30 August 2007

Virginia Tech and Other School Shootings’ Article Links

In light of the announcement yesterday of the findings by the investigative panel authorised by Virginia Tech University into the events surrounding the 17th April, 2007 massacre there, I thought it appropriate to put up the following article links about the panel, its findings, and some associated events accompanying them.

The first is to an AP article from Yahoo News dated to-day, about the panel and its recommendations at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070830/ap_on_re_us/virginia_tech_investigation.

Next on the list is this Washington Post article from Monday, in which it was revealed that Seung-Hui Cho, the gunman who shot and killed 32 of his teachers and classmates, had had help in his Virginia high school with a condition he suffered from, called selective mutism, but, that due to privacy laws, plus Mr. Cho's and his family's own reticence to advise the university of this condition, similar help wasn't given by the university.

It's at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/26/AR2007082601410.html?wpisrc=newsletter.

This is a similar WP article to the one above, and is found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/27/AR2007082701710.html?tid=informbox.

Next, we have three more WP article links from, respectively, 29th August, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/28/AR2007082801307.html?tid=informbox 25th August, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/24/AR2007082402108.html?tid=informbox, and
22nd August, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/22/AR2007082201677.html, .

These are about, in descending order, an anti-violence protest at the Virginia gun shop where Cho bought one of the pistols he used in the Virginia Tech massacre, and whose wares have been tied to gun crimes in the Washington D.C. area, and as far afield as New York City, the Virginia Tech panel's investigation winding up, and that the panel was seeking reforms in campus security and notification of students and faculty in case of future campus emergencies.

From the Washington Post, we next got to Virginia Tech itself, and its on-line Virginia Tech News, with an overview, and PDF document link for those of you who want to see the full report, of the panel's proposed reforms at http://www.vtnews.vt.edu/story.php?relyear=2007&itemno=459.

Then, we go to the Daily Press, with a 20th August article about how life on the Virginia Tech campus is renewing itself for both in-coming freshmen and returning students at http://www.dailypress.com/news/dp-08084sy0aug20,0,2395602.story?coll=hr_tab01_layout.

With the next three article links, we go a few months farther back in time, first to an op-ed piece posted by Scott Donahue, a Panama City, Florida, high school senior at the time this was posted on 26th April, 2007, in which he analyses the Virginia Tech shootings and some of the various solutions proposed for this problem, at http://www.newsherald.com/blogs/entry.php?entryID=473, then to John Derbyshire's "The Spirit Of Self-Defense" post on The Corner blog at the National Review's site at http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=YzllOTU0MDUzY2NhZDE2YmViYmRiNmE5ZjM1OWQxYTU=, and, finally, to a Newsweek interview with Wayne Lo, the perpetrator of the Simon's Rock College of Bard University in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, on the evening of 14th December, 1992, in which 3 people were killed and four wounded, before Lo surrendered to police, on the Virginia Tech shootings at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18442224/site/newsweek.

For my money, this last article's the most problematic, and I would advise taking much of what Lo says in the interview with a large sackful of salt. But, his insight into how some of the various Asian cultures tend to be reticent about talking openly about mental illness, and how members of these cultures often suppress anger until it comes flooding out, are worth seeing, if, again, to be taken with a great deal of caution.


Then, from the Toronto Star, we've an article about how the Toronto School District's policy of "safe school" transfers, designed to send students who've engaged in fighting or other such activities to other schools, and which has also been used as a tactic to break up gangs, especially at Westview High School in northwestern Toronto, may have resulted in the shooting death of 15 year-old Jordan Manners at C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute on 23rd May of this year at http://www.thestar.com/article/251354.

Am also enclosing a Wikipedia article on the C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute shooting at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C.W._Jefferys_Collegiate_InstituteShooting, so you can find out a little more about the incident yourselves.

Finally, have two more Wikipedia articles here, the first being a general description of school shootings at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathan_Ferris, and a list of school massacres, some of which surprised the Hell out of me, especially the first one on the list, which occurred in 1890(was perpetrated by an adult male who opened fire on a group of male students with a shotgun), at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_school_massacres.

All in all, there should be enough article links here to either help give you something more of a perspective of the Virginia Tech shootings, or, should you wish to, begin your own explorations into the history of school shootings and school massacres in general.

Be seeing you.

29 August 2007

Two Nat Hentoff Village Voice Column Links On Torture

Well, Children, we've had our bits of fun here this morning. But, now is the time for a pair of deadly, and I mean DEADLY, serious Nat Hentoff articles from the Village Voice's site.

The first one's, from to-day, is on a set of new reports leaked from the International Red Cross about the CIA's extensive use of torture in its various "secret" prisons, and can be found at http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0735,hentoff,77643,6.html.

The second's from 10th July, 2007, and is about John Yoo, the Bush Administration legal counsel turned Berkeley professor, who was the author of the infamous Department of Justice "torture" memo back in 2002, and, who is, as far as I am concerned, one prize son of a bitch.

It can be seen at http://www.villagevoice.com/news/0728,hentoff,77169,6.html.

In closing, I want to thank the friend who originally sent me the first article via e-mail, and to ask those of you out there to please read these articles, and pass along the links to your families and friends, and post them on your blogs, if you have any.

Let's not, when all of this is finally over, and we have to explain all this to our kids, grand-kids, and the rest of the world's kids and grand-kids, that we didn't bloody know this was happening.

It didn't work for the Germans after World War Two, and it sure won't bloody wash in future, either.

Take Care, and be seeing you.

Your Japanese Obscenity Lesson

Now, from the political, we go to a bit of a foreign language obscenity lesson, and the phrase in question is Japanese in origin.

Picked this up from a friend of mine in a chat room early this morning, and thought I'd pass it along to you.

The phrase is, "Ah, Nan Desu Fuck", and it means, "What the Fuck???".

Now, here's my quick and dirty pronunciation guide to the phrase.

"Ah", is pronounced just like "Ah" in "Open up and say, Ah".

"Nan" is pronounced "Nahn", with the "Ah" in the middle being pronounced just like its counter-part above.

"Desu" is roughly pronounced like "Days", though there's just a TINY hint of a U at the word's end.

As for "Fuck", well, if ya don't know how to pronounce THAT word by now, you never will!!!!

Anyway, am unsure as to the precise meaning of "Ah" in this sentence, but it's probably an intensifying word, "Nan" means "What", "Desu" means "Is" or "Are", depending on the context, and "Fuck".... Oh, Jesus H. Christ On A Pogo Stick!!!! If ya don't know what THAT means already, you really ARE all wet!!!!

Anyway, as my friend explained it to me, the phrase is used in a context of great shock and surprise, just like its English counter-part.

Warning: if you've any Japanese-speaking friends, acquaintances, business associates, it's generally NOT a good idea to use this within either their ear-shot, and especially NOT to their faces, unless you want to be good and rude to them for some reason.

Also, I would definitely NOT recommend using this on any rough-looking Yakuza, biker, punker or other types in a bar, unless you're planning to get in the first shot on 'em, or you want to commit suicide.

Anyhow, that's your Japanese Obscenity Lesson for now.

Have fun, be careful out there, and be seeing you.

MySpace Blog Link To Article About Reno-Area Anti-Bush Protest

Got a bulletin from a MySpace friend of mine who's involved with anti-war protests up in the Reno area this morning, about the demo that took place there when Da Prez spoke before the American Legion's national convention there yesterday.

Anyway, am giving y'all a link to a blog with lotsa(mainly Reno-area, but also Las Vegas Sun and a San Diego newspaper)media links about it at http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=119887058&blogID=304761878&Mytoken=3ECF0DAC-836F-4266-AD26CF9BB88F12F548956367.

'Nuff said 'bout that, but, for those of you thinkin' about possibly posting any hostile comments, please remember that the blog owner has to approve the comments, so it might not get up there.

Anyway, check it out, and be seeing you.

