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Who Decides To Use Military Force – Or, The Wind Up Monkey Needs To Go Back To Work

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from: speaker.gov

House Speaker John Boehner released a video yesterday of himself and a new toy wind up monkey, a gift given to him by his staff. In the video Mr. Boehner is playing with his cute granddaughters, very cute! But as you might guess, some politicians and the media are using the timing to make a point.

The coincidental timing of the video release on the same day President Obama announced that reconnaissance military flights have begun over Syria, make the month long vacation that Congress is on a crucial national issue, as the U.S. is at this very moment must decide whether to expand our military presence in the Middle East from just Iraq, to Syria, and perhaps elsewhere. In the video Mr. Boehner sounds like he’s making a joke to his staff when he says, “this is what I do all day.” (No one should criticize The Speaker for taking time to play with his granddaughters.)

Our leaders need to postpone their vacations to help make this decision. Will we restrict our involvement to air strikes, just in Iraq, or will we send additional military to Iraq, and send them to Syria, engaged in a war with the IS terrorist army, and to begin bombing over Syria and send more troops to Iraq.

Democrats and some in the media have tried to wound Mr. Boehner politically by making fun of the toy monkey video, in which he explains why his staff gave him the gift; because he feels like when he’s working long hours, his staff winds him up and sends him back to work. I don’t believe people are saying that the Speaker playing toys with his granddaughter is a problem. But the visual plays up the issue of whether Congress should be on vacation right at this moment, and should they authorize President Obama to continue military actions in the Middle East. Mr. Boehner and all of Congress needs to go back to Washington D.C., perhaps along with the monkey and Mr. Boehner’s family. At the very least the House and Senate should be debating this issue now, not a month from now.

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The stakes are high. Will IS (or ISIS) draw us into a full scale, long term military conflict and who will decide? Many have already called for a special emergency session of Congress, immediately or  very soon. To complicate matters, it sounds like House and Senate members both Republican and Democrat, who’ve been asked so far don’t seem to see the need for an emergency session. Some don’t think the President doesn’t need congressional approval at all. Still other of our elected officials are calling President Obama “weak” and says he lacks a clear strategy in the Middle East. I wonder how much of a grasp on the subject that many of those same people in Congress say they don’t want or need to be involved in.

The historical issue of how to apply the Constitution to a declaration of war is complicated and there has been disagreement ongoing for over 40 years, with Presidents both Democratic and Republican at various times, acting on their own and seeking Congressional authority. Democrats have started military actions without congressional approval. President Carter in Iran and President Clinton in Kosovo. Former President George Bush was given approval to declare war on Iraq, after the U.S. began the invasion. While many people think a President should not act alone and seek House and Senate approval, which President Obama has said he wants participation from our elected represents, to me somewhat incredibly, Republican leaders in Congress have been saying Mr. Obama should not only make the decision himself, some have said that he’s weak for not already having done so.

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In recent months that has been the predominant Republican stance not only in the Middle Eeast, but along our borders and dealing with immigration reform as well. At the same time, Mr. Boehner has filed a lawsuit against the President for making too many decisions on his own!!!

What if we’re about the launch into another long protracted war in the Middle East? We all must urge our elected officials in the strongest possible terms that we expect leadership in our military decisions, in deciding whether homeless illegal immigrants will be sent home or allowed to stay, whether to help the ongoing increase of states now accepting instead of illegally refusing to accept Medicaid money approved in the Affordable Care Act. Congress should return to work immediately as we decide whether to declare another war. The Monkey in the Room needs to stop playing those cymbals, and go back to work with Mr. Boehner.

 

Mark Gould

Memes As Art: Media Installation Artist Dave Greber

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by Mark Gould,
Editor – Photosynthesis Media Arts and Theory Journal (republished from my other blog)

For a while now, I’ve wanted to write and introduce you to the work of media installation artist Dave Greber, part of the New Orleans based artist collective The Front. David belongs to a group of video artists, experimental cinema producers, writers and other artists who are exploring popular culture and it’s media conduit, exposing the often subliminal propaganda-style messages we are all confronted by every day, and in doing so invites all of us to examine media memes and the roles they play in social communications.

More than 30 years ago, long before the concept of an internet meme became so popular and commonplace, media theorists and activists were studying the cultural effects of a meme, most usually defined as “an idea, belief or belief system, or pattern of behavior that spreads throughout a culture,” often passed along on a personal, family or neighborhood level but on a grander scale through the mass media, including television and the internet.

adbusters.org

Adbusters and many other similarly motivated groups have long used the concept of “culture jamming” to both explore and reveal how commercial, corporate, government and other media channels transmit messages through means of mass communications networks that operate on any number of different levels and in dong so, help deconstruct media messages. Neither media messages or internet memes are inherently subversive or deceptive, but the fact that they can be and often are have led to the comparing of these messages to similar processes in what is more narrowly considered to be usually dramatic, commercial or political “propaganda.” But more broadly defined, propaganda is the spreading of ideas, information to further a cause and/or influence public opinion or perception in many ways, through many channels.

