Saturday, February 14, 2009

Los Angeles is poised to kill its murals, past, present, and future

I.C.U. Art Response to Revised Sign Ordinance Proposal of 2/12/09
The second version of the Proposed Sign Ordinance was posted on 2/12/09. My comments are below. This ordinance is posted at the following link: on the web site under ?Plans & Ordinances? ? ?Proposed Ordinances?. Unfortunately none of the recommendations that I.C.U. Art or the Cultural Affairs Commission offered were incorporated into the revised Sign Ordinance. Below is my evaluation of the new proposal. It looks like we are going to have to really fight for this one. One good thing, is that we do have the Cultural Affairs Commission and the Cultural Affairs Department working to support our position.

Public Hearing for the Presentation of the Revised Proposed Sign Ordinance
The public hearing on this issue will take place as a Special Meeting of the Planning Commission at 8:30AM on Thursday morning February 19th in Room 350 at City Hall, 200 S. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. Speakers will most likely have only one minute to speak. I encourage people to submit comments in writing in advance in addition to speaking. The meeting will most likely take several hours. The earlier you arrive and submit your speaker card, the early you will speak.

Letters of Support and Contact Info
If you cannot get to the meeting, you can send a letter of two pages or less to the Commission Secretariat, 200 North Spring Street, Room 532, Los Angeles, CA 90012 phone 1-(213) 978-1300. If you cannot get a letter to the Secretariat before the meeting, you may bring it to the actual meeting. You must included 15 copies and the agenda item number. I also encourage you to contact the Mayor as well as any City Councilmembers as well as members of the public who will be impacted by this proposed ordinance so that they may work to influence the content of this poorly conceived of plan.

You can send me letters. Please include your address, and please sign the letter. You can mail letters to Stash Maleski, ICU Art, 2554 Lincoln Blvd #162 Venice, CA 90291 USA or fax them to +1 (310) 414-9932 or email me at

CAC Plan Rejected
On 2/11/09 the Cultural Affairs Commission (CAC), working with the Cultural Affairs Department (DCA) presented their plan for how they feel that murals should be treated. I helped to develop this plan, and I feel it is a worthy plan to support. Although the plan is not perfect, I believe it is a good compromise under the circumstances. The letter from CAC with this plan is attached.

Since none of the Cultural Affairs Commission (CAC) recommendations from 2/9/09 were incorporated into the new proposal, I was hoping to hear that the reason for this was because Planning did not have enough time to evaluate the new CAC Plan. Unfortunately that is not the case. Alan bell in Planning told me that Planning did evaluate the CAC plan and decided that it would only be used by commercial advertisers.

Planning believes the only viable avenue for fine art murals of any size is through a public easement program. Planning felt that because a building owner would get more money from a commercial advertiser than a fine art muralist for this 300 sq ft. mural set-aside space ? this space would only be used by commercial advertisers. This is regardless of the constraints of the CAC plan that require a mural to be hand-painted, unique, not to cover a window, include no more than 15% text, and have a mural maintenance program. Planning?s logic breaks down when pressed on this issue as I point out below.

Planning Allows for Fine Art Murals as Part of the Regular Allotment of Signage
Under the new proposal, Planning feels that it is allowing for fine art murals to be put up as part of the allotted space for on-premise signage, which uses a ratio of 2.5:1. This formula basically allows for 2.5 sq ft of signage for every 1 foot of linear street frontage for that building. The problem is that this includes all of the on-premise signage and off-premise advertising. The Planning Department recommends a ?content neutral? approach to signage that would not distinguish between on or off-premise signage. Thus, all or none of the allotted signage could be used for off-premise advertising. If you have a building that has 50 linear feet of street frontage, than you would get 125 square feet of allowable signage to use for whatever you like. You could use it for on-premise signage, you could use it to advertise off-premise products or you could use it for a fine art mural. This is unacceptable for several reasons.

This entire allowance of sign area will be maxed-out by on-premise signage. Any remaining square footage of allowable signage could be sold to a commercial advertiser ? with no limits on text and no requirement that it be hand painted. So using the Planning Departments own logic ? that space would be sold to the highest commercial bidder ? not a fine art muralist. Most likely the signage would not be hand-painted. There would be no restriction against digitally printed signage on vinyl for example.

The 2.5:1 ratio is a reduction from the current regulations which allowed for up to 4 sq ft or sign area for every linear foot of street frontage (4:1). Even under the current 4:1 ratio, this formula did not allow enough square footage that would allow an artist to create something in-scale that could really be considered a mural. Primarily this is because most buildings have more than enough existing on-premise signage to use up the entire allotment. Thus, the reduction to 2.5:1 will hinder mural production under the nomenclature of a ?sign?, even more.

Must Be A Set-Aside for Murals ? CAC Plan
There has to be a set-aside for murals that is in addition to on-premise signage. The CAC plan was a fair compromise. The majority of the muralists who attended the Artist Meeting on ?Murals and the New Sign Ordinance? at Crewest Gallery on 2/11/09, support the CAC plan. Although artists generally feel that 300 sq ft is small for a mural, and that they have some concerns, they were willing to back the plan as an acceptable compromise with the condition that artists help craft the details of the Mural Easement Plan for murals over 300 sq ft.

