March 24th, 2006

Chris Keeley

war on graffiti and street art in Melbourne, Australia, until now one of the world's epicentres of s

Melbourne's graffiti scene killed by Commonwealth Games

ACB sez, "Stencil artist Banksy has written an article for the Guardian on the war on graffiti and street art in Melbourne, Australia, until now one of the world's epicentres of street art, where the government has adopted a Giuliani-esque zero-tolerance policy to sanitise the city for the Commonwealth Games. In his article, Banksy points out that one of the places where evidence of Melbourne's unique, and now destroyed, street-art scene survives is in digitised photographs on the Web. Given that Australia has recently banned a video game involving graffiti and is considering a national internet firewall, one wonders whether such sites will remain accessible from within Australia for very long." Link (Thanks, ACB!)
Chris Keeley

Why everyone wants to invest in Neil Bush's software company

Why everyone wants to invest in Neil Bush's software company

It turns out that Barbara Bush's donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund is going straight to Ignite!, an educational software company owned by Neil Bush, the current administration's very own "Billy Carter/Roger Clinton" type character. (You may remember Neil as the fellow who headed Silverado Savings & Loan in the 80s. When the bank failed under his watch, he walked away with a mere sanction while taxpayers were forced to clean up his mess by forking over a $1 billion bailout.)

In his Talking Points Memo, Joshua Micah Marshall says Ignite! makes its money by jetting Neil to exotic locales, where he visits "international statesmen, bigwigs and criminals who want to 'invest' in Ignite! as a way to curry favor with the brother in the White House."

(Bush's international influence-peddling jaunts have also proven to be a great way for him to get laid, according to CNN:

[Bush] admitted in the deposition that he previously had sex with several other women while on trips to Thailand and Hong Kong at least five years ago.

The women, he said, simply knocked on the door of his hotel room, entered and had sex with him. He said he did not know if they were prostitutes because they never asked for money and he did not pay them.

"Mr. Bush, you have to admit it's a pretty remarkable thing for a man just to go to a hotel room door and open it and have a woman standing there and have sex with her," Brown said.

"It was very unusual," Bush said.)

It turns out that lots of people besides Barbara Bush believe in her energetic young man: the rich kids of China's rulers, the United Arab Emirates, and Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky (who has been accused of trying to overthrow Putin's government to help his company) are all eager investors in Ignite!. Now, who's to say that the individuals in this rogues' gallery are only interested in getting the president to think kindly of them? Perhaps they truly want to help children learn.

Let's have some fun: what kinds of children's educational software might be produced buy Ignite!, were these investors to have a say in their development? Email your ideas for titles and descriptions to me and I'll post the best on Boing Boing. Link (Thanks, Haybales!)

Reader comment: Phil says:

After seeing the post earilier today about Neil Bush, I got to wondering what other Bush siblings have been up to. Here's an interesting [Wikipedia] entry on Marvin Bush (the youngest of the Bush brothers):

"He was a director of the Sterling, Virginia company Securacom, also known as Stratesec, from 1993 until fiscal year 2000. The Securacom/Stratesec company was publicly traded and backed by an investment firm, the Kuwait-American Corporation. Securacom/Stratesec was in charge of security at the World Trade Center, Dulles International Airport, and United Airlines on September 11, 2001."

Pierce Bush Reader comment: John says: "THIS is the funniest Bush I've seen all year." (It's a video of 19-year-old Pierce Bush, the President's nephew, out of his mind on coffee at 6:30 am)

Chris Keeley

Fake titles for Neil Bush's software company, Ignite! Learning

Fake titles for Neil Bush's software company, Ignite! Learning

On March 23, 2006, I wrote about Neil Bush's educational software company, Ignite! Learning, and about the company's shady investors, which include scions of the Chinese ruling class, United Arab Emirate royalty, and a Russian gazillionaire wanted on criminal charges for allegedly plotting to overthrow Boris Putin. Neil's mother, Barbara Bush, is also a big beleiver in Neil's company -- her donation to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund was specifically earmarked for her son's company. (Here's a Houstin Chronicle article with more details.)

I asked readers to send in their suggestions for Ignite! software titles, were they to reflect the behavior and philosophy of Neil Bush and his investors. The suggestions were great, and I've posted some of my favorites below.

At the end of this entry, I'm running two emails sent in by people defending Ignite!. One is from a guy who is friends with Ignite! employees, who he describes as "distinctly kind and gentle individuals." The other email is from an actual employee of Ignite! who wishes to remain anonymous.

But first, here is my favorite entry, from Bob's:

Well, to promote traditional values, Ignite! would, of course, release different games for boys and girls. . .

For the girls:

Explora the Whora - As Explora, travel around the world knocking on hotel room doors looking for relatives of the rich and powerful. Maximum possible points for each round are based on the hotel guest’s family’s wealth and influence. Get friendly with the guest as quickly as possible, then collect points by extracting marriage proposals and/or blackmail payouts! Teaches young women how to move up in neo-conservative America and patriarchal societies around the world.

