Sunday, September 30, 2007

Sunday Inspiration: Nigel Ryan - My Prayer

Nigel Ryan Is a video producer in Brooklyn who has recently had his work picked for broadcast on Current TV. This project is the only one he has uploaded at Current so far and it is a very touching emotional piece about a parents wishes for a new child.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Comedy: Marcus Bridgstock - Religion

I have no beef with the search for spiritual truth and if someone can happily accomplish that within the confines of an organized religion that is just fine with me. Religious fundamentalism, however, is the enemy of mankind. It is spiritual death bringing physical suffering to the world behind a mask of love and compassion. It is McDonalds religion that fills people up with tasty comfort food and makes them feel good to eat but it is full of fattening, artery clogging crap for the soul.

Marcus Bridgestock is an English comedian who has done one of the most pointed and amusing rants against the fundimentalist, fanatical face of religion, I have ever heard. He points specifically at the 3 religions that come from Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Video Activism - - Behind Fox Attacks

This video tells the story behind the net roots movement that has become known as the "Fox Attacks" series. It covers several very important points about the power of video activism as it relates to the internet. Web producers should pay attention. You can do a lot more than just film your dog on a skateboard these days.

Robert Greenwald founded as an answer to the distortions and propaganda that Fox News creates in their very agenda driven excuse for reporting. The Fox motto is "We Report, You Decide" but the reporting is so slanted that it is designed to help you arrive at the conclusion they want. has countered with the slogan "They Distort, We Reply." The victory that helped move this website into provenance in the blogosphere is the influence that they had, with the help of other online activists, on the Nevada Democratic Presidential debate that was supposed to be hosted by Fox. The argument was that Fox is not a legitimate news organization and therefore, they could not be trusted to host an event of such important public interest. I could not agree more.

The pressure of this movement was so strong that the major candidates, beginning with John Edwards, backed out of the debate and the Nevada Democrats eventually folded and backed out themselves. I consider this a major public relations victory for journalism. For the first time there was a very large and very public blow back against the Fox News brand.

In my view, we need more activism like this because Fox News is activism on a massive scale. Fox tells their audience what they want to hear based on the conservative agenda rather than what they need to hear based on objective reality. Fox also slants the stories to the benefit of themselves and their political allies and to the harm political opponents, all under the audacious title of "Fair and Balanced".

Their claim to balance is not that their individual stories are balanced but, rather, that their bias as an organization helps to "balance" out the bias of the "liberal media." The problem is that the "liberal media" holds the ORIGINAL ideal of balance first represented by the Fairness Doctrine and journalistic ethics. This definition says that they strive to give equal weight to both sides of any controversial story. Individual reporters can slip in both directions, at times but the goal of each story is supposed to be true balance. Those who are not following this practice are either bad journalists or editorial writers. At Fox, slating the story is the ideal. The majority of the programming is also editorializing and opining over events rather than trying to provide the facts in an objective way. This is not journalism and it does not deserve the respect or privileges that are attached to journalism.

In todays media journalism is failing and a great deal of the reason behind that is that Fox news has almost single handedly changed the definition of what journalism means. Journalism today means making money off stories not providing importaint information about issues of great public interest. The public is left to "decide" based on criteria that is first tested for ratings value. That is the Fox effect. If there were no political angle at all this would still be a great harm to the "fourth estate" that Fox has helped bring. The political angle just makes it twice as bad.

Lets take a look at the Fox Attacks examination of the latest issue Fox covered: The General Petraeus hearings, which were critical to the public understanding about the progress in the Iraq war. The very lives of our soldiers are at stake here so it is vital that we all know exactly where things stand. How was Fox's coverage of this event? Well. They sat down and counted the stories that were for and against the facts that Petraeus laid out and edited it all together. See for yourself:

Thursday, September 13, 2007

What Me Worry?

This isn't an entry about media, but rather one from

This came off the wire 5 minutes ago, and was the likes of which I've NEVER seen:


I've captured and archived this little oddity from the folks, and archived it for your viewing pleasure at these locations:

Link 1
Link 2

Additional Information on Humberto:

Humberto Dumps Rain in Texas, Louisiana

Hurricane Humberto breaks record for rate of intensifying

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Why We Fight

Why We Fight

The BBC presents Why We Fight by Charlotte Street, a documentary on the commerce of war, and how the military industrial complex profits so much from war, that it must create wars to continue the growth of it's business.

