Commander Bunnypants spoke in a

Commander Bunnypants spoke in a cold warehouse full of boxes today, with large lettering helping distract the crowd from the obvious twaddle he was spewing.

“See, war will kill soldiers. Less soldiers means more jobs!”
The most interesting article on this propaganda stop was over on Chinese/Taiwanese Yahoo News.
You most probably won’t be able to read this, but the lovely Jessica translated. Seems that when Bush spoke in front of the boxes, all the boxes read “Made in the USA,” all suspiciously stamped on in big enough letters to be read by the cameras.
The enterprising Taiwanese reporter went around the back of these photogenic boxes and found the truth: they were actually labeled “Made in Hong Kong”, “Made in Taiwan”, and “Made in China”. What a surprise.
The article points out that not only was the Made in USA stencil used, but if you look closely at the photo below you can see the brown tape covering any other signs of the boxes’ true origins. Talk about being sold a phony bill of goods.

“I get to decide who lives or dies! Wheeeeee!”
Now check out the American press reports on it here and here. Not one mention of it–of course–and one even gets the trucking company’s name wrong. (Why does speaking in a warehouse full of boxes in near-freezing temperatures remind me of some of the stops of Spinal Tap’s low-ebb tour?)
And why do I have to READ ABOUT THIS IN THE TAIWANESE PRESS AND HAVE IT TRANSLATED so I can get me some truth?

Just when you thought things

Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse the AP reports that Judge orders Verizon to turn over user information to RIAA, where Verizon must give over information about a “music pirate” who was sharing over 600 songs (wow! he said, with nearly 1,000 songs on his iTunes) over the Internet.

By Ted Bridis
Jan. 21, 2003 | WASHINGTON (AP) —
Internet providers must abide by music industry requests to track down computer users who illegally download music, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case that could dramatically increase online pirates’ risk of being caught.
The decision by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates upheld the recording industry’s powers under a 1998 law to compel Verizon Communications Inc. to identify one of its Internet subscribers who was suspected of illegally trading music or movies online. The music industry knew only a numerical Internet address this person was using.
Verizon promised Tuesday to appeal and said it would not immediately provide its customer’s identity. The ruling had “troubling ramifications” for future growth of the Internet, said Verizon’s associate general counsel, Sarah B. Deutsch.

Face it, folks, they don’t want us to have our Internet. has put up a has put up a selection of Worst-case Scenarios centered around the insane policies of our Emperor. Some, like the Middle East scenario, are plausible and well-written. Others, like the essay on the environment, repeat a lot of what already’s been said many times. On the whole, though, we are sooooooooo screwed.
Or are we? I’m going to keep a copy of these essays and have a look at them a year later and compare them to what actually happened. That is, if we’re still alive by then (my What If? scenarios usually feature the earth’s annihilation at the hands of “Left Behind”-reading crypto-fascists).
However, I’ve noticed that so many future scenarios that appear in papers here operate by one major assumption: the United States is proactive, and the rest of the world is reactive. This certainly makes things easier when looking in the crystal ball, but history has always shown that world-changing events come out of left field. Who would have thought the War for Iraqi Oil would have been so derailed by North Korea suddenly sticking their heads in? That country has inadvertantly been one of the biggest helps in creating anti-war sentiment here because they have underscored the great hypocrisy in the BushJunta’s “Axis of Evil” statement.
An even greater example is the fall of the Soviet Union. Futurists in the mid-’80s, following the cold war policies of the Reagan/Bush administration, probably saw the standoff between the Soviets and the U.S. as lasting many more decades. Certainly, the U.S. were not going to make any concessions, and the Soviets were such a bloated totalitarian state that it seemed impossible to even think it would change.
But it did, and once one little incident happened (in hindsight, many Hawks credited the cold war for pushing the Soviet Union into such financial dire straits) it had a snowball effect. Was it Gorbachev? Was it just a simple change in thinking?
How can we forecast those things happening?
Stay tuned, is all I can say.

In a breathtaking yet completely

In a breathtaking yet completely unsurprising piece of shamelessness on behalf of the Bush Oiligarchy, the “economic stimulus plan” rewards big businesses who choose to buy SUVs.

SUV tax break may reach $75,000
By Jeff Plungis / Detroit News Washington Bureau
SUV tax break
WASHINGTON — President Bush’s economic stimulus plan could triple the size of a little-known tax loophole that some small business owners are using to finance purchases of large SUVs.
One of Bush’s proposed tax cuts would raise from $25,000 to $75,000 the amount small business owners — including doctors, lawyers and financial advisers — can write off when buying an SUV for business purposes.

