Sunday, July 31, 2005

Anti-Islamic Bias Shows Through Veneer At Beeb

I don't know what's happened to BBC News lately. It's been possessed by some horrible spirit of government-apologist, scaremongering, race-baiting badness. I've squawked quite a bit lately about its disgraceful conduct over the Jean Charles de Menezes execution. It appears the rot is spreading.

The photograph above is taken from a story entitled 'France expels "radical preacher"', in which we are told that 'a radical Islamist preacher from Algeria said to have given pro-jihad speeches in a mosque in north-east Paris', and whose brother is suspected of training jihadists in Fontainebleau, has been deported under Nicholas Sarkozy's recently announced extremist-deportation program.

Note please the choice of photograph to illustrate this story. It is not a photograph of the deported man, nor of the author of the policy, though this might make sense given that the caption reads 'Nicolas Sarkozy has warned that hate speech will not be tolerated'. There is no indication that it is a photograph of the actual mosque in which Reda Ameuroud preached.

The filename of the photograph is '_41360845_afp_muslims_france_203.jpg'. As far as I can work out, it's simply a stock image of Muslims in France. That's all. But look how the photo depicts them: headless, anonymous, hunched over in prayer in a teeming mass that spills out of the building meant to contain their worship. Look how much black and grey there is in the photo; they look like a swarm of rats.

I don't believe for a second that the choice of such a photograph, depicting
in such a viscerally prejudicial way a congregation of random, presumably unoffending Muslim citizens going about their everyday prayer, to illustrate a story about the expulsion of a pro-jihadist preacher, is an accident. Even if it's not a deliberate connection being made, it is at the very least a glaring indication of how far the desired equation of Islam with extremism and terror is penetrating society, aided by the good offices of the media.

The government(s) and the media may continue to put themselves to some effort to pay lip-service to the distinction between 'Islam, A Religion of Peace' and the
terrorist proponents of 'Radical Islamism, Who Betray The True Islam', but their actions speak much louder.

Don't let them get away with this. Write to the BBC and complain. Let them know we won't tolerate racism and anti-islamic propaganda under the pretext of the GWOT.

Preannouncing The Endgame

Here we go.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

What's Wrong With American Liberals?

Hahahahahahaha. Where to start, right? No, but I want to talk about a specific issue, because it represents a glaring discontinuity in the values program of the 'decent' liberal left in America, and we need to be aware and be working on it. I'm talking, big surprise, about Palestine.

I belong to a handful of email listservs through the American Medical Students Association, all of which overlappingly discuss issues of health policy and global health. Not surprisingly, these discussions inevitably turn into highly polarized political debates, with a few diehard (and in some cases terrifyingly heartless) conservatives taking hard free-market, anti-immigrant type lines against the far more numerous proponents of liberal, broadly progressive programs. There is a tiny handful of radicals who participate, but for the most part the members of this 'community' are well-meaning, earnest, homework-doing and analysis-impoverished liberals.

The one debate we have over and over, like clockwork once a month, is on how to achieve Universal Health Care (UHC). I've posted a lengthy rant about this before, so I'll just summarize the scenario as follows: someone posts an article bearing on UHC, one of the conservative trolls pops up and hollers something truly horrid about how the poor shouldn't get a free ride on someone else's Hard-Earned Money, and a thousand earnest liberal voices are raised in outraged protest at the inhumanity. Repeat ad naus. They never give up, and they never tire of rehashing the exact same discussion with the same long, strenuously-argued missives.

These are decent people, for the most part, concerned about the AIDS crisis in Africa, domestic violence, gay rights, you name it. Post an attack on any of these fronts and the children come out fighting.

Contrast, then, a recent sequence of events on the global medicine list. Someone posted a piece by Juan Cole on the orange-shirt protests in Gaza. A (Jewish) medical student from Harvard responded with a post so packed with filthy, lying calumnies against the Palestinians and utterly mendacious justifications of Israeli war crimes that it made my head spin and my stomach heave. The email was long and dense with putrescent trash, but the kicker was in the first paragraph:
I assume this comment is in response to Israel's policy of attacking the homes of the families of terrorists. Israel is NOT indiscrimiately destroying Palestinian homes. It specifically targets homes of terrorists' families. Before doing so, Israel Defense Forces knock on the door to warn the family to give them time to evacuate. (Sadly, many times Palestinians chose to leave young children in the homes to serve as martyrs.)
That last line literally made me sick with rage. That someone could feel safe in posting a statement so nakedly racist (and monstrously false) to a public discussion was beyond belief. It's exactly as if someone had posted the Jewish Blood Libel, for fuck's sake. I instantly fired off a screaming protest to the racist scum, and waited for the chorus of outrage to back me up.

Hey, guess what? Silence. One Arab student stepped up in agreement, and provided a detailed rebuttal of the lies retailed in the rest of the email. Several other people posted whingeing admonitions that this was a global health list, and we should stop discussing politics, and anyway the situation in Israel/Palestine is just so complicated and everyone's at fault so we should just stop talking about it.

But from the legions of indignant liberals who leap up monthly to defend the right of the American poor to receive health care? To call for action against domestic violence and for statewide smoking bans? Deafening fucking silence. Not a single one of those earnest, anguished children could be fucked to raised a typing finger to defend the Palestinians from the most overt racist slander, nor to protest the baldly stated assertion that they deserve the atrocities committed against them by Israel.

So back into the fray I go, and now the zionists are out in force, posting the best American zionism has to offer by way of twisted, truth-unencumbered propaganda articles (my favorite included the line 'Noam Chomsky is a known Communist!'), fighting dirty like only they can, and I'm alone, hissing and spitting.

Soon enough the President of AMSA chimes in with a post saying things have gotten out of hand and requesting that everyone just 'take a step back' and not post on this topic for a day or two 'to cool off'. (They're very frightened of heated debate, these children, as soon as things get emotional they start calling for 'civilized, respectful discussion' because 'no one side is right or wrong, we're all Entitled To Our Opinions'. Words can't express how incorrect that is.) She is ignored. I reply to her off-list to demand that the AMSA leadership make a statement in response to this blatant racism that was posted on the list; I am ignored. (Shame on them, fucking shame.) The argument continues to rage, with me on the one side, the psychotic zionists on the other, and one or two idiots in the middle still whining that it's all so complicated, and would everyone stop being so one-sided. Eventually the president emails me personally to request that I hold off, to which I agree on the condition that she is also requesting the same of the other side, and the unholy brouhaha fades and dies.

[An interesting sidebar on the no-holds-barred tactics of hard American zionism. A few days into the debate I got an automated confirmation email from the listserv manager, requesting that I confirm my request to unsubscribe from the list. Since I had done no such thing, I contacted the president and confirmed that the leadership had not, as I paranoiacally but frankly doubtfully feared, decided to ban me from the list for being confrontational. Which means that someone else on the list copied the unsubscribe link from the bottom of one of my posts, and sent a request in my name, to try and boot me off the list on the sly. These are the lengths to which these people will unblinkingly go to silence the opposition. A whole movement of baby Dershowitzes, willing literally to stop at nothing to propagate their lying, genocide-apologist narrative. It's quite chilling.]

My point in retailing this long tale is, I hope, clear. What is it that allows these caring, well-meaning young medical students, many of them activists in socially progressive causes, to let pass statements of such open racism without a murmur? If someone had posted the claim that 'Black people often choose to allow their children to be killed by police officers, as martyrs to police brutality', they'd have been shouted down for a racist within minutes. How badly distorted is the narrative we've been raised with, that so many will not only tolerate racism against Palestinians, but allow free rein to people who claim that they deserve to have their most basic human rights obliterated?

How can decent people, who passionately advocate for health care as a human right, ignore the desperate condition of an entire population who should only survive the tender mercies of the IDF and Gush Emunim long enough to seek the health care they will then be denied?

