Monday, June 18, 2007

And they brought prosperity down at the armoury / we're arming for peace me'boys

I made myself a promise not to get too politically heated in future months and rant, as I'm prone to doing from time to time...but...and here's the thing...I need to say they are all completely barking nuts, completely fucking crazy. Oh, and evil beyond redemption. A blanket statement, sure, but I don’t know how else to put it, and put it, I think we all have a responsibility to do…. on planet earth as I do, this stuff really scares the living daylights out of me.

There, in the political nerve centre of the United States, in Washington DC, inside that thing they so proudly call the Beltway, there is a serious and ongoing debate between the hawks and the slightly less hawkish, on whether to go to war with Iran, or at the very least to drop large amounts of ordinance on it and it’s people. This, of course, most of us already well know. We read it almost everyday, the words appear on newspaper pages and websites and our eyes stroll over them to the next story. Pieces about applied or threatened sanctions, and reports by the IAEA to the UN find their way every week or two onto the various cable news networks. All of which runs past us in this quite bizarre world we now find ourselves in.

But one needs to take step back and reflect and the reality of all this. These people, having this allegedly responsible discussion at at the highest levels of government are the same people who have the blood of some half a million plus people on their hands, who dragged not only their country, but the world into a massive and unnecessary misadventure in the Middle East, and got away with it. They might be barking mad, but they are barking mad and terrifying serious. And they have their finger on the trigger which could, some say is likely, to plunge all of us into an abyss that would make the current Iraqi fiasco look like a pleasant tramp in the Waitakeres.

That all the US Presidential Candidates have opined that military action against Iran is a viable option must be a reasonable pointer towards the fact such a position there is totally centrist, and researches as such. A flexing of muscles it may be, and a refusal to take anything off the table, but that such a stance, and the action it implies can be taken seriously by the enfranchised mass in the USA is horrifying.

We are told by the American hard right, and I’m talking, all the way up that Vice President that Iran presents a greater threat to us all than Hitler. Really? And which countries has the Islamic Republic of Iran invaded, not just recently, but ever? I guess such talk goes down well with Bubba, after all they overwhelmingly bought the 9/11 – Saddam link and the WMDs bullshit without questioning. And a third of these people still do. And overwhelmingly are really only pissed off with the current fuck up in Iraq because, they’re…uhhhh…fucked (excuse the language but the expression is required) any which way they move. They still haven’t worked out, or at least they pretending not to understand in the Beltway, that surge or no surge, the USA are little more than unwilling passengers in Iraq now….nobody in Washington is making the real decisions that matter…the insurgents or whatever you want to call them are calling the shots.

I have trouble understanding how the US government can still get away with blaming Iran for every foreign policy disaster they’ve walked into, and can only imagine how the US would react if Iran was actually actively putting agents in the US to destablise their government, rather than the other way around.

I know who I'm more scared of, who is more of a threat to the way my family and I live, and its not Iran.

Yep, they’re all barking mad, GOP or Democrat, and at least ElBaradei called them out, as does this brutally honest and bang on op/ed in, of all places, Murdoch’s Times (and will Americans stop calling it The London Times please…this is The Times…it predates the NY and LA versions by a hundred years), from Anatole Kaletsky, who is hardly a bleeding heart lefty, although you'd think he was Lenin meets Satan personified from the US sourced hate comments below the piece.

I say this with growing despair, because I too have returned from a fact-finding tour, to America. Viewed from across the Atlantic it is clear that the parochial British obsession with WMD and “sexed-up dossiers” bears no relationship to the catastrophes now unfolding in the Middle East and beyond – not only in Iraq, but also in Gaza, Lebanon and Afghanistan, and soon maybe Syria, Iran and Pakistan. What people are talking about in America is not whether the invasion of Iraq was legally or morally justified but why it went so disastrously wrong and whether the same blundering fanatics will launch another catastrophic military adventure, most likely a bombing campaign against Iran, to distract attention from failure in Iraq. After all, the neoconservative ideologues who still run the Bush Administration have nothing left to lose politically – and in their fevered imaginations they still think they could inflict military defeat on the “Islamofascists” in what they now see as an even greater historical confrontation than the Cold War.

Viewed from virtually anywhere outside the USA, or Israel, the concept of attacking Iran or even the perceived threat from the Islamic Republic seems so far for anything we call reasonable reality, that it can only be called delusional. There is simply no logic to any of it, and it must be assumed it goes back, like the Cuban thing, to a festering sore head at having had their noses rubbed it twenty eight years ago. That’s all it is, but the war threat and the perception that more people need to die to resolve this is absolutely centrist in the USA. The common wisdom around the world, no matter your politics, unless you exist in a fringe minority is that an attack on Iran is utterly, and without question uncalled for and criminally insane.