"The Ocular Penetration Act Of 2007": A The Onion Video Link

This is a link to an "The Onion" video posted on MySpace Videos, in which House Represenative Benjamin Sinclair(R-Ohio)announces his proposed bill, "The Ocular Penetration Act of 2007", which would outlaw skull fucking and throw some pretty stiff penalties at its perpetrators.

Laughed and yelped my damned head off all throughout, and have to say that Rep. Sinclair has probably set a new record for the number of times "fucking" has been heard on the House floor.

The link's at Live From Congress: The Skull Fucking Bill Of 2007

Add to My Profile | More Videos .

Enjoy, and be seeing you.

28 August 2007

A Trio Of Sydney Morning Herald Arts and Entertainment Links

Since to-day's been a link fest here, might as well end up the same way we started out, eh???

So, here are three arts and entertainment story links from the Sydney Morning Herald for you to see.

First, here's a link to a story about an exhibition of photographs by the Australian, but Italian-born and originally UK national, Renato Grome, on the darker side of Barbie, and how the doll's sexual yet sexless appearance reflects aspects of our culture, at http://www.smh.com.au/news/arts/exposed-the-darker-side-of-barbie/2007/08/28/1188067107267.html?page=fullpagecontentSwap1.

Then, it's onto the world of music, with an article about The Proclaimers, the Scottish folk-rock twin duo, whose 1987 hit, "I'm Gonna Be(500 Miles)", some of you out there may remember, at http://www.smh.com.au/news/music/twins-flex-their-specs/2007/08/28/1188067107258.html?page=fullpagecontentSwap1.

Finally, this article's about an Australian comedy troupe with an, um, unique twist, Puppetry Of The Penis, and can be seen at http://www.smh.com.au/news/arts/still-pulling-a-crowd/2007/08/28/1188067099269.html?page=fullpagecontentSwap1.

Well, can't say you don't have some interesting reading ahead of you, now, can ya????

Be seeing you.

Some Article Links About The Michael Vick Case And A Home-Made Editorial

Here are a whole slew of news article links about the Michael Vick affair now winding to an end after his guilty plea yesterday.

They're from, respectively, the Washington Post and the Toronto Star, and am just going to list them without making any introductory comments.

The WP articles can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/20/AR2007082001879.html, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/24/AR2007082401970.html?tid=informbox, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/20/AR2007082000898.html, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/27/AR2007082701906.html, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/27/AR2007082701751.html, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/27/AR2007082701791.html?wpisrc=newsletter, and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/27/AR2007082701454.html.

The Toronto Star piece can be found at http://www.thestar.com/article/250487.

For the record, I can see where Vick's defenders have a point, in that the lives of canines are being held above those of human beings, and, especially for his African-American defenders, I can definitely see this as being rooted in the quite often-true perception that, if one's African-American in this culture, oft-times others will, to use a quote I got from a Russian describing how he was treated in Germany in a biography of the late Dean Reed I read a while back, "people say Hello to the dog, and not to you."

That is all too often most certainly true.

There are others who bring up other forms of animal mis-treatment, exploitation, abuse, neglect and, of course, mass killing of animals to denounce meat eating, etc, etc, etc.

There are also those who point out that the real outrage should be directed at the current Administration for its cruel war in Iraq, and many other issues besides that.

All of these are good points, but there is just one problem with all of that, and that is that Michael Vick was not, by his own admission, an innocent Lambie-Pie who got inadvertently sucked into Bad Newz Kennels' operations, betting on dog-fighting, killing dogs that didn't perform, and all the other charges he plead out to.

He was a financier and active participant in Bad Newz Kennels' operations from beginning to end, and, like it or not, Vick is now having to pay the consequences of his own bad behaviour, period.

I hope Vick finds the redemption he said he now so urgently seeks.

But, I also stand with Michael Wilbon's comments about Vick and that search for redemption, and say that it's going to take a long, long, time and much real soul-searching and effort on his part to do that.

As for the other topics mentioned by Vick's supporters, I have to say this; those topics need to be debated, yes, and well they should be. But, using them as a kind of smoke screen to deflect criticism and outrage over Mr. Vick's actions in this matter strike me as being All-American, Grade-A, 100% percent bullshit.

Yep, his actions and attitudes occurred within the larger context of this culture, and the various sub-cultures of which he was a part, and those should be taken into consideration within the larger debate about how and why this culture acts the way it does, and what can be done to change it for the better.

This doesn't mean putting the lives of dogs, or other animals, above those of human beings, and it means making damned sure that African-Americans and other people who have been traditionally excluded from full participation in just about every sphere of this society have the opportunities to make decent livings for themselves and their families, and to be treated with respect by every institution in this society.

But, it also means that Mr. Vick and his associates, who made their deals with Federal prosecutors to testify against him to get lesser sentences, and those who participate in and profit from dog-fighting, have to be held accountable for their actions, and punished accordingly.

Cruelty's cruelty, whether inflicted by the whip hand of a plantation overseer on a field hand during our country's Slavery period, or by a professional football player into dog-fighting on a dog that was bred, trained and put into a fighting ring to make money for its owner by fighting, winning or dying.

The principle's the same, even if the target of such cruelty differs, and it is unjustifiable in the end.

Here Endeth The Lesson, and be seeing you.

Another News Article Link

This article link's to an AP article via Yahoo News on a new National Guard recruiting programme that gives Guardsmen a $ 2,000 bonus incentive for each person he or she brings into the Guard, especially if the latter opts to serve in the Regular Army for an alloted time span first.

In the last two weeks, have seen signs on the north-west corner of my neighbourhood from the Nevada Army National Guard offering a similar financial incentive for joining up, and even goes so far as to state that one can serve at home, etc.

Well, don't know about now, but, the last time I saw the sign, it'd been torn down. By whom and for what reasons, I know not.

It, or another like it, is probably back up again.

Will have to check in the next few days and let you know.

The article link's at http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070828/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/army_recruiting.

Check it out, and be seeing you.

A Fistful Of News Article Links

Here are a quartet of news links(albeit from yesterday)that may be of interest to you all.

From the Washington Post, comes this article about how the US Army's using $20,000 'quick ship" enlistment bonuses to get new recruits into its ranks faster and build up its recruiting quotas at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/26/AR2007082601266.html?wpisrc=newsletter.

Then, from the Los Angeles Times, comes this article about the growing use of child soldiers by Iraqi insurgents at http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fg-childfighters27aug27,0,3111279.story?coll=la-tot-topstories&track=ntottext.

Next, comes a Washington Post piece by Michael Abramowitz on the Administration's strategy behind its recent use of the Viet-Nam War's aftermath at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/26/AR2007082601144.html?wpisrc=newsletter.

Finally, we have another Washington Post piece, this one from Andrew Cohen's Bench Conference blog, entitled "Good Riddance" about now-former US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales' resignation at http://blog.washingtonpost.com/benchconference/2007/08/post_48.htmlmore.

Check 'em out, and be seeing you.

27 August 2007

A Trio Of Sydney Morning Herald Show-Biz Links

In my never-ending campaign to make myself out a liar, here are a trio of various show-biz links, all from the Sydney Morning Herald, for you.

The first is to a story about a new documentary,by Julien Temple about the late Joe Strummer, the lead singer of The Clash, at
http://www.smh.com.au/news/film/paying-homage-to-a-punk-pioneer/2007/08/27/1188067084354.html?page=fullpagecontentSwap1.

The second's to an articlelette about Sir Ian McKellen and why he couldn't make an appearance on New Zealand's longest-running soap opera, while doing a tour there in a production of King Lear, at http://www.smh.com.au/news/tv--radio/no-soap-for-sir-ian/2007/08/28/1188067085473.html, and the third's to a SMH video gossip show that mentions that Pete Doherty(of Oasis and Kate Moss fame, remember him??)'s cat turned up with traces of cocaine in its system after it was tested for it, after his recent bust for possession of the stuff. It's at http://media.smh.com.au/?rid=31055, and is appropriately enough called "Trash Talk".

