This article was first published in The eXile on January 22, 2003
Dima’s eyes lit up when he first saw the Solnyshko orphanage’s toy collection two months ago. He had never seen anything like it. It took me a few moments of staring at the same collection last week for it to register that the pile of ratty animals with ears worn from having been sucked on by untold numbers of orphans could cause such joy.
But then, I’m not a three-year-old who used to survive by rooting around trash heaps looking for something to eat. Dima is. (more…)
This article first appeared in The eXile on November 11, 2003
TBILISI, GEORGIA – If you want to understand what’s really going on beneath the current election crisis in the former Soviet republic of Georgia — a struggle that threatens to push the country back into the kind of civil war which killed tens of thousands from 1989 through 1993 – then you need to pull the camera back. Way back, to the global level.
That’s because Georgia is a battleground not just between local political factions vying for power, but also between the geostrategic interests of America and Russia, between competing Big Oil interests, and between the forces of globalization and the forces which defy globalization (chaos, tradition, isolation). (more…)
A New Leaf, a 1971 screwball comedy written and directed by Elaine May, is a great genre film made by a women. You know how many great genre films were ever made by women? Well, lessee, there was…oh, how about…no, that one was a genre film made by a woman, but it was rotten…hmmm…
Given enough time you’ll come up with something (Ida Lupino, The Hitch-Hiker), but it isn’t really worth the effort. Too depressing.
Posted: January 15th, 2013
Washington D.C.– I was at home minding my own business last Tuesday, when I got the tip-off via Twitter from friend and neighbor Mike Elk: Paula Broadwell was holed-up in her brother’s house just around the corner, hiding out from a mob of journalists that had the joint surrounded.
How could I resist scoping out the scene? (more…)
Posted: November 20th, 2012
This article is cross-posted from In These Times
On September 13, two-time Pulitzer-Prize-winning New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof penned an op-ed titled “Students Over Unions” bashing the Chicago Teachers Union’s current strike. Kristof writes,
I’d be sympathetic if the union focused solely on higher compensation. Teachers need to be much better paid to attract the best college graduates to the nation’s worst schools. But, instead, the Chicago union seems to be using its political capital primarily to protect weak performers.
Ironically, when Kristof started off at the Times in the 1980s, he was protected by similar job-security provisions as a member of the Newspaper Guild of New York. When Kristof become a columnist for the paper, he ceased being a union member. Now that Kristof is a star, union members say that he has given them the cold shoulder when they have asked for help in restoring pensions to the foreign overseas employees who have very likely helped Kristof in his reporting. (more…)
Posted: September 20th, 2012
This article is cross-posted from In These Times
Since its inception, the Huffington Post has relied heavily on unpaid bloggers. Huffington Post co-founder Ken Lerer said in 2007 that a key part of the plan of the website was to not pay these bloggers.
“That’s not our financial model,” Lerer told USA Today. “We offer them visibility, promotion and distribution with a great company.” (more…)
Posted: September 3rd, 2012
This article was first published in the Daily Banter
Every week, it seems there’s another tragic story about a suicide or murder-suicides linked to foreclosure trauma. Some of the more spectacular murder-by-foreclosure stories the past few years have been collected by a blog called “Greenspan’s Body Count”—others, myself included, have been writing about these terrible stories of class warfare being waged by the only side fighting it, and winning it, as Warren Buffett rightly said. (more…)
This article is cross-posted from Naked Capitalism
An article in the Boston Review by professor of sociology Claude Fischer falls prey to a pattern that is all too common: attributing social/political outcomes to American attitudes without bothering to examine why those attitudes came to be.
Let me give you a bit of useful background before I turn to the Fischer article as an illustration of a lack of curiosity, or worse, among soi disant intellectuals in America, and how it keeps Americans ignorant as to how many of our supposed cultural values have been cultivated to inhibit disruptive thought and action. (more…)
Steven Levitt, University of Chicago economist, gained nationwide fame and prestige after co-authoring Freakonomics, a pop economics book based partly on Levitt’s original economic research. Published in 2005, Freakonomics became an instant #1 bestseller and spawned an entire Freakonomics media franchise that included a branded Freakonomics blog (hosted on the New York Times website until 2011), a regular segment on the National Public Radio program Marketplace, a Freakonomics movie and, alas, a Freakonomics business consulting company (now called the Greatest Good). (more…)
Cross-posted from the S.H.A.M.E. Project. For a reader’s digest version of this report, check out Malcolm Gladwell’s S.H.A.M.E. Profile…
“I’m necessarily parasitic in a way. I have done well as a parasite. But I’m still a parasite.”
