‘The Passion’ of the Americans

“The television airwaves have been filled for the last several days with a lot of back-and-forth about Mel Gibson’s new film, ‘The Passion of The Christ.’ A great deal of debate centers around whether Gibson has fashioned a broadside against Jewish people in the manner of the Medieval anti-Semitic passion plays of old… My question is much simpler: Why would Mel Gibson make a movie about people in the ancient Middle East and cast it with so many white people? To look at the central actors in this film, you’d think Jesus did his work near Manchester, New Hampshire instead of the Holy Land..” —William Rivers Pitt, truthout

Roam Between GPRS, Wi-Fi, and W-CDMA

T-Mobile Preparing Multi-Network Service: “At last week’s 3GSM World Congress, T-Mobile announced plans for a new service that will allow users to easily roam between various types of wireless networks.

At the conference in France, T-Mobile CEO Rene Obermann said his company is planning a new service that will let subscribers use either GPRS (General Packet Radio Service), W-CDMA (Wideband Code Division Multiple Access), or Wi-Fi (802.11b), with their hardware device automatically choosing whichever is the better option at the time.” —Brighthand

What’s Right With Kerry

Just like George Bush, as Dean claimed in the heat of battle? “It is true that Kerry, another Yalie and Skull and Bones alum, has voted in favor of NAFTA and other corporate-friendly trade pacts, that he once raised questions about affirmative action (while still supporting it), that he has, like almost every Democratic senator, accepted contributions from special-interest lobbyists (while being one of the few to eschew political action committee donations), that he voted to grant Bush the authority to invade Iraq. But this hardly makes him Bush lite. There is, as evidence, his nineteen-year Senate record, during which he has voted consistently in favor of abortion rights and environmental policies, opposed Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy, led the effort against drilling in the Alaskan wilderness, pushed for higher fuel economy standards, advocated boosting the minimum wage and pressed for global warming remedies. But what distinguishes Kerry’s career are key moments when he displayed guts and took tough actions that few colleagues would imitate. One rap on Kerry is that he is overly cautious and conventional. He’s no firebrand on the stump, nor does he come across as the most passionate and exciting force for change. But his history in Washington includes episodes in which he demonstrated a willingness to confront hard issues, to challenge power, to pursue values rather than political advantage, to take risks for the public interest.” —David Corn, CommonDreams

What’s in a Name?

A Potful of Problems: “Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn and Councilman Eric Garcetti want to sell off the city.

On Tuesday, at their instigation, a City Council committee kicked around the idea of creating an official city beverage or setting up some other kind of licensing deal. From there, it’s only a short step to selling off the naming rights to municipal buildings, parks or neighborhoods. Who can doubt that that’s where they’re heading?

Yes, the city faces a $250-million deficit next year. But the idea of granting naming rights to the highest bidder is a recipe for civic humiliation. The city’s participation in any marketing deal will provide an implicit or explicit endorsement of a corporation and its products.

It’s happened elsewhere. Snapple is the official beverage of New York City, with the company paying $166 million over five years for that designation. Coca-Cola has signed marketing deals with Huntington Beach (for $600,000 a year), and East Lansing, Mich. (for $2 million over 10 years), while PepsiCo has agreements with San Diego (up to $23.6 million over 12 years), and Fresno (for $625,000 over five years).” —Gary Ruskin (Commercial Alert), CommonDreams

Scalia Took Trip Set Up by Lawyer in Two Cases

Apparently Scalia’s hunting trip with Cheney in the lead-up to hearing his case on the Supreme Court is not the first time the Supreme Court Justice whored for the old-boy network.: “Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was the guest of a Kansas law school two years ago and went pheasant hunting on a trip arranged by the school’s dean, all within weeks of hearing two cases in which the dean was a lead attorney.

The cases involved issues of public policy important to Kansas officials. Accompanying Scalia on the November 2001 hunting trip were the Kansas governor and the recently retired state Senate president, who flew with Scalia to the hunting camp aboard a state plane.” —CommonDreams We might want to begin talking about more than recusals here…