There are two reasons I posted the last link; one is that, if true, Doherty's a real swine for allowing his cat and her kittens, some of which were also tested positive for traces of cocaine in their systems, to even get near the stuff. One thing to hammer yourself like that, another to hammer animals that have no way of consenting to it is another.

The other's that, particularly when one sees the rest of the shit on offer at "Trash Talk", that such crap can be considered news, period.

Either way, be seeing you.

Las Vegas Americans Against Escalation In Iraq Meeting To-Morrow Night

Well, damnit, here I go, making a liar out of myself, when I said in the last post that it would be my last one this evening.

But, I think the occasion warrants it.

The Las Vegas chapter of Americans Against Escalation In Iraq will be holding a town-hall meeting/vigil featuring an Iraq War veteran, as well as two other veterans(wars unnamed)and a local religious leader at the Painters' Hall, 1701 Whitney Mesa, in Henderson at 6:00 PM to-morrow evening. Yes, refreshments will be served, you Greedy-Guts, so let there be no carping on that score.

The vigil will be held after the town-hall meeting.

Can't make it, as I've not enough for bus fare to and fro, but can at least give you the info so you can go out there and attend yourselves.

Very rarely, it's a good thing when I make a liar out of myself, but this is one of those occasions.

Be seeing you.

Some Gian Maria Volonte English Language Links

Was going to put these in the last blog post, but had a brain fart, and didn't.

So, without further ado, here are some English-language links to more info about Gian Maria Volonte.

We start out, predictably enough, with two IMDB links to Mr. Volonte's biography and filmography at, respectively, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002231/bio, and http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0002231/filmoyear, as well as his Wikipedia entry at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gian_Maria_Volont%C3%A9.

We then go to RAI's(the Italian state-run radio and tv network)Italica site, where a section devoted to him in its "Political Films" section can be found at http://www.italica.rai.it/eng/cinema/political/volonte.htm.

This has a brief biography and filmography, as well as a production still from Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion, and a video of Gian-Carlo Gianinini's reminscences about Volonte(in Italian only, sorry)can be found in the Multimedia sub-section there.


Finally, we have two reviews of a pair of films in which he starred, the first being of a 1987 Spaghetti Western, A Bullet For The General, directed by Damaniano Damaniani, at http://www.eccentric-cinema.com/cult_movies2007/bullet_general.htm, and of the 1979 Francesco Rosi adaptation of Carlo Levi's novel, Christ Stopped At Eboli, already mentioned above, at http://pellicola.wordpress.com/2007/05/25/cristo-si-e-fermato-a-eboli-christ-stopped-at-eboli-1979/.

The review there doesn't mention Volonte's performance in it, but has been included to give you all something of an idea, along with the A Bullet For The General review, of the sorts of films in which Mr. Volonte starred.

Incidentally, there's a link to a sound sample of Pierro Piccioni's music for Christ Stopped At Eboli towards the end of the review, so check that out if you want.

Those are it for now. Hope you enjoy them, and that maybe you learn a little bit about one of the great actors of world cinema of the 1960's, '70's and '80's.

Be seeing you.

A YouTube Video Tribute To Gian Maria Volonte

This latest YouTube video is a tribute to the late, great, Italian actor Gian Maria Volonte, who's perhaps best known to American audiences for his roles as Ramon Rojo and El Indio in Sergio Leone's A Fistful Of Dollars(Per Un Pugno Di Dollari) and For A Few Dollars More(Per Qual'che Dollari In Piu), but whose career included stage, television and screen work, especially for left-wing directors like Elio Petri and Jean-Luc Godard.

While he played quite a few villains in his long career, including the police inspector who murders his mistress to see if he can get away with it in the 1970 Elio Petri film Investigation Of A Citizen Above Suspicion, which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1971, he also played heroic characters, like Lulu in the 1971 film The Working Class Goes To Heaven(La Classe Operaia Va In Paradiso) and the 1979 film Christ Stopped At Eboli.

Volonte died of a heart attack at the age of 61 in 1994.

May he rest in peace.

Oh, in closing, should say that this is a video montage of clips featuring scenes from his various films, as well as some interviews done during his lifetime. They are all in Italian, with no English sub-titles, alas, but please don't let that stop you, as great acting, like any great art, can cross linguistic and cultural barriers.

Be seeing you.







Alberto Gonzales Resigns(Washington Post Article Link)

Just saw this morning, first on the Chicago Tribune's, then on the Washington Post's site that US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales resigned on Friday.

While the news won't official until Da Prez announces it at a press conference this afternoon, all I can say is-Whoo-Motherfucking-Hoo!!!, that cocksucker's out of there!!!!!

Here's a link to a Washington Post article about Gonzales' resignation at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/27/AR2007082700372.html?hpid=topnews?referrer=email.

Yours, D.

26 August 2007

Why The Ice Cream Man Was Fired(Or Maybe Not)

As you can see from the text below, this is from a bulletin that my MySpace friend Cheryl posted this morning.

It doesn't mention where the photo was taken, but, somehow, I've a suspicion that it was taken at some sort of festival in Japan, a country that loves its erotically- and other-themed festivals.

Enjoy and be seeing you.
----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Cheryl
Date: Aug 26, 2007 1:47 PM


Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

A Pair Of Flight Of The Conchords Songs

Here's a pair of YouTube clips from the New Zealand folk comedy duo The Flight Of The Conchords, the first one of which was sent to me as an e-mail link to me by my good friend Jo Meditz to-day.

The songs are, respectively, "The Humans Are Dead", and "Albi, The Racist Dragon".

Enjoy and be seeing you.














Joke: New Doctor

My therapist sent me this in an e-mail to-day, and I pass it along to y'all for you to enjoy.

Hope you like it, and be seeing you.


I recently picked a new primary care doctor. After two visits and
exhaustive

lab tests, he said I was doing "fairly well" for my age.

A little concerned about that comment, I couldn't resist asking him,
"Do you
think I'll live to be 80?"

He asked, "Do you smoke tobacco, or drink scotch, beer or wine?"

"Oh no," I replied. "I'm not doing drugs, either!"

Then he asked, "Do you eat rib-eye steaks and barbecued ribs?"

I said, "No, my former doctor said that all red meat is very
unhealthy!"

"Do you spend a lot of time in the sun, like playing golf, sailing,
hiking,
or bicycling?"

"No, I don't," I said.

He asked, "Do you gamble, drive fast cars, or have a lot of sex?"

"No," I said.

He looked at me and said, "Then, why do you even give a shit?"

Agents Provocateurs Used And Exposed At Quebec Summit

Some of you out there may have heard about the summit between US President George W. Bush, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, and Mexican President Felipe Calderon in Montebello, Quebec, Canada, last week-end.

Some of you may have even heard about an incident in which three Surete du Quebec(Quebec provincial police)undercover officers masquerading as demonstrators allegedly tried to provoke a riot amongst the 200 or so demonstrators protesting the summit, and were exposed as agents provocateurs(police agents inciting people into engaging in criminal behaviour)by some of the demonstrators, thus causing the officers to be "arrested" and taken off by their colleagues.

This incident was captured in a video which was then posted by people involved with the demonstrations on YouTube.

Within the past two days, after denying that its officers had engaged in any such tactics, the Surete du Quebec acknowledged that they had, indeed, engaged in such behaviour, though it continued to deny that the officers had any intention of starting a riot.

Rather, the officers were allegedly trying to prevent a riot, and the one officer holding a rock had had it handed to him by another demonstrator.

Whatever the case, and I personally think the SQ hasn't much of a leg to stand on here, here are some links to articles about the story, as well as to the YouTube video of the incident itself.

