Sunday, August 31, 2008

Careful with that Axe, Eugene

An article in last week's Economist definitively answers the question,
"Is it ever appropriate to completely wipe out a parasitic species that seems to have no positive role in the food chain?" It's happening with Helicobacter Pylori, the infamous cause of stomach ulcer and gastric cancer. Now that less than 5 percent of U.S. children have H. pylori, scientists are discovering the endangered bacterium just might do a few good things. Since it seems to regulate stomach acid, its absence is causing more reflux syndromes and esophogeal cancers. Since kids use H. pylori as a priming agent for beefing up the immune system, its absence is causing more asthma. As with the hidden hazards of using germicidal soaps, the law of unintended consequences applies big time. No doubt the same could be said for mosquitoes, ticks, and homo sapiens...

Friday, August 29, 2008

Well, Republican Cops Are Even Worse

The RNC is still several days away, and the police have already raided the St. Paul Convergence Center on Friday night, 10:30 pm, executing a search warrant by slapping people around. Hell, at least in Denver no giant puppets were smashed by police raiding buildings...

FLASH!! The situation is getting far worse than first believed, with multiple raids on buildings overnight and arrests for conspiracy. Check the Star-Tribune here and the Daily Planet. Don't let the voices of outrage be silenced!

DNC Day Five: Si, Se Puede

No, I didn't get tickets to the Invesco affair, but the DNC closed on an upbeat note when 1000 people gathered for an Immigration Rights March that went from Rude Park to Lincoln Park, west of Invesco. Wonderful atmosphere, lots of singing.

Further videos of the march are here and here. Cindy Sheehan was raising money for a plane to write "Peace" over the Pepsi Center, and here it was. Indigenous Mexican Indian groups danced at the start of the Lincoln Park Rally.

Finally, I close the week with a short interview with Edwina Vogan, Code Pink organizer for Arizona, who has been a dear friend and mentor since 1978 or so. Boy, Labor Day will seem quiet after this.

DNC Day Four: Rage, Flobots, IVAW March, and Code Pink Fun

Wednesday represented the highlight of DNC street action, with a great free concert, a fantastic street march led by Iraq vets, and a Code Pink party serenaded by David Rovics. The concert took so long to enter that I missed all of State Radio and half of The Coup. With battery problems galore, I only took brief snippets of performances, beginning with The Flobots' "Same Thing" below ...

... and continuing with "War Going On for Your Mind" (1 and 2), "Stand Up" (1 and 2), the fantastic poem/song "I-R-A-Q", "Fight with Tools" (1 and 2), and of course, "Handlebars." (Sorry, "Rise" fans, but the batteries were shot for the encore.) Oh, and did I mention Jello Biafra introduced The Flobots?

Before the RATM performance, IVAW members came out in uniform to read their letter to Obama, calling for immediate end to the war, health care (including PTSD care) for all vets, and reparations for the Iraqi people. Rage Against the Machine kept a level of screaming invective going under the familiar red star, for "Guerilla Radio"

In this case, I couldn't finish the song because I was in the mosh pit and got body-slammed. The last clarion call for "Guerilla Radio" is here. Here's a video of "Bulls on Parade." At the end, Zack brought out Wayne Kramer of the MC5, the only band to stay in the parks of Chicago in 1968 after Daley cleared the streets. They played MC5's anthem, "Kick Out the Jams, Motherfucker."

When Zack and Wayne asked the audience to join them in an unapproved march to the Pepsi Center, I was skeptical that many would join in, as most attendees were just there for free tickets. To my surprise, over 5,000 joined the call. As we started out, Zach and Tom Morello hustled to join the vets in the front:

The march proceeded two miles down Brighton Blvd., then on to Broadway and Arapahoe. The police were guiding it without problems for a while, but as we approached the underpass into downtown, the march was stopped every couple blocks with warnings about "failure to disperse." The first police block was resolved by Code Pink, and in later blocks, orders from the city allowed the parade to proceed. As Brer Rabbit of The Flobots was leading a segment of the parade, some guy was handing out blue tubes that made even-octave harmonies when you twirled them - dozens of folks were twirling tubes, saying "What does this sound like? Sounds like change!" Here's one parting shot of the group at Auraria Campus, outside the Pepsi Center fence, where IVAW met with Vets for Obama and got commitment for the three points in the Obama platform.

