Dang, I just figured out what I want to be for halloween, but a bit late.
"Citizens for a Legitimate Government" has compiled a long list of anti-war protests which took place on October 26. 220 cities are listed, along with estimates of turnout and links to local coverage.
Tom Tommorrow writes:
The prowar types would love to play this down, I'm sure, but this is huge. It took years for the Vietnam era protests to reach this level.
If contemporary Canadian writers were less hasty to capitulate to what the international market appears to want, they might eventually create novels sufficiently committed to local detail to achieve universal resonance.
I'm reading Stephen Henighan's When Words Deny the World, which is as scathing and incisive as it is beautifully written.
Onion AV Club: White on Both Sides: Alternative-Rock Radio's Race Problem
Still, what makes alternative radio's unofficial ban on black hip hop especially appalling is its eagerness to embrace white hip hop. The Beastie Boys has long been an alt-rock staple, as well as one of the few current acts that can get straight-ahead, non-genre-mixing hip hop on these stations. This year in particular has seen the floodgates open for genre-mixing white hip hop, with Kid Rock, Limp Bizkit, Eminem, and Everlast all scoring crossover success and major airplay. But alt-rock radio's embrace of hip hop is extraordinarily limited, meaning that the cartoonish antics of Limp Bizkit and Kid Rock qualify as alternative, but not the work of black rappers making music with ambitions beyond commercial success.
Anis Shivani: Is America Becoming Fascist?
Liberals who say that demographics work against a Republican majority in the early twenty-first century do have a point; but fascism can occur precisely at that moment of truth, when the course of political history can definitely tend to one direction or another. A mere push can set things on a whole different course, regardless of underlying cultural or demographic trends. Nazism never had the support of the majority of Germans; at best about a third fully supported it. About a third of Americans today are certifiably fascist; another twenty percent or so can be swayed around with smart propaganda to particular causes. So the existence of liberal institutions is not necessarily inconsistent with fascism's political dominance.
I don't particularly want to agree with this, but the comparisons between the Weimar Republic and pre-2000 United States are worth making and thinking about at the very least. Though I hear that such comparisons are not allowed these days.
Shivani is far from the first to point out the rather grim implications of America's new ultra-nationalism. Anatol Lieven pointed out similar possibilities in The Push for War.
In his article on the US peace movement, Miro Cernetig gets a number of facts wrong (the Asia Pacific Economic Forum happened in Vancouver, not Seattle) and spends most of the article talking about celebrities and the internal shortcomings of the left-wing protest movement.
In his conclusion, Cernetig soberly admonishes the left for being opposed to all us military force, mentioning that "US and British warplanes have been keeping Mr. Hussein away from Iraqi Kurds and Shiites, the fellow citizens he once gassed." If he done even a bit of research, Cernetig would have discovered the fact that the poison gas he refers to was provided by the US, or that those warplanes were the same ones that targeted Iraqi water purification plants, or that UNICEF has estimated the 500,000 Iraqi children under five died as a result of the sanctions and weekly US and British bombing.
If the Globe considers itself to be balanced, I look forward to the day when Marcus Gee is assigned to write about the internal shortcomings of the pro-war movement and celebrity reactions to political developments, while someone with a better grasp of the facts than Cernetig fills up a half page with quotes from prominent left-wing intellectuals (as Gee did for "terrorism experts" this week). But I'm not holding my breath.
I missed Howard Zinn's talk in Halifax this morning, but he has an interestingweb site, and a new book out.
Anil Dash is writing some longer pieces and calling it magazine.
US Senator Paul Wellstone and his family died in a plane crash. Coverage.
There's an interesting piece on Stephen Jay Gould's work in the New Yorker.
Via laughingmeme, a neat CSS trick that works in browsers that fully support CSS1. Pretty.
Robert Fisk: How to shut up your critics with a single word
Thank God, I often say, for the Israeli press. For where else will you find the sort of courageous condemnation of Israel's cruel and brutal treatment of the Palestinians? Where else can we read that Moshe Ya'alon, Ariel Sharon's new chief of staff, described the "Palestinian threat" as "like a cancer ï¿ there are all sorts of solutions to cancerous manifestations. For the time being, I am applying chemotherapy.
"Where else can we read that the Israeli Herut Party chairman, Michael Kleiner, said that "for every victim of ours there must be 1,000 dead Palestinians". Where else can we read that Eitan Ben Eliahu, the former Israeli Air Force commander, said that "eventually we will have to thin out the number of Palestinians living in the territories". Where else can we read that the new head of Mossad, General Meir Dagan ï¿ a close personal friend of Mr Sharon ï¿ believes in "liquidation units", that other Mossad men regard him as a threat because "if Dagan brings his morality to the Mossad, Israel could become a country in which no normal Jew would want to live".
