Thursday, May 27, 2004

Free Feenom Show Friday May 28th
@ Kimo's on the corner of Polk and Pine, SF

Sunday School Presents... Electric Halo is the first official release for Paraphan. Electric Halo is a compilation of independent minded hip hop artists, all of whom performed at Sunday School, a periodical hip hop event also put on by Paraphan.

Electric Halo features new tracks by Bay Area notables Feenom Circle and II Sense of Kaotic Souls. This release is also the first introduction to the public for many of the artists on the compilation. The styles represented on Electric Halo run the gamut from the dark introspective Redemption by Ventriloquist to the underground heat that is Natural Selection's Haterz to the experimental trip hop of Steve Dood. Overall this is an eclectic showcase of the Bay Area's underground hip hop scene.

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Monday, May 24, 2004

Your wedding, a time to rejoice, celebrate, and bond with family. It’s one of the milestones of life. A defining period, which often shapes your future. Now imagine bombs falling on your wedding celebration, killing 45 of your guests and family. Sounds like a good concept for a reality show, we'll call it “Operation Free Iraq.”

Video Contradicts US Military, Shows Iraq Wedding Celebration

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Friday, May 21, 2004

Just heard Nucleus's "Jam On It" via skratchlab

My co-worker said that's a song that makes you want to break out the cardboard! Indeed...whenever I hear this song I'm instantly seized by the memory of break dancing in the park and my neighbors garage circa early 80's. I had to be around 6 or 7 years old. Before I digress into a "hip hop was so innocent then" stupor, some other notable mentions about this song (which I couldn't find an mp3 to):

One of the first beats I ever assisted on, circa 94, we plucked the bassline from Jam On It. Needless to say it didn't propel us to international acclaim, however just using it made me feel good (respect). Now that I think about it, I don't know where my 12 inch to "Jam On It" is (blasphemous)?

And then on some grimy internationally Thomas Crown steez, my man Ammbush pressed a 12" about 5 years ago where he basically just slowed down the sampled beat to "Jam On It." According to my sources, when he was on tour in Australia with Aceyalone the crowd knew the song word for word. Gangsterous Illusions of purity.

Then I did a google for the song, the most interesting highlights to me were two Z-trip interviews and one Feenom interview (gulp).

Z-Trip (1)

Z-Trip (2)

feenom interview

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Thursday, May 20, 2004

Audio Interview of Arundhati Roy On the Indian Elections, Her Support for the Iraqi Resistance & the Privatization of War (in real audio)

or read the transcript

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I don't get this move at all?

Golden State fires Musselman, set to hire Stanford's Montgomery?
What happened to Rod Higgins as the new coach? Is this really going to help us keep Dampier? Chris Mullin was supposed to be the basketball mind that St. Jean isn't. Not even a Byron Scott interview? Clippers fans beware, we're aiming for your spot...in the cellar, once again. Argh.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

India's First Sikh Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh.

The Guardian UK

Times of India

The poster boy of India's reforms

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NEW YORK (AP) - Elvin Jones died Tuesday.

He was 76. Jones died of heart failure in an Englewood, New Jersey, hospital, said his wife of 38 years, Keiko Jones.

"He's happy. No more suffering," said Keiko Jones. "He's been fighting for so long."

Jones, called by Life magazine "the world's greatest rhythmic drummer," was born in Pontiac, Michigan, one of ten children. He had two musician brothers: Hank, a jazz pianist, and Thad, a trumpet and flugelhorn player.

Jones entered the Detroit jazz scene in the late 1940s after touring as a stagehand with the Army Special Services show Operation Happiness.

After a brief gig at the Detroit club Grand River Street, he went to work at another club, backing up such jazz greats as Parker, Davis and Wardell Grey.

Jones came to New York in 1955 for an unsuccessful audition for the Benny Goodman band but stayed in the city, joining Charlie Mingus' band and making a record called "J is Jazz." In 1960, he became a member of John Coltrane's quartet.

Jones, with his rhythmic, innovative style, became one of jazz's most famous drummers under Coltrane. He can be heard on Coltrane's "A Love Supreme" and "Coltrane Live at the Village Vanguard."

After leaving the Coltrane quartet, Jones briefly played with Duke Ellington and formed the Elvin Jones' Jazz Machine. He put out several solo albums and continued to tour, including last month in Oakland, California, Keiko Jones said.