Improper CEQA Findings and Fines for Murals

The Planning Department states in this new proposal that it revisited CEQA findings for this revised ordinance and saw no reason to change any of its findings. I strongly disagree with this assessment. With the new proposal the situation has gotten much worse. With the new proposal, enforcement and fines for any sign found out of compliance have been greatly increased with no respect for VARA or CAPA laws. Since murals of any sort are being defined simply as a type of sign, murals will be greatly affected. This is because most murals are very large ? and the new fine structure has greater fines for larger signs. With the new ordinance there will be more inspectors with greater resources going around citing signs that are out of compliance. Any fine art mural that did not get a permit from DCA will be cited as an illegal sign. If the mural is 300 square feet (which is a relatively small mural) it would be assessed with a $6,000 per day fine. Much more for larger murals- up to $12,000 a day for the first violation for a sign over 750 sq ft. Property owners and occupants within a 600-foot radius of a sign in violation of the sign regulations would also be allowed a ?private right of action? whereby they would have the right to bring civil action against and collect damages from the party cited. The only remedy to contest the citation would be an appeal ? which would cost $3,434 just to file. This sum would apparently not be returned even if the artist won the appeal. In fact, even those murals that were issued a DCA mural permit from 2002 to 2007 would be out of compliance and could be cited, as there is no language in this ordinance that would protect them.

Proper CEQA Findings
The proposed ordinance would jeopardize the existence of a large number of important fine art murals throughout the City of Los Angeles that were painted by important, well known and culturally significant artists. Many of these murals are larger than the maximum area allowed by the proposed ordinance and would therefore be considered illegal.

Many of these murals never received formal city permits, but are clearly protected by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. These murals are also protected by VARA and CAPA laws which require 90 days notice before a mural can be removed. In the past, citations for out-of-compliance signage (aka murals) have allowed only 10 days for compliance.

Just because a fine art mural did not get an actual permit does not effect whether it is a Cultural Resource or an important work of art. This is especially true since no permit for a fine art mural has been available since 2002 according to Planning.

The actual section of CEQA that covers this issue is as follows,
?CEQA - 15064.5. Determining the Significance of Impacts to Archeological and Historical Resources
(A) Is associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of California's history and cultural heritage;
(B) Is associated with the lives of persons important in our past;
(C) Embodies the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, region, or method of construction, or represents the work of an important creative individual, or possesses high artistic values;?

The CEQA Initial Study for this sign code should have stated that there could be ?Potentially Significant Impacts? in sections ?Ib and Ic? under ?Aesthetics? and in section ?Va? under ?Cultural Resources.? An Environmental Impact Report may be required for this ordinance.

Concessions this Round to all Parties Except Muralists
The revised Sign Ordinance proposal has made a large number of concessions that allow for more pervasive signage of many sorts, yet does not give up anything to muralists. There continues to be no definition of a mural. Any issue related to murals is pushed off, to be dealt with at a later date through the easement process modeled after Portland. This is a big mistake because murals need to be incorporated into the sign ordinance now as an important piece of this complex puzzle.

For example, Planning removed the 35 foot height restriction on signs. A sign just has to be below the building roofline. Now they are allowing large identification signs above 100 feet for high rises, and they have increased the amount of allowable on-premise signage from the 100 sq ft. maximum to a sliding scale based on the amount of linear street frontage. Pole Sign heights are increased. Restrictions on the SUD Sign Districts- which in the previous draft insisted that there be a minimum of 5 separate owners within a single Sign District and that the Sign District include a minimum of 10,000 linear feet of street frontage- have all been changed in a way that favors the large commercial sign companies ? but does nothing to open up these districts to fine art muralists.

In conclusion, I see no other option at this point then to rally all our resources to fight the passage of this proposed ordinance. All channels of influence must be utilized to force the Planning Department to reconsider their approach, and to recognize the value of murals to the cultural and economic life of this city.

Stash Maleski
ICU Art - In Creative Unity

Please repost this, especially to people in Los Angeles!

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Thursday, November 13, 2008

A NYTimes parody

Too funny. Must be a cynical week all over. Rumor is these folks not only spoofed the NYT but they also printed hard copies and distributed them in NYC, so be on the lookout if you're in the City.

Thanks to Katie for the tip

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Saturday, October 18, 2008

Whales and polar bears are bad for the economy: Palin

We can't drill our way out of any crisis.

Oh for some reality-based government.

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Monday, September 08, 2008

Separating the facts from the BS exists to keep the news media and politicians honest by examining what was said and finding out what's true. Unfortunately there is a lot of disinformation published and broadcast during presidential campaigns, so when you get suspicious "news", you can go here to see if it's hogwash or not.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

New Orleans' Insane Anti-Graffiti Law

Interesting article in general, with lots of pictures ... Near the end it reveals this:

"In the recently ended session of the Legislature, state Rep. Anthony Ligi of Metairie successfully sponsored a bill that skyrockets the penalties for graffiti. Currently the maximum fine in New Orleans is $500, plus community service, restitution and a possible six months in jail. Beginning Aug. 15, the maximum fine increases to $10,000 with a prison term of up to 10 years. Ligi, a lawyer and real estate title insurance agent, said he believes that Louisiana judges will be able to apply looser local penalties or the more stringent state penalties as they see fit.

"If it's a kid who's written his girlfriend's name on a wall, a judge will see it one way," Ligi said. "If it's somebody who's marked up an office wall and done thousands (of dollars) in damage, it gives the judge more options."

So not only do they have a stupid law, but they plan to enforce it selectively depending on who does it and what's written? That sounds like poor, minority kids going to jail, as usual in the South. I hope some heroic lawyer and judge step up to strike this for the cruel and unusual - and potentially racist - punishment that it is. New Orleans needs community service and community art, not more young people in jail for nonviolent property crimes.

When will the government in Louisiana get a clue and join the civilized world? This is the same state that recently decided to teach wishful thinking instead of science.

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Barack Obama - Fight the Smears website

I'm not sure Mr Obama has the will to make a real difference in the USA, but IMO he's clearly the better man in the race.

I am sure though, that the smear and fear campaigns of the desperate right wing will continue. These will continue to be race, sex, religion and integrity related LIES, circulated in the media, especially in email and talk radio.

Check out the latest lies at this website. Refuse to pass them on. Condemn the racism and the smear tactics and the media personalities and corporations that use them.

