How Michael Jackson’s Music Changed The World by Alexander Billet

3 July, 2009

young-mj.jpgThe last 15 years of Michael Jackson’s life are almost enough to obscure the true greatness of this artist. During that time, we saw the handsome, charming pop star go through myriad plastic surgeries that made him look more like a latter-day Peter Pan. We saw the trappings of unprecedented fame manifested in beyond bizarre behavior–the kind for which “eccentric” seems a mild term.

And then, there are the child molestation scandals. The media were ready to somehow link his strange persona with his alleged sexual abuse of minors–few were willing to draw the same link to his own father’s abuse.

It’s almost enough to overshadow his legacy. Almost, but not quite. None of these are what Jackson is being remembered for as millions mourn his sudden passing the world over. They aren’t the reasons that we see footage of people breaking down in sobs of grief at news of his death. We are hearing condolences coming not just from musical icons like Madonna and Paul McCartney, but world leaders like Nelson Mandela and Hugo Chávez. Influence like that can’t be rubbed out.

Over 40 years, Michael Jackson’s voice and performance style reached a level of universality that nobody–and I mean nobody–has ever reached in music. One would be hard pressed to find a single soul who hasn’t been touched by his recordings. That a video of Filipino prisoners performing the “Thriller” dance can become a Web phenomena is but one small testament to this.

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Media Lens 9 July, 2009: Hired Hands – Part 2: Reporting Elections In Iran And Iraq

9 July, 2009MediaLens — Correcting for the distorted vision of the corporate media

As discussed in Part 1, media across the UK ‘spectrum’ have expressed outrage at even circumstantial evidence of Iranian political corruption. A Guardian leader observed:

“That the Iranian elections were fixed is impossible to prove, but that Iranians voted as the official figures indicate seems impossible to believe. Who could believe, for example, that Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reform candidate in the presidential elections, has lost by a huge margin in his own home town?… Electoral fixes can come in sophisticated versions, or they can come in crude and contrived forms. This one falls into the latter category.” — (Leader, ‘The Iranian vote: Reform denied,’ The Guardian, June 19, 2009)

The Daily Telegraph agreed:

“The election results, announced over the weekend, lack all credibility.” (Leader, ‘Democracy the loser in Iran’s “free” election,’ — Daily Telegraph, June 15, 2009)

The Times lamented the lack of protest from the West:

“But surely, at least, the West could give louder voice to its outrage, its contempt for this farce. Or will it, like the pusillanimous leaders of China, Russia and its Central Asian allies welcoming President Ahmadinejad in Yekaterinburg, sacrifice a moral stance to political expediency? Mir Hossein Mousavi is neither a liberal nor an opponent of the Islamist state. Swiftly, however, he is becoming a symbol of resistance to repression.” — (Leader, ‘A Hollow Democracy,’ The Times, June 17, 2009)

The call for a “louder voice” of outrage from the West could hardly be more ironic. Consider the media response to the January 2005 elections in Iraq that took place under superpower military occupation in conditions of extreme violence.

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An Open Letter to the Anti-War Movement: How Should We React to the Events in Iran? by Phil Wilayto

8 July, 2009

The “Iranian people” have not spoken.

What’s happening in Iran today is a developing conflict between two forces that each represent millions of people.  There are good people on both sides and the issues are complicated.  So before U.S. progressives decide to weigh in, supporting one side and condemning the other, let’s take a little closer look.

Who Won the Election?

On June 12, 2009, nearly 40 million Iranians, some 85 percent of the electorate, cast votes for one of four presidential candidates.  The following day, the government announced that the incumbent, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had won 62.63 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a run-off with his leading rival, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, who was said to have received 33.75 percent of the vote (CNN, June 13, 2009).

“Before the vote count ended, Moussavi [sic] issued a sharply worded letter urging the counting to stop because of ‘blatant violations’ and lashed out at what he indicated was an unfair process” (CNN, June 13, 2009).

Mousavi denounced the results as a fraud and hundreds of thousands of his supporters poured into the streets of Tehran and other major cities to protest the election results.

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