Wednesday, October 31, 2007


By Tom Philpott
Grist Magazine and AlterNet

An interview with food writer Michael Pollan about food, food politics and his latest book.

In his 1996 book Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom, the great food anthropologist Sidney Mintz concluded that the United States had no cuisine.

Interestingly, Mintz's definition of cuisine came down to conversation. For Mintz, Americans just didn't engage in passionate talk about food. Unlike the southwest French and their cassoulet, most Americans don't obsess and quarrel about what comprises, say, an authentic veggie burger.

But if cuisine comes down to talk, things are looking up a decade after Mintz cast his judgment. Now, more and more people are buzzing about food: not only about what's good to eat, but also -- appropriately for the land that invented McDonald's and Cheetos -- about what's in our food, where it came from, how it was grown.

No writer has galvanized this new national conversation on food more than Michael Pollan, from his muckraking articles on the meat industry for The New York Times Magazine earlier this decade to the publication last year of The Omnivore's Dilemma.

On a recent day when he was reviewing the galleys of his latest book, due out in January, I rang up Pollan at his Berkeley, Calif., home to talk ... about food.

To Read the Interview

Democracy Now: FEMA Admits It Held Fake Press Conference about California Wildfires; FEMA Staffers Posed as Journalists

FEMA Admits It Held Fake Press Conference about California Wildfires; FEMA Staffers Posed as Journalists
Democracy Now

On Tuesday, FEMA staged a fake press conference with agency staffers posing as news reporters. One FEMA staffer who pretended to be a journalist has since been promoted to become head of public affairs at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

To Listen/Watch/Read

Monday, October 29, 2007

NPR Live Concert Series: The New Pornographers

(I tuned in to hear The New Pornographers, but I was also very impressed by the Scottish singer Emma Pollock)

NPR Live Concert Series
The New Pornographers in Concert
Benjy Ferree, Emma Pollock Open Show from Washington, D.C.

With stunning vocals from Neko Case and playfully cerebral narratives from songwriters Dan Bejar and A.C. Newman, the Canadian band New Pornographers is virtually peerless in the world of power-pop and indie-rock. The New Pornographers gave a full concert on Oct. 27, webcast live from Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. Hear the performance online, with opening sets by Benjy Ferree and Emma Pollock.

The band is on tour in support of Challengers, its fourth full-length release. The disc is a melodic, hook-drenched collection of songs Newman says were inspired by his recent move to New York, finding love and the universal search for meaning. Though as passionate as the band's earlier work, Challengers feels slightly more wistful and melancholic.

On the album's title track, Newman sings about finding new love out of nowhere and trying to play it cool. "When I wrote the lyrics I thought of the Camus quote from the liner notes to a Scott Walker album," he says. "'A man's work is nothing, but this slow trek to discover through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.'"

The New Pornographers is a collective of sorts, with members from several other popular Canadian bands. Newman is from the group Zumpano, while bassist John Collins is from Thee Evaporators and guitarist Dan Bejar moonlights in Destroyer. Keyboardist Blaine Thurier is a well-known cartoonist and filmmaker. Singer Neko Case has an established career as a solo artist. The New Pornographers also features Kurt Dahle on percussion, Todd Fancey on guitar and Kathryn Calder on vocals and piano.

Benjy Ferree is an artful singer-songwriter based in Washington, D.C. His 2006 album, Leaving the Nest, is loosely based in American roots music.

Emma Pollock is a former member of the Scottish pop group The Delgados who just released her solo debut, Watch the Fireworks.

Listen to the Concert

Sunday, October 28, 2007

John Cowper Powys: "Ecstasy of the Unbounded"

How magically sagacious is childhood in its power of arriving at boundless effects through insignificant means ... how often the whole course of one's subsequent history becomes an attempt to regain this sorcery. ... It is a criminal blunder of our maturer years that we so tamely, without frantic and habitual struggles to retain it, allow the ecstasy of the unbounded to slip out of our lives.

--John Cowper Powys. Autobiography. London: Pan Books, 1982: 1-2.

Free Press: Consolidation Devastates Radio Diversity

Consolidation Devastates Radio Diversity
Free Press

In testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday, Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner will call on lawmakers to address media consolidation’s devastating impact on diverse and local radio ownership.

“Congress must send a message to the FCC to stop its rush toward more consolidation,” Turner said. “Ownership rules exist for a reason: to increase diversity and localism, which in turn produces more diverse speech, more choice for listeners, and more owners who are responsive to their local communities.”

Turner will testify at a hearing on the “Future of Radio” on behalf of Free Press, Consumers Union and Consumer Federation of America. Others scheduled to testify include musician Mac McCaughan of Merge Records; Tim Westergren, founder of the Internet radio service Pandora; Carol Pierson, president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters; and Dana Davis Rehm of NPR.

A live webcast of the hearing will be available at this site

Following the hearing, Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Trent Lott (R-Miss.) will hold a press conference at noon in the Senate Radio & TV Gallery to discuss FCC Chairman Kevin Martin’s reported plans to push for a vote to relax media ownership rules before the end of the year.

In extensive comments filed this week with the FCC, the three consumer groups detailed how the FCC has not accurately counted the number of minority and female broadcast owners or given any consideration to the impact of broader media ownership policy on ownership diversity or localism.

“Our research conclusively demonstrates that more consolidation means less female and minority ownership,” Turner said. “The Commission needs to first adequately study the issue of minority ownership before moving forward with any rule changes. It may be hard to believe, but they’ve never even conducted an accurate count of who owns the nation’s radio outlets. How can the FCC conduct any meaningful analysis regarding the effects of its policies if it can’t conduct a basic count of who owns what?”

A summary of Turner’s testimony

The full written testimony

Link for this Post

Fresh Air: Comedian and Actor George Carlin

Comedian and Actor George Carlin
Fresh Air from WHYY, November 1, 2004
National Public Radio

Carlin's seven dirty words routine was the center of a famous obscenity case in the 1970s. He has a new book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? His other books include Napalm & Silly Putty, and Brain Droppings.

To Listen

You Tube has a great selection of Carlin's classic bits (he will be coming to Louisville in November):

Listen to more

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Philosophy Talk: Bush's Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense

Bush's Doctrine of Preemptive Self-Defense
Philosophy Talk
Guest: Professor George Lucas, US Naval Acadamey

What is it? What is the difference between mere aggression and preemptive self defense? Can you really permissibly "defend" yourself against an attack that hasn't even begun? How does preemptive self defense differ from preventive war, from humanitarian intervention?

President Bush, in a speech at West Point in 2002.

"We cannot defend America and our friends by hoping for the best. We cannot put our faith in the word of tyrants, who solemnly sign non-proliferation treaties, and then systemically break them. If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long."

Since then the Bush doctrine of preemption has been put into effect in Iraq.

The doctrine raises interesting moral and philosophical issues. Why couldn't Marshall Dillon draw first, if the bad guy was clearly going to try to shoot him? Etiquette? Morals? Stupidity? Are nations in a "state of nature?" Or governed by law?

John and Ken distinguish between wars of aggression and of self-defense. Wars of aggression are bad. There are also preemptive wars, attacking before a known aggressor attacks, and wars of humanitarian intervention, attacking to help someone else. How sure does an attack have to be in order to morally justify preemptive self-defense? Ken introduces George Lucas, professor at the U.S. Naval Academy. Lucas says that the doctrine of preemptive self-defense is troubling in the modern political scheme. Lucas says that preemptive self-defense is warranted when the threat is imminent. Lucas says that the United Nations is ill equipped to address preemptive self-defense.

Where is the line between preemption and aggression drawn? Lucas says that preemption usually is a matter of hours or days. What gives the United States the right to attack Iraq when Al-Qaeda was the group that attacked? Lucas says that it is an interpretation of moral philosophy and lack of security provided by international laws that justify it. Must we always exhaust all alternatives before engaging in preemption? Is self-defense always morally right?

Michael Walzer proposed several criteria to determine if preemptive action is acceptable. Is preemption a self-defeating doctrine? If we attack others because we are worried that they will attack us, then won't other nations consider attacking us out of fear that we'll attack them too? Lucas says that the lack of an international police force creates problems for peaceful dealings with rogue nations. The United Nations was created during the Cold War, so it is inadequate to deal with many modern international problems. Do you have to know that an aggressor will attack or is it enough to fear it?

