Sunday, July 31, 2005

Venezuela Condemns U.S. Push to Broadcast

Now, don’t get me wrong… Venezuela’s government is far from being the most democratic and just and efficient government in the world, but I might have to be on Chavez’s side on this one.

Since when did we start decided what news is fit to print in other countries? How does one government have the power to control the news broadcasts in another country? Am I the only one missing something here?

The Venezuelan government is corrupt and suppresses the freedoms of its local journalists and media outlets so we respond by forcing our corporate monopolized media outlets on them? Fighting fire with hypocritical fire, I guess.

And let the crusades continue.

Venezuela Condemns U.S. Push to Broadcast
Source: Associated Press
by Christopher Toothaker

CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan leaders have condemned a U.S. decision to transmit broadcasts to this South American country to ensure its citizens receive "accurate news."

The U.S. House approved a measure this week authorizing the government "to initiate radio and television broadcasts that will provide a consistently accurate, objective, and comprehensive source of news to Venezuela." It must still be approved by the Senate.

President Hugo Chavez, frequent critic of Washington, has vowed to jam the signals.

National Assembly President Nicolas Maduro, a close ally of Chavez, said Thursday that any such broadcasts "would violate the sovereignty our airwaves ... and we cannot permit that."

Chavez's Venezuelan critics said the move by U.S. lawmakers was an understandable response to what they claim are the leftist president's efforts to export his so-called "Bolivarian Revolution."

Florida Rep. Connie Mack, who proposed the move, says Chavez has limited press freedoms in his country.

"If Hugo Chavez is contending that freedom of the press exists, he would have no problem with this," Mack said in a telephone interview. "It's important that the people of Venezuela have an outlet for more freedom and democratic discussions."

Henry Ramos, a member of the Democratic Action opposition party, said Chavez broadcasts his "ideological and hegemonic project ... to other countries."

Venezuela's government has repeatedly rejected claims by organizations such as the Miami-based Inter American Press Association and Human Rights Watch that recent laws approved the Chavez-dominated Congress have eroded press freedoms.
hadj williams //

Friday, July 29, 2005

right to refuse service?

Recently, there have been more and more reports of pharmacists and doctors refusing to treat certain patients or prescribe certain medications because of their religious beliefs. What's going on here? Isn't everyone entitled to medicine and medical treatment?

I can understand not wanting to do abortions if you truly believe that it's murder (and quite frankly I'm not sure that I could perform an abortion myself), but then where do you draw the line? It's not right to deny an unmarried person birth control pills or a lesbian couple artificial insemination services.

More on that issue here

- Jean Chen

Thursday, July 28, 2005

black rap, white audience

I don't remember who I saw perform at the first hip hop show I attended. What I do remember is what I saw -- only a handful of black audience members in a packed venue for a black artist. I thought maybe the artists who I went to see weren't the most "conscious" of black issues, but even the most militant black artists, such as Dead Prez, have predominantly white fanbases.

Here's an interesting article from the Village Voice about the changing color of the fanbase of concsious black artists: The Cotton Club .

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Labor Division

"I'm for the AFL-CIO," is a stance I took a long time ago-- despite their past.

Now that the Teamsters and SEIU have decided to disaffiliate, I'm wondering about the larger role of workers' unions in the global economy. The situation, if left to our administrations, (small "a" intended) is bleak. Corporatist policy is neither Democrat nor Repug-lican.

Still, I'm hopeful (and aware that) the Labor Movement's dealing with the challenges of the global economy. In the same way they brought us the weekend-- one of my favorite bumper stickers!-- they may bring us a new era of assurances and rights for people around the world who want to earn a decent wage for a hard day's work.

Teamsters, SEIU-- I hope your move moves a worldwide agenda for unionized labor. Please, please and double-Thank You.

Punk rock, Econo style

Before the name "Minutemen" became synonomous with right wing, border-protecting rednecks with guns, The Minutemen were a punk rock band from San Pedro, Calif. that kicked much ass. The new documentary, "We Jam Econo: The Story of the Minutmen" is a thorough and exciting look at one of the most provacative bands of the genre. Check it out. The film is being screened at select venues and theaters across the country.