The recent wave of me-too articles condemning anti-Semitism by academics is a bit too much. I'd be much more willing to listen to the daily screed that appear warning against anti-Israeli views going too far on two conditions:
1) that the academics who are being accused of being anti-semitic be named, and quoted with some semblance of charitable interpretation and context;
2) that these columnists show some concern about anti-arab hate crimes in the US and Canada, which, according to a recent report, "declined from nearly 10 a day to under one a day" in California alone. An improvement, if one hate crime per day is considered acceptable.
The alarmist rants (by well known and respected columnists, of course) that I have read have done neither.
I bet you thought that Orwell was exagerating when he spent multiple pages of 1984 describing whole agencies devoted to changing history.
What's your ministry of truth up to?
(via daily churn)
Chuck Shotton's Logic Faults. The Webstar (mac web server software from way back) guy has a weblog.
Federation of American Scientists: Arms sales and transfers for the "War on Terrorism"
A long summary of who the US gets to sell arms to (often paid for by US taxpayers) now that we're "combatting terrorism", and who the US used to sell or give arms to. Part of the Arms Sales Monitoring Project.
Eric Raymond has always been sexist gun nut, but now he's gone and lost it.
I'm pretty sure that isn't worth critiquing. I mean, no one's taking him seriously... are they? Raymond even seems to have dropped the lip service he used to pay to referring to evidence, flawed as it may have been. Now he's pumping out pure sadistic fantasy.
The New York City Anti-Hipster Forum. A bit of non-objective (partial?) cultural anthropology.
An Argentinian family photographed every family member once a year, from 1976 to present.
"you call them 'hawks', but I would never disparage such a fine bird"
Woody Harrelson of all people has a decent anti-war oped.
I went to the White House when Harvey Weinstein was showing Clinton the movie Welcome to Sarejevo, which I was in. I got a few moments alone with Clinton. Saddam throwing out the weapons inspectors was all over the news and I asked what he was going to do. His answer was very revealing. He said: "Everybody is telling me to bomb him. All the military are saying, 'You gotta bomb him.' But if even one innocent person died, I couldn't bear it." And I looked in his eyes and I believed him. Little did I know he was blocking humanitarian aid at the time, allowing the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
And Ani DiFranco has been reading a long, poetic commentary on the times called Self-Evident at her concerts.
Mediageek has a good rant about "anything goes" radio.
Robert Jensen: The American Political Paradox: More Freedom, Less Democracy (via DailyChurn)
legal protections for freedom of expression have expanded and the culture's commitment to free speech has become more entrenched, which is all to the good. But at the same time, the United States today is a far less vibrant political culture than it was then. This is the paradox to come to terms with: How is it that as formal freedoms that allow democratic participation have expanded, the range and importance of debate and discussion that is essential to democracy has contracted? How is it that in the United States we have arguably the most expansive free speech rights in the industrial world and at the same time an incredibly degraded political culture? How did political freedom produce such a depoliticized culture?
Lawrence Lessig discusses the oral arguments in the copyright extension case on his weblog.
The most important first indication that was absolutely clear from the argument is that our fear was misplaced. The Court clearly got it. Though the other side had written literally 300 pages trying to show all the good CTEA did (and pronounce it like it is a disease -- sateeeya), the Court hadn't bought any of it. Congress was not acting to promote progress, it was acting to reward "court favorites." The only question the Court was struggling with is whether it has the power to do anything about it.
Now pause for a second to think about how important and good this struggle is. First: It is a rare but valuable exercise for any branch of government to worry about the scope of its own power. And the greatest virtue the Court exercises is the virtue of self-restraint. This is a reason to respect the Court, not criticize it (though how they exercise their restraint, or where, can be criticized, as I suggest below). But the general idea that it will restrain itself, despite believing a law is stupid, is a feature, not a bug in our constitutional tradition.
The Black Image in the White Mind, a book by Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki
1. While Black actors are now more numerous in film, it's an open question as to how well they're being represented. In the top movies of 1996:
Black female movie characters shown using vulgar profanity: 89%.
White female movie characters shown using vulgar profanity: 17%.
Black female movie characters shown being physically violent: 56%.
White female movie characters shown being physically violent: 11%.
Black female movie characters shown being restrained: 55%.
