Saturday, January 31, 2009

Look Around You

An episode from the British Series, Look Around You.
There will be a test.

The Limbaugh Memorial Barbeque

On Thursday, I humbly submitted my unabashed endorsement of RUSH LIMBAUGH to the elevation as Pope of the Republican Party and that he has deemed to choose Mike Steele as his assistant. I believe he is the man who can lead the Republicans through their dark journey through the night of their exile from the glory they know they are entitled to.
Today, I'd like to host a Rush Limbaugh Memorial Barbeque and suggest a recipe that he might enjoy. If I were him though, I'd try to control my Viagra intake for a few hours before this savory celebration of pork was on the table. Remember, Mr. Limbaugh, eat only one at a time, I think the calorie estimate is about 30,000 per serving.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you, the Rush Limbaugh Memorial Bacon Explosion.
This was your White Trash Moment of the Week.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Man Who Had Too Many Ideas.....

Yesterday around 2,500,000 demonstrating people were in the streets of cities and towns across France. That works out to roughly 4% of the population and 76% were sympathetic to the strike. Crowd size in Paris alone is estimated at up to 300,000.
Now if this same percentage was ever achieved in the United States, that would make almost 13,000,000 people, but America, rest assured, you could never get that many people to agree to go out and demonstrate no matter what the reason.
In the cities near me, Brive la Gaillarde there were 10,000, 25,000 in Limoges and 8,000 in Perigueux.

The goverment was releasing numbers much, much lower but today, the numbers I am quoting are the ones being reported on all of the media.
This was the biggest demonstration that Paris has seen in 20 years and in many parts of France it was the biggest social protest since May 1968, when DeGaulles government was brought down in the streets.

Earlier this week, there was a vote to censure the Sarkozy Government which if it had succeeded, would have forced the dissolution of the UMP majority. It did fail, but it was a strong slap.

The protests are being referred in the foreign press as the result of French unease over the economic situation. That is the simple line. This was a message to a government that has beat the drum of constant "reform". Reform, unfortunately has become a code word for cutting funds to and removing social programs, destroying the educational system, disenfranchising the legal system, cutting radically and raising the fees of the socialized medical system, raising taxes and fees while rewarding coorporations and trying to denationalize much of the infrastructure. One of the most threatened groups is the trade unions.

There has been a long trail littered with broken promises to the French population.
Meanwhile, the government has been actively passing laws which are restricting the rights of everyone. There are quotas on deportations of illegal immigrants that have to be met resulting in many lines of simple common sense being crossed. This alone has caused actual human rights abuses being investigated by Amnesty International.

One of the last straws was 2 weeks ago when the President was visiting northern France to try to push his educational "reforms". He visited an school and outside, there was a massive demonstration by parents and teachers which was messily broken up by the police and garnered enough publicity to make national news in a big way.
Sarkozy, in a fury, fired the Prefect of the Departement and the chief of police for allowing this embarrassment.

The government has hired a PR firm to feed news to the foreign press. It gives the impression that Sarkozy is a classy guy with an exmodel/pop singing wife, running an efficient government and makes sure there are photo ops constantly available to prove that he is actually "saving the world".
France sees the real picture.
A little man desparately reaching for total control, running from one failed idea to another in the attempt to hide the previous days debacle.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Alan A Dale

thebrainpolice is technically still on strike, but to keep you entertained while we experience this break in our normal programming, here is an excerpt from the classic 1960s BBC TV comedy series 'Not Only But Also'. At about 1:19 in, after the caveman sketch, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore sing a 'ballad' about Robin Hood's fabled sidekick Alan A Dale. This episode was shot in 1965.

This regarding the strike: I watched on CNN as the reportage gave the numbers of people in the streets. They implied that it was less than 100,000 and that the strike was not successful. The Sarko government spents 60 million Euros a year on Public Relations to give the impression in the foreign press that he is doiing something and all is well here. It seems to be money well spent as far as CNN goes, because the real numbers as of an hour ago, was 2.5 million people in the streets of the cities of France protesting the economic and social policies of this government. I hope to have some good pictures and video tomorrow.

Republican Pope!

Rarely has thebrianpolice ever gone as far as actually endorsing a person for job, but we have to concur, this is a rare opportunity. Now is the time for the Republican Party to kneel in abject obesiance and humility before the one man who is most qualified to lead them. A man not only qualified to lead them straight into the middle ages where they long to be, but a man who would be pope! I, microdot, heartily endorse and urge the poobahs of the Republican Party to acknowlege the man who is destined to be raised to the utmost of conservative poobah-ship, the next Grand Wazoo, the next, I wipe a salty tear from my eye in emotion, yes, the next fucking pope of the Republican Party,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Ce soir, thebrainpolice se joint à la solidarité avec le reste de la France à une grève générale! Si vous avez besoin d'aide, notre funtionaries sont sur un horaire limité, de sorte que vous mai ont une longue attente. Pour vous aider à passer le temps, notre équipe a fourni une version condensée de la dernière semaine de télévision de l'émission de télévision, Groland. Je suis un citoyen de l'Republique de Groland et dans cet épisode, vous pourrez rencontrer à la fois le président et le pape de Groland et d'apprendre de nos religions sainte signe.
an operator might be available to assist you. someday...possibly

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Doubtful Guest

In 1976, the American Composer, Michael Mantler collaborated with writer/illustrator Edward Gorey to produce an orchestrated version of some of Gorey's tales from his anthology, Amphigorey. The result was a record called, The Hapless Child. The Hapless Child unfortunately seems to have been discontinued and not available, but it is a unique body of music that still holds up in a timeless fashion. It was a complexly rich mixture of big band, avant classicism, jazz and rock. The guitarist was the Swedish jazz/rock artist, Terje Rypdal, one of my favorite players of all time, I believe Jack DeJohnette played drums, Mantlers wife at the time, the great composer Carla Bley played keyboards, Steve Swallow was the bassist and the ethereally tragic voice of Robert Wyatt sang the lyrics. It was an incredible collection and perhaps never performed live. At the time, it was one of my favorite records.
In 1987 at the International Avant Arts Festival in Munich, Mantler had a series of concerts recreating the music and I am not sure of the musicians, but Jack Bruce, the great Jazz/Rock/Blues bassist and avant gardist in his own right sang the pieces. Jack had collabvorated with Mantler on the stark orchestration of the Beckett play, No Answer in the early 70's and had worked with both Mantler and Bley on many other projects. In this series is a very good performance of No Answer which I may post later. No Answer is still available as an import.
This was recently posted on YouTube and this is great modern American music you need to hear!


Yesterday, in my last post about the way the Catholic Church is engaging in self destructive behaviour, I mentioned the struggle of the Parish of St. Augustine in New Orleans. I was made aware of the events there by the award winning documentary, Shake The Devil Off, by Swiss Director, Peter Entell which I saw on the German/French network, ARTE on Sunday night.

It told the story of the Parish which had existed for almost 200 years, originally a church for the wealthy. The slaves were allowed to sit outside and there is a famous slave cemetery in back of the church.

