Agosto 29, 2009

Stunts

In less than 24 hours I've read 2 articles, one in the Times and one a book review by Elizabeth Kolbert in the New Yorker, about people who do "stunts" in order to raise awareness or disseminate knowledge about climate change. It's a trend where various writers and activists and others do some symbolic act, like a Thoreau-esque thing such as living for a year without electricity, or an attention-getting feat like walking across the country, and hence get people to think about this stuff and pay attention in a different way.

Kolbert rightly points out that a lot of the motivation for this is that few people want to be clobbered with yet another doom-and-gloom scenario that makes them feel like they're bad people for driving or buying plastic bottles. As the New York Times article concludes of the folks Greta Browne meets on her cross-country climate walk,

In the end, Ms. Browne said, she thinks that most people are sympathetic and want to do something — just not too much. She was particularly discouraged by a woman who approached her after one church talk and said, “Oh, you are preaching to the choir. We already recycle.”

And so these environmentalists narrow the issue down to a challenge to themselves, which creates a drama and a personal narrative that we can follow. But how useful is it? Kolbert argues at the end of her piece that many of these stunts verge on the ridiculous and meaningless, and that a better use of time would be to work on lobbying governments for policy change.

In a way, I agree. There are many who are still in complete denial or ignorant disagreement about human-caused climate change, but they will stay that way no matter how many walkers-across-the-country they see on the roads or how many books they hear about in which the writer forswears some carbon-producing activity for some length of time. For the rest of us, we already know the score, and there are a small number who are already trying to change how we live in a significant way, and others who will never do the right thing because it's too big of a hassle for too little directly observable benefit.

However, even for people who are really changing the way they live their lives, is it really enough? In a way, almost all of us in this category are still just doing "stunts", aren't we? - whether it's eating out less, buying a Prius, biking to work, or re-using our shopping bags, is any of this going to be enough? Because the fact of the matter is, we're part of a huge system, and a simple, individual gesture to reduce MY participation in the system may be some small help, but actually pushing on the system to make it change is important too, perhaps much more important.

So when will the "stunts" end and the real action get going?

Posted by steev at 03:28 PM | Comments (2)

Mayo 25, 2009

Remember...

On this day, Memorial Day, please take the time, just a minute if that's all you have, to not only think of those who fought in our wars, but also think about how few of those wars were really necessary, and how many of them were begun based on lies to the american people.
eyes wide open - 6

I don't have time to write much more. Antiwar.com has a wonderful Memorial Day message that pretty much covers everything else I would like to point out.


Today, we are told that we must fight the "terrorists" – defined as anyone who opposes the U.S. government and its plans to manage the world – and that this must be a war without end, without a definable enemy, and without the moral and legal constraints that have governed warfare and international relations in the modern era.

Posted by steev at 02:16 PM | Comments (3)

Febrero 02, 2009

What If It were San Diego and Tijuana?

Randall Kuhn gives us a more accurate, complete, and compelling analogy than the simple ones made recently about the Israel-Gaza situation:


House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Whip Eric Cantor ended an opinion piece by saying "America would never sit still if terrorists were lobbing missiles across our border into Texas or Montana." But let's see if our political and pundit class can parrot this analogy.

Think about what would happen if San Diego expelled most of its Hispanic, African American, Asian American, and Native American population, about 48 percent of the total, and forcibly relocated them to Tijuana? Not just immigrants, but even those who have lived in this country for many generations. Not just the unemployed or the criminals or the America haters, but the school teachers, the small business owners, the soldiers, even the baseball players.

What if we established government and faith-based agencies to help move white people into their former homes? And what if we razed hundreds of their homes in rural areas and, with the aid of charitable donations from people in the United States and abroad, planted forests on their former towns, creating nature preserves for whites to enjoy? Sounds pretty awful, huh? I may be called anti-Semitic for speaking this truth. Well, I'm Jewish and the scenario above is what many prominent Israeli scholars say happened when Israel expelled Palestinians from southern Israel and forced them into Gaza. But this analogy is just getting started.

Be sure to read on.

Posted by steev at 10:46 AM | Comments (0)

Noviembre 25, 2008

Uncle Sam Goddamn

Great politically-charged hiphop video that mentions war taxes in one verse about 2/3 of the way through. It's also a great image collage.


Brother Ali - Uncle Sam Goddamn
by Hip_Hop_Videos

Posted by steev at 02:42 PM | Comments (0)

Noviembre 05, 2008

My Election Day Tweets

  • 06:27 big day today. polls already opened here at 6, half an hour ago. the sun is just starting to rise. #vtv #
  • 06:34 need to finish getting ready, charging batteries, breakfast, and then meet rest of crew in half an hour or so. then it's out to film. #vtv #
  • 09:24 Saw 2 guys w guns frm az state attny ofc hanging out @ s. Tucson pollng place. #Vtv - got footage. #
  • 11:06 back at studio taking a break & catching up on news. looks like my last from phone tweet didn't make it. it's quiet in tucson. #vtv #
  • 12:23 Couple of friends said lines were long wher thy votd right at opening but now no lines. #vtv #tucson #
  • 12:48 ok this is weird. txt tweets are coming in way slow. #
  • 12:48 back in studio to upload footage from 2 polling places in south tucson. #vtv #tucson #
  • 13:05 Just checkd @ Grijalva?s hq and they say no reports of prblms - all quiet in tucson! #
  • 13:24 messing with Compressor to get it to compress video the way Video The Vote wants it. #vtv #
  • 13:52 watching mary capturing footage she and francesca shot of a polling place (church) with a yes on 102 sign on their main sign. #vtv #tucson #
  • 16:55 taking a break and waiting for more reports of poll place troubles. things have been pretty quiet this afternoon. #tvt #tucson #
  • 17:06 mccain "holding out from the bunker" acccording to CBS pundit just now. is that a reference to Hitler? #
  • 17:12 only 11% of kentucky results in and they're already calling it mccain's? wtf? #
  • 17:18 amazed at the blurring of the line between prediction and fact on TV coverage of the election. especially with onscreen graphics. #
  • 17:23 looks like we're getting another video the vote assignment from our dispatcher... #vtv #tucson #
  • 17:25 Retweet: #jennyholzer POLITICS IS USED FOR PERSONAL GAIN #
  • 17:26 border patrol parked outside polling place on tangerine road! we're going out to get footage!! #vtv #tucson #immigration #intimidation #
  • 18:14 I guess tucson not as quiet as we thot. Heading out 2 3 dif trouble sites! #Vtv #tucson #
Posted by steev at 06:33 PM | Comments (0)

Whew.

For the first time in my life I'm proud of my country.

Posted by steev at 08:26 AM | Comments (1)

Octubre 21, 2008

Hatemongers Get Pushback at McCain Rally

At a McCain rally some racist wingnuts were handing out weird Obama "Change" bumper stickers that had the muslim crescent and star as the "C" in the word change, and a soviet hammer and sickle. Muslim republicans and even some (more) rational conservatives confronted them on it. Here's a pretty good video about it by the American News Project:

http://www.americannewsproject.com/videos/158

Posted by steev at 09:26 AM | Comments (0)

Octubre 14, 2008

The Alternative Is Too Horrifying to Contemplate

Brian Boyce, one of my all-time favorite collage videomakers, weighs in with this quick and dirty Palin detournment:

Palin and McCain have to be defeated. They just have to be. I think they will be, but I admit that part of that optimism is denial, because the alternative is just too much to even think about.

Posted by steev at 02:47 PM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 24, 2008

This transactin is 100% safe.

Dear American: I need to ask you to support an urgent secret business relationship with a transfer of funds of great magnitude. I am Ministry of the Treasury of the Republic of America. My country has had crisis that has caused the need for large transfer of funds of 800 billion dollars US. If you would assist me in this transfer, it would be most profitable to you. I am working with Mr. Phil Gram, lobbyist for UBS, who will be my replacement as Ministry of the Treasury in January. As a Senator, you may know him as the leader of the American banking deregulation movement in the 1990s. This transactin is 100% safe. This is a matter of great urgency. We need a blank check. We need the funds as quickly as possible. We cannot directly transfer these funds in the names of our close friends because we are constantly under surveillance. My family lawyer advised me that I should look for a reliable and trustworthy person who will act as a next of kin so the funds can be transferred. Please reply with all of your bank account, IRA and college fund account numbers and those of your children and grandchildren to [email protected] so that we may transfer your commission for this transaction. After I receive that information, I will respond with detailed information about safeguards that will be used to protect the funds. Yours Faithfully Minister of Treasury Henry Paulson

Hah. Heh. Ugh.

Posted by steev at 06:06 PM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 18, 2008

Margaret Cho Is My Kinda Christian

OMG, I just discovered this amazing, perfect rant that comedian Margaret Cho wrote, responding to what some Xian fundamentalists were saying about her after she wrote some critical stuff about Sarah Palin. It's the best. I never really paid much attention to her work but now I'm totally a fan.
Anyway, read it here: http://www.margaretcho.com/blog/2008/09/17/im-a-christian-you-fuckers.html

And btw, that's where it originally appeared, on Cho's blog. I'm glad that Sarah Benincasa (of Sarah Palin Vlog fame) referred to it and reposted it, but she didn't link to it, she just said it was on Cho's facebook page. So then I had to go hunting around on Facebook and after about 20 clicks of that, putting more money in the bank for the CIA or whoever really runs Facebook, I finally found it but found that it was a repost from Cho's actual blog. I would much rather link to her blog than lame Facebook so that's what I'm doing. yay. I guess I'm just a stickler for hypertextuality. Anticorporate hypertextuality.

Posted by steev at 05:46 PM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 11, 2008

McCain's Lies

Check out this BraveNewFilms video clearly illustrating the distortions and falsehoods that the McCain campaign is spewing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IH0xzsogzAk

Posted by steev at 10:54 AM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 06, 2008

Sarah Palin Vlog

This is hilarious stuff. Sarah Palin is such great comedy fodder...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ioGC40_AWhs

Posted by steev at 12:46 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 31, 2008

The Riot Porn Extravaganza Begins

Well, it's starting a little earlier than MAY have been expected by some, but Round 2 of this election cycle's Protest Pornography Theater is ramping up to full scream this morning in Minnesota. Many alt-media reports are coming in about various houses full of activists waking up to M-16s in their faces while the pigs ransack their houses and accuse of them of 'conspiracy to riot' and other crazy crap. What a great show!

Let me be perfectly clear: This is absolutely reprehensible on the part of law enforcement, but on the other hand: WTF did you expect, activists? After the RNC in New York 4 years ago, and the "Miami Model," did you really think it would be any different or better? The piles of civil liberties lawsuits against the NYPD are still in their early stages - is there anything to indicate that the Twin Cities popo, not to mention regional or national agencies, will have any incentive to act in a more gentle manner, other than some facile lies that have occasionally spewed from the mouths of local politicians about how this time it will be different?

If the same thing doesn't work, again and again, why not try something new? You'd think more people would think of other ways to improve the world than going to another mass mobilization, than organizing another mass mobilization.
But no, because everything looks like a nail when you're a hammer.

So, here we are once again all over, with an army of stormtroopers in armor occupying the city to meet the threat of a horde of raggedy peaceniks, blackblockers, traveller kids, and the privileged off-Broadway journalists whose hobby it is to "cover" the epic struggle. And so expect all week to see (if you bother to look at any non-mainstream news), from the cameras and pens of those reporters who aren't getting swept up now in the pre-raids, an endless stream of distracting descriptions of the mayhem that these poor freedom fighters are experiencing at the hands of the brutal shock troops of Amerikkan Fascism.

Jesus H. Christ. Oh, yeah, and what was it all for? I forget... why are these people sitting in the street waiting for the batons to split their skulls?

Oh, I think I remember, something about voicing our opposition to this old white-haired wrinkly dude who everyone already knows is full of shit, and his stupid-ass party and the corporations and jesus freaks that run it that we already know are full of shit, who happen to be having a big theater production called a "Convention" where they act like they're choosing the old wrinkly guy to be their candidate for Suppsedly Most Powerful Man in the World.

Who the fucks cares??! Go home. Go back to your own fucking cities and towns and work in your own fucked up communities to make them better. Because nothing you're doing in the Twin Cities this week is going to make a goddamned bit of difference, other than waste money, time, and add a couple entries to your FBI file. Oh and maybe you'll get laid at the big after-party in the park before the midnight peace vigil, and catch scabies or HPV.

At least for Allah's sake try something different. I'm so tired of this shit.

And if you're an indy-reporter and you insist on staying and trying to tell this story - just stop and remember to tell the story of WHY these protesters are there. What do they want? What do they REALLY want?

Oh and one more thing - remember your raincoat, and remember the 150 mile-an-hour winds that are making life total fucking hell for the residents of Havana right now, and the poor folks in New Orleans about to get totally screwed over again...

Posted by steev at 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 19, 2008

Onto in Jail in China!

Holy smokes, my friend Onto the Ontologist, activist, Indymedia comrade, and philosophy student, got detained after displaying a "free tibet" banner at the Olympics! OMG! He and his co-protesters are expected to be out soon. Fingers crossed.

Damn, I wish I could afford to go to China (I wouldn't go, I'd probably buy a new tripod and a shotgun microphone and pay next month's rent, but anyway, I wish I had the money)...

Posted by steev at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 08, 2008

On Whores

A cowardly troll from Phoenix took exception to my characterization of the Tucson Weekly on my blog post the other day, indicating that I was a whore because I've availed myself (or more accurately my causes) of publicity thanks to the Weekly and yet I complain about that same publication.

I'm pretty much done sparring with this jerk but he/she sparked an interesting train of thought that I want to follow for a moment. What exactly is a whore? Besides the literal, sex-work definition, I assume that what was meant is a signification like this one from Wiktionary: "A person who is unscrupulous, especially one who compromises their principles for gain."

Well, as I've often observed, pretty much nobody is pure. In this un-free society where everyone is locked in a web of greed and fear and necessity, constructed by capitalism and fascism, pretty much the only people not compromising their principles for gain are those that have none. For instance, by that definition,

  • If you are against the war in Iraq (I'm not sure what the current poll numbers are but probably at least half of all estadounidenses are) and yet pay for it with your income taxes, you're a whore.
  • If you believe in human-caused climate change and yet still drive cars or fly in airplanes, you're a whore.
  • If you care about human rights and yet buy products made in China, you're a whore.
  • If you care about the environment and sustainability and yet live in Phoenix or Tucson or anywhere in the Sonoran desert bioregion, you're probably a whore.


    These are just a few examples. I could go on and on. Everyone makes compromises. But, so, yes, I'm a whore. We pretty much all are. Suck it up. The person I know who comes closest to being free of all compromises lives alone in an abandoned town off the grid, drinks from a rainfed lake, grows and shoots his own food - but he still drives to town occasionally to buy more bullets and other supplies.

    Besides this compromise issue, there is the issue of tactics. If it's a crime to critique something but to also tactically exploit it as a resource or tool, then I'm guilty as charged. Lock me up. But many others who work for a better world (not to mention those who don't really work for one but rant about how one is possible) do this every day. How many freegans rail against consumer society waste yet benefit regularly from it by the dumpster-load? Primitivists who type their essays and fly to gatherings (and wear glasses and use clocks and language, etc etc) is one of the other more extreme examples. I myself think computers are evil, but I use one every day to do the work I do - that is the best way I have right now for my skills to help better the world.

    So, if, to promote a screening of a film about brutally raped and murdered women, I utilize a piece-of-shit newspaper like the Tucson Weekly which I hate, well, I see no problem with that. Corporate media is a tool to be used judiciously and tactically to accomplish valuable things. Sticking my head in the sand and refusing to exploit such tools in the name of some sort of ethical purity is counterproductive and stupid.

    And so is heckling and name-calling a blogger from behind the shield of anonymity.

    Posted by steev at 08:55 AM | Comments (1)
  • Julio 30, 2008

    DNC and Protests: Security or Justice?

    Unconventional Denver, the group of radical activists that has been organizing protests against the Democratic National Convention this September, has issued an offer, which contains the best idea I've heard of in a while regarding this upcoming act of political theater and associated protest theater: They're offering to "call off all protests during the convention if the city, federal government and the DNC agree to redirect the current $50 million earmarked for heightened security during the DNC and invest it in Denver communities."

    What a great concept! Better yet, how about calling it off ANYWAY, and using the money you WOULD have spent on bus tickets, gasoline, spraypaint, sign materials, pot, beer, cool activist t-shirts, black hoodies, black bandanas, etc, and funnel THAT cash into Denver communities, and/or your own communities if you plan on travelling to Denver from afar?

    And wouldn't it be hilarious if all the riot pigs showed up armed for a superrumble, and the streets were completely empty? Wouldn't the city feel stupid for spending that 50 million?

    But no, you'll probably go ahead and run around the streets chanting and yelling and dancing and sewing new patches on your Carharts, and give our overlords all a reason to make people feel so glad that they spent that money on more guns and tear gas. A win-win situation: the rulers get to point at another excuse for strict security measures, and y'all get another huge summer street party and formative experience.

    Rock on, everyone!

    Posted by steev at 07:17 PM | Comments (1)

    Julio 21, 2008

    100% in 10 Years

    Al Gore gave a speech the other day about global warming and called for making the nation's energy use 100% renewable in the next 10 years. Right on.

    Gore has been so exemplary, it makes me wonder what would have happened if the 2000 election had gone a little differently and he had been put in the White House like he lawfully should have been. Probably the demands of being a more political animal would have made it impossible to concentrate on the issue of global warming, and quite plausibly the world's wake-up to the problem may have been delayed for x number of years. So it may have been for the best, in the long run, that he was not president, ironically.

    Posted by steev at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

    Julio 03, 2008

    Bush Tour to Visit Victims of His Disastrous Presidency


    Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency
    Hilarious, as usual, from the Onion (via Demarcated Landscapes).

    Posted by steev at 09:59 AM | Comments (0)

    Junio 25, 2008

    RIP George

    I wasn't going to say anything about George Carlin shuffling off this mortal coil, but when I saw some very topical for our times quotes of his I just had to re-cite them. This is from a bit he was doing in the late 90s:

    As far as I’m concerned, all of this airport security – the cameras, the questions, the screening, the searches, is just one more way of reducing your liberty and reminding you they can fuck with you anytime they want, as long as you’re willing to put up with it. Which means, of course, anytime they want. Because that’s the way Americans are now. They’re always willing to trade away a little of their freedom for the feeling – the illusion – of security.

    You have got to be realistic about terrorism. Ya gotta be a realist: Certain groups of people – Muslim fundamentalists, Christian fundamentalists, Jewish fundamentalists, and just plain guys from Montana – are going to continue to make life in this country very interesting for a long, long time. That’s the reality. Angry men in combat fatigues talking to god on a two-way radio and muttering incoherent slogans about freedom are eventually going to provide us with a great deal of entertainment.

    Especially after your stupid fuckin’ economy collapses all around you, and the terrorists come out of the woodwork. And you’ll have anthrax in the water supply and sarin gas in the air conditioners; There’ll be chemical and biological suitcase bombs in every city, and I say, “Relax, enjoy it! Enjoy the show! Take a fuckin’ chance. Put a little fun in your life.”

    Happy trails, Mr. Carlin. ( Via North Texas Indymedia)

    Posted by steev at 07:10 PM | Comments (2)

    Junio 24, 2008

    He Said It First

    Via a blog called Feministe I found out about a gaff that Senator McCain committed 16 years ago that should by rights cost him at least all of his female voters, all but his most piggish male voters, and certainly the election. He called his wife a cunt - in front of reporters. Absolutely inexcusable.

    It's interesting that one story on the incident concentrates on it as an example of McCain's bad temper - yes, this is a problem, but the way I see it, the bigger problem is that it's a sign of a basic disrespect or even hate for women.

    What an asshole. He doesn't deserve to have a wife, much less be president or a senator.

    Wonderfully, when you google the word, you get the story as the 3rd entry, right after the wikipedia and wiktionary entries. Let's try and make it the first! Keep linking to the story and any other stories about it.

    And now for your further entertainment, here's this humorous little video about the incident by The Public Service Administration, an LA-based comedy group. It had me LOL:

    Posted by steev at 03:23 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 09, 2008

    Hilarious Obama Victory Vid

    This little mashup video celebrating Obama's win is a really great editing job.

    And while we're watching that, here's a funny Hillary Clinton mashup based on a YouTube meme:

    Posted by steev at 12:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 05, 2008

    Potpourri

    Several things to blog about, briefly, from today;

    First, a famous stunt climber climbed the New York Times building in New York with a banner that said “Global warming kills more people than 9/11 every week.” Story on the Times blog.

    Second, in the no-hope-for-the-world department, we have the grisly story of an old man getting hit-and-run by drag-racing motorists in New Haven, and dozens of people see it, cluster around, drive walk and cycle by, and nobody helps him or even calls 911. His head is bleeding all over the sidewalk and nobody does a godamn thing till a police car that's responding to another call happens by. WTF?? How can people be so heartless?
    Can we have any hope that we as a society will ever care about any victims of war or human rights abuses or polar bears or... anybody, when people can't even bring themselves to care about an innocent old man lying on the street bleeding to death right in front of them? I hope they catch the drivers that hit him but I also hope they arrest and try all those people who just stood there doing nothing. The heartless assholes should be punished just like it was negligent homicide.

    Third and least important, the oddly interesting episode in the annals of the art world where the Getty museum was trying to you-tube-ize their big California Video exhibit in effort to ride the coattails of the internet user-created content boom, and in reply some internet pranksters played a great joke on them. The Getty apparently didn't like that they'd been punked and failed to play by their own rules, deciding not to screen the highest-rated and viewed videos.

    That's some of today's highlights. enjoy the rest of your afternoon!

    Posted by steev at 03:46 PM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 19, 2008

    Shut the Hell Up Mister Bush!!!

    Here's a totally awesome, bitterly furious rant by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, a personal commentary on Bush's most recent ludicrous bullshit - our idiot commander-in-chief announcing that he gave up golf in honor of our Iraq casualties. This is the angriest intelligent anti-administration thing I've seen on mainstream TV for quite a while, if not ever. Bravo, Olbermann! You rock!!

    Posted by steev at 12:36 PM | Comments (2)

    Mayo 14, 2008

    Our Man From the Left

    I was surprised to discover this morning that Thomas Frank is today kicking off his new weekly Wednesday opinion column in the Wall Street Journal. The editors had this to say about his addition to their team: "Mr. Frank can help our readers understand what's on the mind of the American left as it bids to regain control of the federal government."

    Hmm. I'm not sure what to think. Mr. Frank will be familiar to some of you as the once editor of the excellent cultural criticism journal called The Baffler, a periodical of irregular publishing cycle that nevertheless regularly skewered the right wing, capitalists, the rich and the powerful, taking up where the Frankfurt School left off to craft their own particular snarky brand of speaking truth to power.

    Frank went on to write The Conquest of Cool, an excellent explication of how the advertising industry changed and was changed by the counterculture of the 60s. A couple books later he wrote the best-selling What's the Matter with Kansas?, an anti-heartland screed against the blue states, or against what makes blue states blue. that went over very well in red states, to which I've just recently read a really interesting and intelligent rebuttal to, a book called "Superior, Nebraska" (named after my stepfather's hometown).

    Anyway.... I dunno. What's Frank thinking? Why is he helping the business class understand the Left? So far the column seems more suited for Mother Jones than the WSJ, and seems to be mostly an ad for his new book. Maybe that's his main motivation.

    Posted by steev at 01:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 07, 2008

    Weekend in Alabama for WTR

    Last weekend I was in Birmingham, Alabama for one of the twice-yearly meetings of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. I was there to film for the documentary on war tax resistance, and also to give people in the committee a status report of how the film is coming along and show them some footage. It went well, and it was nice to spend a few days in a really green and humid place, very different from Tucson.

    David Gross was there too and has a pretty complete summary of the weekend on his blog. One thing he leaves out is a direct link to the local Fox News story covering the press conference the group had. In the clip they aired you'll see a split-second shot of me behind my video camera, filming the event for the doc.
    Steev on Fox News
    I'm kind of baffled that the Fox cameraman would even shoot footage of me, much less that the editor would include it in the final piece. Why is it relevant to the story that someone else was there taping? He didn't shoot footage of the reporter from the Birmingham newspaper who was also there. Weird.

    Well, at least the story itself was fairly neutral on the subject and didn't paint the group as some kind of unpatriotic wackos. Perhaps 2 years ago that's the angle that a Fox station would have taken, but opinion has turned so far against that war that maybe even they are moderating their gung-ho pro-Bush stance.

    Posted by steev at 10:08 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 23, 2008

    Another World Is Fundable?

    I've been reading an amazing new book called "The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex." It's a pretty eye-opening and provocative read, and would probably be for almost any activist, to varying degrees depending on how involved with or how much you've thought about being involved with social change institutions (for some definition of "institution").

    The subject is really important to think about. The book is an anthology of different writings by different people, and some of them are from the academy and speak academese, but here is a great summary quote from one particularly clear and to-the-point and down-to-earth piece, by Madonna Thunderhawk, called "Native Organizing Before the Non-Profit Industrial Complex":

    When we first heard about non-profits in the late 1970s and early 80s, it seemed like a good thing. We did not necessarily see what might happen if we started pursuing our work through non-profits; instead non-profits seemed to be just another way to raise money. But over the years, it has changed the scope of activism so that non-profits are just part of the system. The focus turned to raising money to keep the organization going, while the actual work of activism became secondary and watered down. And when the money disappeared, the work did too. Before, we focused on how to organize to make change, but now most people will only work within funding parameters. People work for a salary rather than because they are passionate about an issue.

    The fundamental question that just reading the title of the book brings up for me is: What is "revolution," and how many people really want it, even those who call themselves "activists"?" Even "radicals"? In other words how many really even want fundamental systemic change? (Because if you don't, maybe it's not a big deal to you that the non-profit world is so fucked up as described by this book. As long as you, if you work in the non-profit world, have a job and you come out with a new membership drive every year, so what, right?)

    How many instead are just working for some superficial, minor change? If, say, their city painted bike lanes on every street and reduced speed limits to 15 everywhere and banned cars on weekends, but everything else stayed the same about the world, or even a more extreme (maybe?) example, if we sent home all the troops from Iraq tomorrow but everything else stayed the same - how many would go home and be happy and stop "being active"?

    I wish it were easy to bring this up and talk about it with everyone. How many even think about this? What is "revolution" to you, exactly? Do you want it? If not, what is it exactly that you want? How much change is enough? Would you give up your nonprofit activist job, in exchange for the issue you ostensibly work on just going away and being solved? Really? Would you give up your non-activist, just-to-make money job? Your car/tv/computer/nightlife/ice cream/refrigerator? Anything? What if you didn't even HAVE to give up anything, for your issue to disappear immediately, right now. Would you push that button? Really? Then what would you do? What IS this "other world" you keep saying is possible?

    I wish I could have a conference where every activist I've ever met, or lets even say every thoughtful person I know who's ever voiced a complaint about any social ill, gets up and answers all these questions, truthfully. Or at least tries - cuz it's not like I have all those questions answered for myself, either, but I want to talk about it.

    Posted by steev at 02:09 PM | Comments (1)

    Abril 22, 2008

    Watering the Garden

    A few things have come to my attention lately concerning... well, concerning "doing the right thing" as just an individual. In other words, what do us normal everypeople do about our part in the wrongs of the world?

    A very interesting philosophy professor from Auburn U, Roderick Long, has written a very well-thought essay about this (sadly only in Microsoft Word format, I'm not sure why it's not just HTML). In it he writes about collective responsibility and whether one citizen, consumer, or whatnot is obligated to do something, anything, about big problems like global warming or war. I urge you to read your way through the whole carefully crafted argument, but he ends up with the conclusion that we don't all have to do everything, but it is all of our moral duty to do something about some things, and it's up to each of us to decided which things you will work on. In other words, you may disagree with me and choose to continue paying for war, and/or you may choose to continue driving a Hummer H2, but you have an obligation to be doing something about some collective ills that you're a part of. He also concludes that it is moral and right for governments to compel their citizens to do their part to right collective wrongs.

