Entries Tagged 'politics' ↓
November 5th, 2008 — politics
What would the world be like if people in the US were seeing this clip on the five o’clock news?
Found this gem on the E train, going from Chelsea to Queens.
What was difficult was snapping it on my cameraphone without making the gentleman sitting next to it nervous.
Sign alterers took the “If you see something, say something,” slogan and altered it with two neat cut-out replacements:
If you see something,
Run like hell.
If ye dinnae ken what Scots is, it’s the leid o the Scots fowk. Fae Scotland, ken?
Scots has been a written language since medieval times, but it lost much of its social prestige as a written language after the Act of Union (1707), when it became fashionable for young, upper middle class, trend-setting Scottish people to speak English as if they were from the newly reinforced center of political and economic power, London (and I don’t mean they spoke Cockney, either). The language of London trickled down to the middle class, until there was a quite the social bias against speaking Scots.
And so Scots became, for a long time, the language of home and hearth, street and field. But not the language of books, school, academics, politics, or finance. There was an institutional bias against Scots, and it was not used formally in politics or education. Children were scolded– beaten even– for using Scots words and grammar in school. It never died out, but with some notable exceptions, it wasn’t much of a publishing medium for a few hundred years. Many Scots speakers do not think of Scots as a language; it’s quite common for them to describe it as “bad English.” It doesn’t help that some linguists still do too.
Now, however, as you may know, especially if I’ve bent your ear on the subject, Scots is flourishing, and so its prestige is rising again. It’s been building for decades. And to ring in the 21st Century, there is a spate of fiction, poetry and drama writing, a slew of new childrens’ books (indeed, childrens’ presses), language learning materials, and so on.
There’s still room for growth, though; the Scottish Parliament has a Cross Pairty Group on the Scots Leid which has written a document called “Scots: a Statement o Principles” that you can download here; and there’s a link to the SCPB Leid Policy here, which outlines which languages are used in the Scottish Parliament, and when. The language of the Scottish Parliament is mainly English, though debate is allowed in Scots as well as English, and in other languages (for example, Gaelic or British Sign Language, in which case translators are provided).
All this is progress. The day the Scottish Parliament re-convened on 12 May 1999 (the previous meeting adjourned on 25 March 1707), Dr. Winnie Ewing greeted the Parliament in English and Gaelic. Scots, spoken by more people in Scotland than Gaelic, was not officially used in this address. According to the documents above, Scots has some limited role in the new Parliament, and given the way things are going for Scots, it is bound to grow, as it should. On the other hand, the European Parliament, which has many official languages, does not give official status to many minority or regional languages, especially those that aren’t official languages of the various nations; Scots is one of those.
But now, there is a Scots-language Wikipedia at http://sco.wikipedia.org. There are other wikipedias besides the one English speakers are most familiar with. The Scots one differs from some of the wikipedias in other languages, because its the first Encyclopedia in the Scots language in the world. It also differs from these other wikipedias because Scots is not yet a codified language. Scots speakers aren’t in 100% agreement about how to represent their language in writing. (This may sound strange to you, but look at books written just a few hundred years ago in English, and you’ll see more than a little variety in how words are spelled, for example.)
Despite any minor disagreements, though, communication is flourishing. And it’s braw.
braw: a. Fine, elegant, beautiful, excellent
ken: v. know
leid: n. language
The week before last, I was at Silver Bay of Lake George in the Adirondacks, with Quakers at New York Yearly Meeting 2006.
The American Friends Service Committee were exhibiting the New York and New Jersey sections of the travelling exhibit Eyes Wide Open, which you can read about here. A pair of combat boots represents each soldier who has died in the current war in Iraq. (They have a pair of boots for every soldier from every state — labelled with name, age, hometown — but since this was a conference of local Quakers, they brought just NY and NJ).
There were also shoes to represent a small number of Iraqi victims of the war. A small percentage indeed, since there have been many more than 100,000 Iraqis who have died.
I am trying to think of the size of field that an exhibit of well over 100,000 pairs of shoes would require.
Here, courtesy of Tuesday’s Scotsman, a lovely transcript of his chat yesterday with Tony Blair, which was unknowingly and unwittingly broadcast over a G8 microphone:
Bush: Yo, Blair. How are you doing?
Blair: I’m just…
Bush: You’re leaving?
Blair: No, no, no, not yet. On this trade thingy… (inaudible)
Bush: Yeah, I told that to the man.
Blair: Are you planning to say that here or not?
Bush: If you want me to.
