Thursday, March 31, 2005

The news has got to stop

Right now in the American media machine, we are in the middle of one of the worst news cycles in years. Between the Michael Jackson trial and Schiavo versus Schindler family fued, some of the most important news of the twenty-first century has been pushed back to page two. As if the media circus karma here has come full circle, Johnnie Cochran past away this week. The originator of media saturation, Cochran was the lead attorney for the defense in the O.J. Simpson trial. That trial set the standard for what has now become the norm in reporting. Some people call it sensationalizing, others call it trash. I consider it the easy way out. It's too difficult for lazy journalists to write about what should matter to the public. Some journalists use the cop-out excuse that they're just reporting what people want to know about. The flaw in that thinking is this: Journalist set the agenda for the news. They decide what goes on page one. If newspapers decided to put the ACLU trial against Donald Rumsfeld before pre-season baseball articles, more people would consider it important. If more journalists took the high road, so to speak, more Americans would know what they're country has done and is doing in Iraq and Afganistan. We might start to understand why some of the things we read about are happening. But, that is the hard way. The easy way is to scramble outside of a courtroom in Southern California waiting for soundbytes, or publicizing a family fued over a sick woman.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Paid to rap about Big Macs

According to the ALL HIP HOP website, Mickey D's has offered to pay rappers who mention Big Macs in a hit song. I mean I'm all for rappers fattening their pockets but commercials inbedded in the lyrics!? Rappers have been shouting out product in songs for quite some time - "My Adidas," "Air Force Ones," "Pass the Courvoisier" - but this is different. Corporations are now approaching rappers and offering cash for these mentions. Am I the only one a little weirded out by this.

Read it for yourself.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Terri's Life

I'm just as sick of this as anyone else and my anger, resentment and frustration over this skyrocketed after hearing Saint DeLay's comments last week: (via Dispatches from the Culture Wars).

"One thing that God has brought to us is Terri Schiavo, to help elevate the visibility of what is going on in America," Mr. DeLay told a conference organized by the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian group. A recording of the event was provided by the advocacy organization Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

"This is exactly the issue that is going on in America, of attacks against the conservative movement, against me and against many others," Mr. DeLay said.

Ohhhh, I see! The left is using Terri to bring down the right?! But God has brought the right this woman, whose consciousness is questionable, but will martyr herself for them? Is that how God works??? And on Easter....how appropriate. Have our enlightened leaders even bothered to take a look at the polls that indicate most "conservative" voters don't even support federal intervention in this matter? And, apparently, some guy has offered money to have Terri's husband killed.

And then Bush, after signing Schiavo Law says it's better to err on the side of life. So does that mean no more death-penalty? Stricter gun control? No drilling in ANWR? What the *hell* does that mean? More money for AIDS in Africa? How about more money for AIDS here? No more Iraq-style wars? Does anyone else feel sick?

And now the news outlets, in their orgasmic furor to keep up with this story, have taken to interviewing "experts" on Terri's condition, like Dr. William Hammesfahr, a Florida neurologist who examined Terri in 2002, and who insists that Terri is not in a permanent vegetative state. Thanks Salon for this:

"Hammesfahr's professional credibility has in fact come into question before. In 2001, the Florida Department of Health accused him of falsely advertising a neurological treatment and exploiting a patient for financial gain, according to a report from the Associated Press today. With regard to Hammesfahr's views on the Schiavo case, Dr. Lawrence J. Schneiderman, a bioethicist at University of California, San Diego, told the AP, 'He's a quack, to put it the politest way I can.'"

I can't even begin to imagine what Terri would say if she were able to understand what's happened, though the Washington Post does a good job of guessing. This poor woman, whose parents want their daughter, whose husband feels it's not fair to keep her alive, who mostly likely got into this mess because of an eating disorder, would probably laugh, if she could, at how absurd this is.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

All The News that’s fit?

Terri Schiavo. Jessica Lunsford. Steriods. Martha Stewart’s homecoming. Fiddy and The Game beefing… These have been the top stories of the last few weeks. It makes you wonder if with the countless cable outlets and radio talk stations, the bazillion bloggers, and print mob, why isn’t there more diversity of news topics.