Ironically I just finished listening to a Coltrane cd out when I I got the news. Just recently us Feenoms were sitting around a drum set and marveling about the great Elvin Jones. He made a place for himself in history.

Biography of Elvin Jones

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Tuesday, May 18, 2004

A First Look at "Fahrenheit 9/11"
Controversy aside, the new Michael Moore film is a fine documentary (via time.com)

Monday, May. 17, 2004
A few years ago, Michael Moore spoke with then-Governor George W. Bush, who told the muckraker: “Behave yourself, will ya? Go find real work.” Moore has made trouble for so many powerful people he has become a media power of his own. He can even make celebrities of mere movie reviewers: When his latest cinematic incendiary device, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” had its first press screening Monday morning, American critics emerging from the theater were besieged by a convoy of TV and radio crews from networks around the world who wanted to know what they thought of Moore’s blast at the Bush Administration.

Disney, for one, was not impressed. Earlier this month, the company ordered its subsidiary, Miramax Films, not to release the film. Moore says that his lawyer was told by Disney CEO Michael Eisner that distributing it would harm the company’s negotiations for favorable treatment for its Florida theme parks from that state’s governor, one Jeb Bush. Harvey Weinstein, co-chair of Miramax, is now trying to buy the film back from Disney and to fashion his own coalition of the willing — other distributors happy to profit from Disney’s timidity. The result of this internal agita will be to raise the profile and, most likely, the profitability of Moore’s film, which he still hopes will open on the July 4th weekend.

So much for the controversy. How is it as a movie? “Fahrenheit 9/11” — the title is a play on the Ray Bradbury novel (and Francois Truffaut film) “Fahrenheit 451,” about a future totalitarian state where reading, and thus independent thinking, has been outlawed — has news value beyond its financing and distribution tangles. The movie, a brisk and entertaining indictment of the Bush Administration’s middle East policies before and after September 11, 2001, features new footage of abuse by U.S. soldiers: a Christmas Eve 2003 sortie in which Iraqi captives are publicly humiliated.

Though made over the past two years, the film has scenes that seem ripped from recent headlines. Last week, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld visited Iraq and, to the cheers of his military audience, defiantly called himself “a survivor” (a word traditionally reserved for those who have lived through the Holocaust or cancer, not for someone enduring political difficulties). In the film, a soldier tells Moore’s field team: “If Donald Rumsfeld was here, I’d ask for his resignation.”

Moore’s perennial grudge is against what President Eisenhower called the military-industrial complex: the collusion of big corporations and bad government to exploit the working class, here and abroad, for their own gain and in the process deprive citizens of their liberties. The Bush Administration’s Iraq policy is handmade for Moore’s grievances. Bush and his father have enjoyed a long and profitable relationship with the ruling families of Saudi Arabia, including the bin Ladens. The best-seller “House of Bush, House of Saud” by Craig Unger, whom Moore interviews, estimates that the Saudis have enriched the Bushes and their closest cronies by $1.4 billion.

Politicians reward their biggest contributors, and the Bushes are no exceptions. Fifteen of the 19 September 11th hijackers were Saudis; but when Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador who is close to the First Family, dined with the President in the White House two days after the attacks, the mood was collegial, not angry. In the Iraqi ramp-up and occupation, the Administration has rewarded its Saudi and Texas supporters with billions in rebuilding contracts. As Blaine Ober, president of an armored vehicle company, tells Moore: the Iraqi adventure is “good for business, bad for the people.”

Bad for the people of Iraq, Ober means. But, Moore argues, bad for Americans as well. As he sees it, 9/11 was a tragedy for America, a career move for Bush. The attacks allowed the President to push through Congress restrictive laws that would have been defeated in any climate but the “war on terror” chill. “Fahrenheit 9/11” shows some tragicomic effects of the Patriot Act: a man quizzed by the FBI for casually mentioning at his health club that he thought Bush was an “asshole”; a benign peace group in Fresno, Cal., infiltrated by an undercover police agent.

Two Bush quotes in the film indicate the Administration’s quandary in selling repression to the American people. One: “A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, no doubt about it.” The other: “They’re not happy they’re occupied. I wouldn’t be happy if I were occupied either.” Moore’s argument is that the U.S. is currently being occupied by a hostile, un-American force: the quintet of Bush, Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and Paul Wolfowitz.