To Listen to the Show and More Info

Democracy Now: Body Shop Founder & Environmental Campaigner Anita Roddick 1942-2007

(I was saddened to learn about Roddick's death. I was fortunate to meet her when I was a grad student at Illinois State University--she was brilliant, generous, passionate and an inspiration for all who met her.)

Body Shop Founder & Environmental Campaigner Anita Roddick 1942-2007
Democracy Now

A memorial will be held in London on Tuesday to remember the life of Dame Anita Roddick, the environmental campaigner and pioneer in cruelty-free beauty projects. We air a 2001 interview she did with Canadian filmmaker Mark Achbar during production of the documentary "The Corporation." Also, imprisoned Black Panther activist Herman Wallace remembers Anita Roddick's work to help free the Angola 3.

To Watch/Listen/Read

Monday, October 22, 2007

Peace Rally in Jonesborough, TN/Clinton Bucks Trend, Rakes in Cash From Weapons Industry

(Message from Claire Glasscock)

Oct.27 UFPJ Mobilization
Jonesborough, TN
With military FAMILIES who suffer DU-CAUSED health effects – MEDICAL CARE NOW

Major Doug Rokke, PhD
Viet Nam & Gulf War Veteran
Pentagon DU Expert, US Army-Retired

Chris Lugo
Nashville Peace Coalition

Leila al-Imad, PhD
Professor, Middle East History-ETSU
Former director of MidEast Issues-AFSC

Staff Sgt Herbert Reed
Iraq War Veteran, US Army-Retired
Victim of Depleted Uranium Poisoning

Russell Kincaid, PhD
Professor, Mathematics-Wilmington College, Ohio

Caren Neile, MFA, PhD
Director-South Florida Storytelling Project, Florida Atlantic University
Performing excerpts from the 410 BC comedy, Aristophanes’ “Lysistrata”

Father John Rausch
Director - Catholic Committee of Appalachia
Pax Christi’s 2007 Teacher of Peace

Retha Ferrell
Celtic Musician
George Friday – Rally MC
United for Peace & Justice-Administrative Committee & past Co-Chair

Noon-3pm: RALLY -- Mill Spring Park, Spring Street
3pm: March/Caravan to Aerojet Ordnance
Hosted by First Tennessee Progressives

Go to next Saturday’s peace rally (and protest of depleted uranium munitions manufacture) in Jonesborough, Tennessee.

Clinton Bucks Trend, Rakes in Cash From Weapons Industry
By Leonard Doyle
The Independent UK
Friday 19 October 2007
The US arms industry is backing Hillary Clinton for President and has all but abandoned its traditional allies in the Republican party. Mrs Clinton has also emerged as Wall Street's favourite. Investment bankers have opened their wallets in unprecedented numbers for the New York senator over the past three months and, in the process, dumped their earlier favourite, Barack Obama.

Mrs Clinton's wooing of the defence industry is all the more remarkable given the frosty relations between Bill Clinton and the military during his presidency. An analysis of campaign contributions shows senior defence industry employees are pouring money into her war chest in the belief that their generosity will be repaid many times over with future defence contracts.

Employees of the top five US arms manufacturers - Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop-Grumman, General Dynamics and Raytheon - gave Democratic presidential candidates $103,900, with only $86,800 going to the Republicans. "The contributions clearly suggest the arms industry has reached the conclusion that Democratic prospects for 2008 are very good indeed," said Thomas Edsall, an academic at Columbia University in New York.

Republican administrations are by tradition much stronger supporters of US armaments programmes and Pentagon spending plans than Democratic governments. Relations between the arms industry and Bill Clinton soured when he slimmed down the military after the end of the Cold War. His wife, however, has been careful not to make the same mistake.

After her election to the Senate, she became the first New York senator on the armed services committee, where she revealed her hawkish tendencies by supporting the invasion of Iraq. Although she now favours a withdrawal of US troops, her position on Iran is among the most warlike of all the candidates - Democrat or Republican.

This week, she said that, if elected president, she would not rule out military strikes to destroy Tehran's nuclear weapons facilities. While on the armed services committee, Mrs Clinton has befriended key generals and has won the endorsement of General Wesley Clarke, who ran Nato's war in Kosovo. A former presidential candidate himself, he is spoken of as a potential vice-presidential running mate.

Mrs Clinton has been a regular visitor to Iraq and Afghanistan and is careful to focus her criticisms of the Iraq war on President Bush, rather than the military. The arms industry has duly taken note.

So far, Mrs Clinton has received $52,600 in contributions from individual arms industry employees. That is more than half the sum given to all Democrats and 60 per cent of the total going to Republican candidates. Election fundraising laws ban individuals from donating more than $4,600 but contributions are often "bundled" to obtain influence over a candidate.

The arms industry has even deserted the biggest supporter of the Iraq war, Senator John McCain, who is also a member of the armed services committee and a decorated Vietnam War veteran. He has been given only $19,200. Weapons-makers are equally unimpressed by the former New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Despite a campaign built largely around the need for an aggressive US military and a determination to stay the course in Iraq, he is behind Mrs Clinton in the affections of arms executives. Mr Giuliani may be suffering because of his strong association with the failed policies of President Bush and the fact he is he is known as a social liberal.

Mrs Clinton's closest competitor in raising cash from the arms industry is the former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who raised just $32,000.

"Arms industry profits are so heavily dependent on government contracts that companies in this field want to be sure they do not have hostile relations with the White House," added Mr Edsall.

The industry's strong support for Mrs Clinton indicates that she is their firm favourite to win the Democratic nomination in the spring and the presidential election in November 2008. In the last presidential race, George Bush raised more than $800,000 - twice the sum collected by his Democratic rival John Kerry.

Mr Edsall's analysis of the figures reveals that, over the past 10 years, the defence industry has favoured Republicans over Democrats by a 3-2 margin, making Mrs Clinton's position even more remarkable.

May 1968 Paris Uprising

Check out the links on the right of the video for more

American Blackout

(Courtesy of Adbusters

American Blackout chronicles the recurring patterns of disenfranchisement witnessed from 2000 to 2004 while following the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who not only took an active role in investigating these election debacles but also found herself in the middle of one after publicly questioning the Bush Administration about the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Some call Cynthia McKinney a civil rights leader among the ranks of Shirley Chisholm and Malcolm X. Others call her a conspiracy theorist and a 'looney.' American Blackout gains unprecedented access to one of the most controversial and dangerous politicians in America and examines the contemporary tactics used to control our democratic process and silence political dissent.

The Onion: Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man

Reaganomics Finally Trickles Down To Area Man
The Onion

HAZELWOOD, MO—Twenty-six years after Ronald Reagan first set his controversial fiscal policies into motion, the deceased president's massive tax cuts for the ultrarich at last trickled all the way down to deliver their bounty, in the form of a $10 bonus, to Hazelwood, MO car-wash attendant Frank Kellener.

The late President Ronald Reagan clearly had people like present-day car wash attendant Frank Kellener in mind when articulating his "trickle-down" economic theory in the early 1980s.

"Back when Reagan was in charge, I didn't think much of him," Kellener, 57, said, holding up two five-dollar bills nearly three decades in the making. "But who would have thought that in 2007 I'd have this extra $10 in my pocket? He may not have lived to see it, but I'm sure President Reagan is up in heaven smiling down on me right now."

Leading economists say Kellener's unexpected windfall provides the first irrefutable proof of the effectiveness of Reagan's so-called supply-side economics, and shows that the former president had "incredible, far-reaching foresight."

"When the tax burden on the upper income brackets is lifted, the rich and not-rich alike all benefit," said Arthur Laffer, who was a former member of Reagan's Economic Policy Advisory Board. "Eventually."