These are all of course rhetorical questions. I know perfectly well how. The zionist narrative has a grip on American consciousness, through the complex combined agency of government conditioning, media bias and organized Jewish lobbying (through AIPAC, the ADL, organizations like CampusWatch, &c.) that is as insidious and tenacious as it is pervasive. Americans don't even know to question the version of Middle East politics that's handed to them, let alone how to analyze what they might find if they went looking.

We have a lot of work to do, and we'd best get on it. Anguished left liberals like my AMSA-mates, while politically hopeless, are nonetheless our best hope for building critical grassroots mass for Palestinian justice. Unless we can achieve the level of popular sympathy and outrage that saw out apartheid, we're doomed to cry in the wilderness, and these well-meaning, badly-programmed young people are where we need to start.

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Irony Gods Strew Bounty In My Path

I just received, as no doubt did many of you, the following email from the office of Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD):
Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) has joined with Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-LA), Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Senator Hillary R. Clinton (D-NY) to launch a new interactive website to engage Americans in the Supreme Court confirmation process of Judge John G. Roberts, Jr.

The joint creation of this website is designed to let the American people have a voice and to find out what they care about most. I have attached web banners which can be linked from your blog to: [URL deleted by Ed. in puny act of guerilla resistance] if you are interested in helping us get the word out!

Thanks,

Melissa Schwartz
Press Secretary
Office of Senator Barbara Mikulski
phone 202-228-1122
fax 202-224-3892
Having, I need hardly add, no intention of helping them do anything that doesn't involve a lethal overdose of morphine, I was nonetheless curious as to the specifics of this latest Hamster Wheel for the Masses, so I toddled along to the URL provided. After some 5 minutes of my browser struggling to 'contact democrats.senate.gov', I received an error message as follows:
Safari could not open the page “[that URL]” because the server stopped responding.
Some days you don't even have to try in this job.

Can't Stop Raging

I know, I'm boring you and could shut up about this, but honestly, I just can't fucking believe the utter disingenousness and aggression of the campaign to whitewash the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. There should be rioting in the streets! Heads should be paraded on pikes!

But no, what we get is naked lies and manipulations from the authorities, abetted by shameless pandering and compliant scaremongering from the liberal media, as well as of course opportunistic immigrant-baiting from the right (and not so right), all conducted to the accompaniment of deafening ovine silence from the public, broken only by threnodies of sympathy for the poor policemen.

Recent bits and pieces of note:

In yesterday's NYT, this disgrace of a title says it all: In Britain, Migrants Took a New Path: To Terrorism. The article quotes approvingly an editorial in the Daily fucking Mail, lest we entertain any lingering doubts as to the political orientation of today's Times.

Today the now-severely-credibility-challenged Beeb proffers the reassuring intel that 'Sir Ian said his officers had, tragically, been left with no choice but to open fire on a Brazilian man wrongly suspected of being a suicide bomber.' Tragic, indeed. As Lenin's pointed out, executing an unarmed prone man in a jean jacket on the floor of the Tube is manifestly
the conservative option, but Tasering an actual suspected suicide bomber with a rucksack on? Just crazy fucking maverick behavior.

The Home Office, purely in the spirit of setting the record straight, you understand, and 'not intended to influence any investigations', announces that Menezes' visa was in fact expired, and strongly implies that he forged his immigration stamp. Those fucking sons of bitches, this blatant character-assassination-on-the-heels-of-actual-assassination makes me just fucking incandescent with fury.

Independent Police Complaints Commission Chair Nick Hardwick weighs in with the tremendously grownup injunction that 'people' should 'shut up'. And the sad thing is, they actually are.

PEOPLE! HELLO! Your government is proclaiming that in order to protect you it reserves the right to kill you and not even be sorry! Any of you! You can start compiling a list of all the reasons Jean Charles de Menezes might have got shot, and you can try to comfort yourself with the solidity of your immigration status, the unpuffiness of your jacket, the validity of your Travelcard, the fairness of your complexion.

And you know, statistically, you probably won't personally get shot. But you might, and what's more your neighbor might, your friend might, another random innocent stranger undoubtedly will. And that should be enough to make you question what this particular flavor of 'protection' is actually buying you, and at what cost to your society and your soul.

Do As We Saa-ay, Not As We Do-oo

US to IRA: Don't talk to terrorists.

Oh and be sure to catch Must-See TV on Nightline!

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Don't You Hate Those Surprise Guests


Who show up unannounced, without even bringing a bottle of wine, or flowers, or in fact anything but incredibly crap advice?
[Rumsfeld] said Iraqi leaders should insist [Iran and Syria] "stop foreign terrorists" entering Iraq.

Iraq "should demonstrate that they are a big country, that they are a wealthy country, that they have been around a long time, and they don't like it."
Perhaps while they're at it they could also demonstrate that they have the ability to fly by flapping their arms, and that they can spin straw into gold on their magic spinning wheels.

Thanks for popping by, Rummington dear. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Call Me Immature

But this makes me laugh.

No Honestly, You Are Shitting Me

This whole thing just gets more and more like a horrible totalitarian nightmare. I can't even bring myself to be sarcastic about it.

One of the officers who shot Jean Charles de Menezes in the head seven times for no reason has been given a family holiday, paid for by Scotland Yard.

Yes, this is apparently all part of some new reality game show, something along the lines of Big Brother meets Grand Theft Auto. 'Are you hard enough? Are you bad enough? Metropolitan DeathSquad pits your itchy trigger-finger against the nebulous forces of suppositious terror lurking in every apartment block. Hunt down and annihilate blameless passersby and you could win an all-expenses-paid luxury vacation for the whole family!
Rated E for Everyone's A Target.''

Fucking hell, people. I just don't even know anymore.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

One More For The Preposterously Appropriate Names File

Today's latest defense of the 'shoot-to-kill-to-protect-and-also-maybe-have-some-incidental-fun' policy comes from South Wales Chief Constable Barbara Wilding.

I mean really, what else would someone defending the need for gangs of plainclothes officers to swarm innocent civilians, throw them down on public transportation and shoot them seven times in the head be named? Chief Constable Savage Beating?

You Go, Girl...Or Should That Be 'Father Girl'?

In the spirit of 'I honestly can't imagine why on earth you'd want to do this but I support your right to do it', let's hear it for nine Roman Catholic women who've been unofficially ordained as priests and deacons aboard a tour boat in Canada (of all spiritually-conducive settings).

They risk excommunication, but at least one of them, a married grandmother, does 'not fear an excommunication because I don't feel excommunicated'. While one has to wonder what church exactly she doesn't feel excommunicated from, again I say more power to them. Anybody striking blows, even peculiar and quixotic blows, against the manifest discrimination and prejudice of the RC Church is ok by me.

Playing To Their Strengths

(via cntodd)
The Dems are at it again, that opening-their-mouths-and-letting-words-come-out thing. Big fucking mistake, I do wish someone would let them know. They seem not to read my briefings as assiduously as you do.

Speeches to the Democratic Leadership Council in ghastly harbinger state Ohio. Setting agendas for political strategy between now and 2008. Sharp criticisms of Republican leadership! Ah, but on what grounds? Stomping on individual liberties via the Patriot Act? Ignoring the mounting crisis in healthcare? Nominating an anti-choice, anti-labor Supreme Court candidate? Nah, don't be silly. Try 'not being fiscally conservative enough'.
Gov. Mark Warner of Virginia said, "Today's Washington fiscal conservative is someone who thinks that deficits can go on forever and that you can make the cost of the war go away simply by moving them off the balance sheet."
That's our Democrats, eternally striving to find the field on which they stand the least possible chance of actually winning.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Carnie The XVIth

Hello, bloggy friends! Big fat juicy Carnival this week, no less than lucky thirteen freshly-rendered Uncapitalist delights to beguile your attention and refresh your work-weary mind. No time to waste faddling about with snappy intros!