We'll start with the video, which you can see for yourselves here:








After that, we have stories from the Toronto Star about the incident at http://www.thestar.com/article/249759, which is about an announcement by the Surete du Quebec on Friday about an impeding investigation by the service into the conduct of their undercover officers, this one, which gives a brief history of the term "agent provocateurs" and their use by various countries, including their use in Czarist Russia and, more recently, the US at http://www.thestar.com/Article/249603, and, finally, an editorial from the Star urging an independent investigation of the incident at http://www.thestar.com/article/249628.

In closing, for my money, I think the use of agents provocateurs by governments everywhere is a supremely bad idea, because it ends up, quite rightly, causing the public wherever they're used to suspect their government's policies and actions, and the motives behind them, and, additionally, can end up masking committing any number of offences and crimes under the colour of law.

When authorities start doing that, it's a sure way to undermine public confidence in any policy or action they make undertake, and creates a climate of suspicion and mis-trust so pervasive throughout the society that it undermines it from within far better than anyone or anything coming from the outside can, in a million years.

Be seeing you.

25 August 2007

"La Marque Du Tuer"("Branded To Kill")

The last YouTube clip from "Branded To Kill" is a French-language presentation(no English sub-titles, sorry)hosted by Nicolas Saad from HK Video, and includes a variety of clips from the film, including some featuring both lead actresses in the film(though, alas, I can only remember the name of one of them, Mariko Ogawa, whom you'll see with a fur wrap draped round her at one point)in the all-together.

Sex, violence, odd imagery, and the occasional bit of skin. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday evening.

Enjoy and be seeing you.


"Branded To Kill" Scene

From "Branded To Kill", comes this scene featuring the film's protagonist, Number Three, played by Jo Shisedo, who's a hit-man in action.

The scene's original YouTube poster, Eigagogo, states that there are three simultaneous assassinations in this clip.

That's not entirely true, as the assassinations come one right after the other in sequential fashion, and five, not three, victims die as a result.

Other than that, his description's pretty much accurate.

By the way, a friend of mine told me a while back that the reason for Shisedo's puffy cheeks was that, prior to making "Branded To Kill", he'd had a failed bout of plastic surgery designed to Westernise his appearance.

If anything, it sort of adds to the odd nature of the character he plays here.

Enjoy and be seeing you.



"Branded To Kill" Trailer

This is a trailer for "Branded To Kill" featuring various scenes from the flick that should give you a fair idea of what the film's like, and the kind of loopy story-line and structure it has.

Enjoy and be seeing you.


Japanese Movie Clip:"Branded To Kill"(1967)opening

From YouTube, we bring you our first Japanese movie clip, the opening portion of Seijun Suzuki's 1967 film noir classic, "Branded To Kill", which, incidentally, is one of my favourite films.

Enjoy and be seeing you.





23 August 2007

A Pair Of World Science Article Links

Here are a pair of links to articles on the World Science web-site for you to peruse.

The first is to a new study linking several school shooting in the past decade to a psychological condition called "cynical shyness", which is shyness more than laced by considerable anger, cynicism and hostility towards others, and may be an underlying cause of the rage that propels some kids, especially boys, to blast their school-mates.

The study was done by the Shyness Research Institute in New Albany, Indiana, and was presented at the American Psychological Association's annual convention in San Francisco last week-end.

Is "cynical shyness" THE explanatory factor behind school shootings???? I don't know, and say that it probably isn't the only such factor, but it could well be a contributing one.

The article's at http://www.world-science.net/othernews/070820_cynical-shyness.htm.

The next and last article is about how female Rhesus monkeys use a form of baby-talk, called "girneys" on infant Rhesus monkeys, but, not with their own offspring.

This behaviour, similar to human "motherese", or baby talk, may be a way of interacting with the infant Rhesus monkeys, while smoothing social interactions with their mothers.

The link's http://www.world-science.net/othernews/070823_baby-talk.htm.

Check 'em out, and be seeing you.

The Cats’ Bill Of Rights(Re-Post)

From the serious, we now go to the almost sickening cutesy comic, with a reproduction of a bulletin from my MySpace friend Cheryl, whom I thank for posting, or rather re-posting , this, this afternoon.

Be seeing you.



The Cats' Bill Of Rights , Thx Glenn


1. Humans shall make no law respecting an establishment of
boundaries or prohibiting the free exercise therein, or
abridging the freedom of access, or the right to peaceful
assembly. In other words: The cat is entitled to go outside
anytime s/he wants.

2. A well-carried provisional chamber, being necessary to the
fulfillment of a felines whims, shall not be infringed. In
other words: The cat is entitled to EAT anytime s/he wants.

3. The right of the feline to be secure in their domain, and
effects, against unreasonable discomposure, shall not be
violated. In other words: The cat is entitled to SLEEP anytime
s/he wants.

4. Humans shall issue no warrants or decrees or edicts as
prescribed to the demarcation of possessions or property which
are in direct conflict with right of life, liberty, and the
pursuit of feline affirmation. In other words: The cat is
entitled to sleep ANYWHERE s/he wants.

5. The feline shall be immune to all criminal accusations,
indictments, and complaints. The accused shall enjoy the right
to a speedy and impartial dismissal of any and all charges
provided said felines compulsory right to obtain any or all
witnesses, including character witnesses, are obtained in his
favor. In other words: Cats can do anything they want as long
as they're cute.

6. Neither serfdom, vassalage, or involuntary servitude will be
tolerated, except by said cats in proprietorship of their humans.
In other words: What I say goes. (And I can sleep on your face.)

7. No Canis familiaris shall, in time of peace or at any other
time, be quartered in any dwelling without the consent of the
potentate, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed
by sovereign. In other words: No dogs in the house without my
permission.

8. The right of the feline to be protected against unreasonable
search and seizures shall not be breached or infringed upon at
any time or any place. In other words: Don't disturb me when I
am sleeping in a drawer.

Conspiracy Theories And Their Believers: My Response

Just got through responding to an op-ed piece on the Socialist Standard's MySpace blog, which is by one Paddy Shannon, entitled "Conspiracy of Dunces", as part of the Standard's "Pathfinder" column, and reproduced below is my response to that column's assertions about conspiracy theories and their believers.

The reason I've re-posted my response to that column is because have been doing a lotta thinking about conspiracy theories and those who believe 'em, and just how heartily sick I am of them, and of bad information from various sources in general, "mainstream" or not.

So, here's my little rant, which considering that the editor at the Socialist Standard's blog has to approve the comment or not, may never be seen there, but which, for better or worse, can and will be seen here.

If you want to see the original article, just go to http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendID=4018139&blogID=302696155&Mytoken=4DBFD8FD-6B5A-48A2-9A2AAFD68153E6AF11930059 to see for yourselves.

And remember, Folks, if you decide to post a response of your own there, the blog owner there has to approve the comment, so keep it reasonable and relatively sweet.

Be seeing you.






Personally, I tend to be far more of a subscriber to the "Peter Principle" than I am to any conspiracy theory, simply because from I've read, heard, seen and experienced in my life, it seems to explain a Helluva lot more about how and why people in positions of authority make decisions and act than any grand conspiracy theory involving the Illuminati, Freemasons, Jews, the Trilateral Commission, etc, etc, etc.

By that last bit, you can undoubtedly make the guess that I am pretty tired of conspiracy theories and their believers. I am.

I haven't entirely worked out why, and probably never will, but, part of it for me, at least, is that have got sick and tired of being pushed junk information and speculation from just about every corner of the political spectrum and the media landscape.

The JFK assassination conspiracy theory, the various 9/11 conspiracy theories(In fact, I recently had quite a tiff with a local anti-war activist who'd become a convert to one of these theories about that, and why I thought it was a steaming pile of crap), the Trilateral Commission-Bilderbergers-Council for Foreign Relations-Jewish-Freemasonry conspiracy theory pushed by such far Right media entities as the late, unlamented Spotlight, to which my dad had a subscription back in the late '70's, and so on, I've grown up with, in one form or another, and have either generally rejected or had no interest in, partially because of the groups that were pushing them, and because of the individuals I knew who were pushing them to me, and who had and have agendas of their own.