The $10 began its long journey into Kellener's wallet in 1983, when a beefed-up national defense budget of $210 billion enabled the military to purchase advanced warhead-delivery systems from aerospace manufacturer Lockheed. Buoyed by a multimillion-dollar bonus, then-CEO Martin Lawler bought a house on a 5,000-acre plot in Montana. When a forest fire destroyed his home in 1986, Lawler took the federal relief check and invested it in a savings and loan run by a Virginia man named Michael Webber. After Webber's firm collapsed in 1989, and he was indicted on fraud and conspiracy charges, he retained the services of high- powered law firm Rabin & Levy for his defense. After six years and $7 million in legal fees, Webber received only a $250,000 fine, and the defense team went out to celebrate at a Washington, D.C.-area restaurant called Di Forenza. During dinner, lawyer Peter Smith overheard several investment bankers at an adjoining table discussing a hot Internet start-up that was about to go public. Smith took a portion of his earnings from the Webber case and bought several hundred shares in, quadrupling his investment before selling them four months later.'s two founders used the sudden influx of investment capital to outfit their office with modern Danish furniture, in a sale brokered by the New York gallery Modern Now! in 1998. After the ensuing dot-com bust, Modern Now! was forced out of business, and Sotheby's auction house was put in charge of liquidating its inventory. The commission from that auction enabled auctioneer Mary Schafer to retire to the Ozark region of Missouri in 2006. Last month, while passing through Hazelwood, she took her Audi to Marlin Car Wash, where Kellener was one of the employees who tended to her car. She was so satisfied with the job that she left a $50 tip, which the manager divided among the people working that day.

"This money didn't just affect one life," Laffer said. "It affected five."

Prior to joining Marlin Car Wash in 2005, Kellener worked for nearly two decades at a local Ford assembly plant that is now defunct. Before that, he was employed by the FAA as an air traffic controller until his union went on strike and Reagan fired him, along with nearly 13,000 others. This is the largest tip he has received in his professional life.

"I thought Reaganomics was nothing more than a mirage that allowed President Reagan to reward his wealthy support base," Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-MA) said. "But two generations later I am seeing Reaganomics in action, and I like what I see. It just took a little longer than I thought it was supposed to."

The tip has not gone unnoticed by the economic team in the current administration.

"Had Mr. Kellener received that money in 1981, like the Democrats wanted, it would only be worth $4.24 today because of inflation," Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson, Jr. said during an official announcement of the economic policy's success at a press conference Monday. "Instead, Kellener has a solid $10 to spend right here and now. The system works, and our current president intends to keep making it work."

Kellener, who has cared for his schizophrenic sister ever since her federally funded mental institution was closed in 1984, said that he plans to donate the full $10 to the Republican presidential candidate who best embodies Reagan's legacy.


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Mother Jones

(I usually avoid repeating ads, but this one is for one of my favorite magazines)

Dear Friend,

There's an assault taking place on the truth, and we simply can't trust the mainstream media any more to provide us with the full story. Or all sides of a story. Quite simply, they're asleep at the wheel.

That's why there's never been a more important time to subscribe to Mother Jones - a truth-telling, muckraking source of quality investigative reporting for over 30 years.

Click Here

And it's a great time to be a Mother Jones reader, too. Last month, Mother Jones was announced as a triple winner of the 2007 John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism. The prestigious awards, given by Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, called this year "a sweep for Mother Jones."

I'm writing today to invite you to support this great reporting by subscribing today for just $10.

Check out these recent comments about the magazine . . .

"As well-written as anything out there...Journalistically oriented but more passionate than the news weeklies, it fills a need we didn't know we had." -Chicago Tribune's "50 Favorite Magazines," June 2007

"Mother Jones's mix of pointed commentary and investigative reporting has never seemed fresher...Mother Jones [has] a blast arming its readers for their battle against status-quo politics." -American Society of Magazine Editors' 2007 General Excellence Award Nomination

Of course, your subscription also means you're helping support independent reporting that is unbeholden to advertisers, the government, or the powers that be.

So what are you waiting for?

... get one full year -- six chunky issues -- for less than the price of a pizza. (Your order comes with our no hassle guarantee: If, for any reason, you don't like the magazine, let us know and you'll get every penny back.)


Jay Harris

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Cahal Milmo: Fury at DNA pioneer's racist theory

(Courtesy of Mark Ouellette)

Fury at DNA pioneer's theory: Africans are less intelligent than Westerners
Celebrated scientist attacked for race comments: "All our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours - whereas all the testing says not really"
By Cahal Milmo
The Independent (UK)

One of the world's most eminent scientists was embroiled in an extraordinary row last night after he claimed that black people were less intelligent than white people and the idea that "equal powers of reason" were shared across racial groups was a delusion.

James Watson, a Nobel Prize winner for his part in the unravelling of DNA who now runs one of America's leading scientific research institutions, drew widespread condemnation for comments he made ahead of his arrival in Britain today for a speaking tour at venues including the Science Museum in London.

The 79-year-old geneticist reopened the explosive debate about race and science in a newspaper interview in which he said Western policies towards African countries were wrongly based on an assumption that black people were as clever as their white counterparts when "testing" suggested the contrary. He claimed genes responsible for creating differences in human intelligence could be found within a decade.

The newly formed Equality and Human Rights Commission, successor to the Commission for Racial Equality, said it was studying Dr Watson's remarks " in full". Dr Watson told The Sunday Times that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

His views are also reflected in a book published next week, in which he writes: "There is no firm reason to anticipate that the intellectual capacities of peoples geographically separated in their evolution should prove to have evolved identically. Our wanting to reserve equal powers of reason as some universal heritage of humanity will not be enough to make it so."

To Read the Rest of the Article

Friday, October 12, 2007

2007 Nobel Peace Prize: Al Gore

Al Gore continues to learn and develop after his loss in the 2000 presidential race--a truly remarkable transformation and rebirth:

Green Cine archive of Reports

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Webster's Dictionary Word of the Day: langue

Merriam-Webster Word of the Day

langue \LAHNG (the vowel is pronounced in a nasal manner)\ noun

: language viewed abstractly as a system of forms and conventions used for communication in a community; also : the knowledge that enables a person to speak and understand a language

Example sentence:

Langue makes communication possible; without it we could not process and understand each other’s utterances.

Did you know?

In lectures delivered at the University of Geneva from 1907 to 1913, Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure set forth his groundbreaking distinction between "langue" -- the systematic, structured language existing at a given time within a given society -- and "parole," the individual use of that language by a person. In French, "langue" literally means "language." It was adopted into Middle English with that same general meaning but fell into disuse. "Parole" is also a French word; it means "speech" and is related to Late Latin "parabola," the base of our English word "parable."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs

(Courtesy of Green Cine)

Partially about "student apathy" in regards to ongoing American geopolitics, Redford has taken his film to preview at universities to see how students react:

As reported by Michael Guiellen at the Evening Class

Official Website and Trailer

Tagline for the film: "If you don't STAND for something, you might FALL for anything." (Courtesy of IMDB

Inside Higher Ed: Desmond Tutu, Persona Non Grata

(Courtesy of Rebecca Glasscock)

Desmond Tutu, Persona Non Grata
Inside Higher Ed

Last week’s visit by Iran’s president to Columbia University symbolized to many the openness of American higher education to hearing controversial ideas and individuals. An incident coming to light at the University of St. Thomas, in Minnesota, illustrates that some speakers are denied campus platforms. In this case, the would-be speaker isn’t a Holocaust denier. Nor does he run a government that routinely denies basic civil rights to scholars, journalists or gay people.

The speaker barred at St. Thomas won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who won the prize for his nonviolent opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime, was deemed unworthy of appearing at St. Thomas because of comments he made criticizing Israel — comments the university says were “hurtful” to some Jewish people. Further, the university demoted the director of the program that invited Tutu after she wrote a letter to him and others complaining about the revocation of the invitation. (She retains a tenured faculty job.)

While the incident happened several months ago, it has only just become public, when it was reported by City Pages, the alt-weekly in Minneapolis-St. Paul. The revoked invitation has some faculty members at the university seething.

“There isn’t any academic freedom here when this happens,” said Marv Davidov, an adjunct faculty member who has taught courses about nonviolence for 15 years at the university. “This is cowardice.”

Tutu was invited to the university through a program called PeaceJam International, which organizes conferences for high school students on issues related to peace. While the program is not officially a part of St. Thomas, many faculty members —- especially in the Justice and Peace Studies Program — are involved in it, and major speakers sometimes appear on the campus, reaching those at the university in addition to the high schoolers in the program. Tutu, invited through the Justice and Peace Studies Program, was to talk at St. Thomas about issues of peace and nonviolence and there was no expectation that his talk would focus on the Middle East.

Doug Hennes, vice president for university and government relations at St. Thomas, said that when administrators were informed of the invitation, they did some research about Tutu, and found that some of his comments had been controversial. Then, the university consulted with some Jewish leaders, and concluded that Tutu had made remarks that had been “hurtful” to Jewish leaders.