First up, a succinct little briefing on the splinterfication-in-progress of the AFL-CIO, complete with handy more-info links, courtesy of The Continental Op at Red Harvest.

Science and Politics attempts a reforming differentiation between 'nationalism' and 'patriotism', and a reappropriation of the latter for people with consciences. See if you think it works. (For my money, patriotism is irredeemable, as word and concept. It springs from the same poisoned soil of tribal exclusionism as nationalism does, it just tries to inject a a mild leavening agent of humane xenotolerance. No go, imho. Then again, I'm nobody's patriot, as the quiz S&P directs us to can attest: 35% Amerkin, that's me. I figure that's maybe from about mid-thigh down. My feet and I never did see eye to eye.)

Nathan Newman at House of Labor pleases me immensely by fronting with cold hard stats in the faces of the disingenuous let-them-eat-cakers who persist in pimping Horatio fucking Alger at this late date, despite mounting evidence of intransigent poverty and class immobilization in the Land of Opportunity.
...the last twenty years has seen the top 0.1% of the population increase their share of the national income from 2% of total income to over 6%...

...if you are among the poorest 5% of the population, your chances of achieving an average income are only one in six.
American Dream my lilywhite arse. Some very nice analysis about the political ramifications, and why voter turnout in the lower income groups is still a vital target of action.

Sir Richard Cranium, Lord of All Spin Zone, has nasty, nasty words for Andres Oppenheimer, foreign affairs columnist for the Miami Herald and trained monkey for the Bush Administration:
...he's about as objective on the social democratic revolution taking place in South America as Judy Miller was about her WMD feed from Ahmed Chalabi. What do you expect from a guy who, in 1993, published a book titled “Castro's Final Hour: An eyewitness account of the disintegration of Castro's Cuba”?
Heh.

At Political Calculations, Ironman provides a detailed accounting of recent attacks on the Bill of Rights by the judiciary. Makes for some scary-ass reading, believe you me. And since it was posted a little while ago, pre-Roberts-nomination, when he says
Without judges willing to stand for the rights of individuals against the state in cases such as these, we will be condemned to live under the rule of a predatory plutocracy - a government of, by, and for the interests of an elite government-campaign contributor complex
we can now amend that to 'we ARE condemned'.

Here's a really interesting and important issue, brought to our attention by (a) Revere at Effect Measure: the repercussions of 'the 1993 Daubert decision which requires federal trial courts to make a preliminary determination whether evidence presented by scientists is "relevant and reliable."' Turns out, letting judges decide for themselves what constitutes credible scientific evidence? Not all that brilliant of an idea, really. Whodathunk.

And by special request (from me), Lenin's much-celebrated, trollishly-vilified kick against the Unite Against Terror pricks, showing the whole business up for the sanctimonious, war-apologist load of crypto-racist schmaltzy shite that it is. Boo and verily I say unto you, yah.

Speaking of kicking and pricking, Sarah at The Gazebo highlights the latest splash in the tsunami of evidence that Coca-Cola is really fucking eville: 'While Coke rapes the land and steals resources right out from under poverty-stricken populations, they ship their products all over the world to affluent locales.' Yup, that's about the size of it.

Here's a lovely evocative piece on the nightmare that is Haiti at present, artfully penned (typed really) by The Heretik. Lots of good resourcey links in this one too.

Personally, I'd have bet on an embarrassment of Roberts-related submissions this week, and yet oddly no. Must be one of those potluck picnic scenarios where everybody assumes everyone else is going to bring potato salad. Upshot: just the one bowl of potato salad, but a tasty one indeed. (OK, I'll stop that now.) Confined Space manages to find room to stash a post on the outlook for labor and workplace safety issues in a Roberts-inhabited Court. I think I won't be spoiling much when I reveal: it ain't rosy.

A great piece at Working Life, skewering liberals for their complicity in the myth of 'Further Education = Automatic Job Opportunities', with special sharp satisfying pokes reserved for King Liberal Complicity, Robert Reich:
Reich represents a certain segment of political thought: college-educated liberals who continue to try to walk a very thin line. They view themselves as people with a social conscience, but they believe in the free market largely because it’s rarely bitten them directly in their behinds...
True dat.

Looming up from the pages of both Freiheit und Wissen and the new, paralysis-inducingly exciting UnCapitalist Journal, cntodd wants you to be afraid, possibly even very afraid, of the potential ramifications of News Corp's acquisition of MySpace.com. Media consolidation, folks. It's bad, it's spreading, and it appears we're not safe here in our little digital hidey-hole for too much longer. Rupert's coming.

Finally (you still with me?), in a return to the ever-popular and perennially replenished theme of giant corporations being horrid to impoverished countries, Open Veins provides a backgrounder on the lawsuit British Gas has brought against Bolivia, because the Bolivian Congress had the temerity to pass a law BG didn't like. Yup, you guessed it, the kind of law that could potentially allow the actual people of Bolivia to benefit from their own natural resources instead of pouring them directly down the insatiable maw of a foreign investor. Commie bastards. What I like about this post is that it gets its mad on, and then moves on to think about what actions can be taken globally to try and shame BG into backing down. Action is good.

And let that be a lesson to you, children. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Good For Geese, No Ganders Need Apply

So now that it's inevitably been revealed that poor Jean Charles de Menezes had nothing whatsofuckingever to do with terrorism, now that Met Chief Sir Ian Blair has apologized to his family and in the same breath allowed that it may very well happen again, the apologism begins.

Just read the things some (most) of these people are saying in their comments (on the BBC stories):

'While this is nothing short of a tragic [sic], I really feel for the police concerned as well.'

'I can only imagine how that policeman feels today. He should not be blamed; he was only trying to do a difficult job in extreme circumstances.'

'Has anyone stopped to spare a thought for the officer concerned? No officer gets up in the morning with a yearning to shoot someone.' [Ahem.]

'In today's climate in London, if you act in such a manner and resist any attempts to be stopped by the police, then I am afraid that you have to face the consequences.'

&c. You get the gist: a vast outpouring of sympathy and understanding for the perpetrators of this meaningless, completely unnecessary killing. We have to understand the circumstances that led to this 'tragic accident'.

Now what's interesting about that is that it comes from just the same people who, for the last two weeks, have been excoriating our lot for trying to understand the circumstances of the bombings. Apparently when we attempt analysis (and not even overtly sympathetic analysis, I might add, just material causality) of the causes of bombs killing innocent bystanders, we're unacceptably making excuses and apologizing for terrorists.

But when their lot not only call for understanding but openly elicit sympathy for the wielders of guns killing innocent bystanders, that's just natural human response. It's the milk of fucking human kindness is what it is.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Such A Little Thing

A British doc has come up with the ingenious practice of including a short description of each drug's purpose on the prescription labels of his patients' medications. E.g., 'Take one each morning to reduce blood pressure.' (Patients can choose not to have the descriptions included, if they're concerned about confidentiality. Few do, though.)

One of those ideas that seem unbelievably obvious once someone's come up with them. Little, low-tech interventions like this can have a disproportionately significant effect on a patient's experience of illness and treatment; this measure not only helps patients practically to remember how and why they're taking their meds, it also acknowledges their intelligent agency in caring for themselves. Its failure to appear before now is undoubtedly down to the usual scenario of lack of doctor empathy with patients as human beings, instead of pill-ingesting symptombags.

I honestly believe that's changing, though, and here's one more proof of it. Hurrah.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Carnivale!

This just in, friends. Your host for next week's Carnival of the UnCapitalists will be none other than ME, Bionic Octopus. And I want to include your work in my Carnival. There's no special theme for this one, so send 'em all on in to me at uncapitalist[at]gmail.com. I'll make it worth your while.

Update: In my invitational zeal, I neglected to mention that you should please send 'em on in to me by 3:00pm EST (or thereabouts) this Sunday, 7/24 (or 24/7 if you're britishly inclined). Thank you.