    Just a few days after reading that my attention was drawn to a piece in the New York Times magazine along similar lines but with more specific conclusion by the well-known cooking and agriculture writer Michael Pollan entitled "Why Bother?", something that I understand was going around the blogosphere and forwarding circuit a lot yesterday, so maybe you've seen it already. If not, you should read it. A key side-point that he makes is, when did the idea of "virtue" become something to ridicule and look down on in our culture?

    Also in the grey lady was a teaser for a little video conversation about morality and citizen responsibility, the complete version of which is at an interesting little site called Bloggingheads, in which experts and pundits face off against each other and we get to watch it in split-screen.

    It's too early to say but could this be a new mini-fad? Maybe this is wishful thinking but what if, somehow, doing your own little part to save the world became some kind of fashionable? What am I thinking... I fear that only if there's a way to frame it in terms of self-interest and greed will selflessness and altruism ever become that "cool"...

    Posted by steev at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 16, 2008

    More on Tax Resistance

    In the wake of Tax Day, I just want to mention and give kudos to David Gross's excellent blog The Picket Line, which focuses on war tax resistance and related issues. We visited David and talked with him in our documentary about WTR, btw. His blog is extremely thorough and almost every day has numerous links to a variety of relevant news bits and items of interest, as well his own personal musings and reasoning. He mentioned yesterday a few actions that took place around the country on Tax Day and it made me a bit sad that we don't have in Tucson an active group of WTRs that organizes any symbolic protests on April 15, despite the fact that I know a small handful of people here who are WTRs and more could probably be gathered, as well as sympathetic folks who haven't taken the plunge but would show up to a post office demo or something. A local group is also great support and an information source for people engaged in this sort of struggle or thinking of starting.

    Posted by steev at 10:15 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 14, 2008

    Dear Sirs, Your Government Sucks

    Of course this is a futile and symbolic gesture, but this is the letter I just mailed with my tax return:


    April 14, 2008

    Internal Revenue Service

    cc: Congressman Raul Grijalva; Senator John McCain; Senator Jon Kyl; Senator Barrack Obama; Senator Hillary Clinton; (P)resident George W. Bush; Alan Gamble, Executive Director, Peace Tax Foundation

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    As calculated on the enclosed 1040 form, I am liable from tax year 2007 for 1,923 dollars in federal income taxes. This is quite a bit of money. In fact, it would be enough to pay for almost half a second of the wars that the U.S. is waging in various parts of the world. Yes, that's right, our country is spending about $4000, every second, to violently destroy other countries and murder the people in them. In fact, Joseph Stieglitz, former head of the World Bank, has calculated that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will, in the end, cost about 3 trillion dollars.

    I cannot with good conscience be a part of this. Starting about 6 years ago, I realized this moral imperative that I had, and since then I can say that my tax money has not willingly gone toward this carnage or any other miliary ventures, and I'm proud to say that this is true once again for me this year. Sadly, 382 dollars of my taxes were already unwillingly seized from me last year via W-2 witholding. I can't do anything about that, and it fills me with despair that about 50% of those dollars (according to the War Resisters League federal budget calculations) are now paying for people to be killed. If I am to believe Ben Metcalf's excellent article, "Why I Pay My Taxes" in the April 2008 issue of Harper's magazine, a bullet for an M-16 machine gun costs about 30 cents. That means that I might have paid for about 600 bullets. I hope and pray that none of those bullets found their mark, and if they did, that they caused only a minor and temporary injury. Or perhaps my 191 military dollars only went to pay for 2% of a JDAM "smart bomb," (about $24,000, according to Metcalf) and that that particular bomb fell far from its intended target or any "collateral damage." I can only hope that the use of my taxes was a best-case scenario of some harmless waste such as these, but I fear far worse. I can only take comfort in knowing that I did not contribute even more to the carnage, and willingly never will; that the remaining $1541 that I owe will not go toward any further death, and that all the moneys I have withheld from this evil and unjust purpose in past years is also not paying for death.

    Instead, these funds have been used by me to pay for peaceful and charitable causes in my community, both local, national, and global in scope. I do believe that a citizen of this country has the obligation to do his or her part, financially, to contribute to the common good. Hence, I do not just keep these withheld taxes for my own personal gain, but I donate them to socially beneficial purposes that the government should, in a just world, be taking care of.

    I realize fully that this course I describe is not sanctioned by current law. I would gladly follow the law and pay my taxes if there were a way for me to also follow my conscience and do the right thing. One way this might happen is with the Peace Tax Fund legislation, which has been introduced to Congress repeatedly over the last few decades (currently H. R. 1921). I am encouraging my elected representatives in both the legislative and executive branches to work toward making this type of option available to the citizens of our nation so that they could decide to pay for good and peaceful works of the federal government without supporting killing. Until that time I will continue to refuse to fund war in the only way that I can.

    In closing, I would like to note that there are more and more citizens (voters, consumers) who feel the same way as I do. More and more people are realizing that their government is committing horrible atrocities all over the world in their name and with their money. Furthermore, more and more of these people have had enough, and are deciding to do something about it by refusing to pay for this insane horror, for the violence that the U.S. government is committing on the rest of the world. You, whatever bureaucrat or policymaker who is reading this letter and the hundreds like it arriving in your in-boxes this year, you may be able to ignore it this year, or answer it with lip service and form letters, but someday this tide of resistance will be so great that there will be no way to ignore it without severe consequences. I urge you to do something: do the right thing, before that day of reckoning comes. Change not only the options for taxpayers, but change the homicidal, and indeed suicidal, course that this country is on, before it is too late.

    Sincerely,


    Steev Hise
    Tucson, Arizona

    Posted by steev at 04:20 PM | Comments (3)

    Abril 05, 2008

    Taxi To The Rude Side

    So I got peeved this afternoon when after I posted to a social list I'm on a last-minute announcement about an event concerning Prisoner Support and Solidarity, at Dry River tonight, this person wrote back:


    On Apr 5, 2008, at 12:32 PM, [email protected] wrote:
    Wait a muinute...don't forget that tonight is the special showing of the
    film "Taxi to the Dark Side" at the Loft. 7:00.
    Please come and have your potluck and films another time.

    The nerve of some people. How ridiculously lame! So I replied:

    Nancy,
    Night life, or activism for that matter, in Tucson isn't, or shouldn't be, IMHO, a competition, and my announcement didnt say to skip your screening at the Loft, so I quite resent that you seem to think that your event is more important than anything else and that you seem to think that it's okay to actively discourage people from doing something else. The event at Dry River has been planned for months and is at least as worthy of people's attention and attendance. A tunnel-vision, zero-sum, cuthroat jockeying for the time and interest of your fellow community members is not the way to treat other community groups that are or should be allies.

    That pretty much says it all.

    Posted by steev at 04:03 PM | Comments (2)

    Abril 03, 2008

    More About Tactics: the DNC and RNC

    I've been asked for suggestions about fundraising for Denver IMC's coverage of the DNC this summer. They need twelve thousand dollars, apparently.

    Not that I know anything special about fundraising. However, I actually think covering the DNC and RNC protests should be deemphasized, as should be the protests itself - the more media coverage of these things there are, the more sexy they seem and the more protesters will come to them and future iterations - But these mass mobilizations are a dead and tired and wasteful tactic, IMHO, and especially the party conventions, because, for one reason, for the last several elections the nominees are already chosen beforehand, and the conventions are just theater...

    As far as funding goes, if possible the people that are still committed to the tactic should pay for it, but here's an idea: maybe there are some folks who could be persuaded to NOT come to Denver, and could send money instead that they would have spent on travel, that could fund local activist organizing and local indymedia coverage. If 24 people who would have spent $500 flying to denver just stayed home (or 50 that would have spent 250, or whatever, you get the idea), they'd not only have enough to cover the $12K, but they'd save literally tons of greenhouse gases...

    Or at least use your carbon credit money, if you believe in that bullshit, to fund green media projects in Colorado. Or whatever, but let's just do SOMETHING different, folks, cuz this shit is tired!

    Posted by steev at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 31, 2008

    Digging In

    guerilla gardening - 17 Yesterday I was biking home after videotaping a yoga class for a client (and friend), and I noticed a couple dozen people, many who I knew from my neighborhood, digging holes in a vacant lot a couple blocks from my house. There was a huge hand-painted sign ready to be installed that said "Ramona-Magon Memorial Garden and Autonomous Community Park". Wow, I thought, that is so cool. You see, this vacant lot was city property, and it was about to be in the path of a huge new road project that has been a hot battle for years.

    Greta and I came back a little later and grabbed some shovels to help out. I took some photos. People were putting in benches, planting native plants, digging water basins. The idea was to put something else valuable to the community there, obstructing the construction project.

    My arms are still tired from chopping up caliche (the hardened desert earth that is so common around here) and shovelling dirt, but it felt good to be part of the project. This was a perfect example direct action that I would wholeheartedly embrace. Even if it gets destroyed and doesn't stop the highway, I feel like it is still effective, because planting plants and generating the kind of constructive, barnraising kind of positive feeling is a great thing for the community, even if it is only temporary.

    Anyway, I wrote an article on Arizona Indymedia about it. Read more. Look at more photos.

    Posted by steev at 03:58 PM | Comments (0)

    Febrero 27, 2008

    Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early


    Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early
    Great coverage by The Onion.

    Posted by steev at 02:44 PM | Comments (0)

    Febrero 25, 2008

    Why Bail Out Those Using Stupid Tactics?

    (Note: When I first wrote the following, I was unsure if I should post it as-is; at first I thought it was too extreme and blunt. But a friend said "No, I think you should, it's how most grown-ups think." So, here it is.)

    Last week there was a big protest in Florida against a natural gas facility being built that was conveniently located near the site of a big Earth First! semiannual meeting. After each of these meetings, which move around the country every time, organizers pick an environmentally-bad thing to go do a protest against when the meeting concludes - a coal mine, a factory, whatever is handy.

    This time it was Palm Beach County's under-construction West County Energy Center. Ten or twelve activists locked down in a circle to prevent trucks carrying rock from getting out. Police came, riot gear, yada yada, hundreds moved aside but 27 were arrested. What did it accomplish? The construction was halted for 6 hours, traffic was blocked, and a couple local papers ran short articles.

    Now we, the general, caring activist public around the world, are being asked to finance the bail bond for these brave folks.

    Maybe I sound a little curmudgeonly, but frankly I think the whole action was ineffective, ill-advised, and wasteful of time and energy. It didn't have any real effect, it pissed off motorists and workers in the area, and it didn't even have much of a symbolic effect since national media didn't pick up on it. It's also just boring and old and tired, except to the couple dozen young traveller-kid adrenaline junkies that sat out there and got high from the excitement of "sticking it to the man".

    And now I'm being asked to waste my money on its aftermath? On an action I never approved or even knew would happen (well, actually, of course I did, in general, because like i said, it happens every 6 months like clockwork).

    Think of what else the money could have gone for.
    The bond, to bail out 27 white gringos (at least from the photos they all looked pretty gabacho) from jail, was $13,500. That could feed about 22 Bolivian families for a year. Just as one example. Or another example closer to home - that's almost exactly the entire (minus in-kind donations) budget of the documentary about war tax resistance that I'm working on.

    Agreed, we could debate about what is more or most effective. But that's not my point. I'm just asking you to think about it. Tactics and strategy matter, and the reasons, and aftereffects, and costs, behind their execution matter.

    Another example of this kind of vain and foolish "action" is the upcoming "un-welcoming" of the RNC and DNC in Minneapolis and Denver. More useless mobilising, activists flying or bussing or driving or hoppin' freights in from all over the nation for a week, running around in the streets taunting cops, tipping over dumpsters and shouting at limos that might have delegates (and let's not even address for now that the candidates are already decided by then - the Conventions are just elaborate theater put on for show) in them, all so the kids can later retire to the convergence center each night and sing songs and smoke weed with their cool hipster activist friends and maybe get laid (direct action really gets the hormones pumping, y'know). What does it really accomplish outside of those exciting, social, "coming of age" goals for these youths?

    What's effective and what's not? Should one engage in a tactic just because that's what's been done every year for years? Should one support something and bear the consequences just because someone else made a foolish decision? Should one be involved with foolish decisions just to satisfy some desperate and frustrated youthful need for adventure and catharsis?

    This does seem harsh, but at this point I think it's extremely important to start honestly critiqueing tactics and strategies. Social change isn't just an empty gesture for bored suburbans youngsters to inject excitement back into their middleclass lives for a few years. A lot of people are in it for the long haul, and they're in it to win. So let's honestly and carefully figure out what works, what doesn't, and why and why not.

    Posted by steev at 01:21 PM | Comments (1)

    Febrero 21, 2008

    toonlet

    Some friends of mine have created a great site called Toonlet, where you can make your own cartoons really easily. here's one i just made:

    UPDATE: see toonlet.com

    Posted by steev at 07:10 PM | Comments (1)

    Febrero 18, 2008

    Ghost Fleet

    Our WTR shoot yesterday ended on the shore of Suisun Bay looking out at a bunch of old warships parked in the water and rotting for the last 50 years or so.
    It was a fitting spot to reflect on war and its various pricetags. And just a weird site.

    View Larger Map
    more background on the ghost fleet.

    Posted by steev at 08:39 AM | Comments (0)

    Febrero 04, 2008

    Bizarro World

    Did I wake up in an alternative Universe? I see this morning in my inbox a message to 20-some indymedia lists from one Elijah Gatewood, supposedly a "contributing journalist at IMC affiliates for five years." This Mr. Gatewood is proposing that the Independent Media Center endorse Michael Bloomberg for president.

    What?! How could Elijah Gatewood have any familiarity with Indymedia and somehow think it would be conceivable that we would want to endorse Bloomberg, or for that matter ANYONE for the office of President? This guy is a clueless moron, or else I have rolled over in bed through a rift in space-time and woken up in Bizarro World.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many crazy wingnuts are out there....

    Posted by steev at 07:53 AM | Comments (0)

    Enero 06, 2008

    Esteban Caliente interviews Steev Hise

    It's been over a week since I uploaded this to the Pan Left video blog, but I forgot to mention it here. It's an interview between my alter ego and me, another humorous Esteban Caliente piece that I started at the G8 in Germany back in June and never finished editing. So I decided to complete it on the last couple days of 2007. It's a bit of retrospection and introspection, a look back at a week of marches and rallies and yelling and chanting, and questioning of progressive activist tactics and strategies as well as my own place in them.









    Your browser is not able to display this multimedia content.




    it's downloadable too.

    Posted by steev at 03:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 19, 2007

    Hedges on WTR

    Chris Hedges plugs war tax resistance in a comment in The Nation, December 10 issue.


    A country that exists in a state of permanent war cannot exist as a democracy. Our long row of candles is being snuffed out. We may soon be in darkness. Any resistance, however symbolic, is essential. There are ways to resist without being jailed. If you owe money on your federal tax return, refuse to pay some or all of it...
    For him, a war with Iran is the breaking point that will push him into that tactic. Unfortunately he fails to mention that others have been doing it since Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Vietnam... or World War 2.

    Posted by steev at 06:58 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 27, 2007

    Acts of Omission and Commission and "Mission Accomplished"

    What are the ethics of doing versus not-doing? Of quitting versus "staying the course"? If you got a group of people into something, or helped get them into it, and they may or may not be worse off because of it, but you want out, are you justified in counting yourself out? Or do you have an obligation to finish what you started, no matter what? And what if others are telling you to quit? What is the moral calculus for deciding when, for each individual, they say, "I will not be a party to this," as opposed to, "I will try to help salvage this mess," or somewhere in-between?

    Posted by steev at 05:24 PM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 25, 2007

    What's the Oil of the 21st Century?

    There's a project called Oil 21, "Perspectives on Intellectual Property," started by the cool folks at Bootlab in Berlin. The name come from a quote by some bigshot at Getty Images in which he claimed that IP is the oil of the 21st century.

    This is perhaps an unsurprising statement (the Getty family made their money from oil, afterall), but it's a really stupid metaphor, and I'll tell you why: Oil is the Oil of the 21st century. I'm positive that at least until 2040 or so petroleum will continue to be something that shapes the world, informs geopolitics, and causes conflict around the globe more than any other resource, with the possible exception of water.

    I guess I'm glad someone still cares a lot about fighting the good fight over in IP land, that virtual world where songs and books and images are drops of vital water in some virtual desert.

    But I've really moved on. Most of the masses in the rich world don't care and it's irrelevant - youth steal music and movies and no one can ever stop them. Most of the rest of the world is too busy fighting for water and a place to live and food to eat. Occasionally in that world someone earns enough to buy that food by stacking some pirated DVDs on a blanket in the street and selling them for 50 cents a pop. That will never be stopped.

    So, it's a niche issue for rich academics and artists. I'm done. I'm more interested in, for instance, the drops of water that might sustain the real thirst of people in other, more visceral deserts.

    Posted by steev at 08:15 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 20, 2007

    Violence vs. Imagination

    A largely excellent essay by David Graeber appeared on Infoshop.org the other day. It's called "REVOLUTION IN REVERSE (OR, ON THE CONFLICT BETWEEN POLITICAL ONTOLOGIES OF VIOLENCE AND POLITICAL ONTOLOGIES OF THE IMAGINATION)" It's really worth reading, if you can pick through the typos and missing words and other copy-editing gaffs (or maybe it was never copy-edited past the rough draft? It's really quite astounding how such an academic piece of writing could have so many such errors. hmm).

    The piece is mostly about the difference between those who use force and those who use imagination, to get what they want from other people. Imagination, in this case, includes communicating with other people and trying to understand them, which violence never requires, except to some extent, as Graeber points out, when the sides are relatively evenly matched.

    He uses this comparison to look at how recent developments in progressive activism have proceeded. One point he makes during this is what an influence feminist thought has had on the 'movement'. Feminism is more than just demanding that women are "equal" in some abstract way, but is also about learning things from how women and other opressed groups look at things.

    For much of human history, what has been taken as politics has consisted essentially of a series of dramatic performances carried out upon theatrical stages. One of the great gifts of feminism to political thought has been to continually remind us of the people is in fact making and preparing and cleaning those stages, and even more, maintaining the invisible structures that make them possible—people who have, overwhelmingly, been women. The normal process of politics of course is to make such people disappear. Indeed one of the chief functions of women’s work is to make itself disappear. One might say that the political ideal within direct action circles has become to efface the difference; or, to put it another way, that action is seen as genuinely revolutionary when the process of production of situations is experienced as just as liberating as the situations themselves.

    A good personal example from my life recently has been the No Borders Camp - being involved with the process of organizing a situation called the No Borders Camp was at many times indeed quite liberating. But at some point 2 1/2 months ago it stopped feeling that way. It started feeling stifling and wrong and no one was really addressing that wrongness, so I got out. Now I'm still involved as a mediamaker, but every day I get more and more of a queasy feeling about the whole project. Discussion this week with someone who plans to attend has made it clear that I made the right decision and confirms my queasiness. I'm really quite concerned that this will be a big setback, whether or not it's an "experience of liberation, the giddy realignment of imaginative powers," as Graeber puts it.

    All I can say, in general and in this case, is, while you and your hoodie-wearing friends are getting their imaginative powers giddily realigned, please keep in mind that someone else nearby might be getting their face kicked in as a result.

    (The extensive comment thread following the essay is at times pretty good reading as well.)

    Posted by steev at 12:17 PM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 24, 2007

    The Truth About 9/11 "Truth" Theories

    Douglas Rushkoff writes for the new issue of Arthur an excellent, pointed, yet concise piece about what's wrong with 9/11 conspiracy theories and theorists. Here's the main nugget of wisdom, though there are many others:

    By looking under the rug for what isn't even there, we neglect the horror show that is in plain view. In the process, we make it even easier for the criminals running our government to perpetuate their illegal, unethical and un-American activities.

    Posted by steev at 10:11 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 23, 2007

    Bring Some Home, and Also Do The Right Thing in the Region

    This recent article in the New Yorker about troop withdrawal from Iraq and realistic planning underscores and articulates something that I've always known as a feeling since the very first shouts of "support the troops! bring them home!": things are complicated. In Iraq, really really complicated. And simply pulling out all our forces as fast as possible sounds great but it would be disaster, and it would be cruel and horrible to the Iraqis, and to all the Middle East.

    And Bush really fucked things up. And it's so so sad, that the hubris and arrogance and politicking and petty greed and ignorance has resulted in something like a million dead Iraqis (so far) and has fucked up the country and maybe the whole region for decades. Decades. Just because some dumbshit from texas and his cronies thought they were playing some little game that would maybe increase their stock portfolios. Fucking lying dipshit idiots.

    But this article makes it clear that there's no going back, and there's no just throwing up our hands and saying "oops! Gosh those Republicans sure were bad. Well, ok, we're going home now, bye." Stupid W got us into this, but there ain't no getting out without admitting he fucked up, and doing the responsible thing to at least minimize further catastrophe.

    Posted by steev at 01:08 AM | Comments (1)

    Septiembre 20, 2007

    A Million Dollars to Jim Crow Land

    Free The Jena 6Today 50,000 people from all over the country are in Jena, Louisiana to demand justice for the 6 kids being persecuted by the racist district attorney there. If you haven't been following the situation have a look into it. Houston Indymedia has a feature on it.

    Around here in Tucson it's lucky if anyone has even heard about it, much less getting involved, even the activist types I know. It's kind of amazing, but I guess most people I know are already so busy with whatever issues they already work on so hard all the time, mostly border stuff or enviro stuff.

    A few of us were thinking of going to Jena but, well, it just wasn't going to work. I can't afford stuff like that these days. But I got a t-shirt...

    In the spirit of my cynical previous blog post today, despite the good cause, I can't help doing the math: 50,000 people from all over, most of whom probably flew to Alexandria or New Orleans and then bussed or taxied, and got hotel rooms, and ate at restaurants, etc etc.... I bet at least a million dollars was spent collectively by all these committed activists.

    Things are already looking up, one kid's conviction was overturned because an appeals court said he shouldn't have been tried as an adult... Maybe this is the best way to spend a million dollars, but maybe not. Think of everything for this cause that could have been done with a million dollars... even better lawyers? Billboards all over Jena? maybe stun guns or self-defense classes for all the african-americans in Jena? bribes? hitmen to take out the DA? I dunno, but all those things would also probably spew less carbon into the atmosphere too. I dunno. I dunno.

    Posted by steev at 01:20 PM | Comments (0)

    October Boondoggle

    I just found out about "October Rebellion," a week of protests in DC against the IMF and World Bank. The cause is great but wow, what a waste. When are people going to get past marches and rallies? You'd think that after literally millions of people around the world on one day in 2003 marched against the impending war in Iraq and made no difference at all that people would start to re-evaluate this tactic on a large scale. But it doesn't seem like it's sunk in.

    Imagine what we could do if all the effort and time and money and calories went into other things, instead of being put into organizing all the marching and standing around chanting and waving signs, all the greenhouse gases spewed into the air by all those jet-setting activists flying to the mass mobilizations, all the jail support for the ones that get arrested, all the trials and lawsuits and medical bills for the ones that get charged and beat up and gassed, etc etc....

    Don't people get that these protests are basically the equivalent of whining to the government, asking them to fix things? Don't people get that the government never will really fix things? The Zapatistas learned that. Like them, let's just dive in and do the work to make the new world we want and stop wasting our time asking power to do it for us.

    (As you can perhaps tell, I'm feeling a bit cynical lately, but not cynical enough to invalidate my point above, I feel.)

    Posted by steev at 08:56 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 04, 2007

    Control of (Next) Lives

    Wow. Bob Ostertag notes in his blog an MSNBC story about China and reincarnation:

    China has banned Buddhist monks in Tibet from reincarnating without government permission. According to a statement issued by the State Administration for Religious Affairs, the law, which goes into effect next month and strictly stipulates the procedures by which one is to reincarnate, is "an important move to institutionalize management of reincarnation."

    It's hilarious but it's also serious, as Bob discusses in his post...

    Posted by steev at 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 06, 2007

    A Glorious Sunny Day to Blockade The G8

    Well, for the first time in 5 days it's really nice and warm and sunny here by the Baltic Sea, and various groups are by now at blockade points by the thousands around Heiligendamm, trying to stop the symbolic personal representatives of world power from getting to meet each other.
    destroyed.jpg
    But I slept in, because I was up late encoding and uploading video and hanging out with the Kein TV video volk till very late. Finally my coverage of monday's migration demos are online, both as an mp4 from my site, and an ogg file on v2v.cc, via bittorrent and other peer-to-peer technologies. I was trying all day to upload it, to Indymedia Germany, to YouTube, etc, and both at the IMC here and at Kein.TV's lab there were internet problems and/or congestion which made it impossible.

    Anyway, you should watch, I like how it turned out.

    Today, who knows what will happen. There were rumors about police banning absolutely everything, all blockades, all further demos, everything, but it appears, according to the indymedia germany news ticker, that stuff is still going down. I hurt my foot yesterday so i don't know if I'll be running around filming a lot like I would like to. We'll see.

    Posted by steev at 04:13 AM | Comments (1)

    Junio 02, 2007

    Watching and Waiting

    My 5th day in Germany and Berlin. Things have gone well other than the usual new-place frustrations from time to time of getting lost or being super tired or hungry and wandering looking for a place to rest or eat that is suitable.
    Kein Mensch Ist Illegal - 2

    Yesterday I went to a rally and march concerning migration and immigration and borders - against deportations and oppression and borders. "Kein Mensch Ist Illegal" is the German for a slogan I'm quite familiar with from being in in the US-Mexico borderlands: No One Is Illegal. I shot a few stills, some video, and recorded some great audio, including a great trio of german singers at the rally who did this sort of electroindustrial rap music, a few songs worth, which seemed to be relevant to the issues at hand but I couldn't be sure, of course. I made my first post to Germany Indymedia's website with some of the photos.

    Today as I made my way around the city picking a few more bits of gear and supplies, the week of G8 protests officially began in Rostock and Schwerin. Police have already started huring people and arresting people. I've been following the Germany IMC news ticker to see the latest news. Julia and I will be driving her mother's car to Rostock tommorrow morning. I intend to spend most of the day just getting oriented and attending border/migration related forums and workshops at one of the convergence centers. Then monday is the big migration demo and march. I plan to stay safe and relatively out of the action, playing my usual role of media activist and documenting, rather than getting in the thick of the action.

    Tonight though we'll be at a screening at NGBK, a gallery in the Kreuzberg neighborhood here in Berlin, where they will screen some of Julia's work. Later in the week they plan to screen some videos of mine as well as indymedia videos I've gathered during my stint as indymedia newsreal editor.

    Something seems to have broken regarding my Twitter feed, which used to appear on the right column of my blog thanx to some stolen and hacked javascript code... You may want to check my Twitter page if it seems like a long time since I've blogged and you're worried or curious what's going on. I may not get to my blog that often in the coming week, though i'll try, but I can post to Twitter with my phone, so I might do that, even though it costs money, just to keep you avid readers informed...

    Posted by steev at 11:25 AM | Comments (1)

    Mayo 15, 2007

    NEE

    A hilarious political protest campaign is going on in Belgium, making fun of the system in a really effective way and encouraging people to vote for empty seats in the Belgian parliament.

    And parodying unrealistic campaign promises:
    anno-high.jpg
    (via Brian)

    Posted by steev at 01:53 PM | Comments (1)

    Abril 04, 2007

    Newt Gingrich calls Spanish "the language of living in a ghetto"

    Former speaker of the House of Represetatives Newt Gingrich (what is he now, just a racist hatemonger on the lecture circuit?) gave a speech decrying bilingual education and calling Spanish "the language of living in a ghetto". He received cheers from the crowd of members of the National Federation of Republican Women.
    (via Mun2 Daily Dos)

    Posted by steev at 09:22 AM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 09, 2007

    Tucson Weekly, You Suck Again (now for sexism)

    Just a few weeks after yet another insanely racist and propagandistic cover story about illegal immigration by the ludicrously unskilled and racist Leo Banks, the Tucson Weekly is at it again.

    I wouldn't make this much fuss about this normally except that this issue came out yesterday, on International Women's Day. They pretty much hardly ever put anything this extreme on their cover, but now of all days, they run this. And it's completely gratuitous, nothing to do with the story at all, except that the story is dead boring (about the state legislature) so they must have felt they had to jazz it up to get people to even pick up a copy.