I mean, I feel bad for Terri Schiavo, but there’s a couple dozen Terri Schiavos in ever hospital in every town in every state every single day. A couple dozen at least. Yet, all involved single out this particular case to champion and cover. Why her? Is it because it’s Florida and somehow this might be JEB Bush’s pet project or a chink in his armor? Is it because of what Terri Schiavo used to look like before she got sick? (ie. “the girl next door”). What makes her life worth so much more than all the other women, men and children who suffer through similar cases year in and year out?

And in GWB and the Dems grandstanded all over this one, just answer me one question: What about next time? What are we gonna do for the next Terri Schaivo—you know the one… The one who wasn’t so cute, the one who was maybe a little fatter or older or more ethnic or poorer… What about that woman or man? Is everyone gonna hold a vigil for them? Will congress step in to save their life or plug their plug? Will the next case get round the clock coverage and spark public debate?

Next, I have a hard time believing that Jessica Lunsford was the only missing child in America. As with every white girl or woman or child that goes missing in America, Jessica got neat-round the clock media coverage and was hailed as the girl “next door” (code for “white”). It’s as if we’ve all accepted the fact that missing Black, Hispanic and Asian girls are somehow so much less valuable that we don’t cover their cases or mourn their found bodies or comfort their heartbroken parents.

You know, just once I’d like to see Rita Cosby or Nancy Grace or Aaron Brown or somebody at least pretend that it’s at least possible for the “girl next door” to be darker than a suntan. Just once. I’d like for the Amber Alert to be sounded for someone who doesn’t look like an “Amber” or a “Becky” or a “Billy”. Just once.

And then there’s the Steriods. On Capital Hill. Congressional Hearings for Steriods… Are you kidding me?! First off, I remember the Tobacco hearings back in the day when all those poison pushers got up infront of Congress and took the 5th and our congressfolks (who take campaign contributions from these companies) acted like they were being productive. Same deal with those trifling CEOs who took the 5th a few years back... Congress is just a joke. As for the field of dreams:

Baseball’s been corrupt ever since the Black Sox scandal of 1919, ever since they banned blacks from playing until 1947 thus giving every white ballplayer a 50 year head-start, ever since the league built smaller ballparks in the late 1980s to increase homeruns, ever since the league authorized juiced balls in the early 1990s…

Baseball’s been doped up in one form or another for a long, long time. This is not news.

Maybe Barry B.’s juiced. Maybe not. Maybe McGwire’s juiced. Maybe Ken Caminitti was right, like Lyle Alzado years before him. Maybe lots of guys in lots of sports are on roidin’ it up. )Even tennis great John McEnroe admitted to taking steroids while he played.) And if they are this is not news. What’s news is everyone who’s playing dumb and feigning outrage or acting like it’s all the players’ fault.

From managers, coaches, owners and trainers to sportswriters and media who looked the other way as the muscles grew inexplicably bigger and the records fell inexplicably fast to the fans who blindly cheered and consumed in the face of the obvious, none of these guys acted alone. Not one. They all had help.

The real news begins the moment they start rounding up the accomplices. Speaking of news…

Then there’s Martha Stewart. She get out of jail, complains about her low-jack anklet and suddenly she’s Sojourner Truth?! Lookit, she got off easy. She lied to the Feds. She took insider tips from Sam Waksal, her boyfriend and ImClone CEO, who’s still in prison for this by the way. In fact there were 4 people involved in this: Stewart got 5 months, all the guys are serving 3-7 years. Minimum. So to everyone who thinks she got off easy: SHUT. UP.

And then there’s the obligatory “black” story. You better believe that whenever the media decides to put black folks on TV, it’s never good. 50 Cent and The Game? That was nothing more than press releases, photo-ops and the same corporations who control the news making money for their entertainment and record divisions and other corporate alliances.

The only real news that’s been covered recently was the Brian Nichols and Tim Weise tragedies. But it’s interesting how the utter incompetence of law enforcement in Atlanta has been is downplayed in favor of elevating Ashley Smith to sainthood—a role she clearly wants no part of. (Full disclosure: “Purpose Driven Life" is my favorite book ever. Honest.) As for Jeff Weise of Red Lake, Minnesota… A Native America Nazi who praised Adolph Hitler. Lemme say that again: A Native America Nazi… That’s like a brotha joining the Klu Klux Klan. If you put Mel Brooks, Dave Chappelle and the South Park guys in a room with a pound of weed, they couldn’t have cooked that one up on their best day.