Over the years since the Civil War, the church became a bastion of creole culture and had evolved services which reflected the cultural heritage of Jazz and Gospel.
The spititual leader of the church for the last 30 years had been Pastor Jerome Le Doux, a handsome charismatic man who during and after Hurricane Katrina rises to heroic proportions as he struggles to keep the faith and the bodies of his parishioers fed.
Meanwhile, as the St. Augustine struggles with the day to day problems of the poor and their needs, the arch diocese of New Orleans has decided that because so many of the parishioners have been "displaced" from this valuable piece of real estate, they can assert their control and suppress the unique culture that emanates from the souls of St. Augustine.

The film focuses on the battle by the parishioners to keep their church and their pastor. Pere Le Doux is shown as the real performer he is and the spiritual lion he must be to calmly navigate the tricky waters of ecclesiastical protocol and out and out greed.
He emerges as a fierce but gentle, wise human who knows the limits and the role he must play in this drama.

The film is full of great music, the Marsalis family plays at the church and there are many great performances from members of the church and local New Orleans supporters.
I would most heartily recommend this film to anyone who believes in the power of the human spirit.
The ending may not be what you want, but the energy of this film is uplifting.
The politics and manipulation go a long way to explain what happened and is continuing to unfold in New Orleans with the deliberate dispersal of the real culture!

The above film is a performance of a Gospel Mass by Pere Jerome, last year in New Orleans, not in St. Augustine Church. Here he is perhaps 78 years old and beginning to be a little tired from the struggle. Go to the website for the film and check it out!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Maybe I Don' Wanna Be In This Club.....

This comes, 48 hours after the Vatican lectured Obama about ethics and arrogance? For a pope who was himself a member of the Hitler Youth, this will only feed concerns that perhaps this particular Prada-wearing German is a bit too close to his own Nazi past.
Benedict yesterday welcomed back into the Roman Catholic Church Richard Williamson and three other men who were excommunicated in 1988 after being ordained without Vatican permission. The three had been appointed by breakaway French archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. The Vatican decree issued yesterday spoke of overcoming the "scandal of divisiveness" and seeking reconciliation with Lefebvre's conservative order, the Society of Saint Pius X, which opposes the modernisation of Catholic doctrine.

But Jewish groups have warned the Pope that the decision could damage Catholic-Jewish relations after Williamson claimed in an interview, broadcast last week, that historical evidence "is hugely against six million having been deliberately gassed in gas chambers as a deliberate policy of Adolf Hitler ... I believe there were no gas chambers"....

In an interview taped last November and aired last Wednesday on Swedish television, Williamson said he agreed with the "most serious" revisionist historians of the second world war who had concluded that "between 200,000-300,000 perished in Nazi concentration camps, but not one of them by gassing in a gas chamber".

For a major religion hemmoraging members and crediblity worldwide, this seems to be just another nail in its coffin. When the pope's policy is harsher against gays than holocaust deniers, or pedophiles for that matter, where do you go from there?
The church has already shown it is more intersted in real estate than the members of its poor parishes. Witness the treatment of the poor black congregation of St. Augustine Parish in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The Archdiocese saw valuable real estate and a chance to turn the Church into a tourist shrine. So, the church did everything in its power to extinguish the unique character of their church and stop the social services the parish provided. They won, the parishoners lost.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Today is a day of being thankful that I have electricity and internet as many of the villages around me are going to be down for a few days because of the massive storm that ripped through this part of France and Spain.
Not much damage here, but down the road, a neighbor lost his roof and we've been helping him get some kind of emergency cover. It took off like a sail and blew up the side of the hill onto the road.
So, I am posting some poetry by my personal poet laureate, the great Percival Dovetonsils in thanksgiving. In case you haven't noticed, I am one of Ernie Kovacs greatest admirers.
I think Percy had a few martinis before the reading, and maybe the next one will have an azalea bush instead of a daisy in it.....

Greetings From Gitmo!

Ohio Republican Representative and House Minority Leader, John Boehner expressed his disappointment at President Obama's signing of the order to close The Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, or "Club Gitmo" as trendy Republican Representatives in the know, call it.

At a press conference today, Boehner rejected the notion that Guantanamo had given the United States a black eye. To Boehner, the accommodations at Gitmo are figuratively, if not literally, to die for:

"I don't know that there's a terrorist treated better anywhere in the world than what has happened at Guantanamo. It is - we have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build a facility that has more comforts than a lot of Americans get."

That sound bite made its first appearance in June 2005 in the wake of revelations regarding the torture of Gitmo prisoner Mohammed al-Qahtani. On June 12, Time published details of an 84-page document spelling out the abuse of Qahtani, treatment including sustained isolation, sleep deprivation, nudity and prolonged exposure to cold, which left him in a "life-threatening condition." The result, as Americans learned last week from military commission chief Susan Crawford, is that Qahtani's case could not be referred for prosecution because, "his treatment met the legal definition of torture."

The abuse of Qahtani, however, did not meet the Republican definition of torture. As John Boehner, Dick Cheney, Duncan Hunter, Mel Martinez and Mike Huckabee alike attest, Gitmo is more beach resort than detention center.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Medieval Mind

South Carolina Republican State Senator Robert Ford is hoping to outlaw lewd language and is pushing for a bill that would prohibit profanity.

Under the pre-filed bill, profanity could land you in jail for up to 5 years and/or cost you up to $5,000 in fines.

Which words are exactly considered profane is still unclear, but the bill does have a list of qualifications for profanity including words or actions that are lewd, vulgar or indecent in nature.

More over, will the bill cover where it might be permissable to use profanity if the bill could actually define profanity?

Would the bill exempt the now ex president, Dick Cheney? Because if the bill was in fact enforcible, he would be a known repeat offender and have to be at least monitored, or would he be a "three strikes and your out" lifer? Would it exempt all the people swearing in disbelief that some dumbfuck could waste their tax dollars by being paid to come up with something as fucking stupid as this?

The Moose Joke

So, I'm trying to finish a photoshop piece and I'm down to the last few details, flashy lettering, flipping photos, the works and the electricity goes out! And stays out for 6 hours! Too be fair, we had a big storm here today with 80 mph wind gusts...I lost some slate tiles off of the barn roof....
So when the power comes on about an hour and half photoshop piece is gone for good! I was furious, so furious that I just had to post this Woody Allen stand up routine from 1965. The Moose Joke.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

99 and 1/2

99 and 1/2 by Mavis Staples from her 2007 cd We'll Never Turn Back produced by Ry Cooder. The footage is from the 2007 May Day March in Los Angeles.
Mavis Staples is one of the artists who can always move me on an emotional level. This woman lived the Civil Rights Movement. The Staples Singers were always there singing at the forefront. On the cd, Mavis weaves an autobiographical quilt of her life embroidered with the movers and the real moments of the struggle.
The footage from 2007 is almost 50 years after the struggles in the south, the violence in the north and the hard held and fought for progress America has made.
Yesterday, we inaugarated Barack Obama and many people feel that this somehow proves that racism is banished from the psyche of America.
It proves that we have progressed and have gone far as a society, but it ain't 100% and let me tell you, when it comes to freedom, 99&1/2% just ain't enough!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Teknicle Difeecullteez