Let Me In Or I'll Smile Again

No honestly, can you imagine anything more terrifying than this showing up at your door unannounced?

Out-Post Alert! You May Be Missing Out!

Today the substantive fruits of my labors in the blogmines can be found at The UnCapitalist Journal. Should you care to know just how fervently I believe in the ideal of judicial impartiality, whyncha shimmy on over there and have a gander.

See? He's Just A Little Judge. Nothing To Be Alarmed About

Is it just me, or is there something inescapably odd about this photo? They appear to have cast the actor who played Big Gandalf in the role of Sen. Patrick Leahy, gesturing towards a diminutive Judge Roberts who is actually located 35 feet away down an artfully concealed corridor.

Actually it looks to me like Roberts has been photoshopped in from another picture entirely; look at his head against the wall behind. Man has blatantly been montaged into a photo two or three sizes too big, to foster the illusion of Democratic solidarity with the nominee while reminding us that Democrats are still Very Large and Important.

In the respective original photos, Leahy was undoubtedly gesturing to his giant dog to get off the couch, while Roberts was clearly chortling gamely at one of Laura Bush's comedic periprandial gems. They can't fool us with these amateur theatrics.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Hillary Makes The World Safe For Children Again

Parents, you can breathe easy again. The degenerate pimps behind Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas are today supping on the bitter fruit of their misdeeds. GTA: SA has been uprated to 'Adults Only' following findings that the much-fussed-over unlockable sex scenes were in fact coded into the game by the publishers.

It's heartening to see the Entertainment Software Ratings Board plying its standards so vigorously, and with such scalpel-like precision. Clearly the hidden presence of sex scenes that have to be ferreted out with the addition of a special software modification to the player warrants, at the very least, restricted access. Not so, however, a game in which 'players could have sex with a prostitute and then beat her to death and take back their money. That game was rated "Mature" because players did not see the sex. Instead, they saw a parked car rock back and forth.'

Teenagers seeing explicit sex? Get thee behind me, PlayStation! Teenagers getting to experience the thrill of fucking and murdering a hooker in a parked car? Bring it. Just so long as they're Mature, and they have to use their vivid little imaginations to actually visualize the action.

No, but this is a great day. Our children are delivered from the perils of encountering, after much effort of downloading and mod installation, actual visible sexual activity undertaken by really badly rendered
6-inch-high avatars whose contours are all at funny angles and who look like flat cardboard cutouts against their backgrounds (and presumably each other). What a relief!

Thank god there isn't any kind of vast, easily accessible global data repository from which they could in 2 minutes acquire real footage of actual live women being fucked by boa constrictors.

In Mem James Doohan

Another Original Trek stalwart gone. I will not make the obvious joke about beaming up. I will say only this. I don't know about you, but rare indeed is the day when I say the word 'computer' without doing so in a (very, very poorly simulated) Scottish accent.

Aye Mister Scott, ye will be missed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Dept. of Things That Are So Gonna Work

Via Max:

A Ugandan MP, Sulaiman Madada, is offering girls university scholarships to remain virgins through high school graduation. This is his clever plan to prevent HIV infection, as well as 'to improve the moral welfare of young people and stop them marrying too young.'

In order to qualify, girls would have to submit to a gynecological exam after graduating high school. The genius thing about this is that it's totally not going to encourage them to engage in even riskier behaviors like unprotected anal sex (no chance of pregnancy, why bother with a condom?), while keeping their fiscally-inflated hymens intact.

I'm told that in Brazil, where technical virginity is still a cherished connubial commodity, there's not an unpenetrated anus in the teenage female population. Human ingenuity did e'er find a way.

One Degree of Separation, If That

Whatever It Is I'm Against It has beaten me to the punch with a timely bit of backstory on SCOTUS nominee John Roberts's wife, who's been involved with a group called, somewhat paradoxically, Feminists for Life:
“Women deserve better than abortion,” their site says. “We are dedicated to systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion,” they say, which is both a disempowering notion that women don’t choose but are “driven,” and it’s the Hillary et al position about reducing abortion taken very slightly further--just a couple of baby steps, if you will.
A nice, and of course devastatingly accurate, bit of analysis, that.

Good Morning UnCapitalists!

I am tremendously excited to announce the launch of the new Lefty Place to Be on the Ultrahypernetweb, The UnCapitalist Journal. Packed full of tasty radical goodness, vitamins and minerals, the UnCJ aims to scratch all your progressive-info itches at once. We've got a group blog personned by a crack team of blog-ninjas, a constantly-updated News Wire filled with all the progressive news that ain't fit to print in a capitalist society, reader Forums where we can all hack and slash and flame--er, make that discuss and listen attentively to each other's viewpoints, and of course the ever-popular Carnival of the UnCapitalists.

We've got great things in the works, including some very compelling guest bloggers and special events in the weeks and months ahead, so come early, come often, bring your axes and grind 'em.

The UnCapitalist Journal, folks. Get an analysis. Get several.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Absolute Evil Knows When To Step Off

I had to share with you this extraordinary image, made possible by recent technological advances in Eville-Capture Photography. If you direct your attention to the side of the photograph opposite the strangely tiny Ariel Sharon, you will observe the unprecedented phenomenon of the Dark Side going over to him.

In Which I Shirk My Responsibilities And Shamelessly Court Traffic, All At The Same Time

Friends: today I'm pleased to beguile your jaded appetites with something titillatingly new and different (to this venue, anyway): a special guest appearance by author China Miéville, whom you may know from such venues as Lenin Never Shutting Up About Him, as well as interviews like this. The following piece was originally solicited for publication immediately after the London bombings, by a mainstream magazine which Shall Remain Nameless and which for various reasons wasn't able to run the thing after all.

Hence I picked it up for a song, only slightly shopworn, and am able to bring it to you, my beloved regulars, for the low, low price of, well, of your just showing up, really.

Without further ado, then, please give a warm Bionic welcome to Special Guest Star China Miéville! Now go easy on him, friends, he's not used to playing to such a rough crowd.
London is in the grip of an epidemic of idiot non-anecdotes. ‘If I’d got the bus only 20 minutes later,’ you hear. ‘If I’d got off the tube one stop before…’ ‘If I’d got out of bed…’ If you weren’t there, you don’t have a story to tell, and shut the fuck up.

At the soi-disant higher end of culture, journalists and novelists have unleashed their own slightly more sophisticated versions, rapid-response mawkishness designed to prove that they, too, own this atrocity. In the Guardian the day after (‘Hi, Ian? It’s Alan. I know, horrendous tragedy. Can you do us 850 words by 6?’), a Booker-prize winner explained to us that ‘we have been savagely woken from a pleasant dream’. He inserted a point or two of classics-quoting handwringing (‘how much power must we grant Leviathan…?’), but his basic purpose was to tell us that bombs killing civilians in our city were awful. Really. Bad.

And they are. Scores of people have died, and none of them deserved it, and that they were killed is monstrous. I’d like to think that my record of vociferously not-condoning mass-murder would speak for itself on this issue. But I have to prove my moral right to speak by spelling out my horror. Because, like other vulgarians, I think there are reasons, and obvious ones, for what happened, that lie at our own governments’ doors.

It’s a bludgeon in the hands of our rulers, the sense that to emote after a tragedy or an atrocity is appropriate, but that to analyse is tawdry, and disrespectful of the dead. Perhaps there are some who truly believe, or even find bizarre comfort in, the notion that terrorism can be wholly explained by the fact that there are evildoers who are evil: or that those of us who try to explain or make sense of such events support them, absurd as that is. There are also many who deploy those claims as weapons.

