Friday, August 12, 2005

the horror, the horror...

"Four Amendments & a Funeral" by Matt Taibbi in the new Rolling Stone

Nobody knows how this place is run," says Rep. Bernie Sanders. "If they did, they'd go nuts."

Sanders is a tall, angular man with a messy head of gull-white hair and a circa-1977 set of big-framed eyeglasses. Minus the austere congressional office, you might mistake him for a physics professor or a journalist of the Jimmy Breslin school.

Vermont's sole representative in the House, Sanders is expected to become the first Independent ever elected to the U.S. Senate next year. He is something of a cause celebre on both the left and right these days, with each side overreacting to varying degrees to the idea of a self-described "democratic socialist" coming so near to a seat in the upper house.

Some months before, a Sanders aide had tried to sell me on a story about his boss, but over lunch we ended up talking about Congress itself. Like a lot of people who have worked on the Hill a little too long, the aide had a strange look in his eyes -- the desperate look of a man who's been marooned on a remote island, subsisting on bugs and abalone for years on end. You worry that he might grab your lapel in frustration at any moment. "It's unbelievable," he said. "Worse than you can possibly imagine. The things that go on . . . "

Some time later I came back to the aide and told him that a standard campaign-season political profile was something I probably couldn't do, but if Sanders would be willing to give me an insider's guided tour of the horrors of Congress, I'd be interested.

"Like an evil, adult version of Schoolhouse Rock," I said.

The aide laughed and explained that the best time for me to go would be just before the summer recess, a period when Congress rushes to pass a number of appropriations bills. "It's like orgy season," he said. "You won't want to miss that."

I thought Sanders would be an ideal subject for a variety of reasons, but mainly for his Independent status. For all the fuss over his "socialist" tag, Sanders is really a classic populist outsider. The mere fact that Sanders signed off on the idea of serving as my guide says a lot about his attitude toward government in general: He wants people to see exactly what he's up against.


From the Modesto Bee

The music blasts from the library as heads bang, bodies rock, and science fiction novels are thrown from the stage.

This isn't your typical heavy metal show.

To the members of BloodHag, this is edu-core, or educational hardcore, at its finest.


Although they do play at metal and punk-rock venues, they frequently rock out at libraries.

They first performed at the Seattle Library in a series of shows called "Shake the Stacks," an attempt to get teens to view the library as a cool place to hang out.

"When we first did our nationwide tour, we decided to split the shows between libraries and regular venues," says Orgel.

"After having sent out e-mails to several librarians that had expressed interest, we had over 300 requests to play. Obviously, there was a need for blisteringly loud metal in the library system that was just not being met."

BloodHag demands to see library cards. They get angry at illiteracy and assign book reports. They throw books into the audience. They offer free admission to concertgoers who read a novel from their "required reading list' and then write an essay.

Titles on the list include, "The Demolished Man" by Alfred Bester, "The Time Machine" by H. G. Wells, "The End of Time Series" by Michael Moorcock, and J. R. R. Tolkein's "The Hobbit."

via Bookslut

friday random ten


Trickle Down System - Giant Sand
Vague Directions - James McMurtry
Junk - The Pogues (Sid & Nancy soundtrack)
In Search of Peter Pan - Kate Bush
Pretty Little Baby - Josephine Baker
I Only Said - My Bloody Valentine
Trem Two - Mission of Burma
We Don't Touch - Glass Eye
Chinese Rock - Ramones
Fight Back - The Big Boys

let them eat cake

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Staff Sgt. Jason Rivera, 26, a Marine recruiter in Pittsburgh, went to the home of a high school student who had expressed interest in joining the Marine Reserve to talk to his parents.

t was a large home in a well-to-do suburb north of the city. Two American flags adorned the yard. The prospect's mom greeted him wearing an American flag T-shirt.

"I want you to know we support you," she gushed.

Rivera soon reached the limits of her support.

"Military service isn't for our son. It isn't for our kind of people," she told him.

via cookie jill at skippy the bush kangaroo

Thursday, August 11, 2005

running out of time

Global warming hits "tipping point"

A vast expanse of western Sibera is undergoing an unprecedented thaw that could dramatically increase the rate of global warming, climate scientists warn today.

Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

The area, which covers the entire sub-Arctic region of western Siberia, is the world's largest frozen peat bog and scientists fear that as it thaws, it will release billions of tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere.

It is a scenario climate scientists have feared since first identifying "tipping points" - delicate thresholds where a slight rise in the Earth's temperature can cause a dramatic change in the environment that itself triggers a far greater increase in global temperatures.

