Saturday, December 30, 2006

Riverbend - On the year in Iraq

  1. The UN has to open a special branch just to keep track of the chaos and bloodshed, UNAMI.
  2. Abovementioned branch cannot be run from your country.
  3. The politicians who worked to put your country in this sorry state can no longer be found inside of, or anywhere near, its borders.
  4. The only thing the US and Iran can agree about is the deteriorating state of your nation.
  5. An 8-year war and 13-year blockade are looking like the country's 'Golden Years'.
  6. Your country is purportedly 'selling' 2 million barrels of oil a day, but you are standing in line for 4 hours for black market gasoline for the generator.
  7. For every 5 hours of no electricity, you get one hour of public electricity and then the government announces it's going to cut back on providing that hour.
  8. Politicians who supported the war spend tv time debating whether it is 'sectarian bloodshed' or 'civil war'.
  9. People consider themselves lucky if they can actually identify the corpse of the relative that's been missing for two weeks.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Shrub named Top Villain of 2006

DULLES, Va.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--A new poll from The Associated Press and AOL News has discovered that Americans are torn in terms of their perception of President George W. Bush and his performance in 2006. When asked to name the past year’s biggest villain, Bush was far and away the #1 choice, commanding 25% of the vote, distantly trailed by Osama Bin Laden (8%), Saddam Hussein (6%), President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran (5%), North Korean leader Kim Jong II (2%) and Donald Rumsfeld (2%). Satan only took in 1% of the vote, as did Hugo Chavez, Tom Cruise, Dick Cheney, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and Rosie O’Donnell, among others.

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

Austin Edition

She, Sir - Who Can't Say Yes.
1. "I Love You, Blowtorch Eyes" - She, Sir [Who Can't Say Yes EP]

Glass Eye - Every Woman's Fantasy
2. "Ruin" - Glass Eye [Every Woman's Fantasy]

Voxtrot - Your Biggest Fan
3. "Trouble" - Voxtrot [Your Biggest Fan cds]

Cue - Bring Back My Love
4. "Thulsa Doom" - Cue [Bring Back My Love]

This Microwave World - Red States
5. "December Was a Sham" - This Microwave World [Red States]

6. "Ground Zero/Bushit" - The Punkaroos [The Punkaroos]

Nice Strong Arm - Reality Bath
7. "Life of the Party" - Nice Strong Arm [Reality Bath]

Butthole Surfers - Double Live Bootleg
8. "Gary Floyd" - The Butthole Surfers [Double Live Bootleg Disc 1]

What Made Milwaukee Famous - Trying to Never Catch Up
9. "Curtains!" - What Made Milwaukee Famous [Trying To Never catch Up]

10. "Jean-Luc Picard" - Sexy Finger Champs [Trash Hits the Rock]


Thursday, December 28, 2006

What you don't know can't hurt us

Just how many different ways has the Bush Administration tried to hide once-public information sources from the public record? TPMmuckraker is counting the ways. Here are but a few examples:

* The White House Office of National Drug Policy paid for a 5-year, $43 million study which concluded their anti-drug ad campaigns did not work -- but it refused to release those findings to Congress. (Thanks to skeptic)

* In 2006, the Federal Communications Commission ordered destroyed all copies of an unreleased 2004 draft report concluding that media consolidation hurt local TV news coverage, which runs counter to the administration's pro-consolidation stance. (Thanks to Jim Tobias)

* After Bush assumed power in 2001, the Department of Labor removed from its Web site "Don't Work in the Dark -- Know Your Rights," a publication informing women of their workplace rights. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

* The Department of Labor also removed from its Web site roughly two dozen fact sheets on women's workplace issues such as women in management, earning differences between men and women, child care concerns, and minority women in the workplace. (via the National Council for Research on Women)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Ethiopian forces advance on Mogadishu

Guardian Unlimited

Ethiopian forces pushed to within 18 miles of the Islamist stronghold of Mogadishu today, as international criticism of their incursion into Somalia mounted.

Shortly after dawn, Ethiopian soldiers and forces loyal to Somalia’s weak transitional government seized the key town of Jowhar, 50 miles north of Mogadishu. They later took Balad, further along the road to the traditional capital.

The warlord Mohammed Dheere, who was chased out of Jowhar by the Islamists a few months ago, was at the front of the advancing troops - an indication as to how Ethiopia intends using former warlords to help control the captured territory.