If your enemies have to make up lies to condemn you with, that's probably a good sign, as irritating as it is to watch. Too bad we could not even invent lies as outrageous and unbelievable as the truth about the current administration's actions and policies.

Politics is annoying, but we need to spread the truth and condemn the lies, no matter what our policy beliefs are.

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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Ray of sunshine from the Supremes

In a stunning show of interest in the Constitution, today the US Supreme Court decided the alleged terrorist detainees in Cuba can appeal their status. This is great because due process will tend to discover who is who and what is what if it's allowed to proceed.

We can hope the end of Gitmo is near, thus closing a shameful period in US history, where the imperial president made up laws and ignored others at whim. If those people are really "unlawful combatants" then no one should fear giving them their day in court. Imprisonment without fair trial or legal representation is so Middle Ages, so Middle East.

But what about those rumored prison ships and "extreme renditions" abroad? One can hope the Court will also put a stop to those. In a just world, there would be prosecution for the idiots who decided that was a good idea too.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Impeach Bush & Cheney

Go Dennis Kucinich!

So many Americans wish the cowardly Congress would hold the Administration accountable. More than 85% are unhappy with the government's course. (And yet so many support McCain even though he represents more, more of the same, WTF?)

"In the run-up to the invasion, one of the most senior officials in charge of procurement in the Pentagon objected to a contract potentially worth $7bn that was given to Halliburton, a Texan company which used to be run by Dick Cheney before he became vice-president. Unusually only Halliburton got to bid - and won."

So many Americans wish the cowardly US media would hold the Administration accountable. But instead, the bloggers have to cover this story.

Too bad the Supreme Court's been diluted with blind justices... 

So who's minding the fort? 

Go Dennis! 

I mean ... Go Obama!


Washington, Jun 10 - Dennis J. Kucinich of Ohio
In the United States House of Representatives
Monday, June 9th, 2008
A Resolution


Article I
Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.

Article II
Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV
Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V
Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI
Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of H. J. Res114.

Article VII
Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII
Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article IX
Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor.

Article X
Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes.

Article XI
Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq.

Article XII
Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation's Natural Resources.

Article XIIII
Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries.

Article XIV
Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Article XV
Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq.

Article XVI
Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors.

Article XVII
Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives.

Article XVIII
Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy.

Article XIX
Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to "Black Sites" Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture.

Article XX
Imprisoning Children.

Article XXI
Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government.

Article XXII
Creating Secret Laws.

Article XXIII
Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

Article XXIV
Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment.

Article XXV
Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens.

Article XXVI
Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements.

Article XXVII
Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply.

Article XXVIII
Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice.

Article XXIX
Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Article XXX
Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare.

Article XXXI
Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency.

Article XXXII
Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change.

Article XXXIII
Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV
Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001.

Article XXXV
Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Philly cops charged in attack on graffiti artist

Cops break this guy's jaw, knock out some teeth, then try to cover it up. PD vows to stop the violence.

Most larger police depts in the USA seem to have a few bone breakers and shoot-first guys working for them, and those guys get most of the excessive force complaints, statistically. It would be great if these thugs could all be forced to find other jobs before they kill people. It would be REALLY GREAT if the police departments would fire them before they become front page news. When the courts have to step in to clean up the PD, the thugs should all go to jail.

If the goal is to have citizens obey the law, it's essential for the police and elected officials to toe that line and to be punished when they don't. Terrorizing citizens is not something civilized society should allow its police to do. Document, publish, and complain when you see it go down, because you could be saving lives.

Thanks to David Vernitsky for fighting this good fight in Philly. We sure hope he's recovering well from his awful injuries.

Kudos to the Philly PD for getting rid of the violent offenders on the force.

We hope the wedding-party-killing NYPD thugs don't go unpunished either. The courts really let the people down on that one, but the department is taking some internal action allegedly.

--from the article:


"Philly cops charged in attack on graffiti artist

By BOB LENTZ ? 9 hours ago

PHILADELPHIA (AP) ? Two Philadelphia police officers accused of beating a man they saw painting graffiti were charged Tuesday with assault and falsifying records.


Authorities say Officers Sheldon Fitzgerald and Howard Hill III broke the graffiti painter's jaw on one side and dislocated it on the other before throwing him head first into the back of a patrol car. The man was never charged with a crime.

'This is an unfortunate incident, but it is in no way a reflection on the entire department,' Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey said at a news conference Tuesday. 'I do think that it is another statement that excessive force just will not be tolerated in our department.'

District Attorney Lynne Abraham said her office completed its investigation into the attack on David Vernitsky earlier this month after receiving a complaint of excessive force in November.

Vernitsky had attended a wedding and was spray-painting congratulations to the couple on the wall of a beauty supply house in the city's Feltonville section when police saw him, officials said.

Vernitsky fled, but the officers caught up and beat him, kicking him in the groin, bruising his face and ribs, and knocking out three teeth, Abraham said at the news conference.

The officers released Vernitsky after they checked for outstanding warrants and found none, officials said. The 36-year-old Philadelphia man was taken by friends to a hospital, where he stayed a few days, Abraham said.

The officers didn't document their contact with Vernitsky. Instead, officials said, the pair made a false entry in their log showing they were elsewhere at the time of the beating.

Fitzgerald and Hill were suspended without pay pending trial, Ramsey said. The pair was notified of the charges Tuesday and have 72 hours to turn themselves in.


The officers, who have been on the force five years each, face charges of aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, tampering with public records and conspiracy.

Earlier this month, a television news helicopter videotaped 18 city police officers and a transit officer kicking and beating three shooting suspects as they were dragged from their car. Ramsey said last week that four officers would be fired and four others disciplined for their roles in the beatings."


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Thursday, April 17, 2008

The war that lasts another 6 months, then another 6

MoveOn is a political action committee that is antiwar, pro-environment and active on progressive issues. They make it easy to send email to your Congresscritters and they buy advertising to help educate Americans on important issues. They endorsed Obama this year by popular demand (landslide) from a majority of their members, even though they normally don't pick a candidate. And best of all, they'd rather have your signature on petitions than your money.

