Johnnie Cochran

There really is no easy way to say goodbye to Johnnie Cochran. Some will remember him as the slick dressing, smooth talking, rhyming lawyer who brought home an acquittal for O.J. Simpson. There are others who will remember him for Geronimo Pratt. I didn’t know Mr. Cochran and never had the pleasure of making his acquaintance but I will miss him. Never again will I walk the streets with the same feeling of security that I once had now that he is gone.

I remember when there were worse things on the streets than gang bangers – cops. I remember when it was open season on Black Males and the CRASH unit patrolled Rampart Division with impunity – Pete, Jim, Sgt. Stone, Adam 12 – no thanks, I’ll take my chances with the gangs. I don’t want to end up a Wiki article like Amadou Diallo.

No, things will never be the same. That small measure of confidence in the potential equity of the criminal justice system that Johnnie Cochran fought so hard to maintain in the Simpson trial has been eroded over the years by election results from Florida, presidential appointments from the bench (talk about activist judges), and “Vendetta Legislation” from prosecutors in the Michael Jackson case in which “uncharged, unproven allegations” will be admitted into evidence.

I hope that when the mourning is over people will realize that, like him or not, Johnnie Cochran was one hell of a lawyer and an incredible salesman. He alone sold me on the dream of Justice in America. After Houston and Marshall, perhaps history will begin to understand Johnnie Cochran as one of the last paladin of the American ideal of Justice. Who will save Justice now? For where there is no Justice there can be no . . .

Peace Johnnie.


Harsh reality of China's fantasy craze

Hey fellas . . . its just a game. Get a grip! This is what happens when you selectively breed a major gender imbalance into a population the size of . . . well China. But there is an interesting issue behind all of this and that is to what extent will legal systems recognize virtual property? How will the comming virtu-reality communuities be recognized? How far will liability be extended in this new world and how far away are we from thought crimes.

I know a bit of a leap.

Just wait for the lawyers, they'll prosecute it, they'll prosecute anything.

Lawyers are what happen when open source fails.

Jonathan Watts in Beijing

When Qiu Chengwei reported the theft of his "dragon sabre" he was laughed out of the police station. So the 41-year-old online games player decided to take matters into his own hands.

Swapping virtual weapons for a real knife, he tracked down the man who had robbed him of his prized fantasy possession and stabbed him to death.

Mr Qiu is now facing a possible death sentence in a Shanghai court case which has highlighted concern about the social, psychological and economic impact of one of China's fastest-growing industries.

A spate of suicides, deaths by exhaustion and legal disputes about virtual possessions have been blamed on internet role-play games, which are estimated to have more than 40 million players in China.

Suge' Knight Ordered to Pay $107M

Harry "O" Baby!!!

Entertainment - AP Music

'Suge' Knight Ordered to Pay $107M

Wed Mar 30, 5:56 PM ET

LOS ANGELES - A judge has ordered Marion "Suge" Knight to pay $107 million to a woman who claims she helped the rap mogul start Death Row Records, ruling Knight and his attorneys failed to answer questions and provide information in the case.

Grokster Notes

DMCA Bad. RIAA Baaad!

Privacy Registration Blocked For .US Domain Names

If you own a domain name, you know the benefits of registering it under a private proxy which keeps your name, address and contact information away from the prying eyes of spammers, stalkers or solicitors. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, (NTIA), the telecommunications and Internet arm of the Department of Commerce, has disallowed private registrations for .US domain names.

Geek News Central

Illinois to woo gays, lesbians

By Kathy Bergen
Tribune staff reporter
Published March 31, 2005

With Gay Games VII coming to Chicago in July 2006, the state is launching its first targeted push for gay and lesbian travelers, broadening its efforts to sell Illinois to niche markets.

"We will have our first-ever media-familiarization trip focusing on the affluent gay and lesbian market," Jan Kostner, deputy director of the Illinois Bureau of Tourism, told 600 travel professionals gathered Wednesday at the 18th annual Illinois Governor's Conference on Tourism.

The initiative comes about a year after the state more than doubled annual budgets for marketing to two other fast-growing travel-market sectors--African-Americans and Latinos. The state will spend $350,000 to market to each group, both this fiscal year and the next, which begins July 1.


Creator of DoomJohn Carmack dabbling in cell phones

SunGard Goes Private !!!!

Why is no one concerned that SunGard is going private? When arguably the world’s largest financial data network has been purchased for $11.3 billion. A bargain I might add. An $11.3 billion investment has gained the private consortium exclusive access to the fastest trading platform and financial database in the world. This is going to be the most accurate view of global cash positions ever. That’s one hell of an arbitrage position.

1981 attack on pope planned by Soviets

ROME (AFP) - New documents found in the files of the former East German intelligence services confirm the 1981 assassination attempt against Pope John Paul II was ordered by the Soviet KGB and assigned to Bulgarian agents, an Italian daily said

More Like Wrestling (MLW)

Interview by Jeni Wright

Danyel Smith has the type of credentials that would make anyone a little insecure. She's a former editor at large for Time Inc.and the former editor-in-chief of Vibe, not to mention the fact that she's also written for the Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Spin, The New Yorker, The San Francisco Bay Guardian and The New York Times. A few years ago, she made the decision to devote herself to writing fiction and the hard work paid off. Her first novel, More Like Wrestling, which is already wracking up considerable critical acclaim, makes it abundantly clear Danyel's talents extend beyond the walls of magazine suites. Danyel talked with coloredgirls about her career in journalism, More Like Wrestling (MLW) and why fiction is so irresistibly seductive.

Black, Asian Women With Degrees Earn More

By GENARO C. ARMAS, Associated Press Writer

Black and Asian women with bachelor's degrees earn slightly more than similarly educated white women, and white men with four-year degrees make more than anyone else.
A white woman with a bachelor's degree typically earned nearly $37,800 in 2003, compared with nearly $43,700 for a college-educated Asian woman and $41,100 for a college-educated black woman, according to data being released Monday by the Census Bureau (news - web sites). Hispanic women took home slightly less at $37,600 a year.

Big Brother microphones tested: The Block is HOT!!

Picardi said he's even experimenting with a Big Brother bonus for unmarked police cars: a tiny microphone positioned near the windshield so powerful it can pick up conversations on the street.

"You could pull into a street corner and, if there's a drug deal going on a half-block away, you can hear what's going on. You could have all the windows shut and the air-conditioning on and you could hear everything going on outside the vehicle," Picardi said.

Injecting crack cocaine is surprisingly common

Crack cocaine is being injected - not just smoked - by a significant number of US drug users, reveals the first large survey of the practice. The phenomenon is particularly worrisome because it is associated with more high-risk behaviour, such as sharing needles and having unprotected sex, than other intravenous drugs.

Rheingold's "Urban Mobile Games" List

Howard Rheingold (virtual community guru) has an excellent comprehensive list of what he calls "urban mobile games" (and which I previously complained about people calling "big games").

I like his term better, although I'm not sure "urban" is necessary here. These are LARPS-cum-mobile technology, kinda sorta. In principle, they could be non-urban, although most to date have been.

Camping Out for the Grokster Case

Katie Dean

WASHINGTON -- Forget Star Wars premieres. A seat at the MGM Studios v. Grokster Supreme Court hearing Tuesday morning was the hottest ticket in town.

Gray skies, with intermittent rain and cold, didn't deter a group of staunch file-sharing supporters -- as well as a number of hired line-standers -- from queuing up starting at around 2:30 p.m. Monday to secure a seat in court for the landmark copyright case.