I haven't been able to post for two days because the phone lines totally went down in the last rain storm. I've been having problems for months and France Telecom keeps sending out technicians who tell me "All fixed" then as soon as it rains again, the lines go out.
This time, it rained for an hour heavily on Saturday and that was all she wrote, so just about 6 hours ago, the techs finished their repair work....they redid the connections at three different's raining now, but I'm still on line!
Maybe it's fixed?
Meanwhile, we have been watching Obama's Inaugaration on CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera.
The crowds in Washington are beyond belief. Obama's speech was incredible. I was struck by the silence of the crowd while he spoke, then the thunder at the end.
I was very happy to see Aretha, but finally, her voice is beginning to lose some range. She was still magnificent and that hat!
I was stunned to heart that Michelle Obama's dress was designed by Isabel Toledo!
Isabel and her husband have been fixtures in the East Village art/fashion world for 25 years. They are great artists and my wife has worn stuff by her.
Well, I have to take care of some other things tonight...
But it's good to be back on line and I'm feeling very good about being an American!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Cracked Mirror of History

In the early 18th century world of the Dutch, on one hand the world was an ever opening chest of wealth. They went from being an oppressed nation, a land where a battle for Eurpean dominace was being fought between the French, Spanish and English to an independant Republic. A Representative goverment unlike none which Europe had seen before. For a century, they became the prime economic movers of Europe.

This prosperity had a price, the spick and span, severly calvinist protestant society opened itself up to the influences of other cultures. The Dutch became wealthy , in fact, to borrow the phrase of historian Simon Schama, they suffered from an “Embarrassment of Riches.”

The society suffered from an identity crisiss which manifested itself in a number of ways.The calm period of prosperity was beset by moral introspection in which vice was seen as the product of foreign influences.

There had alweays been a dichotomy between the orderly households of the Dutch Burghers and the acceptance of prostitution. Prostitution was illegal, but the tacit understanding was that there were acceptable levels of vice. The need for this outlet was seen as a neccessary outlet to preserve the purity and sanctity of proper Dutch women.

At the same time, of course, as in any normal urban environment, there was a thriving homosexual culture. This was totally underground and like today, it was a part of the thread of humanity. But also as today, the otherness of the homosexual world made it a target for religious warriors who amplified the behavior into a threat to the Dutch State.

In the 1730’s this became a witch hunt and the public laws against homosexuality carried the death penalty. A death penalty beyond simple death, the accused was strangled, beheaded, dismembered and thrown in the river with a 200 pound weight. The order of this sentence was varied according to the social status of the the accused.

There were inquisitions and many lurid pamphl;ets published that “exposed” an entire alternate homosexual society, which in the light of historical analysis, never existed.
The propaganda, though, was used as a patriotic religious tool to root out and kill hundreds of homosexuals and people caught up in the web of betrayal by thoise trying to “buy” their freedomn by dooming others.

The imflamatory language was preached from the pulpits and the fictions were promulgated in pamphlets that became popular mass entertainment which imflamed prejudice. The “vice” was calimed to be imported by the French, and they claimed it had never, ever existed in Dutch society before.

Here we are in the early 21st century and we are seeing the same phenomena in America.
The exposure and eradication of homosexuals is being made into a patriotic/religious crusade in much the same way it was in 1730. Homosexuality is being made into a lurid threat which is somehow organized to try to destroy our culture and life as we know it. Now, of course, we do not advocate the death and disamemberment policy to deal with them., but as a class, they are actively denied rights and benefits available to the rest of Americans under the the law. Hate crimes against homosexuals are routinely dismissed and covered up and under reported.

In an earlier post, I wrote of Pastor Rick Warren and his militant church which has mixed the emotions of patriotism and religion together in a potentially dangerous molotov cocktail, wrtecklessly citing the example of Adolf Hitler and Nazism as models for the kind of fanatic belief that his church needs from its followers to “conquer the world for Jesus”.

One of the rallying points of the activism of his church has been militantly dealing with homosexuality. This week House Democrat, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee re-introduced The Hate Crimes bill with homosexuals added as a protected group to existing hate-crime legislation.

The bill will make it a federal crime for pastors to use the Bible to speak out against homosexuality if in response to that teaching someone commits an act of violence against a homosexual. This will effectively stifle the ability of pastors to preach the Word of God without fear of prosecution. Vision America has a plan to stop this Bill.

Inspiring someone to commit murder either is or isn't a crime already. The hate crimes bill has nothing to do with the spoken word - it has to deal with people dragging you behind their truck for a mile, or tying to you to a fence and pistol-whipping you in the head. I shouldn't be surprised, but still I am. Whining about your fear that you'll lose the right to incite murder. Only in America.

Needless to say, the Hate Crimes bill doesn't deal with speech. And in fact, America has had a hate crimes law for decades now, and no one has gone to jail for dissing blacks or whites, or people of faith, all of whom are already protected under the existing hate crimes laws. But somehow adding gays to a law that is already on the books, will magically make the law outlaw speech. Right. Evangelical bigots have existed forever and in 1730 and today, they have a serious aversion to the truth, when it becomes a stumbling block to their techniques of mixing patriotism with religion for the sake of control and power.

The above illustration is from 1731 and isa called “Justice Triumphant” and is allegorical engraving depicting the rooting out and destruction of homosexual networks in Dutch Society.

More Eloquent Than I.....

Nina Parris, an 83 year-old Jewish Vermonter and Holocaust survivor, spoke at a rally and march in Burlington, Vermont on January 17, 2009, which was held to protest Israeli atrocities in Gaza, Israel's crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the attempted genocide of the Palestinian people. Dr. Parris came to the United States from Berlin, Germany, in 1937 as an immigrant to escape the Nazis. Her father was Dr. Martin Gumpert, a German-Jewish poet and physician; her mother was Dr. Charlotte Blashko, also a physician

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Greenwich Village 1960

This is a fascinating little glimpse into another world. I am certain that I know people wandering in and out of these scenes.

Why Buy Roquefort?

Yes, todays featured cheese is Roquefort. I haven't written about cheese in a while, but I have come to this life altering decision! If I was ever given the impossible choice of living in a world without either cheese or chocolate, much as I love chocolate, sorry....
I love cheese even more.

One of my favorite cheese eating experiences is Roquefort, one of the worlds best known cheeses, but a cheese produced in a very small part of France under very specific conditions.

Roquefort is a sheep milk cheese which is inoculated with a culture of the penicilum roqueforti mold which was found naturally in the limestone caves of Roquefort-sur-Sourzon. Originally, the mold was cultivated on bread and introduced into the cheese curd, but now the mold is laboratory cultivated and introduced as an aerosol spray. The milk for the cheese is produced all through the departments of the Aveyron, Aude, Lozere, Gard and Tarn, but the cheese must be produced and aged in the caves of Roquefort-sur-Sourzon to earn the official appelation.

There are many blue cheeses produced in France, notably the Forme d'Ambert, Bleu d'Auvergne, Bleu de Causse and a few other locally produced varieties.
Roquefort though is distinctive in its semi dry, crumbly creaminess. The flavor is not
muddled by a strong aroma reminiscent of camembert as the other cheeses are.
The green veins provide a sharp tang. The overall flavor sensation starts mild, waxes sweet, then smoky and fades to a salty finish. It has no rind, the outer layer is soft and edible and salty.