Moore is usually the front-and-center star of his own films. Here, his presence is mostly that of narrator and guiding force, though he does make a few piquant appearances. While chatting with Unger across the street from the Saudi embassy in Washington, he is approached and quizzed by Secret Service agents. Hearing from Rep. John Conyers that no member of Congress had read the complete Patriot Act before voting for it, he hires a Mister Softee truck and patrols downtown D.C. reading the act to members of Congress over a loudspeaker. Toward the end, he tries to get Congressmen to enlist their sons in the military. Surprise: no volunteers.

The film has its longueurs. The interviews with young blacks and a grieving mother in Moore’s home town of Flint, Michigan, are relevant and poignant, but they lack the propulsive force and homespun indignance of the rest of the film. “Fahrenheit 9/11” is at its best when it provides talking points for the emerging majority of those opposed to the Iraq incursion. In sum, it’s an appalling, enthralling primer of what Moore sees as the Bush Administration’s crimes and misdemeanors.

“Fahrenheit 9/11” may be seen as another example of the liberal media preaching to its own choir. But Moore is such a clever assembler of huge accusations and minor peccadillos (as with a shot of Wolfowitz sticking his pocket comb in his mouth and sucking on it to slick down his hair before a TV interview) that the film should engage audiences of all political persuasions.

In one sense, Michael Moore took George W. Bush’s advice. He found “real work” deconstructing the President’s Iraq mistakes. “Fahrenheit 9/11” is Moore’s own War on Error.

Mary Corliss has covered the Cannes Film Festival for Film Comment and other publications since 1974. This year she is reporting for TIME.com.


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Monday, May 17, 2004

The Best of Craigslist...

I chased you for 12 years around the world, and I still can't find you

read about this man's journey

Hey, girl in my building that howls Evan Essence 28 times a night!

A detailed account of this woman's misery.

and finally...

Girl at Target

why buy at target? the customer service...

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Friday, May 14, 2004

Is File Sharing the Enemy?

Let us Hope the Darkness has Passed
India's Real and Virtual Worlds have Collided in a Humiliation of Power
by Arundhati Roy

here's some hot excerpts:

None of the pundits and psychologists predicted the results. The rightwing BJP-led coalition has not just been voted out of power, it has been humiliated. It cannot but be seen as a decisive vote against communalism, and neo-liberalism's economic "reforms". The Congress has become the largest party. The left parties, the only parties to be overtly (but ineffectively) critical of the reforms, have been given an unprecedented mandate. But even as we celebrate, we know that on every major issue besides overt Hindu nationalism (nuclear bombs, big dams and privatization), the Congress and the BJP have no major ideological differences. We know the legacy of the Congress led us to the horror of the BJP. Still, we celebrate because surely a darkness has passed. Or has it?

About having to live with the endless killing, the mounting "disappearances", the whispering, the fear, the rumors, the insane disconnection between what Kashmiris know is happening and what the rest of us are told is happening in Kashmir. He said: "Kashmir used to be a business. Now it's a mental asylum."

The singing, dancing world of Bollywood's permanent pelvic thrusts, of permanently privileged, happy Indians waving the tricolor and Feeling Good. Laws like POTA are like buttons on a TV. You can use it to switch off the poor, the troublesome, the unwanted.

Give it a read:

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Thursday, May 13, 2004

One Right Wing Group Out, A Few More To Go...

India's president accepts Prime Minister Vajpayee's resignation

NEW DELHI (AP) - Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee resigned Thursday after his governing coalition lost the parliamentary election, ending his nearly six years in power.

Vajpayee's resignation was accepted by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam at the ornate presidential palace, said the president' secretary, S.M. Khan.

"The resignation has been accepted and he has been asked to continue till an alternative arrangement is made," Khan said.

The meeting lasted 15 minutes, and Vajpayee was accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani, Press Trust of India news agency reported.

When the new Parliament convenes, possibly next week, Vajpayee will become the leader of the opposition and remain the leader of the National Democratic Alliance of 11 parties with whom he governed and fought the election, said Health Minister Sushma Swaraj, speaking after a cabinet meeting.