Blair: Well, it’s just that if the discussion arises…
Bush: I just want some movement.
Bush: Yesterday we didn’t see much movement.
Blair: No, no, it may be that it’s not, it may be that it’s impossible.
Bush: I am prepared to say it.
Blair: But it’s just I think that we need to be an opposition…
Bush: Who is introducing the trade?
Blair: Angela Merkel, the German chancellor.
Bush: Tell her to call ’em.
Bush: Tell her to put him on, them on the spot. Thanks for [inaudible] it’s awfully thoughtful of you.
Blair: It’s a pleasure.
Bush: I know you picked it out yourself.
Blair: Oh, absolutely, in fact [inaudible].
Bush: What about Kofi? [inaudible] His attitude to ceasefire and everything else … happens.
Blair: Yeah, no I think the [inaudible] is really difficult. We can’t stop this unless you get this international business agreed.
Blair: I don’t know what you guys have talked about, but as I say I am perfectly happy to try and see what the lie of the land is, but you need that done quickly because otherwise it will spiral.
Bush: I think Condi is going to go pretty soon.
Blair: But that’s, that’s, that’s all that matters. But if you… you see it will take some time to get that together.
Bush: Yeah, yeah.
Blair: But at least it gives people…
Bush: It’s a process, I agree. I told her your offer to…
Blair: Well…it’s only if I mean… you know. If she’s got a…, or if she needs the ground prepared as it were… Because obviously if she goes out, she’s got to succeed, if it were, whereas I can go out and just talk.
Bush: You see, the … thing is what they need to do is to get Syria, to get Hezbollah to stop doing this s*** and it’s over.
Blair: Because I think this is all part of the same thing.
Blair: What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way…
Bush: Yeah, yeah, he is sweet.
Blair: He is honey. And that’s what the whole thing is about. It’s the same with Iraq.
Bush: I felt like telling Kofi to call, to get on the phone to Assad and make something happen.
Bush: We are not blaming the Lebanese government.
Blair: Is this…? (At this point Blair taps the microphone in front of him and the sound is cut.)
I like the fact that George complimented Tony on his choice of gift, which is in fact a sweater that Tony picked out himself. (Or maybe the inaudible part is Tony admitting to having knit it himself.)
Between you and me, I think that some folks out there are intentionally catching these sorts of things in an attempt to discredit our nation’s leader. But then again, there mustn’t be many of them. After all, he has got to be saying a lot more stupid stuff that we aren’t hearing.
Yo! Way more, dude.
I could not be more proud of the Grannies Peace Brigade, currently on trial in NYC on disorderly conduct charges. The women, aged 50-91, were arrested after trying to enlist in the Army at a recruitment station, as a protest against the war in Iraq. Though they had previously been holding vigils outside Rockefeller Center to protest the war, Manhattanite Joan Wile got the idea for this recruitment center action from the Tucson Raging Grannies:
When Wile, a Manhattan grandma of five, heard about the Tucson event, she grew inspired. By then, she had formed Grandmothers Against the War and had organized the Rockefeller Center vigils. Yet the attempted enlistment seemed fresh, provocative, the kind of protest the average person would notice.
“It was obviously the thing to do,” says Corrine Willinger, 78, a local Raging Granny who heard about Tucson through the grapevine and who attended Wile’s vigils.
Willinger and Wile got cracking, sending out word to the Gray Panthers, the Raging Grannies, and Code Pink, calling any activist in their Rolodexes. To grandmas all over, they made their pitch to enlist, thus symbolizing a desire to spare kids—their grandkids—from a senseless war. It wasn’t an especially tough sell.
“I said, ‘Sure, see you there,’ ” recounts Marie Runyon, the oldest of the New York brigade at 91. Runyon is legally blind and walks with two canes, yet she trekked from Harlem to Times Square. “I thought it was a great idea to get the message through to that son of a bitch in the White House,” she explains. “Our men are dying and the Iraqi people are dying and for what—for that idiot Bush!”
Betty Brassell, 76, of the Lower East Side, decided to shuffle uptown with her walker after spotting a leaflet on the enlistment. She didn’t know the grandmas who would become her fellow defendants. Simply put, she says in a soft Southern lilt, “the flyer said Grandmothers Against the War and I’m strongly against this war.”
By October 17, 18 grandmas had committed to enlist. They convened in Times Square across the street from the recruiting center, where they met their attorney, veteran New York civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel, who was serving as a witness, not to mention dozens of senior supporters draped in “RAGING GRANNIES” signs and signature floppy hats.