Anyway…

When is the press gonna change? How many stories are they gonna continue to ignore in the name of ratings, politics, follow-the-pack coverage and appeasing corporate interests? How much longer will we be stuck listening to pundits with no track record to speak of be hailed as pundits just because of their connections and their ability to tow the company/party line? And criminals aside, for God’s sake, how long is the cultural and racial bias that drives media outlets to label some stories worth more than others going to continue?

By the way: Aren’t we supposed to be at war someplace? Where’s Bin Laden? Are we even looking for WMD anymore? What’s the body count for AIDS these days and didn’t a new, deadlier strain pop up about 4 weeks ago? Didn’t Congress okay a whole bunch of money for more wars? And didn’t Congress just pass a law making it harder than ever for average folks to declare bankruptcy? Isn’t gas like 50 Bucks a barrel and climbing? Aren’t we somewhere enforcing our views on some country smaller than us?

Isn’t there some actual news being overlooked as we speak?


Hadji Williams. Ex-Marketing Hustler. Current Troublemaker and author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America. (May 2005) www.knockthehustle.com // www.barnesandnoble.com

Native Americans are given second class status all over America

In New Orleans on Saturday, a Mardi Gras Indian annual festival turned ugly when police decided to break up the procession violently and with limited cause. Police were notified that one Native American male may have had a concelead shotgun, but then went forward and disbanded the entire parade with force the Native Americans considered unnecessary. New Orleans, a city that holds parades and carnivals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, doesn't seem like the city that would summarily break up a parade because of a possibility of violence. Hello, the land of mardi gras is potentially violent, but other festivals like it are monitored by the police, not broken up by them. Those parades are frequented by drunken college coeds baring skin and fighting, and yet no one has moved to stop any of it. On a Tuesday night in New Orleans, in the middle of spring break, I saw fighting, harrasment and public intoxication on a new level, and stiill the party continued. Could it have been the participants of the Mardi Gras Indian parade, who are mostly Native American. The police do not usually have to answer to this community, in New Orleans or anywhere else, unless it is a higly organized tribe that has fought for its rights with the local and state governments.In California there are a few such tribes, and even they are subject to being called a special interest group, the use of their own land subject to threats of regulation from Sacramento.The lack of respect for Native American issues, rights and traditions has been a mainstay of the American tradition since this country's founding, but in the 21st century it still amazes me that this disrespect is so blatant. Many tribes have gained the right to self-rule, with stringent regualtion by the government of course, and yet the ability to coexist respectfully and peacefully with that government has still alluded many. It is time for Americans and local governments to asses why Native Americans in this county are not treated fairly. Taking into account their history in America, I would think there would be a better place for them in our society, not as just the forgotten or auxilliary peoples we tend to teach about in schools. With the violence in New Orleans sure to draw criticism and even more attention, there is another opportunity, at least for the local government there, to take a look at what steps should be taken to ensure Native Americans are treated like Americans.

Snackers, snackers, snackers…

I was in a KFC the other day; they were having a sale on “snackers”—these mini- chicken sandwiches—2 for $1. (They’re basically the chicken equivalent of a white castle slider just a little bigger: a chicken strip or some cut of breaded chicken breast on a little bun with lettuce and some type of special sauce.) The frightening part was watching them make it.

They had all the buns laid out—rows and rows tow or three deep. Must’ve been 20 or 30 out there. Somebody walked by with a little squirt bottle of sauce, dabbing down the buns with the precise amount—you know they measure this stuff out… lettuce was sprinkled on, in precise amounts, of course. And then they sat and waited. And waited. For the chicken to cook…

It was sad.

Those buns just sat there by themselves. The more I looked at ‘em the less edible they seemed. It wasn’t even like I was watching food anymore. “Kitchen Fresh USA” I’d think—that’s they’re latest theme. Or is it “Chicken Capital USA”? I forget. They change ‘em like wardrobes at a Beyonce show. Anyway, it was such an assembly line… just like the way they make Big Macs. Or Oreo cookies. Or staplers. Or cars. Or most of the crap you see on QVC and HSN. It just all felt so mechanical. It just reminded me how much of an industry food is. Industry. Mechanics. Assembly. Consumption… That’s all it is.

