:: Friday, September 30, 2005 ::

A Mogul Who Would Rebuild New Orleans - New York Times

A Mogul Who Would Rebuild New Orleans - New York Times

"Many of the business elite of New Orleans seem preoccupied these days by what some here simply call The List - the chosen few Mayor C. Ray Nagin is expected to name on Friday to a commission to advise him on the rebuilding of the stricken city. Almost certain to make the grade is the real estate mogul Joseph C. Canizaro, the man best known for bringing high-rises to the New Orleans skyline.

Mr. Canizaro has emerged as perhaps the single most influential business executive from New Orleans. One fellow business leader calls him the local Donald Trump. But Mr. Canizaro derives his influence far less from a flamboyant style than from his close ties to President Bush as well as to Mr. Nagin, and that combination could make him a pivotal figure in deciding how and where New Orleans will be resurrected. "

Who would have thought it? Super-rich cronies of Bush will get the chance to shape New Orleans resurrection. I wonder what priority poor people will get in their plans? Yeah, I wonder. Oh, Canizaro is a 'ranger' - one of the top donators to Bush. Bit of back scratching going on.

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:: Wednesday, September 28, 2005 ::

What's in a name?

Venezuela - The Party of Revolution and Socialism: "Stalin Perez Borges, trade union leader and long-standing Trotskyist militant, is at the heart of the revolutionary process in Venezuela."

Kind of an unfortunate name for a Trotskyist I would think. Talk about rebelling against your parents...

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:: Tuesday, September 27, 2005 ::

The Emo-Band-Name-Generator

The Emo-Band-Name-Generator came up with 'when smell zarathustra' for me. Not bad!

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Bus Drivers' Rescue Mission - Hijacked by U.S. Military in New Orleans

Another disturbing report post-Katrina from New Orleans.

With tens of thousands of people trapped in hellish conditions in New Orleans, ninety-four Houston school bus drivers set off on a mission to bring people to safety. They saw that the government had abandoned these people, who were too sick or too poor to get out--or too Black for racist authorities to let out.

The drivers loaded their school buses with bottled water and food. If the government couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything, or if some people who should have helped were paralyzed by thinking this was all "god’s will," then they would help.

The drivers were prepared to welcome desperate people onto their buses and in many cases volunteered their time for free. But U.S. military soldiers with automatic weapons, fixed bayonets, and camouflage paint on their faces detained them for hours and then forced them to transport soldiers, supplies, and ammunition.

After 31 hours, the drivers returned home--THEIR BUSES EMPTY.

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:: Monday, September 26, 2005 ::

Bring Them Home

DSC00715, originally uploaded by digital_don.

From digital_don at flickr, taken at the Washington DC peace march.

"Carlos Arredondo holds up a picture of his son Alex who fell mortally wounded from snipers in combat on his second mission to Iraq. Alex was 20 years old."

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Speakers Corner

Live audio of a leftist bent at Speakers Corner.net

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:: Friday, September 23, 2005 ::

Innocent in London

Seems that it's not just people with dark skin who are victims of police 'profiling', it's geeks as well. I'd better watch out.

Innocent in London, scary tale of tube journey leading to kafkaesque ordeal.

So, basically the Police have decided that wearing a rain jacket, carrying a rucksack with a laptop inside, looking down at the steps while going in a tube station and checking your phone for messages just tick too many checkmarks on their checklist and make you a terrorist suspect. How many other people are not only wrongly detained but wrongly arrested every week in similar circumstances as myself? And how many of them are also computer and telecoms enthusiasts that fit the Police's terrorist behavioural profile so well? I accept and understand spot checks can be useful, but profiling... this would be a joke if it didn't affect many ‘innocent bystanders’.

The officers must have failed to hear the Met Commissioner Sir Ian Blair when he claimed ‘We are not in the business of stopping and searching people who fit a particular profile.’

Interestingly, while a police officer did state that my rain jacket ‘too warm for the season’, could it have been instead that the weather was too cold for the season? This is what the other Met, the Met Office had to say about the weather the day before: ‘London recorded its coldest July day for 25 years on the 27th when temperatures only reached 15.6 °C.’ At least I'm still alive and, over a month later, no longer under arrest.