“We had heard some criticism of him in the past that he had said things some people judged to be anti-Semitic. We talked to the Jewish Community Relations Council. We know a number of other people in the Jewish community, and they said that some of the things he said had been hurtful and there was a feeling — and this isn’t among all Jews — that he had said things that were hurtful to them,” Hennes said.

“We never made a judgment that he is anti-Semitic. We have not made that judgment. We have only been told by members of the Jewish community that his words have been hurtful,” Hennes said. He stressed that the university sought out the views of Jewish leaders, and that the revocation of the invitation was a university decision, and not one that was sought by anyone outside St. Thomas.

“We make decisions every day on a regular basis on whether to invite people to campus,” Hennes said. Asked if disqualifying people from speaking for being “hurtful” might block many speakers, he said, “That’s not the case at all. We have speakers on a wide variety of issues and interests, including sensitive issues within the Catholic church.” (St. Thomas is a Roman Catholic university.)

To Read the Rest of the Report

The Courage of San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders

Comment posted at YouTube:

"Grab a hanky," writes Joan Walsh today on San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders' painful eleventh-hour decision to fight for gay marriage. "This is the way necessary social change happens. It starts out unthinkable, and then one day it's inevitable."

In a moving speech, choking back tears, Mayor Jerry Sanders explains why he changed his mind moments before he was to veto the San Diego City Council Resolution:

"The concept of a 'separate but equal' institution is not something I can support."

He reveals that his own daughter Lisa as well as members of his staff are gay: "In the end, I could not look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationships -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage that I share with my wife, Rana."

CNN Report on the Announcement:

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty: No Wonder Our Perception of Beauty is Distorted

(Courtesy of Apophenia)

Alex Lefebvre: The Diplomacy of Imperialism

"The Diplomacy of Imperialism: Iraq and US foreign policy"
by Alex Lefebvre

Part one: Monarchical Iraq and the growth of social antagonisms

Part two: The Iraqi nationalist movements, the permanent revolution, and the Cold War

Part three: The Iraqi Baath Party, from its origins to political power

Part four: Iraq in the 1970s and the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War

Part five: Donald Rumsfeld and the Washington-Saddam Hussein connection

Part six: Reagan administration deepens ties with Hussein

Part seven: US financial assistance for Hussein in the 1980s

Part eight: The end of the Iran-Iraq war

Part nine: American policy after the Iran-Iraq war

Daylight Magazine

(Courtesy of Wood's Lot and The Exposure Project)

Images from Daylight Magazine

From Top to Bottom:

David Maisel, From Issue 3, Winter 2005

Ahikam Seri, From Issue 4, Spring 2006

Joel Sternfeld, From Issue 3, Winter 2005

Paul Shambroom, From Issue 6, Fall 2007

All Images © The Artists

Michael Itkoff, Editor
Daylight Magazine

Laurie Goodstein: For a Trusty Voting Bloc, a Faith Shaken

(Courtesy of Larval Subjects)

For a Trusty Voting Bloc, a Faith Shaken
New York Times

AFTER the 2004 elections, religious conservatives were riding high. Newly anointed by pundits as “values voters” — a more flattering label than “religious right” — they claimed credit for propelling George W. Bush to two terms in the White House. Even in wartime, they had managed to fixate the nation on their pet issues: opposition to abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research.

Now with the 2008 race taking shape, religious conservatives say they sense they have taken a tumble. Their issues are no longer at the forefront, and their leaders have failed so far to coalesce around a candidate, as they did around Mr. Bush and Ronald Reagan.

What unites them right now is their dismay — even panic — at the idea of Rudolph W. Giuliani as the Republican nominee, because of his support for abortion rights and gay rights, as well as what they regard as a troubling history of marital infidelity. But what to do about it is where they again diverge, with some religious conservatives last week threatening to bolt to a third party if Mr. Giuliani gets the nomination, and others arguing that this is the sure road to defeat.

Many religious conservatives were proud to claim the mantle that Karl Rove bestowed on them as “the base of the Republican Party.” Now they fear they may have lapsed unwittingly into the same role that African-Americans play in the Democratic Party: a dependable minority constituency that is courted by candidates but never really gets to call the shots.

The candidates are certainly sending signals to that effect. While they’re eager to get as many conservative religious votes as they can, they’re no doubt aware of a shift since 2004 — that perhaps these voters aren’t the bloc they were once taken to be, that they don’t all answer to the same leaders, and that they might even be more pragmatic than in the past, more willing to sacrifice purity for viability in a candidate.

Scholars who study the role of religion in politics now say it is possible that the Bush years were an anomaly and that evangelicals, of whom religious conservatives are only a subset, could find themselves back where they were before — divided among themselves and just one of many interest groups vying for attention.

“It’s not so much that evangelicals are more divided than they were before, it’s that Bush himself was a unique candidate,” said Corwin E. Smidt, director of the Henry Institute for the Study of Christianity and Politics at Calvin College, an evangelical school in Grand Rapids, Mich. “It’s partly going back to previous patterns.”

And that stings. Religious conservatives were alarmed last month when none of the Republican front-runners showed up for the Values Voter Debate Straw Poll in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. More than 40 groups, some of them major organizations known for their capacity to mobilize voters, had put together the event. Questions were directed even at the no-show candidates, and many of those questions were angry.

“Beyond their cowardice, there’s an arrogance on the part of these candidates,” said Janet L. Folger, the president of Faith2Action, who helped organize the debate. “The arrogance is this: ‘We are just taking your votes for granted. You have nowhere else to go.’ ”

Phyllis Schlafly, the founder of Eagle Forum and a leader in the social conservative movement since 1972, said: “If the Republican Party kicks away the religious conservatives, then they’re entitled to be called the stupid party. You have to keep your own friends. A sense of betrayal can become more compelling than other issues.”

The overwhelming winner of the Fort Lauderdale straw poll, as well as a poll taken by a religious conservative group in South Carolina, was Mike Huckabee, a folksy Southern Baptist minister and former governor of Arkansas. But Mr. Huckabee has not yet registered in double digits in national polls and lags way behind in fund-raising.

Religious conservative leaders say they are having passionate debates in private over whether to choose a candidate based on viability or purity. Old allies find themselves fractured among the camps of Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney, John McCain, Duncan Hunter, Ron Paul and Mr. Huckabee.

The spectacle has laid bare the enduring myth that evangelicals are a monolith that is “easy to command,” to use the phrase made famous by a Washington Post article in 1993.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Brian De Palma's Redacted

The political storm and critical debate over Brian De Palma's new film is already heating up (and it has only just premiered at the NY Film Festival) and now it will certainly go into overdrive as De Palma states about the film: "Redacted is now itself redacted... My cut was violated."

An archive of the gathering storm is collected by Green Cine:

NYFF: Redacted

Alex Rossmiller: What's Behind the Iraq-China Weapons Deal

What's Behind the Iraq-China Weapons Deal: Baghdad's decision to buy arms from China has less to do with the Iraqi government's quest for weapons and more to do with its concerns about the direction of U.S. policy.
by Alex Rossmiller
The American Prospect

Governments often send messages with their actions, particularly messages that can't really be delivered directly. A recent, mostly overlooked example of this was Iraq's announcement of a contract with China to buy $100 million worth of light weaponry.

Despite sounding significant, the amount is a relative pittance. Iraq also recently signed deals to buy $1.6 billion in U.S. arms, with another $1.8 billion in possible future purchases, so $100 million in arms is less than 3 percent of weapons deals planned by Baghdad in recent months. The symbolism, however, is tremendous, and for Baghdad to publicly announce the deal accentuates the point. Iraq may be under occupation, but this move is a reminder that there are other patrons available, benefactors who would be very happy to curry favor (and perhaps eventual oil contracts) by supplying military might. The central government in Baghdad, weak and under siege as it may be, still has plenty of oil money and, despite an apparently permanent occupation and no end of political manipulation by the United States, has the ability to act independently.

This small assertion of independence -- involving the only nation with an economy and military to rival the United States, no less -- reflects increasing Iraqi dissatisfaction with United States policy. The Shia-dominated Maliki government is profoundly concerned about the recent U.S. strategy of arming Sunnis, ostensibly against al-Qaeda, in Iraq's western, Sunni-controlled Anbar province. Shia leaders have warned against this program, complaining that arming and training "former" insurgents serves to arm a dissatisfied and rebellious anti-government force.