P=NP and the Arts

A few years ago someone asked Steven Rudich, a complexity theorist at Carnegie-Mellon, why he thought P is different than NP. He replied "I can recognize great music but I can't create great music," the implication being that it's much harder to find a solution than to verify one.

Is an 'open' Internet a doomed concept?

Should Congress and regulators keep the Internet "open," or not?

The Supreme Court on Tuesday considered a 9th Circuit Appeals Court ruling that rejected the Federal Communications Commission's decision to spare cable modem service from telecom regulation. When this issue of mandating access for cable broadband competitors is discussed, the debate is usually framed by the question above.

Jail term for Yukos security boss

The former security chief of Russian oil giant Yukos, Alexei Pichugin, has been sentenced to 20 years in jail for murder and attempted murder.

Study highlights global decline

The most comprehensive survey ever into the state of the planet concludes that human activities threaten the Earth's ability to sustain future generations.
By Jonathan Amos
BBC News science reporter


Star Wars IV - Revenge of the Jedi (A Brick Movie)

Brick film by Greg.

Star Wars Leggo Style!


Black Churches and Politics

A discussion on Chicago Public Radio' s Odyssey. About the emerging partnership between Black Churches and the conservative political establishment.


Robert Franklin (link)
Melissa Hariss-Lacewell (link)

Real Player audio link.

University of Georgia to Alter Mural

UGA officials have decided to alter a mural commemorating UGA's integration by altering images of a racial slur. WTF!!

Hellooo! It’s a University. The mural is a piece of ART! You remember ART don’t you? It started out with smearing . . .

But after that there were finger paints, crayons, craypas, pastels, watercolors, tempras, oils, acrylics, spray cans, you know . . . the good shit. Remember when art was the expression of fantasy, the commemoration of imagination, a little tangible memoir of what was and wedge into the future of what might be. If King never dreamed in carefully sculpted prose would we remember to all get along? (OK bad example). What about Goya, Dali, Picasso? Alright, forget them. What about facing the fact that, that is the way it was and often still is.

Stop being such bureaucrats and leave the mural alone.

Investors To Buy SunGard For $11 Billion

A must read.
See Carlyle Group investments.

Supreme Court to Weigh in on File-Sharing

The Sun Never Sets on IBM

In this session from the Web 2.0 Conference, you'll get to hear some of the most intriguing new developments from three of the biggest R&D shops in the world: IBM, Google and Microsoft.

The panel includes:

  • John Battelle, Program Chair, Web 2.0 Conference, Battelle Media
  • Peter Norvig, Ph.D., Director of Search Quality, Google, Inc.
  • Richard F. Rashid, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Research, Microsoft
  • Jim Spohrer, Director of Services Research, IBM Almaden Research Center
  • Moderated by John Battelle, Program Chair


SeQuential Biofuels is opening a station in Eugene, OR and another in Springfield.

Wabash county Illinois is proposing to build a $65 million biodiesel manufacturing facility.

McKinney Grills Rumseld on DynCorp and Sex Ring

A great C-Span video clip.

Watch how McKinney asks questions about Dyncorp slave rings, the 3 trillion missing from the pentagon and the 911 wargames.


Dyncorp Sex Ring

Two former employees of DynCorp, the government contracting powerhouse, have won legal victories after charging that the $2 billion-a-year firm fired them when they complained that co-workers were involved in a Bosnia sex-slave trade.

The Return of Cynthia McKinney

Two years ago — which means prior to the invasion of Iraq — McKinney went out on a bit of a limb. In an interview with a radio station in Berkeley, California, McKinney declared the war on terror a sham and George W. Bush an accessory to mass murder:

We know there were numerous warnings of the events to come on September 11th.... What did this administration know and when did it know it, about the events of September 11th? Who else knew, and why did they not warn the innocent people of New York who were needlessly murdered?... What do they have to hide?


Podcast Software

The Free, Cross-Platform Sound Editor

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.


Sound Byte is a computerized cart machine for the Macintosh. It is very similar to the so-called cart machines used at radio stations in the past. Each recording - a jingle, advertisement, etc, was on a cartidge, which could be quickly selected and played.

Podcast & Portable Media Expo

Podcast & Portable Media Expo showcases the present and future of portable content with demonstration exhibits and conference sessions devoted to creating, editing, delivering, viewing and profiting from unique audio and video media.

The complete conference program will include three distinct tracks during both days of the show, each featuring a combination of keynotes, expert panel discussions and other educational sessions—including audience Q&A.

Topics will include areas of interest for those who create content, those who monetize content and those behind the technology of delivering the content.

Debating Islamic Law (audio file)

Crowded House Drummer Hester Found Dead

SYDNEY, Australia - The drummer from 1980s Australian rock band Crowded House hanged himself in a park in southern Australia, an emergency services spokeswoman said Monday.


Wal-Mart Awards $100,000 to Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies

BENTONVILLE, Ark., Feb. 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. -- today announced a grant for $100,000 to the Tavis Smiley Center for Professional Media Studies, further extending the scholarships for minority journalism students initiative the company launched to help increase diversity in the nation's newsrooms.

A Parallel Path of Inheritance

SCIENTISTS have challenged the laws of heredity that for 150 years decreed that organisms inherit half their genetic characteristics from one parent and half from the other. The discovery has severe implications for GM products.

FEC Wants to Exempt Blogs From Campaign Rules

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued proposed rules Thursday attempting to eliminate any restrictions on political blogging. FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub said the panel is still trying to determine whether a specific regulation exempting bloggers needs to be written, or if blogging would be protected by simply not including it in the proposed rules.

Steve Wozniak Gnomedex 4.0

Great discussion from Gnomedex 4.0 with Steve Wozniak. For all of you who remeber Radio Shack electronic kits, cold boots, tape drives and green screens!
Part 1 Part 2

Road to Serfdom

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

Benjamin Franklin

The Road to Serfdom and Debt Slavery

1. War forces national planning

2. Many want planning to stay

3. Planners promise utopia

4. Utopia fails to materialize

5. Consensus through propaganda

6. Illusion of consensus fades

7. Strong man given power

8. Party takes over country

9. Party unified through scapegoats

10. Opposition eliminated

11. Planning extends to the individual

12. Tyranny

Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act Passes House

Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act - Establishes the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor (Heritage Corridor) to: (1) recognize the important contributions made to American culture and history by African-Americans known as the Gullah/Geechee who settled in the coastal counties of South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia; (2) assist State and local governments and public and private entities in South Carolina, North Carolina, Florida, and Georgia in interpreting the story of the Gullah/Geechee and preserving Gullah/Geechee folklore, arts, crafts, and music; and (3) assist in identifying and preserving sites, historical data, artifacts, and objects associated with the Gullah/Geechee for the benefit and education of the public.

Establishes the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission to assist Federal, State, and local authorities to develop and implement a management plan for Gullah/Geechee lands and waters.

Requires the Commission to establish one or more Coastal Heritage Centers in the Heritage Corridor in accordance with the Low Country Gullah Culture Special Resource Study and Environmental Impact Study, December 2003, and additional appropriate sites.

Congress Passes Anti-Consumer Bankruptcy Bill

“Few may have noticed that the House has passed a controversial bill to reform the bankruptcy system. The overwhelming vote on March 19 -- 315 members voted yes and 113 voted no -- belies just how controversial the legislation is.” Adam J. Goldberg

While Americans are basking in their post Easter stupor the financial services industry is getting ready to feast. With little or no consideration for what it costs to live in America our representatives in government have handed us over for slaughter. While the financial services industry bemoans that they are being victimized by credit card cheats they control one of the most profitable enterprises in America. It’s not as if our credit industry is losing money or is on the verge of collapse, to the contrary, they are hovering near $30 billion a year in profits. I know, how did this one get through?

