Friday, June 23, 2006

Wonderful Songs: Ohia

Outside of Billie Holiday, my favorite music artist is Jason Molina. Enjoy a video of one of his greatest songs….

The Wonderful State Controlled Economy!

“The market economy has proven itself to be an absolute and utter failure. Those who insist that the “market” is the best way to run a country seem to be missing one of the basic feelings that human hearts have: care.” - Howard Switzer (unverified: posted on Indymedia Tennessee)

You know, the caring state controlled model that worked so well throughout the Communist world.

Youth, Education, and Violence

I understand reading comprehension and research are hardly the traits common to the average Indymedia poster, but “Education Not Incarceration” clearly needs some help reading a very basic press release.

In response to a forum set up by Oakland City Council woman Jane Brunner and Councilman Larry Reid on youth violence, “Education Not Incarceration” states:

“This forum has no youth speakers and is focussed on
asking for youth to be locked up for more time
and for more police to lock up more youth. Read their
statement below.”

Thankfully, I did read the statement below, and this is what it says:

“Please join Council members Jane Brunner and Larry Reid
to address these questions at Oakland Youth in the
Criminal Justice System, a forum that
will focus on preventing youth criminal activity in
Oakland neighborhoods.

We know there are many reasons for this problem, from
a lack of police resources to an overloaded judicial
system. We want to discuss what is working in our
judicial system, what needs to change, and how youth
involved in criminal activity can get help. City
Hall is located a half-a-block off Broadway on 14th
Street in downtown Oakland. If you have any
questions or would like any further information,
please contact Councilmember Brunner's office at

I guess in the mental world Indybay operates, a true discussion on crime prevention is seen as some reactionary plan to lock up every kid in Oakland. A low for Indybay; a soaring high for humor.

And remember this is an open meeting, so if one has a problem with the direction it takes, they can respectably voice their concerns. But hey, it is much easier to assume all elected officials are terrible, and yell and scream self-righteously. “Education Not Incarceration” seems to think that no one on Oakland’s City Council believes in having opportunities for young people, and I find that hard to believe. However, Oakland’s elected officials do have a responsibility to talk about the crime that hurts their city.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

In this Very Special Issue…

T Hodler has a nice piece up over at Comics Comics about the silly way comic books have tried to act “all grown up” in the last few decades.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

South Central Nonsense

I head back to work in Connecticut this afternoon, and I must say I will miss the dry summer weather of the west. There are a few very good reasons to live in northern California despite the high cost of living.

In a few circles I run in, the South Central Farm (SCF) fiasco has been a big issue as of late. Personally, I think the farmers who have been working the land are making a really big deal out of a rather simple issue. But I am getting ahead of myself; here is a little background courtesy of Wikipedia.

“The South Central Farm, also known as the South Central Community Garden, is an urban farm and community garden located at East 41st and South Alameda Streets in an industrialized area within South Los Angeles, California (formerly known as South Central Los Angeles). At 14 acres (~0.056 km2), it is considered one of the largest urban farms in the United States.
Before the creation of the garden, the land belonged to nine different owners, the largest of which was Alameda-Barbara Investment Company, a real-estate firm which purchased its share in 1980. The company held 80% of the property that would become the present urban garden. The city of Los Angeles acquired the land, by eminent domain, in 1986 for the purpose of building a waste-to-energy incinerator known as the Los Angeles City Energy Recovery Project (LANCER). This idea was abandoned due to community opposition, led by Juanita Tate and Concerned Citizens of South-Central Los Angeles. The city paid $4,786,372 for the property.
The final order of condemnation under eminent domain included a right to repurchase the land should the city sell it for non-public or non-housing purposes within ten years of the condemnation for the largest land owner, Alameda-Barbara Investment Company. The City sold the property to the L.A. Harbor Department in 1994.
July 1994 the Harbor Department granted a revocable permit to the L.A. Regional Food Bank – a private, nonprofit food-distribution network housed across the street from the Lancer incinerator site – to occupy and use the site as a community garden.
In 2001, Ralph Horowitz, a partner in former property owner Alameda-Barbara sued the City for breach of contract, for failure to honor the original right of repurchase. The City denied his claim.
In 2003, the City of L.A. settled with Horowitz, in a closed door session. The sale was for $5,050,000, above the $4.8 million the city paid for it in the eminent domain seizure, thereby undoing the earlier forced sale, and enforcing the repurchase clause as the court had mandated. Horowitz agreed to donate 2.6 acres of the site, valued at nearly $3,000,000, for a public soccer field, as part of the settlement. The City Council discussed and approved the terms of the settlement in closed session. The South Central Farm's Lawyer, Patrick Dunlevy, claims that despite repeated requests, negotiation documents relating to the session, have never been released.”

What I keep getting back to with the South Central Farm is the fact that Horowitz bought and owns the land. I recognize that the farmers using it enjoy the rent free property they were previously using, but our society must respect the rights of the property owner. That may sound a bit cold and un-egalitarian, but by not protecting the legal property rights of an individual, the government and LA County are asking for trouble in the future. It is this type of thinking that has allowed imminent domain cases like the recent seizure of property in New London CT to flower and swell. If the legal landowners right to his/her property is not respect, who is to say someone can not start using my land for their own personal use and then claim ownership?

Furthermore, I don’t buy the claims made by the SCF that this farm was truly a community endeavor. As Horowitz has documented, “the SCF is not an “open” organization, since the entire city cannot be members nor can all residents have access to farm on the land.” A select number of people hold “title” to their specific plot. On top of that, Horowitz has “proposed to build a soccer field for the community, built on a set aside portion of three acres. The field would be accessible to all city residents, unlike the SCF is only accessible to the SCF or by the organization's permission. Horowitz states that the use of the remaining portion of the property would be “market driven”. He has also stated that he would consider giving preference to a “quality tenant”, alleging that anything that he does with the property will generate jobs in the community, unlike its current use by the farmers.”

I have seen a number of solidarity marches while in California, and one of the recurring slogans that pops up is “South Central Farm Feeds Families”. While I figure this is theoretically true, jobs also feed families. In fact, jobs support families and give them a home. I would much rather see economic development in South Central than a community garden, even when the garden sounds noble.

And all those Hollywood celebrities who have come out in support of the South Central Farm, put your money where your mouth is and buy up the land or some other property in the area. Why should the current owner of the land have to pay for their political posturing?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Fun with 9/11 Conspiracies

It seems like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists are coming out of the woodwork across various Indymedia websites. Over at Indymedia North Carolina they have a piece up titled:

“World Trade Center Destruction Was Controlled Demolition - Now there's PROOF!”

Wow! With a headline like that, it must be true. You may be asking, what sources do they have to substantiate this claim?

“The source...... .was an audio interview of Dr. Steven Jones by Alex Jones (no relation). I understand the interview took place at the Chicago 911 Truth Conference earlier this month. The whole interview is of interest. Alex Jones comes off slightly as the radio "shock jocky", maybe a little to often interrupts the academic for the sake of ostensible radio drama. Dr. Jones comes off as a prudent scientist valuing accuracy over sound bite drama. But that's just my take. Listen to the whole short interview.”

A radio interview with some Dr. who attended a 911 ‘Truth Conference’ is apparently all the proof required to host these claims with Indymedia.

Thankfully, one of the comments following this expose reveals the undisputed correct conspiracy theory!

“I am amending my theory to center on newly found facts that indicate that the WTC was destroyed by aliens
Based on chemical analysis of WTC structural steel residue
I have concluded that extraterrestrials took part in the WTC attack and that they used technology imported into this galaxy.”

It all makes sense now…