Blogs

All Quiet in Ankara?

| Wed Aug. 29, 2007 10:02 AM EDT

Turkey has a new president. The military appears to have accepted him, at least for now... See my previous post on this issue here.

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Rock the Bells Was a Beats and Rhymes Marathon and I'm Still Exhausted

| Tue Aug. 28, 2007 10:44 PM EDT
rockBells-150.gif

I got my fill of hip hop this year at Rock the Bells, a nationwide hip hop event that graced San Francisco with its presence August 18. I heard so much hip hop that day, that I couldn't listen to any beats and rhymes for days afterward.

With 19 hip hop groups in the lineup—split between two stages—performing from 11 a.m. past 10 p.m., Rock the Bells was a music marathon.

The lineup was phenomenal. The Coup rocked harder than any straight-ahead rock band, and Sage Francis turned a rant about portable toilets into poetry. EPMD live was much better than that beat-up cassette tape of theirs I used to listen to in junior high. Mos Def danced with the crowd, The Roots knocked it completely out of the ballpark with a full band and horn section, and Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Wu-Tang Clan, and Rage Against the Machine were as good now as they were 10 years ago. Three decades of hip hop were all in one place for a day in front of more than 40,000 people, and it was a damn good time.

But would I go again? Probably not. I think next time, I'll just bring a folding chair and set up right outside the fence. The stage was maybe 50 feet away from the perimeter, and there were three huge television screens mounted on the stage. Yeah, if money's tight, I'll just camp out and watch it all on TV.

Whistleblower Faces Firing For Exposing Indian Rip-Off

| Tue Aug. 28, 2007 9:13 PM EDT

Here's a sidebar to the Cobell v. Kempthorne case—the long-running lawsuit over the government's admitted mismanagement of the Individual Indian Trust (MoJo Sept/Oct 2005). An Interior Department attorney who revealed his agency's bungling of Indian properties faces the federal boot for disclosing these problems to a newspaper. According to documents released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), the government is invoking an obscure criminal statute known as the Trade Secrets Act (TSA).

Robert McCarthy, responsible for overseeing management of properties of individual members of Indian tribes held in trust by Interior, has documented massive losses due to agency missteps. Yet the problems persist, costing Native Americans millions of dollars a month in lost revenues. His concerns were validated by an Inspector General report that has yet to be finally released.

So, McCarthy provided a reporter for the Palm Springs Desert Sun a copy of his Inspector General disclosure with individual names blacked out. The reporter wrote a story in April, and four months later, Regional Solicitor Daniel Shillito proposed that McCarthy be fired for violating the TSA, which prohibits the release of "confidential" financial or commercial information. PEER suggests the TSA doesn't apply since McCarthy revealed no names or any information that could be considered confidential, and since the TSA only prohibits releases which damage the economic interests of the submitter. McCarthy's disclosures were designed to benefit property holders by identifying and ending unjustified losses.

Significantly, Shillito was supposed to clean up large-scale asset mismanagement and losses identified back in 1992. McCarthy found these had never been addressed. JULIA WHITTY

Natural Disasters More Destructive Than Wars

| Tue Aug. 28, 2007 8:21 PM EDT

Natural disasters are far more destructive than wars. And the damage will only worsen unless drastic change is taken to address global climate change. This according to Jan Egeland, the United Nations head of humanitarian affairs from 2003-2006. In an interview with AFP [via Yahoo], Egeland said: "Already seven times more livelihoods are devastated by natural disasters than by war worldwide, at the moment, and this is going to be much worse, the way the climate is developing. Climate change, it's happening. It's not a threat. It's happening today and those who suffer the most are the poorest in Africa. Where there was already drought, the droughts are getting worse. Where there was already flooding the floodings are getting worse, as we speak." Egeland called for dramatic changes in lifestyles "if we are to avoid having disasters virtually every month in large parts of the world."

You mean, like: Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio, Tennessee, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Idaho, Montana, Greece, England, India, China, Mexico, Sudan, Taiwan—to name a few.

Btw, if you have time to follow only one link to recent disasters, I suggest the Christian Science Monitor piece on how the Greek fires are linked to a deadly dearth of environmental protection. It's a good example of how our hubris towards the natural world creates ugly synergistic feedback loops.