In the vast ecosystem of corporate shills, which one is the most effective? Propaganda works best when it is not perceived as propaganda: nuance, obfuscation, distraction, suggestion, the subtle introduction of doubt—these are more effective in the long run than shotgun blasts of lies. The master of this approach is Malcolm Gladwell.
Malcolm Gladwell is the New Yorker’s leading essayist and bestselling author. Time magazine named Gladwell one of the world’s 100 most influential people. His books sell copies in the millions, and he is in hot demand as one of the nation’s top public intellectual and pop gurus. Gladwell plays his role as a disinterested public intellectual like few others, right down to the frizzy hairdo and smock-y getups. His political aloofness, high-brow contrarianism and constant challenges to “popular wisdom” are all part of his shtick. (more…)
This article is cross-posted from In These Times…
For the last two years, I have covered union busting efforts by Honeywell, their close connections to President Obama and how federal agencies have assisted Honeywell in three different labor struggles since Obama came to power. In particular, I covered a 14-month lockout at Honeywell uranium plant in Metropolis, Illinois, where Honeywell cheated on tests for replacement workers, who later caused several releases of radioactive gas into the atmosphere. Instead of their picket line with the striking workers as he promised to do during his campaign, Obama decided to fly with top Democratic donor and Honeywell CEO David Cote to India while the lockout was still going on. (Today, Obama and Cote will appear at Honeywell’s Minneapolis facility for an event on the economy). (more…)
This article was originally published in The Nation.
It began as a fairly straight-forward story about a shareholder lawsuit: The Koch brothers, Charles and David, who together own 50 percent of the libertarian Cato Institute, filed suit to recover a 25 percent stake held by longtime chairman William Niskanen, who died last autumn and whose widow has yet to relinquish those shares. (more…)
This article was first published on ConsortiumNews.com
This past Thursday, a Modesto, California, man whose house was in foreclosure shot and killed the Sheriff’s deputy and the locksmith who came to evict him from his condominium unit. Modesto authorities responded by sending 100 police and SWAT snipers to counter-attack, and it ended Waco-style, with the fourplex structure burning to the ground with the shooter inside. (more…)
This article was first published at ConsortiumNews.com
I was working on an article about last month’s rampage massacre in Afghanistan that left 17 villagers dead, when news hit of this past Monday’s massacre at an Oakland, California, religious college, leaving seven dead. In both cases, the shooters survived and face a possible death penalty — which is rare: Usually these rampage killings end with self-inflicted bullet in the mouth. (more…)
Click here for a photo essay of graffiti in Exarchia
(Photos by the author)
I arrived in Athens only hours after the February 12 anti-austerity riots, the acrid odor of burnt-out banks still lingering downtown, and checked into a familiar haunt, the Hostel Zorbas on Victoria Square. The last time I stayed there, in the summer of 2001, the place still took drachmas and buzzed with backpackers just returned from Piraeus, where the ferries fan out to the pleasure islands of the Aegean. A decade later, those memories felt like the flashback scenes in The Road. This time the hostel had only two other guests. There was Anas, a young Syrian refugee planning his way north to Sweden — “They called me up for military service, and I’m not going to shoot my own people,” he was telling the desk clerk when I arrived — and there was Guy, an 18-year-old anarchist from Brooklyn. Guy was in town to forge relationships with his brothers in black and study Greek riot tactics.
Welcome to the Austerity Athens hostel scene. (more…)
This article is first published at ConsortiumNews.com on March 12, 2012
On Saturday, the tiny EU nation Slovakia held parliamentary elections, and the results surprised the “experts”: The center-left party Smer, derisively described as “populist” in the American media, won in a record landslide, the first time a single party will control the majority in parliament in Slovakia’s post-Communist history.