The Police eventually decided to take No Further Action (NFA): ‘a decision not to proceed with a prosecution’. In a democratic country such as the UK, one would be forgiven for naively thinking that this is the end of the matter. Under the current laws the Police are not only entitled to keep my fingerprints and DNA samples, but apparently, according to my solicitor, they are also entitled to hold on to what they gathered during their investigation: notepads of the arresting officers, photographs, interviewing tapes and any other documents they collected and entered in the Police National Computer (PNC). (Also, at the time of this writing, I still have no letter stating that I'm effectively off the hook and I still haven't been given any of my possessions back.)

Aren't the Police supposed to keep tabs only on convicted criminals and individuals under investigation? So even though the Police consider me innocent, otherwise they would have had a duty to prosecute me, there will remain some mention (what exactly?) in the PNC and, if they fully share their information with Interpol, in other Police databases around the world as well. Isn't a state that keeps files on innocent persons a police state?

This gradual erosion of our fundamental liberties should be of concern to us all.

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:: Thursday, September 22, 2005 ::

Can the Monarchy

News flash. Trash Can Sinatras and Eddie Reader will be playing at the forthcoming Rally for a Republic at the Scottish Parliament
on Saturday 1st October. Which might interest some people.

WHEN: Saturday, October 1

WHERE: Scottish Parliament, Holyrood, Edinburgh

TIME: 12 - 2PM


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:: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 ::

Fictitious Capitalism

Game Journalism: Virtual Mugging Leads to Real Arrest: "Japanese police have arrested a Lineage II gamer for creating a bot-controlled character that acquired a huge cache of game assets through 'virtual muggings' of overmatched players, and then sold them through an auction site. The perpetrator of the virtual crime spree was a Chinese exchange student, according to the writeup in New Scientist:

Several players had their characters beaten and robbed of valuable virtual objects, which could have included the Earring of Wisdom or the Shield of Nightmare. The items were then fenced through a Japanese auction website, according to NCsoft, which makes Lineage II. The assailant was a character controlled by a software bot, rather than a human player, making it unbeatable.

The incident highlights a harsh reality of the new virtual economy: when game assets have cash value, obtaining them illegally can land you in jail. But what is 'illegal' in a virtual world? Do game publishers' terms of service become de facto criminal statutes that extend into the real world? Bots and mods that juice gaming capabilities are creating some interesting offline ramifications these days, and this is one more area where 'meatspace' mechanisms for sorting out such dilemmas will be tested."

This story sets the grey matter turning. It is a reality that capital in the form of "money" largely does not really exist. It exists electronically. If we all went to the bank to get our money, it would not be there, the banks would collapse. So is stealing game "cash" any different legally or morally than stealing "real" cash? The answer, I suspect, is that it depends on whether it is judged to affect the system or not. As there are now actual third world sweatshops producing credits/xp points etc for the likes of Warcraft and other MMORPG's and selling them on, then the line between fictitious capital in a game and in a bank is getting slimmer every day, although there is nothing fictitious about the surplus value being produced by the sweat shop workers.

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:: Monday, September 19, 2005 ::

german parliament elections / 18. sept. 2005

trashcan caption reads ""your vote for NPD here, please!" (NPD is the extreme right party.)

Great result for the new left party WASG/dielink.pds in Germany - 9%. The beeb had a very dodgy report. Reporter said something like "will Germany make the tough but necessary reforms or go back to voting for the left". Looks like a grand alliance of the left of centre and right of centre bosses parties is the likely outcome.

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:: Wednesday, September 14, 2005 ::

Tunes Time

Stuff I've been liking recently, The Go Team, Kanye West, Sick of it All.

Go listen.



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:: Monday, September 12, 2005 ::

Ballots, Barricades and Blogs

Vote Steven Nimmo is a new blog for the Scottish Socialist Party campaign in the Livingston by-election.

And here is a new blog from a young Scottish socialist that is worth checking out.

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Let Them Eat Cake

How Bush Blew It - Newsweek Hurricane Katrina Coverage Astonishing stuff. Bush doing his Marie Antoinette routine.

See also this new blog from within New Orleans.

UPDATE I have had a closer look at this blog and it seems to include some fairly daft stuff, such as the claim doing the rounds on the fringes that the levees were dynamited. As if the chronic neglect of public safety caused by underinvestement in the levee system was not bad enough. So read with caution.

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:: Thursday, September 08, 2005 ::


allofemx2, originally uploaded by amerpie.

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:: Wednesday, September 07, 2005 ::

A Weegie Shaman writes

Pop Thought interviews Grant Morrison: "AN: How do politics affect your work?

