June 2004

Social crutches

Crutches of the society

Milan Kunc

Pampered Bush meets a real reporter

Last week, I remarked on the apparently limited nature of American mainstream debate.

John Nichols: Pampered Bush meets a real reporter

On the eve of his recent sojourn in Europe, President Bush had an unpleasant run-in with a species of creature he had not previously encountered often: a journalist.

He did not react well to the experience.

Bushs minders usually leave him in the gentle care of the White House press corps, which can be counted on to ask him tough questions about when his summer vacation starts.

Apparently under the mistaken assumption that reporters in the rest of the world are as ill-informed and pliable as the stenographers who cover the White House, Bushs aides scheduled a sit-down interview with Carole Coleman, Washington correspondent for RTE, the Irish public television network.

Coleman is a mainstream European journalist who has conducted interviews with top officials from a number of countries - her January interview with Secretary of State Colin Powell was apparently solid enough to merit posting on the State Departments Web site.

Unfortunately, it appears that Coleman failed to receive the memo informing reporters that they are supposed to treat this president with kid gloves. Instead, she confronted him as any serious journalist would a world leader.

She asked tough questions about the mounting death toll in Iraq, the failure of U.S. planning, and European opposition to the invasion and occupation. And when the president offered the sort of empty and listless answers that satisfy the White House press corps - at one point, he mumbled, My job is to do my job - she tried to get him focused by asking precise follow-up questions.

The trouble is that accountability is not a concept that resonates with our president. The chief executive who gleefully declares that he does not read newspapers cannot begin to grasp the notion that journalists might have an important role to play in a democracy. And, if anything, the hands-off approach of the White House press corps has reinforced Bushs conceits.

Bush would be well served by tougher questioning from American journalists, especially those who work for the television networks. And it goes without saying that more and better journalism would be a healthy corrective for our ailing democracy.

You can watch the interview here

(via SEB)

Bushs determination to march America back to the Dark Ages

White House Tries to Rein In Scientists

The Bush administration has ordered that government scientists must be approved by a senior political appointee before they can participate in meetings convened by the World Health Organization, the leading international health and science agency.

A top official from the Health and Human Services Department in April asked the WHO to begin routing requests for participation in its meetings to the departments secretary for review, rather than directly invite individual scientists, as has long been the case.

Officials at the WHO, based in Geneva, Switzerland, have refused to implement the request, saying it could compromise the independence of international scientific deliberations. Denis G. Aitken, WHO assistant director-general, said Friday that he had been negotiating with Washington in an effort to reach a compromise.

The request is the latest instance in which the Bush administration has been accused of allowing politics to intrude into once-sacrosanct areas of scientific deliberation. It has been criticized for replacing highly regarded scientists with industry and political allies on advisory panels. A biologist who was at odds with the administrations position on stem-cell research was dismissed from a presidential advisory commission. This year, 60 prominent scientists accused the administration of misrepresenting and suppressing scientific knowledge for political purposes.

Politics and science dont mix. By trying to control which scientists participate in international discussions and, by implication, what they say, the Bush administration is undermining the independence of scientists and limiting their ability to do research into areas which dont guarantee politically acceptable results - which is pretty much all of them.

[Dr. D.A. Henderson] said he could not recall having to go through government bureaucrats to invite scientists to participate in expert panels, except in the case of small Eastern European countries.

Which describes, far better than I could, exactly where the Bush administration is trying to take American science.

(via SEB)

Its a Sin!

Roll up for the revolution

The Pet Shop Boys have written a soundtrack to Sergei Eisensteins film Battleship Potemkin, which they will perform live in Trafalgar Square on September 12.

My first reaction to this news was to remember the Giorgio Morroder version of Metropolis and think How could they?

My second reaction to this news was to remember seeing Tod Brownings Dracula with a new score - by Philip Glass - being performed live.

Maybe my first reaction was unfair

If, by writing and performing a new score for Battleship Potemkin, The Pet Shop Boys manage to encourage a bit more interest in this film, then this could well be a good thing.

If this interest is extended to Eisensteins other films - and beyond, to old, black and white and silent films in general - then this will be a great thing.

We shall have to wait and see


Kim Nielsen

Kim Nielsen

Quote of the Day: Mobile Music for All

We need one standard platform and we need to have that standard reconciled with the music industry. As you introduce propriety standards you need to create rival systems and rival systems stunt the growth of the industry.
- Nikesh Arora, chief marketing officer of T-Mobile, calling on other mobile operators, handset manufacturers and the record industry to adopt a common standard for mobile music

The Last Request

The Last Request

It has long been customary for a condemned man to choose his last meal before he is executed. Since December of 1982, over 300 Texas prisoners have had to make that unappetizing decision.

This work presents the final choice made by several of those prisoners. As you watch this, remember that the capital punishment system occasionally kills the wrong man. So perhaps you should ask yourself

What would your last meal be?

(via The Flophouse)

Your friendly neighbourhood just got a bit bigger

The Indian Spider Man

Spider-Man India

A recipe for me

How to make a Paul

5 parts intelligence

3 parts brilliance

3 parts empathy

Stir together in a glass tumbler with a salted rim. Add a little emotion if desired!

Personality cocktail from Go-Quiz.com

(via SEB)

Have a laugh in Holland

The Big Night of Comedy is the largest international comedy festival in the Netherlands and features a host of international comedians, including Americas Jason Stuart (from Will Grace), Britains Ricky Grover, and Australian Julia Morris (winner of the 2004 Time Out award for Best Live Act in London)

Its on at the Konininklijke Schouwburg in The Hague on the 2nd and 3rd July.