To Read the Rest of the Article

Democracy Now: American Peace Activists Denied Entry to Canada After Appearing on FBI Database

American Peace Activists Denied Entry to Canada After Appearing on FBI Database
Hosted by Amy Goodman
Democracy Now

Two leading U.S. peace activists were denied entry into Canada on Wednesday after their names appeared on an FBI criminal database that the Canadian government is using at its borders. Ann Wright, a retired Army colonel and former diplomat, and Medea Benjamin, co-founder of women’s peace group CODEPINK, were headed to Toronto to discuss peace and security issues at the invitation of the Toronto Stop the War Coalition. Canadian authorities detained and questioned them for several hours at the border crossing between Buffalo and Niagara Falls.

The two women were apparently denied entry into Canada because their names appeared on an FBI-run international criminal database. Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin do have nine convictions between them, but all involving civil disobedience committed while protesting the war in Iraq.

On Thursday, they met with immigration officials at the Canadian embassy in Washington, D.C. and held a news conference outside. Ann Wright joins me now from Washington. She is a retired Army colonel and former diplomat who quit a 16-year State Department career following the invasion of Iraq in March 2003.

To watch/listen/read

Drinking Liberally

Find a group near you:

Drinking Liberally

Richard W. Behan: A Materpiece of Propaganda

The Mega-Lie Called the "War on Terror": A Masterpiece of Propaganda
By Richard W. Behan

"If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the state can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie ... The truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the state."
--Joseph Goebbels, minister of propaganda in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the administration of George W. Bush has told and repeated a lie that is "big enough" to confirm Joseph Goebbels' testimony. It is a mega-lie, and the American people have come to believe it. It is the "War on Terror."

The Bush administration endlessly recites its mantra of deceit:

The War on Terror was launched in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It is intended to enhance our national security at home and to spread democracy in the Middle East.

This is the struggle of our lifetime; we are defending our way of life from an enemy intent on destroying our freedoms. We must fight the enemy in the Middle East, or we will fight him in our cities.

This is classic propaganda. In Goebbels' terms, it is the "state" speaking its lie, but the political, economic, and military consequences of the Bush administration lie are coming into view, and they are all catastrophic. If truth is the enemy of both the lie and George Bush's "state," then the American people need to know the truth.

The military incursions into Afghanistan and Iraq were not done in retaliation for 9/11. The Bush administration had them clearly in mind upon taking office, and they were set in motion as early as Feb. 3, 2001. That was seven months prior to the attacks on the Trade Towers and the Pentagon, and the objectives of the wars had nothing to do with terrorism.

This is beyond dispute. The mainstream press has ignored the story, but the administration's congenital belligerence is fully documented in book-length treatments and in the limitless information pool of the internet. (See my earlier work, for example.)

Invading a sovereign nation unprovoked, however, directly violates the charter of the United Nations. It is an international crime. Before the Bush administration could attack either Afghanistan or Iraq, it would need a politically and diplomatically credible reason for doing so.

The terrorist violence of Sept. 11, 2001, provided a spectacular opportunity. In the cacophony of outrage and confusion, the administration could conceal its intentions, disguise the true nature of its premeditated wars, and launch them. The opportunity was exploited in a heartbeat.

Within hours of the attacks, President Bush declared the United States "… would take the fight directly to the terrorists," and "… he announced to the world the United States would make no distinction between the terrorists and the states that harbor them." Thus the "War on Terror" was born.

The fraudulence of the "War on Terror," however, is clearly revealed in the pattern of subsequent facts:

* In Afghanistan the state was overthrown instead of apprehending the terrorist. Offers by the Taliban to surrender Osama bin Laden were ignored, and he remains at large to this day.

* In Iraq, when the United States invaded, there were no al Qaeda terrorists at all.

* Both states have been supplied with puppet governments, and both are dotted with permanent U.S. military bases in strategic proximity to their hydrocarbon assets.

* The U.S. embassy nearing completion in Baghdad is comprised of 21 multistory buildings on 104 acres of land. It will house 5,500 diplomats, staff and families. It is ten times larger than any other U.S. embassy in the world, but we have yet to be told why.

* A 2006 National Intelligence Estimate shows the war in Iraq has exacerbated, not diminished, the threat of terrorism since 9/11. If the "War on Terror" is not a deception, it is a disastrously counterproductive failure.

* Today two American and two British oil companies are poised to claim immense profits from 81 percent of Iraq's undeveloped crude oil reserves. They cannot proceed, however, until the Iraqi Parliament enacts a statute known as the "hydrocarbon framework law."

* The features of postwar oil policy so heavily favoring the oil companies were crafted by the Bush administration State Department in 2002, a year before the invasion.

* Drafting of the law itself was begun during Paul Bremer's Coalition Provisional Authority, with the invited participation of a number of major oil companies. The law was written in English and translated into Arabic only when it was due for Iraqi approval.

* President Bush made passage of the hydrocarbon law a mandatory "benchmark" when he announced the troop surge in January of 2007.

When it took office, the Bush administration brushed aside warnings about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Their anxiety to attack both Afghanistan and Iraq was based on other factors.

Link to the Read the Rest of the Article

Nick Turse: New York City's Explosion in Police Repression and Surveillance Is a Threat to Us All

New York City's Explosion in Police Repression and Surveillance Is a Threat to Us All
By Nick Turse
Tomdispatch and AlterNet

One day in August, I walked into the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse in lower Manhattan. Nearly three years before I had been locked up, about two blocks away, in "the Tombs" -- the infamous jail then named the Bernard B. Kerik Complex for the now-disgraced New York City Police Commissioner. You see, I am one of the demonstrators who was illegally arrested by the New York City Police Department (NYPD) during the protests against the 2004 Republican National Convention (RNC). My crime had been -- in an effort to call attention to the human toll of America's wars -- to ride the subway, dressed in black with the pallor of death about me (thanks to cornstarch and cold cream), and an expression to match, sporting a placard around my neck that read: WAR DEAD.

I was with a small group and our plan was to travel from Union Square to Harlem, change trains, and ride all the way back down to Astor Place. But when my small group exited the train at the 125th Street station in Harlem, we were arrested by a swarm of police, marched to a waiting paddy wagon and driven to a filthy detention center. There, we were locked away for hours in a series of razor-wire-topped pens, before being bussed to the Tombs.

Now, I was back to resolve the matter of my illegal arrest. As I walked through the metal detector of the Federal building, a security official searched my bag. He didn't like what he found. "You could be shot for carrying that in here," he told me. "You could be shot."

For the moment, however, the identification of that dangerous object I attempted to slip into the federal facility will have to wait. Let me instead back up to July 2004, when, with the RNC fast-approaching, I authored an article on the militarization of Manhattan -- "the transformation of the island into a 'homeland-security state'" -- and followed it up that September with a street-level recap of the convention protests, including news of the deployment of an experimental sound weapon, the Long Range Acoustic Device, by the NYPD, and the department's use of an on-loan Fuji blimp as a "spy-in-the-sky." Back then, I suggested that the RNC gave New York's "finest," a perfect opportunity to "refine, perfect, and implement new tactics (someday, perhaps, to be known as the 'New York model') for use penning in or squelching dissent. It offered them the chance to write up a playbook on how citizens' legal rights and civil liberties may be abridged, constrained, and violated at their discretion."

Little did I know how much worse it could get.

No Escape

Since then, the city's security forces have eagerly embraced an Escape From New York-aesthetic -- an urge to turn Manhattan into a walled-in fortress island under high-tech government surveillance, guarded by heavily armed security forces, with helicopters perpetually overhead. Beginning in Harlem in 2006, near the site of two new luxury condos, the NYPD set up a moveable "two-story booth tower, called Sky Watch," that gave an "officer sitting inside a better vantage point from which to monitor the area." The Panopticon-like structure -- originally used by hunters to shoot quarry from overhead and now also utilized by the Department of Homeland Security along the Mexican border -- was outfitted with black-tinted windows, a spotlight, sensors, and four to five cameras. Now, five Sky Watch towers are in service, rotating in and out of various neighborhoods.

With their 20-25 neighborhood-scanning cameras, the towers are only a tiny fraction of the Big Apple surveillance story. Back in 1998, the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) found that there were "2,397 cameras used by a wide variety of private businesses and government agencies throughout Manhattan" -- and that was just one borough. About a year after the RNC, the group reported that a survey of just a quarter of that borough yielded a count of more than 4,000 surveillance cameras of every kind. At about the same time, military-corporate giant Lockheed Martin was awarded a $212 million contract to build a "counter-terrorist surveillance and security system for New York's subways and commuter railroads as well as bridges and tunnels" that would increase the camera total by more than 1,000. A year later, as seems to regularly be the case with contracts involving the military-corporate complex, that contract had already ballooned to $280 million, although the system was not to be operational until at least 2008.