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

10 things you should know about John McCain (but probably don't)

Civil rights: John McCain voted against establishing a national holiday in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Now he says his position has "evolved," yet he's continued to oppose key civil rights laws. 1

Warmongering: According to Bloomberg News, McCain is more hawkish than Bush on Iraq, Russia and China. Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan says McCain "will make Cheney look like Gandhi." 2

Torture: His reputation is built on his opposition to torture, but McCain voted against a bill to ban waterboarding, and then applauded President Bush for vetoing that ban. 3

Reproductive choice: McCain opposes a woman's right to choose. He said, "I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned." 4

Children: The Children's Defense Fund rated McCain as the worst senator in Congress for children. He voted against the children's health care bill last year, then defended Bush's veto of the bill. 5

Lending regulation: He's one of the richest people in a Senate filled with millionaires. The Associated Press reports he and his wife own at least eight homes! Yet McCain says the solution to the housing crisis is for people facing foreclosure to get a "second job" and skip their vacations. 6

Self-control: Many of McCain's fellow Republican senators say he's too reckless to be commander in chief. One Republican senator said: "The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine. He's erratic. He's hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me." 7

Follow the money: McCain talks a lot about taking on special interests, but his campaign manager and top advisers are actually lobbyists. The government watchdog group Public Citizen says McCain has 59 lobbyists raising money for his campaign, more than any of the other presidential candidates. 8

Extremist religious views: McCain has sought closer ties to the extreme religious right in recent years. The pastor McCain calls his "spiritual guide," Rod Parsley, believes America's founding mission is to destroy Islam, which he calls a "false religion." McCain sought the political support of right-wing preacher John Hagee, who believes Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for gay rights and called the Catholic Church "the Antichrist" and a "false cult." 9

Votes anti-environment: He positions himself as pro-environment, but he scored a 0 - yes, zero - from the League of Conservation Voters last year. 10

John McCain is not who the Washington press corps make him out to be. Please help get the word out.


1. "The Complicated History of John McCain and MLK Day," ABC News, April 3, 2008

"McCain Facts,", April 4, 2008

2. "McCain More Hawkish Than Bush on Russia, China, Iraq," Bloomberg News, March 12, 2008

"Buchanan: John McCain 'Will Make Cheney Look Like Gandhi,'" ThinkProgress, February 6, 2008

3. "McCain Sides With Bush On Torture Again, Supports Veto Of Anti-Waterboarding Bill," ThinkProgress, February 20, 2008

4. "McCain says Roe v. Wade should be overturned," MSNBC, February 18, 2007

5. "2007 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard," February 2008

"McCain: Bush right to veto kids health insurance expansion," CNN, October 3, 2007

6. "Beer Executive Could Be Next First Lady," Associated Press, April 3, 2008

"McCain Says Bank Bailout Should End `Systemic Risk,'" Bloomberg News, March 25, 2008

7. "Will McCain's Temper Be a Liability?," Associated Press, February 16, 2008

"Famed McCain temper is tamed," Boston Globe, January 27, 2008

8. "Black Claims McCain's Campaign Is Above Lobbyist Influence: 'I Don't Know What The Criticism Is,'" ThinkProgress, April 2, 2008

"McCain's Lobbyist Friends Rally 'Round Their Man," ABC News, January 29, 2008

9. "McCain's Spiritual Guide: Destroy Islam," Mother Jones Magazine, March 12, 2008

"Will McCain Specifically 'Repudiate' Hagee's Anti-Gay Comments?," ThinkProgress, March 12, 2008

"McCain 'Very Honored' By Support Of Pastor Preaching 'End-Time Confrontation With Iran,'" ThinkProgress, February 28, 2008

10. "John McCain Gets a Zero Rating for His Environmental Record," Sierra Club, February 28, 2008


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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Speaking of Obama: The Mac's print

Nicely done, as are all The Mac's pieces. Sadly the limited editions were all gone instantly.

In related news, Move On is having a contest for voter-created Obama video ads.

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Faux "News" smears Obama in desperate disinformation campaign

FOX: all hogwash, all the time

And that's not the only site of disinfo about Obama. The link goes to an Alternet article with more.

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Winter Soldier 2008

Matt sent this alert:

For the next three days, an event taking place outside Washington, D.C. called "Winter Soldier 2008" will be broadcast live over the web at or at .

Winter soldier will feature dozens of U.S. veterans from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars bearing witness to the war as they experienced it, minus the censorship or white-washing that often accompanies stories from the front lines.

A similar event was held during the Vietnam War and was captured in a documentary film. Pass it on. We are all complicit in the atrocities committed in our name using our tax dollars whether we agreed with the wars or not.

[If you only listen to one war program this war, make it this one. The streaming audio is happening right this minute. - Susan]

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Friday, February 29, 2008

Billboard Liberation Front

boingboing had the scoop, but the new link is to the BLF page with better photos and press release.

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California teen killed for being gay

Another way that fear destroys us.

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A rare dose of truth about the terrorized USA

It's rare to find anything true in the current sea of propaganda, advertisement, disinformation, and Britney. But here is something both true and provocative. Years from now, when people reflect back to this time of eroding civil rights and growing xenophobia in America, they will say what Zbigniew Brzezinski said in this article. As he says, somehow we need to elect a president who will turn things around before they get completely out of hand.

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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Voter Registration - USA forms

You just choose your state and fill out the form online at (an organization dedicated to citizen participation and political communication tools). They have one checkbox to uncheck if you don't want their citizen alert mail, but theirs is way less invasive and promiscuous than the Rock the Vote registration process. RTV shares your information with whoever they want. keeps it private.