Does that mean that those individuals I mentioned are themselves engaged in some sort of "conspiracy"? Nope, just that they, like everyone who's human and alive, have their own points of view on how and why the world works, and how the world SHOULD work in their eyes.

For a lot of people, especially working-class and poor people who don't generally have the greatest of educations, especially here in the States(If you've not already guessed, I'm a Yank), and whose general access to anything but either the dumbest of "mainstream" media outlets or to the kinds of heavily biased, partisan screeds like the Spotlight isn't great, well, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that, combined with the feeling that many working-class and poor folks have that they are mushrooms, kept in the dark and waitin' to be shat on, it's a Helluva lot easier to either be a-political, a defender of whichever powers that be, or a believer in one conspiracy theory or another, than it is to try and work somethin' out for oneself.

The last-named road takes a certain amount of time, and especially time spent in researching and reading, and working issues out in one's head, and that's not easily done when much of one's time is spent either getting the bills paid or engaging in the usual leisure activities that a lot of working-class and poor folks like to do, when they're not struggling to pay the bills.

Ain't sayin' it can't be done, just that it takes time, especially in research and reflection on issues, and a certain amount of grounding in history, economics, and, yep, even psychology, among other subjects, to get to something of a point where one starts understanding, within the limits of current knowledge, how and why the world works as it does, or doesn't.

In contrast, depending on whatever existing cultural, social, religious, racial, ethnic and other biases one already has, plus some smatterings of information here and there about various subjects, it's far easier to go down the conspiracy theory route and stay there.

Just as it's easier for some folks to go down the race-baiting route, or any other pseudo-intellectual quick fix that you can think of.

That's can-opener history and politics, Folks;just open of a can of whatever theory you like, shlump out the stuff into your head, and, Presto!!!, there you are.

Now, that doesn't always mean that every question and everything conspiracy theorists and their ilk believe are wrong. Sometimes, they can be right on some details and some aspects of given issues.

But, it's in the over-all conclusions they arrive at, based on at least partially errorneous premises, that the conspiracy theorists and those like 'em fall down, and fall down hard.

That's why it's important to get one's info from a variety of sources, not just the ones that one likes(will admit to a bit of hypocrisy here, though, as I don't generally go for conservative or far Right publications, on-or off-line, very much), as much as one can, compare the info being given with other info from other sources, and from one's own experiences, and decide for yourselves what and who's right, wrong, or just plain confused.

One last bit, and that's at times, when one doesn't know anything or enough about a subject to make a decision one way or another, to simply say, "Y'know what??? I don't know.".

Better to admit that ya don't know than to pretend ya do, and end up lookin' like the Biggest Fool On Earth since the first guy that bought the Brooklyn Bridge.

YouTube Classic Japanese Anime: "Umi No Shinpen"

This last classic Japanese cartoon clip from YouTube dates from 1944, and is an extract from an animated feature released in that year, called "Umi No Shinpen"("The Heavenly Sailors", as the clip's poster on YouTube, Dorataro, translated it).

Dorataro also states that, as most Japanese children had been evacuated from Japan's cities due to Allied bombing raids by the time "Umi No Shinpen" was released, it's pretty unlikely that many Japanese children saw it at that time.


Considering the widespread destruction of much of the Japanese film industry's facilities and product during World War Two, it amazes me that this, along with the various other pieces of classic Japanese animation that have posted here in the last few weeks, have survived at all.

Like you, am discovering these works for the first time, and I hope that you will enjoy them, and that they'll help give you something of a wider view of Japan and its popular culture, as well as of the 1930's and early '40's period of Japanese history, than you may have had before.

Be seeing you.






YouTube Classic Japanese Anime: "Norakuro"

This early thirties Japanese cartoon from YouTube is called "Norakuro", and is about a cartoon cat's struggle with a band of villains who want to steal a piece of technology a professor's developed.

The cartoon is silent, with music and spoken narration(in Japanese only, with no sub-titles, sorry)recently added on.

Enjoy and be seeing you.






Classic Japanese Anime Clips From YouTube and Digital Meme.com

This YouTube clip is from a Digital Meme(www.digitalmeme.com/)DVD preview of a collection of 1920's and '30's Japanese animated cartoons, and is well worth a look, as it gives the uninitiated viewer a glimpse of what such cartoons were like.

Incidentally, the female narrator providing the spoken narration for many of the clips here is what is known in Japanese cinema parlance as a benshi, a narrator who provides narration and character voices, as well as doing sound effects, for a silent film.

Had read about this tradition in Japanese silent film, but only learned what it was called this morning when I visited the Digital Meme site.

Enjoy and be seeing you.






22 August 2007

"Robot Chicken Vs. 300"

A YouTube editorial mash-up by one Phillip R. Skinner, in which the soundtrack from the recent film "300" is put together with visuals from various "Robot Chicken" episodes for comic effect.

Enjoy and be seeing you.







"Robot Chicken S02E19-Titanic"

Another Robot Chicken pop-culture parody, this time of "Titanic", as done in IM text messages.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.






Kitty In A Blanket

Amigo the Cat's recently developed this habit of jumping up onto my bed while going underneath the cover upon it.

Well, he did that to-day, and his little head was poking through the cover's thin spots.

So, dragged out the old camera, and these pics below are the results.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.



Message From Nevada Democratic Veterans and Military Families' Caucus

For my friends in the Las Vegas, Nevada area, who can make this event or contribute in some way towards this, here's a message I received in my e-mail to-day from the Nevada Democratic Veterans and Military Families' Caucus.

Personally, I don't have the money to contribute, so I'll not be attending the function. But, am posting this here in hopes that it'll be of some small help.

Be seeing you.




The Democratic Veterans & Military Families caucus is working with local unions to provide care packages to troops injured in Iraq to ensure they can call home while they are in the hospital.

WE NEED YOUR HELP!

Our troops' first stop after being injured in Iraq is a military hospital in Landstuhl, Germany. Unfortunately our government does not provide a way for every soldier, marine, airman, and sailor to contact loved ones after being injured. As a result, our troops' ability to phone home depends on donations to the Landstuhl Military Chaplain.

On Saturday, the vets caucus will ask supporters and union members to donate phone cards that troops can use to call their family after they are injured in Iraq.

Who: Nevada Democratic Veterans & Military Families, Local Las Vegas Unions, Concerned Americans
What: Care Package Building (w/refreshments)
Where: Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 525 Union Hall
760 N. Lamb Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89110
When: Saturday August 25th 2007, 1 pm- 4 pm

Volunteers will create care packages with the phone cards. We are also asking attendees to bring other comfort items such as beef jerky, towels, washcloths, batteries, razors, old & new magazines, misc. toiletries, cds, dvds and books.

Just last weekend, the caucus held a successful care package party in Elko, assembling 25 packages for troops, including phone cards for injured troops hospitalized in Germany. The vets caucus encourages all Nevadans to visit http://www.treatsfortroops.com, http://www.booksforsoliders.com, or http://www.anymarine.com to help provide support to our troops.

People who cannot attend this weekend's event can send donations to:

Nevada Democratic Veterans & Military Families Caucus, 1210 S. Valley View Ste. 114, Las Vegas NV 89102.

Donations can also be made online at http://www.nvdemocraticvets.com.

Harry Potter And The YouTube Robot Chicken Excerpt

And now, for something REALLY nasty, at least for you Harry Potter fans!!!!

Presenting this YouTube excerpt from "Robot Chicken", in which Harry, Heromine, and Ron are pitted against the monster Pubertus.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.







21 August 2007

A Flare In The Dark

Earlier to-day, while having a phone conversation with my friend JT, he told me that he enjoyed the "Vegas When It Rains" pics, and had even gone so far as to use one as a desktop wallpaper on his computer.

