Saturday, August 02, 2003

We are actually like, 'ARRGHH!' 

From the Portland Mercury:

The cover art of Black Peppercorns' First Spicy Hits warns "contents heavier than they may appear." The band, comprised of two nine-year-old sisters, plays a few screamy garage numbers (in near-perfect rhythm) that rumble and roll with primal attitude. But any gnarled edges are sweetened by a sometimes-breathy vocal timbre and simile-laden, poetic lyrics (as on the minimal "The Stars (are Echoing All their Beauty Tonight)").

...Formed after they attended the Rock and Roll Camp for Girls, sisters Fortier-Kuttner and Zayna Langer (drums/vox) have been playing in Black Peppercorns for about a year. Their debut number was an enthusiastic, screamy theme song about a boy and a girl who, according to Langer, "get married and have four children named Jerry, Mike, Joanna, and Chris."

..."We look like we would probably be going like, 'Mary had a little lamb,'" she continues, "but really, we don't. We are actually like, 'ARRGHH!'"

Friday, August 01, 2003


by William Greider

Since McDonald's is a global icon of cultural imperialism and the target for numerous other social complaints, it's a little awkward to celebrate the world's largest fast-food corporation for a progressive political breakthrough. Nevertheless, McDonald's has taken on what American politics lacks the nerve to confront: the dangerous practices of agribusiness in producing chicken, beef and pork--that is, the food McDonald's sells to families. The company formally acknowledged in late June that the heavy use of growth-stimulating antibiotics by the meat industry threatens human health. It advised its poultry suppliers to phase out the practice or face the prospect of losing the business of America's largest buyer of meat products. The warning is less firm for hogs and cattle, but those suppliers know they are on notice too. Mickey D is listening to his customers. "We would love to be a catalyst for change industrywide," McDonald's director for social responsibility affirmed.

Let's hear it also for the galaxy of civic-action groups, from the Union of Concerned Scientists to Environmental Defense, from the Humane Society to the National Catholic Rural Life Conference, who made this happen. A coalition of thirteen organizations put aside cultural and political differences to educate the McDonald's management. Some, like the Sierra Club, delivered the message by direct action, picketing Golden Arches outlets with signs like Get Food Off Drugs. Others, like Environmental Defense, pursued a lawyerly inside track, negotiating in "partnership" with the company's proclaimed commitment to social responsibility.

Riordan mum on Terminator 4 

From The Washington Post

Former Los Angeles mayor Richard Riordan has declined to comment on whether he is considering starring in the
upcoming production Terminator 4. He was quoted as saying, "I'm not even thinking about it until (fellow Republican)
Arnold (Schwarzenneger) has made up his mind. Source close to Riordan say that he has stepped up his training
regimen and is doing a cycle of creatine.

and now the bad news: 


from The Washington Post

'The U.S. labor market remained in the doldrums last month, as the number of payroll jobs fell for the sixth month in a row, the Labor Department report yesterday. While the unemployment rate declined, the Labor data showed that decrease was entirely due to workers dropping out of the labor force. Overall, payroll employment dropped by 44,000, as gains in a few industries partially offset larger declines elsewhere, including a huge 71,000 loss in manufacturing jobs. Payroll job losses in May and June were also larger that reported earlier, the department said. The number of factory workers now has fallen for 36 consecutive months, with a total decline of 2.7 million, nearly 16 percent since the middle of 2000. The unemployment rate dropped last
month to 6.2 percent from 6.4 percent in June. It had increased from 6.1 percent in May, when about 600,000 people began looking for jobs and most of them didn't find one. Last month about half a million people dropped out of the work force again, and that brought the jobless rate down again, the department said.

...In addition, the airline industry shed another 9,000 jobs, bringing the total lost since the spring of 2001 to 136,000. That industry has never gotten back to normal since the terrorist attacks of September 2001. And the wholesale trade industry trimmed another 14,300 jobs last month, raising its total job loss since March 2000 to 415,000. In contrast, temporary help supply firms added nearly 42,000 workers last month. That industry has added 122,000 jobs since April. '

Nothing another tax break can't fix.

sam phillips  

He is remembered in the Tennessean

Sam Phillips, 80, who opened his Sun Records studio doors and ushered in a rock 'n' roll revolution that irrevocably altered American music and culture, died yesterday at St. Francis Hospital in his home base of Memphis. Phillips died of respiratory failure, his son Knox Phillips said. He said his father had been in declining health for a year.

Unquestionably one of popular culture's most fascinating and consequential figures, Mr. Phillips was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as the man who recorded music that started the careers of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Charlie Rich, Carl Perkins, Howlin' Wolf, B.B. King, Roy Orbison and many others.

...Had Mr. Phillips' contributions stopped with his decision to record a 19-year-old Elvis Presley's first professional session, he would have secured a place in music history. That historic session reaped a 1954 single that featured That's All Right, Mama and a rocked-up version of Bill Monroe's Blue Moon of Kentucky.

But Mr. Phillips did not begin or end with Elvis.

He opened his Memphis Recording Studio doors in January 1950, concentrating on blues, gospel and country music but operating under the slogan ''We Record Anything-Anywhere-Anytime.'' Memphis Recording Studios later became Sun Records. In 1951 Mr. Phillips had recorded a track that helped lay the groundwork for what would become rock 'n' roll: Jackie Brenston's Rocket 88 was a breathtaking, energetic record that featured Ike Turner's rollicking piano and the distorted, wild sound of Willie Kizart's electric guitar played through an amplifier that had fallen off the top of a car and undergone
a fundamental change in tone. That tone turned out to be something new, and Mr. Phillips was always keen on finding something new. A few years later he found commercial success with Presley and with many others. ''We were starting from scratch together,'' he told The Associated Press in 2000.

