beyond it. As work spreads throughout life so does the cooperation it relies on and it is this excess of co-operation which makes transformation possible.


Another defining characteristic of moments of excess is that existing methods of mediating people’s desires and demands fail. People don’t stop to think what’s possible, what’s realistic – and no ‘expert’ is there to help them keep their feet on the ground. Hence the Paris 1968 slogan ‘Be Realistic, Demand The Impossible’. In times of heightened activity we simply pose the only question worth asking: ‘what sort of life do we want to lead?’ Or even ‘what does it mean to be human?’. And it’s perhaps important to note that moments of excess are not just a modern phenomenon, they can be traced back through history. During moments of excess (‘revolutionary’ moments) we feel more connected to past experiments in new-world construction: to the Italian autonomists, the Naxalite rebels, the Paris Communards, the English Diggers. During bursts of revolutionary creativity we feel ‘really’ connected to our antecedents, not just warming ourselves with their memory.

But how do these moments of excess emerge from the ‘everyday’ excess, our daily surplus of life? Clearly it’s not a question of pushing the right buttons, or aligning the right material forces. We can’t engineer these situations. But it might be revealing to turn the question on its head and look at how these moments of excess subside and return to everyday ‘normality’.

Some writers have used an analogy with geological formations. If moments of excess are about horizontal flows of energy and desire, there is a simultaneous pull in the opposite direction. A way of thinking about this is that possibilities are channelled in certain directions – towards static, vertical forms (‘stratification’ and ‘striation’). One of the most exciting elements of punk, for example, was the way it broke down boundaries and identities. It was an excuse to reinvent yourself, with a new look and a new way of viewing things; this play with identity was often topped off with a new name. Other boundaries were broken by bands having shifting and multiple line-ups, or by gigs where the split between band and audience became blurred. But there was a counter-tendency, towards identification and demarcation. All of a sudden you had to wear the right ‘punk’ clothes, you had to know who was in the band, and the stars were always on stage.

Of course it’s not as simple as saying the first was good, and the second was bad. A certain amount of stratification is necessary to focus our co-operation and energy; without it the result would be entropy – the dispersal of energy. Stratification can have productive and restrictive moments. For instance, the way people look, talk, and hold their bodies can reflect a certain commonality and can help spread recognition of a shared antagonism. Moments of excess often produce their own common styles and common conducts. Our struggles aren’t just struggles for bread and potatoes, but for new ways of being and the revolutionary movements with the most resonance (the Black Panthers, Zapatistas etc.) have understood this. Over time such styles and the attitudes they reflect can become rigid and begin to act as a conservative force. But just as you can still see the original lava flows in rock formations, traces of the moment of excess are always present and can always be ‘re-activated’. That’s why many of the people who threw themselves headfirst into the early days of punk were people who’d lived through those moments in the late 1960s. And why so many who became involved in rave were old punks.


One way to think this through is to make a three-way distinction between majority, minority and minoritarian. In 1976 punk was minoritarian, it was undefined and open, it revealed a huge range of possibilities. But that initial urge to change, which was a process, got solidified into a never-changing state of being; a quarter-century on punk is an established minority identity. It’s fine to be a punk, it poses no threat: you wear the right clothes, you mess up your hair a certain way, you listen to certain records. Capital can incorporate any identity because you aren’t actually required to believe in anything for capitalism to function.

Another way of understanding the links between identity, individuality and collectivity is to look at riots. A common police strategy during big demonstrations is to (attempt to) create panic, by charging with horses, by driving vehicles into the crowd at high speed, by firing bullets (usually ‘only’ plastic in the North, frequently live bullets in the global South), in order to shock participants into an individual identity. Literally, ‘shock tactics’ whose aim is to disorient and then divide. The collective dissolves into competing individuals, all desperate for the quickest route to safety. A similar process can be seen in the days after such an event. For instance, following the Trafalgar Square Poll Tax riot of 1990, newspapers published pages of photographs of individual ‘rioters’: their aim to isolate through identification.

Still, it’s important to note that when the police break up riots, they’re not attempting to destroy collective organisation, per se. Rather, their aim is to re-order our collectivity in a way that doesn’t challenge the capital relation – we’re expected to go home and consume, to work, to reproduce. It’s a high risk strategy that’s only used as a last resort: driving vans into a crowd will decompose our collectivity but there’s no guarantee that it will be regrouped in a way that works for capital. Stronger and/or more numerous anti-capitalist subjectivities may just as easily be the outcome.


It’s easy to dismiss all of this as ephemeral, to do with ‘superstructure’, ‘culture’ or ‘ideology’, and thus far removed from the real forces in society. Or, in a different language, to criticise it for being just about subjectivities and not about objective conditions. You might think that by talking of moments of excess we’re mixing together things that are actually different; that political revolts matter and cultural revolts don’t. We reject all that. Capital is engaged in an attempt to appropriate our very capacity to be human: whether we’re call centre workers, office cleaners, migrants or programmers, whether we’re at work or at home, what is increasingly being exploited is our very capacity to interact, to communicate, to create, to be human. By subsuming the whole of life itself, production has effectively destroyed the division between ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. There is nowhere that is not simultaneously capital, so it makes no sense to talk of ‘politics’ or ‘economics’ or ‘culture’ as discrete areas.


So what can we do to extend and expand these moments of excess? There is a general conflict between, on the one hand, our collective productivity and the creative production of our subjectivity and, on the other, capital’s attempt to dampen all of this and reduce it to the valorisation of capital. At certain crucial moments, a surplus of collectivity in one sector amplifies, and ripples right through a social formation. Why? The key seems to be resonance, the way that things ‘make sense’ at certain points in history. Seattle made sense to millions of us five years ago: time shrank and our horizons exploded so that everything seemed possible. We can’t repeat Seattle, in the same way that we can’t do punk again. But what we can do is keep on the same line of opening ourselves up, constantly turning outwards rather than in on ourselves. We need to keep open not only our ways of thinking, but also the related methods of organising, the tactics, techniques and technologies we use – it’s a constant battle to ward off institutionalisation. That sense of openness and movement seems fundamental to a different way of life.