You could take the sauce bottle out of the kids hand and replace I with a wrench or an air-hammer or staple-gun or a glue gun and he probably wouldn’t notice. The buns could be blocks of wood or hunks of plastic or sheets of pre-cut fabric and it’d all look the same. Just another order to be filled.

Just part of the machine.

I felt less and less hungry the more I looked at those Snackers. And for the first time, I realized that I’ve never felt like I was ever in someone’s kitchen or even a restaurant in one of those places. They all feel like factories—KFC, McD’s, Taco Bell, Chipotle’s, even Subway… just workers in a hive, droning away, punching clocks filling orders for goods to be consumed.

Yummy.

Ironically, “Yummy!” is the name of the company that owns KFC, Taco Bell and I think PizzaHut—Yum! Brands to be exact. It’s all a machine.


Hadji Williams. Ex-Marketing Hustler. Current Troublemaker. Author of KNOCK THE HUSTLE: How to save Your Job and Your Life from Corporate America. (www.knockthehustle.com // www.knockthehustlechronicles.blogspot.com)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Schiavo Case

Wow, one of my friends just fowarded this to me. It was a listener's response to a radio show discussing the Schiavo Case. I don't know how true this is, but if it is true, it brings up a lot of disturbing issues.

- Jean Chen

---------------

This case is about a person with a brain injury having the rights guaranteed by the ADA. It is also about protecting the rights of battered women.
Facts omitted from national coverage but easily verifiable with brief research include the following: there are allegations of spousal abuse perpetrated by Terri's husband. X-rays show multiple broken bones and internal injuries. The judge who has controlled the evidence in the case (remember, appeals only review facts already established by the prior judge and do not allow new evidence to be introduced) has refused to allow important evidence to be admitted. He has a record of refusing to protect battered women from abusive husbands. One died as a result a few years ago. He has refused to consider the abundant evidence of the unfitness of Michael Schiavo as a guardian for Terri's interests. Domestic violence is a serious issue in this country and its possible role here should not be ignored and kept out of the conversation.
Disability rights advocates are very concerned about this case. Terri Schiavo is not chattel to be discarded by her ex-husband. It is not his decision to make, but hers, and he has done everything possible to ensure that she is unable to speak about her own wishes by denying her therapy. Remember, she was speaking before he terminated her access to rehabilitation.
All the talk about this being a "private family matter" is specious. Michael Schiavo is not committed to her nor to her interests. He has refused her access to rehabilitation necessary (she was talking and moving when receiving rehab), has refused her normal rights such as going outside, diagnostic tests, etc. He was already cheating on her before her injury (and was confronted by her the night before her injury) and is now in a common law marriage with 2 kids with someone else. It is bizarre that the press is talking about the sanctity of marriage and the right to privacy under these sick circumstances.
Leading neurologists state that there is a 30% error rate in diagnosing PVS and the doctors who have examined Terri disagree about whether she in fact is in a vegetative state. Where are her rights?
Why aren't news crews being allowed to see her? Why is this being twisted into a "right to die" or "end of life" case? Terri is not fighting for the right to die, nor was she dying before the tube was removed. This is terribly misleading and confusing to the public. I have no doubt the majority of progressives would support the parents' cause if they were not being told over and over again that this is about the right to die.
Please correct this mischaracterization. Most Oregonians support the right to die. This case is NOT about the right to die nor is about "end of life" and it is a disservice to the public to characterize it as such. KBOO should be looking beneath the surface of this story. The Schiavo case raises serious feminist and disability-rights issues. Please do your listeners a service and have your hosts investigate these issues more deeply. Progressives can and must do better.
Respectfully,
Elise Craig
Portland, Oregon

Monday, March 21, 2005

Freedom to smoke in Asia

As cigarette sales decline in the U.S., the beautiful areas surrounding Indonesia have been targeted for an assault which will even the playing field as to the number of youth newly introduced to cigarettes and keeping the aging on the path towards lung cancer induced death. Just when you thought Philip Morris was moving towards philanthropy and some generosity of spirit in terms of contributing to the local and global communities, it appears they are vying with the Asian cigarette producers to bring kreteks to the marketing public.

The NY Times cited these facts in an article published March 17th, 2005:

Cigarette sales in Indonesia are forecast to grow more than 10 percent in the decade to 2008, according to the World Health Organization. Kreteks are as addictive as any cigarette, if not more so: each Dji Sam Soe, for example, contains twice the nicotine and triple the tar of a conventional cigarette.