Never has being a mom been this cool

A forty- year-old Colorado mother pleaded guilty to sexual assault charges Monday. She was accused of having parties with high-school boys, giving them drugs and alcohol, and having sex with five of them.

How could any woman stoop so low you might ask? For Silvia Johnson, it was a desire to be the "cool mom" that broke the statutory rape ice. Johnson whines that she was never popular growing up and this made her feel like "one of the group."

Well I guess now she will still be part of the group, only this time it will be Cell Block 9.

Monday, July 25, 2005

To Lie For

Frank Rich connects the dots in what seems to be an even darker murkier problem than anyone thought:

"On that evening's broadcast of ABC's 'World News Tonight,' American soldiers in Falluja spoke angrily of how their tour of duty had been extended yet again, only a week after Donald Rumsfeld told them they were going home. Soon the Drudge Report announced that ABC's correspondent, Jeffrey Kofman, was gay. Matt Drudge told Lloyd Grove of The Washington Post at the time that 'someone from the White House communications shop' had given him that information.

"Mr. McClellan denied White House involvement with any Kofman revelation, a denial now worth as much as his denials of White House involvement with the trashing of the Wilsons. Identifying someone as gay isn't a crime in any event, but the "outing" of Mr. Kofman (who turned out to be openly gay) almost simultaneously with the outing of Ms. Plame points to a pervasive culture of revenge in the White House and offers a clue as to who might be driving it. As Joshua Green reported in detail in The Atlantic Monthly last year, a recurring feature of Mr. Rove's political campaigns throughout his career has been the questioning of an 'opponent's sexual orientation.'"

Death To Newspapers?

From Media Notes

"John Carroll, who is stepping down as editor of the Tribune Company-owned LAT, was asked by Columbia Journalism Review : 'Is it possible for a great newspaper to thrive under the umbrella of a publicly traded corporation?

"'JC: This is one of the penetrating questions about our business. Can corporations that are not family-controlled produce excellent newspapers? The returns aren't in, but it's not looking good. Newspaper-owning corporations -- and I mean all of them, not just my own employer -- have an unwritten pact with Wall Street that requires unsustainably high profit levels. Each year, newspapers shed reporters, editors, photographers, designers and newshole. Each year, readers get less. Each year many of those readers turn elsewhere for their news. . . .

"'It's important that the Los Angeles Times remain firmly in the top tier -- important to the community, important to journalism, important to the national conversation. There's no other newsgathering engine this formidable west of Manhattan. The nation's voice should not be monopolized by New York and Washington.'"

Friday, July 22, 2005

Yay for Costco

Ok, yes, they are big business and I'm sure they have forced out smaller independent stores. But at least they treat their workers right with decent pay and health benefits. They even allow unions!

Click here for the NY Times article

What's striking about the article are all the quotes from business consultants who are just interested in short term profits and who criticize Costco for being too kind to employees and spending too much on them. What's wrong with treating people like human beings instead of costs of doing business? I hope the consultants burn in hell.

- Jean Chen

Thursday, July 21, 2005

China's current currency

Today's a new day for Chinese currency.

The New York Times' web site today (July 21) reports that China, for the first time in a decade, has raised the value of its currency. Apparently this a move toward a more "flexible" exchange rate that the United States and and Europe have been pushing hard for.
I'm no economist. All I remember is some "guns or butter" discussion in my high school economics class, and even that simple discussion went in one ear and right out the other. But this is pretty interesting stuff. The NYT web site has some very good audio on the story. Listen up.

click here for article

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

And to think...I though growing up in Sacramento was hot

Homeless are dying on the streets, 18 to be exact, due to a record heat wave that is sweeping through Arizona.

"I don't know why I'm not burnt to pieces," said Chris Cruse in an Associated Press article, 48, after taking refuge in a shelter.

The heat reached 109 on Wendsday, and during the coolest part of the day, didn't fall below 89 degrees.

Crazy isn't it?

ya momma's a blogger.

Are you as lost as I am when it comes to new technical terms in the online world? Do you, like myself, not know what "podcasting" is? What exactly is the "blogosphere"? My favorite angry ranter Maddox has compiled a list of definitions for some of the new buzz words entering our vernacular. Be warned though, if you're offended by profane language, then you shouldn't click this .

