July 2013


A few nights ago, I plopped into bed and turned on Coast to Coast AM.  I hadn’t listened to the show in years.  Back in college, I used to put myself to sleep every night with the UFO abduction stories, ghost hunter recordings and chupacabra sightings.  Sure, I knew that a lot of what I was listening to was complete bullshit, but it was oh so entertaining.  There was the guy who played speeches backwards to reveal what was in the speaker’s subconscious, and caught Bill Clinton saying “I love women!”  There were the alien-human hybrid babies, and supernatural indigo children.  I could turn the radio on and hear someone say “I’ve talked to the dwarves, but they don’t know if the fairies ever sleep.” 

So I got tired of the endless war and slaughter being reported on the BBC, and thought, I wonder what’s happening on Coast to Coast?

What’s happened is that the show I used to love is dead.  More accurately, it has turned into just another conservative talk show.

Sure, Art Bell had his own libertarian streak, and I didn’t always agree with him, but I don’t remember him ever leaning this heavily on politics.  The new host (at least the one I heard that night) and his callers pretty much engaged in an hour of the most tired, predictable kind of Obama bashing, even with a few Obamacare jabs thrown in.  Hey, they have the right to their opinion, but if I wanted to hear that sort of thing, there are about a gazillion other radio shows like that on the air.  To my amazement, the hour ended with words of high praise for John Hagee…and when I researched a little further, I discovered that religious right pastors have been regular guests on the show lately.

I realize that it’s only natural that the personality of the show changed when Art Bell left.  It’s just that I feel the way a conservative Rush Limbaugh fan would feel if they turned on the radio and discovered that Rush had now turned into a home improvement talker, and a crappy one at that.  The essence of the show is different.  Coast to Coast used to be an eerie nighttime journey into the paranormal.  It was a unique kind of programming, and it stood out.  Now, it sounds like everything else out there.

And so I tucked my tail between my legs and went crawling back for more depressing Egypt news from the BBC World Service.  Maybe I just need to find a good ambient music station for my nights…

I haven’t done a Snowden update in a bit, so here’s some rare video of a meeting between him and Putin.  They even shared a little kiss.

On another note, I would really prefer it if Putin did keep his shirt on.

I love complaining about whatever the media obsession of the moment happens to be, but I love it even more when I can dig up something meaningful hidden behind all the hype.  A couple days ago, my PMS-inspired bitchfest focused on Royal Baby Madness. 

The Madness continues, as the news outlets now breathlessly report on the baby’s first meetings with each of his relatives–I’m sure they had a lot to say to each other–including Prince Harry.  Ironically, the articles about Harry mention something genuinely interesting.  And it’s not “How crazy of an uncle will Harry be?”  No, it’s Prince Harry’s charity Sentebale, which currently has an exhibition of photos on display in London showcasing its work.

Sentebale is devoted to helping the most poor and vulnerable children in Lesotho, many of them either living with HIV/AIDS, or orphaned by it.  Lesotho has the third highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world.  The charity works on providing the children with health care, educational and emotional support.  Now here are some kids which did not have news cameras waiting outside the door when they were born, and they will not be celebrated by the talking heads as they struggle to continue their lives.  Yet they are just as beautiful and royal as any child.  Sentebale means “forget me not” in the Lesotho language, so let’s not forget about the other babies.

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Edward Snowden continues to say hilarious things about Russia as he hangs out in the transit section of the Moscow airport.  (Hey, it’s funnier to talk about than the depressing Trayvon Martin verdict).  He has now described Russia as “the first to stand against human rights violations”.  Gay people and political dissidents all over the country laughed, or would have laughed if they were not in labor camps or dead. 

This statement from Snowden made me scratch my head, until I realized that when Snowden is talking about “human rights”, he is thinking only of a very specific human:  himself.  He is so focused on his own situation that he cannot see some of the other “human rights” stuff which is happening in the country which has granted him refuge.  This may speak to a big ego on his part–which wouldn’t surprise me.  Or it may simply show that Snowden is frightened and exhausted, and is probably saying flattering things about Russia out of fear.  Meanwhile, Putin has described him as an unwanted Christmas present.  Ouch…the love here is clearly not a two-way street.