At least 57,000 Indonesians die each year because of smoking-related illnesses, according to Ministry of Health figures.

Authorities on cigarette consumption in Asia say global cigarette companies are increasing their drive into the region as more countries in the West tighten laws on smoking in public places and on marketing.

"They have their eyes on the big markets, and that has to be Asia," said Dr. Judith Mackay, executive director of the Asian Consultancy on Tobacco Control, an antismoking group in Hong Kong.

We may be gaining the opportunity to globalize some of our better values and share some of the education and information we have gained in the U.S. from our wealth and privilege. But I have to wonder, why would we want to bring this horrible form of death and organ destruction to a place where we have already raped and pillaged much of the land? Indeed, history repeats itself.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Baseball Steriods Scandal losing its Juice

The trials and tribulations of baseball juicers and potential juicers has been in the news so long I'll need some human growth hormone to prolong my life to see the end of it. I am beyond tired of this melodrama, mostly becaue through all the hearings, accusations and denials, nothing will ever be accommplished. Not one of the athletes under suspician is going to be kicked out of the sport, somewhere out there is a guy high on steriods right now, and the spectacle of over-paid, over the hill baseball players denying the obvious truth of their drug use is just plain boring. Why not fire potential drug users, like they do at McDonalds? From Barry Bond down. And while they're at it, why not put an asterick by Mark Mcguire's name? Is it possible that the broken records are not completely unaided? Of course. And if ther's any doubt, it should be made clear.Milli Vanilli got their grammy taken away, why is baseball so sacred? America's favorite pastime is as suspicious as a three dollar bill to me at this point. But the boring, unending trials that will eventually lead to absolutely nothing are clearly for show, and so why even bother? There should be something more productive out there for the baseball gods to do. Like actually testing players for steriods, keeping the game legit and orchestrating another 80 plus year Red Sox Chamionship drought.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Proof Armageddon is right around the corner...

This is a legit story, which is even worse...

'Baywatch' actress arrested in protest over electric cars
Associated PressMar. 15, 2005 07:15 AM

BURBANK, Calif. - A "Baywatch" actress and another woman were arrested in Burbank during a protest to save about 70 GM electric cars from destruction.Alexandra Paul played Lieutenant Stephanie Holden on the TV series. She and a fellow electric car enthusiast were arrested Monday for blocking the path of trucks hauling the EV-1 electric cars to a recycling plant in Mesa.They were among dozens of protesters holding an around-the-clock vigil outside a General Motors center, where the last EV-1s have been stored. The vigil began Feb. 16th when the company took back all of the one thousand battery-powered cars it had leased and sent them to the plant.GM said there wasn't a big enough market to support the EV-1, and refused to resell the car because it has many unique parts that are no longer available.Paul described it "the cleanest car in the world." She said she used the EV-1 as her only car until GM declined to renew her lease in 2001.

-----
Consider this... They could've held a vigil/protest for the war in iraq... child labor... missing children... HIV... death row inmates... save the animals/trees...

but nope.

They held a vigil/protest to save... Cars. Cars. Cars. Lemme say that again:

THEY HELD A VIGIL TO A SAVE A CAR!!!!! AND IT MADE THE NEWS!!!!

We're doomed. Just pack your bags, folks because we're taking a trip. the show's officially winding down. we've lost our minds and souls.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

wrap around our youth

good news came today in the form of the kqed webpage. their research found that several juvenille justice programs had come up with useful and creative ways to get kids out of the system. two of the programs were in northern california. it is inspiring and uplifting to see the process begin with young offenders, or at least youthfully accused.

the santa cruz and santa clara county programs were highlighted:

Santa Cruz County Probation Department, Santa Cruz, California
In an effort to reduce overcrowding and disproportionate confinement of Latino youth, Santa Cruz County volunteered to participate in a federal program aiming to lower juvenile populations in custody. With support from the National Juvenile Detention Association and the Youth Law Center, the county re-examined its admissions, screening and assessment. It also streamlined court processes and looked at creating new alternatives to detention. The county combined several such alternatives: home probation, daily visits from probation officers, electronic monitoring (in which youth wear an ankle bracelet), and community-based services such as 12-step meetings and supervised outings. The results were unprecedented -- more than 95 percent of youth attended all hearings and did not commit new offenses during the court process. The county has reduced its overall population of detained youth by at least 40 percent, and the number of Latino youth confined dropped 18 percent. The average length of stay at the Santa Cruz juvenile hall is about 10 days, compared to the state average of 27 days. The county also prides itself on its efforts to keep children with their families, and it has one of the lowest out-of-home placement rates in the state.

