Friday, September 30, 2005

FBI - the new assassins

72-year-old Filiberto Ojeda Rios, leader of the Boricua Popular Army (a Puerto Rican independence advocacy group in Puerto Rico) and US fugitive wanted for the planning of an armored car robbery in 1983, was finally tracked down by the good ol' fuzz on September 23.

According to this article "Ojeda Rios was alone with his wife in their home in the rural southwestern Puerto Rican municipality of Hormigueros, near the city of Mayagüez, when scores of FBI agents stormed his property, unleashing a rain of bullets. According to reports, at least 100 armed agents were involved, backed by helicopters and a squad of military sharpshooters brought to the island from Virginia."

100 armed agents, helicopters, and sharpshooters? With that much manpower, you'd think he planned the 9/11 terrorist attacks and not an armormed car robbery. (Meanwhile, Bin Laden's still living like neanderthal man, squatting in caves.)

Though American news sources claim he fired first (maybe he threw Amadou Diallo's wallet at them?), they don't deny that the agents left him to bleed to death after he suffered a single non-fatal wound (Autopsy: Rios Didn't Die Immediately) . After going military ambush on Rios, they surrounded the perimeter of his home for 24 hours before going in under the suspicion that the house was rigged with explosives, denying access to emergency medical aid.

Justice is served once again, American style.

-zoneil maharaj

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Democrats: undecided again!

Twenty-two Democrats voted for confirmation of John Roberts as our country's next chief justice of the Supreme Court, According to This

And, 22 Democrats voted against the confirmation.

Fortunately for Roberts, the dissenting votes didn't matter. He got the gig anyway.

Unfortunately for Democrats and their constituents, they prove once again that the party is like oil and water these days -- can't tell if its two seperate entities or one murky pool of confusion.

The Digital Age

A few weeks ago I was at a show and I noticed that this guy in the middle of the mosh pit had his cell phone open so that his friend on the other end of the line could hear the band. He was getting tossed about like a rag doll, but still managed to have his arm up and his cell phone on.

It cracked me up, but it also made me aware of how we really have entered the digital age. Since the start of the war and occupation of Iraq, soldiers have been sending home photos. Unlike past wars, the average soldier, not just professional journalists, can document the war.

Lately, reports have been circulating that soldiers have been trading pics of the dead in exchange for access to a porn website:

Click here for the article

"The allegations surfaced last week, when the Bay Area weekly East Bay Express published a story about graphic photographs that appeared on one section of the Web site. The photographs, which show the bodies of several people killed in shootings, explosions or fires, include crude captions, some of which mock the dead.

Pentagon and Army officials issued strong statements Wednesday condemning the taking and posting of such photographs but said there was little evidence to authenticate them and few ways to pursue a criminal investigation. While some of the photos appear to show U.S. soldiers in uniform near mutilated bodies, it is unclear where or when the pictures were taken.

The Web site's creator, Chris Wilson, said Wednesday that about 30,000 members of the military were registered on his site, several thousand of whom have sent him photographs or comments from their official military Web addresses. Many photographs depict life in Iraq, while only a few are extremely graphic, he said.

"It's an uncensored view of the war, from their perspective," said Wilson, 27, of Florida, who began accepting the photographs from soldiers overseas as payment for access to pornography on his site. "It's a place where the soldiers can express themselves without being filtered by the Bush administration."

-Jean Chen

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

One sad Iraqi soldier cocktail, please

At a noisy bar recently, gin and tonic in hand, a friend of a friend of mine spoke to me about being instructed to kill small children during her recent tour of duty with U.S. forces in Iraq.

“We’re trained to keep going, no matter what, so if some kid comes running up to our truck as we’re driving through a town, or if they are just in the way, we’re given orders to run over people,” she said.

A young woman in her twenties from Southwest Colorado, she said Iraq was the single-most tragic experience in her life. Iraqi people, she said, are constantly running up to U.S. military vehicles carrying grenades or guns, so soldiers must handle the situation by removing potential dangers.

Since they don’t always know why people are approaching them or their vehicle, they have to take action, because their job is to complete their assigned mission, she said.

I’m not reporting this as fact, just reiterating a friend of a friend’s experience.

READ THIS To see how the war is affecting Iraqi children.

What is This? 1925?

