Thursday, June 16, 2005

Indymedia roundup

Wally notes "Ted Rall puts the looney rants of Thomas Friedman into perspective" in "We're Looking For A Few Boring Dorks" (Boise Weekly):

Have you ever noticed (to paraphrase a famously vulgar George Carlin joke) that the people who want you to become a scientist are the last ones who'd want to work as one themselves? New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has lately been pimping a book that bemoans the decreasing influence of the United States in the hard sciences. "For the first time in our history," Friedman quotes Harvard President Lawrence Summers as telling him, "we are going to face competition from low-wage, high-human-capital communities, embedded within India, China and Asia." Friedman riffs: "We can't rely on importing the talent we need anymore-not in a flat world where people can now innovate without having to emigrate ...There is a real sense of urgency in India and China about 'catching up' in talent-building. America, by contrast, has become rather complacent."
Don't mistake Friedman's trash talk for genuine alarmism. If he worried about Indians and Chinese kicking our butt in the computer programming and particle physics games, he could quit his cushy gig at the Times and apply to M.I.T. But that's the book biz.
What's lamentable about this latest why-do-our-kids-suck-at-math hand-wringing is that too many Americans are coming away from the conversation with the message that we're losing an intellectual arms race because our young men and women are lazy, stupid or both. As a recent study of high school kids in 26 states showed, 22 percent of entering college freshmen are required to take remedial math classes. Math and science have become lower priorities in the secondary educational system. But as I can personally attest, there's a good reason that fewer young Americans are pursuing careers in the sciences: the jobs suck.

Same topic, Felicia e-mails to note Betty's "Let's Talk About Thomas Friedman:"

Quicker than he cry out "Gut check time!" and faster than he can string together a whole host of half-baked Mc-Ideas on how to have it his way in a flat world, Thomas Friedman finally managed to prove to people passing by that he wasn't John Bolton, but that he was possibly something far, far worse.
There we were, Wednesday morning, on our way to the Second Avenue deli he liks so much, he was talking real fast, rubbing his belly while he spoke of, "Rice pudding! Rice pudding! Betinna, I'm going to get me some rice pudding!" when it finally happened.
"Aren't you Thomas Friedman?" an elderly woman asked approaching us.
I don't know who was more shocked, Thomas Friedman or me.
This never happens. Trust me, this never happenes. When he's announced for a book signing, the two or three people that turn out for it generally know he's Thomas Friedman but despite all of his talk of "a cabbie from Bejing," "an elevator operator from Belfast," "a taxidermist from Belgium," no one ever recognizes him.
They mistake him for John Bolton a great deal. It's the mustache and I have tried and tried to get him to lose it. He thinks it makes him look distinguished. I think it makes him look like he's part of the Ant Hill Mob in search of Penelope Pitstop, but hey, I'm just the wife.
So that a woman recognized him was a huge deal. Even the born with a finger on the bragging trigger Friedman was at a loss for words for about thirty seconds.
And that's all it took for her to rolls up her newspaper and hit Thomas Friedman over his big snout with it.
"You're a stupid, stupid man!" the elderly woman spat before walking out.
It was like something out of The Runaway Bride but when I said that to Thomas Friedman and told him he was like Richard Gere, that only angered him more.
"Oh and who's Julia Roberts? Judith Miller!" he whined. "I am America's sweetheart! I am! I am!"
Not today, Thomas Friedman, not after "Let's Talk About Iraq" which seems to have angered everyone from the five burroughs of NYC and beyond.
We never made it to the deli. After about the twenthieth person accosted Thomas Friedman on the street, we hailed a taxi and went home. Apparently some days, the only thing to do is sulk in the safety of your shorty robe which is exactly what Thomas Friedman proceeded to do.
"Why do they hate me!" Thomas Friedman sobbed.
"Come now," I said trying to point out the obvious, "You've given them good reason."

Brad notes Oceankayak's "UN Mayor's Event invaded by Code Pink" (San Francisco Indymedia):

On Sunday, June 5th, Code Pink groups from both sides of the Bay, paraded from the Library to the City Hall in San Francisco, with their message to the UN and the Bush Administration to take care of the natural environment before it is gone for good.
Various Code Pink groups rallied around the walkway as the mayors from various cities around the world walked out to their closing ceremonies. The mayors were greeted with the USS Condi oil tanker and the Bush Memorial Grove of redwood stumps. The memorial grove was also labeled as the Bush healthy Forest Initiative.
Many of the mayors stopped and paid attention to this ecologically sound parade. Noticibly, one of the mayors from India was NOT wearing the Coke lanyard that was given out to deligates inside. His small protest against Coca Cola's destruction of the water table in one particular area of India where Coca Cola has a bottling plant.
The conference was paid for by Coca Cola and PG & E. I wonder why San Francisco or any other UN cities did not cover the cost. Clearly Coke and PG & E have economic interests in the resources of many of these UN cities.
One deligate said that he was relieved to see that the United States people still had the strength and spirit to protest their govt.'s actions and he would take that knowledge back to his country. The Code Pink parade was successfull in sending the message to the participant mayors that indeed, the people in the US are not sitting still as Bush rapes our earth and our environment. Cudos go out to Code Pink Activists once again for standing up when so many others do not act.