Well, that just made my day, as, sometimes, when I haven't heard from people about their reactions to my work, I start wondering if it had any impact at all.

Just lovely to hear that, even for one person, it does.

Absolutely marvelous, that.

Be seeing you.

"Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq" Story Link

From the New York Times, via truthout.org, comes this op-ed piece on the new HBO documentary, "Alive Day Memories:Home From Iraq", about the experiences of 10 soldiers and marines who were disabled in combat in Iraq.

The documentary's narrated by James Gandolfini, who also interviews these survivors on-camera in it as well.

Don't have cable, let alone HBO, so won't be able to see it.

But, if you do, check it out when it plays in your area, and, in the meantime, check Bob Herbert's op-ed piece on it out.

It's at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/082107E.shtml.

Be seeing you.

A Pair Of Yahoo News US News Links

Just got through reading these Yahoo News articles, the first of which, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070822/ap_on_re_us/utah_mine_collapse, is about the families of the six coal miners trapped in Utah venting their frustrations with the mine's owner and the Mine Safety and Health Administration(MSHA), while the second one, http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070821/ap_on_re_us/spooky_house_shooting;_ylt=Ap3QsnB9lTGjbWk8sgv8.61H2ocA, is about how the shooting of a teen-age girl at the home of a pair of local hermits, and which was locally described as a "spooky house", has divided the Columbus, Ohio suburb of Worthington over who was right or wrong in the matter.

Not happy stories, but news stories generally aren't.

Be seeing you.

Got Phished

Well, it happened. Tried sending a message of condolence to a MySpace friend whose daughter got snubbed by her ex-husband at a cousin's wedding recently, and even tried enclosing a kitty pic I'd got on-line, when MySpace let me know I'd been phished.

Thus, had to come up with a new password, you get the whole idea. So, if I've sent out any bulletins for ring-tones or just something you don't think it'd be into, guess who's responsible for that???

You got it-Mr.Phisherman.

Took me about three to four tries before I could get the account un-blocked, but I got it un-blocked.

Frustrating??? Oh, yeah. Also, alas, a part of being on the 'Net.

At least, now I can say that I know how a founded flounder feels.

Be seeing you, Little Fishies.

The Explosion That Wasn’t, Or Never Tried, Or Something Like That, With Lotsa Fish, Malt Vinegar and Tartar Sauce On The Side

Little side note here: when posting the link to the LA Times op-ed piece below here, I initially went off on quite an angry little tangent about puritans of the left and right, how they're a bunch of power-hungry little money grubbers with the brains of suet, the hearts of six week old cat shit, and the souls of East St. Louis pimps, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

But, in looking at it, I saw that it was only making the intro a lot longer and harder to read for whatever poor reader who looked at the thing, and cut out a lot of that crap.

Then, I thought, I'll have one of my occasional literary explosions here, where I try to tear everything and everyone in the Known Universe a new arsehole.

Well, started in on that, and, right away, started in on the insults(Tell ya the truth, I laugh more than half the time when composing those. Why??? One Helluva mean sense of humour is my immediate answer. That, and have always had a good ear for a choice piece of invective).

After a few minutes, and I don't remember precisely why, but I laughed and decided to cancel the impending literary-political-cultural volcanic explosion, because it just seemed silly and unnecessary to me.

Hell, I even congratulated myself, and still am, on at least having grown up enough to realise that that kind of shit doesn't really do much good, even if it provides for fun venting.

But, what may be fun venting for an essay's author can also be tiresomely self-indulgent and boring reading for anyone who encounters such a piece, so, so much for that.

Then, and you're looking at the end product of this process here, I decided to pen a self-congratulatory essay about how I'd decided NOT to write such a piece of drivel, and so, here you are, reading THIS piece of drivel.

OK, it's self-indulgent, self-congratulatory, and entirely un-merited, and, yes, I managed to throw in a few insults about ding-dong(The Wicked Witch Is Deeaaaddd!!!)puritans in the bargin, as well as lotsa self-referential "irony"(or is it mere sarcasm???)about the whole damned process.

No matter. Am proud of myself for not having inflicted one type of self-indulgent piece of shit scrivening upon the world, even if I ended up inflicting another type in the bargin.

My point being???? You know, I forgot my point, if I ever had one, that is. Oh, well. Must be that pre-mature senility catching up with me, or maybe it's just plain stupidity. You decide.

Anyway, to quote Ian Shoales from the old Duck's Breath Mystery Theater, "I gotta go."

Be seeing you.

LA Times Op-Ed Piece Link

Another LA Times article, this one by Anne K. Ream on the emergence of the "modesty movement" for young women in this country in the past few years.

Ream's contention, which I agree with, is that this "modesty" movement, while allegedly empowering young women by encouraging them to dress in more conservative clothing, saying no to sex, etc, is really another way of controlling young women's attitudes, dress and behaviour, while placing no such obligations on men, young, middle-aged or old, to change their attitudes and behaviour towards girls and women.

It's the same old double-standard game, just with "empowering" pseudo-feminist language tacked on.

The link's http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-ream21aug21,0,5669391.story?coll=la-tot-opinion&track=ntottext

LA Times Article and eBossWatch.com Links

Just read this LA Times story about abusive bosses becoming a real problem in this country, and how some employees are no longer taking that abuse.

The link's http://www.latimes.com/news/la-fi-badbosses21aug21,0,4403490.story?coll=la-tot-topstories&track=ntottext.

Am also including a link to a site where one can report one's abusive boss or supervisor. It's called eBossWatch, and its motto's "Nobody Should Have To Work With A Jerk".

Its addy's http://www.ebosswatch.com/.

Check 'em out, and be seeing you.

20 August 2007

Harper Lee Article Link

The last post here for to-night is to an AP article via the Sydney Morning Herald, about Alabama authoress Harper Lee, who wrote "To Kill A Mockingbird", and her being at an induction of four new members of the Alabama Academy of Honor to-day.

Won't spoil the rest of the extremely short article for you, so just head over to http://www.smh.com.au/news/books/harper-lee-in-honour-role/2007/08/21/1187462231499.html, to see the rest of it.

Be seeing you.

"The Crap Club 2"

From the talented and twisted mind of Jason DeWitt comes the sequel to "The Crap Club", "The Crap Club 2".

Enjoy and be seeing you.







"The Crap Club"

This little bit of Mego 8 inch action figure comic brilliance on YouTube comes from my on-line friend Jason DeWitt, and is called "The Crap Club", for reasons best seen in the video.

Incidentally, Mr. DeWitt runs a lovely Mego figure-oriented site, with loads of stories, pictures and the like, called wearesmall.com, which can be found at, naturally, www.wearesmall.com/.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.







"Stranded"

In a far more serious vein is this YouTube Action Man video, "Stranded", which effectively tells the story of two French Foreign Legionnaires separated from their unit, and wandering through the Sahara Desert.

A good, short, sharp shock.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.






"The Sentry"

More action figure-fashion doll silliness from YouTube, as GI Joe must defend his cardboard box, and himself, from the seemingly unstoppable attacks of a Killer Robot Barbie.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.








A Little Girl's Question Answered

More YouTube toy video madness, with a combination of toy and clay figure stop-motion animation being deployed to answer a little girl's question about how "Darbie's" friend Rebecca ended up in a wheel-chair.

The answer definitely ain't for under-18's or religious types, though it's funny as all Hell.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.






Barbie And Action Man On The Job

More toy-related YouTube video madness, with Barbie and Action Man(GI Joe's British and Australian cousin) being caught on video, while on the job.

Relax, it's not what you think, Ken(you dirty-minded old sod).

Enjoy, and be seeing you.







"Confessions Of A Plastic Mind"

From the wild and wooly wilderness that is YouTube, comes this Barbie video, "Confessions Of A Plastic Mind", in which Barbie asks some pertinent questions about dating after a very long-term relationship, and uses a rather naughty word to describe the sort of fellow best avoided.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.