Did you vote for it?

It wasn’t me?

What ever happened to Jubilee?

Was your representative one of the 113 representatives of “We the people” or one of the 315 representatives of the financial industry? The best government money can buy.

Find out how your representative voted.

Podcasting Licensing Frontiers

"As the Cyberspace community members' ability to create a podcast increases with time and technology, the explosion of podcasting is imminent. While many consider podcasts to be digital download, there is also the view that they are broadcasts, and as such, performing rights organizations want to tap this new revenue stream for their members."

As new forms and forums of community and communication come into being we will have to reconsider and define what is properly considered public and private. Is cyberspace a public domain, a public resource, or is it the sole province of corporations and profiteers? What rights will a cyber citzenry have in the years to come?


Guards Find Tunnel in Iraq

Guards discover 600 foot tunnel under prison. Story

Bush Slipping in Job Approval Polls

Polling data shows President Bush losing ground in recent survey.


NAACP Image Awards

<>Here we go:
<>Jaime won and didn’t cry.

Fantasia won: Girl got Soul! <>
Kerry Washington
Regina King
Morgan Freeman
Alicia Keyes
Kanye West
Taylor Hackford (Thank you). Won.
Did I mention Fantasia! (“B.A.B.Y. M.A.M.A!”) <>

Oprah (La Donna Media) Hall of Fame! <>

Prince won the Vanguard Award.
Prince performed - Morris, Jerome, the Mirror!! <>(But did anybody see Sheila E!?) <>
But seriously, I had to watch on TV.

Can anybody tell me . . . did Barrack Obama do the Bird? <>
Angela Bassett – Always a Lady. <>

Kudos to Jaime Foxx for explaining the necessity of defining a franchise and securing a market. Good Lookin’ Bruh. (Who the hell listens to Larry Elder?????)

Finally: Mr. Davis. Mr. Charles.
Life ain’t the same without you.
Miss y'all.

Many Advertisers Find Blogging Frontier Is Still Too Wild

Many Advertisers Find
Blogging Frontier
Is Still Too Wild

March 25, 2005; Page B1

Gawker Media, one of the biggest brands in Web log publishing, launched a saucy urban travel blog called Gridskipper on Jan. 31. On that day, the logo of the site's sole sponsor, Cendant Corp.'s Cheaptickets, could be found in ads on each page. But by Feb. 3, the company had removed its banners and boxes, leaving empty spaces on some pages.

What happened?

In the intervening days, Gridskipper covered editorial topics such as eating psychedelic mushrooms in Amsterdam's Van Gogh museum and the pricing policies of an escort service in Prague. Cheaptickets declined to comment, but Nick Denton, Gawker's founder, says he thinks the site was "too naughty" for its sponsor.

At their best, blogs are an advertiser's dream: the diary-style Web sites that feature running commentary and reactions are tightly targeted niche markets where avant-garde enthusiasts regularly return to read, post and send in tips. Well-placed blog ads can boost a company's image as cutting-edge. Plus, they're inexpensive: $350 a week, for instance, for premium positioning on Mr. Denton's high-profile inside-Washington blog, Wonkette, which got 2.2 million "page views" last month, a measure of how many times a single visitor looks at one Web site page.

But many companies are wary of putting their brand on such a new and unpredictable medium. Most blogs are written by a lone author. They are typically unedited and include spirited responses from readers who can post comments at will. Some marketers fear blogs will criticize their products or ad campaigns. And, like all new blog readers, companies are just learning how to track what's being said on blogs and which ones might make a good fit for their ads.

As a result, advertising on blogs is still in the early stages. Although advertising on Web sites was a $9.6 billion business in the U.S. last year, according to Interactive Advertising Bureau there is little data to date on blog ad-spending., a service that matches bloggers and advertisers, says its business has grown from 28 ads in September 2002 to 1,685 ads last month.

The vast majority of the 8 million or so blogs currently in existence have few if any ads. Many are run by hobbyists or armchair commentators, some of whom sign up to carry tiny text ads from a large pool of advertisers through a service from Google Inc. The ads generate revenue only when a visitor clicks on the ad. Most bloggers, like Ronni Bennett, a former television producer who lives in New York's Greenwich Village and writes about aging on, can't even offset the cost of her Internet access. Her site gets between 1,200 and 1,500 page views a day, bringing in all of $50 since December 2004.

For bigger advertisers, finding the right blog is critical, which is where comes in. Blogs that have been in existence for at least six months and have a dedicated readership can join's database, which currently lists about 750 sites. Advertisers use to find blogs with suitable content (technology, media, fashion) or political slant. They can purchase ads through by the week or the month. Prices range from $10 to $3,000 for better-known blogs. Marketers can chose which sites to advertise on and bloggers can accept or reject the ads.

Henry Copeland,'s founder, works with marketers to create successful blog ads, which he says should be different from regular Web ads. "We just kind of shudder when we hear from an advertiser, 'Wow, I hear blogs are cool and cheap, and I want to be on a blog,' " he says.

Instead, he advises advertisers to think like bloggers, and remember they are joining an ongoing conversation, incorporate links to other sites and use a voice that fits the blog's general tone. Above all, he says, they should stop hitting readers over the head with giant logos. One good example he points to is an ad that Knopf, a publishing division of Bertelsmann AG's Random House, designed for Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami's most recent book. Rather than linking to a site that sells the book, Knopf's ad joins in the spirit of blogging by quoting and linking to other blogs that discuss the book, such as MetaFilter.

For advertisers dizzied by choices on, the few established blog networks stand out as relatively safe harbors. Mr. Denton's Gawker Media was founded in 2002, and now publishes 11 blogs including Gawker (gossip and pop culture), Gizmodo (gadgets), and Jalopnik (cars). Another network is Weblogs Inc., which now operates 76 blogs, including its own high-traffic gadget and car titles, Engadget and Autoblog. Weblogs has taken in $925,000 in advertising revenue over the last four months.

"For now, we prefer blog networks with known publishers," says John Cate, vice president and national media director for Carat Interactive, an international online-ad agency.

Some big advertisers have run successful blog campaigns. Sony Corp. is currently the sole sponsor of a geek-chic technology blog from Gawker Media called Lifehacker. A spokeswoman calls it "an initial pilot program" representing "a minimal investment for Sony Electronics."

Gawker's Jalopnik launched last year with Volkswagen AG's Audi as the sole sponsor. Linking up the two was relatively low-risk because the Audi message jibed with the site's audience -- cool, car-obsessed and Internet-savvy. "Audi is a dream advertiser. We like the cars. We can get enthusiastic about coming up with creative campaigns," says Gawker's Mr. Denton.

Jalopnik is "a natural medium for us to reach Audi prospects," says Jim Taubitz, Audi's online marketing manager. He says the ads performed as well as those placed on traditional Web sites; Audi ended its first run on Jalopnik in January, but is back for a weeks-long campaign for the launch of its new A4.

Jalopnik has written positively of Audi, but that wasn't in the contract. Just as with most reputable newspapers and magazines, Gawker and Weblogs say buying advertising on their blogs doesn't buy good publicity. In the blog world in general, though, there isn't any widespread ethical guarantee that bloggers won't be influenced by advertisers.

