Monday, May 3, 2010
by Manuel Alderete
The air was electrified by a presence not felt since the Gran Marcha of 2006. At least 100,000 people marched through Downtown in solidarity with Arizona's victims of a new law that legalizes racial profiling. It is a law that has been denounced by President Obama, DHS Head Janet Nopalitano, the Mayor of Phoenix, the Sheriff of Pima County (Arizona), and even some Republicans who see it as draconian legislation.
Many of the protest signs carried bold statements calling the Arizona law "racist" and "Nazi"-like. There was a sense of urgency in their voices, demanding to "Boycott Arizona" and overturn Arizona's SB 1070 law on the grounds that it was racially discriminatory and unconstitutional.
Unlike other marches where several other "niche issues" are brought into the march, this May Day march was focused like a laser: Arizona's new state law is a modern-day version of legalized White Supremacy, smacking of the Nuremberg Laws in Nazi Germany and Apartheid "Pass Laws" in South Africa.
As usual, the march began at Olympic and Broadway and continued north about a dozen blocks, ending near City Hall. The crowd surged with optimism as music played and ralliers chanted to Boycott Arizona and pressure President Obama to take swift action against Arizona's legalized Apartheid.
It should also be mentioned that Los Angeles Police Department had a very light footprint at the march, with only a few officers monitoring from the sidelines. And just as well: the march was peaceful, upbeat, and a proud statement of civic resistance to "legal" fascism.
According to the official site supporters worldwide of media freedom "celebrate the fundamental principles of press and media freedom that are articulated in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights." The day was officially designated by the United Nations General Assembly and is hosted by UNESCO, this year in Brisbane, Australia, a list of the speakers here.
Some hacks risk death and violence in the effort to bring the public information, to empower them with the truth and grant them the opportunity to question and make informed decisions.
Those journalists should be honoured today, 17 of them died last month, according to the Newspaper Publishers' Association, that link includes more detailed info on April's killings. The International News Safety Institute has recorded in total some 1,500 violent deaths in the past 14 years.
Amnesty International recently took the step to issue its own plea to the Honduran government, after a spate of journalist killings; six in eight weeks during March and April.
"Targeting journalists in this way suffocates freedom of expression, denies the Honduran population access to information, and of course also violates journalists' right to life," said Esther Major, Amnesty International's Central America Researcher.
Reporters without borders have issued their own report, a list of the top "forty predators of press freedom."
Few professionals in the arts maintain a blog as lovingly as David Byrne, or post at such length about topics of genuine interest (one recent entry, on the recontextualisation of performance art, breaks the 6,000-word mark). Given that Byrne is most famous for his work with Talking Heads, one might expect music to be the order of the day, but he writes just as searchingly about art and film, photography and opera, buildings and food. A treat.
Gwynnie's lifestyle blog is easy to deride. Yes, it's a chance for her to show off the breadth of her cultural experience while encouraging the humble reader to "nourish your inner aspect", but it does provide some rather useful tips, not to mention opportunities for celeb-spotting. Her friends Steven, Christy and Sofia, whom she taps for book and movie tips, are Spielberg, Turlington and Coppola respectively.
Move back in with your parents, commit your 74-year-old father's obscenity-strewn wisdoms to text, post them on Twitter and, if you're Justin Halpern, end up with 1,288,000 followers, a book deal and a show on CBS. Halpern started after he moved home from LA to San Diego last year. "You look just like Stephen Hawking Relax, I meant like a non-paralysed version of him. Feel better? Fine. Forget I said it."
Being in charge of the sharpest, snarkiest, most popular women's blog around sounds as if it should be a lot of fun. Anna Holmes pauses and chooses her words.
"It's not not fun," says the editor-in-chief of Jezebel, which launched in May 2007 and today attracts almost ten million hits a month. "But it's more like the blog is a baby, and it has to be tended to at all times. And the baby might grow up a bit, but it's never going to get past the age of 2 or 3 in terms of how much it demands of you."
From the spare room of her New York apartment, Holmes oversees blogging on a near-industrial scale as she commissions a team of writers who churn out a new post every 10 minutes for almost 12 hours a day, addressing anything from urinary tract infection vaccines, via dating and stupid celebrities, to the evils of glossy women's magazines' airbrushed covers. Typically, a working day will stretch to 11 or 12 hours at her computer.
"I don't want to say it's ruined my life I don't want to put it that way. But it's reconfigured it in a way that's probably extremely unhealthy. A social life? Nah, I don't have one," she chuckles. "That's the problem with the internet: it's always on."
The town of Pepper Pike, Ohio, doesn't sound a hotbed of feisty young feminist thought. And prior to the F Bomb, it wasn't. The 16-year-old Zeilinger created her blog to address topics ranging from pubic hair to Twilight; to keep the content teen-focused, she's even said she'll pass control to someone younger when she hits 20.
As Congress weighs Afghanistan funding, the military is escalating what it calls the "war of perceptions" at home and abroad. The question is whether the American media and Congress will collaborate in the Pentagon's press strategy or retain a critical edge.