Although he is primarily known for his rock and blues legacy, the famed producer also is a member of the Nashville-based Country Music Hall of Fame. He saw the talent and commercial possibility in future country stars such as Cash and Rich and also mentored ''Cowboy'' Jack Clement, who became an important Nashville producer and songwriter. The early rock 'n' roll and ''rockabilly'' sounds Mr. Phillips produced at Sun made a tremendous mark on country music.

''The greats, be it of country, rhythm and blues, rock 'n' roll, you know what they were doing? They were messing with your heart and soul. That's what it was. Nothing has the strength, the power of music.''

Terry Gross has a particularly excellent interview on Fresh Air
as well as comments by rock critic Peter Guralnick.

Tomorrow's show features .interviews with Johnny Cash and Carl Perkins.

There are several Elvis related
interviews including Scotty Moore from the August 16, 2002 show.

Visit the Sun RecordsWebsite.

My 2 cents:

There are three things that are striking to me in Sam Phillips story.

The first is the intensity of the talent he recognized and developed, Elvis, Johnny Cash and Roy Orbison are quite a trifecta. This puts him on par with (maybe ahead of) Berry Gordy and a cut above Clive Davis and Ahmet Ertegun.

The lasting star power of Elvis is well recognized but, I think it's been forgotten how good he really was when he started. If you go back and listen to Elvis' Sun sessions, they are just smokin' hot. He really got that music swinging in a way that nobody had before. When Elvis stops the band at the beginning of
Milk Cow Blues Boogie and says, "Hold it fellows, that don't move me. Let's get real, real gone for a change. " ; that moment marks the birth of a new era like a sign 'Now Entering Rock and Roll pop.4'. His sex appeal in those early days has been unmatched in music. The video clip when he is windmilling his arms and legs across the stage and stops and then reaches down and lifts his leg and drops it to where it is supposed to be may be the coolest moment ever captuted on film.

Roy Orbison is the voice that so many singers judge themselves against. I still think must have taken a tremendous eye to see Orbison's potential right off the street with one record under his belt.

The real ace in the hole for Phillips is Johnny Cash. Only Willie Nelson can match him as the coolest septegenarian on the planet. But Willie hit his stride much later. Cash was right there at the beginning, helping to invent the rockabilly from which rock and roll sprang. He deepened his importance in the late sixties as his music became more political and he formed ties with Bob Dylan. His recent collaborations with Rick Rubin have simply put his body of work into a class by itself.

The second thing that strikes me about Sam Phillips career was his utter devotion to promoting Black music. This especially comes across in the Fresh Air interview. In addition to recording many seminal blues and gospel artists, he saw recording people like Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis as important in breaking down the color barrier and bringing Black music to the whole country. He loved the music he had grown up with and he desperately wanted to share it with the world and he understood that it was going to take a talented white kid who had that "Black sound" to get it across. With Elvis, he got more than he bargained for, but he succeeded in getting millions interested in the music he loved. It is interesting that the great soul label Stax Records which was internally integrated from the outset was also born in Memphis.

Finally, I think it is worth noting that Sun Records was the first Independent label, the orginal Indie rock label. Elvis could have never been discovered anywhere else and Rock and roll couldn't have been born anywhere else. It was a label run more for love than commerce and it shows in those old recordings.

Thursday, July 31, 2003

more kids insured 

WASHINGTON, July 31 (Reuters) - The number of U.S. children without health insurance .declined in recent years, thanks largely to government programs, but millions still lack coverage, said a report released on Thursday.

Many of the uninsured children are eligible for government health benefits but are not yet enrolled, the survey said.

About 7.8 million children were uninsured during 2002, a drop of 1.8 million from 1999, according to a survey by the Urban Institute, a liberal think tank.

Among the uninsured children, an estimated 4 million are eligible for those programs but are not enrolled, probably because their parents are unaware they qualify, the report said. In many cases, families can earn up to $36,000 a year or more and still be eligible...

Hispanic children were three times more likely to be uninsured than non-Hispanic white children, and more than twice as likely to be uninsured than African-American children, according to the survey.

aids comeback 


Relapsing on AIDS

THIS WEEK'S report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the number of new AIDS cases in the United States increased last year for the first time in a decade echoed last year's first rise in Massachusetts of AIDS deaths since the mid-1990s. These disturbing statistics underscore the need to increase funding for prevention and treatment, not reduce it, as federal and state budget cutbacks have done. Experts offer several explanations for why more HIV infections are turning into full-blown AIDS cases. In some instances, viral strains are becoming resistant to the AIDS drugs, which treat but do not cure the infection. In other cases, patients stop taking the drugs, often because of side effects that include disfiguring fat deposits. Because of budget cutbacks, some HIV-positive patients lose access to the drug treatment that would stave off AIDS itself.

900 federal subpoenas  

Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Sen. Norm Coleman on Thursday began an inquiry into the recording industry's copyright lawsuits against online music swappers, saying the tactics could ensnare innocent people. Coleman, the chairman of the Senate's permanent subcommittee on investigations, asked the Recording Industry Association of America for, among other things, copies of its subpoenas issued to Internet providers, and description of its safeguards against targeting innocent people.

"The industry has legitimate concerns about copyright infringement," said Coleman, R-Minn. "We are dealing with the stealing of a recording artist's songs, and the industry's profits. The industry has every right to develop practical remedies for protecting its rights. "Yet, the industry seems to have adopted a 'shotgun' approach that could potentially cause injury and harm to innocent people who may have simply been victims of circumstance, or possessing a lack of knowledge of the rules related to digital sharing of files."

The RIAA has issues 900 federal subpoenas against computer users suspected of illegally sharing music files on the Internet, with roughly 75 new subpoenas being approved each day, court officials say.