-zoneil maharaj.

some kids learn more than others in school

A 24-year-old teacher in Florida is set to go to trial for having sex multiple times with a 14-year-old boy, once in the back seat of a car while a 15-year-old drove. Her defense? Insanity, why else would an adult engage in intercourse with a minor?

According to the Yahoo! News article , "she was insane due to emotional stress and did not know right from wrong." Why didn't Michael Jackson think of that?

-zoneil maharaj.

Where's Dick?

Hey, what's up with Dick Cheney these days? Where is he and what is he doing?

- Jean Chen

Hope Edith Wasn't Practicing Her Acceptance Speech

There he is, Mr. New Supreme Court Justice. Will Bush's candidate John Roberts threaten the hanging-by-a-thread Roe Vs. Wade? Will he give a thumbs-down to gay marriage? Will he ban back-row snuggling at the movies? I'm not sure, but I do know that his his history is a little troubling--as a Justice Department lawyer in 1990, he argued that Roe Vs. Wade "should be overruled." But then again, in 2003, he said that R v. W was "the settled law of the land" and "there's nothing in my personal views that would prevent me from fully and faithfully applying that precedent." So...I'm gonna mull that one over until my head explodes.

In more shallow news, you gotta feel sorry for Edith Clement--up until this afternoon, news websites were featuring her picture on their front pages as the likely next SCJ. DENIED! I can only hope moderate (sob) Edith Clement is hatching some diabolical revenge plot against mean old conservative (sob sob) John Roberts, perhaps by ringing his doorbell and running away before somebody opens the door. But whatever works.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Don't get lazy, Daily Show!

John Stewart is quickly becoming one of my favorite television show hosts.

On July 13, Stewart interviewed author Bernard Goldberg (New York Times best selling author of “Bias”) and discussed Goldberg’s latest book, “100 People Who Are Screwing Up America: (and Al Franken Is #37).”

Stewart cut right to the chase and (politely) criticized Goldberg by saying the book falls short in its criticism of the elite and powerful and focuses too much on folks who float through popular culture.

I have not read the book, but what blew me away (and continues to impress me) is Stewart’s ability to earnestly, honestly and candidly pick issues apart and approach them with humor, brevity, honesty and wit. I dig it.

That said, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” is far from perfect.

Where are the folks of color on the show? It’s not only an all-white crew, it’s also a middle-aged men’s club. Only one correspondent is a woman, and neither of its two contributors are women or people of color. It’s too bad that even an imaginative, kick ass show like Jon Stewart’s has to have a newsroom that resembles most newsrooms across the United States.

Click below for more information on Goldberg's book:

click here for article

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Say It Ain't So, Heathen Hollywood!

Damn it, Los Angeles! I rely on your films to show me shirtless honeyz, car chases, and lots and lots of 'splosions. Don't tell me you're getting all Johnny Churchgoer on me!

New York Times: The Passion of the Marketers

Is Hollywood trying to market its film to the flock? That's what this New York Times article says. Because of increased awareness of the Christian dollar, studios are hiring Christian consultants to bitch-slap some religion into scripts--or give the thumbs down to the occasional "Jesus!" or "Goddamn it!"

This bugs me on two levels. First off, while many films are just time-pass brain suckers, many are intended as art and shouldn't suited to fit one particular group.

Second, I'm not thrilled with the idea of religion being cheapened by folks who just want to make an easy buck off it. Sure, the gleaming God Gear on this page was made to make money too, but those folks who make velvet Jesus paintings have to make money somehow. As a Catholic, I'd be terribly offended at a film in which a muscleman just kneeled down for a few Lord's Prayers before some big action scene.

Not that I don't mind seeing religion used in not-so-reverent ways. When John Woo blew up a Virgin Mary statue with a hail of bullets in "The Killer" I hope I wasn't the only thinking "rock and roll!"

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ordinary Lads

There's an article in the SF Chronicle talking about how 3 of the suspects of the London bombings were "ordinary lads," kids of Pakistani descent who were born in Britain, played cricket, hung out, and had no arrest records.

I hope this doesn't justify racial profiling and crackdowns in Muslim areas. And I also can't help but wonder if the police are pointing the finger at the wrong suspects.