The Least Essential Albums Of 2006

The Onion:

Every year produces great music and a nearly equal amount of terrible music. Then there's the not-so-creamy middle, the albums that have no real reason to exist, but nonetheless find their way to music-store shelves. Why? The A.V. Club has no answer. We're just here to document them in all their inglorious splendor. So, behold, the utterly puzzling, almost-already-forgotten Least Essential Albums Of 2006.

Monday, December 25, 2006

R.I.P ‘Godfather of Soul’

ATLANTA (AP) -- James Brown, the dynamic, pompadoured ''Godfather of Soul,'' whose rasping vocals and revolutionary rhythms made him a founder of rap, funk and disco as well, died early Monday, his agent said. He was 73.

Brown was hospitalized with pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died around 1:45 a.m. Monday, said his agent, Frank Copsidas of Intrigue Music. Longtime friend Charles Bobbit was by his side, he said.

Copsidas said the cause of death was uncertain. ''We really don't know at this point what he died of,'' he said.

Along with Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan and a handful of others, Brown was one of the major musical influences of the past 50 years. At least one generation idolized him, and sometimes openly copied him. His rapid-footed dancing inspired Mick Jagger and Michael Jackson among others. Songs such as David Bowie's ''Fame,'' Prince's ''Kiss,'' George Clinton's ''Atomic Dog'' and Sly and the Family Stone's ''Sing a Simple Song'' were clearly based on Brown's rhythms and vocal style.

If Brown's claim to the invention of soul can be challenged by fans of Ray Charles and Sam Cooke, then his rights to the genres of rap, disco and funk are beyond question. He was to rhythm and dance music what Dylan was to lyrics: the unchallenged popular innovator.

Friday, December 22, 2006

friday random ten five

Photo by Ryan McManus

First five covers edition:

The Saints - (I'm) Stranded / No Time
1. "(I'm) Stranded - The Saints
2. "Stranded" - Jim Reid

John Lennon & Yoko Ono - Happy Xmas (War Is Over) / Listen, the Snow Is Falling Galaxie 500 - This Is Our Music
3. "Listen, the Snow Is Falling" - John Lennon and Yoko Ono
4. "Listen, the Snow Is Falling" - Galaxie 500

Mission of Burma - Academy Fight Song / Max Ernst R.E.M. - Academy Fight Song / Good King Wenceslas
5. "Academy Fight Song" - Mission of Burma
6. "Academy Fight Song" - R.E.M.

The Archies - Sugar, Sugar / Melody Hill
7. "Sugar Sugar" - The Archies
8. "Sugar Sugar" (German version) - Marion Maerz

The Rolling Stones - Get Off of My Cloud / The Singer Not the Song Various Artists - Genres - France - Ultra Chicks Volume 3 - Baby Pop!
9. "Get Off Of My Cloud" - The Rolling Stones
10. "Aqui et mi nube" - Sonia

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Charlie Brown Xmas [alternate ending]

Thousands More Dead In Continuing Iraq Victory

Statistics released by the Department Of Defense estimated that 2,937 U.S. troops and over 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died in the ongoing American military victory in Iraq.

"Victory deaths are at a higher level than we had anticipated, yes," Gen. George Casey, Jr. said at a press conference shortly after the figures were released. "But one of the crucial lessons of our Vietnam experience is that a victory, in order to remain victorious, can't be abandoned halfway through, or in the case of Iraq, one-eighth of the way through."

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

What is...

America's biggest cash crop?

"larger than cotton in Alabama, larger than grapes, vegetables and hay in California, larger than peanuts in Georgia, and larger than tobacco in South and North Carolina"

Monday, December 18, 2006

Former U.S. Detainee in Iraq Recalls Torment - (New York Times)

Detainee 200343 was among thousands of people who have been held and released by the American military in Iraq, and his account of his ordeal has provided one of the few detailed views of the Pentagon’s detention operations since the abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib. Yet in many respects his case is unusual.

The detainee was Donald Vance, a 29-year-old Navy veteran from Chicago who went to Iraq as a security contractor. He wound up as a whistle-blower, passing information to the F.B.I. about suspicious activities at the Iraqi security firm where he worked, including what he said was possible illegal weapons trading.