ISP sues RIAA over legal move
By Dinah Greek [31-07-2003]

' A US ISP which claimsthat it wants to protect the privacy
of its subscribers has filed a lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). SBC Communications
has claimed that more than 200 subpoenas from the RIAA have been issued from the wrong jurisdiction. '

this article has a picture of Shakira, for some reason.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003

email from liberia 

This was in my email today:

Dear friend
Time and exegesis at the monent have not given me the
opportunity to inquire much about you.I got your
contact through a search at the internet and have
therefore, decided to solicite for your help with the
belief that you must as well count yourself as being
My name is Yormmie Gilbert Taylor, the eldest son of
president Charles Taylor of Liberia, i was until
recent an assistant director at the Liberian institute
of international affairs[LIIA] before the current war
broke out between the rebles and my Dad, as you must
have heard the rebles are almost ousting my father
from government,the American government have issued an
order urging my dad to seek exile in Nigeria to avoid
further loss of lives.
However the president of the federal republic of
Nigeria Chief Olusegun Obasanjo visit us last week and
offered us political asylum in Nigeria which my father
have accepted on the condition that a peace keeping
force must be inguarated before he leaves.
Furthermore, before this time,my father made a huge
withdrawal of fund from the National bank of Liberia
with the aim to prosecute this war but have found out
that he is loosing out fast, therefore, he have call
his family and divided part of this fund to us,the
amount entrusted to me is the sum of $87m
[eighty-seven million united states dollars] i have
quickly moved out this out of liberia with the aid of
a foriegn security company in Bahamas, United States
of America, presently i have been order by my father
and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo out of liberia to Abuja
the Nigerian capital for my safty awaiting the faith
of my father in this present impasse expecially as he
is being indicted by the United Nations war crime
tribunal setting in Sierra Leone.
Dear friend i urgently needed your assistance in this
regard, forward through this email your full contact
such as,
1, Your full name and address
2, Your telephone and fax
3, Your bank address and your account number
On the reciept of this information i will subsequently
advise that your account should be credited before my
arrival and i will allow you to have only 30% of the
total sum.
Absolute confidential.
Mr Yormmie Gilbert Taylor.

Don't worry buddy, I'm on it.

the award for Best Spinal Tap Reference goes to...  

Merriam Webster Online

" We go to ELEVEN!
The dictionary of the future has arrived! The fully revised Eleventh Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate® Dictionary merges print with a searchable CD-ROM dictionary and a one-year subscription to the new Collegiate Web site. See what all the noise is about here!"

benny carter remembered 

From Salon

"It's better to be a legend than a myth." So said Benny Carter, the Apollonian of jazz, who died on July 12 at age 95. Carter had a 75-year career as an instrumentalist, arranger, composer and big band leader.

...In a music that often venerates tragedy, angst and pretension -- think Charlie Parker, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis, respectively -- Carter's sunny spirit stood out. The bubbling "Pick Yourself Up" on the album "Cosmopolite" (1952) transforms his knotty rhythms into a clarion call celebrating resilience. Carter's ballad work was reflective, as on his composition "Blue Star" on "Further Definitions" (1961), where the tension between the solos and the lush saxophone choir communicates loss and yearning. But he rarely plumbed the depths of despair.

...As gracious and warm as Carter was, he was also driven. He needed to be, to deal with life on the road during segregation, spearhead the integration of the black and white musicians' unions in 1950s Los Angeles and succeed in the studios. An arranger had to be fast and service-oriented -- if you turned down one assignment, the client might not give you another. A tenor saxophonist and arranger from a later generation, Benny Golson, said that when he quit the studios to return to jazz, it felt like manumission.

...In 1976, as he approached the magic age of 70, Carter did his first album as a leader in 10 years. Playing what he liked, and acclaimed by the jazz public for it, he went on to lead 26 more big band and small group albums before retiring in 1997 at age 90.

Word of the day: MANUMISSION

Main Entry: man*u*mis*sion
Pronunciation: "man-y&-'mi-sh&n
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin manumission-, manumissio, from manumittere
Date: 15th century
: the act or process of manumitting; especially : formal emancipation from slavery

in the current adbusters 

' The city that Disneyfied its own heart - Times Square - has just appointed its first CMO ("chief marketing officer"). The job description isn't yet clear... Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg says the city ... will sell naming and sponsorship rights to lesser landmarks, and will lend the Brand NYC stamp of approval to select products. '

' How far will a mega-brand go to protect its copyright? Welcome to Masset, a village of 700 on the Haida Gwaii islands off Canada's North Pacific coast. There, four young men from the Haida native band - "bucks," in local slang - opened a café called HaidaBucks. Then came the letter from Starbucks lawyers claiming that the indy café's name "results in a clear association with our clients' trademark." It's going to court, and the HaidaBucks are promising to fight rather than let an overeager corporation "enjoy another hundred-dollar cigar and a glass of fine cognac as they plot their next massacre. Follow the action at '

SPOOF ADS are here.

Learn about the BLACK SPOT ad here.
View the BLACK SPOT ad is here
Download a poster of the BLACK SPOT NY Times ad here.

when you mention Guantanamo, they become a lot more compliant 

From the WSJ
NAJAF, Iraq ' 20-some members of the new city council in this holy city of Shiite Islam... are arrayed in a circle to hear from Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, who invites questions. The first man to speak wants to know two things: There's a U.S. election next year, and if President Bush loses will the Americans go home? And second, are you secretly holding Saddam Hussein in custody as a way to intimidate us with the fear that he might return? Mr. Wolfowitz replies no to both points, with more conviction on the second than the first. But the question reveals the complicated anxiety of the post-Saddam Iraqi mind.

Most reporting from Iraq suggests that the U.S. "occupation" isn't welcome here. But following Mr. Wolfowitz around the country I found precisely the opposite to be true. The majority aren't worried that we'll stay too long; they're petrified we'll leave too soon. Traumatized by 35 years of Saddam's terror, they fear we'll lose our nerve as casualties mount and leave them once again to the Baath Party's merciless revenge.