Check out the full article

-Jean Chen

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Corporate Cops

Bernard Ebbers, CEO of WorldCom just got sentenced to 25 years in prison for his 11 billion dollar accounting fraud. Justice has been served! But with all these CEOs getting busted, I think they should start a reality tv show called "Corporate Cops." It would be just like "Cops," except it would focus on Ebbers, Martha Stewart, John Rigas, etc.

And check it out. There was some drama outside the courthouse:

"On Ebbers' way into the courthouse Wednesday, photographers and cameramen crowded in front of him, and he reached out and pushed one of them out of the way."

Bad boys, bad boys...

Check out the news article

-Jean Chen

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Football: Not a Sport for Sissies. Or People with Common Sense.

An interesting story straight out of Sao Paulo: Apparently, the mothers of Brazilian soccer players have become popular targets for ransom kidnappings. Kidnappings target Brazil's soccer moms
Gangs seek ransoms from star players

It's a solid article, but violence in football is hardly new. In 1994, Colombia defender Andreas Escobar was shot to death after making a fatal autogoal during a critical World Cup 1994 match. And of course, we have the phenomenon of the football hooligan. A proud English tradition dating back to the 1950's, football hooliganry involves frenzied loyalty to your local football club, picking fights with opposing fans, fire-setting, rowdiness and just general mayhem. Yeehaw!

Football hooliganism is a serious problem that has begun to spread to other countries, but...(looks around) I must confess I've always harbored a secret desire to get out there and throw some chairs through windows. I mean, somedays you wake up just itching to suit up in your Man City gear, listen to "Supersonic" on repeat and throttle Juventus fans. D'ya know what I mean?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Intelligent Design

This site is too funny:

I hope Kansas has to start teaching theories on the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Well, actually I don't.

-Jean Chen

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Hey! What about Novak??

Ok, so can someone please explain why Robert Novak wasn't arrested? And why is Judy Miller going to jail?

This is from AP:

"[Judge] Fitzgerald is investigating whether a crime was committed, and by whom, in the Bush administration's leak of the name of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.

Columnist Robert Novak first published Plame's name in July 2003, days after her husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joe Wilson, publicly disparaged President Bush's rationale for invading Iraq. Administration detractors said the leak was designed to punish Wilson for his criticism by ending his wife's undercover career.

Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper, who identified Plame after Novak, avoided the same jail term given Miller. Also held in contempt by Hogan for refusing to testify before Fitzgerald's grand jury, Cooper shocked the packed courtroom Wednesday by announcing that his source had contacted him just hours earlier to give him specific, unambiguous permission to tell the grand jury about their conversations.

Miller never wrote a story naming Plame, and there's been no official explanation why Fitzgerald wants Miller's testimony. The court rulings upholding his effort have blacked out details of his reasons. New York Times' attorney Floyd Abrams speculated Wednesday that "most likely somebody testified to the grand jury that he or she had spoken to Judy.""

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Angelina Jolie

I don't care whether or not she's dating Brad Pitt -- what I care about is that Angelina Jolie is publicizing what's going on in developing nations. I usually hate celebrity antics and the media coverage they get, but I have to say that I'm grateful for the work Jolie is doing.

Oh, and this was in the celeb gossip column:

Angelina Jolie wishes her childhood therapists had just arranged to drop her off in Africa because such a trip would have ended years of self-abuse.
The actress insists her experiences as a charity worker in the world's trouble zones have taught her to be less selfish and to realize there are people far worse off than she is.

But doctors who tried to get to the bottom of Jolie's personal teenage problems when she was in high school insisted on linking her behavior to the fact she came from a broken home.

She says, "The doctor was probably going on about my father and mother while I was doing acid on the weekends and bleeding underneath my clothes.

"I think now that if somebody would have taken me at 14 and dropped me in the middle of Asia or Africa, I'd have realized how self-centred I was, and that there was real pain and real death real things to fight for. I wouldn't have been fighting myself so much.

"I wish when I was thinking about suicide, I'd have seen how many people are dying each day that have no choice in the matter. I would have appreciated the fact that I had a choice."

- Jean Chen

Backstreets WACK!