Oh, and this is what it will cost to keep natural disasters from getting a lot worse. A bargain. JULIA WHITTY

Massive Investment Needed Against Climate Change

| Tue Aug. 28, 2007 7:29 PM EDT

Hey, compared to the cost of the war in Iraq, this is fire sale. Plus, a whole lot more effective for homeland security [read why]. A new UN report presented in Vienna says that more than 200 billion dollars will be needed by 2030 just to keep greenhouse gas emissions at today's levels. According to AFP, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change estimates that between 0.3 and 0.5 percent of global gross domestic product, and between 1.1 and 1.7 percent of global investment, will need to be spent on addressing climate change. This will include investing in technology research and renewable energy. It will also require energy efficiency for transport, industry and construction, as well as supporting agroforestry, and implementing sustainable forest management. The report also states that, in the short term, energy efficiency remains the most promising means to reduce emissions. . . So, have you changed to flourescent light bulbs yet? Are you riding that bike? It's well known in the bike industry that most Americans ride their new bikes a full 18 miles before garaging them forever. Come on. Our cheapest fuel remains human fat. JULIA WHITTY

Tuesday? Peruse Music News Day

| Tue Aug. 28, 2007 5:36 PM EDT

Instant Karma

  • Is Amnesty International's support for abortion rights a problem for Christina Aguilera or Avril Lavigne, both of whom contributed tracks to AI's Instant Karma album, and may or may not be pro-life? The London Sunday Times says "maybe," the Guardian says "balderdash," and then takes it up a notch, skewering the very idea of a resurgence in right-wing rockers. Take that.
  • 78-year-old singer-guitarist Bo Diddley is reportedly stable after suffering a heart attack in Florida. The legendary blues-rock musician also suffered a stroke in May.
  • Lou Reed has recorded a brand new track with Vegas alterna-rock stars The Killers. The song is called "Tranquilize" and will appear on the upcoming compilation of Killers rarities later this year.
  • Okay, fine, everyone else is reporting on this: Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins assured a topless female audience member at the UK's Reading festival on Sunday that "American girls are sluts too."
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    Buju Banton Calls Protestors "Stupid"

    | Tue Aug. 28, 2007 4:50 PM EDT

    Buju Banton

    Dancehall superstar Buju Banton continued walking a confusing line on the topic of anti-gay lyrics this week, after protests against his appearance at the Reggae Carifest in New York. It has been both confirmed and denied that Banton signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, and this week the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation lodged a protest against Carifest for inclusion of Banton and Bounty Killer for the violently anti-gay lyrics in some of their songs. NY1 talked to Banton about the protest, and he either denied promoting hatred or continued to promote it:

    Banton said has a message for people who say he's promoting hatred. "I would say to them they are ignorant, they are stupid, even though they proclaim to be intelligent," said Banton.

    The New York Times reported Banton did not perform his infamous hit, "Boom Boom Bye" (which contains the lyrics that most upset protestors) at the sparsely-attended festival. NY1 talked to attendees who seemed nonplussed by the affair: "It's just music, so I feel when people make their music they have freedom of speech… I go to gay parade, I come to reggae music, but they don't push us to go out there and bash gay people."

    Dueling Accents: Dems Visit the South

    | Tue Aug. 28, 2007 4:19 PM EDT

    Hillary Clinton gets a lot of guff for her now-you-see-it now-you-don't Southern accent...

    ...so it's worth pointing out that Barack Obama has one, too.

    Sen. Tim Johnson to Seek Reelection

    | Tue Aug. 28, 2007 3:46 PM EDT

    Later today, ABC News will have an exclusive on-air interview with the South Dakota senator, who is recovering from a brain hemorrhage that nearly killed him. But here's the big news hook:

    Johnson, a Democrat whose seat is key to his party's tenuous hold on the Senate, does not intend to retire next year.
    "Throughout, Senator Johnson talks candidly with Mr. Woodruff about his daily struggles and his determination not only to return to the Senate next week, but to seek re-election in 2008," the network said in a release.

    People wonder why the Democratic leadership in the Senate has trouble getting anything done. Well, a 51-member majority isn't really a majority with one senator from the party in the hospital, one senator a quasi-Republican, and four senators on the presidential campaign trail. Welcoming Tim Johnson back into the fold, as a healthy member of the party, is a step in the right direction.

    (H/T Political Wire)

    Bruce Springsteen Announces Fall Tour, Free Download of New Single

    | Tue Aug. 28, 2007 1:51 PM EDT

    Bruce
    The New Jersey rocker (who's seemingly a bigger influence than ever lately) has announced his first tour with the E Street Band in four years, set to kick off in October, in Hartford, Connecticut. Their new album, Magic, is out October 4th, but they're offering the first single free for a week from iTunes (and various other websites who've taken the initiative). "Radio Nowhere" is a driving, reverby, uptempo number, kind of like "Jenny (867-5309)" except about 100 times ballsier. The UK Guardian says it's like "Springsteen singing Interpol," and while I'm not sure I'd go that far, it's pretty good. Download it from iTunes or grab an mp3 from the Guardian.