Ok, so I'm going to go on yet another rant about Intelligent Design. As a former biology major, it makes me really sad and upset to see that we are going to be witnessing the Scopes Monkey trial all over again. Yesterday, the trial in Dover, PA began that is going to determine whether or not Intelligent Design is going to be taught in public schools:

Click here for the article

Proponants of Intelligent Design, including George Bush, claim the issue is about academic freedom. But it's really about science vs. religion. Intelligent Design is NOT science. The theory is that life is so complex that it can't be explained by evolution. So the obvious answer is that God (or a higher being) created life. Hmmm. God? Higher being? Sounds like religion to me.

I'll be the first to admit that there are some things in nature that may not be able to be explained by our current theory of evolution. But does that mean that we throw up our hands and say, "Oh well, can't be explained. Must be God." No, as scientists, you keep studying and exploring until you find the answer.

It's not about whether or not you believe in God. There are many scientists who have a faith. You can be a Christian and believe the theory of evolution.

This issue, by the way, is not something that is only happening in Pennsylvania. Intelligent Design proponanats are challenging the theory of evolution in schools at a statewide level in many states. I just think it's sad that we could be teaching a generation of students to stop reasoning and thinking.

- Jean Chen

Monday, September 26, 2005

You'll Pry My Keys Out of My Cold, Dead...

Raise prices, invade Iranistan, I don't care--but don't make us conserve gasoline. God, you know things are bad when Mr. "I pour a liter of Texas T over my cornflakes in the morning" Bush is advocating the filthy C-word.

New York Times: President Calls for Less Driving To Conserve Gas

Right, I like the idea of public transport, everybody leaving their gas guzzlers at home and skipping along to work holding hands. But...I hate public transport. I ride BART every day to work, and it's excruciating. It's slow and expensive and smelly people always sit down next to me. Until we get a cheap, efficient transit system, calling for conservation won't help--and I'm still driving my car to the corner store everytime I want milk and a packet of gum.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Nudity! Who Knew?

Ever threatened to "eat your hat" or claimed that something would happen "over my dead body?" Careful what you say--as New Zealand politican Keith Locke discovered, hyperbole is the worst thing that ever happened to anybody, ever.

Example Nude New Zealand MP takes stroll

During a recent election the Locke-man promised to run naked through the streets if an unpopular candidate won. Candidate won, Locke dropped his trousers--and donned skimpy underwear and vast amounts of body paint for a sidewalk stroll. Crazy? Probably. But how many of us had heard of Keith Locke before this? I see Locke as NZ Governer-General in 2018!

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Class, not Race

Ok, so Bon Jovi said it. After donating $1 million to Oprah's relief fund for Hurricane Katrina victims, he told her, ""You told the human story. This isn't a race issue, it's a class issue and it's American people that we have to help."

Click here for the article.

I wonder how many people in American agree with him.

- Jean Chen

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

healthcare vs coffee

Ok, so the cost of health insurance is getting out of control. Starbucks is now spending more on health insurance for its employees than on coffee beans:

"The company's chairman told U.S. legislators yesterday that it will spend more on employee health insurance this year than on raw materials to brew its coffee."

Click here for the article

- Jean Chen

Go Kerry!

Looks like im not the only one who thinks president Bush didn't do his job when it came to Katrina--John Kerry also had something to say about it. He spoke at Brown University on Monday and told students that the hurricane exposed a "pattern of incompetence and negligence and a "truley systemtic effort to distort and disavle the peoples government, and devote it to the interests of the privlages and powerfull." At least someone in politics knows how to keep it real.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Burnside: hard core blues man

If you don't know who R.L. Burnside is, you should.

The legendary Delta Blues slide guitarist died this month in Memphis. He was 78.

He served time for allegedly shooting a man in the head. He recorded an album for the hipster crowd called 'A Ass Pocket of Whiskey.' He created his own style of playing the slide guitar.

Plenty of bands play the blues. Burnside lived them.


Radio Radio

There's an interesting report on Yahoo News about the role of radio during Hurricane Katrina, and how radio stations had to scramble to get reporters and provide local coverage:

Click here for the article

"At one time, most stations employed at least a single newsperson. But deregulation of the industry in the 1980s and 1990s cleared the way for mega-companies to gain control of large numbers of stations and move away from programming aimed at a local audience.