The opposition Congress party and its allies had earlier claimed victory and declared that party leader Sonia Gandhi would be the next prime minister, after early results showed the party and its allies were ahead of Vajpayee's 11-member National Democratic Alliance.

Before the five-phased elections, which began April 20, Vajpayee and his alliance had been expected to win enough seats to eventually form a government and rule the country for another five years.

It was an embarrassing defeat for Vajpayee's Hindu nationalist-led government, which had called elections six months early because it felt confident of winning an even bigger majority in Parliament, based on a booming economy and prospects of peace with Pakistan.

But Congress focused its campaign on the country's 300 million people who still live on less than a dollar a day. It hammered away at the lack of even basic infrastructure, electricity and potable water for millions of rural poor.

A leader in Vajpayee's coalition said the results were "totally against our expectations."

Gandhi has pushed for a secular India in contrast to the BJP's Hindu nationalist message. Her two children, Rahul and Priyanka, are up-and-coming politicians and Rahul expects to be elected to parliament on Thursday.

The Gandhi dynasty dominated Indian politics since independence from British colonial rule in 1947. Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, headed the country from independence until his 1964 death. He was followed by his daughter, Indira Gandhi, who was killed by her own bodyguards in 1984.

Rajiv, her son and Sonia's husband, took power and ruled until 1989. Two years later, he too was assassinated.


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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

heard this via hiphopgame and different kitchen thought ya'll should too.

Jadakiss + Anthony Hamilton "Why"
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Monday, May 10, 2004

Postcards of Freedom via everyone's new honeymoon destination, Iraq.

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Michael Moore's explanation on the events leading to Disney refusal to his new film.

When You Wish Upon A Star... by Michael Moore

May 7th, 2004


Thank you for all the incredible letters of support as my film crew and I once again slog our way through the corporate media madhouse. Does it ever end? Are we ever going to get control of our "free press" again? Can you wish upon a star?

The Disney spin machine has been working overtime dealing with this censorship debacle of theirs. I don't think they thought they would ever be outed. After all, they know that all of us are supposed to adhere to the unwritten Hollywood Code: Never tell the public how business is done here, never let them have a peek at the man behind the curtain.

Disney has been hoping for nearly a year that they could keep this thing quiet. As I promised on Wednesday, here are the details behind my sordid adventure with the Magic Kingdom:

In April of 2003, I signed a deal with Miramax, a division of the Walt Disney Co., to finance and distribute my next movie, Fahrenheit 9/11. (The original financier had backed out; I will tell that story at a later date.) In my contract it is stated that Miramax will distribute my film in the U.S. through Disney's distribution arm, Buena Vista Distribution. It also gives Miramax the rights to distribute and sell the movie around the world.

A month later, after shooting started, Michael Eisner insisted on meeting with my agent, Ari Emanuel. Eisner was furious that Miramax signed this deal with me. According to Mr. Emanuel, Eisner said he would never let my film be distributed through Disney even though Mr. Eisner had not seen any footage or even read the outline of the film. Eisner told my agent that he did not want to anger Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida. The movie, he believed, would complicate an already complicated situation with current and future Disney projects in Florida, and that many millions of dollars of tax breaks and incentives were at stake.

But Michael Eisner did not call Miramax and tell them to stop my film. Not only that, for the next year, SIX MILLION dollars of DISNEY money continued to flow into the production of making my movie. Miramax assured me that there were no distribution problems with my film.

But then, a few weeks ago when Fahrenheit 9/11 was selected to be in the Cannes Film Festival, Disney sent a low-level production executive to New York to watch the film (to this day, Michael Eisner has not seen the film). This exec was enthusiastic throughout the viewing. He laughed, he cried and at the end he thanked us. "This film is explosive," he exclaimed, and we took that as a positive sign. But "explosive" for these guys is only a good word when it comes to blowing up things in movies. OUR kind of "explosive" is what they want to run from as fast as they can.

Miramax did their best to convince Disney to go ahead as planned with our film. Disney contractually can only stop Miramax from releasing a film if it has received an NC-17 rating (ours will be rated PG-13 or R).

According to yesterday's New York Times, the issue of whether to release Fahrenheit 9/11 was discussed at Disney's board meeting last week. It was decided that Disney should not distribute our movie.