Tony Blair took time out from the none-less-surprising G8 betrayal of Africa to issue his I’m-at-the-edge-of-tears-at-this-incomprehensible-nastiness speech, one of the most truly bile-raising spectacles in British political history. Yet he was seen by some as morally weighty, not despite his vapidity but precisely because of it. By contrast, MP George Galloway of the left-wing RESPECT coalition broke parliament’s axis of sanctimony. He followed his savage denunciation of the bombings by pointing out that Londoners were paying the price for Blair’s ferocious wars against innocents. One government minister, in a vividly preposterous metaphor, accused him of ‘dipping his poisonous tongue in a pool of blood’.

Of course there is nothing new in Galloway’s patently sensible analysis. It is the same one reached by our joint intelligence committee in February 2003, that the Iraq action would increase the threat of terrorism in Britain. The New York Times, hardly a stronghold of Bolshevik rage, reasonably pointed out after what I refuse, despite my media’s efforts, to call ‘7/7’, that Blair’s ‘support of the war appears to have cost British lives’. We have yet to see our ministers denounce the secret services or the NYT for their poisoned tongues, pens or keyboards. The crime – the vulgarity, the pissing in church – is not to offer analysis but to do so from the left, even if on details like the causality here we might happen to agree with apparatchiks of the status quo.

I’m a Londoner by upbringing and choice: I love my city, and reeled when it got hit, and was touched by the sympathy of strangers. But it’s not ok that some concerned for me and mine aren’t horrified for Iraqis, for Palestinians, for Afghanis and others. Blair takes time out between his weepings to support and organise these and other less noticed, vastly worse atrocities.

We were all Londoners that day, I’ve heard from around the world, and it’s a kind sentiment, but there are other cities that deserved such solidarity more. We should all be Fallujans. We should all be citizens of Baghdad and Jenin. For the sake of all our dead, we need those who rail against the good taste of politics-free sympathy: who don’t just preach but, in the only serious effort to end mass murder everywhere, explain.

Update: 19/7/05

The above was written 3 or 4 days after the bombings, and I’m glad to say that events are leaving it behind. In fact, the argument that led to Galloway being excoriated is so blatantly, eminently, obviously sensible, that it’s spreading. The carapace of politeness has cracked. Columnists in venues like the Independent and the Guardian have, admirably, refused to kowtow, and have pointed out that British foreign policy is not an irrelevance here. That to make so fucking screamingly obvious a point can be considered ‘brave’ is evidence of the stultifying effect of the Mawk Industry, the struggle against which continues. The government’s efforts to fight this doubleplusbad thoughtcrime look increasingly like a desperate rearguard action. New Labour has to send in its heavy mob (the PM’s spokesperson, Jack Straw, the egregious John Reid on Radio 4) to try to slap down so utterly mainstream a venue as Chatham House – The Royal Institute of International Affairs – for pointing out the incontrovertible connections and causalities here. Their efforts are risible and increasingly incompetent. The government has lost this argument: this morning a Guardian poll has two-thirds of respondents placing some responsibility for the attacks at Blair's door (all those poisoned tongues...). Now you can't move on the blogosphere without bumping into someone pointing that out. And for that triumph of the ability to see the obvious-but-denied, we have in part to thank those who had the bad taste to demand thought, and answers, rather than content-free homilies.
Update: Here is part two of the excellent Long Sunday interview linked above.

Monday, July 18, 2005

How Hard


does Hugo Chavez rock? Really fucking hard, is how:
The Venezuelan government has warned it will confiscate hundreds of private companies that are lying idle if they fail to re-open.

President Hugo Chavez said the firms' workers would be given help to set up co-operatives and re-start production for the benefit of the community.

He said the move was needed to fight poverty and end Venezuela's dependence on "the perverse model of capitalism".
And lest anyone fail to fully grasp his meaning with that last, here's Chavez's formulation of the 'clear choice' facing Venezuelans: 'Either capitalism, which is the road to hell, or socialism, for those who want to build the kingdom of God here on Earth.'

Boo yah.

Dread

Something very, very bad is about to go on in Gaza. I have a huge knot in my stomach. Israel is preparing for a massacre, and it was always already going to go down this way, from the minute this farce of a 'peace process' was started up again by the entirely realpolitikal machinations of Sharon's ruthless expansionism. This was always going to happen.

And all the liberals who've been mooning around trilling their hopes for peaceful coexistence are going to feel bitchslapped and are going to blame the Palestinians, just as they have before, just as Sharon planned it. This is what Israel does, this is its classic, explicit pattern: provoke minor terror by means of civilian oppression and targeted political assassinations, then launch a massive expansionist bloodbath and call it a 'reprisal'.

And the world lets them do it. Time and fucking time again. Something very bad is about to happen, because America and the rest of the western world will allow it to. And all we can do is watch.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

That Carnival Feeling

Carnival of the UnCapitalists Numéro le Fifteenth is up now, and awaiting your visit. A special themed edition in honor of the Spanish workers' uprising of 1936, it's brought to us this week by Kevin Carson of Mutualist Blog. All kinds of labor-related goodies on display, so do check it out.

Care to be shamelessly pimped in this space as the host of your very own Carnival? Your marker's good here. Check out the hosting guidelines at the Carnival site for details, or slip a sly note in my Comments and I'll see that you get the VIP treatment. Any friend of BionOc's...

Holy Psychotic Racially-Motivated Police Brutality Against Children, Batman!

So I saw this in my BBC News email this morning, and I read it, and I thought, 'Wow, that's fucked, they're charging an 11-year-old girl with felony assault for hucking a rock at a bully.'

And I thought no more about it, until CM directed my attention to the more striking details of the story, which the Beeb in its culturally-sensitive wisdom chose to play down. (If that link wants you to register, go here and click on the San Jose Mercury News story. That should work, though according to what arcane logic I cannot say.)

Let me give you the gist: Maribel Cuevas, 11-year-old Spanish-speaking girl from a poor neighborhood in Fresno, California (decidedly low-income, crime-ridden and generally insalubrious, for those unfamiliar), was being harassed by local boys and pelted with water balloons. She threw a rock at one of the boys and gashed his head, leading to stitches and immediate release from hospital. Police showed up in three squad cars and a helicopter, restrained her on the ground with a knee in her back, cuffed her and carted her off to juvie where she was kept for five nights, allowed to see her family only once,
for half an hour the day after the incident. An eleven-year-old girl. After she was released from detention, she was kept under house arrest with an ankle monitor for another 3 weeks.

She's being prosecuted for felony assault with a deadly weapon, and police continue to insist their response was appropriate.
"We responded. We determined a felony assault had taken place and the officers took the actions that were necessary," said Fresno Police Sgt. Anthony Martinez.
[...]
Officers denied that their response was influenced by the setting - a low-income, largely minority neighborhood - or language difficulties - Maribel's family speaks limited English, and the responding don't speak Spanish.
Uh-fucking-huh. Like they would have shown up in riot gear for a rock tossed in Beverly Hills. Like they would have knelt on the back of a white girl who spoke English, and locked her up for 5 nights without visits from her family. The racist and classist motivations of this brutality are stunningly obvious, and the refusal of the police to back down from their stance appalling.

Interesting there are no statements from any local officials or politicians; where's Alan Autry, the Mayor of Fresno, in all this? Oddly silent. Nor does his Community Contract for Kids make any mention of a SWAT response policy for street scuffles.

Could it be because, though he proclaims himself 'the person responsible for forging the absolutely essential connection between our city and our children’s future', he, his government and his police force really don't consider children like Maribel Cuevas 'ours'?

How Is This Even Allowed?

I am in complete shock at this freakish piece of 50's-National-Geographic-vintage cultural condescension from the Beeb:
In the past, the only contact the Tiwis had with the tribes across the water was when they took to their canoes and carried out raids to steal women.

These days relations are a bit more genial, but the 2,500 Tiwis are still very different from their mainland cousins.

You sense it as soon as you set foot on the islands.

In a lot of Aboriginal communities there is an air of sullen hostility.

You can hardly blame them - crime, domestic violence, unemployment and poor health are huge problems for many indigenous people.