When the anti-war grannies approached the station, the door was locked. No one appeared inside, though Wile says she saw someone peek from behind a desk. Evidently, the military had foiled the grannies’ plan, so they improvised what occurred next. “I was so angry,” Runyon recalls with a chuckle, “I started banging on the door, singing, ‘If I had a hammmerrrr!’ ”
The grandmas took over a building ramp near the station door and, one by one, crouched to the ground. “That was the hardest part,” Wile confides, “all these old, beat-up broads with arthritic problems getting down on the ground.”
Eventually, a police officer warned the grannies to disperse or face arrest. Minutes later, a half-dozen cops were gingerly escorting them to a midtown precinct, where the grandmas remained for four hours.
I applaud the Grannies. I think it’s ridiculous that they’re being prosecuted (and apparently in such a time-consuming fashion), but I think the publicity from this is all good. Apparently, they have the same idea. People have been packing the courthouse to support them, and Cindy Sheehan was there today, I was told by a Quaker friend who was also there. And what if the worst happens, sentence-wise? Well, Marie Runyon, (yes, I have to repeat this:) the legally blind 91-year-old lady with two canes who walked from Harlem to Times Square for the protest isn’t afraid:
“Oh hell!” says Runyon. “I would go to jail if I had to just to make the goddamn point! You’ve got to make a statement.”
What have you done to protest the war today?
A UMass-Dartmouth undergrad was visited by Federal Agents after he ordered a copy of Mao’s Little Red Book via the college’s interlibrary loan service. According to the agents, the visit was triggered because the book was on a “watch list.” I would love, love, love to see what other books the government is monitoring. Agents brought the book when they visited the student, but they did not leave it with him.
He needed it for a paper for a history class on fascism and totalitarianism. Irony, anyone?
What’s also disturbing is that a second UM-D history professor, Brian Glyn Williams, was considering not teaching a course about terrorism, since it might subject his students to this sort of federal scrutiny:
Dr. Williams said in his research, he regularly contacts people in Afghanistan, Chechnya and other Muslim hot spots, and suspects that some of his calls are monitored.
“My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think,” he said.
Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk.
“I shudder to think of all the students I’ve had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that,” he said. “Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless.”
When I was in high school, little revolutionary me went to the local college library to get a copy of the Little Red Book, among other resources, for a paper about Mao. Since the government did not intercept the book, I was able to learn that while Mao had some great ideas, he also had some terrible ones, and subjected a lot of people to a lot of trauma. I am glad I was left alone to read about that for myself.
And then, an update on the story from the South Coast Today, which broke the story and the subsequent “it’s a hoax” story. Yeah, it’s a hoax. As Williams says in the follow-up piece, “it’s safe to do research” again. Let’s all go and order us a copy of the 1965 Little Red Book from Interlibrary Loan, eh? Thanks to Bicyclemark for pointing out the new developments.
No, not the finger paintings your mum taped to the fridge when you were small.
But this, politically-engaged, timely, colorful art, is popping up around New Orleans, where there is apparently a glut of flood-damaged refrigerators being tossed to the curb. Folks are decorating them. I liked the message on this one, courtesy of missbhavens.
September 16th, 2005 — politics
is more in touch with reality than many world religious leaders. According to this article in the (granted, usually appalling) New York Sun, the Dalai Lama, who writes in the prologue of his latest book, “The Universe in a Single Atom” (Morgan Road Books, $24.95): “My confidence in venturing into science lies in my basic belief that as in science so in Buddhism, understanding the nature of reality is pursued by means of critical investigation: if scientific analysis were conclusively to demonstrate certain claims in Buddhism to be false, then we must accept the findings of science and abandon those claims.”
Residents of Kansas, are you listening?
September 10th, 2005 — politics
As you probably guessed, the semester started in earnest last week. New job, new people to meet, lots of working and distractions. No time for blogs, so I am behind on all of you.
The Red Cross guy was on just now saying they wanted 40,000 people to be trained as Red Cross volunteers, to work in 3 week shifts in shelters, unloading trucks, and so on, into the indefinite future, until this crisis is over. Which could be a long time, considering that training as a volunteer takes some time.
It made me wonder if their work would not be helped by the presence of more National Guard soldiers, perhaps some of those that are in Iraq. It also made me wonder if Bush should not subsidize the Red Cross volunteers, who have to leave their jobs in order to help out. Now, most RC volunteers are happy to do just that. But think of it this way, lots of folks can’t afford three weeks off of work, or more. This would mean good-minded folks who are not as well off could put their hands, hearts and minds to work. And if the National Guard were sending more people, we’d pay for that anyway.