Penicilum mold flavored cheeses are first mentioned in literature as far back as 79 AD by Pliny the Elder. In 1411, King Charles VI granted the rsident so Roquefort-sur-Sourzon a monopoly regarding the ripening the cheeses, which they had already been doing in the caves for centuries.
In 1925, the first Appellation d'Origine Controllee in France was granted to Roquefort.

In folk lore, the cheese was supposedly discovered by a sheperd who had his lunch of bread and ewes milk cheese and left it in the cave forgotten for months when he was distracted by a young shepardess. When he fond it months later, the cheese had turned to Roquefort.

Roquefort is an interesting cheese to try with wine. It goes spectacularly with some reds and inexplicably not with others. If you were having a wine tasting, it would not be a very good cheese to serve because of these very unpredictable results.

Now, Roquefort cheese is being held hostage to the American beef industry. The Bush administration, yesterday, in what is described as a completely inexplicable move has threatened to shut down the Roquefort import market to America by raising the tariffs by 300%.
This will severely affect the small farmers and cheese mnakers who have expanded because of the worlds love for their great cheese. The Aveyron is one of the poorest departments of France and has tradiitonally relied on Sheep farming on the high arid plains of South Western Central France.

Why is America doing this? Because of the ban on American hormone raised beef in Europe. The EU has banned imports of hormone raised beef research showing that a multitude of health issues affected by the hormonal usage in the American Beef Industry.

The mystery is why America arbitrarily chose to retaliate by destroying the livelihood of a small group of farmers. Perhaps it is because the last time they tried to do this, in the mid 90's, the farmers of the Aveyron united with the dairy industry of America after their leader, Jose Bove demonstrated against the American power play by dismantling McDonalds. Dismantling is a very polite word for destroying.

Mr. Bove went to prison, but emerged as the most charismatic opponent of American multinational agribusiness. He has led the fight against the spread of OGM corn and other seeds and has been successful in haveing OGM material banned in many areas of France and has kept the issue at the forefront of European politics.
Buy Roquefort cheese. This unjust punishment and retalitory measure will not stand.


This is for Mike...who said the Punk Movement kind of missed him...well, here's a head on collision! White Riot by the Clash, live at Victoria park in 1978!

Friday, January 16, 2009

You Give A Guy A Little Power And It Goes To His Head

On April 17, 2005, at the southern California Anaheim Angels sports stadium thirty thousand Saddleback Church members, more than ever gathered in one spot, assembled to celebrate Saddleback's 25th anniversary and listened as Rick Warren announced his vision for the next 25 years of the church: the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.

Towards the close of his nearly one hour speech, Pastor Warren asked his followers to be as committed to Jesus as the young Nazi men and women who spelled out in mass formation with their bodies the words "Hitler, we are yours," in 1939 at the Munich Stadium, were committed to the Führer of the Third Reich, a major instigator of a World War that claimed 55 million lives. Rick Warren has exhorted Christians towards Nazi-like dedication in at least several public speeches and also during a one hour video recording of a talk by Warren, explaining his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, that is currently hosted on the official P.E.A.C.E. Plan website (see 'video page', "The Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan"). A version of the anecdote can also be found on page 357 of Rick Warren's 1995 book The Purpose Driven Church, which sold over one million copies.

During his Anaheim stadium speech Warren, sometimes called 'pastor Rick' talked about a number of visions and communications he had received from God. By calling on his church members to follow Jesus with the fanatical dedication with which the Nazis, or Hitler Youth, gave to Adolf Hitler, Rick Warren appeared to be in effect asking his Saddleback members to be fanatically dedicated to Warren's own leadership, given his role in divining God's intent for the Saddleback church flock. During his speech, Rick Warren also explained that God had personally instructed him to seek, for the good of the world, more influence, power and fame.

Warren moved on, from his celebration of Nazi dedication to purpose, and held up Lenin, and Chinese Red Guard efforts during the Cultural Revolution, as behavioral examples for his Saddleback flock, whom Warren called on to carry out a "revolution".

Concluding his motivational speech, the Saddleback Church founder instructed his ranks in the stadium to hold up signs, from their official programs, with the preprinted message "whatever it takes". Warren then introduced, as leader of the first nation on Earth in which the P.E.A.C.E. Plan would be implemented, Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

In 1998 under Kagame's leadership Rwanda, along with the now officially "Purpose Driven" nation of Uganda, invaded the Democratic Republic of The Congo, touching off a conflict that has claimed more civilian lives than any since World War Two. On December 12, 2008, the United Nations accused Rwanda of aiding Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda, accused of massacres and human rights violations and whose recent offensive has created several hundred thousand Congolese refugees.

In March 2008, Rick Warren's Saddleback launched an official national "Purpose Driven Living" program in Uganda, a country which was indicted in 2005 by the International Criminal Court for perpetrating "massive" human rights violations by invading and looting the natural riches of the Congo. Uganda is know for brutalizing its own population too. In the late 1990's under president Yowerie Museveni, whose wife Janet Museveni has spoken at Saddleback Church conferences, the Ugandan military drove upwards of two million Acholi tribe members in Northern Uganda, through a terror campaign of massacres and bombing, into crowded concentration camps on the Congo-Uganda border where many languish to this day, in what one Former Undersecretary for the UN has described as an ongoing, slow genocide.

Mega-pastor Warren, who will give the opening prayer at the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, aspires to great moral and spiritual leadership. Rick Warren has called for a second Christian Reformation, and he has stated his intent of inspiring 'one billion' Christians, half of all Christians globally, to become personally and 'radically' committed to changing the world.

With his impressive managerial skills and through his global network of four hundred thousand Christian pastors who have been trained by Saddleback over the last two decades, Rick Warren might well be able to start such a movement.

"Stop dreaming and start doing," the "Purpose Driven Life" author told his Anaheim Stadium crowd. Warren described a global Christian movement to bring the message of Jesus Christ to every man, woman and child on Earth. "It's going to cover the planet," he proclaimed, "and then the end is going to come."

Calling for "total mobilization of this church" and "radical devotion" to the cause, Pastor Warren sketched out his vision, which he declared was from God, of a "revolution", launched through Warren's "Purpose Driven" network of hundreds of thousands as pastors globally, to create a Christian world regime.

Though Warren's speech was in the idiom of Christianity, he did not seek to inspire his Saddleback audience with examples of great religious leaders who have changed history through persuasion or other nonviolent approaches. Rick Warren looked to 20th century exemplars of vision and dedication but not to Mohatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, or any other religious leaders.

With more than a hint of admiration in his voice, pastor Warren described how in 1939 in a packed Munich Stadium before the leader of the Third Reich, young brown-shirted men and women spelled out in formation, with their bodies, words in German which read "Hitler, we are yours."

"And they nearly took the world, " pastor Rick told the stadium crowd. He moved on to quote another inspirational example from the 20th Century, Lenin, who said 'give me 100 committed, totally committed men and I'll change the world.' Once again Warren observed, "They nearly did."

Having cited dedication and zeal of young Nazis and the efficacy of Bolshevik Revolutionaries, Warren moved on to describe how the sayings of Chairman Mao, printed up in the "Little Red Book", had helped propel the revolutionary fervor of the Chinese Red Guard who had carried out the violent, anarchic revolutionary spasm known as the Cultural Revolution.