Register soon if you want to vote in the presidential election this November. Please vote.

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Obama posters by Shepard Fairey

News flashes:

The posters sold out within a day.

The candidate, Barack Obama, is worth voting for (this Tuesday, if you can), because he represents our best hope for something different and better going on in the White House and for the future of the US. Plenty of great presidents in our past had far less political experience than he. Let's elect someone with a brain, a conscience and, we can hope - integrity - this time. The world depends on us to do that.

Shepard Fairey has been putting a finer point on it lately. Perhaps he's got something to say after all. Here's another example.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

New legal wall in CT (USA)

"Naugatuck looks to build 75-foot-long graffiti wall

"Mayor Mike Bronko is teaming up with police officers and local youth to design a graffiti wall that would allow spray paint artists to show their skills without fear of being arrested.

"The borough is looking to build an 8-foot-tall, 75-foot-long graffiti wall near the skateboard park at Linden Park in the Union City section. Bronko said the project could cost from $5,000 to $10,000, and local businesses have said they will donate to the project. The borough also would seek funding from the state Office of Policy and Management's police and youth program to offset the cost."

Way to go, Connecticut!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ket speaks to Urb about his trial and tribulations

In part one "The Taking of Alan Ket," an interview by Michael Vazquez of URB magazine, graffiti veteran Ket discusses the nature of his prosecution; his regrets about storing and jeopardizing archives; the silence regarding his case from international museums and art organizations. In part two, he discusses the responses he'd received online about his case; his work with companies who have not taken an interest in graffiti prosecution despite their use of the aesthetic vernacular which is honed in the streets; his own hard lessons learned; the logical extension of what his prosecution means to others the world over. In part three he discusses his life-long immersion in graffiti culture, and the artists who meant the most to him when he was young.

You can comment on this at URB at the link above.

Ecko gained everything from Ket and the other graffiti artists that have made that company what it is today. Ket made their graffiti game happen. Ket was arrested because of fighting city hall for Ecko's NYC event. Where was Ecko when Ket needed help? Where is Ecko now that the NYC PD won't give the graffiti archives back to Ket? Time to stop supporting corporations that just want our money. Marc Ecko needs to put his money where his mouth is.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

Mark Klein vs Big Brother

* US spooks tap the net illegally (not just tapping terrorists, they hoover as much as they can get of everybody's business into storage)

* Mark Klein blows the whistle

* Telecoms want immunity from prosecution

* Congress, White House, (spooks), and newspapers want the story to go away

If only the truth would set us free...

Meanwhile, there's no reason to think the tapping has stopped.
Every time you talk about bombing trains in email or in a forum, think of the fascinated audience you'll have.

Thanks, Mark! This is what heroes do.
If only we had people like him in office instead.

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Monday, October 15, 2007

Martin Lee Anderson's killers go free

This is insanely wrong. I hope there's an appeal, quickly. The people who beat Martin to death should go directly to jail, all of them. And their pet doctors too. The worst irony is that if his parents had beaten him themselves instead of paying someone else to do it, the parents would go to jail.

Just say no to booting out your children.

Flee children, flee.

Martin Anderson, RIP.

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White House parody site
Too funny.

via Web Heads

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Sunday, October 14, 2007

The Martyring of Che Guevara

Interesting summary of Che's role in history, his assassination 40 years ago, and the absurdity of obsessing over Communists.

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Thursday, October 11, 2007

I wish Carter was back in the White House.

What we need in elected office are more human beings like former US President Carter. He's the champion behind Habitat for Humanity, a guy with practical plans of action, such as peace talks. A person who stands up for what he believes in, such as fair and trustable election processes, plus he is smart enough to be entrusted with managing complex political realities. He's too religiously motivated, but he's got a good heart.

CNN reports: "The United States tortures prisoners in violation of international law, former President Carter said Wednesday....Carter also said President Bush creates his own definition of human rights."

Reuters reports that Carter also "denounced Vice President Dick Cheney as a 'disaster' for the country and a 'militant' who has had an excessive influence in setting foreign policy."

Carter also criticized some of the 2008 Republican presidential candidates, calling former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani "foolish" for his contention the United States should be open to use force on Iran.


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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Iraq situation report, by 7 US soldiers

This is the most believable and coherent account I've read so far of the situation on the ground in Iraq. Comments are interesting too.

Two of this NYTimes op-ed piece's authors died September 10. Sgt. Omar Mora and co-author Sgt. Yance T. Gray died along with 5 other soldiers and 2 detainees in a vehicle accident, but it would be just as fair to say they died of executive privilege.

GWB gave a feel-good speech tonight about how everything is going so well in Iraq. He should just declare victory and bring the troops home then. And there's more heroin coming out of Afghanistan than ever, so either that was the objective of that war or else it's failed to produce positive results as well. I sure hope we can get him out of office before he starts another war with Iran or Eritria.

The DC protest is coming up on the 15th. I'm sure Alternet will cover that event and so will the streams of images at YouTube and Flickr.

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Friday, August 31, 2007

(updated) 6 years in prison for gang graffiti? California town loses its mind.

"A Santa Paula man spray-painted gang graffiti on a large wooden sign at the entrance to Marina Park in Ventura nearly two years ago, a jury was told Thursday in a case that could send the defendant to prison for up to six years.

"Sergio Martin ... 22, faces prison if found guilty of two felony charges - committing vandalism that caused more than $400 worth of damage, and possessing tools to commit graffiti, according to his lawyer, Rod Kodman. The damage to the sign totaled $523."

I hope that cooler heads prevail in court, because this is a clear threat of cruel and unusual punishment and it sure smells like racism. Punishing the demographic instead of the behavior is unAmerican. As a society, we can't afford it because it's blatantly unjust.

