Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Homophobia has no place in reggae

Today, I learned about Buju Banton. A friend of mine CC'd me his email to a club in Los Angeles protesting his appearance there. Didn't know much about Buju, so I did some internet searching. Man, this Buju dude sounds like a loser. What happend to "one love"? Wassup with the homophobia thing? The Rasta-Leviticus excuse for homophobia is such BS. Doesn't Buju know about the famous Dr. Laura letter, the best refutation of "Biblical" authority I've ever seen.

I'm happy to say that Buju's Los Angeles and San Francisco shows have been cancelled. Dunno why hate seems to be popular. "It's, like, got a cool groove dude, I cn dance 2 it." Like ain't there about 3,000 other artists out there with a "cool grove" that ain't about hate? Like, say, Michael Franti & Spearhead

From Wikipedia
Banton has incited a considerable amount of international controversy because of his 1992 song "Boom Bye Bye" which calls for violence against homosexuals — including shooting them in the head, pouring acid over them and setting them on fire. As a result, Banton was forced by his label to issue a statement; nevertheless he refused to apologize, citing his Rastafarian religion, citing the Bible (Leviticus 18:22 & 20:13) as the basis for his beliefs. Banton still performs the song, notably at the Smirnoff Festival in Negril, Jamaica 8 August 2004. As a consequence, Banton's concerts are often met with protesting crowds and calls for cancellation. His most recent scheduled performance in Seattle in the diverse neighborhood of Capitol Hill was canceled due to local outrage from the LGBT community.

Footnote: Apart from the homophobia, I enjoy Jamaican music and culture. Among other things I'm happy to be friends with the great artist Keith Morrison. Gratuitous plug for Keith's site, which I created for him.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Animals and war, NGO abstentionism

Just one more example of how war hurts absolutely every living being...
Orphaned Lebanese pets getting new homes

It's really disappointing that every nonprofit organization--enviro, animal, arts, healthcare, housing, bicycling, whatever--has NOT taken a STRONG, VOCAL position of opposition to the American Imperial War Project.

Among other things, billions of dollars that might otherwise be used to, say, spay and neuter animals, or clean up the environment, or build bike paths, or pay art teacher salaries, or whatever--are instead used to kill Iraqis.

These NGOs have to stop waiting for the Democrats to say its OK to oppose this wasteful stupid war.

That's kind of the point of my new blog:
War Budget Gone Bad

Soldiers & Drugs, Veterans & Addicts

This is the story you just had to know was coming:

Times Online: "Soldiers in 'guns for coke' scandal" 09.24.06

Anyone wanna bet that American soldiers aren't likewise implicated? The stories that aren't being reported out of the "Iraqi theatre" would fill volumes. Drug use among American military personnel just ain't getting reported to us here in "Support Our Troops" land.

At a recent film screening event ("The War Tapes"), I asked some Iraq Veterans Against the War activists about drug use among Operation Iraqi Freedom soldiers. They affirmed that "self medication" is, if not rampant, certainly not uncommon.

You don't have to revisit the Vietnam War experience to understand that frustrated people in frustrating situations often turn to mind-altering substances for psychological relief. Afghanistan has reemerged as the global leader in opium production. Despite all the violence, just looking at a map we know that it has to be easier to get opium to Iraq than it is to get it to Los Angeles.

Given the abundant corruption of this as all other wars, we also shouldn't be surprised if senior military officers aren't themselves involved in drug trading and smuggling.

In addition to blown up limbs and minds, we can expect a new generation of veteran addicts.

Yet more evidence, as if more could possibly be needed, that this Iraq occupation must end. Immediately.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More nonsense from Al Qaeda

The news agency Reuters reports a recent tape played on Al Jazeera, purportedly by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, alleged leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. It's filled with many gruesome gems, such as:

"The fire has not and will not be put out and our swords, which have been colored with your blood are thirsty for more of your rotting heads," said the speaker, identified in the recording as Abu Hamza al-Muhajir. Muhajir, who became the group's leader after his predecessor Abu Musab al Zarqawi was killed in June, called on Muslims to unite and asked each insurgent to kill one American in the next 15 days, saying victory was near.

