December 27th, 2006

fashionable

Al Jazeera routes around censorship.

"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." -- John Gilmore

Al Jazeera's new English-language broadcast network is perhaps the best news service in the world that you've never seen. Started a few months ago, the network is completely unavailable inside of the U.S. None of the major cable TV providers, such as Comcast, Time Warner or Cablevision, will carry the network. Nor will the two major satellite TV providers: Dish Network and DirecTV. All of them cite this as a "business decision". And, indeed, which of these networks want to face the wrath of Bush-backing Republicans, or of Pro-Israel lobbyist organizations in order to offer a channel that most people are not demanding?

In Canada, a country where people have expressed an interest in seeing the network, the Canadian Jewish Congress and B’nai Brith Canada have urged for the censorship of the network. As a result, their political lobbying activities have successfully kept the network off the air to this point.

But thanks to the power of the internet, you can watch it online for free, or pay a nominal amount to watch a higher quality stream through various online services. Unfortunately, this hasn't stopped Al Jazeera's opponents in the Jewish community, who are even trying to censor Al Jazeera's streaming web broadcasts.

Although Al Jazeera's free stream is technically limited to 15 minutes, I've tweaked the URL that they offer in order to get around this limitation. So, go ahead... be a little subversive and copy this URL into any video player that supports RealMedia streaming:
rtsp://europarse.real.com/hurl/alj-gratishurl.ram?pid=eu_aljazeera&file=al_jazeera_en_lo.rm

The network is impressively done and far more balanced and credible than you'd suspect; the network is now home to some of Britain's and Australia's most reputable journalists. It features a breadth and depth of news from around the world that you simply do not get on U.S. news networks, blissfully without the endless stream of partisan beltway pundits telling you what to believe. Watch it for a bit and you'll wonder why U.S. news is so needlessly insular and ignorant.

Of course, it does naturally play "devil's advocate" to the popular, kneejerk positions of the U.S. government... but it's not anti-American, unless of course you believe that acting in an informed manner is an anti-American act.

Or, perhaps more accurately, an anti-Zionist act. Same thing, really. Of course, unlike Canada, Americans are far more enlightened folk, who realize that that pro-Israeli organizations and their lobbyinsts do not impose undue influence on either the news we watch or on our nation's politicians.

Hell... suggesting the Jews control the media or Hollywood or something... that's just racist, Mel Gibsony conspiracy talk.

And, of course, it *IS* racist, because it singles out all Jews as being pro-Israel or pro-censorship, and it labels individual, well meaning Jewish-Americans, many of whom have no more control over what is going on in this world than anyone else, as somehow being a part of a major conspiracy against American and their best interests.

...but the fact remains that many U.S. based Pro-Zionist Jewish organizations fight hard to deprive U.S. citizens from having access to Arab opinions on what is going on in the world, which is really disloyal, unpatriotic, and un-American behavior when you think about it.

It's one thing to support the existence of Israel as a soveriegn, democratic country, in accordance to the decisions of the UN, based on internationally-recognized 1967 border for that country. Indeed, many pro-Palestinian Arabs would argue that even this would be too generous, considering that the Israelis forced them off their lands and have deprived them the right to return to properties that many Palestinians still hold legal deeds to. There is, indeed, a compelling legal argument for the State of Israel being little better than institutionalized theft.

It's another thing entirely to support Israel as a permanently Jewish state, regardless of the view of its citizens based on future demographic changes, with illegal settlements on land that the international community has ruled as belonging to other nations and peoples. It's definitely another thing when the people of an occupied territory are deprived of equal rights, legal, and political representation under law. It's another thing when you must choose to lose your citizenship in order to marry the person you love, because your country doesn't want any more non-Jewish citizens in their country. And, when the State of Israel needs to get rid of those Arab citizens which it deems to be demographically inconvenient, it's entirely another thing to support their right to build walls through other people's land, seizing the bits of land that are the most valuable that they want the most, while casting aside all the rest of the divided, poorer land they occupied as "somebody else's problem", bombing or invading it whenever the ststematically disposessed and impoverished people of that land get too uppity.

It's another thing entirely when you demand those people to recognize the State of Israel's right to exist under such circumstances and conditions as a precondition to a negotiated settlement which would legitimize the legal right for the State of Israel to take away your people's rights and lands, forever depriving you of any right to them, or even to return to the land in which you were born as a citizen of that country.

When you believe something that nutsy, racist, bastard evil, and fundamentally unfair well, that's Zionism.

Sadly, that's what most American Jewish organizations -- and, sadly, what American foriegn policy -- supports. It's also an ideological belief that encourages the murder of Americans and the death of U.S. servicemen and women, pretty much every day.