White female movie characters shown being restrained: 6%.
Norman Kelley: Rhythm Nation: The Political Economy of Black Music
A four-part series.
Today, most analyses of black culture are processed through the theoretical prism of the Frankfurt School's "cultural industry" paradigm or through the theoretical template of cultural studies, where the lexicon of post-structuralism thought can be dropped on any subject, provided one uses the requisite "acadospeak" to obfuscate the fact that nothing of real importance is being discussed.
Rather than analyzing the trajectory of black music through the music industry, today's new jack intellectuals have been more interested in discussing or breaking down the high/low distinctions of culture. They are more interested in "interrogating" certain "privileged discourses," than in the nuts and bolts of the music industry:
• how artists are recruited,
• how contracts are structured for maximums profits for records firms,
• how much firms spend on the production of an artist's CD,
• whether rap artists make their living solely by selling units or doing performances (a situation similar to that of blues musicians),
• how musicians lose their copyright to their music,
• the lack of royalty payments, and
• the incredible monopoly of the Big Six.
Noel Godin, the Belgian pie-throwing anarchists who targets politicians who "take themselves too seriously" was fined 800 Euros for premeditated assault on Jean-Pierre Chevènement. Chevènement commented that pie-ing les hommes politiques was an attack on democracy.
Ron Rosenbaum: Goodbye, All That: How Left Idiocies Drove Me to Flee
Another ex-lefty gets credit (page 1 of the NY Observer) for being critical of what no one dares criticize: the left. Edgy. Incisive! Gimme a break. But lot of people don't share my take. In fact, this screed seems to have struck a chord with some folks who I generally regarded as rational.
So I'm responding.
After an unecessarily long, masturbatory introduction, Rosenbaum gets around to making two arguments: 1) people on the left have discounted the horrible loss of 9-11 in favour of directing attention to US crimes; 2) some (sort of most) of the left has not acknowledged the genocide committed in the name of Marxism (e.g. Stalin). He then draws an analogy between Heidegger's post-war ambivalence to the holocaust and the people on the left who discount the human tragedy of 9-11.
There's nothing wrong with making these arguments. But usually when arguments are made, there is an expectation that they will be backed up by relevant evidence. That the evidence that Rosenbaum cites has a lot to do with anecdotes and heavy paraphrasing, and onerous repetition of the phrase "lockstep", I must admit, leaves me a bit nonplussed.
But what is more telling is the alternative which he mentions in passing on the way to more left-bashing:
The point is, all empires commit crimes; in the past century, ours were by far the lesser of evils. But this sedulous denial of even the possibility of misjudgment in the hierarchy of evils protects and insulates this wing of the Left from an inconvenient reconsideration of whether America actually is the worst force on the planet.
Hmm. So, since the evils of 20th century US foreign policy were not as bad as the holocaust... we get to continue to ignore them completely, while bashing the people that would attempt to bring them to our collective attention because... why? Because they want to use 9-11 as an occasion to reflect on the horrors commited our Empire? Because Rosenbaum is able to interpret these people as discounting the value of the 3000 lives lost by simply stating what he thinks they mean?
Is it really just totally outside the range of possible moral thought to ask questions like: "why weren't we this upset about 500,000 Iraqi kids who died for our foreign policy?" and "hmm, maybe sponsoring Pinochet wasn't quite such a good idea, seeing as he slaughtered all those people while we supported him... was it?" Better not to ask at all, because by asking, you're automatically wrong, since you just don't realize that America isn't as bad as some others.
What a revelation.
But that's the beauty of being an self-exiled leftist like Hitchens or Rosenbaum. Since you've heard all the arguments, facts, etc. from the left, you get away with ignoring them completely (oh wait, everyone else already does that too.. oh well.). And meanwhile, you can get all kinds of kudos from the mainstream by pointing out just how wrong those silly leftists are. But gosh, didn't we know that all along? Sure, but another confirmation can't hurt, can it?
So yeah, people on the left say some stupid or silly things. But as Rosenbaum has unwittingly demonstrated, cynical libertarian centrists are at least as capable of that.
Apparently, a Spanish newspapers has adopted a copyleft-style license for all of its online content.
She is 19 years old and a soldier in a revolutionary movement. Her brother has died for the cause, and she has killed for it. A volunteer is needed for a suicide mission. She steps forward, fiercely and silently, and is accepted. She will become a "thinking bomb," and after she places a garland of flowers around a politician's neck, she will blow them both to pieces.