    Tucson Weekly, you are the most conservative, racist, sexist, classist entertainment weekly I have ever seen out of all the 8 or 9 cities i've lived in, including, believe it or not, Charleston, South Carolina. In fact, in everywhere else that I've lived, the weeklies have been at least somewhat consistently left-of-center - although the Portland Mercury is sometimes annoyingly too-hip-to-be-left (but this is because they feel the need to appear cooler and different than the older, more staid liberal Williammette Week. This may be a little of what's going on here in Tucson; although there's no other paper to compete with, they maybe just purposely printing shockingly clueless and controversial stories in order to boost circulation).

    Tucson Weekly, you suck.

    Posted by steev at 03:54 PM | Comments (0)

    Enero 22, 2007

    Chavez Getting Even Stronger

    The Venezuelan legislature is in the process of giving Hugo Chavez "the power to rule by decree for 18 months so that he can impose sweeping economic, social and political change." Wow. How long before he declares himself president-for-life?

    Appropriately enough, I just saw an excellent film called Land of the Blind, about a fictional and archetypal country that goes from totalitarian right-wing rule to totalitarian left-wing rule thanx to a palace guard, played by Ray Fiennes, who later regrets his role in the revolution when things are even worse under the new "People's Committee for Justice and Democracy" regime, and is imprisoned for refusing to sign the loyalty oath to the Chairman-for-Life, played by Donald Southerland. It's a really great dystopian absurdist black-comic story, kindred in set design and mood to Terry Gilliam's Brazil, tho not as funny.

    Posted by steev at 12:34 PM | Comments (0)

    Enero 21, 2007

    Gradually Eroding Freedoms

    I can't remember where I first was referred to this, but according to various blogs, there's an amendment to a bill in Congress now, Section 220 of S. 1, though "on hold," that would basically require anyone writing about Congress to register quarterly with Congress. WTF? Insane. Both left and right bloggers and organizations seem to be complaining, but there's not as much chatter about this, or media attention, as I would expect. I looked further and found this on the SF Bay Times site:

    Checking the actual text of Section 220, a laborious exercise indeed, I find that the text requires that third parties who pay money in order to engineer what might appear to be a grassroots lobbying effort must declare themselves. I also learn that the tactic, presumably one close to the heart of James Dobson and Focus on the Family, is called “Astroturf lobbying.”
    Ok, so this doesn't seem to be the fundamental threat to free speech that some are saying. Plus, even if it passed, how would one ever enforce it? wouldn't it be hard to prove in court that something "appears to be a grassroots lobbying effort?"


    But speaking of taking away freedoms, I found a really great video by an indymedia videographer named Flux Rostrum, about the NYPD attacking him and stealing his camera at a protest in NYC. The irony is that the protest was a Oaxaca/Brad Will solidarity protest at the Mexican Consulate, protesting the murder of a videographer by government/PRI/paramilitary thugs. Flux ends his narration poignantly when he says, holding up the lens of his camera that stayed in his hand when the cops ripped the rest of it away, "how many years before they just shoot us here, too?"

    Posted by steev at 08:57 AM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 16, 2006

    Tucson Activists and La Otra

    Here's a video I made recently that I just uploaded about the appearance of the Zapatista La Otra Campaña caravan coming to Magdalena, Sonora, Mexico, about one hour south of the Arizona border.

    You can also download it from my server (33 MB).

    Posted by steev at 09:55 AM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 10, 2006

    yay! Pinochet is Dead!

    Wow. Former Dictator of Chile Augusto Pinochet has finally shuffled off his mortal coil. Of course I should wait a bit before getting too excited, since there was talk that he'd died a week ago and then he apparently had not. But this time it looks real. It's just too bad he was not brought to justice before kicking the bucket.

    Posted by steev at 11:08 AM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 28, 2006

    Marian Franz Dies

    Director of the national Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund died a couple weeks ago.

    In 1982, Franz became the first full-time director of the National
    Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund.

    Franz believed that war taxes have enormous consequences.

    "They kill twice," Franz said. "First, they directly enable war . . .
    particularly paying for weapons. Second, taxes allocated for war
    represent a distortion of priorities. Money is taken away from the
    important work of healing and spent to destroy and kill."

    Posted by steev at 06:28 AM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 02, 2006

    Chingo Bling on Holamun2

    This little video is a hilarious but inspiring history and civics lesson.

    Posted by steev at 12:40 PM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 01, 2006

    Stick A Yellow Ribbon On Your SUV

    I don't remember who sent me this video but it's pretty great. The beginning part is sort of infantile, so just wait it out or skip ahead about a minute, and then when the actual yellow ribbon song starts, you will enjoy.

    Posted by steev at 06:40 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 01, 2006

    Locality

    I've been to 2 different neighborhood, urban-development, "should-we-allow-more-gentrification?" kind of meetings in the last week and a half, even though I'm just 3 days into living in the neighborhood. It's odd, thinking of getting involved - well, being involved, already - considering that 2 months ago I didn't know if I'd even be able to stay in Tucson and remain sane. Also, I've lived in enough places to see that this gentrification, re-development struggle is happening everywhere, albeit at different rates and in different stages depending on which city we're talking about. I've never known where to settle down, dig in, and join the fight.

    Here I'm talking about a "green" (solar panels, rooftop gardens, etc) condo project just a few blocks from my new place called OneWest, which was voted down by the neighborhood association in March and then it was brought back and that vote was reversed last week, amid much controversy (now the talk is that the re-vote was against Robert's Rules of Order, which ostensibly the neighborhood association follows as its decision-making process).

    Meanwhile just south of me is part of the target area of something called Downtown Links. It's the legacy of battle that's been happening in Tucson since the 70s when the state wanted to just punch a freeway right through downtown to link the east side of town to the interstate. They got most of the way but then the opposition was so fierce that they gave up and handed it off to the city government in the late 80s. The city has been trying to finish it in some form, and it's been gradually downgraded to basically a 25mph surface street with a bunch of awkward connections to existing surface streets and some accompanying urban development along the side, supposedly, like bike paths, some greenery, maybe some noise abatement walls, etc - but also lots of "opportunities" for business development along the route.

    These things are both very contentious. There's just a couple opinions/observations that I want to mention: first, they're both really all about money; second, they involve bait-and-switch "quality of life" or "greenwashing" tactics to make them seem more palatable to regular people, and to obscure the fact that it's really to serve the relevant members of the business class that wants to exploit the situation; third, about the Downtown Links specificially: this project is 15 to 20 years from being done. By then, for all we know 90% of us will not be able to afford gasoline or any other means for propelling personal motor vehicles. What are we doing continuing to make decisions revolving around motorists and a car-centered lifestyle?

    Posted by steev at 07:43 AM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 03, 2006

    Beyond Hope

    In the latest issue of Orion Magazine we are brought an excerpt from Endgame, the upcoming new book by Derrick Jensen, one of my favorite authors to make it their business to meticulously describe exactly what's wrong with western culture and civilization. The excerpt is on a subject I've seen him write and speak about before at great length, but it's nice to see it in this form. It's about the problem with hope.

    When we stop hoping for external assistance, when we stop hoping that the awful situation we're in will somehow resolve itself, when we stop hoping the situation will somehow not get worse, then we are finally free—truly free—to honestly start working to resolve it. I would say that when hope dies, action begins.
    I've had many conversations with people about Jensen's position on this. It's hard for some to wrap their heads around the idea that hope can be bad.

    I think it's a very priveleged position to think that it's always neccesarily bad, but I don't think that's what Jensen is saying. Certainly as a survivor of a brutal childhood full of abuse he understands that in some situations hope is what keeps you alive and carrying on. Hope is a useful tool for certain situations, like fear and pain and computers and hammers and dynamite. But like all tools it can turn into an overused crutch that actually hinders the user. Certainly people with lots of power like we middleclass white gringos can afford to stop hoping so much and start actually doing more.

    Posted by steev at 06:47 AM | Comments (2)

    Abril 03, 2006

    Voter Reward

    Wow. there's actually someone trying to get this initiative on the ballot in Arizona for this fall:

    This law will establish a voter reward random drawing every two years with a first prize of one million dollars or more. The purpose is to increase voter participation. Voters who cast ballots in primary or general elections will be eligible to win. The money will come from the Arizona Lottery and private donations.
    What a good idea. Maybe it would even get some of my misguided anarchistoid friends to vote.

    (thanx José)

    Posted by steev at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 27, 2006

    Unifier of Latin America

    george monkey boyNice article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

    Bush has presided during one of the most significant political re-alignments in the history of the Western Hemisphere. By this summer, every major Latin American nation but Colombia is likely to be run by elected leaders with stronger backgrounds in Marx than free markets. If Cold War-era domino theory has been a bust elsewhere, it's working in Latin America.

    Posted by steev at 06:35 AM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 23, 2006

    quote of the day: control or no control

    "Political tags - such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth - are never basic criteria. The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire."
    - Robert A Heinlein
    Posted by steev at 06:02 AM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 15, 2006

    Bush's 19-yr old Nephew on the Dubai Port Deal

    This is hee-lar-ee-ous. Chip off the old block, I say. Got a prosperous career ahead of him, I'm sure....

    (via José)

    Posted by steev at 03:21 PM | Comments (1)

    Marzo 11, 2006

    Ha Ha Ha America

    Wow. Ha Ha Ha America is a clever, funny, scary little film about China and the U.S. Everyone in gringolandia should watch this. Everyone. Go. click and watch it. now.

    Posted by steev at 06:22 AM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 07, 2006

    Impeachment Futility

    Can someone please explain why people are wasting time and money trying to impeach Bush? For one thing, it's not going to happen, but even more importantly, do you really want Dick Cheney to be president?

    We'd have to impeach like 8 people before we'd get to someone in the chain of command that's not just as dangerous to the world as Bush. At least Bush is an incompetent monkey that's making a fool out of himself and the whole regime. Impeaching him would be like getting rid of Jar Jar Binks so that Darth Vader can take over.

    Is it just symbolic? Pshaw. I'm tired of (at least that kind of) symbolism. I bet you'd have more positive effect on the world if you took the money that these people are spending on impeachment ads in the New York Times and spent it buying satellite internet modems for villages in Iran.

    Posted by steev at 08:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 06, 2006

    Coronado Out for 2 more weeks at least.

    Well, Rod just called and he's on his way back from San Diego after attending a hearing on the government's motion to stay his release. The judge said no, why don't you prepare something more carefully.

    so The govt is going to refile their motion and a hearing is set for 2 weeks from now, march 23, when he has to go back to San Diego again.

    We got reporters from all over calling and emailing us to hear the news. It's pretty crazy.

    okay. gotta go. other things call...

    Posted by steev at 03:12 PM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 03, 2006

    What's the Truth About Foreign Aid and Development?

    I just listened to a radio program with John Perkins, the author of the hit book "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man." Also on the show were 3 other guests with a wide range of positions about the claims Perkins makes in his book. The most last one is a guy from the World Bank who basically completely disagrees. His main point was, well, yeah, there's bad stories but there's good ones too, and of course projects and loans are going to fail a lot because these countries are risky environments. He also spewed out lots of statistics about how the world and its poor people are better off in the last few decades thanks to foreign aid and the IMF and the World Bank, etc. Perkins counters with other statistics that prove just the opposite.

    The show's host sums it up by saying "the devil is in the details." Whenever anyone uses that maxim I like to quote Einstein who said the opposite: God is in the details.

    But anyway, my point is, if the details are important, but the different sides are tossing around totally contradictory details, how do we decide? What numbers do we believe? How can we, the normal, everyday members of civil society, possibly know what the truth is? on one side are very smart people, even nice people, even a couple people I know personally, who say "capitalism has made the world better, here's the stats to prove it." And then on the other side are other very smart people saying the opposite, and they have convincing figures too.

    What to believe? Is this just a matter of faith?

    Posted by steev at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)

    Febrero 22, 2006

    Rod Coronado Arrested by Feds Today

    Crazy things seem to always happen on Wednesdays here. I can rememeber a few Wednesday nights coming to the Dry River meeting and finding out some bad news about some arrest or raid or something.

    Today is another one. Rod Coronado apparently was arrested at his workplace today. His girlfriend reportedly went to his house and found FBI and ATF agents searching it.

    We really don't know more than that. There's speculation that it's something to do with the grand jury investigation in San Diego, connected to Rod's speaking event there a couple years ago. This has been brewing for awhile. (I wish I had more links about this grand jury investigation but the search function on the SD IMC site seems to be screwed up, so I only have the above link which I had bookmarked a couple months ago).

    I shouldn't say anything else yet. I feel like I should be writing this on the AZ IMC site, but indymedia folks here are skittish about writing stuff too soon. There's a certain preciousness to feature articles here that is a big contrast to Portland. I personally think it's better to write a little bit ASAP, maybe even speculate a little bit, rather than sit on a story till you have 5 paragraphs worth of absolute truth - as long as it doesn't put anyone at risk or incriminate anyone. But, whatever, I'm new here and when in Tucson, do as the Tucsonans.

    Anyway, we'll have something up in the morning, I think.

    Posted by steev at 08:19 PM | Comments (1)

    Febrero 08, 2006

    Double Jeopardy

    Tonight was a big event for Arizona Earth First!, just a few blocks from where I live. At the UA Law College there was a talk by Rod Coronado planned, about his recent conviction for interfering with a mountain lion hunt, and other information about other hunts that Earth First! is campaigning against. A rough cut of a video I've been working on about the Sandhill Crane hunt was also shown.

    It turned out that Rod couldn't speak, because of the conditions of his pre-sentencing agreement, and because it would possibly result in a longer sentence for him. But that's not all, there was further controversy. Apparently the International Safari Club called the law school and objected to the event and the idea that EF! would be asking for donations to help with Rod's legal defense. They also said they would have people present there, but nobody showed up. Typical of cowardly hunters (the Safari Club says it's a conservation organization but they are basically just a trophy hunters lobbying group, and a powerful one, based in Tucson).

    Furthermore, another bombshell was dropped; Rod is being re-charged in state court for the Sabino canyon mountain lion incident, charges that were dropped last year, for a crime that is basically the same as what he's already been convicted of in federal court. There's actually a warrant for his arrest starting at midnight tonight (half an hour ago now). He's planning to sleep somewhere secret tonite and go to the courthouse in the morning first thing with his lawyer and sort all this out.

    The other crazy bullshit is this: tommorrow is the annual public commentary hearing about various wild game hunts that Arizona Game and Fish Department is required to have. One reason for the EF! event tonight was to urge people to go to the hearing and give comments. Well, it came out during the event that Game and Fish has actually moved the hearing to the International Wildlife Museum, which is the headquarters of the International Safari Club (and some call it the International Wildlife Mausoleum, since it's nothing but dead stuffed animals). This is so patently ludricious as to defy belief. It would be like if there was a presidential debate at the headquarters of the Republican Party. Or an organic food conference at Monsanto. It's just ridiculous.

    Anyway, I'll be there with indymedia press pass and video camera to get it on tape.

    Posted by steev at 11:35 PM | Comments (0)

    Febrero 03, 2006

    Zero Coke Movement

    At first I was confused, but I guess that a new anti-coke consumer boycott campaign is somewhat in response to a Coca-Cola ad campagn to sell their "Coke Zero" sugar-free product. The boycott actually goes further and mentions that you should stop drinking all soft drinks, drink water instead and send the money you would spend to fund efforts to get clean water to those who don't have it.

    This is good advice. I don't drink soft drinks, or packaged beverages at all, except the occasional bottle of juice. Coffee is my guilty disposable-income vice, but I only have about 1 latte or whatever a day, so I don't think I'm that bad.

    This seems like a silly thing to even be blogging about. but I saw that page and then thought of some people I know who are drinking cans of soda all the time. Plus we just had a big discussion on a mailing list I'm on about fatness in the U.S. and high-fructose corn syrup. bleah.

    Posted by steev at 10:41 AM | Comments (0)

    Enero 16, 2006

    Some Iraq Arithmetic

    My housemate just brought up the point that the Iraq War has now used up more money than the value of all the oil in Iraq, even if you don't count the cost of extracting the oil. He had his numbers off a little way off, but the point is still interesting to think about.

    Let's see, under the sands of Iraq there's about $5.6 trillion worth of oil (figuring about $50/barrel). And the Cost of the Iraq War so far: $234 billion. How much more will the U.S. spend? How expensive will the oil be to extract? What will the price of oil do, and whose oil is it? These are all things that will effect the final result of the equation, but it's looking like even from just a business perspective, the "Blood for Oil" may not end up being is still well worth it. (In other words, my housemate was totally wrong. I did the math wrong at first so i thought he was only wrong by about a factor of 2, but he's actually wrong by a factor of 20, hence the crossed-out sections.)

    But one final thing to point out: you could buy about 11 million Toyota Prius hybrid cars with the money the Iraq War has cost us. Not quite enough for every car-driving Unitedstatesian, as my housemate claimed, but maybe the government could get a bulk discount....

    (and isn't it amazing that in about 5 minutes I can go to the web and check a statistical factoid that someone tells me and come up with how true or false it really is? Things haven't always been this way...)

    Posted by steev at 06:00 PM | Comments (1)

    Diciembre 21, 2005

    With a Small Letter 'a'

    I just read a really great article about anarchism, mostly about the present-day form of "small-letter a" anarchism that is driving the global "movement of movements," and comparing it to historical Anarchism and to Marxism.

    Reminds me that I still want to obtain and read Change the World Without Taking Power by John Holloway.

    Posted by steev at 09:48 PM | Comments (0)

    Iraq Facts

    I just heard on NPR that the Shia represent only 10 to 15% of the population of Iraq, a clear minority, though they had been ruling Iraq for a long long time before the U.S. invasion. But the reporter mentioned that most Shiites that you talk to there believe they're not a minority and don't act like they're a minority.

    Kind of like Americans.

    Posted by steev at 10:06 AM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 18, 2005

    The Irish Lesson

    Paul Theroux writes in the New York Times a great critical op-ed piece about Bono, Africa, and Ireland.

    And because the NYT is going to time out free access to this piece i'm going to just paste it here:

    The New York Times December 15, 2005 Op-Ed Contributor The Rock Star's Burden By PAUL THEROUX

    Hale'iwa, Hawaii

    THERE are probably more annoying things than being hectored about African development by a wealthy Irish rock star in a cowboy hat, but I can't think of one at the moment. If Christmas, season of sob stories, has turned me into Scrooge, I recognize the Dickensian counterpart of Paul Hewson - who calls himself "Bono" - as Mrs. Jellyby in "Bleak House." Harping incessantly on her adopted village of Borrioboola-Gha "on the left bank of the River Niger," Mrs. Jellyby tries to save the Africans by financing them in coffee growing and encouraging schemes "to turn pianoforte legs and establish an export trade," all the while badgering people for money.

    It seems to have been Africa's fate to become a theater of empty talk and public gestures. But the impression that Africa is fatally troubled and can be saved only by outside help - not to mention celebrities and charity concerts - is a destructive and misleading conceit. Those of us who committed ourselves to being Peace Corps teachers in rural Malawi more than 40 years ago are dismayed by what we see on our return visits and by all the news that has been reported recently from that unlucky, drought-stricken country. But we are more appalled by most of the proposed solutions.

    I am not speaking of humanitarian aid, disaster relief, AIDS education or affordable drugs. Nor am I speaking of small-scale, closely watched efforts like the Malawi Children's Village. I am speaking of the "more money" platform: the notion that what Africa needs is more prestige projects, volunteer labor and debt relief. We should know better by now. I would not send private money to a charity, or foreign aid to a government, unless every dollar was accounted for - and this never happens. Dumping more money in the same old way is not only wasteful, but stupid and harmful; it is also ignoring some obvious points.

    If Malawi is worse educated, more plagued by illness and bad services, poorer than it was when I lived and worked there in the early 60's, it is not for lack of outside help or donor money. Malawi has been the beneficiary of many thousands of foreign teachers, doctors and nurses, and large amounts of financial aid, and yet it has declined from a country with promise to a failed state.

    In the early and mid-1960's, we believed that Malawi would soon be self-sufficient in schoolteachers. And it would have been, except that rather than sending a limited wave of volunteers to train local instructors, for decades we kept on sending Peace Corps teachers. Malawians, who avoided teaching because the pay and status were low, came to depend on the American volunteers to teach in bush schools, while educated Malawians emigrated. When Malawi's university was established, more foreign teachers were welcomed, few of them replaced by Malawians, for political reasons. Medical educators also arrived from elsewhere. Malawi began graduating nurses, but the nurses were lured away to Britain and Australia and the United States, which meant more foreign nurses were needed in Malawi.

    When Malawi's minister of education was accused of stealing millions of dollars from the education budget in 2000, and the Zambian president was charged with stealing from the treasury, and Nigeria squandered its oil wealth, what happened? The simplifiers of Africa's problems kept calling for debt relief and more aid. I got a dusty reception lecturing at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation when I pointed out the successes of responsible policies in Botswana, compared with the kleptomania of its neighbors. Donors enable embezzlement by turning a blind eye to bad governance, rigged elections and the deeper reasons these countries are failing.

    Mr. Gates has said candidly that he wants to rid himself of his burden of billions. Bono is one of his trusted advisers. Mr. Gates wants to send computers to Africa - an unproductive not to say insane idea. I would offer pencils and paper, mops and brooms: the schools I have seen in Malawi need them badly. I would not send more teachers. I would expect Malawians themselves to stay and teach. There ought to be an insistence in the form of a bond, or a solemn promise, for Africans trained in medicine and education at the state's expense to work in their own countries.

    Malawi was in my time a lush wooded country of three million people. It is now an eroded and deforested land of 12 million; its rivers are clogged with sediment and every year it is subjected to destructive floods. The trees that had kept it whole were cut for fuel and to clear land for subsistence crops. Malawi had two presidents in its first 40 years, the first a megalomaniac who called himself the messiah, the second a swindler whose first official act was to put his face on the money. Last year the new man, Bingu wa Mutharika, inaugurated his regime by announcing that he was going to buy a fleet of Maybachs, one of the most expensive cars in the world.

    Many of the schools where we taught 40 years ago are now in ruins - covered with graffiti, with broken windows, standing in tall grass. Money will not fix this. A highly placed Malawian friend of mine once jovially demanded that my children come and teach there. "It would be good for them," he said.

    Of course it would be good for them. Teaching in Africa was one of the best things I ever did. But our example seems to have counted for very little. My Malawian friend's children are of course working in the United States and Britain. It does not occur to anyone to encourage Africans themselves to volunteer in the same way that foreigners have done for decades. There are plenty of educated and capable young adults in Africa who would make a much greater difference than Peace Corps workers.

    Africa is a lovely place - much lovelier, more peaceful and more resilient and, if not prosperous, innately more self-sufficient than it is usually portrayed. But because Africa seems unfinished and so different from the rest of the world, a landscape on which a person can sketch a new personality, it attracts mythomaniacs, people who wish to convince the world of their worth. Such people come in all forms and they loom large. White celebrities busy-bodying in Africa loom especially large. Watching Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie recently in Ethiopia, cuddling African children and lecturing the world on charity, the image that immediately sprang to my mind was Tarzan and Jane.

    Bono, in his role as Mrs. Jellyby in a 10-gallon hat, not only believes that he has the solution to Africa's ills, he is also shouting so loud that other people seem to trust his answers. He traveled in 2002 to Africa with former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, urging debt forgiveness. He recently had lunch at the White House, where he expounded upon the "more money" platform and how African countries are uniquely futile.

    But are they? Had Bono looked closely at Malawi he would have seen an earlier incarnation of his own Ireland. Both countries were characterized for centuries by famine, religious strife, infighting, unruly families, hubristic clan chiefs, malnutrition, failed crops, ancient orthodoxies, dental problems and fickle weather. Malawi had a similar sense of grievance, was also colonized by absentee British landlords and was priest-ridden, too.

    Just a few years ago you couldn't buy condoms legally in Ireland, nor could you get a divorce, though (just like in Malawi) buckets of beer were easily available and unruly crapulosities a national curse. Ireland, that island of inaction, in Joyce's words, "the old sow that eats her farrow," was the Malawi of Europe, and for many identical reasons, its main export being immigrants.

    It is a melancholy thought that it is easier for many Africans to travel to New York or London than to their own hinterlands. Much of northern Kenya is a no-go area; there is hardly a road to the town of Moyale, on the Ethiopian border, where I found only skinny camels and roving bandits. Western Zambia is off the map, southern Malawi is terra incognita, northern Mozambique is still a sea of land mines. But it is pretty easy to leave Africa. A recent World Bank study has confirmed that the emigration to the West of skilled people from small to medium-sized countries in Africa has been disastrous.

    Africa has no real shortage of capable people - or even of money. The patronizing attention of donors has done violence to Africa's belief in itself, but even in the absence of responsible leadership, Africans themselves have proven how resilient they can be - something they never get credit for. Again, Ireland may be the model for an answer. After centuries of wishing themselves onto other countries, the Irish found that education, rational government, people staying put, and simple diligence could turn Ireland from an economic basket case into a prosperous nation. In a word - are you listening, Mr. Hewson? - the Irish have proved that there is something to be said for staying home.

    Paul Theroux is the author of "Blinding Light" and of "Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town."

    Posted by steev at 06:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 13, 2005

    Earth First! Activists found guilty of all counts

    It's a sad day. The trial I've been covering for the past week for Arizona Indymedia has ended in a verdict of guilty on all counts for both defendants, Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier. That link is to a story I co-authored this evening, which is pretty "objective" and "standard journalism." Here's where I go off and get personal.

    I was somewhat surprised at the verdict - I really gave some of the jury more credit, thinking that some of them would be smart enough to see past the crude emotional manipulation enacted by the prosecutors, especially since I was there for a lot of the jury selection so I kind of knew what sort of people many of them were - and some were psychologists, software engineers, professors - not your average numbskull middle-americans.

    It's just sad, too, knowing Rod and thinking that he could get 6 years or more in prison, and he's about my age, and has a 4-year old child. They wanted to lock him up right away because the prosecution thinks he's a flight risk, but Rod's lawyer convinced the judge that that wasn't necessary.

    Now he has till March to be sentenced.

    Tommorrow, I have to go back to that same courthouse, to cover a hearing to dismiss charges in yet another trial, this one being the No More Deaths case, in which 2 volunteers last summer trying to help 3 undocumented migrants dying in the desert were arrested and are being charged with felonies. I'm helping another videographer from Pan Left to try to get interviews on camera with the defense lawyers as they come out of the building after the hearing.

    It's just courtroom overload lately...

    Posted by steev at 09:51 PM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 07, 2005

    The Feds

    There is so much to write about, I barely know where to begin, but it strikes me that most of what's interesting happening around here has to do with representatives of the federal law enforcement or justice system.

    First of all, I spent another afternoon at the federal courthouse, listening to the beginning of U.S. vs. Coronado and Crozier. The prosecution spent a long time talking about how the trial was not about activism or environmentalism or animal rights or wildlife management or politics, and then spent the rest of the afternoon making it be all about that. They wasted tons of time establishing that, yes, there are mountain lions in the Sabino Canyon area. duh. oh, and that Matt Crozier once had a job in Tucson. This is something tax money is paying for, folks.

    Second, the judge in the No More Deaths case, U.S. versus Shanti Sellz and Daniel Strauss, has decided to push back the trial from December 20 to January 10, because he wants 3 weeks of vacation. So one of the defendents, plus witnessess, family, friends, and other supporters who had been planning to come and had plane tickets purchased so they could be here December 20 are now fucked. Thanx, judge. Of course, we're all hoping the case is dismissed anyway, or that the prosecutor drops the charges, anyway.

    Third, it has come to the attention of activists here that the Catalyst Infoshop in Prescott, Arizona has been raided this afternoon by over 15 FBI agents and JTTF officers and at 8pm they were still there, going over everything, confiscating anything to do with the ALF, ELF, eco-terrorism, and the like. Bill, one of the founders of the infoshop who lives there, has been arrested and will be arraigned tommorrow at 10 am in Flagstaff. Prescott people are still trying to figure out what to do, find Bill a lawyer, etc. At our weekly meeting the Dry River Colletive discussed for a while what to do. We mainly want to be there to help as soon as Bill and the Prescott folks know how we can help them. Apparently there was some police raid of a school today in Flagstaff that may be related too, with officers ripping down posters that had to do with the SnoBowl issue - something I'm not even really that aware of, but I think it has to do with a Flagstaff-area ski place that is doing things will desecrate some mountains that are holy to an native american tribe.