It is no accident that the Pentagon is shaping the "information battlespace" by welcoming friendly reporters and think tank hacks to beam back commentaries about the Kandahar offensive to the American people.
Nor is it accidental that the US is soft-pedaling any public criticism of its crooked crony in Kabul, Hamid Karzhai, as thousands of American soldiers are being dispatched to face bullets in his defense.
Nor is there any question that Afghan civilian casualties are being downplayed or covered-up. The agency in charge of counting the bodies, the United Nations Assistance Mission to Afghanistan, published a footnote last year admitting "there is a significant possibility that UNAMA is under-reporting civilian casualties."
Paranoia? Do we live under Orwellian thought control? Of course not. But we the people, the media and the Congress, routinely accept taxpayer-funded Pentagon and White House public relations narratives. These often take disgusting forms, such as the false claims and cover-up that soldier Pat Tillman died under enemy fire, or the recent Special Forces' killing of three pregnant women which was followed by digging of bullets out of their bodies to cover up the crime.
The current cycle of military media manipulation began with the Iraq war, when the Pentagon enticed generals, intelligence officers, and defense contractors to become "message force multipliers" for the Bush administration's version of the war, "sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated." It took a New York Times' lawsuit to uncover 8,000 pages of documents showing that the chosen surrogates could be counted on to deliver propaganda messages "in the form of their own opinions."
The strategy goes far deeper than the sleaze of everyday public relations. This is about the Pentagon's turning of computer science into a weapon in the emerging field of information warfare, in which the deaths of men, women and children are less important than the perception of those deaths, or whether they are perceived by anyone at all. As Gen. McChrystal, whose entire career in Iraq remains a classified secret, said during a February briefing:
"This is not a physical war of how many people you kill or how much ground you capture, how many bridges you blow up. This is all in the minds of the participants."
McChrystal also has said, in a recent London speech, that Afghanistan is not like a football game but more "like a political debate after which both sides announce they have won."
Then, one day, calamity struck: The system turned on them. And they discovered that they had been betrayed, bamboozled, by the people at the top.
But they didn't hang their heads and turn tail, like a dog whipped by its master. They organized and fought back millions of them in a grass roots movement for democracy. What they did became known as the Populist Moment, an extraordinary time in our country's history.
But, the flimflam gang returned with a vengeance in our time the monied interests and political mercenaries who connived to bring on a calamity that lost eleven million Americans their jobs, robbed people of their homes and pensions, and brought the world's economy crashing down.
But once again, people are organizing and fighting back; as they did in that early Populist Moment that took on the monopolies and financial trusts. The stirrings of a popular insurgency could be seen late this week as thousands marched on Wall Street. These people are angry at the banks that have cost them so dearly and they want reforms to prevent similar disasters in the future. They want to break up the Wall Street oligarchy and require the banks to use their capital to build and revitalize and innovate, to create jobs and security.
Similar protests occurred this week in San Francisco, North Carolina and Kansas City, where people rallied to demand an accounting from the giant Bank of America.
Among their ranks was a contingent from Iowa, proud and vocal inheritors of America's populist spirit. We first met them at a rally last fall.
BILL MOYERS: In October, some five thousand people came to Chicago to rally outside the convention of the American Bankers Association.
CROWD: ABA, you're the worst! Time to put the people first!
BILL MOYERS: This is not the Tea Party crowd, chanting against "government takeovers" and "creeping socialism."
CROWD: We're fired up! Can't take it no more!
BILL MOYERS: They are populists of the old school. They want the government on their side battling against predatory monopolies, trusts, and corporations.
MIKE MCCARTHY: We're losing jobs. We're losing state employees. We're losing industry and businesses. We're losing farms and homes. And meanwhile, these people across the street are trying to divvy up their record profits, in tens of millions of dollars worth of bonuses. And that's not fair, it's not fair.
CROWD: Bust up! Big banks! Bust up! Big banks...
BILL MOYERS: Mike McCarthy and a busload of his Iowa neighbors rode almost six hours to get here.
CROWD: Bust up! Big banks...
BILL MOYERS: They belong to an organization called Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement. Or CCI. They take their fighting spirit, everywhere they go.
LARRY GINTER: If you've seen your pensions or retirement take a hit, stand up. Dissent is apple pie and ice cream. If you think it's time to put people first and hold banks accountable, stand up. Our founding fathers spoke out against the injustice. I mean, they were great populist, great radicals.
CROWD: We're fired up, can't take it no more...
LARRY GINTER: You just can't sit back and let the big boys walk all over you. You have to stand up and fight. Give yourselves a hand!
To our critics, I'm glad you paid attention; the second most important thing to journalists is to know we're not being ignored. The most important thing is the independence that enables us to do our job without fear or favor. In this I have been unbelievably blessed. When, for the last time, you read the credits at the conclusion of this broadcast, consider that every funder, or underwriter as we say, came to our support asking only that we enrich the public conversation by adding more and different voices to it.