With those examples fresh in his audiences mind, Rick Warren instructed the crowd of his thirty thousand to hold up pre-printed signs, within their programs, white letters against a red background, that said "Whatever it takes."

Looking out at the crowd Warren enthused, "I'm looking at a stadium full of people who are saying, 'whatever it takes, God'.

Initially, the "P" in Rick Warren's P.E.A.C.E. plan stood for "planting churches". In a later iteration the "P" was recast as standing for "promoting reconciliation". But as Warren's one-hour talk currently on his official P.E.A.C.E. Plan website makes quite clear, the plan is primarily about evangelizing the world and multiplying Christian leadership to help carry that out. Compared to the need to save souls, alleviating human suffering is secondary.

As described in a January 7th, 2008 Daily Beast article by journalist Max Blumenthal, the reputation of Rick and Kay Warren, for work on HIV/AIDS reduction, appears considerably overrated. As Blumenthal writes, "a survey of Warren's involvement in Africa reveals a web of alliances with draconian right-wing clergymen who have sidelined science-based approaches to combating in favor of abstinence-only education. Most disturbingly, Warren's allies have rolled back key elements of the continent's most successful initiative, the so-called ABC program in Uganda. Their activism, according to Stephen Lewis, the United Nations' special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, is 'resulting in great damage and undoubtedly will cause significant numbers of infections which never should have occurred.' "

As Blumenthal's article goes on to explore, one of Rick Warren's allies in Uganda, Martin Ssempa, has played a key role in reducing the availability of condoms in Uganda. Known for publicly burning a pack of condoms at Uganda's Makerere University, Ssempa advises Ugandan First Lady Janet Museveni on HIV/AIDS policy and has successfully lobbied the US Congress to de-fund Population Resources International, a world distributor of condoms. As abstinence-only has ramped up and condom availability decreased in Uganda, the HIV/AIDS rate has begun to climb.

Martin Ssempa has delivered two speeches, and also led workshops, at Rick and Kay Warren's HIV/AIDS conferences. As public health expert Dr. Helen Epstein described, in an excerpt from a recent book of hers published in the New York Review of Books, Martin Ssempa told her that 'Satan worshipers under Lake Victoria' make deals with the devil to stage car accidents and kidnappings in exchange for cash.

Ssempa, a charismatic pastor, runs a church which performs regular exorcisms. Pastor Ssempa is also highly active in antigay activism in Uganda, where homosexuality is illegal, and has publicized names of accused homosexuals who have subsequently gone into hiding.

Media coverage has tended to emphasize the component of the P.E.A.C.E. Plan in which Christians would work to alleviate diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, and address poverty and illiteracy. But the two top problems, according to Rick Warren, have nothing to do with human material or physical needs. The top problem, according to Warren, is "spiritual emptiness".

As Warren explained to a Dallas gathering of 12,000 Baptists, charismatic and nondenominational evangelicals in May of 2005, "spiritual emptiness" is an acute disorder characterized by aimlessness, fear and lack of purpose, afflicting non-Christians, that arises in the absence of a personal relationship with Jesus; "Billions of people live without Jesus Christ. Billions of people don't know God has a purpose for their life," Warren told his Dallas audience. "Egocentric leadership", the second greatest cause of world problems according to Rick Warren, is due to a lack of 'servant leaders' who model their behavior after Jesus.

Having defined the paramount world problems as, in essence, the fact that evangelicalism has not fully converted everyone on Earth into Christians, Rick Warren's P.E.A.C.E. plan squarely addresses that dire need -- for the Christian belief system to envelope the globe.

During his Anaheim speech, Warren revealed that he'd received a message from God to seek more influence, power and fame. God, Warren narrated, led him to Psalm 72, "Solomon's prayer for more influence... in Psalm 72 [Solomon] says 'God, I want you to make me more influential. God, I want you to give me more power. I want you to bless my life more. God, I want you to spread the fame of my name through other countries.' "
"It sounded pretty selfish," mused Warren but, as he explained to the crowd, God had led him on a path towards solving the five biggest global problems.

Beyond 'spiritual poverty', egocentric leadership is the next most oppressive 'global giant', according to Rick Warren, and thus a higher priority than HIV/AIDS, poverty, and other material afflictions. "The world is full of little Saddams," he observed, "they're in every country, they're in every church, they're in every business, they're in every homeowner's association. They're everywhere. You give a guy a little power and it goes to his head. "

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Zainabs Shoe Throwing Store

I just saw this on Al Jazeera.

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste

In the 2002 French Presidential Election, a 28 year old postal worker got 4.25% of the votes in the first round. Olivier Besancenot, a theoretical communist headed his own party, the LCR or League Communiste Revolutionnaire. Though through his education and evolution, he came into communistic ideology as a Trotskyite, in his own words he says, "Im neither Trotskyist nor Guevarist or Luxemburgist, I'm a revolutionary. And revolution needs to be reinvented, for no revolutionary experiment has ever succeeded. Some of them ended up as bloody caricatures."

Olivier has been very successful adapting and evolving, in the 2007 elections he ran for president again and garnered 4.08% of the vote. Of course he had no real chance of winning, but his calm, friendly charisma and skill as a deadly debater and the ability to explain the most complex economic issues to the common man has consistently made him the most admired political figure in French polls.

In 2006, he spoke out against the TASER Corporation and the use of Tasers in law enforcement. He exposed the cover up in the numbers of fatalities resulting from the casual use of tasers by law enforcement. The TASER Corporation sued him for defamation and hired a law team to prosecute him here in France. During the months leading up to the trial, a number of arrests were made of agents hired by TASER to trail Besancenot for the purpose of exposing his personal life. Consequently, charges have been made against the president of TASER, who never showed up to answer them and the charges against Olivier were dropped. The bottom line is that the claims he has put forward about Tasers have been authenticated daily in the news and France is now going to follow Canada's lead and ban tasers from France.

He has always been in the forefront of Labor demonstrations and an ally of the Unions and has developed into one of the UMPs most formidable opponents when it comes to exp[osing the lack of imagination and the sheer greed of their policies.
Last Year, Besencenot announced that the LCR was going to be dissolved and he was going to form a new party, not based on ideological communist doctrine, but on the relationship of the common man to the current economic and politicval realities of the world we live in now.

The new as of yet officially un named party is called the Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste.
It will have its first official congress in a few weeks, February 6-9. They have a very active internet presence and plan to be a European Party. I was very interested to hear that Besancenot was listed as the 4th most popular political figure in Scotland last week.

The Party is becoming very successful at communicating its message and ideas across the university level society here in Europe. Their first aim is to get a number of Deputies elected to the European Union next year.
Before that, they are going to be very active here in France in the coming weeks and Besancenot is one of the prime movers in the major work stoppage that will occur here on the 29th of January.

The party claims it will have no leader, but will be driven by the militant members and decide its agenda collectively. In America, we are seeing a party emerge as a power, even if it doesn't claim to be an official political party, the organization, moveon.
The agenda is determined by the registered members. That's how they decided to back Barack Obama. The organization, over 3 million members, voted on the internet.
This is a true democratic politics for the age of the web. A collective will, a forum of ideas and participation, drawing from the wealth of all of us.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


If you have had any questions about Gay Marriage, this video should make things perfectly queer...uhh, ahem, perfectly clear. It will set your mind straight, uhh, you get a better understanding of the issues...yeah, that's it....
There's something about home carpentry projects and nuclear weapons that will.....
uhh, just watch the video....