I'm no fan of gang graffiti, but punishing any type of painting activity with 6 years in prison on felonies is ridiculous. This guy didn't even do $1000 worth of damage (if he's even guilty) and he's only 22 years old. A more practical thing for a sane society to do would be to put him to work in community service of some kind. Imprisoning young people only creates career criminals and a permanent underclass.

Plus possession of tools to create graffiti has been interpreted in California as applying even to things like rocks and pencils. It's just a bogus add-on of convenience. Graffiti tools are not like burglary tools, they are art supplies. California needs a smarter government, and soon.

UPDATE: Sept 1: Jury would not convict Martin, so it's declared a mistrial. This is the second time he's been tried on this and had a mistrial. I feel better now.

The jury did its job after all and refused to give an excessive sentence to someone charged on iffy evidence. Luckily for Martin his jury was not made up of the howling crowd of commenters, many of whom are still out for blood for some reason. It's crazy, because $523 worth of damage, by definition, can be cured for $523. Why would anyone want to pay $30,000 x 6 years to warehouse this guy instead?

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

See which US presidential candidate(s) agree with you

This excellent web tool lets you pick the issues that matter to you and then shows how closely the presidential candidates align with your views ... or not.

I know it's still early in the election process, but the time to fight for your underdog is right now before he gets eliminated or pushed out of the debates. It's also very easy to see which party in general has your burning issues at heart, in case your favorite candidate does disappear before election.

Give it a shot, you might be surprised.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Posters to download - Rezistr

Goin Nukuler is my fave.

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Thursday, June 07, 2007

US Passport Office is Seriously in the Weeds

In another show of planning brilliance, the US gov started requiring its citizens to have passports for travel to and from Canada and Mexico on air, land and sea. But they forgot to staff up the office ... and didn't broadcast the new requirement on American Idol, apparently.

So bad news if you don't have a passport already and suddenly need one. Might want to apply now if you need one next year though. And get a receipt, because you might need to use that instead.

It's a good idea to have a passport anyway, and they last for 10 years. They can come in very handy if you lose your driver's license or need another form of picture ID in order to get a job, etc.

Just be sure to keep it in a very safe place (ID theft) and wrap it in tinfoil when carrying it in public (RFID sniffing).

Oh yeah.

But crossing borders is our human right -- so let's not quit, even though it's rather annoying these days.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Frontline "Homefront" - Surveillance program podcasts

Unofficial podcasts (Quicktime) of the actual broadcast from the recent Frontline program. Downloadable, scary, in RSS (if your browser does not do RSS, copy the link to your newsreader).

Official site for the Frontline program, which has other forms of video that you might be able to watch online.

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Sunday, June 03, 2007

Problem: Dangerous Chinese Food - Solution: Stop Buying It

From dead pets to poisonous toothpaste, the horror stories of deadly Chinese imports continue to pile up. People are furious, business looks the other way, Congress wrings its hands, FDA says it's not really their job, and Wal-Mart plays into Chinese corruption by working against inspections.

The only really effective thing we can do is to buy something else until China -- and Wal-Mart -- care about the problem. China has unhelpfully decided to kill the guy at the head of their food inspection and quality organization for taking bribes, but that's just barbaric political scapegoating. It will take an army of inspectors who care on both sides of the ocean to stop this blatant profiteering from unsafe foodstuffs. Meanwhile Wal-Mart tries to diguise its products' origins.

"As the world?s largest retailer, it distributes massive quantities of imported goods. Wal-Mart should use its significant clout with China and other importers to demand higher quality standards and more product testing. On the home front, Wal-Mart should stop fighting additional inspections and country-of-origin labeling, which would allow customers to know whether they are buying beef from Iowa or China. Wal-Mart should also consider returning to its abandoned 'Buy American' campaign and support U.S. manufacturers and local farmers rather than shifting jobs and purchases overseas."

"... American consumers we can use our purchasing power to influence how business responds to the challenge. Without assurances that imported goods are subject to rigorous inspections to ensure their safety, we can opt to buy locally grown and American-made products when we shop for groceries and other items each week. We can also decide that if we don?t know where a product comes from, maybe we don?t need it. Purchasing in such a manner not only supports local farmers and U.S. manufacturers, it protects consumers. It also provides the opportunity to strengthen our farm economy while protecting our food supply."

Someone should clue the Department of Homeland Security that weapons of mass destruction could be in those containers they don't inspect from China: E. coli, botulism, and lysteria, for starters. Instead, we have phone taps and shampoo confiscation, go figure. Let's bring the National Guard home from Iraq and put them back on the job, hmm? We could pay for it with the money that's now going to Blackwater and black-hole budgets.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Shillary (it has to be said)

I wish we could have a female president in the US one day, but I just can't vote for Hillary. She has no observable principles, no discernable ethics, no apparent backbone, and all her motives are suspect. Arianna Huffington details the problems most people see with Hillary Clinton.

Democratic party "leaders" are idiots if they back her. Keeping an eye on Obama though. Too bad Ron Paul has all the big ideas.


Friday, May 04, 2007

US wants free image hosting sites to give up records whenever

As usual, they are waving the child porn flag, but you know they will go after writers with this too, if they can get the power. Of course, most companies already track who uses their services (with IP numbers) so the only really safe thing to do is to use a proxy server or another anonymous account not related to your home or credit card, etc.

Thanks to 12-oz for posting about this.

Of course, this applies to sites like flickr, image shack, and fotolog, etc etc, not sites like Art Crimes, since nobody directly uploads images themselves here. We also don't keep logs of user activity.

Learn more about proxies and anonymous internet use here (constantly updated proxy list):

Please write to your congresscritters about this and other Bush regime violations of privacy and civil liberties, and to support those who fight the good fight such as EPIC and EFF and ACLU.