"The Terrorist" does not name its time or place, or the politician, but it seems broadly inspired by the 1991 assassination of India's Rajiv Gandhi. It is not a political film, but a personal one. If you have ever wondered what kind of person volunteers to become a human bomb, and what they think about in the days before their death, this film wonders, too. -- Roger Ebert
The annotated version of Bush's speech shows that almost everything he claims is either inaccurate or taken out of context. What's left over doesn't amount to much.
God's heavens built an appetite... for fear and pain. For fear and pain. How deep's your war? How deep's your war? How black's your heart? How black's your heart? Are you heavy inside? Are you dead? Are you heavy inside? Are you dead?
Martin Tielli's solo album, "They didn't even suspect he was the poppy salesman". It's good.
In two days, Lawrence Lessig's challenge to Congress' 1998 copyright extension goes before the Supreme Court.
Good luck, Larry.
The arguments for the copyright extension that claim to be based on public good are pure noise, as far as I can tell. If you're arguing that corporations' rights to make as much money as possible is synonymous with the public good, then the status quo arguments are airtight. But not otherwise. Here are the arguments (as far as I can tell) that Congress and everyone who is not opposed to the copyright extension is making:
1. Without guaranteed intellectual property right, there won't be an incentive for companies to invest in content.
This is true to some extent, but 20 years is probably enough to make back even a massive investment, with plenty to spare. After 70 years (the current copyright term), things start stagnating. Why should Disney invest in new original characters (not ones lifted from public domain work) when they can keep milking Mickey? In this sense, limiting the term actually incentivizes creativity.
2. Congress can do whatever they want with copyright law.
This may or may not be true. But the fact that some people think that Lessig has even a tiny chance of winning means that we can't be totally sure that there isn't legal recourse in this particular case. I'm leaving out, of course, the fact that Congress is corrupt and undemocratic by design, but that's another story.
Going back to the excellent talk given by Arundhati Roy, there's a bit that describes the inadequacy of the word "globalization" -- or the difference between global justice and corporate globalization -- quite succinctly:
Today Corporate Globalization needs an international confederation of loyal, corrupt, preferably authoritarian governments in poorer countries to push through unpopular reforms and quell the mutinies. It needs a press that pretends to be free. It needs courts that pretend to dispense justice. It needs nuclear bombs, standing armies, sterner immigration laws, and watchful coastal patrols to make sure that it's only money, goods, patents, and services that are being globalized - not the free movement of people, not a respect for human rights, not international treaties on racial discrimination or chemical and nuclear weapons, or greenhouse gas emissions, climate change, or god forbid, justice. It's as though even a gesture towards international accountability would wreck the whole enterprise.
I like to avoid linking to stuff from Daypop's Top 40 links, because, well, everyone else has linked to it -- by definition. But then, there are a lot of folks who aren't as obsessive about a "rotation" as I am, soo...
Paul Krugman has some un-radical, sensible suggestions for US economic policy.
Interview with Naomi Klein, who has a new book out. I noticed that it debuted at #2 on the Globe and Mail's hardcover nonfiction bestseller list, right behind Chomsky's 9-11, which has been #1 pretty much since it came out last fall.
Kellan also has a good rant about the unrealized possibilities of eBooks.
As Kellan noticed, the NY Times and Washington Post don't think that 400,000 people (according to Rupert Murdoch's Sky News) turning out for an anti-war protest is newsworthy. At least, not as newsworthy about protests about a ban on fox hunting or a conflict about crading college entrance exams in the UK.
An interview with Abdur Rashid, of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which took place in October 2001, at the beginning of the Afghanistan campaign. I haven't seen any followups on the status of the "7.5 million extremely vulnerable people" who lived in Afghanistan last fall, though I'm still looking.
How would you describe the current situation in Afghanistan?
In a word - catastrophic. In terms of numbers, there are 7.5 million extremely vulnerable people, 1.5 million of whom are new refugees. However, virtually the entire population of over 23 million is hungry. As we all know, there is a grave humanitarian tragedy in the making. In May, during a mission FAO conducted with the World Food Programme, we already saw signs of impending famine. We estimated that 2.2 million tonnes of cereals would have to be imported into the country this year just to meet basic needs. We assumed that one third of this would be met through commercial imports. But in the current situation, commercial imports of food and agricultural inputs are unlikely. This means that the bulk of the shortfall will need to be met by the international donor community The situation could well become a catastrophe in every sense of the word. Only a massive distribution of food and other relief assistance, particularly to vulnerable groups, will avert the threat of impending mass starvation in the country.