"I urge you not to throw down your weapon or give yourself or the enemy a rest until each one of you kills at least one American in a period not exceeding 15 days, with a sniper bullet or ... explosive device or suicide car bomb, whatever the battle requires."

As Robert Dreyfus recently wrote so eloquently, there is no chance that the Al Qaeda nutjobs will take over Iraq. Even this Reuters article concedes that "Al Qaeda makes up about 5 percent of Iraq's Sunni Arab insurgency." That's a mere 5 percent of the Sunnis only, not including the Shiites or Kurds or others; hardly a majority movement, even in Iraq. Meanwhile Bush and company keep talking about the desire of these theocratic wackos to create a "caliphate from Indonesia to Spain."

One has to wonder, is there really any threat from Al Qaeda, or are they simply the Middle East equivalent of famed American theocractic sociopath Fred Phelps?

After spending billions in a purported fight to defeat Al Qaeda, we also have to raise a larger question: Who is more delusional, George Bush or Abu Hamza al-Muhajir? (Of course, I understand that "Islamofascism" is just a pretext for funneling lucrative contracts to Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, etc. It was once "communists", now it's "Al Qaeda." Whatever. It's all gravy to Raytheon, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman.)

Monday, September 11, 2006

9/11 Five Years After: Time for a "War on Comets"!

The Bush Administration likes to boast that "national security" is its top priority, job one, first responsibility, primary task, whatever. Therefore, to (allegedly) protect Americans, the Bush Administration has directed massive funding to the likes of Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, TRW, General Dynamics, and many other war profiteers to create the armaments for the so-called "war on terror."

However, despite spending many billions of dollars on this ridiculous "war on terror"--federal funding, by the way, not spent on education, healthcare, transportation, housing, whatever--most Americans don't feel any safer. And if only they realized how threatened they actually are. Not by terrorists, but by celestial objects!

In an excellent and provocative essay on last week, former Nixon White House counselor John Dean cites an academic who has studied the real risk terrorists pose to Americans:

For example, John Mueller, a professor of political science at Ohio State University, asserts in the current issue of Foreign Affairs that "the lifetime chance of an American being killed by international terrorism is about one in 80,000 --about the same chance of being killed by a comet or a meteor."

When answering the question "Is There Still a Terrorist Threat?," Professor Mueller concludes that, "Although it remains heretical to say so, the evidence so far suggests that fears of the omnipotent terrorist -- reminiscent of those inspired by images of the 20-foot-tall Japanese after Pearl Harbor or the 20-foot-tall Communists at various points in the Cold War (particularly after Sputnik) -- may have been overblown, the threat presented within the United States by al Qaeda is greatly exaggerated. The massive and expensive homeland security apparatus erected since 9/11 may be persecuting some, spying on many, inconveniencing most, and taxing all to defend the United States against an enemy that scarcely exists."

Wait just a minute! Did Professor Mueller of the Ohio State University say the threat posed by comets and meteors is as great as the threat posed by unshaven men in caves?!? Huh? How can the Bush Administration say their top priority is "national security", yet they appear to be doing nothing to protect us from a massively catastrophic strike by a malicious meteor? Where is the "War on Comets"?!? And that's just rocks out there? What about defense against extraterrestrial forces? I saw War of the Worlds.

Therefore, I propose that the Bush Administration start awarding massive contracts to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Halliburton, and other worthy protectors of American existence for a "War on Comets"! If we have to liquidate Social Security to enable the profits--er, efforts of these great corporate partners in national defense, so be it! Let's go America! Wake up to the threat!