Broken into 4 parts at about 25 minutes each.

This is part 1 of 4:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Video Activism: The Real Terrorists

This video is posted on YouTube by an account holder named Knowitz. The account says his name is Justin from Canada and this is the only video he has offered.

Being that this is the date that lives in infamy, I thought it would be nice to review how politics has handled it all. This is a flashback to 2004. Very little has changed.

I'm beginning to wonder if our government finds it more convenient to leave Osama Bin Laden alive. If he really is as marginalized as they like to say he is then he poses no real threat to us while alive. At the same time he seems to be an endless well of political capital for the "strong on national security" crowd. They mention his name and deeds whenever possible and people understand instantly how to feel. This year they scheduled major hearings on capital hill about the Iraq war around this date. I'm sure that is partly to evoke the feelings attached to it but a cynical person might also suggest that they expected Bin Laden to release a tape at this time that would probably mentionin Iraq. That way they can point to him with perfect timing and talk about how we should stay there because he mentioned it.

Think about the brand recognition, in the marketing sense, that has been created around Bin Laden. It would take a whole lot of work to create another super villian that reaches into the gut if Joe Beercan like this man does. What if his successor's name is Alani Mohamed Mehomanhobad and nobody has heard of him? Is that going to serve nearly as well as a political tool as good old Osama? It doesn't even rhyme with "Obama" or "Chelsea's momma."

Another thing that has been bugging me is how people who disagree with the administration are automatically labeled, by supporters, as forgetting the lessons of 9/11 and helping the terrorists. If you really look at the facts it is quite the opposite.

When Bin Laden said that he wanted to provoke America into occupying a Muslim contry, George Bush was the one who did it. When Bin Laden says he wants America to stay in Iraq so they can kill as many Americans as possible, George Bush said we should stay. When Bin Laden said that Americans should be afraid, George Bush and all his supporters started screaming "The terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming! They want to kill your children and destroy our way of life!!" If any force in America is helping the terrorists it is good old fashion political opportunism, in this case mostly by Republicans.

Journalism: The Real News Network

Why did President Bush go to Iraq:

Does Bush Want Saddam Without The Mustache?:

Senior Editor for The Real News Network, Paul Jay, talks with Pepe Escobar, an Asia Times reporter who has been in the middle east. First they discuss Bush's visit to Iraq and then they move on to the problems with the Iraq government.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Three Days in Gaza

Description was written by Adrian Baschuk in January of 2006
So, this piece aired 6 months ago and now we have the benefit of hidsight. What have we learned? Developments? Israel continues with the disengagement process, Hamas won the legislative elections in sweeping fashion, and a university is being built in the area where the Gaza settlements used to be. This piece examined the disengagement soley through an Israeli lens because it was a unilateral move on the part of the Israeli government - the question now is did their efforts pay off? While the US and EU may label Hamas as a terrorist organization, it came into power promising Palestinians a better way of life and an alternative to the old school Fatah party. They have in fact built hospitals, schools, and mosques all over Gaza and generally are perceived to offer good governance. Unfortunately, it's a small minority on both sides, militants on the Palestinian side, and hard line military supporters on the Israeli side that keep the powder keg in place. If this disengagement was supposed to be the first step in restarting the peace process, ask yourself now, has it?


This was one of Adrian Baschuk's first uploads to Current TV, since then Adrian has gone on to produce several news stories from every corner of the globe for the network. I especially enjoy his work. He has a unique style of reporting and always finds the human elements within the larger story that most major networks seem to forget.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Politics: Adam Kokesh, Tina Richards arrested for defying a poster ban

Updated below

The story here is that an Iraq veteran and the mother of a marine who did 2 tours of duty in Iraq were part of an activist organization,[ The ANSWER coalition, ] posting signs to announce a Washington protest on September 15. There was a dispute with the city over the posting of signs which they are fighting:

ANSWER Coalition Press Conference in Washington DC
to Announce Free Speech Lawsuit Against DC Government

Statement by Sarah Sloan
National Staff Coordinator, A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition

August 20, 2007

The Department of Public Works is not telling the truth when they say we have improperly posted signs promoting the September 15 March to Stop the War. The fact is that we have posted these signs in accordance with District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.