    (oh and parenthetically, a fellow videographer here in town launched into a mini-rant at me today about how an air force helicopter was surveilling his house and some people he knew were getting similar attention and that we had to do something soon or the world was going down the tubes, basically.)

    So, basically, the federal government is really messing with Arizona activists today.

    Posted by steev at 10:26 PM | Comments (1)

    Diciembre 06, 2005

    Earth Firsters Trial This Week in Tucson

    Today I spent a big chunk of the afternoon at the Federal Courthouse here in Tucson, because Rod Coronado and Matt Crozier are on trial for interfering with a mountain lion hunt.

    Today was the preliminary pre-trial hearing and jury selection. I was there for the jury selection and it was extremely interesting. only 6 of the 31 potential jurors had NOT heard about the incident in the media. This surprised the lawyers and the judge, and they ended up clearing all the jurors out of the room, and bringing one at a time back in and asking them where they had heard about it, what they remember hearing, what opinion if any did they form from the news, and whether they thought they could put that opinion aside and be objective in the trial. About 7 or 8 were excused, I think.

    I've been called for jury duty a couple times but never for a criminal case, much less one this controversial. Still, all jury pools are amazing cross-sections of humanity, and this was no exception. Of course they tend to be skewed toward people that have been at the same address, and are registered to vote, I think. (isn't that the database they use? I'm not sure but I think so.)

    The judge is kind of funny. Sort of a gentle, self-deprecating old fart who kept joking about how he was getting old and losing his hearing.

    The whole thing was actually pretty entertaining, and I kept thinking it's no wonder so many court/lawyer based TV shows are and have been so popular. The legal and judicial system are how things get done in our society, and they're actually really interesting social systems, too. The whole thing is steeped in ritual, or one might say bureacracy, but think about it: the court system works because people are confident in its consistency and reliability. Though ruled mostly by old rich white men, it's general pretty uncorrupt compared to some nations, and people trust it and live (or sometimes die) by its results. Part of the confidence comes from things being utterly aboveboard and having the appearance of trustworthyness, impartiality, etc. So that's where those rituals come in. Like the whole ploddingly slow jury selection process, bringing in 70 people, giving them numbers, calling out the first 31 numbers, slowly, having them sit in order, etc etc. this is all unneccesary from a strict efficiency perspective, but it inspires confidence, because it's so rock-solid and consistent. or at least it appears so.

    Tommorrow are opening arguments, which I will probably be at, too. more as it happens.

    Posted by steev at 09:10 PM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 05, 2005

    CPT hostages in Iraq to be killed Thursday

    The kidnappers who took the 4 Christian Peacemaker Teams members are threatening to kill all of them by Thursday, December 8 unless all prisoners in Iraqi and American prisons in Iraq are freed. There's an online petition, in Arabic and English, with over 15 thousand signatures.

    Whatever your view of the Iraq situation or religion-based NGOs, it's so horrible and horribly ironic and sad that they would be singled out by the terrorists.

    Posted by steev at 10:30 AM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 30, 2005

    Responsibility

    Anti-War Vigil - 9My friend José, one of the smartest and most careful-thinking people I know, has written something in his blog with a very good point about the war in Iraq, and the ethical responsibility of our nation. I realize it will not be extremely popular amongst a lot of activists I know, but I confess I have said and thought similiar things in the past. I remember the night of the September 25 anti-war vigil in Portland, on the Morrison bridge with my candle, a reporter from KBOO with a microphone and a minidisc recorder was interviewing people and she asked me what I thought should happen in Iraq with the troops. I expect that most of the folks she asked on that bridge that night said "bring em all home now," but I said, basically, that things aren't ever black or white, they're always grey, and it's complicated. it would probably be really disasterous to pull all of our forces out immediately, and yet obviously we're screwing stuff up there, so there has to be a middle path, where we start extricating ourselves, but in a responsbile way.

    It's a really hard problem; all the important problems usually are.

    Posted by steev at 10:52 AM | Comments (2)

    Noviembre 27, 2005

    Border Issue Getting Big for GOP

    The LA Weekly brings us an interesting, though unsurprising, story on how the border thing is becoming a big deal to Republicans.

    on Minutemen co-founder and California Congressional Candidate Jim Glichrist: "While campaigning last week with Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) — perhaps Capitol Hill's most vocal advocate for a crackdown on illegal and legal immigration — Gilchrist distributed leaflets that claimed 'a vote for John Campbell [his opponent] is a vote for more illegal aliens.'"

    I should add that Bush will be in Tucson, at the Air Force base, for about 2 hours tommorrow. I plan to be there to cover for indymedia the group of activists who will be protesting his presence, and for whom a humane border is a big priority.

    Posted by steev at 02:17 PM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 26, 2005

    "Just Keep the President Home"

    An editiorial in the Kansas City paper about Bush's visit to Argentina is one of the most asinine, insulting, condescending pieces of dreck that I've ever read about Latin America. excerpt:

    he [Bush] recently learned that he is unpopular among some Latin Americans.

    Violent protests greeted him this month at a meeting of Western Hemisphere presidents in Mar del Plata, Argentina.

    But neither he, nor we, should lose any sleep over this. It was the product of the unholy triumvirate of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Argentine President Nestor Kirchner and over-the-hill soccer star Diego Maradona.

    The three of them are the personification of the most common failing of Latin American nations: perpetual adolescence.

    I'll be condescending back, Shirley, and say, I should have expected this kind of think from Kansas.

    Posted by steev at 03:38 PM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 25, 2005

    The Life of a Salad

    An really great article in the LA Weekly about all that goes into bringing a Ceasar salad to your plate encompasses a plethora of social problems of today: genetic engineering, labor, immigration, health, pesticide pollution of the environment, gentrification, urban sprawl... It's all there.

    I feel responsible for wasting the fistful of romaine left on my plate. All the work that went into getting those leaves here — only to have them thrown out? It seems wrong. Especially since I know what made it possible for this lettuce to be cheap enough for the Cheesecake Factory to dole out such ludicrously oversized portions. I’m paying $7.95 for this salad, but other people are picking up the rest of the unseen tab.

    (via josé)

    Posted by steev at 08:07 AM | Comments (1)

    Noviembre 23, 2005

    You'll Wish This Was Parody.

    A right-wing song called "Bush Was Right", by a band called "The Right Brothers," is out and wow, it is BAD. MSNBC has made a silly video (making fun of it) to go with it.

    Posted by steev at 05:55 PM | Comments (1)

    Noviembre 22, 2005

    Noviembre 21, 2005

    Riot Porn Blog

    yes, there's a riot porn web log now. There's a blog for everything.

    This one has pretty great photos. (via onto and lotus)

    Posted by steev at 03:59 PM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 19, 2005

    Fort Huachuca

    If you are or have been at all interested or involved with the anti-war movement, you probably know about the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia, and the campaign against it. Few know about Arizona's version, near Tucson: Fort Huachuca.

    Fort Huachuca is the home of the Army Intelligence Center and is where they produce the manuals and textbooks on interrogation and related topics that are used at the SOA. They also, I understand, train the teachers who teach at the SOA, and it's a major electronic surveillance center.

    Tommorrow, Sunday, the 20th, in solidarity with the yearly protest in Georgia, there will be the second annual protest at Fort Huachuca, which I'm planning to attend. It should be interesting. I'm amazed that last year was only the first time It's been done.

    For a little more background see an article from earlier this year about the new commander of the base, who was previously Army chief of intelligence in Iraq - during the Abu Graib affair.

    So, if you're in the region, this year or in the future, instead of travelling all the way to Georgia, come to Fort Huachuca instead. Burn less fossil fuels and help bring attention to another important piece of the U.S. military atrocity machine.

    Posted by steev at 07:12 AM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 11, 2005

    Venezuela, Chavez, The Environment, and Globalization

    I recently read 2 very interesting articles about Venezuela by Christian Guerrero which look at the Chavez Bolivarian Revolution from a critical perspective I have not seen before. Christian is an activist Ecuadorian-American who lives here in Tucson and works with the Earth First Journal (which is based here).

    One article is called "What's So Revolutionary About Venezuelan Coal?." The other is called "The War of 100 Years."

    They're really worth looking at.

    They remind me of an Eduardo Galeano essay, one of my favorite things he's written, called "Ser Como Ellos," ("To Be Like Them"), because they bring up a fundamental question in the ongoing global struggle of the rich against the poor, the rich countries against the poor countries: (To put it really simply) In this fight, is it the aim of the conquored simply to become like the conquerors? Or is there another way? A "third path?"

    Posted by steev at 09:23 AM | Comments (1)

    Octubre 13, 2005

    An Old SF Story That Seems More Relevant Than Before

    A story by Bruce Sterling called "We See Things Differently" appears to be from the 80s but brings up some ideas that are especially interesting in this post-Soviet age where the big bogyman is Islamic terrorists. It posits a world where the Afghan Mujahadeen nuked Moscow and removed the USSR from the world power struggle. Meanwhile the Arabs formed a theocratic mega-state that somehow manages to separate itself from the global economy, and the U.S. gets economically pummeled by Europe and Japan.

    I've always liked Sterling's writing and this is a great short story that looks at another possible world where the U.S. is no longer dominant.

    (thanx to mykle , who told me this was on metafilter recently.)

    Posted by steev at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 12, 2005

    Ink in Inc About a Portland Activist Celebrity

    A new article in Inc. Magazine about Craig Rosebraugh is actually really good and balanced. It really captures well the contradictory characteristics of Rosebraugh, a famous and controversial figure in the activist bubble of Portland. The ELF spokesman who now owns and runs a fancy vegan restaurant. The revolutionary that fires his employees when they try to organize.

    The article has provoked some interesting discussion in the local IMC. I know people in this town that idolize him. Indymedia people who will voluntarily cloud their vision and values in order to stand in solidarity with Craig, because they respect him so much as a radical. I've always had mixed feelings about his work, his anti-nonviolence message backed up with years of research and convincing arguments. And it's been really really fascinating that someone who seems to be such an extremist is such a combination of conflicting values and activities.

    Posted by steev at 07:29 PM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 06, 2005

    National Strategy Conference for War Tax Resistance

    Today I'm going to New York City for a strategy conference on war tax resistance this weekend. I'm being flown out there to videotape it and do interviews. This is a continuation of a project I've been slowly working on for 2 years now to produce a documentary about war tax resistance. I already have about 20 hours of interviews with various people, and I plan to tape a lot more at this event. It is a rare opportunity, because WTRs from all over the country will be there, and some of them are almost legendary, old-timers who've been doing WTR for 25, 30 or more years. So it will be good to get them on tape.

    What does "strategy conference" mean? Well, we'll be discussing what to do within the WTR movement. How to grow it, what the goals should be, what methods would be good to get to those goals. I've thought this kind of planning is pretty important for some time, since the movement or tactic seems pretty limited, and yet it seems to be such an obvious, excellent, and satisfying tactic. In this capitalist world, what better way to attack any enemy than through their cashflow? And yet it seems that the method is not very popular, even amongst supposedly really dedicated, earnest peace activists ( I say supposedly because I really think that if you're paying your taxes that go to the military, you are working against your own anti-war activism, no matter what other forms that may take). I have a feeling that a certain segment of peace activists actually do practice war tax resistance, but in a quiet, private way. But in order to grow the movement and hence have a bigger impact, it has to be more public.

    So this is the kind of thing that's going to get discussed, and I look forward to the conference.

    I'm glad I can post this from the Portland airport, by the way. They now have wireless access over almost the whole length of all the terminals, and a nice intro page that pops up when you first launch a browser that shows you where you're connecting from on a map of the airport.

    Posted by steev at 10:19 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 14, 2005

    Bugmenot

    BugMeNot.com is pretty cool. It's a site that gives you fake accounts to registration-required sites, so you don't have to register to get content (like on the New York Times site, etc.) What a great idea.

    Posted by steev at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

    Get Your Katrina On

    Get Your War On brings us a special Hurricane Katrina edition that is, as usual, excellent sarcastic political satire in cartoon form.

    Posted by steev at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 09, 2005

    Katrina Aftermath as It Relates to Portland (mostly)

    Here in Portland there has been much talk about Katrina survivors being brought up here after Oregon offered space. First 1000 were supposed to arrive Wednesday, then apparently FEMA said not yet, now I hear 500 are coming Saturday. There's an old closed elementary school in the inner southeast section of town (14th and Stark) that will house them. I've biked by there several times in the last week and seen big Red Cross trucks parked there.

    IMC people here are talking about and working on setting up a media center a few blocks away for the evacuees to use, but I don't know how useful that will be, since apparently there will be new computers donated by Intel and internet access right in the building they'll be staying in. I'm not sure of the best way that our IMC could help these people, at least in a unique, media-centered way. Perhaps just volunteering like regular people is best.

    I wish we had CVS Pharmacies here. I'd get a bunch of those cheap camcorders that have been hacked and pass them out to residents of the evacuee facility.

    Meanwhile, Blank, a very active member of our IMC video collective, flew down to Houston last night. I've heard so much about mistreatment of journalists and tight security that I'm pretty concerned, for his safety and also just for the prospect of actually being able to get any coverage. But hopefully he will manage to do some good down there. He's certainly got a lot of good gear with him.

    2 good articles about New Orleans:
    Trapped in New Orleans (thanx Allison)
    Real Estate Vultures (thanx Jon)

    Posted by steev at 09:46 AM | Comments (0)

    Agosto 02, 2005

    30%

    I heard on NPR last night that the Surgeon General says that 30% of troops returning from Iraq have some sort of mental problems as a result of their experiences there. I'm sure that's an understated figure, but it's amazing the White House let that be said at all. Anyway, even if it's only 30% that's a staggering figure. The speculation that went along with this number was that it might be one reason why the administration is starting to shift its direction toward an exit strategy out of Iraq.

    Posted by steev at 12:05 PM | Comments (0)

    Julio 28, 2005

    CAFTA passes... oh, shit.

    Well, the republicans just barely squeezed CAFTA through the House last night, 217-215, apparently after lots of threats to reluctant partymembers. What a shame, after all the fighting and all the people standing up against it. 15 democrats even voted for it. To add insult to injury, I get this clueless email from this Guatemalan guy I met in Chiquimula, a celebratory message about how how great it is that CAFTA finally passed and how good it will be for his country. What a fool. I met this guy through a complicated connection I won't go into but suffice it to say he was interested in my efforts to get computers to Bolivia, and he wanted some computers for some schools in Guatemala. He works with Habitat for Humanity and his city is a sister city of Port Huron, Michigan and he's been up there a few times. He was a nice enough guy but now I'm really doubting his sanity, and the fact that he's an evangelical minister makes me sort of shiver, too. Here's what he said:

    All right!!!!!!!!! the CAFTA was finally aproved by the USA congress, this will bring more
    and better opportunities for both countries especially for ours.

    It just seems like such a no-brainer that CAFTA will be a fucking disaster for everyone. All you have to do is look at NAFTA. That's all you have to do. It's like a big 10-year old sore thumb, a big sign sitting there saying hey, look at this huge failure, this monster that's put 8 million people under the poverty line and destroyed millions of jobs, etc etc. I mean, how clueless do you have to be? You have to be either stupid, or rich and evil. I know this guy isn't rich.

    suspira....

    Posted by steev at 07:04 PM | Comments (1)

    Julio 21, 2005

    Commerce Department Stops Pastors for Peace Caravan to Cuba

    URGENT- PLEASE CONTACT
    THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT
    YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES,
    EMERGENCY NETWORKS AND PRESS CONTACTS:

    SPREAD THE WORD FAR AND WIDE!
    http://www.commerce.gov
    202-482-2000

    Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez
    [email protected]


    As of 1:30 pm EDT, The Pastors for Peace Friendshipment Caravan to Cuba
    is being held up at the US-Mexico border by US Commerce Department
    officials.
    They are threatening to search every vehicle and every item of
    humanitarian aid. They are telling us that "only licensable goods will be allowed to
    cross into Mexico."

    Pastors for Peace does not accept or apply for a license to deliver
    humanitarian aid to Cuba.

    There are 130 US citizens traveling with the caravan. They and the
    humanitarian aid are traveling in eight busses, a box truck and two
    small cars. It will take days to inspect the 140 tons of aid. We are prepared
    todo whatever we need to do to deliver our humanitarian aid to Cuba. Stay
    posted...

    Posted by steev at 01:29 PM | Comments (0)

    The Spoilers

    I just heard a great program on Odyssey, a public radio show that I've frequently found interesting, though suprisingly highbrow or academic - you don't often hear, even on public radio, phrases like "post-modern conception of representation," especially from a caller!

    Anyway, today's show was about Reality TV, and the 2 guests were both academics and cultural critics, one of them being the eminent Henry Jenkins, who is pretty well known for his study of fan culture and his book "Textual Poachers."

    There was a lot of great stuff about the role that reality television is playing in society, but there are 2 things in particular that I was most interested in. First, the idea that reality tv programs promote an idea of individual agency and responsiblity that is in keeping with the current rise of neoliberal ideology in politics. Where before people could look to government social programs or their community for support, they're encouraged now to be independent individualists and compete, like in Survivor and other reality contest game shows, and look to private sources of charity like the Extreme Home Makeover show.

    The other interesting thing that Jenkins brought up is the phenomenon of the spoiler community. These are viewers of a reality show who get together on the internet and investigate the show to find out what will happen before it goes on the air, or to find out extra details that don't appear on the show itself. They're like investigative journalists, only they don't investigate weighty things like corrupt politicians or corporate wrongdoing, they investigate whether Joey will be voted off the Island next week, or whatever. They even pool their money sometimes to send one of their group to physically investigate the filming location, interview people, etcetera.

    Hmm. sounds sort of like Indymedia.

    Jenkins basically explained that he sees this as an activity motivated by a desire to use new information tools to learn more about the world than what is being told to them by the media, and he mentioned how this is connected to some forms of activism going on now or that will go on.

    Wow. Isn't it incredible, there's people out there put time and energy and money into being amateur investigative journalists, but their subjects are completely useless, unreal elements of constructed corporate mass culture. Just imagine if they could be swayed to participate in Indymedia instead!

    Posted by steev at 11:21 AM | Comments (0)

    Border Border Border

    My friend José writes in his blog today about the latest Mexico-U.S. border shenangians. He mentions the idea floated by the U.S. of having volunteer border patrols, and makes the point that the border problems are about economics and labor, about immigrants making a "costs-benefits analysis," not about sovereignity. Yes! Of course. It's suprising how little this is discussed in mainstream media, though. How often does CNN or even the NYT mention that minimum wage in Mexico is about $4 a day? Or that paying 40,000 quetzals (about 5,000 dollars) to have a coyote take you from Guatemala to Texas is a good deal?

    Parenthetically, I can't help notice José doing that "I told you so" thing - he's one of the smartest people I've ever met so I forgive him - but it's something that I see bloggers doing all the time and it's just sort of funny to me: "I've been saying that for years here on this blog." Well, yeah, and I've been yelling at the TV since I was 10 but that doesn't mean anyone has been listening. Face it, if you're someone with real mass visibility (maybe Paul Krugman, Bono, Alan Greenspan) you have a right to say "hey I already said that," but otherwise, c'mon. To mutate a famous old jazz saying, It ain't what you say, or when you say it, it's how many copies of it are being sold.

    Posted by steev at 06:58 AM | Comments (2)

    Julio 13, 2005

    Sobering Maps & Flags

    This really well-done map by the Palm Beach Post let's you zoom and click on various locations in the U.S. to find details of who has died during our government's latest imperial military ventures abroad. It's a great visual demonstration of the effect the "War on Terror" has had here at home.

    It looks like its pretty evenly spread out with population, to my naked eye, but it would be interesting to see a statistical analysis to see if some areas are disproportionately hit.

    Also interesting, and even more effective, are some charts by a Brazilian artist that use various national flags to illustrate statistical facts.


    (thanx jose')

    Posted by steev at 10:17 AM | Comments (0)

    Julio 07, 2005

    "We"

    So today Tony Blair said this, referring to the attacks in London:


    "We know that these people act in the name of Islam but we also know that the vast and overwhelming majority of Muslims here and abroad are decent and law-abiding people who abhor those who do this every bit as much as we do," he added.

    I think he probably means well with this statement. He's trying to defuse acts of vigilantism against Muslims in England in retaliation for the bombings. However, I think if he questioned some basic assumptions and language, he might be more successful. If you look closely at the words he uses, you'll notice how, probably unconciously, he sets up a polarity between "Muslims" and "we." Shouldn't he be including the Muslims in the "we", if he really wants to instill a sense of togetherness and good will? they are a "decent people" who "abhor those who do this" as much as "we do." Why not say something more like "The vast majority of Muslims here stand today together with other Britons in a deep condemnation of this atrocity, apparently committed in the name of Islam by a small, extremist Muslim minority." Or something like that. Why all the "we"s and "those"es?

    Posted by steev at 10:55 AM | Comments (1)

    London Attack Flickr Photo Pool

    There's a photo pool on Flickr for photos from the London bomb attacks today. A pool is a place where a group of flickr users can all post photos on a certain subject. This pool makes me realize that Flickr, and/or its users, need to be utilized by the independent media movement. There are now about 200 photos on the pool, which is more than I've been able to find on the UK indymedia site. Admittedly a lot of them are screen grabs of mainstream television coverage, but this is still helpful.

    In other related news about news, I just heard that Canadian TV is making a much smaller deal out of this than CNN is. I don't even want to look at CNN, mush less Fox. But this makes total sense. Of course the pro-Bush, pro-fear media here would be pumping this up as big as it can be, as further proof of the importance of a the War on Terror, a futher justification for an increase in security and stripping away more civil rights.

    Of course what has happened in London is horrible, and I know people who live there and I am truly worried and sad for them, and for everyone there. But let's step back and look at the the fact that casualties at least so far are much less than the Madrid attack and of course hugely less than 9/11. (Right now mainstream media that i've seen is only reporting 2 or 3 confirmed deaths, though UK IMC is saying 20 or more, citing the BBC but I don't see any BBC report online that says that.) It's a coordinated attack, it's in a major financial center, and it's during the G8, so that's why it's getting so much attention. But the G8, the World Bank and the IMF make very coordinated attacks on poor countries all the time that cause many many more deaths. Not deaths with flashy explosions, but deaths by starvation and disease.

    I hope I don't sound callous or insane - I condemn these attacks, but they're going to keep happening unless the rich countries stop stomping on the poor. And it's only going to get worse. And since they're going to keep happening, I just wish that the terrorists would use some intelligent and convincing articulations of their position (or I wish they had a more intelligent position), when they claim responsiblity. The Al Queda announcement for this one is full of religious bullshit that just makes them sound like the insane fanatics that they are. But what if a terrorist attack was accompanied by a really rational anti-capitalist, anti-neoliberal analysis? What if Osama Bin-laden was more like Subcommandante Marcos?

    Posted by steev at 07:57 AM | Comments (0)

    Julio 06, 2005

    Charles Bowden and Joey O'Shay on the Radio

    By amazing luck, I happened to have the radio on, tuned to NPR, and heard an interview with none other than the mysterious, pseudonymous Joey O'Shay, the undercover DEA agent who's the subject of Charles Bowden's new book that I just blogged about the other day. I went online and found the archived show, and found out it's the second part in a series. In the first part, they interview Bowden. He sounds exactly the same as he sounds when I interviewed him in February, the same as in the dozens of clips that I am needing to watch over and over and over on my computer as I edit my Juarez documentary.

    It's really quite amazing how Bowden does what he does. He's managed to get so deep inside this drug agent's head that he can tell his story like Joey was a character he invented in a novel. And the agent, when he speaks on the radio, sounds like a made up character. His voice is like everyone's fantasy stereotype of the classic Texas redneck, sort of like Nick Cage in "Wild at Heart." It's incredible how sometimes the real is so real that you think it might be artifice, that it resembles illusion. Or maybe my perception of that reality is warped by my conception of the ideal that I've received from viewing so many fictions. Just as Baudrillard said.

    Posted by steev at 12:48 PM | Comments (0)

    CAFTA vote coming soon!!! Act Now!

    The U.S. Senate has already voted on and passed the Domnican Republic and Central American Free Trade Agreement, and the House is set to vote on it next week. This is the time to make your voice heard, that approving CAFTA will be disasterous for everyone, from Costa Rica to Connecticut, Guatemala to Idaho. Here's what you can do:


    Take Action During the July 5-10 Recess to Pressure Representatives and
    call attention to the Hunger Strike in El Salvador
    Call your Representatives Today! Capitol switchboard # is (202)
    224-3121 (see below for toll free option)

    ACTIONS

    1. Contact your Representative and tell them to vote NO on
    DR-CAFTA! Also, call their attention to the Hunger Strike taking place
    in El Salvador and tell them that a vote for DR-CAFTA is a vote against
    human and labor rights.

    To contact your Representative call the Capitol switchboard at (202)
    224-3121 or visit or
    for the local contact information for your Rep.
    The United Steelworkers have also provided this toll-free number for
    general use to call Congress about CAFTA: 866-340-9281. It will connect
    you to the Capitol Switchboard, and at that point you simply ask the
    operator to be connected to the Congressional office of your choice.

    When you talk with your Rep:
    1. Ask to speak to the trade staffer, chief of staff or legislative
    director.
    2. Tell them you are a constituent and want to know your Rep's
    position on CAFTA.
    3. If the Rep is opposed to the agreement and will vote against it,
    thank him/her. Ask if your Rep has made his/her opposition public and
    encourage him/her to do so. Always ask for a letter to you stating
    his/her position.
    4. If the Rep is undecided, ask your Rep (or staffer) why and when
    they are planning on taking a position. Let them know that you oppose
    CAFTA (any personal stories related to how NAFTA hurt your region are
    helpful) and urge them to vote no when CAFTA comes up.
    5. If the Rep is planning to vote for CAFTA, urge them to reconsider.
    Inform the office that you intend to spread the word that the Rep is
    voting against their constituents' interests.
    For sample call scripts and suggestions on concerns to raise, please
    visit www.stopcafta.org .

    ** When phone calls and meetings aren't enough, staging a direct
    action is a powerful tool. For ideas on local actions and assistance in
    organizing in your community please visit the Stop-CAFTA website at
    www.stopcafta.org **

    Posted by steev at 08:45 AM | Comments (0)

    Julio 05, 2005

    Starving Children Really Do Sell Records

    As an update to my entry a few days ago about Live 8, today I see that in the wake of the concerts Saturday, sales of the albums of artists who performed at Live have skyrocketed. Commendably, David Gilmour of Pink Floyd has pledged to give the increased profits to the cause, and with good reason since his latest album has increased sales by 1343%. Now let's see what Floyd's record company does. Yup, What a cash cow global charity concerts can be.

    Posted by steev at 07:02 AM | Comments (0)

    Julio 01, 2005

    Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records

    David Stubbs, reviews editor of The Wire music magazine weighs in on the BBC News site with a sharply critical editorial about the upcoming Live 8 fame-famine-fest coming up next week.

    Absolutely right, David, thank you, and thank you BBC for publishing this. Just before I found Stubbs' editorial I was reading a BBC article about Live 8, and thinking back to Live Aid (I was 15 at the time - just think, a lot of young activists and music fans today weren't even born yet), and I was also thinking of the first album of one of my favorite bands, Chumbawamba. The album came out in 1986 , shortly after Live Aid, and was called Pictures of Starving Children Sell Records. It was a concept album criticising Live Aid, Bob Geldof's first global guilt gala that featured dozens of pop stars from around the global north singing "We are the world" and was the predecessor of Live 8. (Of course back then I was nowhere near "aware" enough to offer an analysis of culture and geopolitics like that of Chumbawamba - I had still 5 years or so to go in 1986 before I even found out about them. At the time I did have contempt for most of the bands playing at Live Aid, but only on aesthetic grounds, though I cheered for Peter Gabriel and wept as I watched him on TV sing his song about murdered, black, South African activist Stephen Biko. Admitedly I still have great artistic and political respect for Gabriel, but that doesn't change the point that I'm trying to make here.)