Earlier this week we got the final, official call: Disney will not put out Fahrenheit 9/11. When the story broke in the New York Times, Disney, instead of telling the truth, turned into Pinocchio.

Here are my favorite nuggets that have come out of the mouths of their spinmeisters (roughly quoted):

"Michael Moore has known for a year that we will not distribute this movie, so this is not news." Yes, that is what I thought, too, except Disney kept sending us all that money to make the movie. Miramax said there was no problem. I got the idea that everything was fine.

"It is not in the best interests of our company to distribute a partisan political film that may offend some of our customers." Hmmm. Disney doesn't distribute work that has partisan politics? Disney distributes and syndicates the Sean Hannity radio show every day? I get to listen to Rush Limbaugh every day on Disney-owned WABC. I also seem to remember that Disney distributed a very partisan political movie during a Congressional election year, 1998—a film called The Big One... by, um... ME!

"Fahrenheit 9/11 is not the Disney brand; we put out family oriented films." So true. That's why the #1 Disney film in theaters right now is a film called, KILL BILL, VOL. 2. This excellent Miramax film, along with other classics like Pulp Fiction, have all been distributed by Disney. That's why Miramax exists -- to provide an ALTERNATIVE to the usual Disney fare. And, unless they were NC-17, Disney has distributed them.

"Mr. Moore is doing this as a publicity stunt." Michael Eisner reportedly said this the other day while he was at a publicity stunt cutting the ribbon for the new "Tower of Terror" ride (what a pleasant name considering what the country has gone through recently) at Disney's California Adventure Park. Let me tell you something: NO filmmaker wants to go through this kind of controversy. It does NOT sell tickets (I can cite many examples of movies who have had to change distributors at the last minute and all have failed). I made this movie so people could see it as soon as possible. This is a huge and unwanted distraction. I want people discussing the issues raised in my film, not some inside Hollywood fracas surrounding who is going to ship the prints to the theaters. Plus, I think it is fairly safe to say that Fahrenheit 9/11 has a good chance of doing just fine, considering that my last movie set a box office record and the subject matter (Bush, the War on Terror, the War in Iraq) is at the forefront of most people's minds.

So what will happen to my movie? I still don't know. What I do know is that I will make sure all of you see it by hook or crook. We are Americans. There are a lot of screwed up things about us right now, but one thing that most of us have in common is that we don't like someone telling us we can't see something. We despise censors, and the worst censors are those who would dare to limit thoughts and ideas and silence dissent. THAT is un-American. If I have to travel across the country and show it in city parks (or, as one person offered yesterday, to show it on the side of his house for the neighborhood to see), that is what I will do.

More to come, stay tuned.


Michael Moore

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Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Disney Forbidding Distribution of Film That Criticizes Bush

WASHINGTON, May 4 — The Walt Disney Company is blocking its Miramax division from distributing a new documentary by Michael Moore that harshly criticizes President Bush, executives at both Disney and Miramax said Tuesday.

The film, "Fahrenheit 911," links Mr. Bush and prominent Saudis — including the family of Osama bin Laden — and criticizes Mr. Bush's actions before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Disney, which bought Miramax more than a decade ago, has a contractual agreement with the Miramax principals, Bob and Harvey Weinstein, allowing it to prevent the company from distributing films under certain circumstances, like an excessive budget or an NC-17 rating.

Executives at Miramax, who became principal investors in Mr. Moore's project last spring, do not believe that this is one of those cases, people involved in the production of the film said. If a compromise is not reached, these people said, the matter could go to mediation, though neither side is said to want to travel that route.

In a statement, Matthew Hiltzik, a spokesman for Miramax, said: "We're discussing the issue with Disney. We're looking at all of our options and look forward to resolving this amicably."

But Disney executives indicated that they would not budge from their position forbidding Miramax to be the distributor of the film in North America. Overseas rights have been sold to a number of companies, executives said.

"We advised both the agent and Miramax in May of 2003 that the film would not be distributed by Miramax," said Zenia Mucha, a company spokeswoman, referring to Mr. Moore's agent. "That decision stands."

Disney came under heavy criticism from conservatives last May after the disclosure that Miramax had agreed to finance the film when Icon Productions, Mel Gibson's company, backed out.