Immigration And The Real Issues

This was originally posted as a MySpace bulletin by the one and only Sweet Thursday this afternoon, and I like Mr. Cahn's article enough to re-post it here, for your delectation.

Thank you, ST, for originally posting this.

Be seeing you.

----------------- Bulletin Message -----------------
From: Sweet Thursday
Date: Aug 20, 2007 1:34 PM


With the arrest of Elvira Arellano it seems that the focus has been again
not on the real issues(NAFTA, ICE, corporations), but on how illegal immigrants, like her are causing our economy and healthcaresystems to fail (fear fear ). I think David does an awesome job at putting the REAL issues out there!
Peace



August 2, 2007
Refocusing the Immigration Reform Debate
by David Cahn, Community Organizer



Immigration reform died in Congress for a second time this past June and probably won't be approached again on a federal level until we have a new occupant in the Oval Office. Instead of quieting down though, the debate over immigration reform has only intensified and spilled over into cities, counties and states across the nation. The battle over immigration is now down to the local level as Minutemen-type groups are pushing for a variety of anti-immigrant ordinances

While some elected officials and right-wing pundits have distracted people with talk of individual border crossers being the root of our ills, few people have publicly talked about the much larger and actual threat of corporate border crossers. There is a direct connection between companies and jobs moving out of our country and people doing whatever they can to come in. When corporations can travel the world looking for the cheapest labor costs and lowest environmental protections, we all suffer. Those on the left and right, Mexican immigrants and Minutemen, teachers, baristas and truck drivers and everyone in between all suffer. Some want to blame immigrants for problems in our healthcare system, public education or lack of decent paying jobs. It might be easy, but it will not solve anything.

As U.S. citizens we need to learn about the effects of policies like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA and organizations such as the International Monetary fund (IMF) before we think we have any solutions towards "immigration reform." It is these free trade policies that put the rights of corporations and profits above the rights of people and it is these free trade policies, supported by Republicans and Democrats alike that need to be part of any debate on immigration today.

Since the passage of NAFTA in 1994 one of the results has been many U.S. companies moving production to Mexico to take advantage of lower wages and weaker environmental protections. The end result has been the loss of over 3 million U.S. jobs. A telling study in 1999 found that 90% of 400 U.S. plant closings or threatened plant closings occurred during union organizing drives. By 2002, the US Department of Labor had received claims for NAFTA-related unemployment assistance from over 507,000 workers. The Bush Administration's response to this was to simply order the Department of Labor to stop counting, since the job loss figures were an embarrassment as he was trying to get Congress to give him fast track authority to negotiate even stronger free trade agreements such as the Free Trade Area of the America.

Another major result has been U.S. subsidized corn flooding the economy of Mexico, pushing millions of small subsistence farmers and others in Mexico into severe poverty. Former union organizer David Bacon sums up the net result, "No matter how many walls are built on the border, no matter how many troops or National Guardsmen or helicopters patrol it, workers will still cross it looking for a future." U.S. foreign policies and the ways they wreck the economies of other countries have a direct bearing on people being forced to migrate here as a matter of survival.

Once folks do cross that border (or overstay their visas) we are led to believe that somehow attempts at barring migrant families and workers from employment, housing or healthcare are going to solve the socioeconomic problems of our society today. Deporting or denying work to migrant workers does not create a single job for anyone else. If anybody can show me an "illegal alien" who has moved U.S. factories overseas, spent millions of our tax dollars on failing war in Iraq or given major tax breaks to corporations I might give the claims of nativists a little more credence. Until then, this debate needs to focus on the real issues at hand.

Colorado is a great example of the effect of anti-immigrant legislation. Folks in Colorado were so effective on a state level in passing these laws and chasing immigrants away that they have found themselves with a serious work shortage in their fields. This past March the Department of Corrections offered a solution in the form of pilot program contracting prison labor to Colorado farms. Inmates will be paid about 60 cents a day and watched over by prison guards who will also be paid by the farms.

By the year 2050 it is predicted that white people will no longer be the numerical majority in the United States. I am sorry for the distress this might cause a lot of my fellow white citizens, but it is a fact that I do not think can be changed. Fortunately we have a choice: we can start to see some humanity in those we call "illegal aliens" and realize we are impacted by the same economic policies that have forced them to migrate to the U.S. and stand up to protect all of our rights to decent work, housing and education or we can remain divided while more and more U.S. jobs continue to be outsourced, healthcare becomes privatized, and social services continue to be slashed.

Regardless of the legislation to come, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the enforcement-arm of the Department of Homeland Security has promised increased raids, arrests, detention and deportation of migrant workers and families. Since 2003, under the stated goals of Operation Endgame, it has been ICE's goal to "remove all removable aliens" by the year 2012. From Bellingham to New Bedford, Connecticut and everywhere in between the result has been the separation of thousands of families, communities living in fear and countless reports of human rights abuses.

For others, the result is also profit. For example, migrant workers in our area, and really shipped from around the nation, are detained in the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma. The Center is a privatized, 1000 bed facility run by the GEO Group, Inc (recent news about GEO Group operations in other parts of the country). GEO Group is a multinational corporation and in the business of caging undocumented workers and U.S. citizens alike with over 50 facilities in the U.S. alone. While some folks are in a fit over people working in this country without documents, detainees are paid $1 a day for serving food and doing janitorial work within the facility. Immigrant detainees in general are the fastest growing incarcerated population in the U.S. and over half of all detention facilities are privately operated, charging the federal government on average $95 dollars per bed per day. It is no coincidence that our Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle have been pushing for a new "guest worker" program, as a solution to immigration reform. Though the stated objective of Endgame is clear enough, the hidden agenda of the operation remains officially undeclared — that agenda is to deport the undocumented migrants working in the U.S. and recruit them back as serviceable individuals in a "guest worker" program that will reduce them to a condition of transient labor. Though this might be good for a number of companies, where will this leave the vast majority of U.S. citizens with so many regulated and transient labor in our communities? If we do end up with a guest worker program in the coming years, where are we going to focus our attention to look for a real solution? The people caught in this situation or the people who created it?

Community to Community Development is a women-led, community organization looking for justice in our food system and in all of our communities. We understand that attacks on immigrants in Whatcom County and Washington State are an attack on all of us and we are looking to work with anybody and everybody in finding real solutions to community problems. Through a number of community projects we are trying to build productive and proactive solutions to these issues and many more. Whatever solution comes forward to reform our immigration laws, it must be socially and economically sustainable for everybody. This opinion piece is written as ongoing invitation for constructive dialogue and collaboration in the future. This so-called "immigration reform" debate is not going anywhere anytime soon, and it is important that we refocus it on the real factors at hand. Let me know what you think!

David Cahn is a community organizer with Community to Community Development and a grandson of immigrants. He can be contacted at davidncahn@gmail.com

August 02nd 2007 Posted to Home Page, Press Releases & Announcements, Articles and Editorials, Immigrants in America

notinmycountry.org

If You Could Only See....

If you could only see Amigo the Cat asleep on my kitchen floor, as I type on the computer, look over every now and again at him, and see beauty and contentment in his recumbent form, you'd know, or at least could see, what simple, utter joy there is in being alive, having enough food in one's belly, and to feel safe.

All this is the essence of being loved, I believe. There may be more, but, for now, as I watch Amigo dream his cat dreams, that is enough for me.

Be seeing you.

19 August 2007

Japanese TV Commercial 3

Our last Japanese tv ad for to-day, dates from 1987, and is for a brand of milk.

The ad uses a mix of live-action and animation to imply that the beautiful anime girls seen all in a row at various points in the commercial are the ones being milked.

Very strange and rather disturbing ad, really.

Be seeing you.









Japanese TV Commercial 2

Next in our series on Japanese tv commercials from YouTube is this mid- or late '70's kaiju(Ultraman, and other Japanese monster-fighting superheroes, for those of you unfamiliar with the term kaiju)-influenced vacuum cleaner ad.