It also reminds me of the Americorps and VISTA volunteers who do such great work year-round, outside of crisis-times. I know they’re volunteers, but they should be better subsidized. If they were, we’d see more people taking a year out to volunteer. Twenty-one-year-olds in this country tend to graduate college owing 20K-30K in student loans. It’s hard not to go straight to work right away. They get some pittance of forgiveness on their loans. And then those placed in cities, where they’re needed most, are barely given enough to live on.
Perhaps people would say my priorities are screwed up: this is volunteering, for goodness’ sake! But the government wants people to pick up the slack for social, environmental, educational and health services that in civilized countries would be paid for by the government. (Let’s face it, I am a commie pinko socialist.)
Rant over: it’s a birthday, Chez Sicilians, so we’re going out to dine soon in a classy southern Brooklyn establishment. (I have my bourgeois moments.)
September 5th, 2005 — politics
I know I am not an expert on emergency management, and I know someone has to coordinate the big-picture, but his mind-boggling list of FEMA “managing” the situation in New Orleans seems absurd.
Check out the single link below, which leads to links for the individual stories at DailyKos:
FEMA won’t accept Amtrak’s help in evacuations
FEMA turns away experienced firefighters
FEMA turns back Wal-Mart supply trucks
FEMA prevents Coast Guard from delivering diesel fuel
FEMA won’t let Red Cross deliver food
FEMA blocks 500-boat citizen flotilla from delivering aid
FEMA fails to utilize Navy ship with 600-bed hospital on board
FEMA to Chicago: Send just one truck
FEMA turns away generators
FEMA: “First Responders Urged Not To Respond”
FEMA bars morticians from entering New Orleans
and more, from Constructive Interference.
September 3rd, 2005 — politics
From Crooksandliars.com: Only part of the country got to see this last night on television, because NBC censored the West Coast feed. West’s delivery is full of distress, as he ad-libs, cramming a lot into a short amount of time. Watch Mike Meyers not-know-what-to-do-with-himself.
September 2nd, 2005 — politics
I don’t have anything very original to say right now. But “stay the course” writing on DailyKos, who survived the Bangladeshi floods and was in NYC during 9/11 does.
“President” Bush, to Diane Sawyer: I don’t think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees.
(compare this with the following:)
New Orleans Mayor Roy Nagin: We told everybody the importance of the 17th Street Canal issue. We said, “Please, please take care of this. We don’t care what you do. Figure it out.”
Interviewer: Who’d you say that to?
Nagin: Everybody: the governor, Homeland Security, FEMA. You name it, we said it.
Or FingerInEveryPie’s poignant post on writing in and loving the New Orleans she visited only a few weeks ago. A city I never got the chance to see.
We have to seek wise words and support from the blogosphere, ladies and gents, because it just so happens that the leaders of the federal government are all either literally, or mentally, on vacation. Here’s a rundown on where they are, and what they’re doing when we really need them.
September 1st, 2005 — politics
I had not realized how thoroughly and accurately the scene of events which are now taking place in New Orleans had been predicted. According to the LA Times (in a story which for some reason is dated Sept. 2),
Three years ago, New Orleans’ leading local newspaper, the Times-Picayune, National Public Radio’s signature nightly news program, “All Things Considered,” and the New York Times each methodically and compellingly reported that the very existence of south Louisiana’s leading city was at risk and hundreds of thousands of lives imperiled by exactly the sequence of events that occurred this week. All three news organizations also made clear that the danger was growing because of a series of public policy decisions and failure to allocate government funds to alleviate the danger.
It continues later,
One of the separate stories in that first installment — each part consisted of multiple pieces supported by compelling graphics — began: “The risk is growing greater and no one can say how much greater.”
The series’ second part began: “It’s a matter of when, not if. Eventually a major hurricane will hit New Orleans head on, instead of being just a close call. It’s happened before and it’ll happen again.” In that installment, McQuaid and Schleifstein reported that “a major hurricane could decimate the region, but flooding from even a moderate storm could kill thousands. It’s just a matter of time…. Evacuation is the most certain route to safety, but it may be a nightmare. And 100,000 without transportation will be left behind…. Hundreds of thousands would be left homeless, and it would take months to dry out the area and begin to make it livable. But there wouldn’t be much for residents to come home to. The local economy would be in ruins….