These ideas have been explored by media studies scholars, activists and artists (“artivists”) across the cultural spectrum for a long time. What media artists such as Greber employ are devices studied in the field of semiotics, a general philosophical theory of signs, symbols and cultural codes that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, and semantics. From the Merriam Webster Dictionary (online)

Semiotics – Study of signs and sign-using behaviour, especially in language. In the late 19th and early 20th century the work of Ferdinand de Saussure and Charles Sanders Peirce led to the emergence of semiotics as a method for examining phenomena in different fields, including aesthetics, anthropology, communications, psychology, and semantics. Interest in the structure behind the use of particular signs links semiotics with the methods of structuralism.

Having recently seen some of Dave Greber’s work on Vimeo, I think the inspiration for much of his work takes place as part of this exploration into, as he says, “the constant attack on our biological and cultural environments by commercial forces.”

I have been researching and exposing tactics of corporate television advertising that are, for the most part, culturally degenerative memes overlooked by the general public. I create a skeleton commercial built from the tone, cadence, verbal and graphic illusions that comprise a corporate propaganda campaign. I then fill the shell with my own agenda, which is to reveal that the form itself is psychologically manipulative. I infuse them with my own contemporary style and present them as a seamless loop, which translates them from a parasitic corporate language to one of viewer empowerment.

And along with the artistic and cultural exploration inherent in his work, Dave Greber also combines a very healthy sense of humor. He says, “I have a great time making and showing these. They make me laugh and they are intended to make the viewer laugh when they have a realization of their own.” I hope you will enjoy them too, while you’re also “getting the message.”

Dave Greber’s website
Dave Greber on Vimeo

Primer (2010)
a video installation
by Dave Greber, TV Boxes. Roel Miranda
Starring
Camilla Bergin, Andy Cook, Tessa Corthell, Stephen Kennedy, Roel Miranda, JJ Smith, Robert Ries, Jen DeGregorio, Valorie Polmer, Lea Downing, Alden Eagle, Katie Gelfand, Matthew Holdren, Brandon Meginley, Phil Rached
Asst. Director, Katie Gelfand
Camera , Dave Greber, Phil Rached
Music: Peter Leonard, Kevin MacLeod

The EFF Guide to San Diego Comic-Con

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The EFF Guide to San Diego Comic-Con (via EFF)

With the arrival of summer at EFF, you can hear the excitement in the stuffing of luggage and locking of office doors as our team prepares for some of the most important conventions in the world. Black Hat starts on July 27, with DEF CON immediately…

Continue reading “The EFF Guide to San Diego Comic-Con” »

Art, Culture, Media and Technology Notes: December 14th, 2012

news and ideas from writers around the San Francisco Bay Area this week, curated and edited by Mark Gould

Republished to the new good.is platform from YouTube by Thrash Lab: Video: (Empty America) What San Francisco Would Look Like Without Humans. This is both a very beautiful and a kind of creepy, the good kind of creepy, video (as it is intended) … in the sense that it makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up; Imagine the world with no people, that’s what Thrash Lab does to beautiful effect using Photoshop, After Effects and Premiere as their tool set – these skilled digital artisans  deleted every human and moving car from all the sequences. This short, the first of a series called Empty America, shows every landmark from the Golden Gate Bridge to Fisherman’s Wharf to Lombard Street to Ghirardelli Square to the Bay Bridge, ‘wiped empty of tourists and traffic.

It’s very worth your while taking a look at Thrash Lab’s growing body of work on YouTube where they are accumulating sizable views and apparently, loyal viewers. Links to their web presence elsewhere are on that page. From what I’ve seen so far, quite the talented young group of creatives, hashtag #dreambigger

From Golden Gate Xpress: SF State artist forges storytelling craft
by Sean Reichhold

aprilcRather than simply picking one medium to master, April Martin Chartrand has gone so far as to completely create her own art form altogether.

Her art form called  ”fiberalchemy,” is her attempt to find the most personal and accurate way of expressing herself. She uses extreme heat or cold to manipulate the texture of painted fabrics to create hardened, colorful sculptures. Chartrand has been using this technique to make anything from earrings and necklaces to hand fans and wall pieces.