In 2006, according to a Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) spokesman, the MTA already had a "3,000-camera-strong surveillance system," while the NYPD was operating "an additional 3,000 cameras" around the city. That same year, Bill Brown, a member of the Surveillance Camera Players -- a group that leads surveillance-camera tours and maps their use around the city, estimated, according to a Newsweek article, that the total number of surveillance cameras in New York exceeded 15,000 -- "a figure city officials say they have no way to verify because they lack a system of registry." Recently, Brown told me that 15,000 was an estimate for the number of cameras in Manhattan, alone. For the city as a whole, he suspects the count has now reached about 40,000.

Link to the Rest of the Hyperlinked Article

Kent Greenfield: Supreme Court Preview- One of the Most Important Cases You Haven't Yet Heard About

Supreme Court Preview- One of the Most Important Cases You Haven't Yet Heard About: The Stoneridge Case and "Scheme" Liability Under Federal Security Laws
by Kent Greenfield, Professor of Law at Boston College and Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Center on Corporations, Law & Society, Seattle University School of Law
American Constitution Society

The Supreme Court will hear arguments today (Tuesday, October 9) in what some are calling the most important business case to come before the Court in a decade -- Stoneridge Investment Partners v. Scientific-Atlanta Inc. The facts pertain to the financial shenanigans of a cable television company, but the Court’s decision could have wide ranging implications for law firms, accounting firms, and banks, among others, and – depending on which side you listen to – could either damage the nation’s international financial competitiveness or leave millions of investors underprotected from fraudulent schemes.

The case arose from an alleged fraudulent scheme initiated by Charter Communications, one of the nation’s largest cable companies. In the summer of 2000, it became clear to Charter executives that it would not meet Wall Street’s expectations for annual cash flow and revenue. (Of course, the fact that companies have to focus increasingly on the short-term to the detriment of the long-term health of the company, much less society, is the root of many evils.) Charter asked two of its suppliers, Scientific-Atlanta and Motorola, to help out by inflating the prices it charged Charter for set-top boxes. The suppliers also had to produce private documents lying about the reason and the timing of the increase.

The suppliers agreed to pay back to Charter the same amount of money – $17 million in total – for advertising, which was really free. This “wash transaction” was done to mislead Charter’s external auditor and thus the market. The amounts paid for the set-top boxes were accounted for as capital expenses, appearing on the books over several years. The advertising “revenue” was reported in a lump sum, which made it appear to the auditor and investors that Charter had met its financial targets, which bolstered the stock price. When the fraud came to light two years later, Charter stock plummeted from $26 to 78 cents, costing shareholders millions.

The plaintiff class is a group of Charter shareholders who sued Charter and its suppliers for a violation of Rule 10b-5 of the federal securities laws, which makes it illegal to engage in a “scheme” to defraud. Charter settled. But the district court threw out the case against the suppliers, and the Eighth Circuit affirmed, saying that the suppliers themselves had not made any misstatements to the market and that the Supreme Court had said a decade ago, in Central Bank of Denver v. First Interstate Bank of Denver, that 10b-5 does not reach those who only “aid or abet” a violation.

To Read the Rest of the Post

Duck Soup/Hannah and Her Sisters

"Look at the people up there on the screen, they're so funny ... What if the worst were true, there's no God, you only go around once, and that's it? Well, don't you want to be part of the experience? It's not all a drag. I should stop ruining my life looking for answers I'm never going to get, and just enjoy myself while it lasts..."

----Mickey Sachs epiphany while watching Duck Soup (1933) in Hannah and Her Sisters (1986)

A Message to the Democrats "and" the Republicans

Make Love, Not War

(and an extra reminder to the republicans that it is OK to come out the closet)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jessica Poundstone: Response to a Bill Frisell Concert

(Courtesy of Jeffrey Overstreet)

"Sometimes music is like one of those programs you run on your computer to optimize your hard drive: it heals a million little broken things you didn't even know needed attention."


Power Shift (College Park, MD: November 2-5)

(Courtesy of Rebecca Glasscock)

November 2-5: Power Shift, College Park, Maryland. This is a conference for students on global climate change and how to get this country shifted into action to avert disaster. I know that some students from TERRA (Transylvania’s environmental club) and Green Thumb (UK’s environmental club) are going. Is anyone interested in going? For more information, go to the website at Power Shift

Lexington’s 3rd Annual Multi-Faith Walk for World Peace and Solidarity (October 14)

Sunday, October 14, 3-5 pm, Lexington’s 3rd Annual Multi-Faith Walk for World Peace and Solidarity. Gather at High Street and Martin Luther King Boulevard parking lot above Lexington Transit Center at 2:45 p.m. Walk to Woodland Park gazebo beginning at 3:00 p.m. Picnic at 5:00 p.m. at Woodland Park.

John Bowe: Slavery Is Alive and Well in the U.S.

Slavery Is Alive and Well in the U.S.
By Suzi Steffen

The new book Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the Global Economy, goes after the U.S. companies that support slave labor.

What do you call it when those who cross the Mexican-U.S. border get charged thousands of dollars for a ride to a job where their employer makes them pay rent for unspeakably bad living conditions and board for the food they can only buy at the company store and where that employer patrols with dogs, trucks and thugs so the workers can't leave?

John Bowe calls it slavery. And it's happening in the United States right now, he says. Bowe's newest book, Nobodies: Modern American Slave Labor and the Dark Side of the Global Economy, makes the case using three specific cases and geographical areas to show just how much workers in the U.S. get undermined and hurt by these practices.

He's written about work before; he co-edited the book Gig: Americans Talk About Their Jobs. Besides co-writing the screenplay for the movie Basquiat, Bowe has won many journalism awards. But from a tip he got while writing Gig, he began to pursue this topic, and he's been working on it for over six years now.

"We never see what we do to other people," he says. In Nobodies, he pulls back that veil of secrecy and shows us just what we do in our quest for lower-priced goods. In the process, he and the book have gotten a flurry of interviews, reviews and even a moment with Jon Stewart. We interviewed him over the phone and email in a break on his book tour.

Suzi Steffen: Your book is getting a lot of attention. What was it like being on the Daily Show?

John Bowe: It's weird doing these things -- weird, powerful, exciting, frustrating. You don't say half the things you wanted to say. I felt like, "Oh damn it, I forgot to offer any solutions," I forgot to talk about why nonslavery people should care about this, for example.

But all anybody else cares about is your shirt and if you smiled. It says a lot about our political climate that it takes a comedian to address the issue of labor slavery. It was hard to have a serious discussion and talk, say, about the roots and implications of the problem, much less more solution-oriented stuff. But at the same time, I have enormous admiration for Jon Stewart for having me on the show. Slavery's not usually a great source of humor.

SS: You did have a nice shirt on. In the first part of the book, about the agricultural workers in Florida, you talk about the collision of your journalist New Yorker's irony with the earnest belief and idealism of activists. Did you change over the course of writing the book? Do you find yourself less ironic now?

JB: There really is a fundamental choice; you can't both believe and be ironic. It did make me get more earnest. Even if you don't care about politics, politics certainly cares about you. If you don't take part of your time to address the socioeconomic/political realities unfolding around you, it will come, and it will fuck you over. There's no free pass. I have no patience for anybody who's whining about [politics] and not doing something about it. The more you read about history, the more you realize that's a luxury most people haven't been able to afford.

I've become much more clued in to the way irony is used by politically inclined people to salve their frustrations about political realities. Although I love humor like The Daily Show and The Onion, it's kind of sad that these have become the main conduits for so many people's political awareness. Unfortunately, sitting there, laughing (alone, by the millions) at people or things you know are bullshit or wrong isn't a replacement for voting, protesting, raising awareness, throwing rocks, defacing property or doing whatever real-life actions you find effective in achieving actual change in this world.

SS: What should average people do to find out more about the conditions under which their food was grown and to change those conditions?

JB: Read my book. (laughs) The Coalition of Immokalee Workers' website is certainly one place to go. And there's a tremendous book called The Fatal Harvest Reader: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, by Andrew Kimbrell.