    Because it's still so true and so relevant today, I've uploaded an mp3 of the first song on that Chumbawamba album, "How To Get Your Band On Television". Some of the excellent lyrics:


    David Bowie - The Price Is Right!
    A suitful of compassion and a gobful of shite
    Still the voices of those who doubt
    Coca-Cola for the peasants to end this drought

    Jagger and Richards - Game For A Laugh!
    Dancing us down the garden path
    To a place where money grows on trees
    Where cocaine habits are financed by hunger & disease

    (Ask the puppet-masters who pull the strings
    "Who makes the money when the puppets sing?"
    Ask the corporations "Where does the money go?"
    Ask the empty bellied children "What are we singing for?")

    [...]

    ...Ladies and Gentlemen, just imagine it - Someone comes along, takes everything you own, your space, your house; separates you from your family: and then hits you in the face if you say anything different. Well, that's what we've been doing to the Third World for the past 400 years. That's YOU and ME. You and the viewers at home, me in the studio, the pop stars, everyone. That's how we make the Third World, today and every day. [emphasis added]

    These charity concerts get guilty Northern white folks together for a brief moment, give them the illusion that they're helping, get them excited, but then ultimately do nothing. They ultimately do not challenge the status quo, or even educate the crowds of adoring fans about the orgins of the status quo, or question how it is that all these blonde rich kids can afford to pay 50 pounds for a ticket to the concert when billions in the global south don't earn 50 pounds in a month, don't earn even what it costs to provide enough calories for their families. As Stubbs says of the pop icons assembled for Live 8, at the end of his article, "These people will not solve the problem. They are the problem."

    I know there must be more
    Than giving just a little bit more
    When half of this world is so helplessly poor
    Starved of a real solution -
    Only charity and tradition
    And the cycle of hungry children
    Will keep on going round...

    Posted by steev at 09:16 AM | Comments (1)

    Junio 30, 2005

    Bus Stop Commentary

    Posted by steev at 08:55 AM | Comments (0)

    Junio 27, 2005

    Mutualism

    The proper definition of reformism should hinge, not on the means we use to build a new society or on the speed with which we move, but on the nature of our final goal. A person who is satisfied with a kinder, gentler version of capitalism or statism, that is still recognizable as state capitalism, is a reformist. A person who seeks to eliminate state capitalism and replace it with something entirely different, no matter how gradually, is not a reformist.

    "Peaceful action" simply means not deliberately provoking the state to repression, but rather doing whatever is possible (in the words of the Wobbly slogan) to "build the structure of the new society within the shell of the old" before we try to break the shell. There is nothing wrong with resisting the state if it tries, through repression, to reverse our progress in building the institutions of the new society. But revolutionary action should meet two criteria: 1) it should have strong popular support; and 2) it should not take place until we have reached the point where peaceful construction of the new society has reached its limits within existing society.

    -- Kevin Carson, from Mutualist.org: Free-Market Anti-Capitalism

    Wow. Yes. I couldn't possibly agree with this more. This is one of the best things I've ever read regarding the whole never-ending argument about reform versus revolution.

    Carson is a good writer and has a lot of very interesting and wise things to say, in the process of explaining the flavor of anarchism that he espouses, "mutualism." I don't agree with his non-collectivist view, and I don't think I concur with his prioritization of "the market" - a little voice in the back of my head keeps saying "you can't have a market economy without capitalism. Can you? how can you be anti-capitalist and pro market?" And yet that's what he's claiming to be.

    So, I dunno. You get some interesting mixtures of good and bad ideas, wisdom and foolishness coming from the same head, a lot of times. Further proof that you can't just swallow whole any one ideology. I guess I'm not a mutualist.

    Posted by steev at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 26, 2005

    The Story of Luis Posada Carriles

    Bill Conroy of NarcoNews brings us an excellent article about Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban who has been working for the CIA for years, and allegedly blew up a Cuban passenger jet in 1976.

    A Suggestion to George Bush about Posada CarrilesCarriles has snuck into the U.S. expecting to get asylum and escape from being extradicted to Venezuela, where they want to try him for the airline bombing. But he made himself too visible, too public, so now the Bush administration is in a bind.

    The photo here is of a mural/grafitti painted on the cement bank of the Rio Grande between Juarez and El Paso. I saw it last week and didn't know the story, so I didn't really understand what it was referring to. Now I do.

    Anyway, read the article, it's good.
    These kind of situations should receive more media coverage. They're fascinating, and stories like Bill's display amazing feats of investigative, muckraking-style journalism that this country needs to be exposed to more. I'm sure stories like this would do well in the marketplace (of ideas and money) because they're edgy and interesting, but politically the mainstream press won't touch them, for fear of trouble with BushCo. So much for the idea of a free media.

    Posted by steev at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

    Junio 24, 2005

    Bush Sends CAFTA To Congress

    from the PCASC mailing list:


    Today, the White House sent CAFTA to Congress. The news was made
    official in a USTR press release. This move follows on the heels of a
    pro-CAFTA press conference held by President Bush this afternoon.

    CAFTA could move to the floor for a vote as early as next week. If
    you oppose CAFTA, NAFTA and the Free Trade Agenda, this is a time to
    be on high alert. [and take action]

    The administration is trying to buy-off Republicans from states with
    a strong sugar industry, but the sugar industry announced that they
    will not accept the deals offered by Bush so far. Remember your
    history: NAFTA faced similar opposition but ultimately passed by a
    one vote majority in a midnight vote on the House floor. We can't
    afford to let up pressure on CAFTA.

    Posted by steev at 11:51 AM | Comments (0)

    Junio 09, 2005

    Fight CAFTA Now!!!

    as PCASC has just said in an email to their list:


    The Senate Finance Committee takes up CAFTA on Tues. June 14th!! This
    is part of a process called a mock mark-up, which allows Senators to
    state their positions and frame the debate, without actually starting
    the CAFTA fast-track time clock ticking...

    So, if a senator from your state is on the Finance Committee, call him up and tell him to vote against CAFTA. This is the time.

    Posted by steev at 09:07 AM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 28, 2005

    Football Match: EZLN vs. Milan

    On the Chiapas Indymedia site is an english translation of the latest from El Sup, Subcommandante Marcos, responding to the football (soccer) team from Milan, Italy, which has accepted his challenge of a game with the Zapatista team. At the bottom of the page is the letter from Italy.

    I've been reading almost nothing but Marcos' writing for the last week and this latest is in perfect form with his style of the last 11 years. He uses the letter as an excuse to make biting criticisms of Mexico's government, the U.S. base in Cuba, and even Governor Arnold in California. And he mentions his constant beetle companion, Durito, who wants the team's players arranged in single file instead of 3 ranks. Hilarious.

    I hope this tournament really happens.

    Posted by steev at 07:02 PM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 20, 2005

    Against Microfinance

    Recently I received in the mail, probably due to me being on some mailing list of potential donors to socially responsible charities, a brochure about an organization called Finca - Foundation for International Community Assistance. The front of the brochure has a picture of an indigenous latin american woman making a clay pot and the words "This woman doesn't need your charity... (turn page) all she needs is a chance." This organization arranges small loans to poor people around the world so they can start small businesses.

    I just have to call bullshit on this. But this is one of those issues where I don't quite have the ammunition to explain why it's wrong, and there's not much information out there about why it's wrong, even in places you would think it would be (like Indymedia).

    But I know I've heard and read before that microcredit/microfinance is bad. I just can't remember where. And I know in my gut that it is, too. Let's look at some points I can think of right off the bat about microcredit in general and about this organization FINCA specifically, and their marketing scheme:


    • credit and borrowing (especially with interest) is just bad in general. Just look at how USians spend their lives in debt, buying stuff they can't afford.
    • There's worldwide campaigns to forgive poor countries their debts. The World Bank and IMF are globally hated. People know it's a trap. Why would shrinking the debt down to household-sized chunks be any better? (The World Bank actually has microfinance projects going on.)
    • the poor do need charity. That's clear. They don't need to get hooked into an endless cycle of debt. Actuallly the global south, if anything, needs the global north to pay them back -- but everything taken by the first world from the third over the last 600 years was not borrowing, it was permanent theft.
    • The brochure goes on to say things like "we need to trust the poor to help themselves" and "they're ready to take responsiblity for their own finances". But wrapping an appeal for money in social-darwinist dogma is just bullshit. Once you give them a loan, probably with awful terms and no education or training to go with the money, to help them do the project they want to spend the money on, and say "now it's up to them," then it's easy to say "oh it's their fault that they are poor," once they fail and default on the loan.
    • The really hypocritical scam of it all is that FINCA is asking for a handout, for donations from the normal person reading this brochure, so that they can go and loan the money and get interest on the loan.
    • finca means "plantation" in spanish. Slaves work on plantations.

    A couple other critiques of microfinance can be found at:

    • this znet review of a book on "deglobalization" which says:

      in late 2001 the Wall Street Journal wrote that, "To many, Grameen proves that capitalism can work for the poor as well as the rich" but then had to unhappily concede how Grameen's recent "steep losses" and unethical accounting practices had left the international microcredit industry "alarmed" (in spite of Grameen's more assertive debt collection method: removing tin roofs from delinquent women's houses).

    • a paper by a geography professor at University of Toronto studies how microcredit is an expression of neoliberalism, normalizing the idea the State does not have a responsibility for the welfare and economic opportunity of its citizens but that they have that responsibility to themselves. The paper also discusses how microfinance is a gendered system for transforming rural life - almost everythign about microfinance i've seen has stressed that women are getting these loans. This is because women are more productive in agrarian societies and more likely to pay back loans. As the paper states, "microcredit as a governmental strategy is all the more pernicious in its appropriation of feminist languages of empowerment and solidarity to alternative (and fundamentally conservative) ends."

    It's interesting, from a google search i'm finding very little negative comment about this and seeing several references to the idea that even anti-globalization types should like microcredit schemes. Like on this page about a project in Guatemala there's the boldface line (and lie): '"These women are smart, strong and capable" she urges. "They are only held back by a lack of access to credit and education"' No. They're held back by corrupt right-wing neoliberal governments that want to pass treaties like CAFTA, paramilitary death squads, murderous narcotraficantes getting rich from the nostrils and bongs of the global north, and tools of global capitalist domination like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. They're held back by imperialism, neocolonialism, racism and greed.

    If only people working so hard on these microfinance pipedreams would put their effort into campaigns that really attacked the root causes of global poverty, then we'd be getting somewhere. Instead they're just enslaving these people to, at best, crippling monthly bill payments to some bankers.

    Am I missing something? Am I wrong? Let me know. I invite comments and positive analysis of microfinance from credible sources. Leave a comment, please.

    Posted by steev at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 12, 2005

    Degreed Jobless

    Here I am linking to another indyblog blog entry but it can't be helped because this is really important and interesting. It's a link to an article in the LA times about how college degrees aren't doing much for people that have them. This is so interesting because I've recently been thinking a lot about how my little brother is planning to go back to college to get a bachelor's, after getting an associate's degree he's not using. And he wants to study English, that most useful of degrees. Plus I just talked to an old high school friend with a BA in English and an MFA in creative writing who's never made more than 10K a year, ever. Though he seems happy.

    I also just heard a big debate on the radio about the SATs and what was wrong with standarized testing, and no where in that did anyone mention that the whole idea of college itself is really screwed up lately - like at least the last 20 years. It's a giant lie, a promise going unfilled for many many young people. For many, it's a racket, a scam being perpetrated on one of the most vulnerable demographics, teenagers who just want to get out of their parents' house and go start their exciting new adult life - 10 years later what are they doing? struggling to pay crippling student loans while trying to work shitty or disappearing jobs.

    Yet another massive wake up call this country needs. Kids! Hop a frieght! blow off college for a few years and see the world! If nothing else, go camp out on the White House lawn for awhile! This would be less of a waste of time than going to college without knowing what you want out of life. And college is much too expensive to go just so you can "find yourself'. there are cheaper and better ways to do that.

    I guess I've gone far afield from what the original article is about, but so be it. I needed to have this rant.

    Posted by steev at 02:49 PM | Comments (0)

    My review of "Recipes for Disaster"

    I just posted to Portland IMC's site my review of Crimethinc's newish book, Recipes for Disaster, which I just recently finished, or finished enough of to form an opinion. It's the sort of book for which it's not extremely useful to read every single thing - it's divided alphabetically into different topics, and some of the topics are just not going to be anything I will get involved with in the near future, and if I do, I can read that section at the time. I actually still read several entries that I don't expect I'll need ever (or if I did I wouldn't be admitting it here) like sabotage and surviving a felony trial. In fact the sabotage one was really interesting, especially the example given (a hit on a mink research facility in Michigan) and is by Rod Coronado of Earth First! who lives in Tucson and who I heard a lot about when I was just down there.

    Anyway, read the review for more about the book. I liked it.

    Posted by steev at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 09, 2005

    Guatemalan Protesters Against CAFTA Met With Violence From Police

    In the past two days, the Guatemalan government has responded to massive anti-CAFTA protests with violence and repression. As least 11 people have been injured and as many as 14 are unaccounted for and assumed to be in police custody. The Guatemalan popular movement is calling on international solidarity to denounce these actions and pressure the government for an end to violence.

    Reuters story on protests.

    Call or Fax the Guatemala Embassy at Phone: (202) 745 4952; Fax: (202) 745 1908 and demand that the Guatemalan government cease the
    repression against peaceful protesters.

    Posted by steev at 05:14 PM | Comments (0)

    Marzo 06, 2005

    We're All Living in Amerika

    My brother Allan sent me a mix CD with a bunch of music I'd never heard before, since he's been in Germany getting all into German music. One of the songs is by Rammstein, who I've known about for awhile but never really gotten into, I think because I thought up till now that they were just another industrial band in the lineage of Ministry or KMFDM and not much new.

    But this song "Amerika" was something that really stuck in my head. Then he told me about the video and I also looked up a translation of the lyrics and it really revealed itself to be a scathing song. I found the video online and, I'm not quite sure why, but it moved me so much I actually started to cry. I think it's because the song and the video are just really dark and sad and, in a way, true, showing the whole world, from Kalahari Bushmen to Tibetan monks, eating hamburgers and pizza and sitting on Santa Claus' lap and singing along with the song like puppets. Meanwhile the band plays the song on the moon dressed as U.S. astronauts and fumble around trying to set up the U.S. flag.

    an excerpt of the lyrics:


    When there's dancing I want to lead
    even if you're whirling around alone
    Let yourselves be controlled a little
    I'll show you how it really goes
    We're making a nice round dance
    Freedom is playing on all violins
    Music is coming out of the White House
    and Mickey Mouse is standing in front of Paris

    We're all living in America
    Coca-Cola, Wonderbra
    We're all living in America
    America, America

    It's just so fucked up how my country is fucking the whole world up so bad, and the video just reminded me of that.

    Posted by steev at 11:04 AM | Comments (1)

    Marzo 04, 2005

    The Terminator Threatens Lunch Breaks

    So in this article on indybay it is reported that Arnold "declared a state of emergency and announced that he was going to take away California workers' lunch breaks."

    How surreal. I mean, just from a media standpoint, to see story like that. I'm sure it's very real to the workers who are fighting it.

    Posted by steev at 09:15 AM | Comments (1)

    Febrero 26, 2005

    Venezuela Videos

    Lots of videos available from this Venezuelan public television organization. They contacted the Portland indymedia video group with a request for some of our stuff, including about 4 pieces that I worked on. I love the idea of working with them - trading videos and increasing connections. I especially am excited about their offer of translating en español and subtitling the videos we send them.

    Posted by steev at 11:43 AM | Comments (0)

    Indy Conference Photos and Thoughts

    Today I uploaded a bunch of media related to the Indymedia Conference: photos, audio documentation, and even a little video clip.

    I'm in Iowa now, having arrived a few days ago at my mom and stepfather's place in Bettendorf. They have only dialup access to the Net, so I haven't been getting online much. It's just too frustrating trying to deal with such low bandwidth. Wow I am spoiled. But today I rode a bike down to the public library, which is pretty close. There's free wireless access there, so I'm uploading stuff and giving some long-overdue attention to my blog.

    I've been thinking about the Indyconference on the train ride up here and in the last few days as I captured a bunch of the audio recordings I made. I think the conference was an amazing and wonderful thing...

    The amazing level of face-to-face interaction and building of connections is bound to strengthen the US and global network. I hope it sets a precedent for regular annual conferences.

    There was some talk of trying to have a global or at least an Americas conference in a couple years, perhaps in Quito, Ecuador, which I think would be a great idea. I don't know if Ecuador IMC is ready to mastermind something like that, but I hope something happens, at least some event which takes place in the south that is easier to get to for global south compañ[email protected]

    I also hope that future conferences aim to get more representation even from other U.S. IMCs. I've thought a lot about Portland's incredible turnout at the conference. I think it was great, and it made me proud, but I also feel like maybe there were too many of us.

    At the video discussion I felt a little embarrassed, actually, because we Cascadians were doing a very large proportion of the talking. I spoke up, in fact, and suggested we give others a chance to talk. It's true that we've done a lot of great work, but I felt like we were not giving enough time for people from elsewhere to tell their stories and talk about their concerns. I think we are in danger of creating a hierarchy of efficiency or productivity, when that is not what indymedia should be about.

    Just because a small group gets more work done doesn't mean they should run things. Most important in this consideration is that there may be some factors of privelege that enable certain IMCs to be more productive. I don't want to go into what those factors might be here, leaving that as an excercise for the reader - the point is that we should all be enabling others and each other to participate equally, at all levels and in all areas. It's not a competition. Besides, many people might have ideas we all could learn from, even if they have less downloadable video files on their site, or whatever other unit of measuring productivity we want to use. Even though we may be ahead of the game in some ways, and could teach others a lot, I don't want everyone to quietly listen to Portland IMC's wise advice and then do things exactly like we do. I want a diversity of ideas and tactics, and a truly democratic discussion of options that comes from a diversity of experiences and backgrounds.

    I also feel like we may have actually had too many people come from Portland. It was awfully fun and gratifying to have such a big pdx posse, but to be honest, I would rather have seen a few less of us there, if that meant a few more could have come from other IMCs. There are over 50 US IMCs, but only a dozen or so were represented at the conference (Portland, Austin, Houston, North Texas, Arkansas, Arizona, New Mexico, Talahassee, Las Vegas, NYC, Chicago, Richmond, Baltimore, Seattle, Bay Area... who else? am I forgetting someone?). To be sure, you can bet that many did not come because of economic factors. When you take the 12 or so Portlanders, who came further than almost anyone else (other than Clara in Amsterdam and GDM, who is on his way from Oz back to the UK), and add up how much we all spent to get to Austin, we're talking at least $3000. There were more of us even than from Austin itself, or Houston or North Texas, which were the closest.

    What if each IMC sent only a maximum of 3 people, and accepted cash from others from their collectives that could afford to go, and pooled that into a travel grant fund to pay for transportation of poorer IMCistas from other places that weren't represented? That would be truly a great thing, and I hope ideas like this get discussed when planning future conferences. Of course it's hard for an individual to sacrifice their own participation in something so inspiring, invigorating and just plain fun, but if we are to be real about the things we talk about like global solidarity and mutual aid, then these kinds of things have to be seriously considered and acted upon.

    Well, I have precious little calories left after that extended polemic. But I will sweep over some specific projects or topics addressed at the conference that inspired me and have me thinking about places to extend my participation: improving journalistic skills; video archiving; strengthening the global network of indy videomakers; blogging and how it relates to indymedia; and helping with the US-IMC site. It's all very heady and a little overwhelming, especially because I can barely stay sane with the projects I'm involved with now. So we'll have to see how things end up. I'm hoping that in the next 5 weeks I can wrap up some big things and move on to new things.

    Posted by steev at 11:32 AM | Comments (1)

    Febrero 21, 2005

    Indy Conference: quick first summary wrap-up

    It's absolutely beautiful weather today here in Austin, which is perfect because I'm now done with sitting in conference rooms all day. All during the Indy Conference is was overcast and even a little rainy, but that was fine. If it was as nice as today, I would have been tempted to skip out on some of the conference and go outside.

    here's a photo i just took of my friends' pack porch where I'm sitting.
    I'm exhiliarated by the weekend and now the weather. The conference wrapped up last night rather late because of an extended closing discussion that turned very heavy. Then there was much eating and drinking, till I got tired at about 2:30. I'm sure the partying went on till the early hours because some people had to be at the airport at 6 or something, so they were planning on just staying up.

    Anyway, I can't write more, its too nice, but i'll blog more about the conference and stuff later.

    Posted by steev at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

    10 Seconds

    This is a nice little flash slideshow thing that give statstics for various things that happen around the world every 10 seconds. Deaths, births, money, food, etc. You probably know it, in general, already but it's a poignant reminder.

    Posted by steev at 09:54 AM | Comments (1)

    Febrero 19, 2005

    Indy Conference part 2

    I'm sitting in Mojo's cafe as other IMCistas hang a sheet to prepare for screening indymedia videos. This is a wonderful environment. I like Austin a lot. The only problem is that the weather has been pretty much exactly like Portland for the last 3 days. Only a little warmer. Anyway, before I babble on I should refer you to the other blogger who has been writing about the conference, the very smart and knowledgable Chris Anderson of New York City's IMC.
    He's written a few very thoughtful entries about the conference on the Indypendent blog.

    Chris was actually supposed to be facilitator for one of the workshops at 10 am this morning, but he was late because his ride slept in... It turns out that many conference attendees stayed up till 5 or 7 this morning. (I myself decided to catch up on sleep, since sleeping on a stone floor for 2 weeks in Tucson has reduced my immune system.)

    Anyway, the session Chris was supposed to lead was about Blogging and Indymedia. I recorded audio of it, but I have yet to encode it. The discussion was extremely interesting and we batted around several URLs and ideas.

    Over lunch I met with Bill Conroy, who writes for Narco News Bulletin. In fact, he just wrote a new article about the 'House of Death' in Juarez. Anyway, he drove up from San Antonio, partially to visit his daughter who is attending UT-Austin, but also to give me an interview for my Juarez documentary. He offered some great insights on the Drug War and corruption, and I'm really happy that I got to talk to him, and I'm very happy with how the documentary now is shaping up. I look forward to hunkering down for the next month and getting most of it edited.

    Umm, anyway, the IndyConference is really great. I don't know how to really meaningfully write about it write now as it's still happening, other than to simply list the events. So anyway, after the interview with Bill, we went to get coffee and ran into the New Mexico IMC folks, who I met in Albuquerque back in November. They were with some Talahassee IMC guys. We chatted for a bit and then went over to the auditorium to see Amy Goodman from Democracy Now give her keynote speech.

    It was great and moving seeing her speak, but I felt a bit like how I often feel, and that is that there was a lot of preaching to the choir going on. Her talk was not really focused on Indymedia in any way, it seemed to be her standard talk about how important independent media is. Which is great, but like, hey, we already know how important it is. I didn't know her Sally Jesse story, or her story about almost being killed in East Timor in the 70s. But although all that stuff was great, what I really wanted to hear was her specific thoughts about the Indpendent Media Center. How does it complement what Democracy Now is doing? What strengths and weaknesses does she see in it? Where should it go? These are the kinds of questions that her presence at an Indymedia Conference should address, not her schpiel she gives to middle american moderate liberals.

    Anyway, next were more workshops. I went to a 2-hour session about IMC Video that was very useful. I took lots of notes and I plan to post those on the wiki soon, which is on the docs.indymedia.org site. Then I went to a little of the "how to do a mobilization," and then a little of the "underserved communities" workshop, but then I had to play hookie again and go see my friend's band Brekekekoaxkoax, a sort of free improv experimental quartet that was playing across town.

    And now I'm here, watching IMC videos. Fun!

    More later...

    Posted by steev at 09:45 PM | Comments (0)

    Indy Conference in Austin, Texas

    It's the second day of the Indy Conference here in Austin Texas. Indymedia people from all over the U.S., and even a few from abroad, have gathered here to learn from each other and discuss the many concerns related to this amazing thing we call the Independent Media Centers.


    Here's a photo of John Downing giving a keynote speech last night to a room of about 150 imcistas and other interested folks. Downing is the author of "Radical Media" and had a lot of interesting things to say. He's obviously someone who, though an academic, is familiar with how Indymedia really works and what it is. In fact, he made an allusion to a discussion that's been going on in the global video list, so he must be paying pretty close attention.

    I rode with 3 Tucson compañ[email protected] the 14 hours across Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas and arrived Thursday evening, stopping only for a brief 4-hour nap at Balmhorea State Park in West Texas. Once we arrived we were greeted with great hospitality, and the Austin IMC folks have been nothing but friendly, efficient and organized in setting up this amazing event.

    I'm excited to get down there for another day of it. Today, also, I'm meeting with Bill Conroy, who writes for Narco News and knows a lot about the drug war in Mexico. I'm going to interview him for my Juarez documentary. Then back to the conference, at which Amy Goodman will be speaking this afternoon. Then my friend Josh, who I'm staying with, has a show tonight with his band.

    Posted by steev at 06:12 AM | Comments (1)

    Febrero 16, 2005

    On the way to Austin

    Getting on the road to go the Indy Conference soon.


    To get in the mood, here's nice photo from the streets of Tucson:


    Posted by steev at 05:58 PM | Comments (0)

    Enero 31, 2005

    "Here comes the boss!"

    From an article about the World Economic and Social Forums:


    Sporting a red shirt embossed with a picture of the revolutionary Che Guevera, Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez received a hero's welcome Sunday at the World Social Forum, where activists greeted him with cries of "Here comes the boss!"

    Sometimes the cult of Chavez disturbs me. "The boss?" It is great that latin america has a popular lleader that is actually doing things for the poor. I just hope his job doesn't become a for-life one, like with Castro.

    Posted by steev at 07:02 AM | Comments (1)

    Enero 29, 2005

    overinvoking "isms"

    A female comrade on IMC's internal mailing list just wrote this:

    "I really wish people took sexism more seriously and didn't throw
    such words around every time they get a little upset with somebody until
    the words don't mean anything anymore..."

    I so totally agree! I have seen so many times when not just sexism but any sort of identity politics issue gets grabbed up and used against people when the person doing so really just has a personal problem with someone that has nothing to do with the issue. Just because you get in an argument with someone, and they're a different race, sex, or whatever, doesn't mean it's racism, sexism, or whateverism.

    This came up because our IMC is being attacked by a woman who has worked herself into a frenzy in the belief that the Portland site is "harboring sexual harrasers." It's complicated and I won't go into the details, but it's pretty crazy.

    Posted by steev at 11:33 AM | Comments (0)

    Enero 27, 2005

    Audio of Derek Jensen Talk in Oakland

    On the A-Infos Radio Project site is a lot of interesting stuff, including these 2 mp3s of Derek Jensen talking about civilization and related problems. His talks are always so great. He talks in a really nonlinear way, and is very entertaining despite the fact that he's talking about dead serious stuff that is really disturbing, like details of how our culture is destroying the natural world.

    Posted by steev at 05:33 PM | Comments (0)

    Quote for the Day

    "It is my judgement in these things that when you see something that is
    technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do
    about it only after you have had your technical success."
    - J. Robert Openheimer, when asked about development of the H-bomb

    (quoted in the new issue of Harper's, in an article about cloning)

    Posted by steev at 10:07 AM | Comments (0)

    Enero 25, 2005

    Letter to the New Mayor about Cops

    This open letter from local "hippie lawyer" Alan Graf to Tom Potter, the new mayor of Portland, about city police treatment of protesters, is really great. Graf is famous for defending protestors who've been wrongly arrested and abused by cops, and for suing the city for the same. His team won a $300,000 settlement a few months ago for a case dating back to the start of the Iraq War protests. Perhaps his successes, the new mayor, and the new police chief will all come together to make some noticeable difference around here.