...The new Najaf council represents the city's ethnic mosaic, and its chairman is a Shiite cleric. Things improved dramatically once the Marines deposed a corrupt mayor who'd been installed by the CIA. Those same Marines have rebuilt schools and fired 80% of the police force. The city is now largely attack-free and Marines patrol without heavy armor and often without flak jackets. The entire south-central region is calm enough that the Marines will be turning over duty to Polish and Italian troops.

This is the larger story I saw in Iraq, the slow rebuilding and political progress that is occurring even amid the daily guerrilla attacks in Baghdad and the Sunni north. Admittedly we were in, or near, the Wolfowitz bubble. But reporters elsewhere are also in a bubble, one created by the inevitable limits of travel, sourcing and access. In five days we visited eight cities, and I spoke to hundreds of soldiers and Iraqis

..."You have to understand it was a Stalinist state," says Iaian Pickard, one of the Brits helping to run Basra. "The structure of civic life has collapsed. It was run by the Baath Party and it simply went away. We're having to rebuild it from scratch."

This legacy is why the early U.S. failure to purge all ranking Baathists was a nearly fatal blunder. Officials at CIA and the State Department had advocated a strategy of political decapitation, purging only those closest to Saddam. State's Robin Raphel had even called de-Baathification "fascistic," a macabre irony to Iraqis who had to endure genuine fascism.

Muhyi AlKateeb is a slim, elegant Iraqi-American who fled the Iraqi foreign service in 1979 when Saddam took total control. (In the American way, he then bought a gas station in Northern Virginia.) But when he returned in May to rebuild the Foreign Ministry, "I saw all of the Baathists sitting in front of me. I couldn't stay if they did." He protested to U.S. officials, who only changed course after L. Paul Bremer arrived as the new administrator.

Mr. AlKateeb has since helped to purge the Foreign Ministry of 309 secret police members, and 151 Baathist diplomats. "It's an example of success," he says now, though he still believes "we are too nice. Iraqis have to see the agents of Saddam in handcuffs, on TV and humiliated, so people will know that Saddam really is gone." This is a theme one hears over and over: You Americans don't understand how ruthless the Baathists are. They'll fight to the death. You have to do the same, and let us help you do it.

Which brings up the other large American mistake: The failure to enlist Iraqi allies into the fight from the very start. Pentagon officials had wanted to do this for months, but they were trumped by the CIA, State and former Centcom chief Tommy Franks. The result has been too many GIs doing jobs they shouldn't have to do, such as guarding banks, and making easier targets for the Baathist-jihadi insurgency.

The new Centcom boss, Gen. John Abizaid, is now correcting that mistake by recruiting a 14,000-man Iraqi security force. He's helped by division commanders who are adapting their own tactics in order to win local support and eventually be able to turn power back over to Iraqis.

...In Kirkuk, Maj. Gen. Raymond Odierno's Fourth Infantry Division has had similar success tapping Iraqi informers to map what he calls the "network of mid-level Baathists" who are running the insurgency. Late last week they raided a house near Tikrit after an Iraqi tip and captured several Saddam loyalists, including at least five of his personal bodyguards. Some have been reluctant to talk, but Gen. Odierno observes that "when you mention Guantanamo, they become a lot more compliant."

the mother of all big spenders 

George Bush is starting to upset the National Review
' The Bush administration's newly released budget projections reveal an anticipated budget deficit of $455 billion for the current fiscal year, up another $151 billion since February. Supporters and critics of the administration are tripping over themselves to blame the deficit on tax cuts, the war, and a slow economy. But the fact is we have mounting deficits because George W. Bush is the most gratuitous big spender to occupy the White House since Jimmy Carter. One could say that he has become the "Mother of All Big Spenders."

The new estimates show that, under Bush, total outlays will have risen $408 billion in just three years to $2.272 trillion: an enormous increase in federal spending of 22 percent. Administration officials privately admit that spending is too high. Yet they argue that deficits are appropriate in times of war and recession. So, is it true that the war on terrorism has resulted in an increase in defense spending? Yes. And, is it also true that a slow economy has meant a decreased stream of tax revenues to pay for government? Yes again.

But the real truth is that national defense is far from being responsible for all of the spending increases. According to the new numbers, defense spending will have risen by about 34 percent since Bush came into office. But, at the same time, non-defense discretionary spending will have skyrocketed by almost 28 percent. Government agencies that Republicans were calling to be abolished less than ten years ago, such as education and labor, have enjoyed jaw-dropping spending increases under Bush of 70 percent and 65 percent respectively.

... in inflation-adjusted terms, Clinton had overseen a total spending increase of only 3.5 percent at the same point in his administration. More importantly, after his first three years in office, non-defense discretionary spending actually went down by 0.7 percent. This is contrasted by Bush's three-year total spending increase of 15.6 percent and a 20.8 percent explosion in non-defense discretionary spending. '

Monday, July 28, 2003

enough nasty gnarlies 

The "Song of the Week" is sure to lift your spirits. Get it from the usual place or get it here.

ladies and gentlemen, air sickness bags have been provided for your convenience. 

blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

jethro bodean on healthcare 

John Edwards talks about his healthcare plan on the CBS Early Show.

the hunt for  

This report from CBS News illuminates almost nothing; but I love the New Yorker and I love that footage of Osama aiming that AK47 or whatever it is. From an aesthetic point of view. I'm still a patriot and don't you forget it.

low interest rates hurt seniors 

From CBS News.

this is getting hairy 

' Rebel forces fought their way into the Liberian port city of Buchanan
on Monday as they continued to battle for control of the capital Monrovia,
government defence sources said.

The Movement for Democracy in Liberia (MODEL) rebel group, which controls
eastern Liberia, had captured the port of Buchanan, 120 km southeast of
Monrovia by Monday night and was fighting government troops for control
of the city centre about five km away, they added.