Blogs' reader commentary can take unpredictable turns -- which is why it takes a thick-skinned company to experiment in this medium. On Weblogs' Autoblog and Engadget blogs, some ads are followed by a link that says, "Comment on this automobile," or "Comment on this product/service." On Engadget, 24 readers did just that, offering praise, suggestions and criticism about the ad and the products for Griffin Technology, a Nashville, Tenn., maker of Apple accessories.

Some of the comments were negative, but according to Weblogs founder Jason Calacanis, customer-friendly companies need not be timid. "If you're hiding from your customers, you don't like their feedback, you treat your customers terribly, blogs are the worst place to be," he says, adding, "PR people and hype-based marketers are not doing well in the blogosphere."

For now, many big companies are sitting on the sidelines. "We're in a wait-and-see mode," says Stuart Bogaty, senior partner and managing director of mOne Worldwide, a digital ad agency that is part of WPP Group. He thinks that companies will remain skittish until agencies can better monitor and control what individual bloggers are saying about them. On the other hand, that might undercut their renegade appeal. "If we were able to convince a blogger to do that," he notes, "it would reduce the value of his blog in general."

Rapper Nelly's Sister Dies of Leukemia

Are you an eligible marrow donor?
Thu Mar 24, 6:14 PM ET

ST. LOUIS - Jacqueline "Jackie" Donahue, a sister of Grammy-winning rapper Nelly, died Thursday at a St. Louis hospital after a long battle with leukemia, the artist's publicist said.

AP Photo

Donahue had been diagnosed with leukemia on March 29, 2001. The cancer was in remission for nearly two years before she suffered a relapse, prompting Nelly to arrange a number of bone marrow drives. A match was never found.

Publicist Jane Higgins said Nelly and Donahue, who had the same father, were very close as they grew older. Donahue, a 31-year-old mother of two, worked as Nelly's stylist until her illness forced her to leave that position.

In March 2003, Nelly and Donahue formed a campaign called "Jes Us 4 Jackie" to find donors for Donahue and others, and to raise awareness about bone marrow donations.

Donahue's family said in a statement they were "deeply saddened" by her death and offered their thanks for those who had supported her and the bone marrow drives.

"We are very proud of her efforts to educate and raise awareness about the disease and the need for African-Americans to join the National Donor Registry," the family said.

"She will always be remembered for her loving spirit, energy and unshakable faith."

The 30-year-old rapper said through Universal Records that several dates on his tour had been postponed.

Hip Hop Mc Donalds

Advertising Age
March 23, 2005
By Marc Graser

LOS ANGELES -- Hip-hop artists have plugged in virtually every high-end brand from Cartier to Versace into their song lyrics. But now the Big Mac is about to get name dropped.
McDonald's wants to have its Big Mac featured in several hit song lyrics by summer.

McDonald’s Corp. has hired entertainment marketing firm Maven Strategies to help the fast-food giant encourage hip-hop artists to integrate the Big Mac sandwich into their upcoming songs.

Summertime airplay

The goal is to have several tracks hit the radio airwaves by the summer. Maven, based in Lanham, Md., has already approached record labels, producers and individual artists with the Big Mac proposal -- which emphasizes writing lyrics around the sandwich’s name alone, and not necessarily including McDonald’s or the Golden Arches. “Once we partner with a particular brand, we identify artists that meet the attributes of the brand,” said Tony Rome, president-CEO of Maven Strategies. He added that because artists have different styles -- some are more serious, some are more party driven -- “we always want to make sure their style works with the advertiser.” Maven also tries to identify when an artist is hoping to release a new record: An advertiser could time a new marketing campaign around the release of an album that features its product in a song.

Final song approval

For the deal involving the Big Mac, McDonald’s receives final approval of the lyrics, but it will ultimately allow artists to decide how the sandwich is integrated into the songs. “The main thing is to allow the artists to do what they do best,” Mr. Rome said. “We’re letting them creatively bring to life the product in their song.” Maven’s already started receiving several songs for consideration. Maven receives a consulting fee for its services. Music acts, however, will not receive payment upfront. Instead, they will earn anywhere from $1 to $5 each time their song is played on the radio.

Payment strategy

That payment strategy not only limits the risk for McDonald’s, or any other brand looking to partner up with music acts, but also encourages artists to produce a hit song. “At the end of the day, this has to work for the brands, and we want to deliver quantitative results,” Mr. Rome said. “The risk involved for upfront payment is all eliminated. If an artist isn’t able to deliver [a hit], there’s no out-of-pocket cost to the client. You pay for performance.” A hit song also means more than just radio airplay, which could extend the reach of the brand. “If a song is getting a lot of airplay, there’s a strong likelihood it will be played in clubs, be downloaded, be turned into a ringtone and sell more CDs,” Mr. Rome said. Because radio play is easier to track, brands only pay artists when their song is spun by a station. Maven can also track how many times a song plays on satellite radio.

Shout out to Seagram's Gin

Maven has started to drum up interest from advertisers after the company was able to integrate Seagram’s gin into five rap songs last year from artists such as Kanye West, Twista, the Franchise Boys and Petey Pablo. Petey Pablo’s “Freek-a-leek” ended up as the No. 2 hip-hop song of the year, according to the Billboard Top 50 hip-hop songs of 2004, and played over 350,000 times on the radio. Part of that song’s lyrics: “Now I got to give a shout out to Seagram's Gin/Cause I’m drinkin’ it and they payin’ me for it.” But most brands aren’t paying for it -- record labels have charged for brands to appear in music videos, but not in lyrics. And that’s somewhat surprising, considering how many brands are being name-dropped by rappers. Brands including Bentley, Porsche, Gucci, Gulfstream and Dom Perignon have all been mentioned by rap stars Jay-Z, 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg. Last year, Kanye West mentioned 19 brands, including Lexus, Versace, Cartier, Mercedes and Cadillac in four singles, according to American Brandstand, which tracks the number of brands music acts mention in their songs. Product placement in music seems to work. Courvoisier enjoyed a sales boost in the U.S. and Europe after Busta Rhymes’ “Pass the Courvoisier” was released.

Part of the rapper's lifestyle

Mr. Rome said that rappers are mentioning brands in their songs because “the brands are part of their lifestyle. It’s something they’re already utilizing, eating or driving. “Hip-hop represents a large share of what pop culture is today,” Mr. Rome said. “Hip-hop’s endorsement of different brands give them a cool factor and representation among youth. They gain credibility by being mentioned in songs.” Advertisers are only eager to leverage the power of hip-hop as a marketing tool and generate some exposure for their brand among the music genre’s young urban consumers. Hip-hop generates an estimated $2 billion in sales a year and ranks behind rock 'n' roll as the second most popular music genre in America.

Hip-hop stars are brands

“The stars of hip-hop have become brands,” said Douglas Freeland, director of brand entertainment strategy at McDonald’s. “This partnership reflects our appreciation and respect for the most dominant youth culture in the world.” But not every brand will appeal to rap stars. “We wouldn’t be having this conversation about Clorox bleach or Brillo pads,” Mr. Rome said. Maven’s relationship with advertisers is now enabling it to expand its entertainment marketing business. The company, which has been active in the entertainment marketing arena for the past 10 years, has also produced several live events, including Seagram’s Gin Live, a 25-city tour featuring urban music acts, and the “Kings of Comedy Tour,” whose sponsors included Crown Royal and HBO. But Maven now also exclusively represents Seagram’s Gin and Martell Cognac for all forms of product placement and promotional deals in entertainment. Maven recently produced a promotion for Martell around Lions Gate’s hit Diary of a Mad Black Woman and will integrate the product into New Line Cinema’s upcoming comedy King’s Ransom.

By the Time I get to Arizona

For those libertines who are beyond red lace and thongs. Enjoy!