Mr. Moore's agent, Ari Emanuel, said Michael D. Eisner, Disney's chief executive, asked him last spring to pull out of the deal with Miramax. Mr. Emanuel said Mr. Eisner expressed particular concern that it would endanger tax breaks Disney receives for its theme park, hotels and other ventures in Florida, where Mr. Bush's brother, Jeb, is governor.

"Michael Eisner asked me not to sell this movie to Harvey Weinstein; that doesn't mean I listened to him," Mr. Emanuel said. "He definitely indicated there were tax incentives he was getting for the Disney corporation and that's why he didn't want me to sell it to Miramax. He didn't want a Disney company involved."

Disney executives deny that accusation, though they said their displeasure over the deal was made clear to Miramax and Mr. Emanuel.

A senior Disney executive elaborated that the company had the right to quash Miramax's distribution of films if it deemed their distribution to be against the interests of the company. The executive said Mr. Moore's film is deemed to be against Disney's interests not because of the company's business dealings with the government but because Disney caters to families of all political stripes and believes Mr. Moore's film, which does not have a release date, could alienate many.

"It's not in the interest of any major corporation to be dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle," this executive said.

Miramax is free to seek another distributor in North America, but such a deal would force it to share profits and be a blow to Harvey Weinstein, a big donor to Democrats.

Mr. Moore, who will present the film at the Cannes film festival this month, criticized Disney's decision in an interview on Tuesday, saying, "At some point the question has to be asked, `Should this be happening in a free and open society where the monied interests essentially call the shots regarding the information that the public is allowed to see?' "

Mr. Moore's films, like "Roger and Me" and "Bowling for Columbine," are often a political lightning rod, as Mr. Moore sets out to skewer what he says are the misguided priorities of conservatives and big business. They have also often performed well at the box office. His most recent movie, "Bowling for Columbine," took in about $22 million in North America for United Artists. His books, like "Stupid White Men," a jeremiad against the Bush administration that has sold more than a million copies, have also been lucrative.

Mr. Moore does not disagree that "Fahrenheit 911" is highly charged, but he took issue with the description of it as partisan. "If this is partisan in any way it is partisan on the side of the poor and working people in this country who provide fodder for this war machine," he said.

Mr. Moore said the film describes financial connections between the Bush family and its associates and prominent Saudi Arabian families that go back three decades. He said it closely explores the government's role in the evacuation of relatives of Mr. bin Laden from the United States immediately after the 2001 attacks. The film includes comments from American soldiers on the ground in Iraq expressing disillusionment with the war, he said.

Mr. Moore once planned to produce the film with Mr. Gibson's company, but "the project wasn't right for Icon," said Alan Nierob, an Icon spokesman, adding that the decision had nothing to do with politics.

Miramax stepped in immediately. The company had distributed Mr. Moore's 1997 film, "The Big One." In return for providing most of the new film's $6 million budget, Miramax was positioned to distribute it.

While Disney's objections were made clear early on, one executive said the Miramax leadership hoped it would be able to prevail upon Disney to sign off on distribution, which would ideally happen this summer, before the election and when political interest is high.


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Monday, May 03, 2004

Nation Magazine, May 17, 2004 Issue
by Greg Palast

First, the purges. In the months leading up to the November 2000 presidential election, Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris, in coordination with Governor Jeb Bush, ordered local election supervisors to purge 57,700 voters from the registries, supposedly ex-cons not allowed to vote in Florida. At least 90.2 percent of those on this "scrub" list, targeted to lose their civil rights, are innocent. Notably, more than half--about 54 percent--are black or Hispanic. You can argue all night about the number ultimately purged, but there's no argument that this electoral racial pogrom ordered by Jeb Bush's operatives gave the White House to his older brother. HAVA not only blesses such purges, it requires all fifty states to implement a similar search-and-destroy mission against vulnerable voters. Specifically, every state must, by the 2004 election, imitate Florida's system of computerizing voter files. The law then empowers fifty secretaries of state--fifty Katherine Harrises--to purge these lists of "suspect" voters.