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Monday, April 30, 2007

14 days to save Internet radio -- Raise hell or lose it

Problem in a nutshell: Internet radio is mostly done by people like you and me, with very limited $$ and a love for music. These DJs provide most of the public musical diversity now that big corporations own most of the analog radio stations. The music industry, now famous for shooting itself in the foot, wants to raise the fees on internet radio, which will put many, if not most of them, out of business immediately. Fees are retroactive. The day the music could die is May 15 because that's the day of the vote on H.R. 2060, The Internet Radio Equality Act, which was introduced by Representatives Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Donald Manzullo (R-IL ) to save the Internet radio industry.

What to do: call and write your congresscritters and tell them to support this bill.

If you are a musician, it is even more important for you to write now, if you want to save this outlet for your own business and creative interests, because both sides of the issue argue they are doing this for you.

A summary of the problem is at the link above, and there are links near the bottom of that page for writing and calling info. Here's the main site, to send your letter from:

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Run for US President on MySpace

[This should be interesting. This whole 2008 election could be won or lost on YouTube and MySpace anyway, but this show might allow the real issues to be discussed and force them to be addressed across the board - if FOX doesn't manipulate the results. - Susan]

"In INDEPENDENT, the winner will receive an award of one million dollars that they cannot keep. What they do with that million dollars is subject to a list of options, all political in nature, but the choice the winner makes will be greatly influenced by the MySpace community and the viewers of the network television show.

"Will the winner choose to donate the money to a political action group (e.g. global warming or education reform)? Will they provide the initial donation to form a third political party that better represents the voices of young Americans? Will they make their own run for the White House in 2008? All of these decisions will be shaped by viewers who watch the show, and influence our winner.

"With the access that MySpace's powerful social networking tools allow, the candidates will have deep real-time access to their viewers/constituents in a manner that is unprecedented in reality programming.

"All candidates interested in running as INDEPENDENT will submit themselves via MySpace Video. Once the candidates are chosen, each will create MySpace Impact profiles to serve as their campaign platform."

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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Fascist America, in 10 easy steps

1 Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy

2 Create a gulag

3 Develop a thug caste

4 Set up an internal surveillance system

5 Harass citizens' groups

6 Engage in arbitrary detention and release

7 Target key individuals

8 Control the press

9 Dissent equals treason

10 Suspend the rule of law

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Monday, April 16, 2007

Massacre Monkeys

There's something deeply wrong when each tragedy competes with every other to be the most, the worst. Everyone seems to want to be on any top 10 list, to get on TV. News helicopters circle like vultures. Disasterporn and competition for the prizes no one should want are sick monkey habits we need to break.

Speaking of sick monkey doings ... killing people you don't even know is so lame. And how dumb is it to kill people we love? The whole notion of killing a woman so nobody else can have her is offensive. Is she your stolen property? Your escaping slave? Please. If a relationship isn't working, walk away. Life is too short to fight about it. If you feel the need to confine or spy on your partner, the relationship is already over. Trade up. Each breakup is an opportunity to have a better relationship next time. Captivity is a cage for two.

Also, let's stop treating fear and anxiety as diseases we should take drugs for. Life is scary. Be brave. Offer aid and comfort to others. Expressing emotions with weapons, spewing hate, and surrounding ourselves with nice safe police states and pain killers are all symptoms of unbridled fear and lack of self-control.

Today's murdering coward at Virginia Tech, although responsible for his own idiotic decisions, is also a symptom of our collective sick monkey condition. It takes a better kind of human to face life with open hands, mind, and heart.

Every single death is someone's heartbreak. I grieve with and for us all today.

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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Criticize Bush or go to a peace rally and get on do-not-fly list!

This is so wrong, so illegal, so appalling, words fail me. The effective response to this type of abuse of power is for everyone to do these things and thus render the list useless. (Clearly the list is already useless, but you know what I mean.)

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Monday, April 09, 2007

Graffiti-printing bike misplaced by NYPD, rider arrested to prevent protest

It turns out that in the land of the free and the home of the brave, you can get arrested *before* you participate in a political protest. I feel safer already!

His bike's worth a look too. He converted it to use spray paint chalk to make dot-matrix lettering on the pavement.

The bike and the arrest are old news, but the extent to which the gov will go to prevent protesting is a story the media seems ready to start telling, finally. Too bad we can't seem to get a better gov instead, one we don't need to protest against all the time.

Until then, though, it's important to keep legal protests legal no matter where you live, because it's the governments you can't protest against that do the most damage. You'd think a unionized police force would already know that.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Maher: What Americans have Sacrificed

"You've given up faith in your government's honesty, the good will of people overseas, and 6/10 of the Bill of Rights. Here's what you've sacrificed: search and seizure, warrants, self incrimination, trial by jury, cruel and unusual punishment."

We need to elect a new government, badly. One that will restore not only the Bill of Rights but our commitment to human rights. A leader with a conscience and principles. (Hint: as opposed to Hillary the poll-chaser).

Today, as people here protest the war AGAIN, the bigger problem is ignored: GWB and his administration can do anything they want, no matter how immoral or illegal it is. And the Democrats sigh and look the other way, mouthing soft placating phrases.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Atlanta injustice strikes again

Men arrested for graffiti on interstate signs

Published on: 02/12/07

Two men were arrested Monday and charged with spray painting graffiti on overhead exit signs along the Downtown Connector last fall.

Officials with the state Department of Transportation said xxxxx, 20, of Atlanta, and yyyyy 22, of Smyrna, face felony charges in connection with the Oct. 10, 2006 vandalism of the exit signs for the Peachtree and Pine street exits.

xxx is also charged with a similar graffiti incident on the I-85 southbound exit sign to I-285 westbound in DeKalb County, said DOT spokesman David Spear.

Spear said xxxx could be sentenced to up to 21 years in prison if convicted, while yyyy faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison if convicted.

Spear said that the state spends more than $150,000 annually to repair and replace road signs defaced by graffiti.