My friend David Chase and I had tickets to the Nader rally at Magness (my only real reason to go was to see Nellie McKay), but once Frances Mendenhall and Edwina Vogan said they were going to the Code Pink party, well, what other choice was there? Guess David Rovics thought so too, because there he was headlining the evening entertainment:

After singing "Pirates," David went on with such winners as "Operation Iraqi Liberation," "Alligator Dicks," and "Punk Rock Baby." What talent! What drama! What excitement! What drinking! Que lastima!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Puppet Parades, Iranian Images, Gitmo Tour, Mark Rudd

Day Two (Monday) of Denver street activity was a needed absence for me, but I came back to town on Day Three. Missed Monday night, when a small crowd left Civic Center Plaza and was tear-gassed.

Tuesday was an odd but interesting day of dispersed activity around town. Code Pink intended to do an action chiding the telecom companies and NSA over the FISA act, but I sure couldn't find the demo. Instead, my friend David and I went to Civic Plaza for the start of the Backbone Campaign's Procession for the Future. Plenty of oversized puppets, to wit:

Before leaving the plaza, we saw what looked to be an inflatable mosque, and I wondered if it was some odd monument to Muqtada al-Sadr put up by some sectarian group. It was actually a wonderful "Images of Iran" display created by something called the Manjushri Project. Images of Iranians were reproduced on enormous translucent fabrics that were printed on both sides, a new type of silk-screening recently developed.

We went back to Tent State University later in the afternoon, after a brief detour to grab cold beers at the Lion's Lair (which, incidentally, is no longer the home of Modern Drunkard magazine, as MD now has grown to hold its own convention over three bars, and has signed a licensing deal of some type with HBO). I got a tour of a mock Guantanamo cell designed by Amnesty International as part of a global awareness tour. Late in the afternoon, former SDS and Weather Underground activist Mark Rudd gave an informal workshop to talk about the difference between social organizing and personal activism. Unlike Barack Obama's Swift-style nemesis Bill Ayers, Rudd completely renounced the violent philosophies of Weather. When someone asked him, "When will the time be ripe for a violent revolution in this country?", he answered unequivocally, "Never."

The rest of Rudd's talk is here. Today (Wed.) is Rage Against the Machine and other music.

Monday, August 25, 2008

DNC Street Protests, a Video Feast

To understand the different strategies of protest throughout the day on Sunday, you have to grasp what happened to Democratic National Convention peace-protest organizing. Recreate 68 was the first on the scene, but the organization was heavy on the radical-macho side. They moved to a more explicitly "avoid violence" position later in the game, but several peace and environment groups felt uncomfortable with where things were headed, and split off to form Alliance for Real Democracy. On Sunday at 9 a.m., Recreate 68 held its kickoff protest led by one of my favorite singers, David Rovics:

Yeah, those are bodyguards, and that's what makes the R68 effort aggravating. Many speeches were good, including ones from Cindy Sheehan, Ron Kovic, and Ward Churchill, excerpted here, and a Cynthia McKinney speech and Dead Prez performance which I didn't record. I was put off by Cynthia's running mate Rosa Clemente, and by an African-American radical in dreadlocks, not just because they romanticized violence, but implied that those activists who use nonviolence as a strategy are wimps, no better than Democrats (gasp). No surprise Rosa still idolizes Weather Underground, that's how asinine some positions were. The R68 march from State Capitol to Pepsi Center was fun, however, which you can see here and here.

In the early afternoon, ARD, Code Pink and other groups held a Funk the War march to dance around the streets of downtown Denver. One anarchist group called Unconventional Denver split off to do a running street blockade. There was a near confrontation with police near the State Capitol, but all was resolved without violence. It's interesting to note that the middle-aged speakers at R68 all talked of being tough, but the real street activists in the afternoon were all teens and early 20s. Talking vs. doing, I guess. The initial march video is below, and you can find the next sequential steps at Blockade 1, Blockade 2, Blockade 3, Cop Response 1, Cop Response 2, and Blockade Ends.