Her journey however, began decades ago with a simple sewing machine. (full story ->)

East Bay Express: Noise Pop 2013 Lineup Announced: Toro Y Moi, Amon Tobin, Rogue Wave, and More

by Whitney Phaneuf

2013noisepop-stackedlogo-lores-130x151Noise Pop is the music festival for people who hate music festivals, i.e. the all-day, drag-out, beer-guzzling, bro-fest that many of the weekend-long music festivals have become. Noise Pop 2013 will take place over six days, Tuesday, Feb. 26 through Sunday, March 3, 2013, and today organizers announced an initial lineup that includes Berkeley resident Toro Y Moi, San Francisco’s Rogue Wave, and experimental DJ extraordinaire Amon Tobin.
(full story ->)


 

KQED Pressrom: KQED’s QUEST Science Series Expands Nationally with $2.5 Million National Science Foundation Grant

Grant will support a six-station public media science reporting collaborative

Contact: Sevda Eris, 415-553-2835, seris@kqed.org

questSan Francisco, CA  — KQED, public media serving Northern California, has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a two-year collaborative multimedia science reporting initiative, QUEST Beyond Local. The grant will support KQED and five other public media organizations in creating content under the theme of “Science of Sustainability” on television, radio and the Web, along with educational assets and community outreach. QUEST Beyond Local is scheduled to launch in January.

“We are pleased to see how QUEST, with its history of being organizationally and technologically innovative, is expanding its science reporting model,” said Valentine Kass, acting deputy division director in NSF’s Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings. “QUEST Beyond Local builds new capacity in local and national media channels to address current science and environmental issues with local authority and national relevance.” (full story ->)

 

 

 

CYBERFEST 2012 St. Petersburg, Russia, November 23 – 29

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(SFsthetik.com) CYBERFEST is the first and only Russian annual International festival for cybernetic art (which combines living, biological and somatic substances with computational and technical), held annually since 2007.

This year the festival is attended by more than 80 artists and art professionals from 20 countries (Russia, France, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Germany, Austria, the USA, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Finland, Sweden, Lithuania, Poland, Belarus, Ukraine , Philippines, etc.), and the program includes:   — an exhibition (of media objects and media installations); — live performances; — sound and video art programs; — an educational program (with lectures, workshops, master classes); — an Internet conference; — a concert.

(more at CYBERFEST website English version ->)

EFF Sunshine Week: Forecast Looks Cloudy for PATRIOT Act Transparency



Sunshine Week: Forecast Looks Cloudy for PATRIOT Act Transparency (via EFF)

As we noted in an earlier post, EFF received the first batch of records from the DOJ in our FOIA lawsuit related to Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act yesterday. The government released approximately 300 pages of records to EFF, but (not surprisingly) none of those records shed any light on the information…

Continue reading “EFF Sunshine Week: Forecast Looks Cloudy for PATRIOT Act Transparency” »

BART to Consider Cell Phone Shutoff Enforcement Policy Tomorrow

The first American government run transit agency to shut off public cell phone usage and receive world-wide media attention for its actions is set to vote tomorrow on a long term enforcement policy that will govern how it can and cannot control cell and internet data mobile traffic.On August 11 BART shut off mobile phone in a number of Downtown San Francisco terminals after  a protest started over the death of a man shot by BART police officers. On October 27th the BART Board of Directors voted to come up with a long term(maft cell phone interruption policy. (video: Microsoft Silverlight required.)

 

BART states that it’s motivation is “providing safe, efficient and reliable public transit services. BART adds in the draft policy that it is fully committed to its long standing to allowing the exercise of First Amendment rights of  expression “in the areas where it can be done safely and without interference of the District’s primary mission.” In accordance with these principles, BART’s document says, “it shall be the policy of the (BART) district that the district may implement a temporary interruption of  operation of the System’s Cellular equipment only when it determines that there is strong evidence of imminent unlawful activity that threatens the safety of District passengers, employees and other members of the public, the destruction of District property or the substantial disruption of  public transit services.”

I’m not a lawyer and will not attempt to suggest all of  the legal areas potentially raised by such a policy if it were adopted. A couple of interesting things include how the language excludes a definition of who will have the authority to make these decisions, that the phrasing concerning what would amount to a disruption may be intentionally vague, and it is curious why BART did not include data networks also accessible from it’s transit system, such as the   internet, email, audio and video as well as voice over IP.

 

Several non-profit media, technology, telecommunications advocacy and public interest groups have joined in filing an Emergency Petition before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue a Declaratory Ruling in this case.

Public Knowledge, Broadband Institute of California, Center for Democracy and Technology, Center for Media Justice, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Access Project, Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, National Hispanic Media Coalition, and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Initiative are all joining together suggesting that no local government including San Francisco  has the authority to suspend cell phone service and that BART may have violated the Communications Act of 1934 in its actions of August 11th.

Those interested in protecting freedom of speech everywhere will be watching to see how BART acts, and what, if anything the FCC will do in this matter. There may be legislative and court relief sought. This is not happening in Egypt, Iran or Libya. This is San Francisco, California, America.

 

BART Board Room
Kaiser Center 20th Street Mall
3rd Floor
344 20th Street
Oakland, CA

The meeting is open to the public.

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