Archive | April, 2004

Bolivian Students Take Over University

It’s not just Illinois (and I’m sure glad for that) — Rabble at Anarchogeek points out that Bolivian students have taken over their University in La Paz, demanding more educational funding.

When students and faculty took over the administration building at the U of I last week in protest of the U’s racists mascot, there was a lot of bellyaching from both the conservatives and the lilly-livered liberals about how much inconvenience the protest was causing all those poor administration workers (what, they don’t like a free day off?), and how such “extreme” action would only set the anti-Chief movement back.

What amazes me is the “extreme” myopia, especially amongst liberals, that causes them to forget the gains against segregation and the Viet Nam war made through sit-in tactics, not to mention the advancement of free speech on University campuses, all during the 1960s.

Like the civil rights sit-ins, the action at the U of I was most important because it brought attention in from outside these insular little college towns where locals and students alike would prefer to see this as a “local” issue, without any connection to global human rights.

The U of I story did travel some, mostly via the AP, getting picked up in Chicago, other random papers and even the Guardian in the UK. However, it did not become a truly national story. That isn’t to say the action was useless, since it resulted in some gains from the university administration and wider attention.

Unfortunately the Bolivian students’ story has not made it into much international spotlight, but that may still yet change.

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Amy Goodman’s Coming to Town

Democracy Now host Amy Goodman is on a 65 city book tour in support of The Exception to the Rulers: Exposing Oily Politicians, War Profiteers, and the Media That Love Them. My station, community radio WEFT, is hosting her this Friday and so she will also be a guest on this Friday’s radioshow.

It seems that a lot of people in “progressive” circles here are getting pretty excited. Though because this is more of a book signing, and just one stop on a pretty long, exhausting tour, I suspect this appearance will not be quite as long or in-depth as one of Goodman’s more formal talks. But I could be wrong.

It should be interesting to have Amy as a guest. Because my show’s focus is independent media, I’m less interested in discussing the details of her book and current political situation — though certainly we’ll discuss the book some. I’m really hoping we can talk about how and why she got into independent media, and how to build stronger networks and coalitions of independent media makers.

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When Will We See Hi-MD?

In the last couple of months I’ve talked to a number of people looking into buying some portable audio recording equipment, and I’ve recommended to them to wait until Sony’s new minidisc format, Hi-MD arrives, especially since it’s been confirmed that Hi-MD will allow users to upload self-recorded audio from the MD to a PC. Originally, it was announced that Hi-MD units would arrive in mid-April, but they’re not here yet.

So, many of these folks who I advised to wait for Hi-MD have been asking me when it will arrive.

Now it looks like mid-May will be the time. notes that — probably the best minidisc mailorder store — is taking pre-orders for mid-May delivery. J&R music world in New York City is also taking pre-orders for some models.

This isn’t an endorsement of either of these retailers, and I don’t get any kickbacks. Though I have ordered stuff from both of them and had good experiences. I will note that is a primary supporter of the valuable site.

Now I’m just debating which model to get and whether or not to pre-order.

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U of I Anti-Chief Sit-In To End

The protestors currently occupying the University of Illinois administration building have reached some kind of agreement with university chancellor Nancy Cantor, and are leaving the building.

They’re holding a joint press conference at 4:00 PM, and Drew is getting ready to cover it for today’s radioshow at 5:30 PM and possibly for U-C IMC Radio News.

I stopped by the sit-in this afternoon around 2:30 PM and spirits seemed pretty high amongst the few dozen supporters outside the building. I talked with a friend who had been there at 1 AM this morning. The administration building is in the heart of campus and very close to the most popular frat bars, so apparently the area was crawling with drunken, oblivious frat boys at 1 AM.

U-C IMC reporter Zach reported on the overnight situation.

As an aside, the U of I has the largest “Greek” system in the US going by raw numbers, and, additionally, Champaign-Urbana still allow 19 year-olds to go to the bars, even though officially they can’t drink. So we have a ready-made population of clueless, over-privileged, heavy-drinking undergrads, who are predisposed to blindly support any university tradition, no matter how racist, demeaning or moronic. And given the apparent popularity of such sports as “cat fights” at the most popular frat bars, they don’t have much of a grasp of the concept “demeaning” anyway.

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Madison, WI Independent Newspaper to “Throw In the Towel”

A post to the Madison IMC newswire indicates that the last few remaining members of the Madison Insurgent collective intend to quit publishing their newspaper, citing a lack of interested participants and funds.

The Insurgent is a monthly independent, collectively-run and non-profit newspaper that’s similar in style to many newspapers put out by IMCs, like New York City’s Indypendent, and my local IMC’s Public i.

The Insurgent lasted two and a half years, which is not a bad run for a monthly non-profit paper that is distributed for free. Heck, that’s longer than the last two runs of for-profit alternative weeklies here in Champaign-Urbana.

But putting together a hard-hitting and independent newspaper on very little budget is not an easy task. I know that the Public i has been struggling with getting together the relatively small funding necessary to print the last issue.

I think IMC-based papers, like the Public i, do benefit some from being associated with a larger media organization from which to pull volunteers and support. I think IMCs really become useful when they’re able to branch out into different media ventures, like print, radio and video, rather than be stuck with just an Internet presence. Perhaps the Insurgent will arise again as part of Madison’s growing Infoshop.

My congratulations go out to the volunteers of the Insurgent for a successful run, as well as my empathy for all the hard work it takes to keep such a project going.

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