Nuclear Juntas

by bicyclemark

Can’t quite finish the vlog I’m working on tonight so instead I wanted to bring up Burma. Or Myanmar, same difference.

What strikes me as odd and worthy of attention about Burma is that over the past 6 years they’ve managed to come in completely below the diplomatic and global media radar. Besides the international sanctions applied years ago, rarely does any politician in any country make a concerned speech about a country ruled by a bunch of military thugs. They periodically arrest political dissidents and are conducting their own insane slave labor project of building a new capital, mostly funded with the help of Dick Cheney associates of the oil industry. I guess that detail helps to explain some of the silence from the diplomatic side.

YaY Burma

Today I read about Russia’s deal to supply them with a nuclear reactor. Naturally the Russian government, having long shown it doesn’t care much for human rights, see’s no problem in doing such big business with a cabal that the world likes to not think about. And irritatingly enough, compared to all the noise about Iran, or the scary stories spread about North Korea, one would have to work very hard to find criticism of this deal from any powerful government out there.

For the time being, I’ll look to the Burma correspondents of global voices online, who normally provide a good snapshot of happenings in the isolated country.

Tomorrow I’m coming out of academic retirement and participating in blogwalk Amsterdam. I think I’ll take the boat, hopefully parking won’t be bad.

LGBT Podcasters in NYC

by bicyclemark

As one of my last activities from the whirwind visit to the US and A, I briefly attended Podcamp NYC, a conference dedicated to podcasting (obviously).

Normally I care nothing for these events. The world has bigger concerns than what some American business-hipster wants to peddle as the newest and coolest thing. And while it can be fun to meet other podcasters, they would probably better spend their time finding more audience and explaining all this to new people, than hanging out with the same ol’ names. Plus as a podcast journalist, I’m already quite disappointed at the fact that most of the “successful podcasts” have almost NO social value in terms of using this unique tool to shed light on the under-represented.

But I set that aside in this case, as I was already in the NYC area, and -more importantly- some of my favorite voices from the LGBT community would also be attending the conference. Flying in from all over the US, not to mention myself in town from Amsterdam, it was obviously a rare opportunity that I didn’t want to pass on. So after a brief meetup the night before, where I finally met my friend Mikeypod, I made my way to podcamp.

And indeed, I was not disappointed. I dodged the annoying and fake salespeople trying to tell me what is “new” and “cool” and I found myself at Richard Bluestein’s session of Freedom of Speech. Perhaps symbolic of the state of things, there was hardly anyone in attendance. Probably too busy soaking up the session on Metrics or Music podcasting, all of which are notoriously more popular than one’s rights. But nevermind that, I walked into Richard’s session, happy to see my great friend sitting at the main table, still not fully awake. As a bonus, Wanda Wisdom was also there, not to mention the disgustingly fun Cheryl Merkowski, and someone I had heard alot about.. Lady Raptastic. Naturally Madge Weinstein had to make an appearance as well.

The highlight of the conference, and why these things still somehow matter in my eyes, was the session which focused on the Queercasting Community (and friends, like me!). Everyone discussed their concerns about producing content both for the community and also to reach beyond… to the more mainstream audience. It was also significant to talk about, and hear new examples of how material related to GBLT issues or produced by openly gay artists, has been censored by sites such as YouTube, where mainstream fundamentalist bigots have flagged videos as “inappropriate”, eventually leading to the ban of many artists on that widely used site.

Mark's Photo

Lastly I wanted to say what an honor it was. Not only to meet in person and receive such sincere support from podcasters I had never met before, but also to be welcomed as a member of the community. While I may not actually be gay, I feel a very strong bond with the goal of civil rights for all GBLT people, and that this goal is long overdue. Sitting there in that session, as I have at various points in my life, I felt very lucky to sit in the presence of such talent and dedication… working to educate and push society to get past its hatred and oppression of fellow human beings.

bm196 Legal Issues and Jail Conditions in NOLA

by bicyclemark

It has been said in post Katrina discussions, that you can’t sue the Army Corps. But in fact, you can and New Orleanians are doing just that. Meanwhile people being held at the city jail are reporting the most horrifying and hazardous conditions. Tune in and listen as I visit the Common Ground Legal Clinic and talk with volunteers about the legal issues and prison conditions.

My Guests:
Soleil, advocacy coordinator at the Common Ground Legal Clinic
Wil, volunteer at the Clinic, law student, Capital University-Ohio.

We Discuss:
-What the clinic does
-What legal problems residents have
-HUD Lawsuit
-The Army Corps of engineers
-Public Housing, how New Orleans is selling it all
-Work and poverty in NOLA
-The long term view for the clinic
-The conditions at the city lockup
-People being released and what they say about the experience
-Potential Lawsuit
-VOlunteering for common ground

Orleans Prison

Zimbabwe Has No Oil

by bicyclemark

My good friend and longtime reader Jack wrote to me earlier in the day saying hello and asking if I’d address the forgotten issue of Zimbabwe. And he’s not the first to have done that, BadHAreDay in Lisbon has often asked me to talk more about the country-turned-tragedy.

Now I haven’t taken my eye off the sadness, mind you, Im still a devoted reader of “This Is Zimbabwe”. But it is true I haven’t produced anything on the subject in quite some time.

The numbers have grown worse in the last few years; one figure reads that 80% of the population now live in poverty. In what sounds like a story from 300 years ago, numerous people in the capitol have died of cholera! Life expectancy has dropped to 34. The list of horrors goes on and on… read more over TIZ’s retrospective of 2006.

And yet, Iraq gets billions upon billions of dollars for their so-called democracy thing. Somalia gets invaded by Ethiopia in the blink of an eye. Brazilian UN troops still occupy chunks of Haiti. And Palestine gets all its money frozen for electing a new government. Meanwhile in Zimbabwe.. nothing. Time keeps passing, people keep dying and suffering, and the world closes its eyes.

Inflation

Which actually brings up a bigger question; above I seem to suggest that the international community should act. But I actually am not completely sure about that. Instead I wanted to point out the situations where the world gets involved either financially, politically, or militarily, while one of the most tragic crimes continues to go on in Zimbabwe. Somehow it doesn’t qualify. Maybe it lacks some alleged AlQaeda links or a profitable fossil fuel for exploration.

In fact, what I would rather have seen.. or see in the present.. is an internal change. Revolution from within for the country. I say that because I think it would be more sustainable and legitimate, rather than installed by an outside force. But still, if the population is starved, imprisoned and murdered… it may just require some type of intervention. And nevermind how I like or dislike intervention, with all the actions they’ve taken for different reasons, in different corners of the world. Surely Zimbabwe qualifies for immediate attention… and action.

Or maybe not… just go back to talking about dead models.