Finally, ARD and the affiliated Tent State University held a late-afternoon rally at Cuernavaca Park, where Amy Goodman spoke, Jonny 5 of Flobots offered poetry (below), and many Denver groups talked organizing. I grabbed a quick comment from Frances Mendenhall, coolest organizer in Omaha. Later this week, we have Public Enemy, Rage Against the Machine, Flobots, Nader speaking with Nellie McKay and Jello Biafra, and on and on and on. Bill Sulzman and I will be giving a "class" at Resurrection City Free University on Thursday.

Where Dick Goes, Trouble Follows

While I'm processing videos from DNC protests on Sunday, I thought I'd point out that our dear friend Dick Cheney is heading to Georgia to cause trouble. Said he was already planning to go before the Russia-Georgia showdown. Funny how the announcement came a day after Russia said it considered NATO re-supply of Georgia to be pre-positioning for war.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Tornado Warning

Out of nowhere, the Weather Service issued a tornado warning for Monument and Palmer Lake on Saturday afternoon. They said funnels were coming over the front range. Intelligent people ran for cover. Idiots went up on the scrambling rock on the ridge to get a picture before the rain started.

Don't worry, folks, the funnels just jumped right over the mountains and headed out to the plains. One did touch down at Eleven-Mile Reservoir, though, Abby's favorite camping spot. The newspaper got it wrong, however, we were under a warning, not a watch. A Denver Post article emphasized the rarity of touch-downs at the altitude of Eleven-Mile (9,000 feet or so). We often have tornados that form on the east side of the Front Range, but this tornado actually passed across the tops of the mountains seen in the video - weird.

Slam Dunk!

The Colorado Springs Gazette is a funny newspaper. Often derided as ultra-right, it is actually Libertarian, and will give fairer coverage to the left than the centrist Denver papers will. Today's front cover of the print edition was a home run out of the park. The banner coverage of Pfc Robin Long's case was written by the hard-bitten military affairs reporter, yet was fair and comprehensive in its coverage. Better yet, underneath the fold was a long article on Mary Lynn Sheetz and her wonderful Alterni-Tees T-shirt shop. She's busy making dozens of shirts to hawk at the demonstrations and parties outside the Democratic Convention. I have a big bag of them right now. Browse her designs, I'm sure you'll find ones you love.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Disinviting Al-Jazeera

Looking for proof that your average American citizen is an utter moron? Look no further than Golden, Colo. (after all, it is the home of Coors Beer, manufactured by neocon idiots to be consumed by neocon idiots). Seems City Manager Mike Bestor invited the news crew of al-Jazeera English to his home for a BBQ while they prepared a city profile during the Denver DNC. Shocked hordes of citizens, concerned with al-Jazeera's "support for terrorism," forced him to withdraw his invite. The next time someone complains about Bush, remind them that very few citizens show signs of deserving anyone better for president.

No Sanctuary

PFC Robin Long, the first 21st-century U.S. soldier to be deported from Canada, went on trial at 9 a.m. Aug. 22 at the Martinez Court House on Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, charged with desertion. It may not be much of a surprise that the Army is insisting on court-martialing him, but it is a grim reminder of the ruthlessness of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to think that Long may be the first of many.

In order to rationalize Canada's expanded involvement in Afghanistan, Harper has made clear that U.S. conscientious objectors to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have no place in Canada. I found this particularly tragic after watching the Canadian film Breaking Ranks last week, in a benefit organized by Pikes Peak Justice and Peace Commission and Iraq Veterans Against the War. Dozens of war resisters still in Canada are viewing Long's deportation with trepidation. Granted, Parliament has taken a strong stance against Harper's new cold-heartedness, but the result may be a show of the prime minister's executive power.

Members of the Colorado Springs peace community filled up the courtroom on base with supporters, and will begin new counseling to war resisters. Since Long was expected to plead guilty, his sentencing was expected as early as Friday afternoon, and the Army may elect to go easy on potential sentences. But the current trajectory doesn't hold much hope for Canada being a place of sanctuary.

FLASH: At 12:45 p.m. Aug. 22, word came down that Long was sentenced to a 15-month stint at Fort Leavenworth after a guilty plea. Expect more bad news to come from Canada.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Flobots' Rise and Abby's Participation

My daughter Abby helped out in the production of The Flobots' new video "Rise." They're not allowing embedding, but you can view it here. Flobots will be participating every day in marches and anti-war demos at the Democratic National Convention. They're great folks.