But when American soldiers raided the company at his urging, Mr. Vance and another American who worked there were detained as suspects by the military, which was unaware that Mr. Vance was an informer, according to officials and military documents.

Migrants Too Often Overlooked During Crises

Geneva - Despite their critical contribution to the development of the global economy, migrants are often thought of last during times of conflict, says IOM as it marks International Migrants Day.

While the evacuation of Westerners from Lebanon through July and August captured the world's attention, there was little international concern over the tens of thousands of trapped migrant workers from countries unable to help their nationals and because they didn't have the means to flee by themselves.

IOM's humanitarian evacuation of more than 11,000 migrants from Lebanon – mainly women from Asia and Africa working as domestic servants – was the latest operation in the Organization's history helping stranded migrants escape from conflict situations.

Other recent examples include evacuating migrants who'd fled to Jordan from Iraq during the Second Gulf War and migrants fleeing the violence in Liberia and C�te D'Ivoire, also in 2003. Each time migrants are caught up in a conflict, IOM's ability to help is dependent on raising funds which takes time and which inflicts additional pain and anxiety on those requiring assistance.

Friday, December 15, 2006

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

friday random ten (15/12/2006)

The Art of Noise - Into Battle with the Art of Noise
1. "Beat Box" - Art of Noise [Into Battle With the Art of Noise]

OOIOO - Taiga
2. "UJA" - OOIOO [Taiga]

Various Artists - Film Soundtracks 1995-99 - Romeo + Juliet
3. "Talk Show Host" - Radiohead [Romeo + Juliet Soundtrack]

Manitoba - Up in Flames
4. "Skunks" - Manitoba [Up In Flames]

The Thought Criminals - Chrono-Logical
5. "New Toys" - The Thought Criminals [Chrono-Logical]

Mazzy Star - She Hangs Brightly
6. "Be My Angel" - Mazzy Star - [She Hangs Brightly]

Monks - Black Monk Time
7. "That's My Girl" - Monks [Black Monk Time]

Nick Cave
8. "Do You Love Me?" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds [Live On MarknRadcliffe's Radio One Shown(14/3/1994)]

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead
9. "Vicar in a Tutu" - The Smiths [The Queen Is Dead]

Vervein - The Weather Inside
10. "Nothing" - Vervein [The Weather Inside]

Bonus #11: "Highway Star" - Bugotak

friday random ten (15/12/2006)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

John McCain’s War On Blogs

Think Progress:

John McCain has made clear that he doesn’t like the blogosphere.

Now he has introduced legislation that would treat blogs like Internet service providers and hold them responsible for all activity in the comments sections and user profiles. Some highlights of the legislation:

– Commercial websites and personal blogs “would be required to report illegal images or videos posted by their users or pay fines of up to $300,000.”

– Internet service providers (ISPs) are already required to issue such reports, but under McCain’s legislation, bloggers with comment sections may face “even stiffer penalties” than ISPs.

Join the Electronic Frontier Foundation

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Regret the Error: Crunks ’06: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections

Gather ’round for our annual collection of the funny, shocking, sad and disturbing media errors and corrections from the past year. From typos that celebrate Queen Elizabeth and her remarkable egg-laying abilities, to media hoaxes, unreliable sources, the Sago disaster and apologies for mistakes nearly 120 years ago, it was a good year for Regret. Though not a banner one for our media brethren.

We dubbed 2005 the Year of Consequences. This latest was the Year of the Belated Apology. Read on for the details and, in our vernacular, The Crunks.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Experts warn North Pole will be 'ice free' by 2040

Times (UK)

Ice is melting so fast in the Arctic that the North Pole will be in the open sea in 30 years, according to a team of leading climatologists.

Ships will be able to sail over the top of the world and tourists will be able visit what was, until climate change, one of planet’s most inaccessible landscapes.

Researchers assessing the impact of carbon emissions on the world’s climate have calculated that late summer in the Arctic will be ice-free by 2040 or earlier - well within a lifetime.

Some ice would still be found on coastlines, notably Greenland and Ellesmere Island, but the rest of the Arctic Ocean, including the pole, would be open water.

The Nasa-funded US team of researchers said the ice retreat is likely to remain fairly constant until 2024 when there will be a sudden speeding up of the process.

In between 30 and 50 years, they concluded, summer sea ice will have vanished from almost the entire Arctic region.