“People left behind in an evacuation will be struggling to survive. Some will be housed at the Superdome, the designated shelter in New Orleans for people too sick or infirm to leave the city. Others will end up in last-minute emergency refuges that will offer minimal safety. But many will simply be on their own…. Thousands will drown while trapped in homes or cars by rising waters. Others will be washed away or crushed by debris. Survivors will end up trapped on roofs, in buildings or on high ground surrounded by water, with no means of escape and little food or fresh water, perhaps for several days.”
August 22nd, 2005 — politics
Truck in the East Village, Spring, 2005:
Back of the same truck:
August 21st, 2005 — politics
… is that you can’t ask the “suspect” questions; he’s dead.
So, according to Britain’s ITV news, Jean Charles De Menezes did not run away from police, or vault the ticket barrier at the tube station, and was not wearing a padded jacket. He walked slowly into the station, wearing a jean jacket, and picked up a free paper.
The police were lying?!?
After my requisite subway ride in, I went walking tonight in Manhattan at 6pm, the other end of rush hour, and noticed lots of suspicious activity:
A man sitting on the benches in a subway station, but not on a subway platform (therfore not waiting for a train). Any sensible person would wait outside; the heat index outside was around 110 degrees with breezes; inside the subway platform it was hotter, more humid, and stagnant air. I thought about calling the police but decided that he was more likely a madman than an explosive one. And madmen are a dime a dozen.
Me walking an unnecessary extra mile before going to my destination, in the name of some minimal kind of exercise, despite the heat. Very suspicious.
But some sightings that might seem odd were not-so-suspicious:
The crazy man all zipped into a leather pilot’s jacket (the thick kind) in said heat, nodding to himself, shaking his head, and spitting, on the grates outside Bryant Park Station. He’s there every day.
Piles and piles of giant suspicious black packages on every street corner: it’s garbage collection night in Midtown.
Thousands of people milling around very slowly (um, loitering?) — each wearing a backpack, or sporting a briefcase, large purse, Macy’s bags or cargo pants with enormous bulging pockets. That’s just business as usual around these parts.
I myself had an open topped small bag large enough to contain something troublesome. In fact, it contained a liter of water, a handkercheif, some smokes, and a cellphone. You know what you can do with cellphones. I smuggled the water into my library-of-choice. We all break some kind of rules, even us seemingly law-abiding folk.
Yes, SWBB–don’t you know? It’s a new acronym I made up. You can apparently be handcuffed simply for Sightseeing While British (only if you’re brown, I expect, though this detail was omitted from the article). Five tourists (from their names, I gather they are of South Asian descent) British citizens one and all were handcuffed Sunday at 11:30 am when a bystander approached police to complain of five men on a tourist bus “carrying backpacks.” (Later, it was not clear whether any had backpacks at all.) The police evacuated the bus but handcuffed just those five men for ten minutes. Apparently they were considered suspicious because they had purchased their tour tickets in advance. Bloomberg is grovelling his apologies to the British Counsulate. Too little, too late.
On iTunes as we speak: Mutabaruka’s “Whiteman Country.”
Okay. Security is important. But is there any evidence that this will increase subway security? Sure, it can’t hurt subway security. But look at the airport analogy: there’s supposedly no racial profiling (yes, if it’s true, and I’m not sure it is, then that’s definitely a good thing in my book). So what happens is that random people are searched. Is there any evidence that anyone has been caught with anything (besides that fifth butane lighter that is forbidden)? What we are going to get in the subway is the equivalent of 80-year old grannies being searched.
Here’s my suggestion, New York: those big black garbage receptacles in the subway? Serious security risk. Bags on the subway? People need to learn not to leave them. I lived in the UK during the IRA bombing campaigns and many a time encountered public transit shut-downs while police investigated abandoned parcels and suitcases. Seriously annoying? Yes. But it was necessary. But we all have to get a clue and realize that people can attack our subways without being suicide bombers. And we need to start paying attention to unattended stuff.
More police presence is a good thing. People looking around on subways and buses is a good thing. Bomb-sniffing dogs are a good thing. Other means of detection–whatever these may be–are a good thing. But I don’t think that random searches are going to make a big difference. Especially with those darned big black opaque garbage cans.
And I doubt that random searches will turn up anything. Any more than the guy who searches people at the library keeps folks from bringing in beverages or gum or Lord-knows-what they’re looking for.
Update: Magikthise has a great posting and an active comments thread on this very issue. Check it out!