In this clip, actually a set of three short clips, we see our heroine turn into an Ultraman-style superheroine, when summoned to deal with a nasty monster attacking a city.

She bests him by using her vacuum cleaning powers, and disposes of it, all in a nice little plastic baggie.

Left this as a comment on a MySpace friend's profile this morning, 'cos I figured she'd get a kick out of seeing a traditionally feminine domestic task turned into a super power, even if only for the purpose of selling a line of vacuum cleaners.

For you kaiju fans, or for those who like interesting novelties, well, enjoy for your own reasons.

Be seeing you.







Japanese TV Commercial 1

For your Sunday delectation, here's the first of a trio of Japanese tv commercials I found on YouTube last night.

This one is 1967 vintage, and is for the "Yeh-Yeh" women's apparel line.

One thing that really stands out is the kind of short, page-boy style haircuts worn by both the animated cartoon and live-action models in the commercial, a la Twiggy during that same period.

Be seeing you.







17 August 2007

Las Vegas Now News-Link: Las Vegas To Run Out Of Water By 2010

From the KLAS Channel 8 Las Vegas news blog, comes this disturbing article on projections by the Southern Nevada Water Authority that the Las Vegas area may run out of water by 2010.

I don't re-post this here(it was originally in an e-mail sent to me by a friend of mine)to panic people, but rather, to get some sort of active discussion going among us here in the Valley as to what to do about the problem.

Then, from there, to work out the best possible way to solve this problem that would be beneficial to the vast majority of people living here.

The link's http://www.lasvegasnow.com/Global/story.asp?s=6943263.

Be seeing you.

Vegas After It Rains And Towards Sunset

Decided, 10 minutes or so after posting the Vegas When It Rains pics, to go to the local Albertsons to get some cat food and other knick-knacks.

Also decided to bring my camera along, and see what pictures I could get of some of the various sky effects, and so on.

These are the results.

They aren't entirely in order, as you will see when you take a closer look at the pictures, and it was my intention to post them in order of my having gone to and from the store, which is at the southeast corner of N. Lamb and Bonanza Road in Vegas' north-east.

Nonetheless, here they are, in somewhat muddled order.

BTW, the pics this time out have only had their resolutions halved. No other editing of any sort has been done to them, so you can, for better or for worse, what my eye, and the camera's lens, saw.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.









My Little Corner Of Vegas When It Rains

The monsoon season here in the Las Vegas Valley began over a month ago, but hadn't taken any pics of what it looks like here, when it rains during that season, until a little while ago, when, after hearing the thunder outside of my place, I decided to come outside and enjoy the rain, which we don't get that much of, that often, here.

The pics were an after-thought,really.

So, this is for those of you out there who may never have seen any pictures of any part of Las Vegas when it rains, and, it's also for those of you who either live here in the Valley, or have lived here, and know the joy that one can feel being in Las Vegas when it rains, especially during the monsoon season.

Unless you have to drive in it, that is.

Some of the pics have had the brightness quotients kicked up a notch, simply because the originals could be quite dark, and, of course, they've been halved in resolution so as to make it easier to up-load to the 'Net.

Other than that, the pics are what they are.

Enjoy, and be seeing you.




16 August 2007

A Duo Of Disturbing Feline Thyroid Disease Story Links

Read this duo of rather disturbing news stories about the link between a common type of household flame retardant chemicals, polyborminated diphenyl ethers, or PBDEs, and increased incidence of thyroid disease in indoor cats, and, though the evidence for it right now is extremely sketchy, possibly human infants and toddlers.

The links are all to stories from Science Daily.com, and were originally adapted from a news release from the American Chemical Society or a United Press International article on the subject, and can be found at respectively, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070815122354.htm, and http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070815122354.htm.

Very disturbing reading for those of you out there, who, like me, either own or love cats.

Be seeing you.

A Sextet Of Truthout.org Stories About Argentine Dirty War Trials

Just got through reading five stories on the Truthout.org site about a trial that's been going on in Buenos Aires, Argentina, of a priest, Christian Von Wenrich, who served as a chaplin to the Buenos Aires Provincial Police Force during the years of the "Dirty War", the period when Argentina was controlled by a right-wing military and civilian junta that kidnapped an estimated 30,000 Argentines suspected of having links to left-wing guerrillas. An estimated 10,000 or so of these "disappeared" were murdered by the Argentine military and police during that time.

While a fair number of the military, police and civilian officials responsible were put on trial and convicted after the Junta's fall in 1983, they were pardoned, along with those then under investigation or already on trial, by Argentine President Carlos Menem in 1990, in order to stem a wave of military uprisings that took place in Argentina in the late '80's, and which used those convictions as a reason for launching them.

Last year, the Argentine Supreme Court declared these pardons to be unconstitutional, and the process of investigating and trying former military, police and civilian officials for their crimes during the Dirty War began again, with the trial briefly described above being one of this new set.

Anyhow, the link to the first story, dated 9th July, 2007, can be found at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/070907H.shtml, the second, dated 13th July, at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/071307F.shtml, the third, dated 20th July, at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/printer_072007F.shtml, the fourth, dated 24th July, at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/072407S.shtml, the fifth, dated 2nd August, at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/080207H.shtml, and the sixth and last, dated to-day, at http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/081607S.shtml.


Am also enclosing several links to various sites that are either about or contain articles about the Dirty War, such as the Wikipedia article on it at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirty_War, The Vanished Gallery, which is dedicated to giving out as much information as possible about the vanished, or disappeared, of the Dirty War, and those who carried the Dirty War out, at http://www.yendor.com/vanished/index.html, the English language portion of the Nunca Mas(Never Again)organisation's site at http://www.nuncamas.org/index2.htm(the far more extensively documented Spanish version can be found at http://www.nuncamas.org/), the Argentine Government's official Dirty War Victims Memorial Day web-site(in Spanish)can be found at http://www.24demarzo.gov.ar/, while the Team Nizkor's Los Archivos Del Horror Del Operacion Condor(The Archives of the Horrors of Operation Condor, which was the combined efforts by the militaries of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia to eliminate left-wing guerrillas, politicians, trade unionists, and other opponents from the early '70's through the early '80's, and yep, it's in Spanish)can be found at http://www.derechos.org/nizkor/doc/condor/calloni.html, a Social Science Research Council article, "Old Ideas In New Discourses:" The War Against Terrorism" and Collective Memory In Uruguay and Argentina" by Aldo Marchesi, can be found at http://www.ssrc.org/sept11/essays/marchesi.htm, and a National Security Archives web-page about Henry Kissinger and the Argentine Dirty War can be found at http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB104/index.htm.

That should be about enough to get ya started on this topic.

In closing, there are those who might ask, "What does this have to do with where we are to-day???".

My answer's that in the Dirty War period of Argentine history, left-wing terrorism, real and imagined, was used as an excuse by the Argentine military, its police and civilian allies to impose a military dictatorship that kidnapped thousands of its own citizens, imprisoned, tortured and murdered many of those detainees, maintained secret torture centres and prisons, perverted the Argentine legal system, used their positions to steal property, and even babies and toddlers, from those whom they had arrested and imprisoned, all in an attempt to build a new Argentina, which, "purified" of left-wingers of all stripes, trade unionists, and anyone else who disagreed in the Junta's ideal of a Christian(in this case, Roman Catholic), right-wing controlled military, anti-Communist Argentine state to come after the Dirty War's purges.

In the end, it was the short, disastrous Falklands/Malvinas War with Great Britain, and its immediate aftermath, not a revolt by the Argentine political establishment or people, that brought down the Junta.

The parallels between Dirty War-era Argentina and the current situation in the US are far from exact, but there are enough of them that are similar enough to be eerily disturbing, and well they should be.

So, y'all may want to think on that a bit.

Be seeing you.