GM: Not much. Politics, in the sense of party antics and showbiz elections, is just misdirection and bullshit to divert our attention from the real work of the world, which is all done by very rich people we don't get to see much of. Once you've watched a couple of governments do their pathetic dance and come and go, you've really seen it all. The same kinds of people do exactly the same kinds of things and continually try to keep us interested in their daft, unconvincing shtick. I lost interest once I realised how boring, repetitive and stage managed the whole circus is, with even a new Bush cropping up every generation. All I want my elected officials to do is make the trains run on time and stop spending my tax money on useless weapons of war, so I'm already screwed.

Issues of class, authority and privilege influence my work much more than politics, I'd say. I grew up in Govan, Glasgow, at the decaying heart of a dying industrial city and I had a rigorous Scottish education until the age of 18. I still have enough chips on my shoulder to scoop up a whole big mess of hot salsa."

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:: Tuesday, September 06, 2005 ::

Time for War: On Poverty and Racism

The fifth day of waiting for help, originally uploaded by Tampen.

Flickr pic from Tampen

I'm still really focused on all the stuff from New Orleans. Every day it seems that there is another tale that comes out that is horrifying, moving or both. This must be warning to wage war on poverty and racism, to use the huge resources of the world's last superpower to save lives, not take them.

World's coolest 6 year old saves 5 toddlers.

A record of government ineptitude at Austin Mayor.

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:: Monday, September 05, 2005 ::

Notes From Inside New Orleans

There are many great and important pieces of writing coming out about the awful and avoidable events in New Orleans. Here is an example.

ZNet |U.S. | Notes From Inside New Orleans

No sane person should classify someone who takes food from indefinitely closed stores in a desperate, starving city as a “looter,” but thats just what the media did over and over again. Sherrifs and politicians talked of having troops protect stores instead of perform rescue operations.

Images of New Orleans’ hurricane-ravaged population were transformed into black, out-of-control, criminals. As if taking a stereo from a store that will clearly be insured against loss is a greater crime than the governmental neglect and incompetence that did billions of dollars of damage and destroyed a city. This media focus is a tactic, just as the eighties focus on “welfare queens” and “super-predators” obscured the simultaneous and much larger crimes of the Savings and Loan scams and mass layoffs, the hyper-exploited people of New Orleans are being used as a scapegoat to cover up much larger crimes.

City, state and national politicians are the real criminals here. Since at least the mid-1800s, its been widely known the danger faced by flooding to New Orleans. The flood of 1927, which, like this week’s events, was more about politics and racism than any kind of natural disaster, illustrated exactly the danger faced. Yet government officials have consistently refused to spend the money to protect this poor, overwhelmingly black, city.

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:: Sunday, September 04, 2005 ::

Something to get your teeth into

Not a huge fan of her goth vampire stuff but this is an educational article from Anne Rice about the cultural, literary and political significance of New Orleans, an African-American city.

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:: Saturday, September 03, 2005 ::

Alex Chilton

Fears for Fats Domino and Alex Chilton - World - smh.com.au: "The rock singer and guitarist Alex Chilton, 54, of the recently reunited band Big Star, was listed on the missing persons page of www.nola.com, the Times-Picayune's website, on Thursday. He remained at home in New Orleans during the storm, said a spokeswoman for his record label, Rykodisc, and has not been heard from since the flooding began."

Alex Chilton is a MASSIVE influence in the Scottish music scene, as a cursory listen to the likes of Teenage Fanclub will verify. Big Star are one of those bands that are not well known, but thousands have delighted in discovering them. Go stick on September Girls now and hope for the safe recovery of Alex and all the other victims of the hurricane, disgracefully abandoned by Emperor Bush.

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:: Friday, September 02, 2005 ::

Reaping the Whirlwind

The situation in New Orleans is increasingly resembling Mad Max the Directors Cut, the criminal culpability of the Bush government and their oil industry backers must surely lead to a massive national backlash against them. Global warming, cuts to flood defences, national guards off in Iraq. Thousands of poor people, who lack transport and money, who have no insurance and want to protect their stuff, who have nowhere to go, left stranded. Abandoned. Their lives secondary to the defence of property. When they get food from abandoned stores, they are shot at by police, who then take the food themselves.

The following is from a, fairly right-wing pro-military, blogger.