Their finding may, however, already be out of date and something of an over-optimistic forecast, said Professor Chris Rapley, head of the British Antarctic Survey.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Don't Ask - Don't E-mail

Vanity Fair on Mark Foley's half-open closet:

Everyone knew Mark Foley was gay. Everyone. And everyone who had a stake in his success—party, press, parents, staff, supporters, and pages—conspired for their own purposes to keep the closet half closed.

Friday, December 08, 2006

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

friday random ten (08/12/2006)

Jens Lekman - USA October 2005: Tour EP
1. "Run Away With Me" - Jens Lekman [USA October 2005 Tour EP]

Angry Angles - Apparent-Transparent
2. "The 15th" - Angry Angles [Apparent Transparent 7"]

Tom Waits - Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards
3. "Jayne's Blue Wish" - Tom Waits [Orphans: Brawler, Bawlers & Bastards]

Broken Social Scene - You Forgot it in People
4. "Pitter Patter Goes My Heart" - Broken Social Scene [You Forgot It In People]

Racetrack Babies - Summer Salt Santiago
5. "Unshined" - Racetrack Babies - [Summer Salt Santiago]

Calla - Collisions
6. "This Better Go As Planned" - Calla [Collisions]

Enemy Camps
7. "Enemy Camps" - A Tiger Named Lovesick [Chimey Guitars & Rumbling Other Things]

Standing Waves
8. "The One You Love" - Standing Waves [A Short History of the Standing Waves, Part 1]

9. "Apple (Suicide On Your Stereo Set)" - Annemarie [The Living Model EP]

The Raveonettes - Whip It On
10. "Do You Belive Her?" - The Raveonettes [Whip It On EP]

Bonus #11: "Piano Man" Ghostland Observatory

friday random ten (08/12/2006)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

boo fucking hoo!

Culture Shock on Capitol Hill: House to Work 5 Days a Week (WaPo)

Forget the minimum wage. Or outsourcing jobs overseas. The labor issue most on the minds of members of Congress yesterday was their own: They will have to work five days a week starting in January.

The Horror.

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer, the Maryland Democrat who will become House majority leader and is writing the schedule for the next Congress, said members should expect longer hours than the brief week they have grown accustomed to.

"I have bad news for you," Hoyer told reporters. "Those trips you had planned in January, forget 'em. We will be working almost every day in January, starting with the 4th."

The reporters groaned. "I know, it's awful, isn't it?" Hoyer empathized.

For lawmakers, it is awful, compared with what they have come to expect. For much of this election year, the legislative week started late Tuesday and ended by Thursday afternoon -- and that was during the relatively few weeks the House wasn't in recess.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"It's not fair! It's not fair!"

Helsinki Complaints Choir

The Guardian

The Complaints Choir of Helsinki is not the only complaints choir on the internet, but it is incomparably the best. A Finnish-German artist couple, Tellervo Kalleinen and her husband Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, asked visitors to an arts festival to submit their complaints about life, and then set the idea to music. They started in Birmingham, a promising city if you're looking for whinges. But the Birmingham Complaints Choir is small, and sadly pedestrian. "Birmingham has changed so much. I liked it more before," they start.

In Helsinki, the whole city seems to have entered into the spirit of the occasion; 100,000 people have already watched it on YouTube (Birmingham's performance has attracted only 12,000, which gives them something else to grumble about, I suppose). The Helsinki choir was made up of almost 100 people (most of them women) and their complaints, chosen from a field of 2,000, made a sad, delightful poetry.

Complaints Choir of Birmingham

Corporations Control Your Dinner

Debra Eschmeyer (AlterNet):

When pouring your next glass of milk, consider who decided what the cow ate and who controls the distribution of profits. One would think the farmer and consumer take the lead roles in managing the supply of safe and healthy food. The farmer should control his or her business while mainly battling unpredictable weather -- expecting the price they receive for a quality product to be set by a fair and honest marketplace.

However, in today's market, the lack of competition is wielding just as much force as Mother Nature as witnessed by the recent proposed acquisition of the Chicago Board of Trade by the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) to become the CME Group Inc. -- combining the two largest U.S. futures exchanges.

If you think this and similar mergers do not affect your freedom of choice and the quality of food you eat, think again. Food is not simply a commodity to produce at a larger and larger scale, squeezing the family farmer out along with the value of safe and healthy food.