"The programming became consolidated so that it's the same programming that you're listening to" whether you're in Memphis, Tenn., or Los Angeles or Washington, said Paul Sparrow, director of broadcasting at the Newseum, an interactive museum of news coverage that will open its new Washington headquarters in 2007.

Syracuse University's Rick Wright said many stations now rely on computers to run the programming, in some cases from faraway cities, instead of DJs or newspeople.

"As long as the sky is blue and the weather's great, everything is all right," said Wright, professor of radio and television at the Newhouse School of Public Communications. But when disaster strikes, stations cannot always provide the needed local coverage, he said."

- Jean Chen

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Crispy bacon

(Cross-posted here)

There are things that, when done well, need no explication:
a good poem
a funny joke
crispy bacon (for the pork-eaters like my Self).

Frank Rich is crispy bacon, minus the grease and fat.

(P.S., Link from NYT-- may require subscription).

Friday, September 16, 2005


Hee hee.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

New Republicans: porn stars with gas!

The Republican Party is branching out in new directions.

The 2008 presidential race could be quite a spectacle if THIS is any indication!

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

photoshop fun

You might have already seen this fake photo, but it's still funny. Funny, because I can actually picture him walking the chaotic streets of Louisiana cheerfully strummin' his gee-tar while people frantically cry for help.


Heading back/more ways to help

Wow, I am tired. We've worked nine days straight here in Louisiana and there's so much more to do and tell. Had some amazing conversations at the house of the Tomeny family, who put me and my producer Teshima up. There are no hotel rooms so pretty much all of the reporters are bunked up in private homes. At one point, there were six adults and two kids in the three bedroom house where i was staying. A lot, right? Well, what about the people I've heard about who have more than twenty relatives staying in their homes? The magnitude of the displacement of people is amazing. This should be a story for years to come. More than a "story," which implies observing, the resettlement of the citizens affected by Katrina should be a national opportunity to consistently engage on issues of race and poverty, to realize we have the power to help individual families and help shape policy that helps all American families, to flex our power and remake our nation.

==============more ways to help ===========================

From: "Sharda Sekaran" Add to Address Book
To: "'Sharda Sekaran'"
Subject: Support for Hurricane Survivors


Here is a short list of organizations helping victims of Hurricane
Katrina that I recommend supporting. Many of these have worked in the affected
communities for years and have excellent reputations. I visited the St.
Thomas Health Clinic (New Orleans) and SHAPE Community Center (Houston)
in the past and witnessed their incredible community work firsthand.

Please show them as much support as possible. ~Sharda~

The Southern Empowerment Project ----

The Southern Empowerment Project's website provides links to support
thecommunity-based institutions that have been severely hit by Hurricane

Mississippi Workers Center ----

Please send contributions by check or money order to:
Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights
213 Main Street
Greenville, MS 38701

The Mississippi Workers' Center for Human Rights is a worker advocacy
organization that provides organizing support, legal representation and
training for low-wage, non-union workers in the state of Mississippi.

The 21st Century Foundation ----

The Twenty-First Century

271 West 125th Street, Suite 303

New York, NY 10027-4424

The Twenty-First Century Foundation is a national public foundation
created to promote strategic philanthropy by the African American/Black
community. The Hurricane Katrina Recovery Fund of the Twenty-First Century
Foundation will partner with organizations in the region to ensure that resources
get to the people who need them most, and achieve the justice goals at the
heart of this initiative.

BlackAmericaWeb ---- Relief Fund
PO Box 803209
Dallas, TX 75380 - 3209

This fund has been set up by nationally syndicated radio personality

Southern Empowerment Project

Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) are
organizing relief efforts in their area because, as they report, "the
racial divide between relief workers and evacuees is stark." They are asking
for volunteers (especially African Americans to help folk feel more at
home) to come down to help them walk through the shelters, find people, help
folks apply for FEMA assistance, figure out what needs they have, match folks
up with other members willing to take people in.

You can also help by sending a check to the "FFLIC Hurricane Relief
Fund" to: 920 Platt Street, Sulphur, LA 70663.

St. Thomas Health Clinic

A critical, community-based health justice institution in New Orleans
that was devastated by the hurricane. St. Thomas Health Clinic works in the
most impoverished wards in the city. They did not have enough resources to
purchase insurance and need our help to rebuild.