Guardian: The enema within
This article about colon-cleansing is a masochistic read to be sure, but you'll never think of pork roast, fast food or that elusive marble in quite the same way again.
People are constantly appalled yet fascinated by the idea of cleansing, and for some masochistic reason, demand the grim details between starter and main course. As they wait for their medium rare fillet or pork Dijonnaise, they crane forward to hear more...
Anatol Lieven in LRB: The Push for War (via Daily Churn and RRE)
A potent survey of US Nationalism and it's possible futures; or, this does not bode well.
Twice now in the past decade, the overwhelming military and economic dominance of the US has given it the chance to lead the rest of the world by example and consensus. It could have adopted (and to a very limited degree under Clinton did adopt) a strategy in which this dominance would be softened and legitimised by economic and ecological generosity and responsibility, by geopolitical restraint, and by 'a decent respect to the opinion of mankind', as the US Declaration of Independence has it. The first occasion was the collapse of the Soviet superpower enemy and of Communism as an ideology. The second was the threat displayed by al-Qaida. Both chances have been lost - the first in part, the second it seems conclusively. What we see now is the tragedy of a great country, with noble impulses, successful institutions, magnificent historical achievements and immense energies, which has become a menace to itself and to mankind.
My parents' web site, The Lateral Line, is finally up and running. It features a photos of their art work (mostly sculpture), and a few of my dad's essays.
Arundhati Roy lays it all out in what could be the global justice speech to end all global justice speeches. She covers almost every major topic in a succinct and eloquent way. If you read nothing else about global justice (the movement formerly known as "anti-globalization")...
And then there are the things that one would have preferred not to hear about.
They do it. The only trouble Howard, is that in India right now, I think few Americans know about this, but in March this year, the BJP which is the Bharatija Janata Party is part of what they call the Sangh Parivar, a whole sort of family of Hindu right wing organizations. The BJP is the political end of it and what's called the RSS - the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh - is the cultural guild. Now the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the disinvestment minister, all these people belong to the RSS. The RSS has been preparing the ground for this kind of right wing - India is only for the Hindus thing - since the late '20s and they are open admirers of Hitler and his methods and so on, and in March this year there was a massacre of Muslims in Gujarat. As soon as the massacre was over, the Gujarat government, headed by the BJP, wanted to hold elections because they felt that they would win the election because they'd polarized the vote.
All over India they have what are called (untranslatable) which are branches where young people, 10-year-old children, are being indoctrinated into religious bigotry and hatred, and how to create communal trouble, and how to rewrite history books, and all this is happening. So the Fascists will definitely mess it up. In fact the reason they're so desperate is because in State after State they were losing the election. But you see, now, whether they're in power or not, they've injected this poison into the veins of a very complex country and that's very frightening, very, very frightening, to have to deal with on a daily basis.
You cannot imagine the things that happened in Gujarat - little children were... 2,000 people were killed, women were raped, women had their stomachs slit open and their fetuses pulled out. Not one or two but many, many. Little children were forced to drink petrol then matches were put down their throats and they just blew up like bombs. It's a very, very frightening situation just now. This government in India keeps saying, we're natural allies of the U.S. So there hasn't...it's not just a coincidence that this was not reported or that it's being suppressed. The whole nuclear flashpoint with Pakistan was mostly due to the fact that the Indian government wanted to distract attention from - the world's attention from - Gujarat to this, and it was very, very successful in doing that.
And some that we have to hear.
I'd never been to Pakistan. Delhi and Pakistan - I mean Lahore - are maybe a one-hour flight away from each other. I went to Pakistan last month. I had to go from Delhi to Dubai to Islamabad to Lahore. It took me 18 hours. There is so much in the Indian press and equally in the Pakistan press about anti-Indian demonstrations and anti-Pakistan demonstrations and we're all going to kill each other and everybody hates everybody and so on. I landed in Lahore and within seconds we were all sitting at this dining table and I felt like I was in Delhi. It was just so sad and the audience that came... people were just in tears, not because of me or what I said or anything, just because it's such a relief not to always be subjected to this media's representation of government positions. I really feel that the media, the corporate media, has played a terrible part in all this and people are just going to have to blow holes in this dam between them and insist on listening to independent real voices, real human beings.
Andrija Ilic took a lot of dramatic and sometimes really quite graphic photographs in the former Yugoslavia. An interesting mix of politics, bombing and its aftermath, and landscapes.
Our Media, Not Theirs: The Democratic Struggle Against Corporate Media, a new book by by Robert W. McChesney, John Nichols and Barbara Ehrenreich.