Monday, January 12, 2009


Today, we had the TV on for the noontime news and an ad came on for Optique 2000...If you have watched television in france in the last few years, you have to be familiar with the ad campaign with aging reptillian rocker Johnny Halliday singing some old nugget and then seguing into his now almost comic howl, "Optique Deux Mille!".....
So today, Johnny came on singing Old Time Rock and Roll, in French, of course before howling, "Optique Deux Mille!".
I said, "I hope Bob Segar is getting royalties for this."
My wife said, almost as an embarrassing admition, "I always liked Bob Segar." Me too, I always liked him even at the commercial end of his carreer with the Silver Bullet Band. But, speaking of him brought back memories of living in Ann Arbor and knowing Jeep Holland and the A Squared Music scene and before that when Bob Segar had a band called The Last Heard in 1965 and had a local hit with a song called East Side Story.
This was about the first time I really heard fuzz distortion guitar used as the hook.
It came out around the same time as the Stones "Satisfaction" but this was some of the beginnings of the revolutionary music scene in Detroit in the mid 60's.
Segar and the Last Heard also had a great hit with a song called Noah and 2+2 which was a riveting powerful anti war song from a very personal emotional view point.
Perhaps I will post 2+2 as there seems to be a few good takes of it on YouTube.
Let's all sing the refrain from East Side Story, "She said NOOOOO, Johnny, Johnny, NOOOO! Johnny, Johnny NOOOO! She said NOOOOOOO!"


A great cartoon today from Ben Sargent. It might be hard to read, click to enlarge if you want, but George Jr. is saying, "There, all fresh!"
and the spray can reads DELUSION!


When I was 18, I read Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. As an idealistic young evolving existentialist, I found many of the ideas and sentiments exciting and provocative. I grew up and my thinking started to evolve beyond the selfish, ego centric libertarian allures of this book, but many of my friends from that period are still dyed in the wool Randians.
The Randian mind lock has cast its pall across the major issues of our times, national security, ecology, social resposibility and economics. What looked to me at age 18 as the path to a brave new world, seems more and more to me an ideological security blanket to mentally masturbate under...

Sometimes right-wingers' astonishing dearth of self-awareness is a real source of amusement. Take Stephen Moore's encomium to Ayn Rand in the Wall Street Journal:

"Some years ago when I worked at the libertarian Cato Institute, we used to label any new hire who had not yet read "Atlas Shrugged" a "virgin." Being conversant in Ayn Rand's classic novel about the economic carnage caused by big government run amok was practically a job requirement. If only "Atlas" were required reading for every member of Congress and political appointee in the Obama administration. I'm confident that we'd get out of the current financial mess a lot faster.

Many of us who know Rand's work have noticed that with each passing week, and with each successive bailout plan and economic-stimulus scheme out of Washington, our current politicians are committing the very acts of economic lunacy that "Atlas Shrugged" parodied in 1957, when this 1,000-page novel was first published and became an instant hit."

At first I had to check to make sure this wasn't a lame attempt at satire or parody. But no. He really is serious about this.

Moore's solution? Eliminate the income tax.

Seriously, that's what a typical Randian thinks would work.

But what's especially amusing is that the economic wreckage we see before us today is in fact the handiwork of the Randian dimwits who've become endemic to conservative economics.

Exhibit A: Longtime Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, who was a Big Randian from back in the day.

Of course, Greenspan now admits this approach may not have worked out so well. Especially the bit about letting the true economic geniuses/captains of industry have their unfettered way. In fact, it all turned out to be a big fat fraud, didn't it?

Greenspan wasn't alone, of course. George W. Bush's entire approach to governance, especially in the economic sector, was fundamentally Randian: Bush never met a tax cut for the wealthy or deregulation scheme he didn't chase like a fox after a chicken. Even the Democrats who succumbed to the "era of profound irresponsibility" did so because they were harkening to the siren song of the right-wing Randians.

Watching Randians at work trying to convince themselves of their essential rightness in the face of the global wreckage pile of evidence to the contrary would be funny were the consequences of their historical muckup not so devastating and so far-reaching for so many of the ordinary schlubs for whom the Randians have at best a guarded contempt. It all reminds me of a bit of wisdom my granddaddy passed along to me: "Watch out for ideologues. Ideas are more important to them than people."

Sunday, January 11, 2009


In an article yesterday, in The Washington Post, there were disturbing numbers posted by the National Center for Health Statistics stating that over 1/3 of the population of the United States is now considered obese. In other words, the statisics for 2005-2006 have indicated that 72 million adults are seriously over weight. Interestingly enough, the statistics showed that the per cent of Americans considered over weight has remained stable since 1980, but the number considered obese has doubled in that time.
We all know that obesity raises the risk of some cancers, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis
and other conditions.
Last week, I wrote a piece asking people "what they thought they actually needed to be happy". The consensus I seemed to get and is my own true belief is the more you have, the more you think you need to be happy and the converse, the less you have, the less it takes to make you happy.
I really think the statistics from the National Health Center are very telling regarding happiness in American society. I write a lot about food in this blog and I love good food, but loving food is about being able to taste it and appreciate it.
Like great pastry, the textures, the subtleties are what make it a totally different experience than eating Twinkie. If you go to McDonalds, you can get a huge milkshake...the last time I looked, they seemed to be almost 1 liter tubs. Most of the people who order these things injest them through a straw as fast as they can. What a different experience and esthetic it is to have a small gelati or granito and savor it.
The small serving of gelati satisfies on a number of levels, the giant Mickey D shake is gone in 60 seconds with out being really tasted.
It was ironical to read also today in the New York Times that the one business that hasn't seen a downturn because of the economic crisis in America was McDonalds.
This becomes a negative energy feedback loop. You eat fast because you think you don't have time. You eat more than you should quickly and you don't taste it. You eat more than you should quickly without tasting it and still don't feel satisfied. Because you still don't feel satisfied, you eat more.

How To Make Your Car Run On Trash

So I found this great site, instructables and they have an incredible resource of step by step instructions, down loadable PDFs that cover just about any subject. High Tech, Low Tech, crafts, hardware projects. This one blew me away! A step by step illustrated guide to converting your car to run on garbage...gassification works with almost any carbon based type of trash. It's been around for many years and it was how the French powered their cars during WW2, when the Germans strictly rationed gasoline.
This Honda Accord with the incredibly steam punk apparatus is street legal in Berkely, California and is the car used in the instruction manual...pretty cool!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

I Want To Be Evil

Eartha Mae Kitt, who Orson Wells called "The Most Exciting Woman In The World" passed away on Christmas. She was born on January 17, 1927 on a cotton plantation near Columbia, South Carolina. She endured a very hard early life and excaped to New York and with her distinctive looks and voice, started making films in 1948.
She had a lot of memorable hit recordings, Let's Do It, Champagne Tastes, C'est si bon and of course, Santa Baby, which was here biggest selling record in 1953.
In a racially charged American entertainment scene, she was able to cross over and enjoy popularity in the black world and the white. She became fluent in French and went on to become a huge star in Europe.
Eartha debuted on stage as Helen of Troy in Orson Welles, Dr. Faustus. She made films that became classics in the black theaters and made her feature film debut with Sidney Poitier in Mark of the Hawk.
She became a true pop icon in the mid 60's when she became The Catwoman on the Batman series.
In 1968, she was invited to the White House by Lady Bird Johnson where she very publically spoke out against the war in Vietnam and ruined the luncheon and consequently found it very hard to work in America for many years.
In 1984, she found new fame as an iconic performer recording disco and found a new audience in a new generation of gay male fans.
I saw this piece on You Tube and thought that she was terrific.