Missile-Defense Arrogance as a Reflex Action

No matter how the United States played the completion of the missile-siting deal with Poland, Russia was bound to see it as directly tied to the Georgia midadventure. But the U.S. could have let the low-level signing of the deal August 14 speak for itself. Instead, Condi Rice came storming in to Warsaw with trumpets blaring, setting the propaganda level to "high" and reminding those ignorant Russkies that missile defense was for everyone's benefit.

Funny, then, how a good conservative Reagan aide like Jack Matlock could be interviewed on Public Radio International's World and call the Bush administration "amazingly provocative" in its approach to concluding the Czech and Polish deals. Funny how a good U.S. buddy like Mikhail Gorbachev could write a New York Times op-ed piece blaming the U.S. for a good portion of a re-kindled Cold War.

Condi's having to lie through her teeth to make the point in Poland that this "limited" missile-defense system (the twin to systems deployed in California and Alaska) is only good for spotting single missiles from rogue states like Iran. If only that were true. Frances FitzGerald and other analysts already have argued how the multi-tiered missile defense of the 1990s and 2000s is in many ways even more offense-oriented than Reagan's original Star Wars plan. George N. Lewis and Ted Postol, in a detailed article in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, shows that the current European Midcourse X-band radar in the Czech Republic would not be useful for discriminating warheads from far locations like Iran - and forget about North Korea. However, the radar might be worthwhile if it was combined with a future Forward-Based X-band Radar currently being considered for Azerbaijan - or Georgia. Georgia, hmm, where have I heard of that potential NATO member before?

I'm with Matlock, Gorbachev, and similar radicals - if you want to see where at least half of the new Cold War posturing is coming from, look to Washington. Condi might say that even mid-level Russian diplomats these days are using a mocking, ugly tone not heard since the Brezhnev era. But when Russian critics are chided like toddlers in discussions of Star Wars weapons, and respond with disdain, the next step is vituperative and nasty rhetoric coming from the Bushies.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I'm getting into this terrible habit of copying whatever Anet and Sharon have on their blogs, because they come up with such better concepts than I do. To wit, house walls and the art adorning them: Living room, looking west, you could see Pikes Peak out this window.

Living room, Georgia O'Keefe print
on the left, fireplace with various fetishes on the right, the fireplace has bricks from the original Penrose Hospital.

Dining room angel alcove, where all the angels fly to hide.

Kitchen photos, left is the strange indoor charcoal pit and wine rack made from Penrose bricks, at right is the chile pepper memorial wall.

Below, the front hallway of random hangings
and odd-shaped doorways.
Above, my chaotic office, with music posters, political diatribes, and discarded napkins from Cecil Taylor performances.

Two more images of the office, framed Sleater-Kinney and cross-stitched Michigan on the left, the door of doom on the right.

Th-th-th-th-th-th-that's all, folks!

John Darnielle in Colorado

John Darnielle of Mountain Goats sings Your Belgian Things

I feel sorry for the people who attended the full weekend of Folks Fest in Lyons, Colo. in mid-August, as the entire state was subjected to a 60-hour downpour that left the Friday and Saturday performances of Dar Williams, Amos Lee, Patty Griffin, Nancy Griffith, et. al. a soggy mess. Jakob Dylan was supposed to play mid-afternoon on Sunday, but canceled at the last minute. John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats replaced him. Sunday turned out to be full of sunshine, and his performance was full of fun and inspiration, as were the sets from Missy Higgins, KT Tunstall, Ellis, Melissa Ferrick, and others. I got to say hi to John after the set. Check the links here for performances of San Bernadino, Dilaudid, International Small Arms Traffic Blues, and No Children.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Imperialism and Seven-League Boots

At the end of the day, Georgia's "ownership" of South Ossetia or Russia's "dominance" of Georgia doesn't matter, except insofar as citizens of any nation respond best to home-grown jingoism that makes their dominance of others feel good. Certainly works for us, eh? But now we have open war in Georgia at the start of the Olympics in Beijing. (Notice how the Soviet Union waited until the Suez Crisis of 1956 to invade Hungary, and global student protests in 1968 to invade Czechoslovakia? The Kremlin loves diversionary tactics, whether under socialist or authoritarian management.)
Yes, Saakashvili is a jerk. So are Medvedev and Putin. All three are popular precisely because they go to war in the name of the Motherland. The numerous stories at can help you sort out the claims from both sides.
There are some rather stupid progressive groups in the U.S. and Europe who would like to see the U.S. as the primary hand in all this, because the Pentagon wants to expand bases in Georgia. As Bob Anderson from Stop the War Machine points out, the U.S. is becoming such a minor player, such a paper tiger, that other nations can take the role of lead imperialist without consulting us one way or another. And it is our job in the peace community to say that Russians and Georgians are equally wrong in exploiting each others' territority, and that it is time to call in the UN to resolve border disputes before this spirals further out of control.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Abby's Tattoo

