Monthly Archives: December 2007

Happy Christmakwanzakuh!

Happy Holidays, folks!

Housing Battle Raging in New Orleans

Citizens of New Orleans who were protesting the demolition of 4,500 units of affordable housing in the city were tasered and pepper sprayed by police yesterday outside a New Orleans city council meeting. “Is this what democracy looks like?” Bill Quigley, a Loyola University law professor who opposes demolition, said as he held a strand of Taser wire he said had been shot into another of the protesters.

Please check out my earlier post on the subject, as well as the Katrina Information Network to find out what you can do to support citizens’ efforts for justice in New Orleans.

I have friends who were in the thick of the fight yesterday. Thankfully none of them were hurt, but my heart goes out to the people of that city. Stay strong folks, I know the fight isn’t over by a longshot.

Set ‘Em Free, Cali

Apparently CA “Governator” Arnold is considering releasing 22,000 people from the state prisons to save money in the face of Cali’s looming budget deficit. This is in stark contrast to Arnold’s usual solutions to the prison crowding issue, which is use more tax dollars to build bigger jails. California loves to lock folks up, as evidenced by the fact that we are the second largest prison system in the country (second only to the federal system!) and are constantly dealing with overcrowding (some prisons are over 200 percent of their capacity).

Let these folks go free! If it takes a budget crisis to get these folks out, so be it. All of them are considered “low risk” and in for nonviolent crimes anyways. We have to face the facts that California is a huge part of the prison industrial complex, which is locking up thousands of people of color so that they can be easily controlled and exploited through a variety of ways, cheap or slave labor being paramount.

M.I.A.

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Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, better known as the rapper M.I.A., put out a really dope album this year, Kala, one of the freshest joints I’ve heard recently. Her last album, Arular, was good, but didn’t grab me in the same way that Kala has. If folks haven’t peeped her stuff, she’s definitely worth checking out. Her sound is hard to classify, in a culture that loves to classify and categorize everything. I don’t give her the cheesy ass “world music” label (Jeff Chang has stated that everything not from “here” gets labeled as “world music”). Instead, her sound is more like everywhere music. Her global following speaks to that.

Speaking of Jeff Chang (arguably the best journalist that the hip hop generation has going fo it) he recently wrote up a really dope, interesting, and extensive article on M.I.A. for The Nation.

So, she’s putting it down for brown folk all over the world, she’s got skills, style and politics? You know The Cheddar Box has got to give her some love for all that. Peep the recently released video for “Paper Planes.” Is that Mike D. and Adam Yauch from the Beastie Boys at the end?

New Jersey Ends The Death Penalty

“It’s a day of progress for the state of New Jersey and for the millions of people across our nation and around the globe who reject the death penalty as a moral or practical response to the grievous, even heinous, crime of murder.”

~NJ Governor Jon Corzine

The State of New Jersey took a courageous stance on Monday by becoming the first US state in over four decades to end the use of the death penalty.  Following this act, the United Nations called for a “moratorium on the death penalty” with the ultimate goal of abolishing the practice. Really interesting news, and an example of how individual states can take the lead on progressive policies that the federal government refuses to tackle.

New Resources for the Sucka Free

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Came across this in the paper the other day and was impressed. This guy Peter Liu has started up a local bank in San Francisco called New Resource. The bank has a “green focus,” which is so sexy right now, in that it targets and invests in green sustainable businesses.

However, the bank has been growing successfully on its own through its normal every day banking functions (savings and checking accounts, etc.), so its found a way to be both profitable and further an environmental social cause. To top it all off, Liu sounds like a solid guy who still takes the time answer personal emails the bank receives from customers, instead of just handing them off to some customer service department. He says:

“You have to know who your community is. These days, banks have become very much alike — impersonal. [Part of New Resource’s mission] is getting banking back to its origins — a community of people that together can create resources that will empower members of their community to do great things.”

When’s the last time you heard a bank say that?

The Dark Knight

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I was a comic book kid, always into X-Men, Usagi Yojimbo, and of course, Batman. Other kids didn’t always feel me on this, they were more into Spider-Man or Superman. Naw. Batman was always more appealing to me as a youngster, and even more so now.

“Batman sucks. He doesn’t even have any superpowers.”

That’s what they’d say. But there’s his appeal. There’s nothing really “super” about him. He’s just a disgruntled citizen with a lot of dough who decides to use what he has to make a change in his city. The story was always more dark and real.

On another level, Batman’s always been about class privilege to me too. Thomas Wayne, Batman’s father, was a wealthy doctor and businessman who was also extremely philanthropic and contributed to building up Gotham City. Him and his wife are gunned down and young Wayne carries on. The message always seemed to be that if you got dough, its not enough just to sit on it, there is worth in giving back.

You could also get real deep and talk about Batman’s villains being metaphors for the evils done by our real life societal institutions but I’ll let everyone think about that one on their own. For now, enjoy this just released dope ass trailer for the next Batman movie, coming out Summer 2008. The Joker looks creepy as hell!