Santa Clara County Probation Department, Santa Clara, California
While there are many adult mental health courts across the country, Santa Clara County is the first juvenile probation department to experiment with a specialized court that links needy juvenile offenders with a variety of psychiatric services. Every young person booked into the county's juvenile hall is screened for serious mental illness, including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression. Through this process, the department has discovered that more than one in five children in the system are mentally ill. Most kids who come through the 1-year-old court qualify for Program UPLIFT, an intensive wraparound program designed to keep youth in their homes and to provide comprehensive mental health services. The county hopes to reduce the number of repeat offenders through treatment of the mental illness underlying some youthsâ criminal behavior.

Although there are innumerable counties that could explore and implement alternatives to incarceration for underaged detainees and those above the age of consent, it is quite timely that we are opening doors and windows in a political climate of secrecy and surrender.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Propaganda

Did anyone see the NY Times on Sunday? Scary. The front page article was about how the Bush administration's PR dept. has been making videos which look like news segments, but really are just pieces which praise Bush's policies. They have distributed these pieces and news stations will run them! What is happening to journalism?

Check out the article

-Jean Chen

Venezuela's Chavez says Iran has 'right' to nuclear program

It looks like Chavez is auditioning for Iraq's spot in the Axis of Evil. This from USA Today:

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez defended Iran on Friday in its dispute with the United States and Europe over its nuclear program, saying Iran has a right to atomic energy.

Chavez, whose country is a leading U.S. oil supplier, announced his stance after meeting Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, who declared that both governments will stand "firm against any aggression."

"Iran has every right, like many other countries have done, to develop its atomic energy and continue its research in this field," Chavez said after top officials from both countries signed 20 cooperation agreements in areas from petrochemical projects to agriculture.

"Venezuela and Iran agree in firmly rejecting the imperialist policy of the United States."

Both countries face increasingly tense relations with the Bush administration, which has voiced concerns that Iran could be trying to acquire nuclear arms and has criticized what Chavez's opponents call a drift toward dictatorship. Iran insists its nuclear program is purely for energy uses, and Chavez has accused Washington of backing plots to oust him.

Speaking before Venezuela's congress, Khatami lamented "the injustice of the great powers that try to control the world." He said they include the United States and interfere "in other states under the precept of fighting terrorism and try to force all of humanity to follow their monopoly of power."

"What must be condemned are calls for violence, whether from terrorists or from aggressors with yearnings for domination," Khatami said.

U.S. officials said Friday they will support European diplomatic efforts to end Iran's alleged nuclear weapons ambitions by offering modest economic incentives. The European Union also revealed it will back U.S. calls to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council if it does not scrap programs linked to nuclear arms, such as uranium enrichment.}

What I find particularly hilarious about this is the Iranian's claims that their nuclear program is strictly for "peaceful purposes". They cling to this claim and repeat it every time the issue comes up in the news. I guess if you repeat a lie enough times etc etc. The Iranian's have been offered about a dozen alternative ways to create nuclear power without having the material to create a bomb and they turn it down every time. "Peaceful purposes" my tuckus!

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Blogger -- The Unloved Cousin In The Attic?

Romenesko

THURSDAY, MARCH 10, 2005
Different legal standards for MSM and bloggers? Ludicrous!
(http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2005/03/10/DDG1RBMB8F1.D
TL)
San Francisco Chronicle

That's Jon Carroll's position. "This is all free speech, and this is all
journalism," he says. "The stand-alone journalists are here, and they are
digging out facts and leading crusades. They are also printing gossip and
distorting facts -- but hey, so are we. It is about time that all the
media folks began working together for the common good, defending
reporters and bloggers in trouble and, by the way, outing our own when
they mess up."

Are bloggers akin to journalists? Are they entitled to the same protections? It's not like journalists have had a great track record lately. Maybe some new blood is what we need.