I could not have had more generous or brave partners. Not one of them has ever tried to influence the content; none has asked for a favor; or made a single demand.
Likewise, Mutual of America Life Insurance Company, my sole corporate sponsor for 23 years. Bill Flynn, the CEO when our relationship began, and his successor, Tom Moran are among the best; they've never once mentioned the complaints I know came their way over the controversies ignited here. In my experience, no corporation has been a better friend of democracy.
Time now to let you in on the big secret of broadcast journalism. There's more to it than meets the eye, and in a just world, the credit would not accrue to those of us on camera but to the team you never see.
Pull back the camera and you see the shoulders upon which I stand. Producers and associate producers. Production coordinators and production assistants. Video editors, sound engineers, make up artist, and control room team. Camera operators and floor crew. Directors, art directors, our world class communications and web team. This is an amazingly complex and creative process. And our senior writer, Michael Winship, a longtime colleague who came to PBS about the time I did, almost 40 years ago. Karen Kimball, my personal majordomo.
Our Executive Producer, Sally Roy, master of myriad details who leads us through each week with a sure hand from beginning to end. And three kindred spirits who have been my companions and compatriots ever since we launched our independent production company in 1986:
Diana Warner, our Comptroller, the still, calm center of the storm.
Judy Doctoroff, who began on the bottom rung soon out of college, became our President and COO, our Executive Producer, the conductor of this journalistic symphony and our friend.
And Judith Davidson Moyers, our CEO and Executive Editor, my long-time Executive Producer and creative partner, our maximum leader and my wife of 56 years.
It's been a productive partnership professionally and personally. To quote, once again, what Charlotte Bronte wrote of her Alfred, "We intended to be married in this way almost from the first. We never meant to be spliced in the humdrum way of other people." And that's the Journal.
Thank you for watching. I'm Bill Moyers. See you around.
by Marcus Baram
As families mourn the 11 workers thrown overboard in the worst oil rig disaster in decades and as the resulting spill continues to spread through the Gulf of Mexico, new questions are being raised about the training of the drill operators and about the oil company's commitment to safety.Deepwater Horizon, the giant technically-advanced rig which exploded on April 20 and sank two days later, is leaking an estimated 42,000 gallons per day through a pipe about 5,000 feet below the surface. The spill has spread across 1,800 square miles -- an area larger than Rhode Island -- according to satellite images, oozing its way toward the Louisiana coast and posing a threat to wildlife, including a sperm whale spotted in the oil sheen.
The massive $600 million rig, which holds the record for boring the deepest oil and gas well in the world -- at 35,050 feet - had passed three recent federal inspections, the most recent on April 1, since it moved to its current location in January. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.
Yet relatives of workers who are presumed dead claim that the oil behemoth BP and rig owner TransOcean violated "numerous statutes and regulations" issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the U.S. Coast Guard, according to a lawsuit filed by Natalie Roshto, whose husband Shane, a deck floor hand, was thrown overboard by the force of the explosion and whose body has not yet been located.
Both companies failed to provide a competent crew, failed to properly supervise its employees and failed to provide Rushto with a safe place to work, according to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana. The lawsuit also names oil-services giant Halliburton as a defendant, claiming that the company "prior to the explosion, was engaged in cementing operations of the well and well cap and, upon information and belief, improperly and negligently performed these duties, which was a cause of the explosion."
BP and TransOcean have also aggressively opposed new safety regulations proposed last year by a federal agency that oversees offshore drilling -- which were prompted by a study that found many accidents in the industry.
by Jeff Lieber
You see, I live in Southern California... just north of the Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm... and this morning a gang of lipstick lesbians lost control of their motorcycles and CRASHED into one of the turbines and now...
THERE IS (WHOOOSH) FUCKING WIND (WHOOOSH) EVERYWHERE!!!!
There's wind on the ground and over the water and filling the sky in a way God never, ever, intended (WHOOOSH) and -- as it spills out uncontrollably -- blowing at speeds (WHOOOSH) fast enough to lift up cows and houses and allegorical crones on bicycles I'm reminded of the opening scene of the environmental disaster film The Wizard Of Oz. (In fact FEMA is (WHOOOSH) dispatching the Army Corps of Engineers just in case someone gets trapped (WHOOOSH) under a house!)
We got cell phone calls all over the ground... fax transmissions smashed through the windshields of cars... and iPhone data strewn from Sacramento to the Mexican boarder.
How in God's name (TUMBLEWEED BLOWS BY) are we going to breathe with all this air in the air?
How are we (AUTOMOBILE BLOWS BY) going to clean it up?
How are animals going to survive when their natural habitat has been contaminated by all this 02?!
(THIS BEING SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA... FREE-RANGE BREAST IMPLANT BLOWS BY!)
And the State has been REALLY slow to respond.
YES, there are now kites in the air. And YES the WSA (Weathervain Society of America) is rushing to the site with all the farm fowl inspired roof art that they have in their arsenal. But why Governor Schwarzenegger hasn't dispatched the hot air balloons... NOBODY KNOWS.