Just yet another example of Bush paying back the people who bought him power.
And for those who still, still, still, still refuse to believe the upcoming Iraq war is about oil, there’s this from business magazine Schlumberger

A War In Iraq Could Prove Boon To US Oil Service Companies
By Roy R. Reynolds
HOUSTON (Dow Jones) – A successful invasion of Iraq that topples dictator Saddam Hussein could leave the Middle East country rife with leadership issues, internal strife and loads of opportunity for the right business. After three major wars across the last generation and more than a decade of economic sanctions, experts say that Iraq’s lucrative oilfields, which at 112 billion barrels of proven reserves trail only neighbor Saudi Arabia in size, are in dire need of foreign investment and revitalization.
That insufficiency could open a profit window for U.S. oil service companies – which perform duties from refinery design to the drilling of new wells.
Several oil service companies declined to speculate on operations in a postwar Iraq, partly because the outcome of any war is pure guesswork.
But the opening of the country to foreign investment could help turn around doldrums in the oil services sector for companies like Halliburton Co. (NYSE:HAL – News), Schlumberger Ltd.(NYSE:SLB – News), Baker Hughes Inc. (NYSE:BHI – News) and BJ Services Co. (NYSE:BJS – News).

Dick Cheney’s ex-company Halliburton keeps popping up, what a surprise!
Also of note: The Inquirer used good ol’ Google to discover that the GOP are using spamming software to send pro-Bush form letters to every single newspaper in America. This is to counter-balance the thousands of real anti-Bush letters written by real people. Ah-ha…it’s called fear, people.

Film review: Gangs of New York (2002)


Martin Scorsese recreates the birth of New York City in sprawling epic
By D.M. Terrace, Special to the Voice

In Gangs of New York, Martin Scorsese has taken a blood-and-scandal soaked non-fiction book from 1928 and brought much of it to the screen as the backdrop to a quite simple revenge drama. Or is it the other way around? This is a movie so jam-packed with detail and history (some real, some pastiche) that at all moments it threatens to swamp the characters. Most critics so far — Kenneth Turan, especially — have balked at this elephantine film, calling it interminable and obscure. But I quite liked the excess of it. In its portrait of a city, the film captures the density, confusion, and lawlessness therein. As an adaptation of a book that is really one juicy, violent tale after another, it succeeds largely because it has such a simple story as Hollywood wrapping.
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Film Review: Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary

‘Pages’ mixes ballet, sexuality and bloodsucking
By D.M. Terrace, Special to the Voice

Guy Maddin’s “Dracula: Pages from a Virgin’s Diary” is a curious beast, being a meeting of minds: Maddin’s retro-German Expressionism filming methods and the already offbeat Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s staging of “Dracula.” The ballet is at once respectful of the original novel’s narrative and willing to subvert it for pure movement and expression, focusing on the two women at the center of Bram Stoker’s work: Lucy and Mina.

Guy Maddin has led an extremely cultish career, creating films that seem to come from the golden age of silent cinema, with grainy film, intertitles, variable shutter speeds, broad acting, and pancake makeup with black eyeliner. Sometimes, his striving for effect and replication overwhelms the simpler things like plot and character; other times, all his efforts pay off, such as in “Heart of the World,” the brilliant short he made for the Toronto film festival (and shown two years ago at the SB Film Fest).

To film a ballet, then, doesn’t seem too much of a stretch for Maddin; the stylized movements of the dancers aren’t too far from the strange locomotion that often pops up in his films. And the “big” emotion of ballet is also close to his aesthetic. Strange, then, that Maddin seems not that interested in the dancing — he certainly doesn’t film it like he is, preferring close-ups and tableaux to wide shots.

What comes across after a viewing is that Maddin is very interested in Stoker’s novel itself, and saw the ballet as his chance to film his take on the classic. It’s clear that Maddin favors a reading that explores the strange sexuality of the novel. “Dracula” here becomes a sort of anxiety tale about the deflowering of innocent women, with Lucy taken before her wedding, and the mob-like desire for revenge exerted by her ex-suitors, jealous with rage. Blood, and all that it symbolizes to the female in this society, is most important here: in a black and white film, it’s one of the few things that Maddin colors (tellingly, the other thing is green money).

Best performance belongs to Zhang Wei-Qiang as Dracula. Casting an Asian in the role — the ballet company’s choice, not Maddin’s — works well in bringing out the xenophobia that, like the sexuality, lies barely suppressed below the surface of the tale (Maddin underscores the point with clips from a real anti-immigrant WWII film). Zhang is in the film sparingly, but his presence is felt throughout; he’s sexy, threatening, seductive, and cold, a perfect vampiric combo.

Ballet fans will probably get the least out of Maddin’s film, but anybody else into the strange and wondrous will find deep resonance in this most peculiar cinematic beast.