The “populist” Smer won on an unexpectedly large turnout of 60 percent –the so-called experts had been assuring readers there’d be a low turnout of 40 percent. (more…)
Last week it finally started to dawn on the slow-as-Stegosaurs media: Why is Ron Paul going so soft on frontrunner Mitt Romney, his natural ideological opposite? Dr. Paul has been flaying every other candidate, particularly when that candidate threatens Romney’s front-runner status—why is Ron Paul so protective over internationalist/neocon Rockefeller Republican, Mitt Romney? Does this point to some sort of alliance between the two? And if so, doesn’t that raise further disturbing questions about the supposed rock-solid-principles guiding Ron Paul’s campaign?
This article is cross-posted from Al-Akhbar with permission from the author Max Blumenthal.
In 2005, a group of graduate students at Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced and International Studies (SAIS) participated in the school’s annual diplomatic simulation. The high-pressure scenario required the students to negotiate a resolution to a standoff with a nuclear-armed Republic of Pakistan. Mara Karlin, a student known for her hawkish politics on Israel and the Middle East, played President of the United States. (more…)
This article is cross-posted from Naked Capitalism.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been celebrated as the progressive Great White Hope. But the danger of assuming leadership is that that individual becomes a target both of attacks and of seduction. And while I’d like to think better of Schneiderman, an announcement earlier this evening has strong hallmarks of Schneiderman falling prey to the combined pressures and blandishments of the Administration and its allies.
This article is cross-posted from Al-Akhbar.com with permission from the author Max Blumenthal
For nearly a month, a group of foreign policy researcher-bloggers at the Center for American Progress (CAP), an influential liberal think tank based in Washington DC, have faced an unrelenting smear campaign. The smears, initiated by former AIPAC spokesman Josh Block, focused on a few sardonic tweets by CAP bloggers that raised the ire of the pro-Israel and neoconservative political community. One tweet that included the term “Israel Firster” received special attention. (more…)
Posted: January 24th, 2012
This article is cross-posted from In These Times.
Earlier this week, I got into a little Twitter battle with Matthew Yglesias after the prominent blogger tweeted out “”EXCLUSIVE: The activities of individual business executives have no relationship to the level of economy-wide employment.” (more…)
So it’s back to the depressing topic of Atlantic Monthly blogger and paid PR flak for defense contractors, Joshua Foust–something I’d rather avoid, but the scumbags won’t let me. Foust and his minions have managed the impossible–they’ve outdone themselves in vileness; who imagined such a feat was possible? Ever since I exposed Foust as a massacre-denier defending the interests of Kazakhstan’s dictator for life, Nursultan Nazarbayev, and covering for Chevron, the biggest US oil company doing business in Kazakhstan, Foust’s personal web site, Registan.net, has waged a rank smear campaign against an heroic Russian journalist, Elena Kostyuchenko. (more…)
Posted: January 16th, 2012
A year ago this week, a 22-year old Army reject with a shaved head and a 9mm opened rapid-fire on a Congressional meet-and-greet outside a Tucson shopping mall, killing six and wounding 14, including a non-fatal headshot against Democratic Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The day after the shooting, I flew to Tucson to look for stories. Upon landing I found my way to Sportsman’s Wharehouse, the massive gun-shop where Loughner had purchased his Glock as easily as buying a bagel. At the counter I saw two kids Loughner’s age with sleeve and neck tattoos indicating current or past membership in one of the area’s many white power gangs. When I asked the guy behind the counter if the shooting had impacted sales, his manager cut me off and said staff weren’t allowed to talk to press. (more…)
Posted: January 10th, 2012
MT HAGEN, PAPUA NEW GUINEA – I’ve been spending this past month in the Papuan Highlands, in a paranoid little town called Mt. Hagen. My motel’s pretty typical for New Guinea: there’s a huge, corrugated-iron wall around the perimeter with a sheet-metal gate you have to bang loudly every time you want in. You knock on the gate, the doorman peeps through a little hole and lets you into the carpark. There are two more checkpoints: one to your immediate left, which leads to a hut full of pokie machines — you can see gamblers getting pat-downs on their way in — and a moat at the other end of the carpark, with yet another gate, another guard post, which takes you to the inner courtyard with the actual motel rooms. (more…)
Posted: January 6th, 2012
This article is cross-posted from WitnessLA.com with permission of the author Matt Fleischer. Read his other reports on LA’s violent and abusive criminal justice system here and here.
LASD insiders say that, for years, Undersheriff Paul Tanaka—not Lee Baca—has ruled the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department though a system built of favoritism, pay-to-play campaign donations, and loyalty rewarded over competence—and the jails scandal is one of the results.