Please send checks payable to St. Thomas Health Services (their online
capacity is down) to:

The Praxis Project (
1750 Columbia Road, NW, Second Floor
Washington, DC 20009

Please make sure that checks are payable to St. Thomas Health Services.
Donations are tax deductible.

NAACP Disaster Relief Efforts ----
NAACP Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund
4805 Mt. Hope Drive
Baltimore, MD 21215

The NAACP is setting up command centers in Louisiana, Mississippi, and
Alabama as part of its disaster relief efforts. NAACP units across the
nation have begun collecting resources that will be placed on trucks
sent directly into the disaster areas. Also, the NAACP has established
disaster relief fund to accept monetary donations to aid in the relief

**** You can mail or ship non perishable items to these following
which we have confirmed are REALLY delivering services to folks in

Center for LIFE Outreach Center
121 Saint Landry Street
Lafayette, LA 70506
atten.: Minister Pamela Robinson

Mohammad Mosque 65
2600 Plank Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70805
atten.: Minister Andrew Muhammad

Lewis Temple CME Church
272 Medgar Evers Street
Grambling, LA 71245
atten.: Rev. Dr. Ricky Helton

St. Luke Community United Methodist Church
c/o Hurricane Katrina Victims
5710 East R.L. Thornton Freeway
Dallas, TX 75223
atten.: Pastor Tom Waitschies

S.H.A.P.E. Community Center
3815 Live Oak
Houston, Texas 77004
atten.: Deloyd Parker

Monday, September 12, 2005

And in other news...

While everyone is focusing their attention on relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina, let's not forget that there's other news going on. Roberts' confirmation hearings are beginning today and check this out:

"A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.

"The ruling, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, came in the case of Jose Padilla, a former gang member and U.S. citizen arrested in Chicago in 2002 and a month later designated an "enemy combatant" by President Bush. The government contends that Padilla trained at al Qaeda camps and was planning to blow up apartment buildings in the United States. Padilla has been held without trial in a U.S. naval brig for more than three years, and his case has ignited a fierce battle over the balance between civil liberties and the government's power to fight terrorism since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. A host of civil liberties groups and former attorney general Janet Reno weighed in on Padilla's behalf, calling his detention illegal and arguing that the president does not have unchecked power to lock up U.S. citizens indefinitely."

This is major. Someone has been held without trial for more than three years! You could be next...

Click here for the full article.

- Jean Chen


If the term "refugee" is offensive, then why is it ok to use the term when referrring to people in the Third World?

- Jean Chen

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Postal Service ponders the 'Dead'


You’ve got to be kidding me! Will his stamps have LSD on the back, so when you lick those puppies, you’re “Truckin” through the rest of your day in a Purple Haze! You could buy a whole sheet of Jerry Garcia stamps and sell them to your friends! It will be just like the good ol’ days!

Alright, easy joke. I couldn’t resist. But it’s true, a grassroots campaign wants to memorialize the Grateful Dead's driving force with a U.S. Postal Service stamp.

Personally, I’d be happy to never hear another Grateful Dead song as long as I live. If someone ever pulls out a “boot leg” tape or cd in my car, I will chuck it right out the window without thinking twice.

I’d prefer using their records as targets at a shooting range, BUT, Garcia arguably was a talented musician who blended many styles, including blue grass, jazz, folk, country and rock. In some weird way that I will never understand, he was a father figure to millions of people, and he was a philanthropist.

Garcia was also allegedly known to smoke insane amounts of pot, snort cocaine, drink a ton of booze and swallow countless acid hits, among other substances.

But, the Postal Service has been down this road before. They honored Elvis Presley -- who died of a heart attack after years of abusing prescription drugs – and that stamp was a best-seller.

The Postal Service also honored jazz great Louis Armstrong -- a United States ambassador of Good Will -- with a stamp, despite the fact that Armstrong was quite open about smoking a lot of marijuana throughout most of his life. He was even arrested, allegedly, for marijuana possession.

The Citizens' Stamp Advisory Committee has garnered more than 6,000 signatures without any publicity to speak of other than word of mouth and some online petition (at:

The stamp’s preliminary future lies in the hands of The Citizen's Stamp Advisory Committee, and ultimately with the Postmaster General.