Now, here’s a human rights defender I can really get behind…the awesome mayor of Reykjavik, Jon Gnarr, who has proposed to end Reykjavik’s sister city arrangement with Moscow as a protest against Russia’s recently passed homophobic law against “gay propaganda”.  Needless to say, Mr. Gnarr is a big proponent of gay rights and has appeared in drag in Pride parades. 

Iceland’s Pirate Party has voted to offer Edward Snowden citizenship.  Should he ever get his ability to travel back, this would be a much better choice than Moscow.

 

At the same time that some American states such as Texas and North Dakota are taking gradual small steps to make abortion more restricted and difficult to get, the very Catholic country of Ireland is taking a tiny step in the direction of expanding abortion rights.  The Irish parliament has voted to allow abortions in certain “life-saving” situations, including when the woman is threatening to commit suicide because of her pregnancy, or if her life is endangered by continuing the pregnancy.

Here is what one of Ireland’s Catholic bishops has said about his opposition to the bill:

The Bill is not necessary to ensure that women receive the life-saving treatments they need during pregnancy.  The medical treatment of mothers whose lives are in danger is always morally permissible even if this results in the unintended death of a child in the womb.  The Catholic Church has never taught that the life in the womb should be preferred to that of the mother.”

Unfortunately, it hasn’t always worked out that way.  The abortion controversy in Ireland was stoked in 2012 by the case of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian dentist who was admitted to an Irish hospital while miscarrying.  She requested an abortion for health reasons, was denied one, and died of septicemia a week later.

So either the Bishop doesn’t really mean what he’s saying—which wouldn’t be surprising for a representative of the Church, and I say that with sadness—or what he’s saying has not been communicated clearly to employees of Catholic hospitals in Ireland.

Even if you are looking at this from the pro-life perspective, I would think the bill is a good idea.  Wouldn’t you be happy not to lose two lives instead of one?

So Rupert Murdoch has been caught (and secretly recorded) bitching to his employees about the corruption and phone hacking inquiry which he has been the target of.  To recap, News Corp is being investigated because the journalists working there were found to be hacking into people’s phones for story scoops, as well as paying off public officials.  But Murdoch is very upset that the cops have been going after his reporters.  After all, bribing officials is something that has been “going on a hundred years,” according to him.  Ah, News Corp…always holding up the highest standard of ethics.  It has gotten so bad, Rupie fumes, that “they’re going to put all newspapers out of business.”

Normally I’m sad about the impending death of newspapers, but in this case I’ll make an exception.  Here I thought that the hard copy newspaper was going out of business due to online competition and our shortening attention spans.  If Rupert Murdoch is trying to tell us that the newspaper companies are actually going kaput because they’re full of dishonest slimebags who give bribes, hey, good riddance.  But I have the feeling that it’s just this particular company, because, well…Rupert Murdoch.

Interesting, by the way, how I never heard the kind of uproar on right wing radio about this phone hacking scandal that I have about the recent NSA one.  Wasn’t this just as much of an invasion of privacy?  Clearly, this kind of thing is VERY BAD when the government does it, but only meh when a giant corporation does it.  Or is it just that Rupert doesn’t have an African last name?  For the record, I’m angered by both hacking scandals, but it’s always fascinating to see the talking heads apply their double standards.  If only Obama had been involved somehow….

As we continue to grapple with the dilemma of Prism and the NSA observing our lives (or perhaps not–I haven’t heard too much discussion of this lately), the problem of privacy vs. security continues world-wide.  Great Britain has now announced that it will opt out of over a hundred EU regulations, at least for the time being.  One of those new laws has to do with creating a single European DNA database.  On the surface, this sounds good–it will make chasing after criminals across the borders of EU countries easier.  On the other hand, here is yet more opportunity for possible abuse of power, and a single institution having access to a lot of information about its citizens.  Also–and this is what Britain is balking at–it means additional chipping away at the sovereignty of individual countries within the EU.  Especially in connection with something called the European Arrest Warrant, which would allow any EU country to demand the deportation of an accused criminal from a different member country.

Britain says it wants to consider its options before agreeing to these regulations, and I’m thinking it is probably wise to do so.

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