On the Tiwis, though, people smile as soon as they see you. Kids run alongside, adults wave and there's a real warmth in the welcome.

Part of the reason is that the supply of alcohol is strictly controlled.
Who is this Nick Squires? Who gave him money to go play Great White Hunter among the savages? Who is his fucking editor? Heads should be rolling over this.

Perhaps one of the sullen, alcoholic, wife-beating mainland Aborigines could be persuaded to take to his canoe and intervene.

Ladies and Gentlemen: My People

Never let it be said that doctors as a rule are unduly burdened with progressive social values.

"These Cubans are political agents who come to indoctrinate, not to work as doctors."

AnaCondi's Coming To Town

And she's got this face on.

Abu Mazen, take cover.

Punt

Lazy and distracted this weekend, so do forgive blog-idleness. Hopefully service will resume as normal next week.

Meanwhile, Justin Podur casts an appropriately jaundiced eye on the meltdown of the Israeli-Palestinian 'peace process', yet again.

Read him. Read this. Read whatever. Stop hounding me.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Hello Particle Physicist!

Although you are all undoubtedly taken in by the appearance of sublime indifference on my part, the fact is, like many bloggers, I pay a certain amount of attention to my Site Meter. Which is to say I peruse its reports regularly, with a mixture of fascination and suspicion, and a nontrivial amount of disbelieving glee: you mean someone in Qatar just read some random shite I wrote about boho chic? Unreal.

All this by way of preface to the observation that it seems I have acquired a semi-regular reader from CERN. And may I say, how fucking cool is that? A particle physicist, or someone who consorts with same, reads my blog! I am entranced.

Don't worry, Particle Physicist, I am not monitoring your activities! Don't get skittish and run away. You're among friends, and may go about your me-reading activities unmolested.

My former physics professor, Michael Tuts, recently moved from FermiLab to CERN. He is an utter rock star, blessed with the singular ability both to practice tremendously high-level quantum physics and to lucidly convey extremely basic Newtonian physics to beginners. He is a god. If you happen to run across him in your (high-speed?) journeys around the accelerator
, Particle Physicist, I recommend you get to know him. You can tell him that an admiring former student sends her regards and gratitude.

Apartheid Chic


No, your eyes do not deceive you. This is in fact a photograph of a fashion shoot against the background of the Israeli Apartheid Wall. Or, as Conal 'What Ethnic Cleansing?' Urquhart prefers to term it, the 'security barrier'.

This little artifact hails from G2's latest self-disgrace gambit, an article calling our attention to the heartbreak of anorexia among Israeli fashion models. Honestly, you can't even make this shit up. Not a word in the caption to indicate awareness that it depicts couture being photographed leaning on the apparatus of ethnic cleansing; it's more concerned to inform us that the photograph below it presents two young Israeli models, one of whom is anorexic. Well, you know, space is limited and all.

Now before anyone goes and gets all flapped and squawky, let me say right off that I do not for a minute dismiss the seriousness of eating disorders and women's body image issues. Big, real problems. However. Let's have some fucking context, people. Do you honestly expect to show me pictures of models lounging on the fucking Wall, and then enlist my sympathy for their troubled self-image?

And leaving aside the poor wee waifs, what about the government? Taking time out from its busy demographic-fixing schedule,
[t]his Sunday, a committee of...the Knesset, will decide whether to proceed with a bill to compel model agencies to monitor the health and body mass index (the ratio of height to weight) of models. Models would have to undergo regular medical tests to ensure their body mass index (BMI) is 19 or above.
Yes indeed. 55,000 Palestinian Jerusalemites will not be able to reach their hospitals if they're dying, but rest assured fashion models will have regular body fat checkups. No need to bother checking if the Palestinians are underweight; we know they are.

Think for a moment about what an image like this says about Israeli popular culture. What else do you think ended up in that spread? Cheesecake models on the hood of an armored Caterpillar? A Prada boot on the neck of a kid from Ramallah?

Dept. of Monumental Not-Surprise

Whee! A multi-center study published in this week's Lancet (full text available with free, very quick registration) and delightfully named MANTRA II ('Drone Louder'?) has found that, hold onto your hats kids, remote 'therapeutic prayer' has exactly no effect on the outcomes of heart catheterization procedures. (There's a pleasingly pissy little writeup here, behind free registration, if you don't feel like reading the actual study.)
In MANTRA II, we studied two noetic strategies in patients undergoing coronary revascularisation: an unmasked bedside combination of music, imagery, and touch, and a double-masked, off-site array of combined congregational prayers. Neither therapy alone or combined showed any measurable treatment effect on the primary composite endpoint of major adverse cardiovascular events at the index hospital, readmission, and 6-month death or readmission.
Ain't it grand? They really gave the prayers the benefit of the doubt, too: there was a primary tier of intercessors praying for the patients, and then later a second tier was added to pray for the prayers of the first tier. I dunno, maybe the second round cancelled out the first round. Maybe God was planning on answering the first tier, but then got fucked off with being nagged.

Also note this entertainingly straightfaced passage:
One of the most central issues is the absence of knowledge about dosing of noetic therapies. In the three studies discussed above, three to seven individuals praying, across a range of Christian traditions, were used. The MANTRA pilot study engaged ten congregations of many religious faiths involving hundreds of individuals. The MANTRA II study again involved many faiths in a larger number of congregations. The issues of whether the number of intercessors praying, whether prayers from individuals differ from those from congregations, or whether prayers from different religions have different effects remain unresolved.
So it appears we're still some ways away from 'Take two Hail Marys and call me in the morning.'

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Healthcare Is Not A Commodity

I don't have time now to go into it, but read this excellent article by John Lister, which argues correctly that the global trend in privatization of healthcare is driven not by 'efficiency' or 'cost-cutting' but by neoliberal ideology:
Indeed far from offering economies or efficiencies, many of the new market-style reforms serve to increase costs both to government and to individual service users, and have a questionable impact on overall efficiency of healthcare systems.

Among the most common of these measures are:

-Decentralisation and privatisation.
-The separation of purchaser from provider.
-The use of contracts to allocate resources and monitor service provision.
-Increased provider autonomy (for example, the creation of foundation trusts) and the cultivation of an “entrepreneurial” approach.
-The purchase of publicly funded services from private sector providers.
-New systems for the payment of healthcare providers.
-The creation of competition between providers.
-The use of private sector capital (for example, through the Private Finance Initiative or Public Private Partnerships).
-A focus on “patient choice” and consumerism in place of planning and accountability.
[...]
Nowhere is there any evidence that market-style reforms can improve efficiency, cut costs, or do anything but compound existing inequalities in access to healthcare.
Healthcare as a for-profit industry is precisely morally equivalent to war profiteering: it exploits human suffering for corporate and individual gain. The exigencies of profit maximization are structurally antithetical to the concerns of optimal care. This condition is not reformable by regulation and government oversight, let alone by rampant privatization and 'increased provider autonomy'; it is inherent vice.

Left to itself, by definition, capitalist healthcare will seek at every turn to maximize profits at the expense of patient care. This is unacceptable. We must oppose the ongoing privatization of our healthcare; our lives literally depend on it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Pick A Pretext, Any Pretext

Remember Mad Libs? A skeletal narrative framework is provided, and the interlocutor is asked to provide verbs, nouns, &c. of their choosing, resulting in a hilariously incongruous bellylaugh of a nonsense story?

This technique has found new relevance in the War on Terror. Witness Charles Clarke:
Mr Clarke is chairing an emergency meeting of European Union interior ministers, called in direct response to the bombings in London.

The fact [the bomb suspects were British] gave "extra impetus" to understanding the "radicalisation" and recruitment of those behind attacks, he said.
Any road up, as they say.

