The Friends of California Libre...

25 January 2004

International Excess in the Name of Whose Liberty

Greetings, friends,
I tried, I really did try. I tried to watch George Bush read his Biblical State of the Union Address with an open mind, but then he started all his holy roller nonsense...I tried to watch "Who Will Be America's Next Top Model?" like millions of others, but after five minutes I couldn't take scrawny girls' inhumanity to other scrawny girls.

The things that really matter are not being televised, put on the radio or lauded in the newspapers. But you'll find them here...extend us some props, pleeze, for this one:
City of Los Angeles Defies Bush Over Extending Patriot Act
By Agence France-Presse
LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Los Angeles' city council defied President George W. Bush and voted to back legislation that would repeal parts of the controversial USA Patriot Act that Bush wants renewed.

We are now the largest city in the United States to officially take a stand on the Patriot Act. The first, over two years ago, was Ann Arbor MI. An educational map of others is located here:

In the words of a great American:
A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.
- Martin Luther King Jr., "The Trumpet of Conscience", 1967

Okay, and on to the screed...for you true policy wonks, who might like to wade through long lists of loquacious documents, I offer the website of the "National Intelligence Council", a branch of the Central Intelligence Agency. These guys write dense, obtuse analyses of what the future might hold, on subjects as varied as "nation-state failure" and "genetically modified food". They've just extended their predictions to 2020, and surprisingly, they don't pull any punches. If you want to have a better handle on the future, check it out:

I've enclosed two pictures this time; a lovely New Year's greeting by M. Steiner, of Paris, France, and a lovely photograph that needs no explanation, submitted by Mme. Hasenecz, of Los Feliz, California. Enjoy!

And enjoy while you can...the world media is only shrinking faster and faster:
Murdoch's Mega-Media Merger
By David Sirota, Christy Harvey and Judd Legum
The Progress Report
In a devastating blow for media diversity, the FCC, on a contentious 3 to 2 vote, approved a "$6.6 billion media mega merger" between DirecTV satellite television service and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

But we can still count on the ubiquitious madness of beer commericials (thanks, Miles); a broadband connection is handy for this one; click on the picture to get to the beer ad:
A clever beer ad from down-under:

Yeah, they're yanking our chain everywhere...even in the wild Carnival streets of Rio:
Kama Sutra Carnival Theme Upsets Churchmen

And the entertainment just gets better and better:
Anti-War Protest Set for Republican Convention
By Reuters

For my friends in New York City, I hope to join you at that circus on 29 August. But the election might be decided long before then:
Polls: Any Democrat Beats Bush 45% to 41%; Dean New Hampshire Lead Gone

I have my own theory about this election; in my crystal ball I see John Kerry picking Wesley Clark as his vice-president, two former military officers and at least one dyed-in-the-wool liberal, as the "dream team" that sends George Bush back running businesses into bankruptcy back in Texas. This is my vision...

I had some faint enthusiam for Governor Dean, as much as I could muster for an angry Yankee. I don't even mind his explosiveness; but some of his other ideas don't pass global muster:
Democratic Hopeful Dean Calls for Greenspan Ouster

Can the Federal Reserve Chairman in the middle of a global economic crisis? Uh uh, Doctor. But he must be in real trouble if Michael Moore (who is backing Wesley Clark) has begun condescending to him:
Dean Supporters, Don't Give Up
By Michael Moore

Well, we'll see on Tuesday, won't we?

Meanwhile, global intimidation and violence is the hallmark card of our present Fed. They want to know who's flying and where:
** US gets access to airline details **
The European Union is to share details on all those flying across the Atlantic, to aid the war on terror.
< >

And if you break the rules, don't expect to talk your way out of's a truly horrible story about the mistreatment of an Australian entertainment reporter at Los Angeles International:
Coffee, Tea or Handcuffs?
By Steven Mikulan
LA Weekly
An Australian journalist gets a taste of Department of Homeland Security hospitality.