The CME is already the world's largest commodity broker determining futures and cash prices for products such as cheese, butter, live cattle, timber, and fertilizer as they set the benchmark prices for farm country. Within seconds the coarse yelling on the trade floor is translated around the world, affecting farm gate prices and grocery bills of billions of people.

If this merger goes through, the newly formed CME Group will enjoy unprecedented power over global food markets to the detriment of producers and consumers and the glee of large agribusiness and traders -- lining their own pockets with money generated by destroying family farmers and the consumer value that exists in having diversity in the market.

The Dollar Melts as Iraq Burns

James K. Galbraith

The melting away of the dollar is like global warming: you can't say that any one heat wave proves the trend, and there might be a cold snap next week. Still, over time, evidence builds up. And so, as the greenback approaches two to the pound, old-timers will remember the fall of sterling, under similar conditions of deficits and imperial retreat, a generation back. We have to ask: is the American financial empire on the brink? Let's take stock.

Smuggling, theft, bribery at agency

Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON — Aside from patrolling the nation's borders and guarding against terrorism, the Department of Homeland Security also is battling fraud, theft, bribery, smuggling and other crimes by American citizens — with some of the most disturbing examples coming from the sprawling agency's own employees.

A semiannual report filed to Congress by the department's inspector general showed a sharp jump in arrests in the six months ended Sept. 30, with many stemming from schemes by members of the public to bilk the agency of emergency relief funds in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

But the report, released this week, also highlights a litany of staff misconduct: immigration officials demanding sex in exchange for visas, airport screeners stealing money from tourists' luggage, federal air marshals smuggling drugs, and employees from various DHS agencies committing sex crimes — including indecent exposure and distributing child pornography.

The array of staff transgressions tucked into the report reflects the continued growing pains of an agency that was formed only three years ago, and the pressures created as parts of the department have rapidly expanded, critics say.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Has He Started Talking to the Walls?

Frank Rich

IT turns out we’ve been reading the wrong Bob Woodward book to understand what’s going on with President Bush. The text we should be consulting instead is “The Final Days,” the Woodward-Bernstein account of Richard Nixon talking to the portraits on the White House walls while Watergate demolished his presidency. As Mr. Bush has ricocheted from Vietnam to Latvia to Jordan in recent weeks, we’ve witnessed the troubling behavior of a president who isn’t merely in a state of denial but is completely untethered from reality. It’s not that he can’t handle the truth about Iraq. He doesn’t know what the truth is.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Calling bullshit has never been more vital to our democracy

Dan Froomkin

Mainstream-media political journalism is in danger of becoming increasingly irrelevant, but not because of the Internet, or even Comedy Central. The threat comes from inside. It comes from journalists being afraid to do what journalists were put on this green earth to do.

What is it about Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert that makes them so refreshing and attractive to a wide variety of viewers (including those so-important younger ones)? I would argue that, more than anything else, it is that they enthusiastically call bullshit.

friday random ten

Photo by Ryan McManus

friday random ten (01/12/2006)

1. "A Heart Is Still a Heart" - You Are My Everything [Open Space]

Half Japanese - Charmed Life
2. "Bright Lights, Big City" - Half Japanese [Charmed Life]

Heartless Bastards - All This Time
3. "Searching for the Ghost" - Heartless Bastards [All This Time]

Kate Bush - Hounds of Love
4. "Waking the Witch" - Kate Bush [Hounds of Love]

Ramones - Too Tough to Die
5. "Howling at the Moon (Sha-la-la) - Ramones [Too Tough To Die]

Flipper - Blow'n Chunks
6. "Life" - Flipper [Blow'n Chunks]

Of Montreal - Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?
7. "Bunny Ain't No Kind of Rider" - Of Montreal [Hissing Fauna, Are You the Destroyer?]

BoDeans - Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams
8. "Ultimately Fine" - BoDeans [Love & Hope & Sex & Dreams]

Pretty Girls Make Graves - The New Romance
9. "All Medicated Geniuses" - Pretty Girls Make Graves [The New Romance]

Brothers and Sisters - Brothers and Sisters
10. "That's How It Goes" - Brothers and Sisters [Live on KUT 4/10/06]

Bonus #11: "Solsbury Hill" - Peter Gabriel [Peter Gabriel]

friday random ten (01/12/2006)