Billie e-mails to note Lou Dubose's "The Pimping of the President" (Texas Observer):

Four months after he took the oath of office in 2001, President George W. Bush was the attraction, and the White House the venue, for a fundraiser organized by the alleged perpetrator of the largest billing fraud in the history of corporate lobbying. In May 2001, Jack Abramoff’s lobbying client book was worth $4.1 million in annual billing for the Greenberg Traurig law firm. He was a friend of Bush advisor Karl Rove. He was a Bush “Pioneer,” delivering at least $100,000 in bundled contributions to the 2000 campaign. He had just concluded his work on the Bush Transition Team as an advisor to the Department of the Interior. He had sent his personal assistant Susan Ralston to the White House to work as Rove’s personal assistant. He was a close friend, advisor, and high-dollar fundraiser for the most powerful man in Congress, Tom DeLay. Abramoff was so closely tied to the Bush Administration that he could, and did, charge two of his clients $25,000 for a White House lunch date and a meeting with the President. From the same two clients he took to the White House in May 2001, Abramoff also obtained $2.5 million in contributions for a non-profit foundation he and his wife operated.Abramoff’s White House guests were the chiefs of two of the six casino-rich Indian tribes he and his partner Mike Scanlon ultimately billed $82 million for services tribal leaders now claim were never performed or were improperly performed. Together the six tribes would make $10 million in political contributions, at Abramoff’s direction, almost all of it to Republican campaigns of his choosing. On May 9, 2001, when he ushered the two tribal chiefs into the White House to meet the President, The Washington Post story that would end his lobbying career and begin two Senate Committee investigations was three years away. (When the Post story broke in February 2004, however, Abramoff and Scanlon, a former Tom DeLay press aide, were already targets of a U.S. Attorney’s investigation in Washington.)

Billie also notes Star Silva's "Who's Afraid of Shelby Knox: Sex, Textbooks, and the Culture Wars-Lessons from Lubbock." Members who listen to The Laura Flanders Show, weekends on Air America radio, are familiar with Shelby Knox. From Silva's interview with Knox:

T[exas]O[bserver]: The film conveys a steadily-increasing awareness of the problems in the world around you. How is it that you developed such a keen social consciousness to note these problems and find solutions? Was it your upbringing that gave you a different perspective, as opposed to those of other apathetic or politically ignorant youth?
Shelby Knox: I don't think it makes me different. Basically I started seeing girls disappear. They would get pregnant and be forced to go to a special school for pregnant high-school girls. I saw the stigma of [people who pointed out], "She's a slut, but he got her pregnant, so he's a player."And how unfair it was! When you trace it back to the root it was that we weren’t getting more sex education. One girl told me that she didn’t think she would get pregnant because her boyfriend smoked enough pot that he had killed all of his semen, which he told her just to get in her pants. These girls weren't being educated, and it wasn't fair. Maybe you could say it started as a feminist issue or just an awareness, but I started realizing that the lack of sex education was hurting people my own age. Many of them weren't getting the education at home or they weren't going [elsewhere] to get that information. It was the responsibility of the school to provide it.
TO: You testified in favor of comprehensive sex ed at a textbook hearing. What do you think of the Texas Board of Educators’ approval of textbooks and the studies they rely on?
SK: Yeah, I testified, which was really scary. My guy from Lubbock was sleeping. I swear, he was against the wall sleeping. I was the last person to testify, and there was no response at all. The opposition had bused in all these 14- and 15-year-old girls to make impassioned speeches about the school making them want to have sex and about how they wanted to save themselves. And every single one would end their speech with, "I'm so-and-so, I'm 15, and I'm worth the wait." They had scripts! And they would get responses from and talk to everyone on the board.I gave my speech, and they just looked at me. I think I was, from what I saw, the only young person they didn't respond to. And what's really scary is that textbook publishers don't want to redo books for every state, so the books that are approved in Texas [will be distributed] across the nation. Texas is one of the largest textbook distributors; our books are distributed across the nation. And we have the most conservative books, so we are actually harming the other states.

Lana e-mails to note Rebecca has a nice article on Jess' mother. (Disclosure, Jess' father e-mails this site; I help out Jess, Ava, Jim, Ty and Dona of The Third Estate Sunday Review each weekend; I know Rebecca -- we're friends; and toss in any other disclosure you need. Apparently, when The Third Estate Sunday Review's editorial was posted here early this week -- Monday? -- I didn't note this and a visitor e-mailed asking "Who are you trying to fool?" Well not members who know and not visitors who visited on Sunday when I discussed the editorial.
But apparently I was trying to fool you. Fortunately, you are much to wise for that.) Rebecca and Jess' mother are going into a number of issues but they all dovetail nicely with Rebecca's focus this week on the need to find your own humanity. From "meet jess's mother:"

i asked her if jess's work with the third estate sunday review had made her feel more kindly to journalism? 'if jess wanted to do that, it would be a gift to the world. we need to laugh at these people and let them know that they aren't as important as they think they are, take the wind out of their sails. and we need to laugh because the mainstream stereotypes us as dour activists.the ones i have encountered throughout my life who've been dour have been the 1st to burn out.we need to realize that, what does c.i. say, don't knock the mock? that this is a powerful tool. and we need to use it. it's the tool that levels the playing field. and it hits them on a level they don't like. like when that center fellow, ed, wrote you. yes, i'm sure he would like to debate policy because he can lie and distort and then say you don't get it. but when you made fun of him he couldn't take that. the bullies and liars never can. there's a lot of power in laughter.'
jess's parents are both lifelong activists. his father works on prison reform mainly today and his mother is a lawyer who didn't put on a power suit and join up with a corporation but instead dedicated herself to helping the people that needed help. if you wonder why jess is so groovy and wonderful, it's because he has some solid parents behind him.

The e-mail address for this site is And yes, I'm still pulling together for the entry on the Downing Street Memo.