If you havent heard by now, Backstreets BACK. After falling-off, in more ways than one, (the other refering to AJ's alchoholism), the boys are back in town, or at least they're desperately trying to be. Their new album "Never Gone," the first since 2000, was released a couple of weeks ago. All I can say is GIVE IT UP! You had your ten minutes backstreet boys, could of been fifteen, but between AJ's drug problem/receeding hairline, Nick's weight gain, and Howey's annoying cornball ruined it. The only comeback this year is Mimi, and after her performance at the BET awards last week, even that is questionable.


The backstreet boys should stick to just that...the back street.

i'm not lovin' it

Remember when hip hop was a culture? Man, that was wack. Fools were rappin' about Adidas and weren't even gettin' paid for it. Fortunately, it's a business nowadays and you can get paid for just about anything. Get shot, get paid. Drink Pepsi, get paid. Eat a Big Mac, get paid.

McDonald's loves hip hop as much as Sprite, Kellog's, and every other corporation who has tried to make cash off the hip hop cash cow because big business loves big business. To manifest their love, Mickey D's is now talking with Rocawear, Fubu, and other "hip hop" clothing lines to design new McDonald's uniforms .

If I go to McDonald's, it's because food consumption is a necessity for human survival and all i can scrounge up is a buck for a McMysterymeat sandwich, not because they play rap songs on their commercials or dress trendy. What are they gonna do, make McDonald's doo rags, fitted caps, and baggy jeans? Don't they realize that their employees will never look cool with a McDonald's logo any article of clothing?

Maybe they'll hip hop their logo up a bit while they're at it and have the golden arches encrusted with diamonds. They can give out free mixtapes, microphones, and blunt wraps in Happy Meals. And for commericials, how 'bout Grimace tippin' on dubs and bustin' a cap in the Hamburgler for jackin' his quarter pounder?

I guess I can't be mad at McDonald's, they're just trying to get money and that's what hip hop is all about -- gettin' mo' money, mo' money.

-Zoneil Maharaj

Backpedal! Backpedal! The Public Opinion Polls Are In!

Yep, the guv'ment has realized that folks are majorly angry about this whole eminent domain hubbub. "You mean folks don't like the idea of having their ancestral homes yoinked and razed to make room for a superTargetcaliWalmartexpeCostCodocious? Damn, we need some good PR, stat!"

Congress is already trying row backwards on the Supreme Court's eminent domain ruling. Hopefully they won't lose an oar and end up rowing in a circle.

New York Times: 'Republican Lawmakers Fire Back at Judiciary'

San Francisco Chronicle: 'Foes in Congress Unite in Defense of Property'

Not Just "Flog" Spelled Backwards!

Women in Tehran are taking up a new hobby--GOLF! With a few relaxations in the dress code, more Iranian ladies are flocking to the links. Apparently, it was really, really tough to swing a wedge while wrestling with your chador.

Iranian Women's Dress Code Is Modest but Golf Friendly

Is anybody surprised by how modernized Islamic dress is looking these days? It's still pretty damn constricting/utterly unfashionable but it looks a lot different from the dress worn by most women in Iran just last decade. You can see the ladies' sneakers! Yes, I know the feminist movements in the Middle East have bigger things to worry about than clothes, but...sneakers!

Friday, July 01, 2005

Solve World Hunger Whilst Rocking Out, Hopefully

For the past few weeks, Bob Geldof's grim visage has been popping up everwhere as he extolls the virtues of his Live 8 concert. Well, folks, your fevered waiting is about to pay off--Live 8 (Lord, I hate that cheesy name. It's Live Aid 20! 20!) is finally going down this weekend.

CNN: Geldof Sees Live as 'Final Push'

I don't know how effective a pop concert will be in curing the World's Ills. I will merely present the following quote from charmingly cheeky Oasis frontman Noel Gallagher

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but are they hoping that one of these guys from the G8 is on a quick 15 minute break at Gleneagles (in Scotland) and sees Annie Lennox singing "Sweet Dreams" and thinks, 'F**k me, she might have a point there, you know?'

"Keane doing "Somewhere Only We Know" and some Japanese businessman going, 'Aw, look at him... we should really f**king drop that debt, you know.'

"It's not going to happen, is it?"