But not Stateside….scroll through those letters at the bottom of the Times piece, read the likes of Coulter (these nutters ARE mainstream in the USA), read the half baked stories in the New York Times (demolished by Greenwald…remember what a drum beater the NYT was for Iraq), listen to the Presidential candidates, or to half baked, but elected nutters like Joe Lieberman….to not advocate more bloodshed in Iran, or at least threaten it, with all its inevitable repercussions is, to the enfranchised mass, fringe, almost traitorous.

What a damn mess…

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Sunday, June 17, 2007

picking out people and knocking them down / resisting arrest as they're kicked on the ground

I linked a few days back to Andrew Dubber’s interview at Hometracked, and mentioned his downloadable free e-book, on the new industry, and ways to navigate such. Since then Andrew has found himself in the middle of quite some little Internet firestorm. It all started when he posted a link to a post on a site called Download Squad. The story had to do with a lawsuit a certain Ms. Del Cid of Florida is filing against the RIAA to counter an action the US industry body is taking against her.

The piece on Download Squad is worded as a perfectly straightforward news story with a few opinions thrown in there, the strongest being

The RIAA has been terrorizing many people who they knew didn't have anything to do with alleged copyright violations, including dead people, young children, and the elderly.

Which, I guess from the RIAA’s POV, is strong stuff, but really no more so than what is more less generally publicly perceived. The RIAA has been roundly criticised across the spectrum for the way it’s pursued downloaders, often very insignificant, and the merciless persecution of people who's lives would likely be ruined by the action.

Andrew’s blog’s primary focus is the way the new technology can be utilised to advantage by artists and labels, and a story like this is clearly highly relevant as the result of the suit could potentially be precedent setting. So he linked to the story.

However a certain Paul Birch, owner of an independent UK label, Revolver Records, took exception to the link and so began the astounding email discourse which can be found here. Mr Birch is also a board member of the IFPI…the international body representing the record industry.

The back and forth was gob smacking, Mr Birch, clearly a man of some standing in the UK’s industry was at times abusive, threatening, irrational and contradictory. But the upshot was that he gave the impression of an unpleasant bully threatening to shut Andrew down, and make a complaint to his employers simply because Andrew linked to a site making a comment, under the provisions, I guess, in the US, of the First Amendment. It was very ugly and unnecessary. And Andrew was never less than polite and completely professional in responses.

Mr Birch says, amongst other things:

I think that what is more desirable is to take down links from your site that promote this hatred of the recording Industry, because the assumption is that by linking to them that you support the extreme view heralded.


Andrew sent through, with Mr Birch’s permission, the conversation as a part of his regular blog email updates, and I received it on Saturday evening.

With 24 hours it had gone around the world, was highly placed on digg, had a thread on the US Industry forum, Velvet Rope, and had hit dozens of blogs.

Paul Birch was famous and for all the wrong reasons. He was, universally derided for both his stance and his nasty bullying; Andrew’s site crashed for 24 hours because of excess traffic and Mr Birch had given the original story brand new legs.

None of which seems surprising because looking at Revolver’s terribe website and their half baked My Space, they are truly luddites, dinosaurs…the world has passed them by. A major independent UK label which has virtually no web presence, and what there is includes a bunch of badly formatted links to various copyright issues. This guy doesn't understand the modern world, but he seems to be aggressively obsessed by tilting at it.

And as if anything could be more indicative of the hole the record industry finds itself it, and is digging ever larger every day, our luddite bully boy is on the board of the world’s recording industry body (I must tell the story of the time a Blam Blam Blam member asked the president of said body if he had any drugs…but not now), which of course includes the RIAA as it’s largest member. The same body which is accused, on paper, screen, and now in the courts of threatening and bullying behaviour. Gosh…..

As an opinionated aside, looking at Revolver and its subsidiary, the imaginatively named “Heavy Metal Records” (a forthcoming album on the page due for release in Jan 2006!), it’s hard not to want to throw some of the blame for any pain Mr Birch might be feeling back in his A&R face. What an appalling catalogue of shabby dated acts, dodgy live recordings, fallen acts' re-recordings of their hits and the like…and he’s on the board of the IFPI.

It speaks volumes, no?


A day later Andrew found himself explaining basic copyright parameters to Mr Birch


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