Specifically, the 65 Notices of Violation sent to us last week from the Department of Public Works claim that we violated Title 24 Section 108.9 of the DCMR which states that “Signs, advertisements, and posters shall not be affixed by adhesives that prevent their complete removal from the fixture, or that do damage to the fixture.”

Therefore, an adhesive can be used to affix posters as long as it does not “prevent their complete removal” or “do damage.” All posters in question have been affixed with a water-based and water-soluble paste. Volunteers have in the past removed these posters following events and found that they are removed easily and quickly.

When politicians campaign for office they plaster their posters everywhere and frequently in a manner that is not in accordance with the law. They are provided 30 days following the election to remove the signs. Frequently they do not remove them. The ANSWER Coalition will remove the Sept. 15 posters following the demonstration…. read on

And so they held this press conference demonstrating that they were using the correct paste and that hanging signs was legal. A young cop, with way too much authority for his age, showed up and told them they needed a permit and they were defacing public property. Things went down hill rapidly from there, the press conference continued, the cops got all hot and bothered and the two were arrested.

This reminds me of the time a few years back when an old girlfriend and I were standing on a NYC sidewalk holding signs to protest a business that was ripping us off. We were not blocking anything or anyone. Just standing there, on a public sidewalk, holding the signs and talking to anyone who talked to us. The business called the cops who showed up and told us we needed to leave or be arrested because we didn’t have a permit. Baffled, we left the scene and went about trying to get this "free speech permit." When we got to the appropriate offices, we were told there was no such thing as a permit for 2 people holding signs.

That fact is that this is unconstitutional behavior but freedom is kind of an illusion at the individual level isn't it? The police were wrong in my case, they are in the wrong in this case and they were wrong when they arrested those two people with anti Bush T-shirts at a Bush event, but the people giving the orders don’t care. Those people won an $80,000 judgement against the government but they still got removed from the event. Mission accomplished for the price of a toilet seat in Iraq.

Nobody can challenge the police at the time, they are the authorities and they can taser you or beat you with clubs or even shoot you if necessary. They count on people lacking resources or being too intimidated to challenge them after the fact and, if they do, the government just says “oops” and uses taxpayer money to pay whatever penalty there is. I don’t know of any restrictions on a government from unlawfully arresting people and then paying court judgments against them as often as they want. The worst they will have is a pissed off comptroller. It’s a perfect workaround when you think about it. They basically just buy as many unconstitutional events as they want, and it’s not even their money.

Not to be cynical or anything.



It has been suggested that putting up this poster is a violation of the park rules but I would point out that they are not in the park. They are on the sidewalk of a street that boarders the park posting on a utility box. Cars are whizzing by. The mounted cop almost chases them into the street. This makes pretty clear to me that they are on city property not park property (as if that would really matter) and the law is very clear about the use of lamp posts, traffic signals and the supporting fixtures, such as junction boxes:

24 DCMR 108.4 Any sign, advertisement, or poster that does not relate to the sale of goods or services may be affixed on public lampposts or appurtenances of a lamppost subject to the restrictions set forth in this section.
The restrictions include details of how long the poster can stay up, the type of glue, the number of posters per block, the need to tell the city within 24 hours etc. If you follow the above link you can see the details. It is also interesting to note that The Partnership for Civil Justice has filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that many of the restrictions are unconstitutional because they do not provide equal protection under the law. Political campaigns can post for longer than 60 days. Community crime related posters can be posted forever. Grass roots organizations can only leave them up for 60 days. Forcing people to register also violates the right to anonymous speech which is also protected. Would you want to register who you were voting for with the state before an election? The same protection applies here.

So, I will say it again: This cop was a punk who didn't know the law and got uppity with a citizen because he felt like his little tin badge ego was being challenged. It has been reported that he is 35 so I will accept that it is poor professionalism and maturity rather than youthful inexperience.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Politics: Brave New Media - The Real Rudy: Command Center

I was in NYC during September 11 and I knew very early on that the reason Mayor Giuliani was walking around during all the emergency operations was because the emergency operations center was built, at his insistence, in the world trade center which just fell on top of it. He wanted it built there because it was within walking distance of city hall. The lease holder of WTC, that the city gave the rental contract to, was also a crony of the mayors. All most of America sees when they think of Giuliani is the mayor who got his hands dirty and was out among the people when the disaster hit. If the emergency command center was in Brooklyn like all the planners were recommending, he wouldn't have gotten that image so I guess his incompetence worked in his favor. . . like it seems to with all republicans.