They Really Do Just Spell It Right Out For You

Israel does not consider Palestinians people.
[Israeli minister for Jerusalem Haim] Ramon made his remarks during an interview with Israel Radio when he admitted that the barrier not only made the city safer but "also makes it more Jewish". The barrier cuts off Palestinian areas like Shuafat and Qalandia that were included in the previous municipal borders of the city.

"The government did well in determining the fence route without including Shuafat and Qalandia in Jerusalem," Mr Ramon said.

"I don't think anybody is sorry about this", he added.
Right, that'll be 55,000 nobodies who might be vaguely sorry to be cut off from their schools and hospitals. Nobody, really.

All The Moral Clarity Of A Hamster On Crack

This appallingly dull, self-obsessed, utterly interest-free wad of parentwaddle from G2. When will the people stop thinking we're keen to read about the utterly unremarkable minutiae of exactly how they had their kid? The range of variation in exactly how white middle-class Westerners who write for newspapers and magazines have their kids is so straitened as to be statistically nonexistent.

This one wants us to acknowledge how Cool and Independent she was for getting knocked up by a one-night stand and deciding to have the sprat, but not going over all needy with the da: 'I explained why I had made my choice, how I had arranged my life, and said that I would not ask for child support, or anything at all, but if he wanted to know his son he should get in touch.' Which, hmm, yeah, except that once the kid was born she blatantly emotionally blackmailed the father first into weekly webcam visits, then into moving to England from Australia to be his son's father. Cool and Independent my ass; Selfish and Manipulative more like.

But of course you know what really stokes my furnace in this little scrap of mama-puff:
I am pro-choice. But I believe that abortion is terminating the path to life of a foetus which already carries in it the potential to become a fully-fledged human being; not killing a baby, but stopping a person's life before it has begun.

I could not do that.
OK, will someone please tell me, what the fuck does that even mean? That statement is about as ethically coherent as a blancmange. Terminating the path to life? A foetus which already carries in it the potential to become a fully-fledged human being? The fuck is she nattering about? At what point would it not already have that potential? Surely an unfertilized egg has that potential, requiring only union with a sperm to actualize it. As does the sperm. As do the undifferentiated cells that will one day become the sperm and egg. &c.

She's just saying words, words that sound serious and thoughtful and morally weighty, strung together more or less at random to slap a moral gloss on the real reason she kept the baby:
I had always wanted to have a child one day. And, although the circumstances weren't ideal, this one had come along.
Ah, there we go. Not ethical commitment to the 'path to life' of a potential human being, just plain old broodiness. Which, you know, fine. Nothing wrong with that, besides being rather unimaginative (but that's just my prejudice talkin'). If she gets her joy from doing 'maternal things - bake cakes, make pottery, grow radishes, have friends from school for tea and games', more power to her. Better her than me.

But let's not gussy up our nesting instincts with nebulous, untenable moral fripperies, shall we? These subterfuges do not become us.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Finally

The PA bestirs its languid, forelock-tugging ass to call for global sanctions against companies contributing to the Apartheid Wall.
"We want to see some concrete measures," Mr Kidwa said.

"We are proposing completely punitive measures against entities, companies and individuals that contribute to the construction of the wall and other illegal activities in the occupied Palestinian territory."
Yes. What he said. Completely punitive. Boycott Caterpillar, boycott Israeli goods (like produce frequently grown in the Territories and labelled 'Produce of Israel'), boycott Israel's racist murdering apartheid state tout fucking court. About damn time.

You May Catch More Flies With Honey


But you zap more with electricity.

Monday, July 11, 2005

So Fucked Off I Can't Speak

Dear MoveOn member,

Just days after Justice O'Connor's resignation, the fight to protect our rights is in full swing. By all accounts, this will be a long, fierce campaign. The radical right is already pouring millions of dollars in large, secret contributions into the right wing spin machine, determined to ram through whomever Bush puts forward.

We have a different approach, one that relies on millions of ordinary Americans giving what we can to protect our rights—and this is when you're needed most.

If Bush announces an extremist nominee we'll to need respond fast and hard with ads on the airwaves and in major newspapers that get our message out—and none of it comes cheap. So today we're launching our Emergency Fund to Protect our Rights with an initial goal of $500,000. If you can help us get there now, we can leap straight into action the moment we hear the news.

If keeping an extremist off the Supreme Court is important to you, this is a great time to chip in.

[...]

P.S. By the way, if we're unable to use your contribution for the purpose you specify, either because of oversubscription or for another unforeseen reason, it's our policy to use your contribution for other advertising, public relations, advocacy or organizing activities.
For the love of christ, I beg you, do not give these hellish apparatchik sinkholes your money. Please.

Dept. of UnMake-Uppable Chutzpah

Israel, not content with its present standing as World's Largest Recipient of US Aid, has apparently decided to push for Truly Fuckoff Spoiled Rotten status.

It has requested, and been granted 'in principle', the pittance of $2.2bn in additional aid, on top of the $500m already promised, to help fund settler relocation from Gaza. So, a total of $2.7bn (in additional aid) to move 8,500 settlers, or a tidy $317,647 per relocated psychotic fascist.

Let's just juxtapose that, shall we, with the US's generous promise of $350m to help the Palestinians settle in to their new-whoops-I-mean-old homes. Only 1.4m Palestinians in Gaza, so they'll all undoubtedly be keeling over with gratitude for their $250 each.

It May Not Be Bionic, But...

Blinder than a speeding bat!

About the size of a French baguette!

Able to imitate fluorescent shrimp at short distances!

It's a jelly! It's an anemone! It's SuperErenna!

Do As I Sssssssay...

Lord save us, AnaCondi's globetrotting again. I know they went and made her Sec of State, but you'd think someone in the White House would have the nous to keep her actual going-to-other-countries-and-talking-to-them activities to a bare minimum. But nay, they've let her out once again upon an unsuspecting world.

This time she's exhorting China to play nicely with Taiwan, in a textbook playground-monitor reinforce-and-modify approach:
Ms Rice praised China's efforts at "cross-straits" contact with Taiwan, but said future contacts should be with the elected government of Chen Shui-Bian, instead of opposition leaders.

Beijing has been accused of trying to isolate Mr Chen by speaking only to his opponents.
All very laudable, I'm sure. After all, it's only polite to deal with the, you know, the elected governments. It's just, I dunno, there was something oddly familiar here...

Sunday, July 10, 2005

If They Come For You In The Morning

See? This. This is what I'm talking about.

142 people detained in Milan, most of them over theft, drugs and illegal immigration, in a crackdown intended 'to guarantee greater security after the London attacks and to combat illegal immigration and street crime'. In other words, thanks for the pretext.

Vigilance, people. They'll just keep taking if we let them.

Don't Spend It All In One Place--Oh Wait, You're Only Allowed In One Place

The Big TB, Mr. Consumption himself, announcing a new bolus of aid to be pushed down the IV drip in the PA's withered, grabby arm:
"Yesterday evening the G8 agreed a substantial package of help for the Palestinian authority amounting to up to $3bn in the years to come, so that two states - Israel and Palestine - two peoples and two religions can live side by side in peace."
Really. Three billion samoleons buys the Palestinians peace? What's that, the PA's Israeli Protection Racket Allowance?

And may I for the record point out the shameful racial essentialism in the phrase 'two peoples and two religions'? I'm sure the large numbers of Palestinian
Christians will be irked to learn they don't get to live side by side in peace, not to speak of the handful of Druze and Bedouin Israelis. Oh well, can't make an omelet, I suppose.

Notification Of Nomenclatural Innovation

In my line of (pretend) work, I've long been troubled by the lack of a really good, demeaning nickname for our President. None of the variations in circulation really satisfy. Shrub is clever but a bit labored. Dubya has the right redneck gestalt but feels a bit too potentially chummy to me; he could think we were actually fond of him. Use of his actual, unmodified surname, of course, implies way too much acknowledgment of his supposed status as an adult human being.