The sources said Defence Minister Daniel Chea had gone personally to Buchanan
to lead government efforts to stem the rebel advance into Liberia's second
largest city and troop reinforcements were being rushed there by road from
Monrovia. '

I stand by my statement that I mostly agree with the Admin's moves on Liberia. What I think is frustating to realpolitik progressives is that the UN doesn't have an ass kicking special forces unit(s) (recruited and trained on the French Foreign Legion Model*) that could show up in situations like this on a moment's notice and bring order to a situation that shouldn't be that hard to bring order to.

I also still think that Colin Powell should be on the ground bring pressure to bear to bring about a peace that can be enforced.

*credit to my friend Doug for this insight.


ANNAPOLIS, MD-Citing mounting debt and a decline in tourism dollars, the state of Maryland will shut down for good on August 31, Maryland Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. told reporters Monday. I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has ever lived in or visited the great state of Maryland," Ehrlich said at a press conference held on the steps of a boarded-up Capitol Building. "You are the people who have made this such a wonderful place. Maryland will live on in the fond memories of each of you, even as we liquidate the state's assets."

In similar news...

columbia watch 

' BOGOTA, Colombia -- Carlos Castano, chief of the paramilitaries that battled Colombia's rebel armies, has acknowledged his forces massacred civilians, extorted money and dealt drugs, but claimed those acts were "inevitable excesses" in a war to save the nation. As his United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia prepare to disband as part of a peace agreement with the government, Castano sought to justify the tactics the outlawed right-wing militia group used to fight leftist rebels for nearly two decades. In a message dated Sunday and posted on the Web site of the AUC, as the group is known by its initials in Spanish, the paramilitary chief claimed his fighters prevented guerrillas from taking over Colombia.

"We are not seeking gratitude," Castano said in the message. "We are satisfied with the results of our struggle."

Members of the AUC must "face up" to their actions either collectively or individually, Castano said. But he added: "No one here can summarily send the self-defense forces to jail."

Government peace commissioner Luis Carlos Restrepo has said the government is endorsing a plan in which paramilitary leaders would avoid jail if they follow through on promises to disarm. The militia leaders could face alternative sanctions such as paying compensation to their victims' families, Restrepo said. '


The trial of three Irishmen accused of training Marxist guerrillas in Colombia has entered its final session with the prosecution summing up its case. Martin McAuley, James Monaghan and Niall Connolly were arrested in August 2001. They are accused of training left-wing FARC rebels in the use of explosives and using false documentation.

Summing up the prosecution case on Monday, Carlos Sanchez said that since 1998 there had been a massive increase in terrorist attacks in Colombia and this coincided with IRA members visiting the country at that time. He said Colombia had suffered under terrorism and claimed that a Farc grenade and mortar attack, which killed 21 people last year, was as a result of IRA training. '


' Activists launched a consumer boycott of Coca-Cola products to protest killings, kidnappings and torture of union members working at the company's Colombian bottling plants. The campaign, titled "Unthinkable, Undrinkable," has been endorsed by labor activists in Europe, the U.S. and Australia. Organizers claim plant managers called on ultra-right paramilitary death squads to bully and assassinate workers from Colombia's Sinaltrainal food industry union, silencing demands for better working conditions.

They allege that nine Coca-Cola bottling employees have been murdered over the past 12 years. Union leaders accuse bosses of allowing paramilitaries access to the plants to scrawl graffiti on the walls and intimidate workers. "We're living in anguish and terror," says Sinaltrainal president Luis Javier Correa, himself the target of death threats. "Coca-Cola has an ethical and moral commitment to its workers and we're trying to make it accountable."

I know that I've already reported on this, but this is from TIME

europe that is.

While we're at it here is the Miami Herald's Latin American News Roundup.

You know how I love news roundups.

hurry up with that billion dollars, buddy 

' KABUL, Afghanistan, July 28 -- Afghans are being terrorized routinely -- robbed, beaten, kidnapped and imprisoned -- by gunmen working for faction leaders, local authorities and high-ranking officials whom the United States helped bring to power, an international human rights group said in a report to be released Tuesday. '

meanwhile in myanmar 

' The International Red Cross says it has met with Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and finds her in good health, nearly two months after her arrest by the country's military government.
A Red Cross spokesman said the head of its delegation in Burma was allowed to speak with the Nobel peace laureate

...Meanwhile, the United States dismissed as "outrageous" Burma's claim that Aung San Suu Kyi was arrested for plotting to seize power. A State Department spokesman, Richard Boucher, said she and members of her National League for Democracy were victims of a "premeditated" attack when they were detained May 30. '

' In an attempt to pressure Myanmar's military leaders to release democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi, the United States banned imports from the Asian country Monday.


from the daily racing form 

"Seabiscuit," the $90 million movie based on a best-selling book about the 1930's-era Hall of Fame horse, took in an estimated $21.5 million in box-office receipts during its opening weekend.

"Seabiscuit" was the fifth-highest-grossing film of the week, well behind "Sky Kids 3D," which had $32.5 million in ticket sales, but close behind "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Bad Boys 2," and "Lara Croft Tomb Raider 2," which were all within $1 million in ticket sales.

"Seabiscuit," however, appeared on at least 1,200 fewer screens than the higher-grossing movies, according to Exhibitor Relations, which tracks ticket sales. According to the company, "Seabiscuit" had the highest per-screen average of any movie last week, at $10,809. The movie appeared on approximately 2,000 screens.

raoul duke + arthur + captain blood = 

Johnny Depp in "Pirates of the Caribbean"

Johnny Depp rolls his own preformance as 'Raoul Duke/Hunter S. Thompson' up with Dudley Moore's 'Arthur' and Errol Flynn's 'Peter Blood' into a smooth, aromatic Blunt of a performance.