---------end of article-----

Can I be the first to say WTF? These guys need a super lawyer, because they sure don't have a justice system.

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Saturday, January 13, 2007

Response to Bush's "Surge" by Olberman

The members of the US Congress are criminally negligent to let Bush grab power and destroy so much and so many. Their feeble complaints are having no effect.


Tuesday, January 09, 2007

How many cops does it take to arrest a jaywalker?

They arrest jaywalkers? (Jargon tip: "jaywalking" is simply crossing the street while not at a designated crosswalk.)

Actually, this visiting historian and conference attendee in Atlanta (Georgia) made the common mistake of asking Officer Friendly for his ID while being accosted for jaywalking ... between the Hyatt and Hilton hotels. Maybe the APD were trying to show equal treatment to rich people for once, but still. Dude spent all day in jail before charges were dropped. Safety first! Serve and protect!

Conferences are one of the biggest sources of income for Atlanta too, so go figure why the cops are bothering the cash cows ... or is it the irresistable ticket opportunity? That's penny wise and pound foolish for the city, if so.

Columbus (Ohio) and Oakland (California) police are also obsessed with you crossing at crosswalks, and there are probably many more places that micromanage foot traffic in the USA as well. Fines can be $75-150, and if you complain, that's resisting arrest and generally results in a beating then jail. It's for your own good, kids.

With that kind of tourist outreach plus the fingerprinting at the airports, it's a wonder anyone bothers visiting the US armed camp anymore.

If only all this security theater were making anyone safer.

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Sunday, October 29, 2006

Bush legalizes martial law

"On Oct 17, George Bush quietly signed a bill allowing him to declare martial law. The Toward Freedom website summarizes it:

'For the current President, "enforcement of the laws to restore public order" means to commandeer guardsmen from any state, over the objections of local governmental, military and local police entities; ship them off to another state; conscript them in a law enforcement mode; and set them loose against "disorderly" citizenry - protesters, possibly, or those who object to forced vaccinations and quarantines in the event of a bio-terror event.

The law also facilitates militarized police round-ups and detention of protesters, so called "illegal aliens," "potential terrorists" and other "undesirables" for detention in facilities already contracted for and under construction by Halliburton. That's right. Under the cover of a trumped-up "immigration emergency" and the frenzied militarization of the southern border, detention camps are being constructed right under our noses, camps designed for anyone who resists the foreign and domestic agenda of the Bush administration.'

[...]"The elections are coming up in a matter of weeks. Vote America. Throw the traitors out. Install some leaders who love the Constitution." []


Monday, October 23, 2006

Bush can disappear anyone he wants, now

Be afraid, people. Vote the corrupt US Congress out of office on Nov 2.


Sunday, October 22, 2006

Gallery owner beaten for showing political art - Russia

According to the Moscow Times (!):

"Ultranationalists donning heavy boots and knit caps stormed one of the city's best known art galleries Saturday, beating owner Marat Gelman and destroying paintings by the Georgian-born artist Alexander Dzhikia.


"On Sunday, Gelman dismissed the suggestion that there might be a tie between Saturday's attack and the Friday detention of the artworks at Sheremetyevo-2 airport heading from his gallery.

Matthew Bown of the Matthew Bown Gallery in London was transporting the 11 pieces of art from the Guelman Gallery for a London show when he was ordered off his plane and questioned by police at the airport, the gallery said in a statement posted on its web site.

Officials confiscated the artwork, telling Bown he had been detained because several of the pieces "contain representations of heads of state," the gallery statement said." [Brown was allowed to leave Russia later, but without the paintings.]

Gelman is up on charges as well, because (from the

"His gallery was visited on Friday by Customs officials, who confiscated caricatures on display of President Putin, President Bush and Osama bin Laden. The works were due to be exhibited in London.

One photo collage showed the three men lying together on a couch wearing only boxer shorts and socks. Mr Guelman said that officials had told him that they were considering a criminal prosecution for insulting the President of Russia."

[Kind of makes your hair stand on end, doesn't it? They are threatening to arrest the gallery owner beause of someone else's dangerous paintings. Paintings were killed by ultranationalists! Wherever ideas are illegal, they become extremely important. Be very happy if your country lets you paint or talk about whatever you want -- it's a right we all have to fight in order to get or to keep. - Susan ]

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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Not Your Soldier - Anti-recruitment camps for youth

Young people are being tricked, lured, and pushed into the military in order to fight unjust wars for dishonest politicians. Especially the poor kids. Not Your Soldier offers information, tools, and tactics to those who want to resist recruitment.
From the site:

"Why Counter Recruitment?

When we organize against military recruitment, we are not only getting involved in our communities and working to stop this war - we are also questioning the whole system that the military is built on.

We are fighting the way that recruiters prey on the lack of affordable housing, healthcare, and the decrepit state of our schools.

We are refusing to fight in an unjust war.

But most importantly, we are building skills and resources within our generation of youth leadership for justice.

Want to do something in your community to stop recruiters and fight the war?

Take back your school! Check out the War Resister's League book, "Demilitarized Zone: A Guide to Taking Your School Back from the Military." You'll get a lot of ideas about organizing to keep military recruiters out of your school, including detailed legal information, concrete campaign suggestions, and up-to-date statistics.

Protect your privacy! Make it hard for recruiters to get your home number by joining Military Free Zone's Opt Out campaign. If you "opt out", your school can't give your information to the military.

Educate your friends! Show AFSC's video "Before You Enlist." Invite a local veteran from Iraq Vets Against War to speak to your class or club. Get copies of the comic book, "Addicted to War" and pass it around. "

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

The Decider


Sunday, February 12, 2006

Peace Takes Courage


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Maybe the people are not as stupid as the government

Some good news about what's up in the USA, finally. With any luck the people will try harder to elect a not-stupid goverment next time.


Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Vote intelligently (USA)

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