Alamo City Rollergirls Coming Out Party

Alamo City Rollergirl Hullabaloo Coming Out Party

Sunday, August 14th

Beethoven Halle, 422 Pereida St.

2-8 pm

The Alamo City Rollergirls are set to roll next spring; there'll be plenty of details available Sunday. And there'll be much more, including music — alt-rock, punk, twisted blues and more — from Yoshimoto, Fin del Mar, Final 13, Hammered, Boxcar Satan and Salvia Divinorum. Tickets cost $10 and include barbecue. Tickets are available at Hogwild Records, Blackfly clothing and from rollergirls. If you don't want to partake of the barbecue, tickets will cost $5 at the gate. The Hullabaloo also will include a flea market, an art raffle and a bake sale. Elbow pads are optional.

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

congrats to alamo drafthouse

Entertainment Weekly has a list of the 10 best movie houses in America

1 ALAMO DRAFTHOUSE (Austin) One of America's most fanatically unique moviegoing experiences. Specializes in oddball repertory programming events like the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Hobbit Feast (you eat whenever they eat!) and a traveling road show that, among other things, is unspooling Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the film's climactic backdrop, Devil's Tower. Movie-geek heaven.

question of the day

Bob Harris asks:

Osama Bin Laden or Cindy Sheehan:

Which one will George W. Bush have arrested first?

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Premenstral tampons that come in four fun "flavors" - Red Menace, Blue Note, Orange County & Green Party!
(via Nerve)

Celebrate 70 Years of Roller Derby with the Windy City Rollers

celebrate 70 years of roller derby

The flat track Windy City Rollers are celebrating 70 years of roller derby with their second bout of this season on Sunday, August 14th.

The Double Crossers take on the Manic Attackers in the first match.

The Hell's Belles will then skate against The Fury.

Sunday, August 14th.

Congress Theatre

Tickets are $10.

Doors open at 5 pm, bout at 6 pm.

Check out the Windy City Rollers website for more info.

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Camp Casey - Day Three

From Cindy Sheehan's DKos Diary

Why do the right wing media so assiduously scrutinize the words of a grief filled mother and ignore the words of a lying president?

Monday, August 08, 2005

Action Alert: Brazil

Street News Service Posted by Picasa
Brazil Nears Anniversary of Brutal Killings of Homeless
Paula Mathieu
July 28, 2005

Nearly a year has passed since a brutal two-night spree of attacks on sleeping street people in Sao Paulo, Brazil, has left seven dead and eight more seriously wounded. Despite public outcry, mounting evidence of police involvement, and ongoing public demonstrations, no arrests have been made in the case.

It all began in the predawn hours of August 19, 2004. August is wintertime in Brazil, and although it’s not frigid, nighttime temperatures hover at a chilly, damp 16 degrees Celsius. Of the estimated 10,000 homeless people in Sao Paulo, roughly 3,000 routinely sleep under bridges, in doorways, and subway entrances, rolled in cheap blankets from head to toe. When the sun came up that morning, panic hit the street inhabitants of the city center as word spread that 10 people had been hit in the head while sleeping. Two had died; four were seriously injured.

Several nights later, six more homeless people sleeping in the downtown area of São Paulo were attacked; and in the end a total of seven died as a result of their injuries, The victims were women as well as men, ranging in age from 28 to 71 years old. All were struck once in the head with a blunt instrument while asleep.

“The criminal was a professional; he used an instrument and beat their heads just once to kill them. He knew what he wanted,” said Alderon Costa, director of Rede Rua, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that works with homeless people in São Paulo.

Medical examination of the victims supported this suspicion. Antonio Carlos Iron, of the Legal Medical Institute who performed the autopsies, described the attacks as “technically perfect,” the work of someone who wanted to kill exactly.

These attacks occurred shortly before elections in Brazil, and politicians spoke out vigorously in the weeks following, calling for justice. The Mayor of Sao Paulo, Marta Suplicy, declared that she was “horrified” at the attacks and requested a public moment of silence to remember the victims. On September 1st, 2004, Patrus Ananias, the Minister for Social Development and Combating Hunger, promised to create a forum of ministers to discuss public policies concerning homelessness in Brazil.

Once the elections came and went, however, media attention faded and few politicians followed through on their promises to investigate, said Luciano Rocco of Ocas, the street newspaper that gives employment and a media voice to the homeless in Sao Paulo. The Ministers forum was rescheduled several times, and soon politicians stopped discussing the issue entirely.