From the Salon review with which I mostly concur. (I would have been more succinct: It was fun. Johnny Depp was awesome. Geoffrey Rush was excellent. Not a bad way to spend two hours in a heatwave.)

These days action movies are so ubiquitous, and generally so badly made, that many critics -- subconsciously or otherwise -- grade them on the curve. "Not as bad as it could be" becomes high praise for a picture when you can't help comparing it to the stinker you saw last week.

But "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl" -- a swashbuckler, which means it's an action movie in its purest form -- is so almost-good that it doesn't deserve the insult of being graded on the curve.

Any scene here that features Depp is pure pleasure: He's true north on this movie's broken compass. As Jack Sparrow, Depp gives in to his craziest, boldest impulses. He goes over the top but takes us with him as his giddy, giggling accomplices. Depp wriggles his eyebrows seductively; he pouts like a starlet. Every one of his expressions is writ large: This is a great silent-screen performance, only with talking.

Depp carries himself with a delicate swagger, slinging his lines as if he were casually flinging a silk scarf around his neck. His velvet-brown eyes speak volumes even through all that Adam Ant eyeliner. Depp is a glamorous glam-rocker of a pirate, and he cuts a ridiculous and lovely figure. His beard descends from his chin in a waggle of stiff little plaits, each capped with a decorative bead; his hair is a mass of swinging dreadlocks, also trimmed with beads. He looks like Keith Richards on a good hair day. His brow is wrapped in extravagant but tattered silks, and sometimes the look is topped off with a beat-up but waggishly elegant tricornered hat the color of dust.

In case you think costume designer Penny Rose went totally overboard on Depp's outfit, note that its zaniness has at least some historical foundation: In his rip-roaring study of real-life 17th century pirate William Kidd, "The Pirate Hunter," Richard Zacks explains that pirates often went about in outlandish outfits they concocted themselves from plundered fabrics. They were also known to totter about in fancy, ill-fitting shoes, also stolen -- in the pirate world, vanity trumped comfort.

Depp prances through "Pirates of the Caribbean" as if it were a much lighter, less top-heavy movie than it is. When, engaged in a fight with Will Turner, Sparrow makes a less-than-gentlemanly move, Turner exclaims, shocked, "You cheated!" Depp replies, with a blasé shrug, "Pirate." That's the only word Sparrow needs to explain himself, and it's the only one that adequately describes how much Depp gets away with here.

good news for los angeles; in portland, we could care less. 

From the Wall Street Journal:

"The Food and Drug Administration is considering a request by manufacturer
Inamed Corp. to bring back silicone breast implants--by popular demand. The
augmentation material of choice until it was taken off the market back in
the 1990s, silicone is seeing a revival thanks to one group of advocates:

Much to the chagrin of the feminist contingent, breast implants haven't gone
bust--they've increased tenfold in frequency and about a third in size since
FDA commissioner David Kessler outlawed the gel. Silicone, legal in European
countries and most places outside the U.S., looks more natural than the saltwater
balloons doctors now install for American women.

...Breast implants have exasperated women's groups since they first came on the
market, with their suggestions of strippers, "poor body image," "exploitation"
and the "patriarchy." When marginal health concerns first became news in the
late 1980s, groups like the National Organization for Women were eager to become
champions of the double-D victims.

The controversy went mainstream when tort lawyers organized a class of women to
claim in court that their new big breasts were giving them problems from lupus to
rheumatoid arthritis.

A manufacturer of implants, Dow Corning, became a cause célèbre for activists and
the mother's milk of the plaintiffs bar. As recently as last year, the flattened
company agreed to pay the federal government $9.8 million for the treatment of
women with diseases studies now say were unrelated."

Who cares. In Portland, the strip club capital of the good old USA, boob jobs are few and far between.

Were all the puns really necessary?

another reason to use linux 

"A computer program that hijacks the personal computers of ordinary home users in order to pass on pornographic web pages has been discovered by US researchers.

The program was discovered by independent computer expert Richard M Smith, who was investigating claims of an internet payment scam.

Analysis of the program, dubbed Migmaf, shows that it can turn a home PC into a temporary relay for adult web pages and unsolicited "spam" email. So far 2000 computers have been detected carrying the rogue code, a relatively small number. But experts warn that the discovery reflects a disturbing new trend."

sully, who loves you baby? 

From the Department of "D'whut Now?"
Stanley Kurtz in the Weekly Standard "Among the likeliest effects of gay marriage
is to take us down a slippery slope to legalized polygamy and "polyamory" (group

If only I could convince my "lady friends".

From the National Review:
'...the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment seems to do the job well. It reads: "Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this constitution or the constitution of any state, nor state or federal law, shall be construed to require that marital status or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon unmarried couples or groups." The first sentence of the amendment would ban gay marriage. The second sentence would bar judges from granting legal privileges to same-sex couples (or groups), but allow state legislatures to make their own decisions in the matter. '

VATICAN CITY (AP) - Alarmed by growing legal acceptance of gay marriages, the Vatican is issuing new instructions to bishops and Catholic politicians in an effort to halt the trend.

The instructions, which call on politicians to oppose extending rights granted to traditional couples, are in a document prepared by the Church's guardian of orthodoxy, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It will be released Thursday, the Vatican said.

OTTAWA (CP) - A proposed federal law allowing same-sex civic weddings could lead to people marrying their pets or members of their own family, a group opposing the law said Thursday.

That's enough. I can't take it anymore.

Ah, dirrty! Filthy! Nasty, you nasty! Too dirrty to clean my act up! If you ain't dirrty You ain't here to party!!!! -Redman  

From On the Media:

"Experts agree that the so-called "dirty bomb" is the most overrated weapon in the terrorist arsenal. But the release of even a small amount of radiation in the air would likely cause significant fallout in the form of widespread panic. So why haven't the media done more to educate the public about the potential terrorist threat? OTM's John Solomon investigates."