As an afterthought, I offer the following:
• Number of Americans killed on 9/11: 2,973
• Number of Americans killed in traffic collisions, 2001: 42,196

I grieve for the victims of 9/11. I also grieve for the 214,000 people killed on our roadways in the past five years, many of whom were pedestrians or bicyclists. I also grieve for all the victims of this criminally destructive Bush Administration.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Do J-schools teach derriere bussing, or is it learned on the job?

Carolyn Jones, San Francisco Chronicle:

Here's a CC on my letter in response to your article "Pay Dirt." When people are literally dying from Lebanon and Iraq to Bayview and the Tenderloin, and when corruption is rampant from D.C. to City Hall, it must be really frustrating to have your talents squandered on the trivial tribulations of the region's wealthiest people.

Articles such as "Pay Dirt" rarely bring their writers or publications major distinction, such as Pulitzer, AJR, CJR, or SPJ recognition. However, it must be a great relief to other national news organizations when the Chronicle withdraws from serious journalism.

It will be a great day when the San Francisco Chronicle focuses on journalism, and leaves celebration of the overly pampered affluent to publications such as the Nob Hill Gazette or Gentry. I wish you better luck with your next assignment.


Paul Dorn

September 10, 2006

Letters to the Editor
San Francisco Chronicle
901 Mission Street
San Francisco, CA 94103

RE: "Pay Dirt: Atherton residents outraged by town's high fees for
hauling excavated earth"


I understand that the Chronicle's mission is to celebrate the affluent. That's why, among other things, thousands of trees and gallons of ink are consumed each year to show several pages of women in evening gowns at the Symphony's opening concert.

However, your article about residents in exclusive Atherton distressed at the high costs of excavating for home improvements ("Pay Dirt," 9/9) was really too much. This article's placement--front page above the fold--as the _most_ important news story of the day is an outrage.

At a time when millions in our country lack adequate healthcare, housing, or security, it's truly insulting to have the inconvenience of the affluent rubbed in our faces. Shameful.


Paul Dorn
San Francisco CA

Friday, September 08, 2006

Shameless Self Promotion

The excellent Radio Parallax program, hosted by my friend Douglas Everett, had an interesting segment on program 220 on the Tour de France, bicycling, and impacts of automobiles. (Yes, I was a participant; great editing made me sound almost intelligent.)

The complete program, including the bike segment, is available here: Radio Parallax

Radio Parallax can be heard every Thursday at 5 pm on KDVS 90.3 FM in Davis, and of course as a podcast or streaming audio. It's a fun and informative show.

All the news, fluffed up for easy consumption

So the big news this week is the debut of perky Katie Couric as host of the CBS Evening News. I pretty much stopped watching network televison about two decades ago, so I can't comment on the quality of their latest "infotainment" product. But it appears that they introduced a new segment, "freeSpeech", where they allow some blowhard a few minutes of airtime to blather. The latest was drug addict and liar Rush Limbaugh. The website offered a link to the segment, which was a typical blast of "talent on loan from God" nonsense. Media Matters had links to send comments to CBS, so why not. I sent the following:

Rush Limbaugh?!? Rush Limbaugh!?! You give time to that documented dissembler and propagandist? Shameful. Surely there have to be more insightful commentators available to you, people who might offer a perspective that hasn't been offered repeatedly already. I might suggest: Katha Pollit, Michael Parenti, Ali Abunimah, Noam Chomsky, Ralph Nader, Amy Goodman, Alexander Cockburn, Dave Lindorff, etc. (Sigh, if only...I might start watching network TV again.) OK, I know those examples are "outside the range" of acceptable opinion offered on network television, but surely any of the hosts of Air America Radio--which outrates Limbaugh in most markets where they match up, Rush the liar conquers the empty backwaters--are tame enough to appear on CBS Evening News with Katie Couric.

REAL NEWS: DemocracyNow! - the best news coverage in U.S.
CLARIFICATION: CounterSpin - weekly radio program from FAIR
AMUSEMENT: RadioParallax - insightful and well-humored look at the news and issues