June 25, 2006

She's baaaaaack...

Graduation has yet to hit me like a bus...2 months of travelling this summer will pretty effectively soften the blow and provide for a cooshy landing. But come fall, I'd best have a job--doing some print or broadcast journalism, in theory. Indy stuff- if I'm lucky, at KPFA. In the meantime, thought I'd try to start posting regularly again, get a routine going. Just some pseudo-journalism for now--op-eds from the Daily Nexus.

Hasta la Vista Arnold
Governator’s Surprise Visit Was Simply a Ploy

Published Tuesday May 9, 2006

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger paid UCSB one of his signature stealth visits in the wee hours of Saturday morning. Touting a new bond initiative as part of his reelection campaign, Schwarzenegger and his crew shut down Davidson Library - to the dismay of those hoping to get a jump on midterm studying - for a cozy press conference. What, you weren’t invited? Not even local law enforcement knew about it until Friday night.

Perhaps Arnold thought that by scheduling his appearance on the morning after Cinco de Mayo he could sidestep protests because everyone would be too hung over to bother. But, au contraire - armed with only their phones and e-mails, tenacious UCSB activists were able to mobilize an impressive “welcome” crew late Friday night.

The governor hasn’t had the best reception in Santa Barbara, to say the least - hundreds turned out last October to protest his hush-hush, invitation-only “town hall” meeting for his failed special election. On the morning after Halloween in 2004, he visited the Elephant Bar in Goleta to endorse Bob Pohl, who lost the 35th District Assembly race to Pedro Nava. Students and concerned community members, there to voice opposition to education funding cuts and the Governor’s pro-business agenda, were written off as “special interests.”

Wherever Schwarzenegger makes an appearance, protests follow. Is it any wonder why he would keep a low profile when his approval rating is second only to the president’s dismal numbers?

When you hear Schwarzenegger touting his unwavering support for education and California students, beware. This man is no friend to higher education. In the past three years he has allowed our fees to rise. Have you seen that money come back to our campus in more classrooms, cheaper textbooks or more financial aid? Or did it go straight to the bank accounts of the UC system’s top staffers in the form of bonuses and outrageous salary hikes?

Let’s all sit back and watch as Schwarzenegger claims credit for freezing our fees this year, when the real credit belongs the UC Student Association (UCSA) and their strong lobbying efforts with legislative leaders and the governor. It was not a benevolent leader, but students themselves that saved us each $500 this year.

But lo and behold, it’s an election year again. We are beginning to hear the rhetoric and shameless pandering from our loving governor. But we see through it. This is all too little, too late. I would at least have expected him to have a few token UCSB students standing behind him at the press conference. No doubt our campus still contains a few star-struck shills who still marvel at how it’s “f-ing sweet that the Terminator is our governor!”

We were also disappointed that Chancellor Henry T. Yang, usually a great champion of students, allowed Davidson Library to close for two hours during midterm time for what was nothing more than a cheap photo-op for political gain.

The upcoming primary election June 6 will be the first step toward getting a real champion of students and higher education into office. Providing much more than empty rhetoric, Democratic candidates like Phil Angelides for governor and Jackie Speier for lieutenant governor have fought for California’s students and schools. If elected in November, we can be sure they will use their political office for substantive change, not photo-ops.


Readers Should Remain Skeptical of the News They Read, Press Makes Mistake

Published Thursday June 1, 2006

I was extremely disappointed after reading Elana Wenocur’s column (“Iran’s Wristbands Are Reminiscent of Nazi Germany,” Daily Nexus, May 24, 2006). Wenocur expressed her horror upon reading an article by Amir Taher printed in the conservative Canadian National Post about legislation that would institute a dress code for religious minorities in Iran. Her dismay would be quite understandable - if the story were true. However, the column she read - and that many others have undoubtedly been misled by - was a hoax pushed by the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the preeminent Israeli lobby AIPAC.

On May 19, the Anti-Defamation League released a statement acknowledging that “while it is factual that the Iranian parliament is considering some kind of dress code, there is no evidence of any discussion or legislation concerning badges or the like for Jews and others.” The following day, both Reuters and the Associated Press corroborated ADL’s report, which refuted the National Post author’s claims by obtaining a copy of the Iranian bill and listening to a broadcast of the parliamentary session where it was given preliminary approval. The false allegations have since been acknowledged by the Jewish Week and other pro-Israel publications.

Wenocur’s op-ed was published on the May 24 - the day the National Post issued an apology and retracted its story, and five days after it had first been called into question. Public opinion is built to a large extent upon stories transmitted by the press. Editors are to be held responsible for validating the factual content of columns before they are published and seen by thousands of readers. The media have a solemn responsibility to ensure they do not propagate an alarmist agenda intended to drum up domestic support for belligerent foreign policy.

I feel strongly that it is a civic duty to stay informed on world events and that inflammatory stories like Taheri’s should be viewed with healthy skepticism. Misconceptions are best challenged through education - the hugely successful panel on Iran a couple weeks ago in I.V. Theater was proof that there are many in our community who would rather get informed and seek the truth than hastily jump to conclusions.

It’s important to avoid provocative statements and casually toss around the notion that Iran, or any other nation for that matter, “is developing nuclear weapons.” Unlike Israel, Iran is a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. It has not violated International Atomic Energy Agency regulations, and according to U.S. intelligence reports, the country is at least a decade away from producing any weapons.

In an effort to promote peace and stability - which ultimately will serve to protect Israel’s interests, too - I think it’s crucial to highlight efforts made toward brokering a diplomatic solution to recent escalations.

Last week the Washington Post reported that President Ahmadinejad followed up his letter to the White House with yet another overture for diplomatic negotiations. Paul Pillar, a recently retired senior CIA Middle East intelligence analyst said, “There is no question in my mind that there has been for some time a desire on the part of the senior Iranian leadership to engage in a dialogue with the United States.”

At this critical moment, it’s in everyone’s best interest to emphasize diplomacy and constructive discourse, and avoid exaggerated rhetoric.


That last one precipitated a giant pissing contest on the Facebook with an Israeli student. Not the first time that's happened. And from what I've seen after 4 years at UCSB, there's a pretty vocal (to say the least) pro-Israel community at UCSB. The Nexus has successfully engaged these folks and maintained a steady tradition of perpetuating the Arab/Israeli conflict on its editorial pages. That is, of course, when they're not busily debating the finer points of masturbation. Not that there's anything wrong with a little intellectual masturbation now and again, am I right folks? Am I right? Oh the irony and the awful jokes. Yep, I'm blogging again. Only hopefully this time, no one's reading.

And for all the shit I talk about the Nexus, all I gotta say is--man...I'll miss having a surefire way to get published.