"They like the fact that they can say the words "Dirty Bomb" and send people into a panic."

the future is now 

On the Media interviews Howard Rheingold about the role of the mobile phone, the personal computer and the internet in the Philipine revolution, flash mobs and the Dean campaign.

and Dan Gilmore on blogging and "We Journalism".

The cover story of the Nation reports on the role of the Internet on anti-war organizing,, and the Dean campaign.

it's like watching Barbies fucking 

From Greil Marcus' column:

2) Bob Dylan in Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (Sony Pictures) Widmerpool (a.k.a. Ken Tucker) writes in: "Not on the KICK-ASS soundtrack album to this KICK-ASS movie--who needs him there, when you've got Nickelback and Kid Rock collaborating on a KICK-ASS version of Elton's 'Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting'? No, Dylan sneaks in during the scene in which a KICK-ASS Drew Barrymore gathers her belongings to leave Angel headquarters, and we clearly see that one of her few cherished possessions is a vinyl copy of Bringing It All Back Home. So the real mystery of the movie is, who wanted that product placement in a film filled with shots plugging Cingular Wireless and Body By Demi? My guess? Crispin Glover had been using the album on the set to get himself in the mood to play a bitter, religion-warped mute, and director McG did what he does best, which is stealing cultural totems and reducing them to throwaway junk-jokes that make the viewer feel as though the ASS of anything in life that matters has been KICKED."

4) Liz Phair, "H.W.C." on Liz Phair (Capitol) When in the only tune here that raises itself above water Phair puts what might as well be spam porn (you know: "OUR SLUTS CAN'T WAIT TO DRINK YOUR HOT WHITE CUM") on top of candy-cane sound, it's like watching Barbies fucking. You can call that radical displacement, or you can call it spam.

Sunday, July 27, 2003

greens endorse george w. bush, again 

The angry toddlers at Green Party USA are at it again.


"The Green Party emerged from a national meeting ... increasingly certain
that it will run a presidential candidate in next year's election, all but
settling a debate within the group over how it should approach the 2004
contest," the Washington Post reported on July 21. The Green Party promptly
put out a news release declaring that Greens "affirmed the party's intention
to run candidates for president and vice president of the United States in 2004."

That release quoted a national party co-chair. "This meeting produced a clear
mandate for a strong Green Party presidential ticket in 2004," he said, adding
that "we chose the path of growth and establishing ourselves as the true
opposition party." But other voices, less public, are more equivocal.

Days later, national party co-chair Anita Rios told me that she's "ambivalent"
about the prospect of a Green presidential race next year. Another co-chair,
Jo Chamberlain, mentioned "mixed feelings about it." Theoretically, delegates
to the national convention next June could pull the party out of the '04
presidential race. But the chances of that happening are very slim. The
momentum is clear. '

How the Greens feel justified in running someone for President is beyond me, given what's at stake in this election.

I would love for the Greens to become a legitimate opposition party; but they seem hell bent on remaining a resolutely fringe group. Here is a survey of the state of their organization.

They have functioning organizations in 21 of 50 states. In 2003 so far, they have won 17 of 38 races. A vast improvement over last year. In 2002 their candidates lost 402 of 475 elections. In exactly half of those races where they lost, they came in last in a field of three or more candidates. For example, in Westerly, Rhode Island Larry Kern came in 14th out of 14 in a city council race.

In Georgia, three Greens ran write in campaigns for major office. Nanette Gordon ran for Governor capturing 1008 votes for .05% of the vote. Joyce Griggs ran for US House of Representatives in District 1 where Republican Jack Kingston won with 72%. Al Herman ran for US House in District 7 where John Linder won with 78.9%. The two Greens recieved two votes each for .0001% of the vote in their respective districts. These two apparently failed to tell anyone but spouses that they were running. They both went to the trouble to create websites.

Beth Hufnagel ran for Maryland State Comptroller and captured .22% of the vote.

This is somewhat unfair to harp on. The party has no control over people running pointless campaigns under the Green label. I only mention it to highlight the wasted time, resources and credibility. What could the Greens have achieved by redirecting the energy spent on the 201 races in 2002 that they had no chance of winning? Instead of running hopeless symbolic campaigns, they may have been able to nudge a few of their non-symbolic races across the finish line victorious.

Let's look at results that should have been the outcome of party strategy and organizing aimed at becoming a legitimate opposition party. In the entire country only 2 Greens hold office in State Houses or Assemblys. There are no state senators. There are only 3 mayors and 30 city council members. In California where their organization is the strongest they have 16 city council members state wide, one mayor and a handful of vice and pro tempore mayors. They have no one elected to the California State Assembly.

Successful city council and state representative campaigns generally consist of about a thousand yard signs and five pieces of effective direct mail. Twenty dedicated, well trained volunteers canvassing, fundraising, phone banking and putting up yard signs in yards on busy streets in addition to a professional direct mail effort would be like a huge army of commandos in these kind of races. These are the entry level positions for politicians building towards successful bids for mayor or Congress. From there you run for senator or governor and then President. That's how it works. If the Green party can't muster this effort in ten strategically chosen races around the country each year, well then I don't know what to say.

The roster of elected Greens nation wide does not show a dynamic organization strategically picking races, recruiting candidates, mobilizing volunteers, marshalling resources and winning elections that would position them for even greater successes. The roster shows a catch-as-catch-can approach and a lot of isolated candidates running for office on their own as Greens without coordination with the party. In communities where you would expect the Greens to thrive we find 3 members of the Rent Stabilization Board in Berkeley, CA; 10 Town Meeting Members in Amherst, MA; no discernible presence in Northampton, MA or Boulder, CO; one city council member in Minneapolis and one in Boston; 18 elected officials statewide in Wisconson and not a single elected official in the entire state of Vermont. Given these results it's hard to believe Green party is using local elections for party building.