For the boys:

ShockAndAwecracy - As president G. W. Booyah, dress up in your flight suit and jump in to the cockpit of your NewWorldReorderer machine! Just press buttons to select countries from a map of the world, sending bombs and troops to spread democracy and freedom! Maximize your score by spending as much borrowed money as possible. Score extra points for enriching your friends with no-bid contracts to rebuild what you have destroyed (no rebuilding required). Teaches boys how to make friends and influence people.

Here, in no particular order, are the runners-up:

Chris Keeley

His crime? Taking photos of the flags out in front of the courthouse

NY photog held for hours by police over flag photo

Thomas Hawk says,
Having been the subject of unwarranted police background checks and being detained when shooting in the streets of Oakland myself, I was dismayed to read about this guy, Ben Hider, who was detained by police for two hours, searched, forced to empty his pockets and frisked. His crime? Taking photos of the flags out in front of the courthouse. Although he was issued an apology this is just unacceptable behavior on the part of the police. Photography is not a crime.
Link to ABC News story from White Plains, NY. Here is Ben Hider's MySpace page. Looks like this is the photograph that got him in trouble.

Reader comment: Ryan says,

In response to the man who was hassled by police taking pictures of the (public!) courthouse...this link is to an attorney's page whic has a nice PDF that states a photographer's rights. I keep a reduced one in my wallet in the case I am ever confronted, which seems like it may be sooner than later these days. Here's the PDF link.

posted by Xeni Jardin

Chris Keeley

Frances Bean

Courtney Love and Frances
Courtney Love and Frances
Courtney Love, right, and daughter Frances Bean Cobain sit in the front row before the start of Collection Bebe fall 2006 show during Mercedes-Benz fashion week in Culver City, Calif., on March 23.
(AP/Kevork Djansezian)
Chris Keeley


At 'Lonesome Jim' premiere
At 'Lonesome Jim' premiere
Musician Michael Stipe and actress Liv Tyler arrive at the premiere of the film, "Lonesome Jim,: in New York on March 21. The film is the latest directorial effort by actor/director Steve Buscemi.
(AP/Stuart Ramson)
Chris Keeley

the United States has willingly set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order t

New Study Criticizes Power of Israeli Lobby in Washington
And a dean at Harvard University and a professor at the University of Chicago are coming under intense criticism for publishing an academic critique of the pro-Israeli lobby in Washington. The paper charges that the United States has willingly set aside its own security and that of many of its allies in order to advance the interests of Israel. In addition the study accuses the pro-Israeli lobby, particularly AIPAC - the American Israel Public Affairs Committee - of manipulating the U.S. media, policing academia and silencing critics of Israel by labeling them as anti-Semitic. The study also examines the role played by pro-Israeli neo-conservatives in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of iraq. The authors of the study, Stephen Walt, a dean at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and John Mearsheimer of University of Chicago are now themselves being accused of anti-Semitism. In Washington, Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel of New York described the professors as "dishonest so-called intellectuals" and "anti-Semites." Harvard professor, Ruth Wisse called for the paper to be withdrawn. Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz described the study as trash that could have been written by Neo-Nazi David Duke. The New York Sun reported Harvard has received several calls from 'pro-Israel donors' expressing concern about the paper. Harvard has already taken steps to distance itself from the report. Earlier this week it removed the logo of the Kennedy School of Government from the paper and added a new disclaimer to the study. The 81-page report was originally published on Harvard's website and an edited version appeared in the London Review of Books. The controversy comes less than a year after Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz attempted to block the publication of Norman Finkelstein's book "Beyond Chutzpah: On The Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History."
Chris Keeley

(no subject)

What if? Pierce Bush interviewed in Iraq

Pierce Bush in Iraq vaporlock says: "You had some stuff on your site today that mentions Pierce Bush, [the 19-year-old who supports his uncle George W. Bush's war in Iraq yet bafflingly hasn't signed up to fight for democracy in Iraq]. I made a video and posted it on youtube were I took the interview of Pierce and placed him in Iraq, thus making the interview that much more watchable. Check out the video and post it if you like."
Chris Keeley

99 Luftballons" is a Cold-War era protest song that tells the story of 99 red balloons floating into

**FILE PHOTO** German singer Nena performs during the German 'Echo 2005' music award ceremony in Berlin, April 2005. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)
AP Photo: **FILE PHOTO** German singer Nena performs during the German 'Echo 2005' music award ceremony in...

99 Red Balloons' Video to Air for an Hour

2 hours, 28 minutes ago

They're kidding, right? VH1 Classic will present a full hour of the English and German music videos for the 1984 hit "99 Luftballons," aka "99 Red Balloons," by German rock group Nena.

The music video presentation, to air Sunday (2 p.m. EST), caps off the cable channel's "Pay to Play for Hurricane Katrina Relief," which raised over $200,000 for Mercy Corps, a humanitarian relief organization.

Viewers could request one video to be played on VH1 Classic for every $25 donation. For a $35,000 donation, they could select an hour's worth of music videos from the 1960s through the early 1990s.

However, one viewer chose something different for his allotted hour, requesting continuous playing of "99 Luftballons," said VH1 spokeswoman Maura Wozniak.

"99 Luftballons" is a Cold-War era protest song that tells the story of 99 red balloons floating into the air, triggering an apocalypse when the military sends planes to intercept them.


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