    Posted by steev at 08:18 AM | Comments (0)

    Enero 08, 2005

    Quotes of the Day: more Wallerstein

    I wrote a few days ago about Immanuel Wallerstein and his writings on the rise and fall of Liberalism. Here's a great passage from his essay called "The Collapse of Liberalism":


    We may emerge from the transition from historical capitalism to something else, say circa 2050, with a new system (or multiple systems) that is (are) highly inegalitarian and hierarchical, or we may emerge with a system that is largely democratic and egalitarian: It depends on whether or not those who prefer the latter outcome are capable of putting together a meaningful strategy of political change.

    It's interesting that he wrote this about 13 years ago, long before the current surge in what he could call "antisystemic" activistism that exploded with the Seattle WTO protests in '99, and even before the Zapatista uprising in '94. A lot of his advice is still good, and at the same time resonates with what has already BEEN happening. He talks about how there must be "a definitive break with the strategy of achieving social transformation via the aquisition of state power." I believe a large part of the current progressive movement has accepted that idea. He also talks about the central agent of change will be groups, lots and lots of different but equal groups, who recognize each others' rights and work together but are not a unified mass, do not attempt to form one centralized huge group. "Democratic centralism is the exact opposite of what is needed."

    Such a coherent, nonunified family of forces can only be plausible if each constituent group is itself a complex, internally democratic structure. And this in turn is possible only if, at the collective level, we recognize that there are no strategic priorities in the struggle. One set of rights for one group is no more important than another set for another group. The debate about priorities is debilitating and deviating and leads back to the garden path of unified groups ultimately merged into a single unified movement. The battle for transformation can only be fought on all fronts at once.

    (italics are mine)

    It's impossible to read that and not think of current events and debates in the progressive activist world.

    Posted by steev at 11:31 AM

    Enero 04, 2005

    Immanuel Wallerstein and Liberalism

    I've been reading this book of essays by Immanuel Wallerstein called "After Liberalism." (props to Jennifer Whitney for recommending him, though not this particular book). I've been interested for a while in the word "liberal" - what it means, why it's used as a perjorative in both right-wing and "radical" circles, and what its history is. In this book Wallerstein, an esteemed sociologist, goes into the birth of liberalism as an ideology, along with 2 other ideologies, socialism and conservatism, as a result of the French Revolution. His thesis is basically that that was the beginning of ideology itself, and those 3 were really just 3 flavors of the same thing, which developed and influenced each other but were basically after the same thing: "maintaining order" in a world where constant political change, for the first time, was normalized. Pretty fascinating stuff.

    Additionally he asserts that with the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1989 not only is communism over but liberalism is too. He writes a lot about colonialism and the "rights of peoples" as opposed to "human rights." Here is an excellent passage at the end of an essay called "The Insurmountable Contradictions of Liberalism":


    What is the argument put forward in Great Britain, Germany,
    France, the United States? That we (the North) cannot assume
    the burdens (that is, the economic burdens) of the whole world,
    Well, why not? Merely a century ago, the same North was assuming
    the "White man's burden" of a "civilizing mission" among the
    barbarians. Now the barbarians, the dangerous classes, are saying
    Thank you very much. Forget about civilizing us; just let us have
    some human rights, like, say, the right to move about freely and
    take jobs where we can find them.

    The self-contradiction of liberal ideology is total. If all humans
    have equal rights, and all peoples have equal rights, we can't
    maintain the kind of inegalitarian system that the capitalist world-
    economy has always been and always will be. But if this is openly
    admitted, then the capitalist world-economy will have no legiti-
    mation in the eyes of the dangerous (that is, the dispossessed)
    classes. And if a system has no legitimation, it will not survive.

    The crisis is total; the dilemma is total. We shall live out its con-
    sequences in the next half-century. However we collectively resolve
    this crisis, whatever kind of new historical system we build and
    whether it is better or it is worse, whether we have more or
    fewer human rights and rights of peoples, one thing is sure: It will
    not be a system based on liberal ideology as we have known that
    ideology for two centuries now.

    He's basically saying throughout the book that liberalism is this big 200 year old lie that finally pepole are starting to not believe in any more, and so some big changes are around the corner. I can see that some would disagree with the above passage on this key point: IS capitalism really an inherently inegalitarian system, as he says?

    Really interesting, no?

    I'd also like to mention that I recently got some new OCR software that I just used to scan that in, and I can say OCR software is pretty damn accurate and painless to use now. It's nice to see not just brand new whiz-bang uses for computers that we never thought of before but also things like OCR and video software, stuff I've been WANTING to do with computers for many years but that never really worked that well, cheaply, till recently. Hurray for the commodity computer economy! heh.

    Posted by steev at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 26, 2004

    Everything is very fine in Tokelau

    indymedia.tk is a great parody Indymedia site, set up to prevent abuse of the indymedia.tk domain. tk is the TLD of Tokelau, evidently some little island nation in the south pacific. If only things were really so tranquil! heh...

    Posted by steev at 01:11 PM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 22, 2004

    Three (or 8?) Cheers For Idleness

    Back in August my friend Seth told me about a great article in the Guardian (which is now a broken link at their site, dammit)
    I finally got around (hah!) to reading it and eventually to reading 2
    more well-written pieces on the same subject more recently. one was in the december issue of Harper's.

    It mentions an essay by Bertrand Russell, famous philosopher and mathematician and all-around cool british thinker. I have located said essay and it is really rad, not just for promoting leisure but indicting our entire "slave state." I had no idea before this that Russell was so radical.

    2 great pull quotes:

    "I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached."
    and

    "One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them
    to some Government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the
    public expenditure of most civilized Governments consists in
    payment for past wars or preparation for future wars, the man who
    lends his money to a Government is in the same position as the
    bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the
    man's economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the
    State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would be better
    if he spent the money, even if he spent it in drink or gambling."

    So there ya go. for the good of the world, stop paying your
    taxes, and start drinking and gambling more.

    While searching for that Guardian article I found a review there about 5 books on the subject. One of them is probably by the author who wrote the article I was looking for, but I can't tell which. Anyway, it's a good review, stitching together and comparing the theses of the 5 writers and extending the topic to cover geopolitical trends and tendencies.

    The topic is very resonant to me, personally, because all of my adult life I've wrestled with the opposed goals of productivity and relaxation. Getting things accomplished versus being a calm, content, non-spastic person. I've referred to it often as my personal mixture of existentialism and taoism. It's an ongoing struggle, balancing Will with Being. At least for me. It seems that most people in the world come down much more on one side or the other. Out of anyone that I know or know of, I feel like I'm most directly in the middle of these 2 poles.

    Of course one very true statement is something the writer of this Guardian review says: "The point about being idle is not to work at it, surely..." But this bloke is credited at the end with being "chief executive of the Work Foundation." Wow, is that supposed to be some sort of joke?

    Posted by steev at 08:50 AM

    Diciembre 19, 2004

    Kerry Gave Impunity to Bush

    I've been thinking and researching the concept of impunity for my Juarez doc I came across a
    recent article in the Nation by Naomi Klein about impunity in Iraq.
    She pulls no punches dissing John Kerry:

    By buying the highly questionable logic that Americans are incapable of caring about anyone's lives but their own, the Kerry campaign and its supporters became complicit in the dehumanization of Iraqis, reinforcing the idea that some lives are insufficiently important to risk losing votes over. And it is this morally bankrupt logic, more than the election of any single candidate, that allows these crimes to continue unchecked.

    She talks about a famous photo of a soldier in Iraq, smoking a cigarette, and decodes the image and its social context. It reminds me, very positively, of Barthes' Mythologies, especially the essay about the photo of the black French-Algerian soldier and what it really meant. Klein concludes with this scathing observation: "Genuine impunity breeds a kind of delusional decadence, and this is its face: a nation bickering about smoking while Iraq burns."

    (coincidence #6938: as I write this I'm listening to Beck's album Odelay and the song "New Pollution" is playing, but it sounded to me for a moment like he was singing "New Fallujah"...)

    Posted by steev at 11:58 AM | Comments (0)

    Diciembre 17, 2004

    Environmental Justice vs. Social Justice

    I just got news from the Mexico Solidarity Network about some Zapatista indigenous villages that are being forced to move because they are in or near the Montes Azules bio-reserve in Chiapas. Apparently Conservation Internaional and other environmental groups are pressuring the Mexican government to get them out of there. The zapatistas moved there to avoid paramilitary violence.

    I just wanted to take a minute to say what a shame it is that two progressive causes have to be at odds like this. The zapatistas are even, according to the MSN report, abiding by zapatista laws that include protection of the environment. I always thought Conservation International was better than this. The only mention of this on their site is a press release about the "illegal settlements" and a coalition of organizations that are working on the problem, including "17 indigenous communities and villages." The place is Mexico's first bio-reserve, ever. Of course, no mention of why the settlements are there, or the underlying context, or even of the Zapatistas. It's like these environmental problems are just floating in a political vaccuum, as far as CI is concerned.

    What a shame. All these things are connected, and the environment is important, but this is why social justice issues are more important to me. I'm sorry, flowers and toucans are great, but people are just more important, and if you take care of people and do the right thing for them, the environment will naturally follow and be healthy too. (Pun intended.) ¡No justicia, no paz!

    Posted by steev at 09:57 AM

    Diciembre 14, 2004

    Pinochet to Stand Trial

    Well, this is really great news. A Chilean judge has indicted former dictator Augusto Pinochet. It's an amazing step for human rights but I find it incredible that he is only being charged with 9 kidnappings and one murder, connected with the infamous Operation Condor. I'm sure there's some legal reason why it's easier to convict him for these crimes than for the thousands of others he was responsible for, but it's still pretty insane.

    Let's hope it actually goes to trial, and that the trial does not get cancelled because of Pinochet's supposed senile dementia. He apparently gave a lucid interview with a Miami TV station, so he seems fit to stand trial.

    Posted by steev at 12:50 AM

    Diciembre 07, 2004

    Tropical America Game

    This wonderful "game" called "Tropical America", by OnRamp Arts in Los Angeles, is a visually and aurally beautiful interactive history lesson, spiritual journey and electronic poem dedicated to the struggles of Latin America. You register on the site and then guide a character around, accomplishing little tasks and talking to other people and creatures, occasionally being asked to make choices and answer questions. It's not a game in the sense of the hyperactive sensory overloads brought to us by Nintendo and company. It's more of a meditative and deliberate process that brings gentle lessons. It's so very
    well done, too, a series of beautiful woodcuts come vividly to life.

    Posted by steev at 06:14 PM

    Diciembre 06, 2004

    Bilaterals Site

    Just found an interesting site about bilateral trade agreements. There's more information in one place than I've ever seen about all the different free trade agreements, separate from the WTO, that are being agreed on. They are all between unequal sides, mostly U.S. and some smaller, weaker country or countries, or the EU or Austrailia and some smaller, weaker, countries, except for China-Thailand, and even that is a pretty unequal relation. But anyway, bilaterals.org, what a great information source...

    Posted by steev at 10:09 PM

    Diciembre 05, 2004

    Indy Conference

    The other day someone mentioned a big Indymedia conference in Austin in February, and I looked it up and sure enough there it is, February 18 to 20. Sounds pretty cool. We need more events where people who are isolated in their own little collectives get together and compare notes, specifically about the indymedia tactic. I feel like there is a lot of re-inventing of the wheel, and mistakes being replicated....

    I was planning to be in the Southwest again anyway at that time. Maybe I'll go. I think it would be wonderful to be there and meet a whole bunch of IMCistas from all over the place. As usual whether I go depends on whether I can afford it. I now have about 5 trips I want to make in the next 4 months: Chiapas for Spanish school, D.C for J20, D.C. in March for the final AFTA showdown, and the Collage Conference I've been invited to at U of Iowa at the end of March. And now this. Not to mention the fact that I want to move, probably to Tucson.

    If you're planning on going, leave a comment, please.

    Posted by steev at 06:57 AM | Comments (1)

    Diciembre 04, 2004

    Bolivia News

    Very good article about Bolivia in the "Rabble News" site, which I'd never heard of before (not affiliated with the anarchogeek Rabble - at least I don't think so. heh.)

    Anyway, the article is a good and hopeful look at political change in Bolivia and centers around an interview with Oscar Olivera of the Cochabamba Guerra del Agua.

    As timing would have it, speaking of hopeful, tommorrow (sunday) is a big election in Bolivia, and this article in the Financial Times suggests that Evo Morales' MAS party is going to do really well, at least compared to the more moderate parties. Things just keep staying interesting in Bolivia.

    Posted by steev at 07:37 PM

    Diciembre 03, 2004

    Live Coverage of AFTA talks, protests

    Today we're doing web radio to cover the AFTA ministerial and associated protests in Tucson, Arizona. Here in Portland we've got an 800 number and we're taking calls from activists on the street in Tucson and talking to them about what's happening there.
    And of course anyone else could call in and offer their insights on free trade agreements and resistance to them.

    the number is 1-800-939-7973. And you can listen to the stream here.

    Posted by steev at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 30, 2004

    Chumbawamba on Collective vs. Individual Anarchism

    Interesting bit a friend sent me on Chumbawamba. I'm not sure where it came from but it seems to be part of a set of questions asked the group. Perhaps a FAQ on their site. Anyway, here it is:


    My name is Grant. I am an anarchist in the U.S.. I
    have a question, as you may have guessed. Are you guys
    Individualist Anarchists or Social Anarchists? Thanx
    for reading. Hit me back!

    We are not 'individualists', generally it is the far
    right that goes for that line, and they use it to
    justify grabbing whatever the individual wants no
    matter how selfish. I did not even know there was such
    terminology as Individualist Anarchists and Social
    Anarchists but I do think that human beings are
    basically social and our lives are inter connected and
    we are kidding ourselves if we think we can (or do)
    exist alone. The concept of the 'self' is quite new.
    Rosa Luxemburg said: "Freedom is always and
    exclusively freedom for the one who thinks
    differently." And I take that to mean, not that we
    should act however we feel regardless of the effect it
    has on society and the people around us, but that we
    should respect the rights of others even if we don't
    want to live in the same way.

    Posted by steev at 02:34 PM

    Noviembre 29, 2004

    Stop AFTA

    The Andean Free Trade Agreement is the latest in a series of free trade pacts that the U.S. is trying to force on Latin America. This week in Tucson, leaders from the Andean countries, Peru, Columbia, Ecuador (with Chile and Bolivia oddly missing) will be meeting with U.S. representatives to sign away their economic souls. Tucson activists have been showing their solidarity.
    The NoAFTA site is a good resource, along with the FTAA-IMC.

    Here in Portland we're trying to lend a hand to help cover the mobilization and resistance, in Tucson and in the relevant countries. It will be extremely interesting to see what happens.

    I wish I was still in Tucson. Not just for this but also because it's super fucking cold here in Portland, and it's raining.

    Posted by steev at 11:12 PM

    Legacy of Pinochet

    The BBC reports that the Chilean government will be paying 28,000 victims of torture at the hands of Pinochet's regime a pension of about $190 a month, for life. This is about 93% of the minimum wage there.

    Meanwhile Pinochet may have lost his mental faculties just in time to avoid being prosecuted for his hideous crimes against humanity. And his former spokesman is objecting to the whole thing, saying the old wounds have "already healed"!!

    What a horrible, grim joke.

    Posted by steev at 08:18 AM

    To Be Like Them

    I few months ago I read an essay by Eduardo Galeano that was really incredible, called "To Be Like Them." The other day I found it on line. It's about the global South being promised it can be like the North, if only it follows the rules of free trade and structural adjustment which the North doesn't even follow for itself. It asks the question, even if it were possible, does the South want to be like the North, and is there a chance to say "no?"

    Can everyone in the world live like North Americans? No. The earth would not support it. Can the South learn another way to "develop?"

    Posted by steev at 08:12 AM

    Noviembre 28, 2004

    Friedman Underwhelms

    A friend pointed me to Thomas Friedman's latest editorital (i'll cut and paste it below in case you don't want to register, and later, pay, to read it on the Times site.), as sort of a rebuttal, I guess, to my mention of the film End of Suburbia, which is all about the idea of peak oil production and the coming consequences of passing that peak, which we may have already done.

    I read the piece and it is okay, has nice vitriol, but it's basically just a rant, and not a terribly original one. Are mainstream New York Times-reading people really responding to rhetoric like this?

    But ok great tom's mad and its thanxgiving and he wants to go
    home early.

    But then i get to the end and he's thankful for the schools that
    "manage to produce young men and women ready to voluntarily risk their lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to spread the opportunity of freedom and to protect my own."

    ...and i'm like WHAT?! i thought i had figured out his sarcasm
    rhythm and it would seem he's serious here. if not, then ok, a
    poorly delivered joke, but if he means this i'm aghast. Does he
    really think the afghanistan or iraq adventures are or ever were
    about spreading freedom or protecting ours? And as for the
    schools and the military i have two words for him: poverty
    draft.

    And finally, does he really think that if only people drove regular cars and not hummers we wouldn't have mujahadeen in Falluja killing our kids? I mean, I'm sorry Tom but you've got more work to do. There are so few Hummers out there, do you really dream that even if your column somehow convinced every owner to renounce theirs and buy a Ford Explorer, or even a Honda Civic, that it would make a godamn bit of difference in the world? Holy shit.


    November 25, 2004
    OP-ED COLUMNIST
    In My Next Life
    By THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN

    In my next life, I want to be Tom DeLay, the House majority leader.

    Yes, I want to get almost the entire Republican side of the House of Representatives to bend its ethics rules just for me. I want to be able to twist the arms of House Republicans to repeal a rule that automatically requires party leaders to step down if they are indicted on a felony charge - something a Texas prosecutor is considering doing to DeLay because of corruption allegations.

    But most of all, I want to have the gall to sully American democracy at a time when young American soldiers are fighting in Iraq so we can enjoy a law-based society here and, maybe, extend it to others. Yes, I want to be Tom DeLay. I want to wear a little American flag on my lapel in solidarity with the troops, while I besmirch every value they are dying for.

    If I can't be Tom DeLay, then I want to be one of the gutless Republican House members who voted to twist the rules for DeLay out of fear that "the Hammer," as they call him, might retaliate by taking away a coveted committee position or maybe a parking place.

    Yes, I want to be a Republican House member. At a time when 180 of the 211 members of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit in Iraq who have been wounded in combat have insisted on returning to duty, I want to look my constituents and my kids in the eye and tell them that I voted to empty the House ethics rules because I was afraid of Tom DeLay.

    If I can't be a Republican House member, I want to be Latrell Sprewell, the guard for the Minnesota Timberwolves. I want to say with a straight face that if my owner will only give me a three-year contract extension for a meager $21 million, then he's not worth working for, because "I've got my family to feed."

    Yes, I want to be Latrell Sprewell. At a time when N.B.A. games are priced beyond the reach of most American families, when half the country can't afford health care, when some reservists in Iraq are separated from their families for a year, including this Thanksgiving, I want to be like Latrell. I want to make sure everyone knows that I'm looking out for my family - and no one else's.

    If I can't be Latrell Sprewell, I want to be any American college or professional athlete. For a mere dunk of the basketball or first-down run, I want to be able to dance a jig, as if I'd just broken every record by Michael Jordan or Johnny Unitas. For the smallest, most routine bit of success in my sport, I want to be able to get in your face - I want to know who's your daddy, I want to be able to high-five, low-five, thump my chest and dance on your grave. You talkin' to me?

    I want to be able to fight on the court, off the court, in the stands and on the sidelines. I want to respect no boundaries and no norms. And when I make your kids cry, I want to be able to tell you to just "chill" - that my coach says "stuff happens" and that my union rep is appealing my punishment in the name of the Bill of Rights and the Magna Carta. Yes, in my next life, I want to be The Man.

    If I can't be The Man, then I at least want to be the owner of a Hummer - with American flag decals all over the back bumper, because Hummer owners are, on average, a little more patriotic than you and me.

    Yes, I want to drive the mother of all gas-guzzlers that gets so little mileage you have to drive from gas station to gas station. Yes, I want to drive my Hummer and never have to think that by consuming so much oil, I am making transfer payments to the worst Arab regimes that transfer money to Islamic charities that transfer money to madrassas that teach children intolerance, antipluralism and how to hate the infidels.

    And when one day one of those madrassa graduates goes off and joins the jihad in Falluja and kills my neighbor's son, who is in the U.S. Army Rangers, I want to drive to his funeral in my Hummer. Yes, I want to curse his killers in front of his mother and wail aloud, "If there was only something I could do ..." And then I want to drive home in my Hummer, stopping at two gas stations along the way.

    If I can't be any of these, then I want to be just a simple blue-state red-state American. I want to take time on this Thanksgiving to thank God I live in a country where, despite so much rampant selfishness, the public schools still manage to produce young men and women ready to voluntarily risk their lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan to spread the opportunity of freedom and to protect my own. And I want to thank them for doing this, even though on so many days in so many ways we really don't deserve them.


    Posted by steev at 08:18 AM

    Noviembre 25, 2004

    School of Authentic Journalism

    Here's a Good article by a woman from Ohio who went to the NarcoNews School of Authentic Journalism conference in Cochabamaba, Bolivia this past August. Describes basically what happened and her personal take on the experience and the concept of what "authentic journalism" means to her. Very compatible with ideas about Indymedia, I think.

    Posted by steev at 09:15 AM

    Culture of Violence

    Last night on the radio I heard an interview with a historian who studies the historical Jesus, the real person upon which Christianity is based. I don't identify as Christian but he said some things that were extremely fascinating to me. This researcher, John Dominic Crossan, used to be a priest, and is still, one can tell from listening to him, very devoutly religious, but his ideas are going against the grain of some standard Christian dogma. One idea he talked about I just remembered this morning and it suddenly struck me how incredibly profound it is, what a stunning analysis of our culture it is.

    The idea is this: In our Judeo-Christian culture, we talk about "the end of the world," in which Jesus will come back and basically kick ass on evil. Crossan says this is an essentially violent worldview, and that many Christians, from the Apostle Paul onward, have wanted there to be a second coming because they secretly believe that Jesus didn't get it right the first time. He was meek and he allowed himself to be killed by his enemies and they can't accept that, so he has to come back and violently "win" next time. But Jesus never talked this way. In fact early biblical writings never referred to the end of the "the world," says Crossan, because it was inconceivable that God would destroy his creation. They talked about "the end of days" instead. A subtle difference, but a telling one.

    Crossan said the question before Christians when interpreting the Bible and talking about the End Times is this: do we believe in a violent God, or a non-violent God? And sadly, Fundamentalists believe in a violent God, one who will bring down a hideous Apocalypse upon the Earth, and they're working to help bring it about.

    Posted by steev at 08:44 AM | Comments (0)

    Noviembre 24, 2004

    U.S. on Brink of 'Civil War'

    This election fiasco in the Ukraine is so ironic, with the U.S. reaction demonstrating such a level of hypocrisy as to make one want to vomit. I took this BBC story and did a quick search and replace of some person and place names to come up with a suprisingly familiar story:


    BBC NEWS
    United States on brink of 'civil war'
    Both sides in United States's disputed presidential election have warned of a civil conflict, as tens of thousands of people continue to protest in Washington.

    Opposition leader John Kerry rejected the official results declaring incumbent president George Bush as president, and urged a general strike.

    Former President Bill Clinton called on world leaders not to interfere.

    British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said London "cannot accept" the election result as legitimate.

    Correspondents say the opposition supporters show no signs of ending their three days of protests in the capital, Washington.


    DISPUTED ELECTION
    Official result:
    Bush (left): 49.46%
    Kerry: 46.61%
    Western observers report:
    Abuse of state resources and "overt media bias" in favour of Mr Bush
    State workers pressured to give absentee voting certificate to their superiors
    Intimidation reported at some polling stations
    Suspiciously high turnout in two pro-government regions

    Calling for a general strike, Mr Kerry told a vast crowd of supporters in the central Independence Square that United States was on the brink of a "civil conflict".

    Karl Rove, who backs Mr Bush, denounced the opposition protests and warned civil war "could well become a reality at the present time".

    Mr Bush, who has now declared himself the winner, offered to hold talks with the opposition leader.

    "We must improve our lives and we will do it together - all of our citizens and myself as president of United States," he said in a brief appearance on state television.

    But a key member of the opposition team told the BBC that Mr Kerry would only negotiate with Karl Rove.

    The opposition said it would challenge the official result in the supreme court on Thursday.

    Refusing to accept defeat, Mr Kerry told his supporters: "We do not recognise the election as officially declared."

    He called for a national strike that would shut down schools, factories and transport networks.

    The pro-Choice Mr Kerry, who claims the vote was rigged against him, called the election commission's official declaration "their latest crime".

    "With this decision, they want to put us on our knees," he told the crowd, which chanted: "Shame! Shame!"

    Washington's warning

    A host of celebrities have appeared on stage to show their support for the opposition.

    They included United States's Eurovision Song Contest winner, Britany Spears, who announced she was going on hunger strike until the opposition leader was declared president.

    A number of pro-government supporters were also visible on Washington's streets for the first time on Wednesday, though eastern United States saw pro-government rallies earlier in the week.

    The two sides have been trading taunts and pro-government supporters celebrated the official results by drinking champagne.

    Riot police have been on stand-by since the demonstrations began but there have been no reports of violence.

    In Moscow, President Putin said United States was at a "critical moment" and had to decide whether it was on the side of democracy.

    He warned of "consequences" for the Russian-United States relationship, but he added: "It's still not too late to find a solution which respects the will of the people."

    The election commission said Mr Bush won Sunday's second round vote with a margin of almost three percentage points.

    The commission had already indicated a win for Mr Bush, but exit poll results had put Mr Kerry ahead.

    China and the European Commission had urged United States not to announce the result before reviewing the contentious vote.

    The new head of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, earlier warned the United States there could be "consequences" for its relations with the European Union, unless there was a serious and independent review.

    The Netherlands, which holds the rotating presidency of the EU, said it would send an envoy to United States to discuss the disputed result.

    Neighbouring Poland has also sent a top foreign policy adviser.

    Western election observers and the American opposition have reported thousands of voting irregularities, including a near 100% turnout in some pro-government strongholds.

    Earlier, Mr Kerry said he was prepared to have a re-run of the vote if it was run by "honest" officials.
    Story from BBC NEWS:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/2/hi/europe/4040041.stm

    Published: 2004/11/24 22:56:33 GMT

    © BBC MMIV

    Posted by steev at 10:42 PM

    Yay, It's "Buy Extra Stuff Today Cuz in 2 Days It's Buy Nothing Day!"

    On Friday it's Buy Nothing Day. Which is a great idea that Adbusters had several years ago that I wholly support as a concept. The intention is right, but it's one of those ideas that is just a stepping stone, that feels now like it doesn't go far enough. There are, according to their site, "millions" of people who take part, who refuse to consume on the day after Thanxgiving, or Black Friday, as retailers call it. But I'll bet you my (unused) copy of Quicken that most of those people go out on Wednesday or even Thursday and make the purchases they would have made on Friday. Or just put it off till Saturday. They make sure they have enough coffee beans and milk, they check that the grinder still works, so they can make cappucinos at home Friday morning. Anybody can do that kind of stuff. It's not that hard. (The fact that it's something people actually have to make an effort to do, something that seems radical to most people in this country, is a sad indictment of our culture.) But how many of those people participating are actually reducing their total daily, monthly, yearly consumption? Isn't it about time to move on to Buy Nothing Week? And on further from there? Sorry, just shifting your consumption over one day is not gonna save the world. It's a nice PR stunt, but that's about it.

    Posted by steev at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

    Homeland Security - some photo art

    Here's a great set of photos by John Douglas called Homeland Security. Hilarious and a great subtle commentary, and just plain weird.

    Posted by steev at 12:49 PM | Comments (0)

    "Mob" Justice

    Here's an interesting story by the BBC, entitled "Mexican mob burns officers alive." What's notable is the spin: words like "mob" and "vigilantism," and the background which they only touch on with the mention that people in Mexico are "frustrated by state corruption and soaring crime." Classic British understatement.

    They don't go into the incredible depth of corruption, of police involvement with narcotrafficing, which is Mexico's biggest industry amounting to $US30 billion a year. They don't venture to guess that there's going to be more of this sort of thing in the future. More situations where the people, neighbors, communities, fed up with police and other agencies who fail to carry out their duties to society, will handle things more and more themselves. They'll take it upon themselves to organize and improve their communities themselves, because they will finally admit that the institutions aren't going to do it for them. This will start happening more and more, and not just in the "third world" - and there will be mistakes and clashes with official authority, and it will not be pretty...