And another:
An immigration ordeal
By Nina Bernstein/NYT

And another:
A Repressive Embarrassment
The Toledo Blade Editorial
Anyone who thinks the administration and its law enforcement chief, Attorney General John Ashcroft, aren’t out to impede a free press need only hear how the federal government is treating foreign journalists coming to this country on assignment.

But this is the American way: guns, bombs, handcuffs, batons, and plenty of documentation (which will later be shredded):
Thomas L. Friedman: Fortress America goes abroad
By Thomas L. Friedman

It's no longer just America, but the whole world under our watchful eye:
American 'Values' Cast a Global Shadow
By James Carroll
The Boston Globe

And nobody likes it...but we're going to win, right?
Meanwhile: Anti-Americanism from Waugh to le Carré
By Geoffrey Wheatcroft

I mean, we've got the money to take on all comers, right?
IMF alarmed by U.S. foreign debt
By Elizabeth Becker and Edmund L. Andrews/NYT

Who dares challenge the global hegemony of the United States...again?
EU Seeks Trade Sanctions Against U.S.
By Patrick Lannin and Richard Waddington

Every country in the world sees one quick solution...too bad it might reduce the Earth to a cinder (and 5 billion years ahead of schedule):
Brazil gives the U.S. a nuclear headache
By James Goodby and Kenneth Weisbrode

But we've got distractions. There's the web for us to play with:
Rabbi Offers Prayer for Web Porn Browsers

You can even worry about your designer computer case. The last is my favorite (thanks again, Miles):
...Geek Style:

But all over the world, the future is coming faster than the CIA can predict. Big events are happening, and you're not seeing them in any American media, not even on PBS. For example, the European Union is about to grow by a third:
Nudging up against the limits of integration
By Giles Merritt

The coalition that can REALLY get to the Moon and Mars is being formed:
** China-EU space project launched **
The first ever joint Chinese-European space mission - to study the Earth's magnetic
field - is launched in China.
< >

But some Europeans are casting their lot with us:
La España de Aznar entre autoafirmación y fantasmas imperiales
Franck Biancheri

Other countries can barely keep from falling apart; Italy for example, has been teetering for years, and now the damage might be grave:,6903,1113142,00.html

Even the Germans are up against hard times:
Cash-Strapped Cologne to Levy Sex Tax

Poland, a growing power in the EU, is asserting itself like not since the great invasions of four centuries ago, and they're also backing the US of A:
Thomas L. Friedman: Still winning in Poland, at least for now
By Thomas L. Friedman

And of course, how do we appreciate their loyalty? By snubbing them. While many Europeans can enter the US unmolested, Poles are photographed and fingerprinted; the Mayor of Warsaw, in protest, is cancelling a trip to the US. Talk about squandering good relations:

And Russia is flexing newfound muscle as the true bride between Europe and Asia:
Russia's Delay Prompts E.U. to Review Kyoto Policy
By Patrick Lannin
Environmental News Network

Except, of course, when they have more important things to do:
Army Joins Struggle to Save Beer

But what do Americans care? The world is our oyster...
US oil imports 'to hit 70% of demand by 2025'*

The rest of planet Earth can go to hell:
'U.S. Climate Policy Bigger Threat to World Than Terrorism'
By Steve Connor
Independent UK

Does anyone really care, anywhere?
Man Indifferent to Ecological Risks
By Patrick Viveret
Le Monde
"The house is on fire, but we’re looking somewhere else."

Yep, the SCREED is a dish best served cold. Even if, as Jim Morrison predicted, the whole shithouse (sorry, Mom) goes up in flames, I'll still find a laugh in it, somewhere...those of you who studied any literature in college might like this one (thanks, Mike):
Pynchon to do his character's voice on The Simpsons!
In an episode scheduled to air on January 25, 2004, where Marge writes a novel and gets endorsements from writers playing themselves, including Tom Clancy and Thomas Pynchon, the Pynchon character is portrayed with a bag over his head, and Pynchon himself will be doing the voice. Read the whole story:

Vive le Screed!

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