China oil quest unlikely to dilute supply-experts

[LatelineNews: 2005-3-23] WASHINGTON - China state-owned firms' global quest for stakes in oil development projects is not likely to hamper international oil majors' access to crude reserves, energy experts said Wednesday.

Some U.S. policymakers are concerned that China's pursuit of oil stakes in Venezuela, Canada and Iran could spur tighter markets as prices linger near $54 per barrel, just short of the record-high of $57.60 set by U.S. light crude oil March 17.

Guy Caruso, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration, said such concerns are "probably overblown," and that China will only get a relatively small amount of its total supply from overseas projects.

"I'm not worried that (China) will somehow edge out investment dollars" from other international oil companies, Caruso said at a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies on China oil demand.

Rampant oil demand from China, the world's second-largest consumer behind the United States, caught oil market analysts off guard in 2004.

Chinese oil demand, pegged at 6.4 million bpd last year, is forecast by the International Energy Agency to grow 7.9 percent this year, down from 15.6 percent a year ago.

Chinese oil firms like CNOOC Ltd., China National Petroleum Corp. and Sinopec Group have pursued projects in Canada, Venezuela and elsewhere, venturing to nations like Iran and Sudan that are off-limits to U.S. majors because of government sanctions.

Such companies will likely continue their global energy quest even though they will likely rack up billion-dollar losses in the process, said Jeffrey Logan, a China expert at the International Energy Agency.

"It's not like the Chinese will strangle-hold the market," Logan said. "They have a limited amount of influence and have to spend a tremendous amount of money to get it."

Equity oil projects in Sudan and elsewhere, where Chinese firms take a percentage of a field's production as payment, account for about 350,000 barrels per day, or 15 percent, of its imports.

If Chinese state-owned companies meet their goal of growing overseas equity shipments by 8 percent a year, they could control only 2 percent of global oil supply by 2020 at best, Logan said.

China is looking to use its $600 billion in foreign currency reserves for overseas ventures in oil, copper and other minerals rather than plowing them into overheated domestic markets where bad loans abound, Logan said.

It's unclear whether Chinese nationals will take to heart lessons learned by Japan's national oil firms, which lost billions of dollars pursuing global projects only to come up nearly empty-handed after two decades, he said.

Chinese planners will eventually realize that overseas equity oil ventures are "a very expensive way to do not very much at all," Logan said. Reuters News http://latelinenews.c

The oil factor in Bush's 'war on tyranny'

F William Engdahl

In recent public speeches, President George W Bush and others in the US administration, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, have begun to make a significant shift in the rhetoric of war. A new "war on tyranny" is being groomed to replace the outmoded "war on terror". Far from being a semantic nuance, the shift is highly revealing of the next phase of Washington's global agenda.

In his January 20 inaugural speech, Bush declared, "It is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world" (author's emphasis). Bush repeated the last formulation, "ending tyranny in our world", in the State of the Union address. In 1917 it was a "war to make the world safe for democracy", and in 1941 it was a "war to end all wars".

The use of tyranny as justification for US military intervention marks a dramatic new step in Washington's quest for global domination. "Washington", of course, today is shorthand for the policy domination by a private group of military and energy conglomerates, from Halliburton to McDonnell Douglas, from Bechtel to ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco, not unlike that foreseen in president Dwight Eisenhower's 1961 speech warning of excessive control of government by a military-industrial complex.

Congress declared World War II after an aggressive Japanese attack on the US fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While Washington stretched the limits of deception and fakery in Vietnam and elsewhere to justify its wars, up to now it has always at least justified the effort with the claim that another power had initiated aggression or hostile military acts against the United States of America. Tyranny has to do with the internal affairs of a nation: it has to do with how a leader and a people interact, not with its foreign policy. It has nothing to do with aggression against the United States or others.

Historically Washington has had no problem befriending some of the world's all-time tyrants, as long as they were "pro- Washington" tyrants, such as the military dictatorship of President General Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan, a paragon of oppression. We might name other befriended tyrants - Ilham Aliyev's Azerbaijan, or Islam Karimov's Uzbekistan, or the al-Sabahs' Kuwait, or Oman. Maybe Morocco, or Alvaro Uribe's Colombia. There is a long list of pro-Washington tyrants.

For obvious reasons, Washington is unlikely to turn against its "friends". The new anti-tyranny crusade would seem, then, to be directed against "anti-American" tyrants. The question is, which tyrants are on the radar screen for the Pentagon's awesome arsenal of smart bombs and covert-operations commandos? Rice dropped a hint in her Senate Foreign Relations Committee testimony two days prior to the Bush inauguration. The White House, of course, cleared her speech first.

Target some tyrannies, nurture others Rice hinted at Washington's target list of tyrants amid an otherwise bland statement in her Senate testimony. She declared, "in our world there remain outposts of tyranny ... in Cuba, and Burma and North Korea, and Iran and Belarus, and Zimbabwe". Aside from the fact that the designated secretary of state did not bother to refer to "Burma" under its present name, Myanmar, the list is an indication of the next phase in Washington's strategy of preemptive wars for its global domination strategy.

As reckless as this seems given the Iraq quagmire, the fact that little open debate on such a broadened war has yet taken place indicates how extensive the consensus is within the Washington establishment for the war policy. According to the January 24 New Yorker report from Seymour Hersh, Washington already approved a war plan for the coming four years of Bush II, which targets 10 countries from the Middle East to East Asia. The Rice statement gives a clue to six of the 10. She also suggested Venezuela is high on the non-public target list.

Pentagon Special Forces units are reported already active inside Iran, according to the Hersh report, preparing details of key military and nuclear sites for presumable future bomb hits. At the highest levels, France, Germany and the European Union are well aware of the US agenda for Iran, on the nuclear issue, which explains the frantic EU diplomatic forays with Iran.

The US president declared in his State of the Union speech that Iran was "the world's primary state sponsor of terror". Congress is falling in line as usual, beginning to sound war drums on Iran. Testimony to the Israeli Knesset by the Mossad chief recently, reported in the Jerusalem Post, estimated that by the end of 2005 Iran's nuclear-weapons program would be "unstoppable". This suggests strong pressure from Israel on Washington to "stop" Iran this year.

According also to former US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) official Vince Cannistraro, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's new war agenda includes a list of 10 priority countries. In addition to Iran, it includes Syria, Sudan, Algeria, Yemen and Malaysia. According to a report in the January 23 Washington Post, General Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), also has a list of what the Pentagon calls "emerging targets" for preemptive war, which includes Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia, the Philippines and Georgia, a list he has sent to Rumsfeld.

While Georgia may now be considered under de facto North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or US control since the election of President Mikheil Saakashvili, the other states are highly suggestive of the overall US agenda for the new "war on tyranny". If we add Syria, Sudan, Algeria and Malaysia, as well as Rice's list of Cuba, Belarus, Myanmar and Zimbabwe, to the JCS list of Somalia, Yemen, Indonesia and the Philippines, we have some 12 potential targets for either Pentagon covert destabilization or direct military intervention, surgical or broader. And, of course, North Korea, which seems to serve as a useful permanent friction point to justify US military presence in the strategic region between China and Japan. Whether it is 10 or 12 targets, the direction is clear.

What is striking is just how directly this list of US "emerging target" countries, "outposts of tyranny", maps on to the strategic goal of total global energy control, which is clearly the central strategic focus of the Bush-Cheney administration.