    Posted by steev at 08:35 AM

    Noviembre 23, 2004

    Liar

    Great flash animation about the election fraud. Excellent use of the Sex Pistols' song "Liar"...

    Posted by steev at 01:40 AM

    Noviembre 19, 2004

    Protests Against APEC in Santiago de Chile

    For the last few days thousands of activists have been protesting the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago, Chile. There is lots of good reporting on CMI-Santiago's site.

    This should be featured on the global indymedia site, for sure. There's been molotovs thrown, rocks hurled at police by hundreds of protestors, with police using tear gas and water cannons. This is big news, especially for Chile - when I was there I got the impression that open protest was still quite self-repressed (and of course repressed by the police as well), apparently in the wake, culturally, of the Pinochet years. This is pretty radical stuff!

    Posted by steev at 11:21 PM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 25, 2004

    Are You Worried?

    Gotta plug my most recent video again. Only about 9 days till the election - this little 3-minute thing is my look at people's fears.

    Posted by steev at 12:46 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 23, 2004

    Faith-based Presidency

    Great article in the New York Times Magazine called Without a Doubt, about Bush's religiousness and how it has effected his administration. Pretty scary stuff.

    Posted by steev at 02:43 PM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 21, 2004

    Eugene Chadbourne and Peace and Voting

    I've been a fan of Eugene Chadbourne's music for about 15 years now. He recently played in Portland and reminded me that of the 10 or so times I've seen him play he has always been amazing. He had a profound effect on my guitar playing and musical conciousness, and I've always admired the way he was very political while at the same time exploring the outer limits of freely improvised music. His work swings between psychedelic noise-freakouts to hilarious, biting, satiric commentaries on war and politicians. ( a great example of this is his recent song "New New New War War War")

    So I was unsurprised but very pleased to see his article in the current issue of Signal to Noise Magazine, which has a cover topic of "The Artist's Role in Waging Peace."

    Eugene's written some other great essays with political or social relevance. This one is cool for the perspective he offers as a citizen and artist who is getting on in years, because he looks back on his life and all the presidental candidates who have run in elections and lost or won that he remembers, and who he and his friends and family voted for or against.

    Then he says:


    I mention all this... to establish the history I have experienced as well as provide a backdrop for stating that I see differences between all these people. I talk to people that don't, though, some of whom are really wondering if they should vote at all. The present compelling arguments to the effect that all politicians, all rulers of all countries, are total motherfuckers. However, as for them convincing me that I should be giving up the act of strolling down to the nearby recreation center and voting for various public offices, from sheriff to president, I'm sorry. Voting is something I would really miss, just like the political side of my music.

    [...]

    It is a concern, although not really a surprise, when the type of people that read or write for a magazine such as Signal to Noise express skepticism about the process of voting, based on these kinds of issues. Surely there is a difference between John Kerry and George Bush II - surely there is, if we are expected to understand the difference between two guys who both play free jazz on the alto saxophone!

    He goes on to talk about Kerry's past as a Vietnam veteran against the war, and says

    ... the existence of [Vietname Veterans Against the War] was one of the most important developments in turning America against this horrifying war... perhaps Kerry will revisit this important contribution to our society on a grander scale if he gets elected... if not, we are going to need a hell of a lot of musical relief. I'm ready.

    Posted by steev at 10:07 AM | Comments (1)

    Eugene Chadbourne and Peace and Voting

    I've been a fan of Eugene Chadbourne's music for about 15 years now. He recently played in Portland and reminded me that of the 10 or so times I've seen him play he has always been amazing. He had a profound effect on my guitar playing and musical conciousness, and I've always admired the way he was very political while at the same time exploring the outer limits of freely improvised music. His work swings between psychedelic noise-freakouts to hilarious, biting, satiric commentaries on war and politicians. ( a great example of this is his recent song "New New New War War War")

    So I was unsurprised but very pleased to see his article in the current issue of Signal to Noise Magazine, which has a cover topic of "The Artist's Role in Waging Peace."

    Eugene's written some other great essays with political or social relevance. This one is cool for the perspective he offers as a citizen and artist who is getting on in years, because he looks back on his life and all the presidental candidates who have run in elections and lost or won that he remembers, and who he and his friends and family voted for or against.

    Then he says:


    I mention all this... to establish the history I have experienced as well as provide a backdrop for stating that I see differences between all these people. I talk to people that don't, though, some of whom are really wondering if they should vote at all. The present compelling arguments to the effect that all politicians, all rulers of all countries, are total motherfuckers. However, as for them convincing me that I should be giving up the act of strolling down to the nearby recreation center and voting for various public offices, from sheriff to president, I'm sorry. Voting is something I would really miss, just like the political side of my music.

    [...]

    It is a concern, although not really a surprise, when the type of people that read or write for a magazine such as Signal to Noise express skepticism about the process of voting, based on these kinds of issues. Surely there is a difference between John Kerry and George Bush II - surely there is, if we are expected to understand the difference between two guys who both play free jazz on the alto saxophone!

    He goes on to talk about Kerry's past as a Vietnam veteran against the war, and says

    ... the existence of [Vietname Veterans Against the War] was one of the most important developments in turning America against this horrifying war... perhaps Kerry will revisit this important contribution to our society on a grander scale if he gets elected... if not, we are going to need a hell of a lot of musical relief. I'm ready.

    Posted by steev at 09:19 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 18, 2004

    Jon Stewart Rocks

    Well I guess this may be old news, but if you haven't seen it yet it's worth the bandwidth to check out Jon Stewart's brutal exchange with CNN Hosts
    of Crossfire. So totally awesome, like something you just dream all your life of seeing someday on national television, where somebody in the media biz somehow slips through the armor and just explodes with the truth. I wonder if he's suffered any career repercussions....

    Posted by steev at 06:28 PM | Comments (1)

    Octubre 17, 2004

    Two Secrets About the Mexican Economy

    Yesterday I flew to San Francisco and immediately found out about a screening of videos by Alex Rivera at Galeria de la Raza, in the Mission. Alex does amazing work that is mostly concerned with immigration and border issues. It's very informative and hard-hitting yet really humorous at the same time.

    There was really good discussion afterward, with lots of really informed and thoughtful comments from the audience. It's great to just drop into town and be surrounded by such great people and work.

    The last piece was a longer documentary work about Mexicans living in the U.S. who not only send money back to their home towns (remittances) but who organize in order to pool larger amounts of money and do public works in those towns. One group in New Jersey organized and funded the building of a baseball stadium in a little town in the state of Pueblo.

    In the discussion afterward Alex said that remittances total about 15 billion dollars, which is second only to oil in Mexico's economy!! My friend José then mentioned that the Mexican government is underwriting IMF loans with this money.

    Mexico is an amazing place, and more specifically, Mexico and its relation to its big neighbor to the north. Those money figures are even more interesting in light of what I've recently read about the drug industry: that it accounts for $30 billion in Mexico's economy - more than the oil industry!

    So here we have two "wars," two issues that are "hot button" topics to politicians in the U.S., the War on Drugs and the War on Illegal Immigrants, and they are both total lies. If either of these wars were ever "won" by the U.S. - which is impossible anyway, but let's say they were - Mexico's economy would seriously crash.

    Posted by steev at 09:38 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 10, 2004

    In Latin America the gender gap kills

    Excellent article about the situation in Juárez and that situation as an example of a problem throughout Latin America.

    great quote:


    “We have a lot of people here who are like the Taliban,” she said. “They don’t make us wear burqas, but they kill us. It’s part of the despotism of the border region. They also don’t want to let us into factories to educate women. They say we might organize unions, and they’re deathly afraid of authentic unions.”

    Also, here's a great page of Coco Fusco's with lots of information and photos on Juárez. There's a link to page about a FloodNet action coming up to demand a stop to the femicide, October 31 and November 2.

    Posted by steev at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 08, 2004

    cluelessness

    Two different incidents have made me think "where the hell have you been?" today. Maybe I shouldn't go into it in too much detail, but in general I just am so surprised when people I thought were aware, politically, show themselves to be clueless. Stuff about free trade and neoliberalism that I just sort of take for granted in this little hippie radical bubble i'm in, and someone comes along and says, "oh wow, i hadn't heard of that, gosh, that's horrible." And I'm like.... "ummm... duh!"

    On the other hand, I guess people who are against voting or who think there was never really a moon landing probably think that about me. But that's not a valid analogy, because you can point right to the thousands of pages of NAFTA, for example, and it's obvious that some of it is really really bad for humans. That's not theory, it's demonstrable fact. It's much harder to prove we never landed on the moon.

    I just wish some people would spend as much time learning about oppression in its many forms as they spend learning new recipes to cook. If all the people who talk about that excellent salmon bisque they had at Chez Disposable Income spent that time and energy and money actually trying to make the fucking world a better place, we'd be a lot further along, I am sure.

    Posted by steev at 03:36 PM | Comments (0)

    Election Mania

    In a way, the upcoming election is just a big big distraction, a spectacle that is taking up a lot of attention that would be directed elsewhere.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not one of those folks who is against voting. I've always voted and I think for this election it is even more important to vote, and I've talked to a lot of people who feel the same way, some who have never voted in a federal election who feel that they must this time. But voting is just the base level of involvement in civil society. You gotta do at least that, but you should do a lot more.

    Lately it seems like the "a lot more" is eclipsed by watching debates and other election-related crap.

    I've been involved with setting up and promoting 2 screenings of a film about the disappeared, murdered women in Juarez, Señorita Extraviada. The first one was this tuesday, which conflicted with the vice-presidential debate. About 8 people showed up. The second one we stupidly scheduled for the same night as the last presidential debate, next Wednesday.

    And every activist meeting I go to people say things like "oh the turnout was good considering it's election season." sigh.

    In related news, PriceGrabber has a special election 2004 section. At first I saw it and thought it was just a crass new area for selling election-related crap, like stickers and t-shirts and yard signs, or something. But no, it's actually pretty freaking useful and almost radical in terms of excellent uses for web technology - it allows you to search for candidates and find out how much money they've raised for their campaign. Brilliant!! And it shows that Kerry has now raised more than Bush. That's pretty surprising.

    Also today Mark Morford, that favorite spastic columnist of mine, writes along these lines, and expands out to an even bigger picture. But I swear I was intending to blog this general idea even before I saw his article! really!!

    Posted by steev at 08:13 AM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 03, 2004

    SubVideo

    I just discoverd this great site about subtitling and other international accessibility issues for radical video. It's called
    SubVideo
    Couldn't come at a better time, as I have finished adding spanish subtitles to a major video of mine, which makes it my first bi-lingual video. Exciting.

    Posted by steev at 10:30 PM | Comments (0)

    Octubre 01, 2004

    antibush graphics

    www.BloodForOil.org
    is a great repository of anti-Bush, anti-war graphics, for signs, posters, stencils, etc. very cool.

    Posted by steev at 11:03 PM | Comments (0)

    (Didn't Know I Was) UnAmerican

    Yesterday I was pointed to this video and song called (didn't know I was) unamerican. It's not the sort of music I generally like - it's sort of folksy, smarmy stuff - but I was suprisingly moved while watching the video. And the "Waking Life"-style animation in some parts was pretty cool.

    Posted by steev at 09:16 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 20, 2004

    "Pentagon Strike" Video

    I'm not really into following all the 911 conspiracy stuff, because I think that ultimately we will never, ever know the truth. It will be just like the JFK assasination, with people 40, 50 years later still writing books and making movies explaining what they think "really" happened. But it's like arguing about the bible, there will be no way to ever know for sure.

    However, my housemate just pointed me to
    a great video called "Pentagon Strike" that does a really good job of asking some good questions about what really happened at the Pentagon on September 11, 2001. Also notable is the style of the video - very hip, fast-paced, attention-grabbing, great graphics and animations. Kind of like GNN's style, which has always been a big inspiration to me. This kind of documentary work is really important in getting people informed who would otherwise not sit through documentaries. Draw in the MTV couch potatoes with Marilyn Manson music and lots of footage of fire and wreckage, but then hammer them with some really shocking quotes and analysis. yes.

    Posted by steev at 10:21 AM | Comments (1)

    Septiembre 13, 2004

    The Yes Men on Tour

    The Yes Men are touring the country, mostly visiting swing states in their special "Yes, Bush Can!" bus. They're in Oregon right now!

    Posted by steev at 12:27 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 10, 2004

    Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk

    I was just pointed to the excellent Campaign Desk, analyzing campaign coverage, and this entry in particular, a summary and praise of a very good election prediction article with facts and good stats to back it up. A good conclusion reads:


    Unlike so many political writers, Cook doesn't try to force-feed a prediction upon his readers. Rather, he takes them by the hand and guides them, fact by incontrovertible fact, through the probabilities at work in any election, and the known facts at work in this election -- and at the end of the trail, he leaves them to make their own way home, informed by real information, not by bluster or one-sided passion or crystal ball readings.

    Posted by steev at 06:41 PM | Comments (0)

    Polls are Worthless (except the ones you agree with)

    Mark Morford has brought us another great and timely rant, Who The Hell Is "Undecided"? / And why do so many election polls leave you angry and stupefied and drunk? He talks about how ridiculous it is that Kerry was ahead after the DNC and suddenly Bush is ahead after the RNC, and just barely hints at the manipulation going on, that of course the candidates are neck and neck because that gets people to watch TV and buy newspapers.

    He also links to an interesting story about a poll that says most people in other countries, by a 5 to 1 margin, want Bush out. Of course, yeah, I believe that, but I still think that poll is as useless as all the others, and even more useless is the way it was reported. Never did they mention the list of 35 countries that were surveyed. 35 is not a lot, it would have been easy to list them. Never did they question that maybe 35 thousand is not a sufficient sampling of 6 billion. Oh well. Again, I'm not saying I disagree, I of course believe with all my heart and head that the people of the world for the most part hate Bush with a burning passion. It's just disturbing how statistics are spun.

    Posted by steev at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 08, 2004

    No Class War But the Privileged Artists Against Developers War

    A local artist on a local art mailing list (that I'm not on) posted something about a big warehouse in the southeast central industrial district being sold for 3 times market price. This warehouse is the location of studio space for many artists, and the writer was bemoaning the situation and proposing some sort of vague struggle against the further gentrification of the area.

    So the message was forwarded to another list that I am on and the whole thing reminded me so much of what happened in the Mission District in San Francisco when I was living there. I decided to write a little rant about it:

    This whole thing seems rather sadly comical too me, especially in light of the SF gentrification battles of a few years ago that I witnessed, which is why i had my tongue firmly in cheek when i sent the link i did. Now I'll be serious.

    I think it's sad and shameful that, just as in SF before, most
    artists and their friends get outraged and activated only after
    their own little privileged bubble gets threatened, blind before
    then to the identical or worse plight of other groups who had
    been threatened by the same forces long before.

    The only just, sustainable, and long-term way to fight the
    struggle we're talking about is by forming a larger
    community/alliance with other groups, like the working poor,
    minorities, the homeless, small local industrial companies and
    other businesses, community improvement groups (like City
    Repair), and other stakeholders (heck, even skateboarders!) in
    the neighborhood(s) of concern.

    In SF this didn't happen until it was too little too late, or not
    at all. The Mission's dancers and painters and wacky performance
    artists rose up with their street protests and clever posters but
    only long after tons of the poor latino families, blue-collar
    workers, and small businesses that formed the fabric of real
    Mission District culture had already been forced out of town.

    Without their being the sort of solidarity with the rest of the
    community that I'm talking about, it's hard to feel much sympathy
    for these mostly white, middle-class artists who never really
    cared before they found out that their cheap studio space was
    going away.

    Posted by steev at 07:44 PM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 07, 2004

    Countering the (Il)Logic of Political Violence

    Wow, here's another good article on Portland Indymedia about political violence. I only saw this because there happens to be a little controversy on our internal mailing list over whether we should feature it. There's a lot of partisanship within our IMC, and this kind of article falls right across the battlelines, so to speak.

    Anyway, I haven't read it all, it's long, but I really am excited to see it, because the debate is really very important in today's movement(s).

    Posted by steev at 12:42 PM | Comments (0)

    Local Sweatshop

    Just found this story on the portland imc site about Columbia Sportswear and the conditions there. This is the kind of great local articles that makes Indymedia great. Wow.

    I'm particularly interested in the sweatshop issue because clients I have had are in the apparel industry. I don't feel good about that at all, but consequently I try to do what I can to get the word out and do other activism around the issue.

    Posted by steev at 12:24 PM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 06, 2004

    The Rule of Laws

    The murderer of Archbishop Romero in El Salvador was found liable in a civil lawsuit for crimes against humanity and for "an extrajudicial killing," and was fined $10 million. (I love that phrase, extrajudicial killing - killing outside the law, killing not sanctioned by a court. The government has a monopoly on killing - a subject for another time, perhaps.)

    My friend José writes about this in his blog today. I have had a few conversations with José, who about a year ago was considering going to law school, about the power of litigation in our society today. How legal action, and often civil suits, are now the primary way that things get accomplished, the way people are forced to stop doing bad things, and punished for having done them in the past.

    Another example is the detainees at Pier 57 last week during the RNC. The police piled people into a former bus garage full of toxic chemicals and held them there for longer than the 24 hours maximum stipulated by our constitution. Now they are using legal action to hold the City of New York acccountable.. In an email I was forwarded that came from one of the detainees, I read that one of the chants they chanted while inside was "WE WILL, WE WILL, SUE YOU!" (to the tune of the Queen song We Will Rock You).

    Other examples abound, like forest defenders who use legal action to stop logging. I think it's great that the people have learned to harness the power of the judicial branch, to employ those modern sorcerers called lawyers (there are actually some good ones on our side) to fight for good.

    I do find it ironic, like many related ironies, that even those progressives who preach the most radical of social change, the complete dismantling of "the system," employ this tactic. I'm not attacking them, or at least all of them. Some may wave the flag of violent revolution in one hand while holding their cell phone talking with their lawyer in the other, not realizing the contradiction. However, many others may be like me, holding extreme beliefs but recognizing that the realization of those dreams will be a long process fraught with peril and careful, difficult work. Using the master's tools to take down the master's house. Where molotov cocktails fail, perhaps lawsuits will suceed.

    Posted by steev at 09:05 AM | Comments (0)

    Septiembre 01, 2004

    RNC poster for auction

    A friend got into the RNC yesterday and held up a sign saying "Girlymen for Arnold" - he consequently got lots of mainstream press attention. Now he's selling the sign
    on ebay. Proceeds go to getting his friend and fellow video producer out of jail.

    Posted by steev at 09:35 AM | Comments (0)

    The World Turns, as New York Churns

    As the arrest count spirals upwards in Manhattan all eyes not there, including my own, turn that way, when they're not doing whatever they need to do otherwise - working to pay september rent, trying to concentrate on other projects, trying to figure out what i'm doing with my life. Etcetera.


    I'm feeling notably distanced, confused, and unempowered right now. I felt, months ago when I was deciding, as though I could not go to New York and that was okay because I could work on other things, other activist project that I've been involved in. But now I sit and stare for hours at indymedia and other sites, reading the frustratingly brief accounts of what is happening at the RNC protests and desparately looking for photos or something that will connect me more to what is going on.

    Meanwhile the rest of the world continues to exist off in our peripheral vision. For example, who is now paying attention to Bolivia, where things continue to boil and bubble, as described in this Narco News article? Is a lot of alternative, independent media just as guilty as corporate media of neglecting other stories when something big and flashy is happening in one place? The global IMC site has 5 of 11 current features stories that are related to the RNC protests in New York.

    But other indymedia centers continue to report what is happening in their communities. That is encouraging. We must remember that other things are happening, important things. We must also remember that the protests in NYC are not about mostly white, mostly middleclass activists from North America getting arrested and brutalized.

    We must remember the original point: our country is brutalizing the rest of the world. New York is temporarily the locus and focus of this abuse, because the current leader of the Imperium is there with all his cronies. I must remember this too. It is so easy to forget, to turn and focus and exclude. It's not (just) about our friends in lockdown on Pier 57 - did we all not expect that this would happen? Did those people not go to New York expecting this? Let us support them and give them solidarity, but always remember that they are there in solidarity with the millions of others around the planet who are being crushed under the boot of the U.S.A. and global late capitalism....

    Posted by steev at 08:40 AM | Comments (1)

    Agosto 31, 2004

    Political Flash Mobbing

    Here's an article on NYC IMC about a flash mob street party tommorrow as part of the protests against the RNC. It's great to hear that the flash mob tactic has been taken up by the politically minded. When I first heard of it people were doing it just as a sort of Fluxus-like arty spectacle/prank, which I suppose in a way is inherently political, but I like the evolution it has come to now.

    Posted by steev at 12:17 AM | Comments (0)

    Agosto 23, 2004

    F The Vote

    This is hilarious. Look what dubya has inspired.

    Posted by steev at 10:03 PM | Comments (0)

    Agosto 18, 2004

    Sea Collective

    I've been following from afar some friends of a friend who bought a boat last year and have formed
    The Sea Collective. They are finally done fixing it up and are about to set sail for the high seas.
    How exciting. One thing I really like is that they've named their boat Dérive - which is the word the Situationists gave to their form of semirandom wandering, and excercise in psychogeography...

    Posted by steev at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

    The Chavez Referendum Aftermath

    Medea Benjamin posts this nice but predictable story, "Why Hugo Chavez Won a Landslide Victory". Maybe she's right, maybe Chavez is just overwhelmingly popular. But her article isn't that convincing. She only interviews one mother from the barrios. Everything else is vague generalizations.

    I believe Chavez is doing good things for his people, but I still have misgivings that he is setting himself up to be a despot. (and others do to - see this post to the quite good Caracas Chronicles blog) A benevolent despot, perhaps, like one could debate that Castro has been. Yes, Cuba has several good features under Castro, but the fact remains that he is a dictator, who has been in power for almost 50 years.

    Do we really want a benevolent philosopher-king, ala Plato? Is that the world progressives want, ruled by smiling all-powerful dictators who feed babies all the milk they need?

    On the other hand, maybe the referendum was on-the-level. Are there term limits in Venezuela? the thing to watch is what happens in the next election, and the next. How long will Chavez legally remain in power?

    I've been thinking a lot lately about process versus product, and I think this relates to that. A system for running society should itself be fair and just - the process must be good, not just the product. In a way the product is the head of state and his policies. Sure, the trains run on time and the babies get fed and people learn to read, but if there's no process in place for people giving themselves these things, then what happens when the philospher king dies, or changes his mind? One cannot justify the abuses of power by the nice effects of some of that power.

    Posted by steev at 08:30 AM | Comments (1)

    Avert a Debacle

    Eric Alterman of the Nation posted to his blog some good stuff about the upcoming RNC protests. My friend Brian claims that this was due to his email to Alterman, complaining that an article he linked to was in the Nation's subscriber-only area. So Alterman posted the whole thing to his blog. Hope his editors don't yell at him too bad.

    Anyway, the article, by Todd Gitlin and John Passacantando, is really good, in my opinion. It offers some really good suggestions and reasons for keeping the protest nonviolent. I agree that chaos in the streets is playing right into Bush's hands.

    However, I believe a lot of people are going because they think there will be something spectacular happening, another "Battle of Seattle." Let's face it, Seattle in 99, N30, would not be the legend that it is without the broken glass and the tear gas. Even people who don't plan on taking part in the "fucking shit up" are secretly hoping it will happen. They want to be part of something exciting, even if it's the wrong thing politically, and morally.

    I predict one of 2 things for the RNC:

    1. the police (and national guard?) will have the city so locked down that nothing much will happen at all. People will be cordoned off, impotent in their free speech zones, and everyone will feel frustrated and unheard, another Sacramento.

    2. something horrible will happen. Bush will use it as an excuse to get more tough on crime/terrorism/whatever. maybe it'll even be a nice little rehearsal for martial law.

    Given these 2 likely scenarios, i'm content that i'm not going. However, part of me still wishes I was. Even I want to be involved with an event where politics suddenly gets really really exciting. I think the challenge, for anyone trying to get more apathetic Americans involved, is: how to make politics exciting without involving anger and violence and smashing stuff?

    Posted by steev at 08:04 AM | Comments (0)

    Agosto 11, 2004

    Klein on "Anybody But Bush"

    Naomi Klein writes in the Nation a really good take on the Bush vs. Kerry race. I couldn't agree more with her. Let's get Bush out, not because Kerry will be much better, but because we can stop with the silly Bush jokes about how stupid he is and concentrate on more systemic issues.

    Posted by steev at 01:52 AM | Comments (0)

    Agosto 09, 2004

    Billboard Coop

    There's a billboard coop in Olympia called FREE TO DISAGREE. Very cool idea. I might think of better ways to spend the money but on the other hand, why be down on someone else's choice of tactics? It's pretty great. It'd be great if every city had a group like that. Especially more conservative cities. Imagine putting a billboard like that up in San Diego, or Charleston, SC. whew.

    Posted by steev at 10:18 PM | Comments (0)

    Julio 26, 2004

    Team America

    I really look forward to this film. Perfect timing, too.

    i love how the site graphic is ambiguous about the film's position. Leftwing, irony-enabled folks can see immediately what an excellent critique of US policy this will be. but i can imagine rightwing nutjobs seeing it and not realizing ("aw yeah!!" they shout, raising a fist). i hope they maintain that ambiguity somewhat in their further marketing. otherwise, it willl just be more preaching to the converted....

    Posted by steev at 10:59 AM | Comments (4)

    Julio 19, 2004

    going global

    All day I've been trying to get this article from IMC Bolivia about the Bolivian referendum made into a feature on the global Indymedia site. I didn't understand the process so I wasted lots of time this morning, and then this afternoon, waiting. Now I finally know the process and realize that it's rather involved.

    But I'm nearly there, and then i'll send it in as a real proposal to the feature group.

    I'm doing this while sitting in my backyard again, the superhot portland summer is cooling with the coming of twilight. I'm drinking yerba mate from the gourd I bought in Montevideo. A copy of today's New York Times is sitting under my laptop, open to their page 6 story about the referendum, which basically just says that Mesa won, there's hard times ahead, how's he going to implement it, he's in a hard spot. Which is all true. I bet very few people envy Carlos Mesa's position right now, he is between Scylla and Charybdis.

    But the NYT article, typically, doesn't talk to anybody on the street, except for one poll worker. That's why I like Jennifer's article, it is direct eyewitness reporting, talking to real people out there. it's biased, of course. everyone is.

    UPDATE: Clara fron IMC Netherlands, who is on the features group, just featurized it, depsite my not having finished my formal proposal. yay! i have asked her to add one of the photos i found. there are quite a lot of good photos coming out of Bolivia IMC over the last couple days:

    http://bolivia.indymedia.org/images/2004/07/10552.jpg
    http://bolivia.indymedia.org/images/2004/07/10525.jpg
    http://bolivia.indymedia.org/images/2004/07/10502.jpg
    http://bolivia.indymedia.org/images/2004/07/10418.jpg
    http://bolivia.indymedia.org/images/2004/07/10517.jpg
    http://bolivia.indymedia.org/images/2004/07/10519.jpg
    http://bolivia.indymedia.org/images/2004/07/10518.jpg

    Posted by steev at 09:46 PM | Comments (0)

    Julio 18, 2004

    Is Bolivia About to Explode?

    I've been devoting most of my time in the last couple of days to Bolivia, in one way or another. Either I've been scouring the web for news from there as the referendum Sunday, today, has approached, or I've been preparing for our screening on Bolivia that we're doing Tuesday. Yesterday I made a DVD of our 4 videos that looks pretty great. Today I made the cover for it, and distributed flyers for the show around to other portland imcistas who agreed to help post them around town.

    Meanwhile I wait and wonder if in a few hours the object of all our effort, that country that has been screwed over so much in the last 500 years, will blow up in more violence and bloodshed like last October. I'm ready to help funnel news of this to northern indymedias, but other than that I feel like a helpless spectator, so far, far away.

    I've been reading Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America and really have learned a ton about the history of that part of the world. It's sort of a People's History of The United States for Latin America. Much more disturbing, though, because the opression is so much worse.

