12. January 2017 · Comments Off on Human Suffering for Profit · Categories: Politics, Random Thoughts · Tags: , ,

My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Investigation

Source:  My Four Months as a Private Prison Guard: A Mother Jones Investigation

Why I chose this piece:  Shane Bauer goes undercover to find out how the private prison industry is run. His courage and professionalism are first rate. This is journalism at its best.

Quick Summary:  Horrifying.  For example, since Corrections Corp of America has to pay prisoner medical bills, they prevent sick people from getting the care they need.  The lawsuits they settle are likely less expensive than medical care.  Anyone who labors under the delusion that for-profit American prisons are more progressive or humane than a medieval dungeon should have a read.

People who profit at the suffering of others are reprehensible. To find out which politicians accept contributions from Corrections Corp of American, see Follow the Money.  Politicians who take this money are unprincipled and have no business being elected to government offices.

Also read this report from UVM “Campaign Contributions from Corrections Corporation of America”

 

14. November 2016 · Comments Off on Jonathan Katz on U.S. and Haiti · Categories: Politics, Random Thoughts

Someone said for a democracy to function, people need information.  I’ve decided to use this blog to curate informative, fair articles that can inform political discourse and action.

The Clintons Didn’t Screw Up Haiti Alone.  You Helped

Source: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/politics/2016/09/the_truth_about_the_clintons_and_haiti.html

Why I chose this piece: author Jonathan Katz was “Associated Press correspondent in Port-au-Prince from 2007 to 2011 and survived the earthquake in 2010, spent years digging into the details of the response and recovery”;  also author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster

Quick summary:

A host of international players along with players from the U.S. – the Bushes, Clintons, U.S. Military, State Dept. etc. –  used same old snake oil prescription to try to help Haiti recover from the devastating 2010 earthquake, a prescription shared by republicans and democrats alike that’s based on “helping” people by “helping” big business.

“The vast majority of U.S. government contracts went to American firms; almost no cash ever went, or was intended to go, to Haitians or the Haitian government. The same is true for nearly all nongovernmental organizations and charities, including the American Red Cross.”

The resulting political fraud, corruption, and fund mismanagement has been a disaster for the people of Haiti, and hasn’t been much of a business success either. The larger picture is one of different power players haggling over the spoils.

_1928,_by_Frans_van_RielThis post is dedicated to all my friends in the dance world.

In 1905 Mikhail Fokine, choreographer for the Ballets Russes, created the choreography for Le Cynge, composed by Camille Saint-Saens for cello and two pianos, specifically for the great Russian dancer Anna Pavlova, also of the Ballet Russes.  It depicts a swan’s struggle with death, inspired by the Greek myth of the Mute Swan (an actual species) who could not utter a sound until just before it died (the myth, but like all myths tells an archetypal story; this one a parable about what is inside).

The work of Fokine, Pavlova, and the Ballets Russes marks historically and artistically one of the greatest turning points in dance (also for art and music), but that’s an interesting topic for another moment.  What I want to write about today is how my appreciation for the art of dance has been tutored by watching how great dancers interpret a work.
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07. March 2014 · Comments Off on Harry Belafonte – 87 and Still Making a Difference · Categories: Music Video

Many thanks and much gratitude to our friend David Mash for getting us tickets to the Harry Belafonte tribute concert last night at the Berklee Performance Center. Belafonte, now 87, in addition to his auspicious music career, is a political activist and philanthropist. As a confidante of Martin Luther King, Jr. he was a power in the civil rights movement – the Birmingham campaign was planned in his NYC apartment, he played a major role in the March on Washington, and much more. He co-produced with Michael Jackson, Lionel Ritchie, and Quincy Jones the powerful “We Are the World” which raised $50 million for addressing hunger in Africa. His speech last night conveyed a sharp mind and wit as he told stories from his life and the story of what it means to be African American in this country. His outspokenness was refreshing. But there was no bitterness – just honesty and compassion. A truly great and inspiring man.

And, God bless Africa, everyday I think of the immense suffering on that continent and wish for better times for the African people.

18. July 2013 · Comments Off on Pina Bausch “Full Moon” · Categories: Dance Video, Random Thoughts

“I’m young. My ears hear promise, my eyes see dreams …”

Another Pina Bausch masterpiece. This excerpt from Vollmond (Full Moon) is a “procession of scenes of ritualized courtship and conflict depicting the subtle ways we control and are controlled” (Claudia La Rocco, New York Times; Judith Mackrell, The Guardian).

What a gift to have it on film.

22. June 2013 · Comments Off on Citizen Koch – a film about money and power · Categories: Politics, Random Thoughts

It should be no surprise PBS decided not to air Citizen Koch for fear of shutting off the cash flow from the Koch brothers.  PBS sold out long ago, as chronicled in Jane Mayer’s excellent article for the May 27, 2013 New Yorker, “A Word from Our Sponsor” :

“When Koch joined the boards of WGBH and WNET, it seemed to mark an ideological inroad, enabling him to exert influence over a network with a prominent news operation. Meanwhile, the member stations, by having Koch as a trustee, were inoculating themselves against charges of liberal bias, and positioning themselves to receive substantial new donations.”