General Norman Schwarzkopf, who led the 1991 attack on Iraq, told the US Congress in 1990: "Middle East oil is the West's lifeblood. It fuels us today, and being 77% of the free world's proven oil reserves, is going to fuel us when the rest of the world runs dry." He was talking about what some geologists call peak oil, the end of the era of cheap oil, without drawing undue attention to the fact.

That was in 1990. Today, with US troops preparing a semi-permanent stay in Iraq and moves to control global oil and energy chokepoints, the situation is far more advanced. China and India have rapidly emerged as major oil-import economies at a time when existing sources of the West's oil, from the North Sea to Alaska and beyond, are in significant decline. Here we have a pre- programmed scenario for future resource conflict on a global scale.

Oil geopolitics and the 'war on tyranny' Cuba as a "tyranny target" is a surrogate for Hugo Chavez' Venezuela, which is strongly supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, via Cuba, and now by China. Rice explicitly mentioned the close ties between Cuban President Fidel Castro and Chavez. After a failed CIA putsch attempt early in the Bush tenure, Washington is clearly trying to keep a lower profile in Caracas. The goal remains regime change of the recalcitrant Chavez, whose most recent affront to Washington was his latest visit to China, where he signed a major bilateral energy deal. Chavez also had the gall to announce plans to divert oil sales away from the United States to China and sell its US refineries. Part of the China deal would involve a new pipeline to a port on Colombia's coast, which avoids US control of the Panama Canal. Rice told the Senate that Cuba was an "outpost of tyranny" and in the same breath labeled Venezuela a "regional troublemaker".

Indonesia, with huge natural-gas resources serving mainly China and Japan, presents an interesting case, since the country has apparently been cooperative with Washington's "war on terror" since September 2001. Indonesia's government raised an outcry in the wake of the recent tsunami disaster when the Pentagon dispatched a US aircraft carrier and special troops within 72 hours to land in Aceh province to do "rescue work". The USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier, with 2,000 supposedly Iraq-bound Marines aboard, together with the USS Bonhomme Richard from Guam, landed some 13,000 US troops in Aceh, which alarmed many in the Indonesian military and government. The Indonesian government acceded, but demanded that the US leave by the end of March and not establish a base camp in Aceh. No less than deputy defense secretary and Iraq war strategist Paul Wolfowitz, former US ambassador to Indonesia, made an immediate "fact-finding" tour of the region. ExxonMobil runs a huge LNG [liquefied natural gas] production in Aceh that supplies energy to China and Japan.

If we add to the list of "emerging targets" Myanmar, a state that, however disrespectful of human rights, is also a major ally and recipient of military aid from Beijing, a strategic encirclement potential against China emerges quite visibly. Malaysia, Myanmar and Aceh in Indonesia represent strategic flanks on which the vital sea lanes from the Strait of Malacca, through which oil tankers from the Persian Gulf travel to China, can be controlled. Moreover, 80% of Japan's oil passes here.

The US government's Energy Information Administration identifies the Malacca Strait as one of the most strategic "world oil transit chokepoints". How convenient if in the course of cleaning out a nest of tyrant regimes Washington might militarily acquire control of this strait. Until now the states in the area have vehemently rejected repeated US attempts to militarize the strait.

Control or militarization of Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar would give US forces chokepoint control over the world's busiest sea channel for oil from the Persian Gulf to China and Japan. It would be a huge blow to China's efforts to secure energy independence from the US. Not only has China already lost huge oil concessions in Iraq with the US occupation, but China's oil supply from Sudan is also under increasing pressure from Washington.

Taking Iran from the mullahs would give Washington chokepoint control over the world's most strategically important oil waterway, the Strait of Hormuz, a three-kilometer-wide passage between the Persian Gulf and the Arabian Sea. The major US military base in the entire Middle East region is just across the strait from Iran in Doha, Qatar. One of the world's largest gas fields also lies here.

Algeria is another obvious target for the "war on tyranny". Algeria is the second-most-important supplier of natural gas to continental Europe, and has significant reserves of the highest-quality low-sulfur crude oil, just the kind US refineries need. Some 90% of Algeria's oil goes to Europe, mainly Italy, France and Germany. President Abdelaziz Bouteflika read the September 11, 2001, tea leaves and promptly pledged his support for Washington's "war on terror". Bouteflika has made motions to privatize various state holdings, but not the vital state oil company, Sonatrach. That will clearly not be enough to satisfy the appetite of Washington planners.

Sudan, as noted, has become a major oil supplier to China, whose national oil company has invested more than US$3 billion since 1999 building oil pipelines from southern Sudan to the Red Sea port. The coincidence of this fact with the escalating concern in Washington about genocide and humanitarian disaster in oil-rich Darfur in southern Sudan is not lost on Beijing. China threatened a United Nations veto against any intervention against Sudan. The first act of a re-elected Dick Cheney late last year was to fill his vice-presidential jet with UN Security Council members to fly to Nairobi to discuss the humanitarian crisis in Darfur, an eerie reminder of defense secretary Cheney's "humanitarian" concern over Somalia in 1991.

Washington's choice of Somalia and Yemen is a matched pair, as a look at a Middle East/Horn of Africa map will confirm. Yemen sits at the oil-transit chokepoint of Bab el-Mandap, the narrow point controlling oil flow from the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean. Yemen also has oil, although no one yet knows just how much. It could be huge. A US firm, Hunt Oil Co, is pumping 200,000 barrels a day from there but that is likely only the tip of the find.

Yemen fits nicely as an "emerging target" with the other target nearby, Somalia.

"Yes, Virginia," the 1992 Somalia military action by George Herbert Walker Bush, which gave the US a bloody nose, was in fact about oil too. Little known was the fact that the humanitarian intervention by 20,000 US troops ordered by father Bush in Somalia had little to do with the purported famine relief for starving Somalis. It had a lot to do with the fact that four major US oil companies, led by Bush's friends at Conoco of Houston, Texas, and including Amoco (now BP), Condi Rice's Chevron, and Phillips, all held huge oil-exploration concessions in Somalia. The deals had been made with the former "pro-Washington" tyrannical and corrupt regime of Mohamed Siad Barre.

Siad Barre was inconveniently deposed just as Conoco reportedly hit black gold with nine exploratory wells, confirmed by World Bank geologists. US Somalia envoy Robert B Oakley, a veteran of the US mujahideen project in Afghanistan in the 1980s, almost blew the US game when, during the height of the civil war in Mogadishu in 1992, he moved his quarters on to the Conoco compound for safety. A new US cleansing of Somali "tyranny" would open the door for these US oil companies to map and develop the possibly huge oil potential in Somalia. Yemen and Somalia are two flanks of the same geological configuration, which holds large potential petroleum deposits, as well as being the flanks of the oil chokepoint from the Red Sea.

Belarus is also no champion of human rights, but from Washington's standpoint, the fact that its government is tightly bound to Moscow makes it the obvious candidate for a Ukraine-style "Orange Revolution" regime-change effort. That would complete the US encirclement of Russia on the west and of Russia's export pipelines to Europe, were it to succeed. Some 81% of all Russian oil exports today go to Western European markets. Such a Belarus regime change now would limit the potential for a nuclear-armed Russia to form a bond with France, Germany and the EU as potential counterweight against the power of the United States sole superpower, a highest priority for Washington Eurasia geopolitics.

The military infrastructure for dealing with such tyrant states seems to be shaping up as well. In the January 24 New Yorker magazine, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh cited Pentagon and CIA sources to claim that the position of Rumsfeld and the warhawks is even stronger today than before the Iraq war. Hersh reported that Bush signed an Executive Order last year, without fanfare, placing major CIA covert operations and strategic analysis into the hands of the Pentagon, sidestepping any congressional oversight. He added that plans for the widening of the "war on terror" under Rumsfeld were also agreed upon in the administration well before the election.