But also, ask questions. Always. All of this stuff I'm talking about sounds so serious and intractable, and it's easy to say, "Aggh, corporations rule the world and everything sucks. I might as well go home and do some bong hits." But it begins with you asking questions: Where did this apple come from? Who picked it? Where's the field? Do you mind if I go drive by the field some day?

To Read the Rest of the Interview

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform: "Misleading Information from the Battlefield."

Nancy Pelosi comments:

The hearing focuses on the death of Army Ranger Specialist Patrick Tillman in Afghanistan and the capture and rescue of Army Private Jessica Lynch in Iraq. The Committee examines why inaccurate accounts of these two incidents were disseminated, the sources and motivations for the accounts, and whether the appropriate Administration officials have been held accountable. Army Private Jessica Lynch gives opening remarks.

Watch/listen to more eye-opening testimonies:

Misleading Information from the Battlefield

Democracy Now: Susan Faludi's The Terror Dream

Author and Social Critic Susan Faludi on The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America
Hosted by Juan Gonzalez and Amy Goodman
Democracy Now

In her new book, leading social critic and Pulitzer-winning journalist Susan Faludi examines the cultural impact of the 9/11 attacks and concludes that the United States has been living in a myth since. She explores how the attacks led to the denigration of women here in the United States, the magnification of manly men and the call for greater domesticity. Faludi joins us to talk about the Bush administration's use of feminism to launch the war on Afghanistan, the case of Private Jessica Lynch, the Republican W. Stands for Women campaign, and more.


Susan Faludi. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the new book “The Terror Dream: Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America.” She is also the author of “Backlash” and “Stiffed.”


Richard Taylor's Roots Rock Radio

A must listen:

Richard Taylor's Roots Rock Radio

Congratulations on your 100th show!!!

Edward Copeland: Those Who Don't Learn From History...

Those Who Don't Learn From History
by Edward Copeland

While The War, the latest epic documentary by Ken Burns (along with his co-director and co-producer Lynn Novick and writer Geoffrey C. Ward) has garnered mostly (and deservedly) rhapsodic reviews, I noticed a recurring theme in much of the criticism. Many writers keep pointing out how much of the material in his look back at America's involvement in World War II has been covered before, both in fiction and nonfiction forms. That is true, but a lot of The War is fresh and, more importantly, informative. While I'm no WWII expert, I do know a lot of what happened through various sources, yet I still learned a lot from this seven-part, nearly 16 hours-long work. What's tragic is that the people who probably most need to see it probably never will and while The War reminded me of things I knew (or had forgotten) and informed me of things I didn't, most often I kept thinking about how many Americans are ignorant of the facts about this and many other parts of history that they should know about. In an interview, Burns said one of the things that prompted him to embark on this project was learning that a sizable number of American students believed the U.S. fought alongside Germany in WWII against Russia. If only that were an isolated statistic and that sort of stunning misconception were limited to the young.

Link to the Rest of the Post

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Peter Watkins: The Media Crisis

Having been blown away by the achievement of Peter Watkin's La Commune: Paris 1871 (France: 2000)

the documentary The Universal Clock: The Resistance of Peter Watkins (in particular the theoretical discussions about the problems with the mainstreaming of a monologic form in contemporary audiovisual production) and finally sitting in awe at the sheer insanity of his Punishment Park (USA: 1970) and how it's film "reality" seems so much more imaginable (here in the USA) now than it probably did when it was made (and leads us to ask how did he ever get this made?)

So, with these cinematic experiences, I was excited to hear that Watkins 250+ minute film on the life of August Strindberg, The Freethinker (Sweeden: 1992-1994), is about to be released on DVD (finally)

of course finding it is difficult (I'm still tracking the distributor down), but in the meantime if you haven't heard of Peter Watkins (one of the most important filmmakers and tragically very ignored by the system he challenges--as is to be expected), check out his manifesto "The Media Crisis" (an excerpt is included below from the revised introduction):


In 2003, I completed the work on this website. It was subsequently translated into French by my son Patrick, and published as The Media Crisis by Alain Dichant of Homnispheres, in France. Alain is now releasing a new edition of The Media Crisis. The book, and this website, remain essentially unchanged at this time, but the crisis in the audiovisual media has worsened. Few, if any, of the problems I analysed have been addressed by the mass audiovisual media, and the related environmental threat, which I referred to in 2003, has become catastrophic. I hope in this revised introduction to clarify some of the worsening issues...

According to an article in the British press (The Guardian Weekly, Feb. 9-15, 2007), world scientists recently issued their strongest warning to date, that a failure to cut greenhouse gas emissions will bring devastating climate change within a few decades. The final report by an expert UN panel states that average temperatures will likely increase by 4C, and could increase by as much as 6.4C by the end of the century if emissions continue to rise. The forecast is higher than previously estimated, because scientists have discovered that the earth's land and ocean masses are becoming less able to absorb carbon dioxide.

The report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is written by hundreds of scientists across the world, and has been approved by all governments. It appears that human activity is largely to blame for this current state of affairs. The director of the UN Environment Programme said: “February 2007 may be remembered as the day the question mark was removed from whether people are to blame for climate change.”

This latest information from the media on the global environmental crisis does not, however, mention another crucial question mark - one which is also related to human activity, but which is never discussed publicly: the role of the mass audiovisual media in the current state of affairs.

Society at large still refuses to acknowledge the role of form and process in the delivery and reception of the mass audiovisual (MAVM) output. By this I mean that the language forms structuring the message contained in any film or TV programme, and the entire process (hierarchical or otherwise) of delivery to the public are completely overlooked, and are certainly not debated. In turn, this lack of critical public debate means that over 95% of all MAVM messages delivered to the public are now structured by the Monoform.

- the Monoform is the one single language form now used to edit and structure cinema films, TV programmes - newsbroadcasts, detective series, soap operas, comedy and ‘reality shows’, etc. - and most documentaries, almost all of which are encoded in the standardised and rigid form which had its nascence in the Hollywood cinema. The result is a language form wherein spatial fragmentation, repetitive time rhythms, constantly moving camera, rapid staccato editing, dense bombardment of sound, and lack of silence or reflective space, play a dominant and aggressive role.

- there is total silence within the ranks of the professional MAVM on the impact of this mono language on society in general, and on its relationship to the environmental crisis. The MAVM refuse to discuss this issue either in their films and TV programmes, or in any public debate.

- this silence is further reinforced by the reluctance (to put it mildly) of today’s educational systems to discuss the nature of the MAVM in critical or holistic terms, and especially to analyse the impact of the Monoform. It would even appear as if many of today’s media teachers are hardly aware of, or concerned with, this impact.

- the silence on the role of the MAVM is also maintained by most alternative political movements, associations, NGOs, etc. While sometimes acknowledging that the MAVM may be withholding information (e.g., on the arms race), or that it may, in general terms, have an impact on certain events (e.g., the war in Iraq), alternative movements do not usually hold the MAVM to holistic account for its overall impact on society, nor for its direct relationship to the environmental disaster.

- finally, the silence on the media crisis is sustained at, and by, most major international ‘public’ MAVM events such as film festivals, documentary film forums, and the escalating number of specialist TV festivals, trade fairs, and so-called ‘world congresses’. These events play a central role in the media crisis because they are structured in such a way as to preclude meaningful debate with the public, and instead, reinforce the mindless absorption of torrents of Monoform material. Major festivals pack as many as 200-300 films into 4-5 days of screenings, often obliging viewers to run to and from the sessions. Inserted into these events are authoritarian panel ‘discussions’ by experts, master classes with celebrity filmmakers, and pitching sessions. Rarely, however, are there any discussions with the public about the role of the MAVM in contemporary society - and never is there any mention of the Monoform.

These international events, mostly unknown to the public, more than anything else represent the global market forces industry that the MAVM have become.

To Read the Rest of Watkin's Statement--also see links on the left hand side

French Version

Sections include:

1. Media Crisis - Suggestions for use and Personal Prologue
2. Revised Introduction to the Media Crisis
3. The role of the American MAVM, Hollywood and the Monoform
4. The European, Canadian, Scandinavian (etc.) MAVM
5. Media education, popular culture, violence
6. Filmmakers, festivals and the repression
7. Role of the Global Justice Movement
8. Public-alternative processes and practices
9. Conclusion

Online Resources for Studying Media Culture/Texts

This is an archive for writing students that are researching media culture and pupular culture papers. To the students these are all resources that I have chosen to demonstrate what I think are academic sources available online--so think about why the site is chosen: verifiable source/author of the materials; able to identify the worldview/framework/discipline of the organiztion/collective/individual; quality of the materials--my and your judgment; archive of other visual sources (for instance the Gender Ads site). Remember this is just some prompts that can get you "started."