Instead, they claim to want to use a presidential bid for party building. If the Green party would spend a couple of years putting energy into winning city council races in medium and large cities and state house and assembly races, then it would be easier to take a presidential bid seriously. As it stands, it is hard to believe they really care about peace, clean air, clean water, abortion rights, fair taxation, etc., when the point of a successful Green presidential bid is to teach the Democrats a lesson by helping to reelect George Bush. It seems to me that the real reason for to vote Green for President is to feel superior about yourself.

As Paul Berman, author of the recent Terror and Liberalism, wrote in Salon of the Nader cult, "I interpret the Green Party as a movement of the middle and upper-middle class, as actually having a certain satisfaction with the way things are--which is to say, the reason you should vote for the Greens is because you want to feel the excitement of political engagement, the adventure of it, but you don't really care what it's going to mean for other people if the Republicans get elected."

Or as Greil Marcus adds:"You're voting not as a member of a polity, where each citizen is presumed tied to every other; you're voting to place yourself above not only your fellow citizens, but above the democratic ritual that presumes to make a republic. You're voting to affirm your own purity"

Fortunately it seems that even 23 year old anarchists are showing more sense this time around.

Blogonaut Sunday Magazine 

In our special Sunday supplement today we feature a profile of intrepid investigative reporter and White House scourge Seymour Hersh in the Columbia Journalism Review. Don't forget to read the comics.

Scourge \Scourge\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Scourged; p. pr. & vb.
n. Scourging.] [From Scourge, n.: cf. OF. escorgier.]
1. To whip severely; to lash.

Is it lawful for you to scourge a . . . Roman?
--Acts xxii.

2. To punish with severity; to chastise; to afflict, as for
sins or faults, and with the purpose of correction.

Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth
every son whom he receiveth. --Heb. xii. 6.

3. To harass or afflict severely.


It has been brought to my attention that the octopus-like empire referenced in a recent post was in fact "Halliburton" and not "Halle Berry". My apologies to the actress, whom I think is really sexy and did a fine job in "Monster's Ball" for which she won an Oscar.

full frontal 

Is this the first time there has been frontal nudity in a New Yorker cartoon?


For the most part, I think the Admin is doing the right thing in Liberia: moving a carrier to the region, pledging to support an international peacekeeping force led by West Africans. I think they should have moved faster and I think Colin Powell should be on the ground and at the table right now helping to broker a peace. There can't be peacekeeping without a peace. (That's called regime change and occupation). The neo-cons finest moment may now make doing foreign policy on their terms very difficult for a long time.

On Friday 'All Things Considered' filed an excellent report on the situation as well as fine profile of Liberian President Charles Taylor.

In the Guardian today:

The United States wants Liberia's neighbors and the United Nations should
take the lead in dealing with the political turmoil in the West African nation,
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Sunday.

President Bush on Friday ordered U.S. troops into position off the Liberian
coast to support the arrival of a West African peacekeeping force. He stopped
short of saying the Americans would participate directly in a peacekeeping
mission in Liberia, where rebels are trying to oust President Charles Taylor,
a former warlord.

...The United States wants Liberia's neighbors and the United Nations should
take the lead in dealing with the political turmoil in the West African nation,
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz said Sunday.

President Bush on Friday ordered U.S. troops into position off the Liberian coast
to support the arrival of a West African peacekeeping force. He stopped short of
saying the Americans would participate directly in a peacekeeping mission in Liberia,
where rebels are trying to oust President Charles Taylor, a former warlord.

it's your turn 

It really has been striking how poorly the White House has handled the Nuclear Threat scandal. It should not have been that hard to say:"That is not the document we were referencing. Our statements were backed by top secret British intelligence that both governments stand behind." or "The statement was I mistake, I take full responsibility for my own speeches. Nevertheless their remained overwhelming evidence to support our invasion."

Instead the Admin has been all over the place. Contradicting themselves, offering new scapegoats, never with a clear message, just make things worse for themselves. The writing was on the wall when George Tenet offered a mea culpa that implicated everyone else. I think the hunt is going to lead back to Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz but today it's Condoleeza Rice's turn to be caught in the crosshairs.

From the Washington Post:' She has been made to appear out of the loop by
colleagues' claims that she did not read or recall vital pieces of intelligence.
And she has made statements about U.S. intelligence on Iraq that have been
contradicted by facts that later emerged.

The remarks by Rice and her associates raise two uncomfortable possibilities
for the national security adviser. Either she missed or overlooked numerous
warnings from intelligence agencies seeking to put caveats on claims about
Iraq's nuclear weapons program, or she made public claims that she knew to
be false.

Most prominent is her claim that the White House had not heard about CIA doubts
about an allegation that Iraq sought uranium in Africa before the charge landed
in Bush's State of the Union address on Jan. 28; in fact, her National Security
Council staff received two memos doubting the claim and a phone call from CIA
Director George J. Tenet months before the speech. Various other of Rice's
public characterizations of intelligence documents and agencies' positions
have been similarly cast into doubt.

"If Condi didn't know the exact state of intel on Saddam's nuclear programs . . .
she wasn't doing her job," said Brookings Institution foreign policy specialist
Michael E. O'Hanlon. "This was foreign policy priority number one for the
administration last summer, so the claim that someone else should have done
her homework for her is unconvincing."

good news for afghanistan 

From the Washington Post:

The Bush administration will soon propose a $1 billion aid package for Afghanistan aimed at bolstering the government of President Hamid Karzai and countering criticism that U.S. officials have lost interest in rebuilding the country as their focus has shifted to postwar Iraq, senior administration officials said yesterday.

The $1 billion package, which more than triples the $300 million Afghanistan receives, represents new spending on Afghanistan and is designed to fund projects that can be completed within a year to have maximum impact on the lives of the Afghan people before scheduled elections in October 2004

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