The Curse of the COBRA

In 1999, because I was beginning to make the transition to living in France, I was forced to leave a full time job. We negotiated the best way for me to continue to work for them. I eventually became a "consultant", but I lost my health insurance benefits.
As I was not officially employed, I was eligible for unemployment benefits for the time I was not working and also offered health coverage under the COBRA plan. Under the COBRA plan, though, I would have ended up paying more than half of my unemployment for coverage with my old insurer.

Now that I live in France, I pay very little for my health coverage and enjoy pretty good service here in the rural country side on a level that does not exist in the United States, even if you could pay for it.
Sarkozy is trying to force the French to pay more and he is cutting back on health services, but already the backlash of watching what 2 years ago was the #1 Health Servioce in the world slip to #7 is getting a little too much for the French people to bear. Watch this isssue become a flash point here in the next few weeks.

COBRA is great in theory, but lousy in reality.
In 1985, Congress passed legislation enabling newly unemployed Americans to extend their employer-based health insurance for up to 18 months. But under the program, known as COBRA, the individual must pay 102 percent of the policy's full cost.
It's too expensive. COBRA has never made much sense to me because if you have just lost your job, how are you going to find enough money for insurance? Where do you find a spare $1000+ per month to insure a family when you don't have a job? Sure, having easy access to health insurance is great but the costs - especially today - are well out of reach.
The cost of buying health insurance for unemployed Americans who try to purchase coverage through a former employer consumes 30 percent to 84 percent of standard unemployment benefits, according to a report released yesterday.

Because few people can afford that, the authors say, the result is a growing number of people being hit with the double whammy of no job and no health coverage.
Instead of cash handouts and yet another round of business tax deductions, solving problems like this ought to be considered first. It would be nice to think that our next President who ran on a campaign of change would actually target change instead of the same old, same old. Is that really asking for too much? What do you think?

Friday, January 09, 2009

On The Street in Tel Aviv

This is a pretty good report from an organization called TheRealNews. It documents the protests by Israelis on the streets of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv against the Gaza Massacre.
It also documents the attempt of the Israeli security Forces to stifle protest.
This was released today. I saw videos of protests of around 10,000 people in Tel Aviv on Al Jazeera, but I haven't been able to find an embeddable version.
Again, no matter how you feel about the Israeli actions, this is very informative and an viewpoint you would not see on mainstream media.

7+7 is....

I've written about Arthur Lee and Love a few times over the last few years here on thebrainpolice. I had to post this for some reason tonight. It has been one of my favorite pieces of music since 1966.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Talking Points and Links on Gaza

Attempting to simply express my horror with the cynically atrocious calculated Israeli actions in Gaza is futile. We seem to accept that they are going to continue inspite of world opinion until the inaugaration of Barack Obama and then try to cover up the attrocities while our attention is diverted and no one cares.
I have attempted to collect a list of links which give demographics and evidence and theoretical arguments to give you ammunition to use when trying to express yourself about this.
Here are some links that deal with basic demographics and numbers of casualties:

Why Bombing Ashkelon is the Most tragic Irony (U.K. Independant)

Here is a link dealing with the election of Hamas and the reaction in the Arab World and the USA (also from the Independant)

Here are links on the Israeli violations of the ceasefire from Haaretz and The Guardian.

Here are some very good theoretical arguments:

The Boston Review

Remember, History Matters!

Yes, We Have No Bananas

One of the most common comfort foods which is good for you and easy to eat is a nice ripe banana. Something we take for granted, but in 5, 10 or 15 years, the creamy yellow skinned bananas you know today will not exist.

Bananas are a food stuff more heavily consumed than either rice or potatoes and they are victim to a fast spreading disease called Panama Disease. It turns bananas brick red, hard and inedible. There is no cure. The disease has been known for almost 100 years when it began to wipe out the most cultivated specie, the Gros Michel. The Gros Michel disappeared for good in the 60's and has been replaced by the Cavendish, which was supposedly developed to be a "super resistant" variety, but alas, the Cavendish is now fast falling prey to the Panama disease as it evolves and finds new vectors to spread itself.

The story of how the banana rose and fell can be seen a strange parable about the corporations that increasingly dominate the world - and where they are leading us.

Bananas seem at first like a lush product of nature, but this is a sweet illusion. In their current form, bananas were quite consciously created. Until 150 ago, a vast array of bananas grew in the world's jungles and they were invariably consumed nearby. Some were sweet; some were sour. They were green or purple or yellow.

A corporation called United Fruit took one particular type - the Gros Michael - out of the jungle and decided to mass produce it on vast plantations, shipping it on refrigerated boats across the globe. The banana was standardised into one friendly model: yellow and creamy and handy for your lunchbox.

There was an entrepreneurial spark of genius there - but United Fruit developed a cruel business model to deliver it. As the writer Dan Koeppel explains in his brilliant history Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World, it worked like this. Find a poor, weak country. Make sure the government will serve your interests. If it won't, topple it and replace it with one that will.

Burn down its rainforests and build banana plantations. Make the locals dependent on you. Crush any flicker of trade unionism. Then, alas, you may have to watch as the banana fields die from the strange disease that stalks bananas across the globe. If this happens, dump tonnes of chemicals on them to see if it makes a difference. If that doesn't work, move on to the next country. Begin again.

This sounds like hyperbole until you study what actually happened. In 1911, the banana magnate Samuel Zemurray decided to seize the country of Honduras as a private plantation. He gathered together some international gangsters like Guy "Machine Gun" Maloney, drummed up a private army, and invaded, installing an amigo as president.

The term "banana republic" was invented to describe the servile dictatorships that were created to please the banana companies. In the early 1950s, the Guatemalan people elected a science teacher named Jacobo Arbenz, because he promised to redistribute some of the banana companies' land among the millions of landless peasants.

President Eisenhower and the CIA (headed by a former United Fruit employee) issued instructions that these "communists" should be killed, and noted that good methods were "a hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker or kitchen knife". The tyranny they replaced it with went on to kill more than 200,000 people.

But how does this relate to the disease now scything through the world's bananas? The evidence suggests even when they peddle something as innocuous as bananas, corporations are structured to do one thing only: maximise their shareholders' profits. As part of a highly regulated mixed economy, that's a good thing, because it helps to generate wealth or churn out ideas. But if the corporations aren't subject to tight regulations, they will do anything to maximise short-term profit. This will lead them to seemingly unhinged behaviour - like destroying the environment on which they depend.

Not long after Panama Disease first began to kill bananas in the early 20th century, United Fruit's scientists warned the corporation was making two errors. They were building a gigantic monoculture. If every banana is from one homogenous species, a disease entering the chain anywhere on earth will soon spread. The solution? Diversify into a broad range of banana types.