Here are some beginning sites:

What is a What is a Thesis Statement?

Washington State University: American Popular Culture

Media Literacy Clearinghouse

Critical Media Studies

How to write a film paper:

British Film Institute: Film Researching Resources These are actually teaching resources but very useful for researching papers. BFI is one of the most respected film organizations; a resource for schools/colleges in the UK; they publish many books and the excellent film magazine "Sight and Sound."

Film Analysis Resources This incredible site is hosted by Yale University Film Studies department

Viewing and Watching Film Critically I'm not sure who Tim Dirks is but the materials covered here are either straight-forward understandings of concepts, some genre analysis on other pages, and links to other sites. It helps that this site has received commendations from other trusted sources (like the film critic Roger Ebert)

More films studies resources from Yale Library

Advertising Issues:

Gender Ads Resources for Dr. Scott A. Lukas' Gender courses as well as his introductory social science courses at Lake Tahoe Community College and Valparaiso University. Extensive website, with huge archives of primary and secondary sources.

Gender, Race and Ethnicity in Media Advertising University of Iowa's Communication Studies dept. has compiled this huge archive of links.

How to Read an Ad Dr. Scott A' Lukas put this together.

Gender Advertiosements Aimed at African Americans Originally published in the journal Sex Roles: A Journal of Research (Jan, 1999)

Female Gender Images in Adolescent Magazine Advertising Originally published in Australian Marketing Journal (11.1: 2003)

About-Face: Body Activism "About-Face's mission is to equip women and girls with tools to understand and resist the harmful stereotypes of women the media disseminates. There are three components to About-Face's program, Education into Action: media-literacy workshops, action groups, and this resource-filled web site. About-Face is based in San Francisco, California. Our workshops and action groups reach throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Our web site, of course, is available the world over." This website includes many primary (the actual ads) and secondary sources (intepretative/evaluative resources).

A Sociological Analysis of Children's Television Advertising Put together by two senior sociology majors at St. Lawrence University in NY.

Popular Culture: Advertising
From Washtington State University's American Popular Culture Archive.

The Persuaders PBS Frontline documentary hosted by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff; includes many other resources.

Merchants of Cool PBS Frontline documentary hosted by media theorist Douglas Rushkoff; includes many other resources.

Reading Advertisements Newsweek Magazine Education

The Language of Advertising Claims John Padgett's University of Mississippi guide for his ENG 102 course.

The Language of Advertising Peter Sells and Sierra Gonzale on the Stanford University Website.

Adbusters' Spoof Ads Canadian magazine that is a center of culture jamming.

Tobacco Spoof Ads

Analysis of Advertisements (Daniel Chandler's semiotic guide to understanding ads)

Beauty and Body Image in the Media (Media Awareness Network guide)

The Devil Wears Prada:

Story Analysis of the Film

Sympathy for the She Devil Salon magazine article.

Fairy Tales:

Wikipedia: Fairy Tales Wikipedia is an online collection of articles which is authored and edited by many people (and includes critiques of the pieces when someone finds the objectionable/misleading). Should be used solely as a guide to thinking about a broad subject/theme, followed by your own research.

Fair Tales, Myths and Legends Francie Quaas-Berryman's for her Cerritos College ENG 100 courses

Fairy Tales and Script Analysis Very academic analysis mapping the structure of fairy tales.

Fairy Tales A. Waller Hastings's website for his students.

Theory & Method Written by Kevin Yee and hosted by Disney. Good intro to the various theories/methods used to analyze fairy tales.

Psychoanalysis and Fairy Tales Hosted by the Romanian Association of Pyschoanalysis--intro to this theoretical perspective.

Artist: Alex Grey

The Artwork of Alex Grey His personal/professional website.

The Visionary Art of Alex Grey

Alex Grey on YouTube

Alex Grey: Art and Spirit (an interview)

Alex Grey: Art, Love, Family, and Psychedelics

Marketing of Diet Pills/Prescription Drugs

Medicating Kids PBS Frontline documentary available online and more resources.

Diet Wars Frontline documentary.

Prescription Drug Ad Marketing Media Literacy Clearinghouse

Prescription Drugs: Concerns and Controversies of Direct-to-Consumer Advertisements Article posted at the American Medical Student Association site--originally published in Cornell Political Forum (May 1998)


American Porn PBS Frontline documentary online and more resources.

History of Sex in Cinema

Barbie Dolls:

Barbie Liberation Culture Jammers subverting Barbie and GI Joe.

Barbie Liberation Organization

Wikipedia: Barbie

War Movies

War and Anti-War Films Film Site overview of the genres.

Wikipedia: War Films

How to Evaluate War Movies and Questions to Help You Evaluate War Films and War is Hell Pass the Popcorn Center for Media Literacy

Remind me I have essays on this subject that I hand out to my film classes.

Music Piracy/Downloading Issues:

Recording Industry Association of America statement about piracy

American Federation of Musicians statement on music piracy


Is Music Piracy Stealing? Applelinks

‘Golden Age of Free Music’ vs ‘Copying is Stealing’ Published at The Register (2003)

The Music Piracy Myth Tim O' Reilly is founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media a computer book publishing company.

Music Piracy Defendents Fighting Back The National Law Journal (2005)

Cultures of Music Piracy International Jouirnal of Cultural Studies (2004)

Celebrity Culture:

Wikipedia: Celebrity Culture

World History Site: Dysfunctional Celebrities

Media and Rise of Celebrity Culture Amy Henderson is a historian at the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. First published in OAH Magazine of History 6 (Spring 1992)

The Culture Celebrity Essay by Joseph Epstein in the Weekly Standard. Good introduction to some of the people writing and thinking about it.

Hypertrophic Celebrity MC Journal (2004)

The Culture of Celebrity: An Annotated Bibliography Compiled byy students at the College of New Jersey. Very helpful!

Alcohol Advertising:

Yahoo Collection of Alcohol Ads

Alcohol Advertising and Youth Also visit the main site of The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Georgetown University

Stanford University online collection of 55 Alcohol Ads

SUNY Potsdam University: Alcohol Advertising

Analyszing Alcohol Advertisements and Marketing Frank Baker for Media Literacy Clearinghouse

Alcohol Advertising and Youth Marin Institute

Wikipedia: Alcohol Advertising

Adbusters: Spoof Ads Has a section spoofing/critiquing alcohol ads.

Online Communities:

Wikipedia: Social Network

Social Networking Blog Survey of the culture online

Howard Rheingold New Media theorist

Smart Mobs Website inspired by Rheingold's book.

Taking the "You" Out of YouTube Critique by media theorist Henry Jenkins.

Who Profits from User Created Content By Rheingold

DIY Media Weblog Hosted by the USC Annenberg Center

Wikipedia: Virtual Community

Online Community Toolkits Full Circle Associates--a consulting group.

News/Journalism Issues

Columbia Journalism Review Important magazine that covers the world of journalism

The News War PBS Frontline documentary available online and more resources.

Critical Media Studies: Journalism Resources

Project Censored An essential archival guide to the major news stories that are regularly censored or ignored by mainstream/corporate media news agencies. They do an annual collection of the year's top 25 censored news stories. Check out the 2007 edition and the archive of of past annual reports They also have a good archive of Alternative News Sources available online

Wikipedia: Topics in Journalism


Propaganda Critic Very useful guide to the basic concepts from The Institute for Propaganda Analysis.

Public Relations (PR) Watch and SourceWatch and Public Relations Industry and Propaganda Techniques and Propaganda Hosted by the Center for Media and Democracy

Wikipedia: Propaganda

Nancy Snow Leading critic of the American cultural and political propaganda techniques used worldwide. Check out her Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Propaganda and Propaganda News

Propaganda, Pop Culture and Public Diplomacy

More Critical Resources

Orwell Rolls in His Grave

Cultural Intelligence and Social Control


Freud’s Nephew and the Origin of Public Relations

Using Story as Strategy/Politics of Storytelling

On "Deceit"

The Role of the Mass Media

Do We Need a Strong Public Media