The purge is back, big time. Following the disclosure in December 2000 of the black voter purge in Britain's Observer newspaper, NAACP lawyers sued the state. The civil rights group won a written promise from Governor Jeb and from Harris's successor to return wrongly scrubbed citizens to the voter rolls. According to records given to the courts by ChoicePoint, the company that generated the computerized lists, the number of Floridians who were questionably tagged totals 91,000. Willie Steen is one of them. Recently, I caught up with Steen outside his office at a Tampa hospital. Steen's case was easy. You can't work in a hospital if you have a criminal record. (My copy of Harris's hit list includes an ex-con named O'Steen, close enough to cost Willie Steen his vote.) The NAACP held up Steen's case to the court as a prime example of the voter purge evil.

The state admitted Steen's innocence. But a year after the NAACP won his case, Steen still couldn't register. Why was he still under suspicion? What do we know about this "potential felon," as Jeb called him? Steen, unlike our President, honorably served four years in the US military. There is, admittedly, a suspect mark on his record: Steen remains an African-American.

If you're black, voting in America is a game of chance. First, there's the chance your registration card will simply be thrown out. Millions of minority citizens registered to vote using what are called motor-voter forms. And Republicans know it. You would not be surprised to learn that the Commission on Civil Rights found widespread failures to add these voters to the registers. My sources report piles of dust-covered applications stacked up in election offices.

Second, once registered, there's the chance you'll be named a felon. In Florida, besides those fake felons on Harris's scrub sheets, some 600,000 residents are legally barred from voting because they have a criminal record in the state. That's one state. In the entire nation 1.4 million black men with sentences served can't vote, 13 percent of the nation's black male population.

At step three, the real gambling begins. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 guaranteed African-Americans the right to vote--but it did not guarantee the right to have their ballots counted. And in one in seven cases, they aren't.

Take Gadsden County. Of Florida's sixty-seven counties, Gadsden has the highest proportion of black residents: 58 percent. It also has the highest "spoilage" rate, that is, ballots tossed out on technicalities: one in eight votes cast but not counted. Next door to Gadsden is white-majority Leon County, where virtually every vote is counted (a spoilage rate of one in 500).

How do votes spoil? Apparently, any old odd mark on a ballot will do it. In Gadsden, some voters wrote in Al Gore instead of checking his name. Their votes did not count.

Harvard law professor Christopher Edley Jr., a member of the Commission on Civil Rights, didn't like the smell of all those spoiled ballots. He dug into the pile of tossed ballots and, deep in the commission's official findings, reported this: 14.4 percent of black votes--one in seven--were "invalidated," i.e., never counted. By contrast, only 1.6 percent of nonblack voters' ballots were spoiled.

Florida's electorate is 11 percent African-American. Florida refused to count 179,855 spoiled ballots. A little junior high school algebra applied to commission numbers indicates that 54 percent, or 97,000, of the votes "spoiled" were cast by black folk, of whom more than 90 percent chose Gore. The nonblack vote divided about evenly between Gore and Bush. Therefore, had Harris allowed the counting of these ballots, Al Gore would have racked up a plurality of about 87,000 votes in Florida--162 times Bush's official margin of victory.

That's Florida. Now let's talk about America. In the 2000 election, 1.9 million votes cast were never counted. Spoiled for technical reasons, like writing in Gore's name, machine malfunctions and so on. The reasons for ballot rejection vary, but there's a suspicious shading to the ballots tossed into the dumpster. Edley's team of Harvard experts discovered that just as in Florida, the number of ballots spoiled was--county by county, precinct by precinct--in direct proportion to the local black voting population.

Florida's racial profile mirrors the nation's--both in the percentage of voters who are black and the racial profile of the voters whose ballots don't count. "In 2000, a black voter in Florida was ten times as likely to have their vote spoiled--not counted--as a white voter," explains political scientist Philip Klinkner, co-author of Edley's Harvard report. "National figures indicate that Florida is, surprisingly, typical. Given the proportion of nonwhite to white voters in America, then, it appears that about half of all ballots spoiled in the USA, as many as 1 million votes, were cast by nonwhite voters."

So there you have it. In the last presidential election, approximately 1 million black and other minorities voted, and their ballots were thrown away. And they will be tossed again in November 2004, efficiently, by computer--because HAVA and other bogus reform measures, stressing reform through complex computerization, do not address, and in fact worsen, the racial bias of the uncounted vote.

One million votes will disappear in a puff of very black smoke. And when the smoke clears, the Bush clan will be warming their political careers in the light of the ballot bonfire. HAVA nice day.

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