""Bigfoot" is a bar manager and DJ on Bourbon Street, and is a local personality and icon in the city. He is a lifelong resident of the city, born and raised. He rode out the storm itself in the Iberville Projects because he knew he would be above any flood waters. Here is his story as told to me moments ago. I took notes while he talked and then I asked some questions:

Three days ago, police and national guard troops told citizens to head toward the Crescent City Connection Bridge to await transportation out of the area. The citizens trekked over to the Convention Center and waited for the buses which they were told would take them to Houston or Alabama or somewhere else, out of this area.

It's been 3 days, and the buses have yet to appear.

Although obviously he has no exact count, he estimates more than 10,000 people are packed into and around and outside the convention center still waiting for the buses. They had no food, no water, and no medicine for the last three days, until today, when the National Guard drove over the bridge above them, and tossed out supplies over the side crashing down to the ground below. Much of the supplies were destroyed from the drop. Many people tried to catch the supplies to protect them before they hit the ground. Some offered to walk all the way around up the bridge and bring the supplies down, but any attempt to approach the police or national guard resulted in weapons being aimed at them.

There are many infants and elderly people among them, as well as many people who were injured jumping out of windows to escape flood water and the like -- all of them in dire straights.

Any attempt to flag down police results in being told to get away at gunpoint. Hour after hour they watch buses pass by filled with people from other areas. Tensions are very high, and there has been at least one murder and several fights. 8 or 9 dead people have been stored in a freezer in the area, and 2 of these dead people are kids.

The people are so desperate that they're doing anything they can think of to impress the authorities enough to bring some buses. These things include standing in single file lines with the eldery in front, women and children next; sweeping up the area and cleaning the windows and anything else that would show the people are not barbarians.

The buses never stop.

Before the supplies were pitched off the bridge today, people had to break into buildings in the area to try to find food and water for their families. There was not enough. This spurred many families to break into cars to try to escape the city. There was no police response to the auto thefts until the mob reached the rich area -- Saulet Condos -- once they tried to get cars from there... well then the whole swat teams began showing up with rifles pointed. Snipers got on the roof and told people to get back.

He reports that the conditions are horrendous. Heat, mosquitoes and utter misery. The smell, he says, is "horrific."

He says it's the slowest mandatory evacuation ever, and he wants to know why they were told to go to the Convention Center area in the first place; furthermore, he reports that many of them with cell phones have contacts willing to come rescue them, but people are not being allowed through to pick them up.

And this from Indymedia New Orleans.

"I have heard NO logical argument as to how on earth those people could still be stranded in New Orleans. It is not Mars. This is ridiculous. And it has become obvious this delayed response in New Orleans is fueled by classism and racism, unless the U.S. government can spit out some logical explanation, but I have not heard one yet. New Orleans is a scene of constructive genocide right now on America’s poor blacks, and I do not know how Americans are just sitting quietly as they watch this on TV. I am out of my mind about this right now. Just out of my damned mind. I have never hated GWBush more, and I have never seen a better living example of classism and racism alive in America today. According to resources in Canada, Canadian TV is reporting they offered planes full of food, water, and supplies to help New Orleans refugees and America turned them down!"

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:: Thursday, September 01, 2005 ::

UK's rich and poor 'still live in different worlds despite the welfare state'

A new report out today from the JRF shows shocking levels of inequality in Britain. If you are poor or live in a poorer area you have more limited access to healthcare and education. New Labour like to claim that scrapping universal access to the welfare state was 'targetting' the most needy. Well, it is not working. We need to urgently restore universal access to benefits and fund them properly. It's time to declare war on poverty.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation Prof Dorling said: "Our analysis exploits the unique power of the most detailed Census data ever gathered on health, education, housing, employment and poverty. These are the aspects of British life that closely reflect the five 'Giant Evils' of disease, ignorance, squalor, idleness and want that William Beveridge identified in his 1942 report leading to the creation of a welfare state.

“From that point of view, it is acutely disappointing to discover that so many opportunities and resources still depend on where people live. Wide and persisting inequality is reflected in big differences between 'rich' and 'poor' areas in terms of housing, education and health care as well as economic wealth. Perversely, people living in the poorest neighbourhoods with the greatest needs are often the least likely to have access to the services and support that would help them improve their lives and life chances."

Dr Ben Wheeler said: "The Census data show quite clearly that although living standards have increased in 60 years, the rich and the poor in Britain continue to live in two different worlds. Our report maps these differences and aims to stimulate discussion about ways in which policy-makers can begin to bridge the divide. We hope that this will add significantly to the debate about divided Britain and the importance of tackling geographical as well as individual poverty."

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