So here's Abby's tattoo, it's Albert Camus' quote, "Live to the point of tears," in Chinese ideograms.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Personal Flikr Meme

1. Loring Pasha, 2. Thai curry and plantain lunch, 3. Grand Ledge, Grand Ledge High School, 4. Purple Passion, 5. Listening to Music on the Train, 6. North Market Microbrew Festival, 7. Aegean Caldera, 8. Natalie's delicious turtle pumpkin pie, 9. detatched, 10. Light experience, but not lightly, 11. Exuberant, 12. DRI Image - Garden Of The Gods, Colorado Springs, 13. Editors_0056, 14. Blueberry Kuchen, 15. Mercury droplets, 16. Autumn Tones, 17. Nordic Ski on the Jura, 18. Guided by Voices at Terrace Club, 1997, 19. Gravity’s Rainbow, 20. Charalambides_11142006_009, 21. Rainbow in Rockport, MA, 22. CWD482: Winter Activity, 23. Sour Patch Kids, 24. Columbine, 25. mercy hospital tour

Shout-out to Sharon and Anet for pointing to such a neat self-portrait trick. Here's how it works:

A. For each of the 25 questions below, type your own answer into Flikr Search.
B. Using only the choices on the first page, pick an image.
C. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into the corresponding line in Mosaic Maker.

1. What is your first name? Loring
2. What is your favorite food? Thai Curry
3. What high school did you go to? Grand Ledge High School
4. What is your favorite color? Purple
5. Favorite pastime? Listening to music
6. Favorite drink? Microbrews
7. Dream vacations? Aegeans
8. Favorite dessert? Turtle Pie
9. What do you want to be when you grow up? Detatched
10. What do you love most in life? Experience
11. One word to describe you. Exuberant
12. What town do you live in? Colorado Springs
13. Occupation? Editor
14. What did you have for breakfast? Kuchen
15. Favorite element? Mercury
16. Favorite season? Autumn
17. Favorite seasonal activity? Nordic skiing
18. Favorite music when you don't know what else to listen to? Guided by Voices
19. Celebrity you'd most like to meet? Thomas Pynchon
20. What's on your computer desktop? Charalambides
21. Favorite shoes? Rockport
22. Favorite alcoholic drink? Single-Malt Scotch
23. Favorite candy? Sour Patch Kids
24. Favorite flower? Columbine
25. What did you do today? Toured a hospital

Friday, August 1, 2008

Foolish Fusion Blues

Hats off to the Center for Independent Media chain for launching a nationwide series on intelligence fusion centers, providing local centers of excellence to augment the notorious Joint Terrorism Task Force. At the end of July, articles appeared about centers in Colorado, Minnesota, Iowa, and Michigan. The ACLU had conducted a fantastic national survey, distributed on CD-ROM and PDF files, "What's Wrong with Fusion Centers," but this is the first series to go local.

Those with long memories might notice the similarities to the Law Enforcement Intelligence Unit, turning police forces crooked since the 1960s, but ever since 9/11, the pseudo-private intelligence effort has gotten big federal bucks. If you have to ask what's wrong, you haven't checked your Constitution lately.

Who to Believe?

Gee whiz, the Pakistan government insists there is no truth to the front-page NY Times story Aug. 1 that the Inter-Services Intelligence agency planned the bombing of the Indian embassy in Afghanistan. Well, let's see, the new Pakistan government tried to put ISI under the control of the Interior Ministry last week, and the ISI told the government it could not do so. ISI was a key sponsor of the Taliban and al-Qaeda for years. It sponsored the A.Q. Khan nuclear weapons shopping network. It is more powerful than Musharraf and the new civilian government. Any questions?