Lebanon and two sides to the news

As many Americans are aware, there have been mass protests in Beirut against Syrian troops inside Lebanon. The waves of people chanting and waving the Lebanese flag are a boon to those who consider Syria to be a threat, especially in the United States. It seems lately that any hint of discontent in the middle east with the "axis of evil" designated countries is considered as legitimizing the United State's global outlook. But look closer at the file footage being played on television. There are as many Lebanese citizens chanting in opposition to Syrian troops leaving the country. Many attribute the relative stability of the country to the Syrians, and do not want them to leave. But because our government cannot fathom a Syria that anyone tolerates, our media cannot focus on all sides of the story in Lebanon.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

women's history month in a time of obesity

Teenage girls are the target, but anyone can buy in.
If you have a growing sense of self and are convinced you can get anything you want, for a well deserved price, you too can get your stomach stapled. or compulsively run, jog, purge, splurge and then weep.
The online sites abound. today's favorite is called hopeful message and reads as follows:
"If you are successful in diet, you could have the pride and self confidence that you can be successful in any field. "

Hold onto your abs, there's more! All you need is will power, an urge to avert your eyes from krispy cremes and the nearest ice cream store, while applying weight loss cream and powdered shadow to your lids. Didn't that go out with jello salads in the 50s? I guess not!

In a world where everything is low carb, except for Mr. Atkins who is dearly departed, it is hard to find some grounding for the run-a muck advertising world which tells girls (and women too) that fat is fiendish and thin is still in (though big hips and buttocks are gaining popularity as a multi-cultural world view is on the rise!).

Whatever happened to a balanced diet, nutrition, the five food groups (perhaps six if chocolate stands alone) and enjoying food for the beauty of its taste and freshness. How does over eating correlate to sustainable food sources? Shouldn't we still be focusing on where the food comes from, the drive to decrease pesticidal sprays and an advocacy for a kinder, gentler, more accepting world of carnivores and vegetarians alike?

The bottom line is this: I don't know if people who diet are intrinsically unhappy, but social pressure finds its insipid way onto the airwaves. Having just returned from an island visit, I must admit that there were so many extremely obese people that I began counting their tatoos, in black and white and in color. Yet, I don't believe encouraging young women (and in turn their older selves) to pare down just to be cool, holds any life affirming value. No matter what weight people expand or contract to, there is so much work we have to do to feed ourselves and nurture humanity. Let's keep that idea in the foreground and leave staples for paper products, to hold things together that would otherwise fly away.

Monday, March 07, 2005

The Blogger Speaks, Well, Writes

Garrett Graff has some interesting insights into his first day on White House duty. He's writing what all those reporters are thinking as they file into the White House for another day in unreality.

"As McClellan walked out, one reporter turned to his colleague at the end of the briefing: 'Why do they have to send terror suspects to Uzbekistan to be tortured? Just make them sit here and after a few hours of a briefing, they'll be begging to talk.' After sitting through one, we tend to agree."

I think bloggers may do readers some good in deciphering the stories and broadcast segments they read/see reported from the White House.

Constructs...

Americans just love us some constructs....

We build boxes for people to fit in like they’re shoes or gerbils. We put folks in boxes so we can identify them, control them, separate them… separate ourselves from them. Black. White. Beautiful. Ugly. Urban. Suburban…

Don’t get me wrong… Differences are beautiful. God made everyone different for a reason… He made groups of people and ethnicities and genders different for a reason… He loves diversity. But we abuse our differences. We manipulate them.

We create constructs.

America’s built on constructs—little boxes… The kind that constrict your breathing and your freedom… the thing about constructs is they make you hate your differences. They make you hate your individuality. Constructs make you want to be someone else, so much so that you’ll do whatever you can to make it happen.

You run away from people like you, hate people who remind you of you… buy into the ideas and products that claim to make you better than you or different from you and more like something else.

Marketers love constructs. We love to tell women they need to be a size 3. We love to tell black folks that black is only beautiful when it has light skin or when it’s making us laugh or entertaining us. We love to tell boys they need to own this car or this pair of jeans or this type of hair cut in order to be a man…

Constructs are good for business. Constructs make people spend money trying to break free of themselves.

Coming to terms with what you are, understanding what you are… making peace with what you are… That’s free. Can’t sponsor that. Can’t slap a logo on that.

Well… I gotta run. Gotta get back to the grind.