The Washington Post confirmed Hersh's allegation, reporting that Rumsfeld's Pentagon had created, by Presidential Order, and bypassing Congress, a new Strategic Support Branch, which co-opts traditional clandestine and other functions of the CIA. According to a report by US Army Colonel (retired) Dan Smith, in Foreign Policy in Focus last November, the new SSB unit includes the elite military special SEAL Team 6, Delta Force army squadrons, and potentially a paramilitary army of 50,000 available for "splendid little wars" outside congressional purview.

The list of emerging targets in a new "war on tyranny" is clearly fluid, provisional, and adaptable as developments change. It is clear that a breathtaking array of future military and economic offensives is in the works at the highest policy levels to transform the world. A world oil price of US$150 a barrel or more in the next few years would be joined by chokepoint control of the supply by one power if Washington has its way.

F William Engdahl is the author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order, published by Pluto Press Ltd.

(Copyright 2005 F William Engdahl.)

Teen suicide warnings put on antidepressants


"Black box" labels warning that antidepressants increase suicidal behavior in children should be on those drugs widely prescribed to kids by mid-March, five months after the Food and Drug Administration ordered them, according to FDA documents.

"It's unfortunate that it's taken this long," said Joel Gurin, executive vice president of Consumers Union. "It was really important for parents to have had this information. Getting it out quickly was important for transparency and trust."

Changing the labels takes time, said FDA spokeswoman Susan Cruzan. The agency sent letters telling the 14 companies that make antidepressants to add the boxes and produce "medication guides" about proven risks and benefits. The guides will be given to everyone picking up antidepressant prescriptions.

The companies then had to submit applications for the label changes. The FDA approved the changes and set a 30-day deadline for action.

Approval letters went out in mid-February to the makers of Prozac, Zoloft and Celexa, Cruzan said. In mid-January, the letter went to GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil and Wellbutrin. These five antidepressants are the most widely prescribed to children, according to IMS Health.

Only Prozac has been approved to treat childhood depression, but the other drugs can be prescribed legally as an off-label use. Even Prozac causes a 50 percent higher risk of suicidal behavior in kids, according to an FDA analysis out last fall.


Prozac Nation

How many times do we have to tell you -- Prozac and Teenagers . . . Not a good combination!

This is seriously getting to be an issue in American education and health care. To what degree are we going to allow profitability to determine the humanity of our children's adolescent years? With ever increasing time devoted more to earning a living rather than living, Americans are medicating their anxiety rather than focusing on the real problem -- the system within which we work and live is not conducive to human well being.

I Got Next

Sony launches Play Station portable! No one is safe.

Pins and Forks -- Check and Mate?

Chess virtuoso, Fischer, escapes as Icelandic national.


Strange Bedfellows

Special ‘relationship’ behind US West Asia policy

London, Aug. 1:
Political foes of Paul Wolfowitz like to portray him as a leading light in Washington’s so-called ‘Zionist conspiracy’, part of a small cabal of Jewish neo-conservatives driving a blindly pro-Israel policy in West Asia.

The US deputy secretary of defence was one of the original architects of the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein and remains an enthusiastic advocate of spreading democracy in West Asia, despite the setbacks in Iraq. For his detractors, it is evidence that he is pursuing an agenda hostile to Arab regimes, particularly ones as virulently opposed to Israel as Saddam’s.

Critics have also latched on to the fact that his sister, Laura, a biologist, lives in Israel as proof for their theory. Indeed she does; she even has an Israeli husband. But although she rarely talks about politics, the reality is that she is a moderate rather than a hawkish settler or enthusiastic backer of Ariel Sharon, Israel’s hardline Prime Minister.

In fact, there is a woman from whom Wolfowitz does draw support and backing for his views, but she comes from a very different — and unexpected — background. His closest companion and most valued confidantes is a middle-aged Arab feminist whose own strongly held views on instilling democracy in her native West Asia have helped bolster his resolve.

Shaha Ali Riza is a senior World Bank official who was born in Tunis, grew up in Saudi Arabia and holds an international relations masters degree from St Anthony’s College, Oxford. Close acquaintances of the couple have told The Daily Telegraph that she is romantically linked with Wolfowitz, 61, a fellow divorcee with whom she has been friends for several years.

Even by the discreet standards of Washington’s powerful inner circle, it is a remarkably closely guarded secret. They rarely go out as a couple openly or demonstrate affection publicly, according to friends who are aware of the relationship. They attend low-key Washington social events and visit friends’ homes together and Riza also sometimes goes to official functions and dinners with him, but is not identified as his partner, an acquaintance said.

“Most people would never guess there was a relationship, even if they saw them together,” he said.

It is a sign of the sensitivity surrounding the relationship that the few friends willing even to acknowledge it last week did not want to be named. “Shaha Riza runs around with Wolfowitz a lot. I gather she is his current girlfriend but they are very careful about this,” said one.

Riza was on holiday last week on a ranch in Wyoming and did not respond to messages left for her. Wolfowitz did not return a call placed with his office at the Pentagon.

It would amaze the detractors who depict Wolfowitz as part of a narrow-minded Jewish lobby that one of the most important people in his life is, in fact, an Arab woman whose job is to promote gender equality in West Asia and North Africa. It will doubtless also surprise many of his supporters.

Riza’s childhood in Saudi Arabia did much to shape her commitment to democracy, equal rights and civil liberties in the Arab world as she experienced at first hand the kingdom’s oppressive regime, particularly for women. She has long pursued those beliefs and joined the World Bank in 1997 as the senior gender co-ordinator for Wesy Asia and North Africa, a role that involves extensive travel in the region.

So Wolfowitz and Riza are not just close personally, they have also both long espoused the same deeply held conviction that democracy should be spread across the Arab world. With his ear, she is one of most influential Arabs in Washington.

“Paul and some others always had Saddam Hussein in their sights, but she helped reinforce that resolve,” said a friend who moves in similar conservative circles.

“That was greatly helped by the fact that she is an Arab woman who is an expert on the process of democracy. Paul Wolfowitz is always being accused of being part of a bunch of Jews pushing Zionist interests with the likes of Richard Perle (a former senior Pentagon adviser) and Doug Feith (the Pentagon number three). So when an Arab woman says something similar, her views have tremendous authority”.

Asked about their relationship, Perle, a close political and intellectual soulmate of Wolfowitz, said: “You should ask her and Mr Wolfowitz about that. Any relationship they may have is a personal and private matter. I don’t know the extent or nature of it.”

Wolfowitz was, of course, already beating the drums for regime change in Iraq and was one of the signatories with Perle on the 1998 letter to President Clinton calling for Saddam to be ousted. For him, the war on terror brought with it the chance to pursue regime change and democracy across the Islamic world. In these views, he found common ground with Riza, who had often expressed her frustration at the widely held view in the West that Arab states would never embrace democracy.

Wolfowitz hoped that the invasion of Iraq that he did so much to engineer with his boss, Donald Rumsfeld, would not just topple a brutal dictator, but also set off a democracy ‘domino effect’ across West Asia.

For many of the neo-conservative cheerleaders of democracy, the next target is the autocratic Saudi state. Wolfowitz has already said that another goal of the Iraq war was to allow US troops to pull out of the kingdom to alternative bases. Riza will doubtless have offered him her views on how to deal with her childhood home.


Remeber When BET was . . . ?

What happened to BET?