The company's quarantine standards were also dire. Even the people who were supposed to prevent infection were trudging into healthy fields with disease-carrying soil on their boots. But both of these solutions cost money - and United Front didn't want to pay. They decided to maximise their profit today, reckoning they would get out of the banana business if it all went wrong.

So by the 1960s, the Gros Michel that United Fruit had packaged as The One True Banana was dead. They scrambled to find a replacement that was immune to the fungus, and eventually stumbled upon the Cavendish. It was smaller and less creamy and bruised easily, but it would have to do.

But like in a horror movie sequel, the killer came back. In the 1980s, the Cavendish too became sick. Now it too is dying, its immunity a myth. In many parts of Africa, the crop is down 60 percent. There is a consensus among scientists that the fungus will eventually infect all Cavendish bananas everywhere. There are bananas we could adopt as Banana 3.0 - but they are so different to the bananas that we know now that they feel like a totally different and far less appetising fruit. The most likely contender is the Goldfinger, which is crunchier and tangier: it is know as "the acid banana."

Thanks to bad corporate behaviour and physical limits, we seem to be at a dead end. The only possible glimmer of hope is a genetically modified banana that can resist Panama Disease. But that is a distant prospect, and it is resisted by many people: would you like a banana split made from a banana split with fish genes?

When we hit up against a natural limit like Panama disease, we are bemused, and then affronted. It seems instinctively bizarre to me that lush yellow bananas could vanish from the global food supply, because I have grown up in a culture without any idea of physical limits to what we can buy and eat.

Is there a parable for our times in this odd milkshake of banana, blood and fungus? For a hundred years, a handful of corporations were given a gorgeous fruit, set free from regulation, and allowed to do what they wanted with it. What happened? They had one good entrepreneurial idea - and to squeeze every tiny drop of profit from it, they destroyed democracies, burned down rainforests, and ended up killing the fruit itself.

But have we learned? Across the world, politicians like George Bush and David Cameron are telling us the regulation of corporations is "a menace" to be "rolled back"; they even say we should leave the planet's climate in their hands. Now that's bananas.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Heroic Moment

This video is transfixing. About a minute and 15 seconds into the video you'll see a young American/Palestinian woman walking up to an Israel soldier and pushing his gun away, while trying to logically talk him out of firing on Palestinian rock throwers. It's absolutely fascinating to watch, regardless of your views on the issue. And I think this woman, and the troops in the video, all showed exceptional restraint. Watch it.
This was broadcast today on Korean Television.

Let's Go To The Video Tape!

This from Paul Krugman regarding the nomination of CNN's Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General;

I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.

What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

The above video is the confrontation between Moore and Gupta in which he lies and attacks Moore, below is the video in which Gupta admits he lied and was wrong.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Ron Asheton R.I.P.

This is a video of Iggy Pop and the Stooges from just last year performing their perrenial favorite, Now I Wanna Be Your Dog. The original Stooges record with this piece was released in 1968. The Stooges were never a commercially successful music group. They were a product of the anarchy of the late 60's Detroit Music scene and represented something beyond music. Iggy was and still is the ultimate performance artist. He could walk off of the edge of stage with confidence that he could keep walking and dancing across a sea of hands. I saw it happen more than once.

They created primitive, savage riffs and Iggy improvised vocally and physically. They provoked riots, but the Stooges were too much even for the insane times they existed in. The band self destructed in the early 70's. The bass player died, the drummer, Scott Asheton, the guitarist, his brother Ron and Iggy dissolved into incoherent drug use. In Iggy's autobiography, I Need More, he tells of how Scotty gradually traded away his drum set for heroin, until one night, he had just a bass drum and a snare.
At that point, Elektra Records began to wonder what the heck they had done.
Still, the records they produced and the performances they gave were the gasoline that started fires for decades after.

Iggy kept making records and performing after a period of dissapearing, collaborating with and influencing David Bowie and many other artists. No matter what anyone might think of Mister Pop, he has always been a pinnacle of musical integrity, never betraying his impulses and is a true artist. He never made a lot of money, but he is still at work.

The Asheton Brothers moved back to Ann Arbor, Michigan and founded the band, Destroy All Monsters with the singer and painter, Niagra. Ron found occasional work in B Movies. Scott became a housing contractor.
In 2003, the bassist Mike Watt succeeded in bringing them back together again for the record, Skull Ring. It worked and they began recording and touring until just last year and probably would have kept on, except, earlier today, Ron Asheton was found dead in his Ann Arbor home of natural causes. He was 60.

So in this video, the singer, Iggy is 62 and the Asheton Brothers (the drummer and guitarist) are 58 AND 59.
I chose this video because it gives you a chance to hear Ron's hysterical guitar solo...ROCK ON AND ON AND ON.........

The Golden Shithouse

As long as I'm handin out the weekly White Trash Awards, the outgoing Secretary of the Interior, Dirk Kempthorne deserves a special mention and has become the proud recipient of thebrainpolice's first GOLDEN SHITHOUSE Award!
Yes, many were considered but Dirk managed to out spend and out crap all the contenders with his magnificent over the top expenditure of $235,000.00 of your tax dollars to remodel his office bathroom.
The General Services Administration approved and paid half the funds needed for this monumental project which included monogramed towels, a new shower, refrigerator and freezer. They also renovated the aging plumbing, but, stop, even buying top of the line and figuring in the usual over billing and graft associated with any goverment project, even half this figure seems a little ridiculous.
The department officials explained that much of the money was spent on exotic endangered specie wood paneling and marble tiling.
The Interior Department declined to ansswer inquiries from reporters about this.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Your White Trash Moment of the Week

Is brought to you, this week by the great State of Alaska!

Perhaps, according to the Anchorage Daily News:

A Mat-Su drug investigator and the union representing Alaska State Troopers are alleging political meddling in the Sherry Johnston drug case, including a delay in serving the search warrant because of the November election.

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, who became nationally known in September when Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, announced their daughter, Bristol, was pregnant and he was the father.

... Kyle Young, a troopers drug investigator who was involved in the case, wrote in an e-mail last week to all members of the Public Safety Employees Association, the union that represents troopers and other law enforcement officers around the state ... that after it became clear who Johnston is, "this case became anything but normal."

"It was not allowed to progress in a normal fashion, the search warrant service WAS delayed because of the pending election and the Mat Su Drug Unit and the case officer were not the ones calling the shots," Young wrote.

... John Cyr, executive director of the union, said it's clear to him that the investigation was handled differently because of who Johnston is.

"This really does smack of political favoritism. And if that be the case, it's another example of the Palin administration's direct influence on the public safety unit," Cyr said....

All this, it should be noted, is disputed by the Alaska public safety commissioner, Joe Masters, and Colonel Audie Holloway, director of the troopers.

My favorite detail, from Kyle Young's e-mail, concerns a drug purchase by an informant that was apparently delayed:

"Text messages from Johnston to the informant indicated that she was afraid to meet and conduct one illegal transaction, because of Secret Service presence at her home," Young wrote.

You know, if I'm a hillbilly heroin dealer, and suddenly the Secret Service is hanging around because my son has impregnated the daughter of a VP candidate ... er, I might think of trying to find a new way to earn money. At least temporarily. But hey, that's just me.