U2 is washed up

Ok, yes, I was a fan of U2... in like, 1985!

But seriously, what's up with Bono's name being tossed around to head the World Bank?

Check out the article

-Jean Chen

Esuvee

I've been seeing these ads and billboards everywhere and I couldn't figure out what they were for. So I finally went to the website and it's a campaign for people to drive SUVs safely. The strange thing is, it's sponsored by the Attorney General and the Consumer Protection Agencies of all 50 states.

http://www.esuvee.com

Weird. Where's all the money coming from? Did a lawsuit prompt this campaign?

-Jean Chen

Blogger in the White House -- This Time It's Okay

I'm currently watching the best show in Washington - the daily WH press briefing with Mr. McClellan. Today is noteworthy, not because Mr. McClellan actually says anything new, but because there's a blogger amid the WH press corp. And this time it's legit. The new guy, Garrett M. Graff, writes for a blog published by Mediabistro and is the first blogger to get press creds from the WH.

Uh, I'm listening (yes, it's painful) but I don't see Mr. Graff actually asking any questions -- given the hierarchy among WH reporters he's probably in the back anyway and won't be able to ask anything. Curse unnecessary follow-up questions! I wonder how his take on this will differ from his print colleagues.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Brenda Starr

Via Romenesko -- "Brenda Starr" well worth reading, especially the last two weeks. POTUS makes a special appearance at the pundit dinner!


FRIDAY, MARCH 4, 2005
Schmich takes on right-wing pundit world via "Brenda Starr"

Romenesko Feedback | "Brenda Starr"

Michael Callahan asks if Romenesko readers have been reading "Brenda
Starr," which is written by Chicago Trib columnist Mary Schmich. Callahan
writes: "For a character whose biggest concern used to be whether her
makeup would run as she dashed around the globe chasing n'er-do-wells,
Brenda seems to have matured of late into someone auditioning for a new
version of 'Crossfire.' Who knew?" TODAY'S "STARR":
(http://www.ucomics.com/brendastarr/2005/03/04/) "Some journalists can be
bought as easily as chewing gum!"

Friday, March 04, 2005

Stay Free

Martha's out of prison!!

But I don't know if you could exactly call where she stayed "prison:"

"During her time at the federal women's camp in Alderson, Stewart foraged for dandelions and other wild greens, concocted recipes in a microwave and even ate from a vending machine. She also participated in nightly yoga classes, spent time on crafts and writing and lost weight."

Check out the full article.

Oh no! She even ate from a vending machine!!

-Jean Chen

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Why Did People Vote for Him??

"Four months after Mr. Bush won a solid re-election over Senator John Kerry, 63 percent of respondents say the president has different priorities on domestic issues than most Americans."

Check out the full article

So why did people vote for him??

-Jean Chen

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Separate

Whatever happened to separation of church and state?

"Ten Commandments displays should be allowed on government property because they pay tribute to America's religious and legal history, the Supreme Court was told Wednesday, in cases that could render a new definition of the role that religion plays in the life of the nation."

"The idea of having a fence around the Ten Commandments to make clear the state has nothing to do with it, I think that is bending it too far," said acting Solicitor General Paul Clement, in arguing against a strict First Amendment wall between church and state."

Check out the full article

And why do people insist on having the Ten Commandments displayed?

-Jean Chen

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Death Penalty

Wow! The US Supreme Court ruled that it's unconstitutional to execute minors. I can't believe that it was ever ok to do so.

Check out the article.

-Jean Chen

What? Rappers beefing? No!

Well, hip hop fans and followers everywhere saw it coming. Rapper the Game whose CD The Documentary has been running the Billboard hip hop chart for over a month now, was dismissed from 50 Cent's G-Unit on the radio in New York. Apparently Game was on air at another station and didn't know he was being dismissed. Great way to do business.

Anyway, someone in 50's entourage was shot outside of the radio station minutes later. It seemed for a while there that mainstream rappers were making an effort not to beef. What happened? It takes away from the art - man, no one can focus on the talent when the lyrical content is who's gonna shoot who and who did what with who's baby mama.

Unfortunately, these young men are the minority but - because of lack of exposure given to more positive rappers who probably don't even eat beef, much less have beef with other rappers - folks think they are representative of all of hip hop.

Check out allhiphop.com's story about the soap opera.