But I've been stumped trying to come up with something better, cleverer, catchier. Until today, when, while I was shamelessly reading back over one of my own posts about the ethical outrage of Bushpapa's former presidential physician, inspiration struck: Bushbaby!

I mean, nothing says disrespect like comparing a world leader to a prosimian. And damn if there isn't a certain felicitous resemblance: note the overlarge ears, the hopelessly lost, startled look in the glassy eyes, the hunted glance back over the shoulder as it realizes its
desperate attempt at camouflage against the bark has failed. If ever a prosimian just catastrophically bollocksed up the occupation of an already brutalized country on the barely-comprehended advice of its handlers, this is that creature.

You Know What's Great?

Dark-chocolate-covered pretzels. Mmmmm. Chocolaty, crunchy, with stealthy chunks of salt to sneak up on your unsuspecting tongue and confuse it. Nothing better.

I'm just sayin'.

The Devil You Know

Today's tremendously pleasing quote comes from an interesting (if rawther lengthy) piece on Skookum, which Harry was kind enough to shove my way.

According to Paul de Armond, Research Director of the Public Good Project and one of the people interviewed for the piece, there's an "extraordinarily high incidence of people in the extreme Right who have suffered organic brain damage from head injuries--traumatic injury that turned them into dangerous kooks."

Now I don't know where on earth he got his data from (presumably, being a Research Director and all, he didn't just make the shit up), but I like it. I like it for two reasons. First, because it disses the far right and makes me laugh, in I confess a somewhat un-PC manner.

But more seriously, because it sidesteps the kinds of easy, Iagoesque-organic-evil etiologies we often tend to fall into when thinking about the racist far right and their motivations. Now let's be very clear: I don't say this because I think they deserve our understanding, fuck no. What they deserve is our shovels upside their nazi heads, brain-damaging them further.

I say it because, as the Skookum piece argues, we need to understand them if we're going to fight them effectively. The key to fighting successfully is knowing the enemy, the actual material facts of who he is and what makes him tick, as opposed to some fearful chimera we project of him in ignorance, or a cartoonish sui generis baddie we can speed-process without taxing our nuanced-analysis faculties too much.

Now, duh, I'm not suggesting that the answer to fighting nazis is knowing that they're all brain-damaged. They're not, and it's not. But the thematic point is correct. Only by taking the time and the rigorous methodology to concretely know our enemy are we likely to make any headway fighting him. (Note: I'm using masculine pronouns for the generic deliberately, on the grossly unfair and flagrantly unresearched assumption that more white supremacists are male than female; suck it up.)

It's all very well, and not unimportant, to make generalizing pronouncements about the need to oppose racism. We do that too. But on any given day, we're opposing racists, and the best way to do that is to know concretely who, and what, they are.

Friday, July 08, 2005

I Love The Smell Of Vindication In The Morning

According to a study performed at Imperial College London:

"There is no evidence that making emergency contraception easily available means people will be less responsible about other forms of contraception or use emergency contraception more often."

Also, 'The only thing predicting whether or not women would buy emergency contraception over the counter was income. Women with the highest incomes were over five times as likely to report having obtained their contraception in this way.'

As ever, it's not the well-off who will have trouble terminating their unwanted pregnancies, whether by OTC drugs or by high-quality abortions. The Chelsea Clintons of the world will never be forced to give birth to an unwanted child or face a backalley abortion, whether Roe v. Wade survives the upcoming cataclysm or not. Commitment to protecting the rights of women without such resources is demonstrably, disgracefully lacking in our supposedly 'pro-choice' supposed 'leadership'.

In more civilized (i.e. non-domestic) news, the WHO has placed two abortifacients on its list of essential drugs for developing countries. Thank god someone's got their fucking priorities in order.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bad, Bad Day

Just to say how much my heart is with Londoners today. To have your city attacked is a particular kind of visceral, terrifying offense, and no civilians merit that, not in London, not in New York, not in Fallujah.

Attacks like this are not only barbaric and unjust, they are violently counterproductive: they give government the pretext to impose oppressive measures, as we've seen in the US since the first days after 9/11. Already Blair's cranking up
the rhetoric that will lead swiftly to things like ID cards and immigration crackdowns.

This is a time for both solidarity and vigilance, not so much against 'Turr' as W would have us believe, but against the trampling of our civil liberties by those who claim to protect us. Also against unthinking, hateful backlash that may be visited on innocent Muslims, as it was in the States after 9/11.

Rage and grief are most definitely warranted, but let them be focused on their appropriate targets: both the terrorist monsters who kill civilians with bombs, and the monsters in government who kill civilians with invasion, occupation, exploitation and sanctions. Terror doesn't happen in a vacuum.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

UnCapitalist Goings-On

I think I may have neglected to mention recently that I'm joining Charles and Gretchen as one of the editors of Carnival of the UnCapitalists (of which there is no new one this week in observance of our fine Holiday of National Independence. Or Lazy-Ass Long Weekend, as some of us prefer to observe it). So yay for that. I'm delighted to have been invited to join Carnival, and all kinds of looking forward to reading your plentiful contributions and shepherding them hostward.

In other, even more exciting UnCapitalist news, we're about to spawn Son of Carnival, viz the huge, all-new, feature-packed daily left-o-mat we like to call the UnCapitalist Journal. I'll defer to Charles's detailed description of the attractions on offer, and just say that I'm tremendously excited to be part of the project as a member of the Crack Blog Team. I think there's a real need for this kind of watering hole for the (especially American, poor orphans that we are) left, and I hope you'll come check it out and participate when it launches in a few weeks. Don't worry, I'll hound you when the time comes.

Meanwhile, the weekly Carnival will continue its dark revelries unabated;
there'll be a new one next week (with a Mystery Host; watch this space!). So by all means submit your entries to uncapitalist (at) gmail (dot) com, and check out the current (only slightly aging) Carnival at Impasto.

No, I Won't Have A Glass of That Kicky Little Merlot With My Activism

I know, I should shut up about it, but they won't stop sending me emails about these infernal MoveOn House Parties. They're taunting me with their aggressive uselessness, poking me with it like a, like a, a Uselessness Stick.
At each party, we'll spend some time talking about the state of play on the Supreme Court vacancy and developing a local plan to fight back immediately if Bush threatens our rights with a hard-right nominee.
A local plan to fight back immediately? What, 'You smash the pinot grigio over his head while I pelt
the Secret Service with Cheetos'? The fuck do they think they're going to plan, besides of course the next soirée?
We'll also want you to meet other MoveOn members, so each party will show a great rights- or court-related movie---doing something fun together is a good way of strengthening the network of local relationships that a major Supreme Court campaign will depend on.
What utter, utter shite. I'm sorry, you can go ahead and call me nasty and killjoy and even ultraleft if you're feeling especially vicious, but this is not about fun. This is not about fucking accursed fuckridden yuppie networking. If you're serious about organizing to fight a conservative nomination to the Supreme Court, fucking organize to do that. Have meetings, with agendas. Come up with a list of concrete constituent demands, set up a meeting with your Congresspeople and present them. Not a worthless whingeing petition to 'protect our rights', a demand for action on specific nominees and specific issues. And heaven preserve us, not a fucking amateur film critics' circle.

I just can't fucking stand to watch them set up these playpens of safely sterilized 'activity', and people just herd into them to exchange moans about how awful it is, then go away raving about how they've met some Really Great, Likeminded People and aren't they all just a grassroots network now. No, they're fucking not. They're a social circle. Whatever MoveOn tries to sell, there's only one social circle that influences the Administration's actions, and it inhabits a tax bracket MoveOnites only dream about.

Fully Bionic At Last!

I wish to thank Harry at Scratchings from the bottom of my heart, for finally making the title of my blog make sense. Or at least a little more sense than previously.

See, it apparently thinks it looks like a coconut, rolling along the seabed. No one has told it that coconuts don't stride purposefully along on legs, and I'm not going to either. Hush now.

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