    Strange or not so strange coincidence: I also have been reading Derrick Jensen's excellent A Language Older Than Words, and in it he mentions naming his new dog "Tupac Amaru." Just a day earlier I had read in Galeano's book about who Tupac Amaru was: an indigenous leader of a rebellion in colonial Peru. Very weird, and I never would have gotten Jensen's allusion if I hadn't also been reading Open Veins.

    Of course it makes perfect sense that he would be aware of Tupac Amaru. In a way his book is a sort of superset of all the horrible exploitations described by Galeano. One can read of the genocides and enslavements and then turn to Jensen's book and read exactly what is behind our culture, this culture that hosts these atrocities and why it does.

    Posted by steev at 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

    Julio 13, 2004

    Against the Grain

    I just read this great interview with the author of a book about agriculture and how it screwed up civilization. Lots of ideas that are very compatible with Daniel Quinn's, whose work is really really important, and one of the most inspiring writers i've ever read.

    Mankind screwed up when we started farming, and we're starting to really suffer 11 thousand years later. That's the basic idea.

    Posted by steev at 11:57 PM | Comments (0)

    Even if the sky falls....

    This is exciting. I just received the new video that Indymedia Bolivia just finished, "Aunque se caiga el cielo" ("Even if the sky falls"). They have been showing it around Bolivia, but I think we might have the North American premiere here in Portland. We have our big Bolivia video screening next Tuesday.

    I'm afraid that we don't really have time to transcribe, translate, and subtitle the film in just a week's time. But we could do it with a live interpreter or something. It's exciting that we have something new to show, in addition to the 4 older pieces. I'm excited to be able to help spread it far and wide here in the States, too.

    I'm going to run down to the studio and start capturing it to hard disk in a few minutes...

    Posted by steev at 03:47 PM | Comments (0)

    Julio 08, 2004

    LNG

    Article about liquefied natural gas import schemes to the U.S. West Coast. Very intersesting in light of what's been going on in Bolivia. There we have people fighting over the right to benefit from natural gas exports, and a huge market for that may not even exist. I'm sure there are other markets that Bolivia could sell to, but the plan back in October was specifically to ship to California....

    Posted by steev at 11:25 PM | Comments (0)

    CAE Update

    The lastest in the saga of the FBI's bungling case against Critical Art Ensemble member Steven Kurtz is here.

    Absolutely ridiculous that this is still going on. One could look at it as similar to other larger bungles by the Bush executive branch, like Iraq. Here is something the government wants to do, and so it keeps making up different claims to try to justify it. Doesn't matter what it is, just keep making up more and more excuses, as one fails to pan out, make up another one.

    Posted by steev at 10:37 PM | Comments (0)

    Julio 01, 2004

    Lula

    Excellent article from the New York Times Magazine called Poor Man's Burden.

    Posted by steev at 05:59 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 29, 2004

    kerrybot

    A few minutes ago, John Kerry gave me a call.

    Well, actually, it was just a robot that sounded like John Kerry. He told me to press '1' if I didn't want George Bush to be in office for another 4 years. So I pressed 1. Then he said to press '1' if I might want to help out with a donation, even if not today. I pressed 1. Then he said if I wanted to donate now, he could transfer me to an operator, or they could contact me later. I hung up. Phone mazes are always wooden, but the quality of the Kerry samples were so flat and unemotional that I had the feeling that talking to the guy in person would be about the same, especially with the other examples of his speaking that I've seen, heard, or read about. "Great. Okay, now please leave us your email address so we can send you spam about our campaign. Again, please leave your email address after the tone."

    Maybe it's just me, but somehow the idea of the future leader of the world's most powerful country recording half-hearted telemarketing messages, as if he was Aretha Franklin advertising the Psychic Friends Stairmaster Salad Shooter, really seems surreal. Is this an example of transparency in government? Maybe I can get a videotape of the President cleaning his own bathroom at the White House? Or a guy dressed up as the President, coming over to fix my bicycle, and mow the lawn?

    Posted by steev at 07:31 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 28, 2004

    Chumbawamba

    I just found out that Chumbawamba gave 50 grand to Indymedia a couple of years ago, money they received for licensing a song for a Pontiac commerical. Right on.

    They are so damn cool. They've been one of my favorite bands, because of their music, of course, and their committed politics, for roughly 12 years now, long before 'Tubthumping' made them famous and loved or hated by many who didn't know any better or anything else. This just renews my love for them.

    I guess they have a new album coming out soon, also. Yay.

    Posted by steev at 09:06 AM | Comments (1)

    Junio 26, 2004

    Disturbing Assumptions

    This article from the Miami Herald entitled "Bolivia an example of a nation that needs lots of help to survive" has a few interesting bits of information I hadn't heard before about Bolivia's former president, Goni, and pre-october crisis events... but the most striking thing about the article is its implicit, base-level assumption that the U.S. is this world policeman, and that it has no responsibility for the underlying forces that cause "failed states" to fail, but all the responsiblitity for fixing them up. It's as if some mysterious force is just randomly messing up these countries and we are the just, altruistic representative of order and goodness that needs to swoop in like Superman and save them.

    How about an alternative policy, Uncle Sam: don't fuck these countries over in the first place, and then maybe you won't have to "rescue" them when your exploitation goes sour...

    Posted by steev at 11:26 AM | Comments (1)

    Junio 21, 2004

    strange bedfellow

    hey man,

    i enjoyed the party saturday. it was cool! lots of cool people. you have quite a variety of people you know. i was sort of thrown into a surreal
    moment of shock, though, at one point when i was talking with one
    guy, your friend from the sweatlodge whose name i forgot - the
    guy who was tending the grill most of the time. i mentioned how i
    knew you and he asked what war tax resistance was and i explained it and he
    asked whether i was against 'the war' and i of course said yes
    and he went into this rant about taking care of 'them' and how
    'they' were out to get us. i asked if he was joking and he said
    no, and that he was a warrior and that basically all the muslims
    had to be destroyed cuz they had sworn to kill us all, etc etc. i
    wanted to just lash out and say, "you are a freaking wacko,
    dude," but nonviolently held my toungue and just said "well, we
    can all think whatevver we want..." i was sitting there just
    stunned and even after i ended that exchange for like an hour
    afterward i was still sort of in this weird shocked state, i kept
    wondering how this guy could be a friend of yours! i guess you
    don't talk politics much at the sweatlodge?

    Posted by steev at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 17, 2004

    Bikes against Bush

    Just found a cool site/blog about using bicycles with wireless connections to protest the RNC in NYC this summer. It's called Bikes Against Bush. Nice to see geekiness, bikes, and anti-bush activism all tied together.

    Too bad I'm lately leaning toward NOT going to the RNC protests. I feel like my focus is south, Bolivia and latin america in general. I want to go back this winter and I have to concentrate on that and the computers for Bolivia project. I can't think of how I could be that useful in New York other than as just another body on the street, holding a video camera that MIGHT shoot something unique but probably won't.

    Posted by steev at 12:37 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 10, 2004

    cheerful happy thoughts

    Ok I know I just blogged about Mark Morford the other day but this particular column of his is really extragreat. doubleplusgood. He is my new favorite writer ever. Well, not really, but he's so freaking great, so clever and zillion miles an hour and cynical and yet so idealistic and outraged, he's like if Mark Leyner wrote for a newspaper and was really really angry all the time.

    But the good thing about this particular installment of his column is that it ends happy. It basically says, let's be optimistic and happy, no matter how bad things seem to be, because to just be stressed out and fearful and angry and paranoid all the time will destroy us.

    And that's an important thing to remember.

    Posted by steev at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)

    not knowing

    Chris Bowers brings us a great rant on Iraq.

    Posted by steev at 08:38 PM | Comments (0)

    Junio 06, 2004

    drug up your teen today

    This column by Mark Morford about behavior modifying drugs is really freaking great. It has this totally biting, barbed, super-sarcastic, laser-focused blast of invective style to it. I really love it. Read it.

    Posted by steev at 02:28 AM | Comments (1)

    Junio 01, 2004

    Washingtonienne

    So I just found out about this rather promiscuous female blogger who worked in DC for a Republican Senator from Ohio. She blogged about her quite active sex life, juggling 6 different men. Not only did she fuck a lot of men in a short time but some of them were paying her to do it. Eventually she was fired, supposedly for "misuse of office equipment" (she posted to her blog from her office computer).

    Her blog is pretty entertaining to read. I mean, it's hot. I, along with everyone else, am wondering how true it is. It reads like porn. Do people really live like that? I've never known anyone like that. Despite the racy thrill of it she seems to have lived a pretty shallow, sorority-girl kind of life, though she's 24. Getting "trashed" 3 times a week, going to taco-eating contests (that's not a euphemism for anything. heh), coveting Martha Stewart products and new dresses, etc...

    The other interesting related thing is that the other blogger who basically outted her, who I read now and then, Wonkette,
    is really Ana Marie Cox, formerly of Suck, occasional writer for McSweeny's, etc. Talk about re-inventing yourself. From writing smarmy postmodern ironic rants about the web industry to being a Washington D.C. gossip-blogger. Hmm, actually maybe those 2 things are not that different....

    UPDATE: perhaps it's all a hoax, at some level or another.

    Posted by steev at 04:31 AM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 25, 2004

    really great article by Vonnegut

    Kurt Vonnegut has always been one of my favorite writers. Such a wonderful way, he has, of mixing the humorous with the horrible. He just wrote a great little article called Cold Turkey for In These Times, about our current predicaments. (thanx 6rady)

    Posted by steev at 12:49 AM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 18, 2004

    Starsky and Christ

    So I hapened to be listening to NPR's Marketplace just now and they had a little story about how The Passion of the Christ is the most popular illegally downloaded film on the internet right now, and how this popularity will surely lead to the making of a sequel. The commentator then suggested Hollywood would put out Starksy and Christ, since audiences liked Starsky but not Hutch. The guy went on to explain a little defensively how he only was thinking such crazy thoughts that others might think blasphemous because he lives in LA, and that's just how Hollywood types think. I found that the
    idea is not new.

    The most interesting thing about this, and otherwise I wouldn't mention it, is that before that segment on the radio show, during a break, an OPB announcer gave the warning that the next segment contained 'material that might be offensive to some listeners.' I listened to the whole segment and the only other stories were about Martha Stewart's show going on hiatus and a piece about skin creams that didn't really do anything to help with wrinkles.

    So, it must have been the Christ thing that they were warning people about. Are there REALLY people out there, NPR listeners, that would be offended by that story? And was that something that just Oregon Public Broadcasting decided to do, or did all NPR affiliates make that announcement? Very strange.

    Posted by steev at 04:42 PM | Comments (1)

    Mayo 17, 2004

    The story behind Abu Ghraib

    Very interesesting article in the New Yorker by Seymour M. Hersh about the secret intelligence program in the Pentagon that led to the abuses in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

    I'm sure it's all true and none of it is very shocking, but it's fascinating to read how these things come down the chain of command, how and why these things come get out of control, etc.

    The one thing that bothers me is something that bothers me in the news all the time - way too many anonymous sources. Virtually all the meat of this story is quotes from an unnamed "former intelligence official" and an unnamed "Pentagon consultant." What is going to stop Rumsfeld from just saying "that's all lies?" My pessimisstic feeling is that even after this exposé, this whole thing is still going to just blow over and disappear in a few weeks.

    Posted by steev at 09:30 AM | Comments (0)

    John Kerry

    I've been enjoying this site called JohnKerryIsADoucheBagButImVotingForHimAnyway.com. There are some good essays there. Though I kind of think the over-use of the words whose root-words are "douche" as insults are unneccesary and sexist, the sentiment is right where I'm at: Kerry is not a very good choice for president, but I'm going to vote for him. The difference between him and Bush is probably even less than between Gore and Bush, but the difference is non-negligible, and small differences can translate to big effects for opressed people around the world.

    Posted by steev at 08:48 AM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 15, 2004

    How to Get Out of Iraq

    The Nation has published essays by 11 different authors about why and how the U.S. should get out of Iraq. About time somebody did that. I of course was against going into Iraq but I have had a queasy mixed feeling about the 'Get Out of Iraq' movement lately. I haven't been able to articulate or see any good articulation of what should happen there and how just up and leaving would do any good. But some of these writings speak to that pretty well.

    Posted by steev at 10:54 PM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 10, 2004

    Inconsistency as a Tool for Increasing Fear

    I just went through security in the Colorado Springs airport. Yes, amazingly enough, they have free wireless internet at some of the gates here (this helps dull the pain of waiting for my 2-hour late flight), so naturally I am blogging. hah. Anyway, I wanted to write about airport security. They're probably monitoring the wireless connection and I'll get arrested for writing this. If I don't post for a few days that's what happened.

    Anyway, every time I fly I notice how inconsistent and incomplete the Transportation Security Administration and their airport procedures are. On this trip I'm especially conscious of it. In Portland, on my way here last week, they made me put my bag through one of those giant x-ray machines, AFTER checking it at the airline counter. Then, I wanted to lock it, but I wasn't allowed to touch the bag, I had to tell the TSA person how to do it and she did it for me.
    Contrast that with today, where they have little tables set up BEFORE the airline counters. They unzip the main compartment of each bag, swab around the zipper and a little ways into the bag, then stick the swab paper into a machine.
    Then they let ME re-lock my own bag. Then they put a little sticker on it that says "TSA" and then they wait with me till it's my turn to check in and carry my bag over to the counter for me.

    Then we have security. At PDX, I specifically asked if I should take off my shoes, because often I have been asked to do that. The guy says, "well, we'll see, just walk through." So I go through the metal detector, no beeps, that's the end of it. Here in COS, they tell me to take my shoes off right away. I mention that they don't usually set off the detector, and the guy says "we're looking for other things besides metal."

    And these are just examples. Oh and then we have the incompleteness - why are only the main compartments of bags opened and tested? I could probably fit a pretty effective chunk of semtex in one of the side pockets of my bag. This is just proof that all this security shit is just lame.

    So what about these inconsistencies? I can only think of 2 explanations: First, it could just be simple incompetence and the result of running a giant bureaucratic agency across hundreds (?) of airports. Or, it could be on purpose. Why would they have inconsistencies in security procedures on purpose? To keep people confused and afraid. When you don't know what measure to expect, when the rules change with every airport, when you can't be confident that you know what the hell the deal is when you're getting on a plane, then you're going to be afraid. If it was the same all the time, people would get used to it and they would get less scared. However, as with everything else in our society, the fear level has to keep getting pumped up. Especially by the government. This sounds like paranoid conspiracy theory, but I don't totally discount the possibility that corners are cut and budgets are slashed because the priority is not to encourage competence and consistency -- and the lack of these things creates fear. All of this is just a smokescreen to make it seem like the administration is making us safer. But they are not.

    Besides, I don't think the next terrorist attack will be anything to do with airplanes. There are so many other ways to cause horrible havoc and mayhem in this country. Trains, power plants, water plants, hotels, schools, factories, the list goes on... and what is being done at those places?

    Posted by steev at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)

    NWTRCC Meeting: Days Two and Three

    Well, the war tax resistance meeting is finished. It was a busy weekend, I didn't even have time to report on the second 2 days as they were happening.

    I really don't even have time right now to do a detailed report. To be brief, I will say that I'm really glad I came. It has really been a good boost for my WTR documentary project, and for my own involvement and enthusiasm for war tax resistance. I met lots of great people from all over the country, interviewed many of them, and learned a lot.

    There was a lot of talk about how to increase the visibility, accessibliity, and appeal of WTR. A lot of good ideas were discussed. I really would like to see more people, and at least more peace activists, to become active, public war tax resisters.

    An ironic and sort of disturbing thing happened after the meeting officially ended Sunday afternoon. I went hiking with my brother and his wife on one of the small peaks next to Pike's Peak, and then we went over to the house of a friend of theirs. The guy has a really nice house, up in the hills kind of overlooking the city and with a beautiful view of Garden of the Gods. Plus, there's a hot tub on the roof! This was our main goal after our tiring sweaty hike.

    I guess this guy, he's sort of the typical successful young professional. Like, if you are a U.S. citizen completely unconcious of any higher social goals in life, any artistic or activist or political involvement, then this guy's life would be basically what you'd be dreaming you could have. He's got this amazing house with a huge home theater system in the basement, pool table, bar, the aforementioned hot tub, etc etc.

    After soaking in the hot tub for a while the conversation got to the point where he mentioned the military guys he worked with. I asked him where he worked and it turns out he is an engineer or a programmer or something at Schriever Air Force base!!! I felt glad that I had not explained exactly why I was in town. I couldn't believe it, the irony. I felt a little bit like a monk in a whorehouse or something. Just the previous morning we had learned in a presentation at the meeting about the militarization of outer space that Colorado Springs is virtually the center of that effort, and that there are 5 different military bases here. This is where they control a lot of horrible shit, the robot drones with the hellfire missiles, the surveillance satellites, the smart bombs, etc etc. And here I was in a hot tub with a guy that works on that stuff!! At least I could say that none of my taxes were going to help this guy buy more DVDs, cars, and beer.

    I should have asked for more details about what he did, but chickened out. I didn't want to risk pissing the guy off or saying something offensive. He's a good friend of Allan and Jeannette, and the thing is, he is a really nice guy. He just obviously doesn't think to hard about things like politics and U.S. imperialism and his own participation in those. Just like most North Americans, I guess. You get to know them individually and a lot of them are great people, I believe. But most of them just don't think about the consequences of how they live their lives, and the connection between themselves and the rest of the world.

    So how do you judge those people? Are they really such "great people" if they're so blind? I can't figure it out yet. All I know is there is some severe cognitive dissonance in this country. Severe.

    Posted by steev at 12:18 PM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 07, 2004

    NWTRCC Meeting: Day One

    This evening was the beginning of the meeting of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. Makes it sound important to call it that, or rather, maybe it makes me sound important, but really anyone is welcome to the meetings.

    Tonite was dinner and introductions. Everyone went around the room and said who they were, where they're from, and what they did on Tax Day this year. Daniel, Tana, and I got up and sung the "Can't Can't" song that our Portland group sang on Tax Day. I mentioned my WTR documentary project and talked to some people afterward about interviews. There are a lot of really good, dedicated people here from all over the country. The combined experience is staggering. We probably have a total of several hundred years of resisting amongst all of us. I think the record in the room was one guy who'd been doing it for 39 years. wow. And who knows how many total dollars withheld?

    So, tommorrow things start up at 8 am, so now I need to go get some shut-eye. It's beautiful here in Colo Spgs, I kind of wish I could go hiking instead of sitting inside all day. Maybe Sunday there will be time.

    Posted by steev at 11:18 PM | Comments (0)

    Mayo 05, 2004

    Democracy or Revolution?

    Though I'm not sure if I agree with the general position this blog takes, this particular entry makes some good points about the phrase "democratic revolution", and the idea that revolution and democracy are not compatible.

    The way I see it, revolution is basically a discontinuity in democracy (in cases where it occurs in a democratic state). After it may be more democracy, or less, but the revolution itself probably can't be democratic.

    I'll probably be called a reformist by some for saying that, or for even linking to this item....

    Posted by steev at 08:38 AM | Comments (2)

    Another great prank from the Yes Men

    Those wonderful impersonators of free market leaders, The Yes Men, have performed yet another wonderful action at the Heritage Foundation. They pretended to be a neoliberal thinktank so they could sneak into a Heritage Foundation conference, and actually got applause for nominating Ed Meese for president.

    It's funny, for the past couple of years every time the Yes Men or Rtmark do something, my friend José and I trade a brief flurry of emails. It starts out with one of us emailing the other with the press release, asking if it's really them, because they do a very good job of hiding their identity, by creating fake domains and wonderfully subtle parody web sites. But, they have a very distinctive way of doing things, so we can usually tell, or at least suspect. Then eventually they add the exploit to the list of past capers on their own site or sites (either rtmark.com or theyesmen.org or both)
    and we say "yup, we were right, it's them."

    It's great to see them continuing their long campaign to expose the corporate evildoers, but it's almost disappointing to find out they are behind so many of these hijinks. I would prefer, I think, to see that numerous different groups around the world and the internet are engaging in these tactics. Why aren't there more? Actually I'm sure there are more, they're just not as good about publicizing their efforts, and so the questions is, why not?

    Perhaps once the Yes Men movie comes out, more people will be inspired to start emulating their tactics. Yes, it's true, an actual movie, released by United Artists and created by the same people that made "American Movie." Coming out this summer. Wow!

    Posted by steev at 08:07 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 25, 2004

    Escrache en Portland

    Well, the March for Police Accountability went very well. There was no violence on either side, only 1 arrest and one ticket (both for being in the street at the wrong time, basically, which is fucked up, but at least there was no riot as a result of either one). Furthermore, the event turned into what they would call an escrache in Argentina - a loud, very visible demonstration located at the house of a public official who has power over a certain issue. I say this because the final destination of the march turned out to be the Mayor's house, in the yuppie NW neighborhood near 21st avenue. I think that tactic should be put to better and more frequent use in this country. Why protest just for the media and random passerby? Take it straight to where it matters. Best of all, apparently Mayor Katz was actually home, and she called 911 to try to get the people off her sidewalk...

    My friend Brian shot
    These excellent photos of the event.

    Posted by steev at 12:16 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 24, 2004

    Police Accountablity March

    Today is a march downtown to protest the regular killing by Portland police of people of color. It was organized by ARISSA, a group led by Craig Rosebraugh that advocates for "a revolutionary movement in the United States of America."

    Craig is a local activist almost-celebrity known for his study of the history of political violence, and his past role as spokesperson for the ELF. There's been a lot of discussion on the Portland IMC site about this march. People that aren't involved with the organizing, myself included, don't quite know what to expect. There has been no indication publicly of whether it will be a peaceful event, but many are nervous and concerned that it will be very un-peaceful and very ugly.

    One thing is for sure, there are lots of people in Portland very upset about a cop shooting an unarmed motorist a few weeks ago, the latest in a pretty much yearly series of incidents where police have killed poor, innocent, minority citizens and have not been properly punished.

    So, it's pretty imperative that something like this be properly covered by indymedia. The video collective is going to be fully deployed, with at least 8 cameras. I'm going to go out there with mine and try to do lots of interviews, and not just shoot same-old riot porn. It would be great to have my laptop out there too, because Pioneer Square has a free wireless access point, so we could do updates from the square as they happen. But, that's too much to carry around and another thing to possiby be broken or arrested.

    Well, hopefully I will not run into any problems like that...

    Posted by steev at 08:23 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 23, 2004

    Planning for the RNC

    I'm tentatively planning to be in New York for the Republican National Convention, or rather, for the protests of same. However, I've been procrastinating on buying plane tickets, mostly because of money, but also because it still seems far off, and I'm not sure what will happen there or how I can contribute. I mean, obviously I'm going to be shooting video, but I don't know what my plan is, what my angle is, as a videographer - as one of maybe hundreds of independant radical videographers that will be there. What can I do that will be different or unique, rather than just milling around in the crowd and shooting whatever everyone else shoots?

    Anyway, hopefully I will get some brainwidth to really consider this and other plans for the RNC. I am encouraged by all these sites I just found out about:

    http://www.rncnotwelcome.org
    http://www.counterconvention.org
    http://rncwatch.typepad.com
    http://nycplc.mahost.org
    http://www.campshutdown.com
    http://rncpunditpatrol.typepad.com

    And
    this article from the Guardian.

    Posted by steev at 11:50 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 21, 2004

    Lord of the Rings according to Socialism

    I am given more food for thought about one of my favorite books of youth with a socialist look at The Lord of the Rings in Socialist Review by science fiction writer (and presumably socialist) China Melville. The review seems to be a couple of years old, since it also talks about the first installment in the Peter Jackson film trilogy (and Melville doesn't even mention that it is a trilogy, referring to the film simply as 'Lord of the Rings'). At any rate there are some interesting facts about Tolkien that are a bit surprising, and critiques of his writing that in some cases are very good points.

    Here is a particularly good passage about the escapism of LOTR:


    "Tolkien and his admirers (many of them leftists) gave his escapism an emancipatory gloss, claiming that jailers hate escapism. As the great anarchist fantasist Michael Moorcock has pointed out, this is precisely untrue. Jailers love escapism. What they hate is escape."

    Ever since the films started coming out I've been telling myself I should read the books again. This is more reason, or maybe reason to NOT. I'm curious to know what my adult self will think of the book, and yet, it's an immense time investment. I read them 5 times before I was 20, but not once since.

    And speaking of LOTR, I was directed to (thanx jason) a funny little flash movie about George W. Gollum. It's also a bit old, but still great. I was thinking about printing it to videotape and screening it at one of Portland Indymedia's video showings.

    Posted by steev at 08:54 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 13, 2004

    Zia Mian & Project for New American Century

    I just heard an amazing speech on the radio by
    Zia Mian, a physicist at Princeton who studies nuclear proliferation and related topics. His talk was about The Project For A New American Century and U.S. imperialism. It was really really great. I just found a sort of abridged version of the talk.

    He talks about the U.S. strategy for global hegemony, basically, and deconstructs the plans that the neoconservative intellectuals like Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle wrote up years ago. It's scary stuff, from his descriptions of their long term geopolitical strategy, to details of plans to build new nuclear weapons and use them, to the misconceptions of the american people

    One really interesting bit is when he is talking about the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance document written by Wolfowitz for Dick Cheney. It outlines what to do in each region of the world, almost. But:

    One of the regions that's missing from their analysis is Latin America. It's as if it doesn't exist. One reason for its absence is that if there's one region that has already suffered the American empire, it is Central and South America. It's suffered so much that it doesn't even exist as a possibility of a threat, something the US planners need to worry about anymore.

    This is pretty depressing but also in a way pretty inspiring, and I'll tell you why: in light of all the huge mistakes the neocons have been making in other parts of the world, it's a good chance they are completely wrong about Latin America. Furthermore, its a unique and inspiring time there. It makes me feel like we should be doing as much as we can help social movements there, to help to prove the neocons wrong. It's like they have a blind spot that needs to be exploited....

    Posted by steev at 09:42 PM | Comments (3)

    Ashcroft porn

    I'll join the numerous other blogs linking to this photomosaic of John Ashcroft, made from tiny photos of porn stars, courtesy of Hublog.
    This is a fairly easy thing to do with software, now, but it's great to see the technique put to such great satiric purpose. A while back there was a really disgusting one of Bush made from pictures of assholes. That was conceptually great but hard to look at.

    Now imagine if all the porn stars filed a class-action copyright infringement suit against the makers of the collage, and Ashcroft and the Justice Department had to prosecute it, and it got all the way to the Supreme Court.... (ah, to dream...)

    Anyway, I wish there was a larger amount of clever appropriation for progressive, political ends. I'm sure it will be a growing area as we move closer to the election.

    (thanx Hooker.)

    Posted by steev at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 10, 2004

    fafblog

    Has everybody seen FafBlog? I'm sure you all already read it every day and this is old news. boring, steev, you're thinking. Well, in case not, go look, it's hilariously great critical satire. It's sort of dadaesque humor and/but(?) there's some real insightful political barbs in there too.

    I especially like this recent post about television news.
    (thanx jose.)

    Posted by steev at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

    Abril 07, 2004

    James Howard Kunstler

    I know about Kunstler from a book that's been on my "to read" shelf for the last couple years, called "The Geography of Nowhere." It's all about how screwed up the American way of urban planning is. The book is supposedly very radical and full of gloom and doom.

    I've just discovered his website (thanx ken) which has all sorts of interesting things, including various characteristically dark and forceful rants. Particularly interesting is his eyesore of the month page, and his Clusterfuck Nation Manifesto.

    Posted by steev at 12:01 PM | Comments (0)

    Abril 06, 2004

    Neoliberalism

    Here is an article about neoliberalism and what comes after it.
    And here is another about the history of neoliberalism and liberalism. very interesting.

    I came acros this second one because a friend took offense at the word Neoliberalism, as if it was a reference to "liberal," which is how he defines himself. I tried to explain that "liberal" as in "not a conservative" is different than liberal in the classic, historical sense, the liberalism that is the foundation for our market democracy. But this essay describes it much better than i could.

    Posted by steev at 04:41 PM | Comments (0)