Hey! Remember when BET was a Black OWNED broadcasting company rather than a Black “Oriented” broadcasting company? I know that conventional capitalist ethics are supposed to curtail my criticism of what a ridiculous move it was for Johnson to sell BET. I’m sure the Charlotte Bobcats are going to be a hell of a team and that, somehow, as the first Black billionaire Bob Johnson is going to figure out a way to not look like a novice at this money/power thing.

“I am Not a Hater”

I just don’t get it.

Most rich and powerful people I know would kill to be able to reach the population of the richest, most powerful, nation in the history of the world (79 million households and 95% of Black households). They might give, oh say, $2.2 billion.

Not Bob!

Maybe I’m just impatient. I just can’t see what the master sees. His great plan is unfolding; somewhere in the course of history there is a reason that Bob sold BET. There has to be a reason why, in a democracy (a form of government dependent upon and determined by the mediated exchange of ideas and information) someone would sell autonomous accesses to 79 million households.

Is it me or does anyone else wonder what the debate would have sounded like if Black America had an independent voice in 2000?

What’s left? Now that Tom Joyner has sold out (please tell us you at least retained controlling interest), TV One a sad imitation, and Tavis putting contracts out on Black America (been there done that), perhaps it is time we just throw in the towel and all follow Oprah!

Its not Propaganda its News!

As the government kicks its media campaign into high gear the lines between fact and fiction . . . I mean . . . fiction and more fiction begin to blur. Keep your head on swivel!


Welcome to the Matrix?


So we have finally done it. No more what if, no more if only, it’s done. We have officially crossed the frontier between wet-ware and hardware. It won’t be long before autistic savants are wired to supercomputers to organize entire databases, somewhere out there is some genius locked away behind some minor neurological defect that prevents interaction with the outside world. We are now on the verge of accessing the vast frontier of the human mind. How long before we upload the entirety of consciousness onto the web (Chicago Dyke)? How long before we live in a world of wires and ether? Welcome to the brave new world.

Pupils 'do worse with computers'

Reading is fundamental.


Scientist create minature black hole

Did scientist create a black hole?


It Ain't Over! The party's not over . . .Teddy?! . . .

It is possible, therefore, that in the future, in a world in which there is never anything new, in which all is finished and each moment is a repetition of the past, there can exist a condition in which thought will be utterly devoid of all ideological and utopian elements. But the complete elimination of reality-transcending elements from our world would...bring about a static state of affairs in which man himself becomes no more than a thing....Thus, after a long tortuous, but heroic development, just at the highest stage of awareness, when history is ceasing to be blind fate, and is becoming more and more man's own creation, with the relinquishment of utopias, man would lose his will to shape history and therewith his ability to understand it.

Karl Mannheim.

The Economy of Girlfriends and Wives

E-Mail Forward

For all you cubicle jockeys out there, here are the great email forwards I encounter. Send them on!

You know you're living in 2005 when.

1.You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
2.You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
3.You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of 3.
4.You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
5.Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.
6.You go home after a long day at work you still answer the phone in a business manner.
7.You make phone calls from home, you accidentally dial "9" to
get an outside line.
8.You've sat at the same desk for four years and worked for three different companies.
10.You learn about your redundancy on the 11 o'clock news.
11.Your boss doesn't have the ability to do your job.
12.You pull up in your own driveway and use your cell phone to
see if anyone is home.
13.Every commercial on television has a website at the bottom of
the screen.
14.Leaving the house without your cell phone, which you didn't
have the first 20 or 30 (or 60) years of your life, is now a cause for panic and you turn around to go and get it.
15.You get up in the morning and go online before getting your
16.You start tilting your head sideways to smile. :)
17.You're reading this and nodding and laughing.
18.Even worse, you know exactly to whom you are going to forward
this message.
19.You are too busy to notice there was no #9 on this list.
20.You actually scrolled back up to check that there wasn't a #9
on this list.
21. Your CD player starts to look like an 8-Track. (MT)
AND NOW U R LAUGHING at yourself.
Go on, forward this to your friends know you want to!

Rumblings in the Deep

Hush, quite! What's that sound? Are those the chickens coming home to roost?
Don't Worry, its Brand USA,
Be Happy!


Pimpin' Ain't Easy

As the saying goes pimpin' ain't easy -- but it sure is profitable! Politicians, public servants, and preachers have become the new pimps in the American experiment. Some may object to such a characterization but lets look at it for a moment. The one thing that makes a pimp a pimp is the ability to exploit human beings for near monopoly profits. The pimp is different from a broker, a manager, or an agent; each of these social functions extracts a proportion of wealth (income) relative to their ability to reduce the time between gigs. Brokers, mangers, agents and, at one time, politicians were socially valuable for their ability top maximize efficiency. Their primary value was in their ability to get done, in a relatively short amount of time, what would take either the producer or consumer more time than was profitable -- establishing and executing a meaningful exchange of energy and resources. Pimps, on the other hand, generally, neither facilitate exchange nor increase the efficiency of the exchange (more bang for time or money).

The role of the politician is to be the voice of the demos in the polis - to articulate, advocate and achieve gains for those positions that the people deem necessary or desirable. For this service, of being an efficient and effective advocate for the will of the people towards some desired objective, the politician would receive some form of remuneration, whether it be in some titular honor or some form of compensatory stipend. Though, to be sure , in the ideal form of representative government, compensation was not the end towards which one aspired (bribery of a Roman Senator was punishable by death) to service but, instead, the well being of the community -- the commonwealth.

Today we have quite a different development. The devolution of advocacy to a base form of exchange has turned politicians and public servants in general into pimps. Their functional social location is rooted in galvanizing the general public to support them into office (vote for me and I will . . .), while simultaneously pandering to money interest (vote for me and I will . . .). The resulting social interaction results in a pimps and hos scenario in which the demos (you remember the "We THE PEOPLE") is exploited for their vote and their value as a base for proportional, though often disproportionate, allocation of revenues extracted from the mass populace through taxation.

While, ideally, the function of a public servant is to reallocate wealth toward the interest articulated by the population whom they represent, the current situation results in public servants allocating collective revenues to those few individuals to whom they are indebted for maintaining their campaigns. The result ends in a scenario where the mass votes for a person who pushes the interest of a small few. Often reallocating the resources reserved for the people into the coffers of the rich and influential.

Do we really need another "McBox" (Starbucks, GAP, Chipotle), how long does asphalt endure (certainly more than a year or two)? What ever happened to the TIFF? How many $ and hour jobs are improving the conditions of the community? Why can't grandma afford the taxes on the home she worked 40 years to own? Why is junior getting yet another educational program, complete with non-recyclable books, when his teacher is drifting closer towards welfare? Why is junior being taught by a teacher who's knowledge base extends a page ahead of him? I guess these things really don't matter. What good is real literacy (the ability, to read, comprehend and synthesize new information after critical evaluation) when it would only lead to anger and resentment? Why question a politician or preacher about the new arena, when the membership is taking on larger amounts of debt so that they can tithe more? Why ask the politician why there are no jobs, shit schools, increased drug traffic and more police brutality?

All is well. The preacher got paid, the politician got his contribution along with the new legislative package he is expected to pass on behalf of his benefactors; the contractors are rich; the vendors have a new contract; the teachers take cuts in benefits, extensions in hours, increases in class size. The students get less activities, less time, less attention, less instruction, more burnt out or underqualified teachers; the house you lived in will cost more in taxes than the mortgage -- but don't you worry all is well. Just get your ass back out on that corner, commute for half the time you work, figure out when to sleep, and don't even think about family time.

In closing -- Bitch better have my money!