And despite police and governmental promises to seek justice in this case, evidence continues to increase suggesting that the police themselves might have been involved. In addition to the precise nature of the beatings, the attacks have all occurred downtown, an area once largely abandoned that is now slated for revitalization. This is an area usually patrolled heavily by police—one attack occurred just outside a police station—and security cameras record street events from several residential buildings nearby. In their investigation, the police have not requested any of the video recordings, and several individuals who live or work in nearby buildings have offered recordings to the police. No public statement about whether the police have viewed or even accepted the videos has been released.

One victim described his two attackers, which led to further suspicion of the police. According to local reports, on August 30, a policeman threatened one of the victims in his hospital room, pressing a gun against the victim during a discussion.

In October, two military policemen, Jayner Aurélio Porfírio, Martins Landmarks Garci'a, were taken into custody under suspicion in these attacks. A third military policeman, not directly involved in these cases was also detained. Despite the Sao Paulo police said that these men were commanders of private security and drug trafficking operations in the centre of the city, they were released after 30 days with no charges being filed.

While these attacks are unusual because of their consistency, brutality and execution within a short timeframe, local NGOs and church groups point out that violence is a common routine in the lives of the many people who are homeless in Brazil. While no official census attempts to count the number of individuals without housing in Brazil, a local research foundation estimated that there were roughly 10,000 homeless people living in the streets of São Paulo in 2003. Red Rua and Ocas believe the figure is much higher, perhaps double, and that violence is part of everyday life for many of these people. These crimes have a chilling similarity with Candelaria massacre of street kids by off-duty police in Rio de Janeiro in 1993. But even more recent events show the patter of violence:

One day before the attacks in São Paulo, a homeless person was beheaded in Sorocaba, in the countryside of São Paulo State. His head has not been found. A month earlier, six homeless people went to hospital after being poisoned, also in São Paulo. A homeless person was shot to death in Belo Horizonte (capital of Minas Gerais) on September 4.

In Rio de Janeiro, county guards systematically threaten homeless people. Policemen compel street dwellers to abandon wealthy neighborhoods and tourist sites by taking their few belongings and throwing them into trash collectors. Any resistance to this action meets with violence, according to Rocco. This policy, undertaken by the city’s mayor, is officially named “Urban Control Operation.”

Rocco believes that such widespread violence against the vulnerable and poor of Brazil results from a culture of fear and prejudice. “Most Brazilians see homeless people with prejudice, with a mixture of pity and fear. Many see homeless people as people who do not want to work or that are involved with some kind of illicit activity. Our mainstream media and governments contribute to this misperception,” said Rocco..

Citizens of Sao Paulo have taken to the streets to show their sympathy and solidarity with the victims, sleeping in the street and holding monthly vigils. Despite this continued show of support, little official progress is being made.

“We fear that this issue has been forgotten, that nothing will be done, despite monthly protests and vigils in our country.” said Rocco, “We have decided that on this anniversary, we need to internationalize these events, to inform people around the world about this miscarriage of justice. Citizens of foreign countries will help if they show their concern about the situation of homeless people in Brazil to public authorities, by writing to Brazilian embassies in their countries or to their own embassies in Brazil.”

Rocco believes that international readers of street papers can apply necessary pressure to investigate—and hopefully end—such brutal attacks of vulnerable people in Brazil. He said, “Please encourage your readers to write to the Brazilian embassy in the US or to the US embassy in Brazil. We should not let these lives be forgotten or let the criminals to go unpunished.”

The following lists contact information for government officials in Brazil to whom interested parties can write or call to urge justice in these matters.

Secretaria Especial de Direitos Humanos
(Special Cabinet for Human Rights – Brazilian Federal Government)
Ministro Dr. Nilmario Miranda
Esplanada dos Ministérios Edifício Sede, 4º andar s/420/418
CEP 70064.901
Brasília – DF

Ministério da Justiça
(Ministry of Justice – Brazilian Federal Government)
Ministro Márcio Thomás Bastos
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco T, Ed. sede,
CEP 70064-900
Brasília-DF Fone: (0xx61) 429.3000

Governo do Estado de São Paulo
(São Paulo Estate Government)
Governador Geraldo Alckmin Palácio dos Bandeirantes
Av. Morumbi, 4500
CEP 05650-905
São Paulo / SP

Prefeitura do Município de São Paulo
Gabinete do Prefeito José Serra (Mayor)
Viaduto do Chá, 15 - 10º andar CEP 0100-020 - Centro - São Paulo - SP
Tel.: 3113-8000 / 3113-8004

© Street News Service:

Sunday, August 07, 2005

fan boi

see you at the derby