And as much as Americans have, rightly so, insisted that Arab organizations in the U.S. have radical Islamists culled from their leadership ranks and from their policies, there hasn't been a similar outcry to cull radical pro-Israeli Zionists from the leadership ranks of American Jewish organizations. Haven't they proven to be just as dangerous?

I *KNOW* there are a lot of very well-meaning American Jews out there who do not believe in such things. The question is, what are they doing to reign in the undemocratic, unjust, unamerican behavior of these organizations that claim to represent them and their true interests?

"The great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign nations, is, in extending our commercial relations, to have with them as little political connection as possible. So far as we have already formed engagements, let them be fulfilled with perfect good faith:--Here let us stop.

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliance with any portion of the foreign world . . . I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. . . Harmony, and a liberal intercourse with all nations, are recommended by policy, humanity, and interest. . . it is folly in one nation to look for disinterested favors from another; that it must pay with a portion of its independence for whatever it may accept."


-- George Washington, Farewell Address (1796)
fashionable

Republican talking points on Ford's death.

"President Ford helped heal our land and restore public confidence in the presidency." - George W. Bush

"When he left office, he had restored public trust in the presidency." - Dick Cheney

"No man could have been better suited to the task of healing our nation and restoring faith in our government." - Arnold Schwarzenegger

"President Gerald Ford will be remembered as the man who restored respect to the presidency..." - George Sensenbrenner

... because nothing restores public trust in corrupt politicians like not holding them accountable for their crimes in office.

What crimes?

How about:
- Perjury / lying under oath
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (breaking and entering of the Democratic National Committee)
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (breaking and entering of the offices of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist)
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (planned breaking and entering of the Brookings Institute)
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (planning the break-in of the above, impersonating firemen)
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (theft of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatric records)
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (leaking confidential information to the press)
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (planning the assault of Daniel Ellsberg)
- Conspiracy to commit a crime (the bribery of Judge Byrne, a key judge involved in the case, who was offered the position of FBI Director if he helped hush up the Watergate break-in.)
- misuse of federal election campaign funds
- knowingly accepting illegal campaign contributions
- violations of federal banking and securities laws
- obstruction of justice
- concealing evidence
- violations of laws guaranteeing free trial
- violations of statutes limiting jurusdictions and regulating the legal activities of the CIA and FBI
- tax fraud
- misprision of felony -- at least ten counts.
- misuse of Government funds (for his private home)
- violating the civil rights of Daniel Ellsberg and his former psychiatrist, Lewis Fielding.

So, does anyone really believe that not holding a president accountable for committing crimes while in office actually restored trust in government? Or did it simply set a precident for other presidents in the future?

"Howard Hunt, one of the people who had been arrested or -- involved in the Watergate break-in, was demanding more money. And there was no money to pay these people. We didn't know how to do any of this. And I told (Nixon), I said, “This is going to go on forever and ever, and it’s going to cost who knows how much.” And he said to me, “Well, John, how much might it cost?” And I pulled what I thought then was a hefty number out of thin air, which is $1 million. He said, “John, that's no problem. I know where we can get $1 million.” - John Dean, quoting Richard Nixon
fashionable

The last gasp of Choose Fresno.

You may remember my post from last year about choosefresno.com, a website created by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce to encourage high tech and other Bay Area businesses to relocate to their city.

Well, looks like choosefresno.com is encouraging the growth of a new kind of industry in that city nowadays. (I hear the link has adult-oriented popups and triggers trojan warnings which I didn't notice due to my browser settings... sorry!)

Finally, the people of Fresno are getting some high-tech jobs! ;-)

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**Update!**
I wanted to put up a special greeting to the readers of Fresnofamous, a site that helps do its part to make a city that most people refer to as an armpit, well... sorta cool in a quasi-lame kind of way, really.

My apology, dear readers, both because you presumably live in Fresno, but also because, here I am, a non-Fresnovite, mercilessly ripping on your hometown. Your 'hood, if you will. Everyone knows that only Fresnovians are supposed to insult Fresno... and they certainly do. It just that sometimes, when you feel stuck in a crappy little town, it just hurts too damn much to hear others point it out to you.

Let's face it... most of you didn't choose Fresno in any meaningful sense of the word. But Fresno is your home. It's where your friends and family live. Who wouldn't choose that?!

So again, my profuse apologies. Fresno may kinda suck, but underneath all that suckitude, there's a lot of deranged, angry, twisted, frustrated, pissed off people -- and that can be a positive thing, if properly channeled. Indeed, it can help lead you towards incredible creativity and success in your life. Admittedly, chances are good that you'll have to leave Fresno in order to actually find that success, but if you do choose to leave one day, Fresno will always be your hometown, and yes, somehow, against all common sense and any shred of reason, you may somehow find that you occasionally miss it.

Choose Fresno! -
Mark