As much as I hate to admit it, I’m not surprised about the petition to honor Jerry Garcia with a U.S stamp, and it’s not as far-fetched as I would like to think – Unfortunately. Sigh.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Dick Cheney resurfaces in hurricane wake

Dick Cheney still exists! Lord knows where the VP's been for the last month or year or so, but he's going to New Orleans to "assess" recovery efforts in what's left of the city.

Wow, I'm sure we'll all feel so much better knowing Cheney has witnessed the chaos firsthand. But sending Cheney is not proactive. It's reactive, and it's way too late.

Why is it that the Bush Administration and Congress are all amped up about finding out "what went wrong" with the federal response to New Orleans? It would be like the Nixon Administration conducting an investigation into Watergate. It's assenine, inconclusive rhetoric and nothing more.

The administration turns it all around and makes it seem like it's someone else's fault. Bush is the PRESIDENT -- who else is to blame?

Well, here's a few thoughts: check this

And Lite-Jazz Singers Shall Lead the Way?

Finally, government help got into New Orleans over the weekend. Real heroic—-except that Harry Connick Jr. managed to get down and bring some aid with him last THURSDAY.

"How hard is it to take a helicopter or a truck ... it's easy to get to the convention center, we got there with no problem ... how hard is it to take a truck with water or food for these people. I don't understand,” Connick said in "Today Interview.

If a pop singer can mosey on down to the Big Easy—which, last time I checked, had not broken off from the United States and shot across the Atlantic Ocean—why can’t the biggest, bestest country in the world? What on earth were FEMA and the U.S. government doing last week? On Sunday, New Orleans’ paper the Times-Picayune ran an open letter to Bush stating that “Every official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency should be fired, Director Michael Brown especially.” I can't say that I disagree, although I'd leave the FEMA interns.

Wrap-up: Do the needful here or here or wherever you like.

PS, the photo used above is of Harry Connick Jr. in his role as “Bacchus XXV” in the 1993 Mari Gras parade. Sad people in need of a giggle can click here and especially here.

Friday, September 02, 2005

escapse from new orleans

"An old man in a chaise lounge lay dead in a grassy median as hungry babies wailed around him. Around the corner, an elderly woman lay dead in her wheelchair, covered up by a blanket, and another body lay beside her wrapped in a sheet..."

Sounds like a bad horror movie, but it's actually an even more horrific reality for the people of New Orleans. This article details the current despair in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. I don't know whether the article is accurately reporting the event or sensationalizing the situation, but when reading about it and watching reports on the news, it all seems like a movie (and it probably will be soon; Hollywood's probably already on it).

The shock hadn't really settled in for me until recently. I thought: "Oh another hurricane, property damaged, people dying like everywhere else in the world, happens all the time." Becaus I'm not experiencing it and because I live so far from it, I feel disconnected. And maybe it's me, but not many people in California seem to care about what is going on except for how the damaged oil refineries are going to raise gas prices.

The people aren't receiving enough aid from the city or federal government and are turning against each other. There are people being raped, people rioting, looting, attacking the national guard. At a time like this, shouldn't the people unite? I just dont' understand how a man could capitalize on another person's suffering. The military had to be sent in to restore order, and even that's not helping.

We send help overseas, let's help our own people out for a change.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina and the Six-Legged Chicken

Right, we all know that KFC's 11 herbs and spices coat only the freshest six-legged mutant chickens. Tommy Hilfiger? Hella racist. And Mountain Dew lowers your sperm count.

Except we don't. They're all urban legends, juicy little rumors that rampage until they're killed by master debunkers like

The latest round of urban legends neatly ties together two news stories, gas prices and the massive hurricane tragedy unfolding in the south. Will the hurricane cause widespread gas station closures on the East Coast? (No) Will Katrina cause shortages of coffee? (Probably not) And how the heck did Hugo Chavez, president of Venen-zualia and favoured Pat Robertson bulls-eye, get mixed up in this mess? Read all about it at Snopes here.

And yes, you are morally obligated to click on this. That much-awaited MP3 player purchase can wait a few more weeks. Besides, iPods cause scurvy. Proven fact. Really. My best friend's aunt's cousin said...