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  • (1)

    The NSA is spying on you. We all know that ... now.

    For Hollywood musicland, that's old hat.

    Apparently, the Recording Industry Association of America is spying on you ... and your children ... and has no qualms about going after them to get to you.

    The Big Four record labels are escalating their attack on Patti Santangelo, the New York mother who's so far the only person to stand up to them.

    And they'll be using her children as weapons against her.

    On Tuesday judge Mark D. Fox presided over a discovery hearing in Elektra v Santangelo and, "Elektra's attorneys have answered Patti's objections to their discovery questions," her lawyer, Jordan Glass, told p2pnet.

    "They've started to push back aggressively. They're going after her children - and this time not directly so they can get around certain protections the children have. They had information about the children that wasn't public, or wasn't supposed to be public, and it's of great concern not only that that they were able to obtain it, but also that they wanted it.

    "They're not treating this as a single case or as seeking a verdict for $3,500.00. They're treating this as a symbol for how the other cases will go and I hope everyone who reads this will recognize the serious impact this case could have on their children."Oh, and lest we forget: All this is tax-deductible ... for the mega studios. For Mrs. Santangelo, defending herself has to come out of her after-tax income.

    Reports p2pnet:

    "This case is jeopardizing the actual well-being of children and you're going to see problems develop which will be far worse than the mere 'shakedown for money' ['settlements']," says Glass emphatically.

    "As just one example, it was deeply unsettling for us to learn just how much personal, non-public information the RIAA had collected on Patti's children.

    "All parents should be concerned and I think people have to know the implications.

    "It's one thing to sue children directly. They get a lawyer, rules are established, the court might offer certain protections, etc, but when it's done through a back door - suing a parent to get information about a child - the child has no protections, especially when the plaintiff doesn't even have the decency to not publish personal information about the child.

    "This, then, is going to become the new feeding ground for those who seek to exploit children, whether through improper contact or identity theft.

    "This new class of child - scared and facing the federal legal system, with few protections and their personal contact and identification information, as well as their posted feelings, fears, desires and thoughts - is now exposed to the world for all to see.

    "And exploit."Of course, as we learned from Ronald Reagan, mothers of children are to be distrusted and condemned, while multinational corporations are to be praised for ... their family values? Oh, that's right: Their political campaign donations. So don't expect any help from our elected officials.

    Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing notes some background:

    The recording industry has escalated its attacks on a soccer mom whose PC may have been used to share music files by attacking her children. Westchester County's Patti Santangelo bought a PC for her kids that the RIAA claims was used to share copyrighted music, but Patti never used her PC for this, and there's no evidence that the files ever resided on her computer. Since she's innocent, Patti's refused to pay the labels' shakedown demand of $3500, making her the first RIAA victim to stand up for her rights.The Sunday Question: How many PACs does it take for a multinational corporate empire to have more rights than human beings?

  • (1)

    Sometimes a love affair lasts, half a lifetime, a lifetime. Perhaps not exactly unrequited but, shall we say, unknown to one party... Requited though, as writers need readers.

    Vidal in Ravello [Reuters]

    My favorite political interview... to date (subject to revision and new loves), Jerry Brown interviewing Gore Vidal in the mid 90s for Pacifica Radio.

    Jerry Brown '96 [Sonoma Independent]

    Loved it, no foolishness, no silliness about what a great party the Democrats were, are, are not, were not. What a waste of time that has been. Just business. And some truth along the way.

    If you ever liked Jerry (it's been bumpy, the last few years) or love Vidal... click away.

    I pulled it out again today as George is on, speaking to the American Legion. About the Global War on Terror...

    He is so painful that I divert myself by looking at the propagandistic backdrops. Sad to say, as high governmental l'etat c'est moi ''art''... very powerful. Managing to evoke all that a beleaguered and confused people think they need - and worse, want.

    Half a world away, Iraq is a veritable blood soup, humans as croutons.

    He speaks of Iran and nuclear weapons. He calls for a ''free, democratic, transparent society'' in Iran... "Freedom is on the march in the greater Middle East"... "new allies in the war on terror and in the cause of peace"... "the advance of liberty still faces determined enemies"... "they create images of suffering and violence for the cameras".

    "We will not retreat as long as I am president of the United States, we will stay on the offense, we will hunt down the terrorists wherever they hide..."

    We are so very fucked.

  • (1)

    Since we know how much the Republicans love Big Brother these days, and get aroused over governmental spying on citizens, this should probably not be a surprise:

    This week the Minnesota Republican Party is distributing a new CD about a proposed state marriage amendment. Along with flashy graphics, the CD asks people their views on controversial issues such as abortion, gun control, illegal immigration, and so on.

    The problem – the CD sends your answers back to headquarters, filed by name, address, and political views. No mention of that in the terms of use. No privacy policy at all. The story concludes: “So if you run the CD in your personal computer, by the end of it, the Minnesota GOP will not only know what you think on particular issues, but also who you are.�

    Privacy schmivacy! This is the GOP Rootkit, part of their Political Rights Management Program! Your business is Karl Rove's business! Your privacy aids terrorists!

    These practices fall way below the standard for today’s polling firms and web sites. The norm for polling firms is to anonymize the data and report only statistical totals. The norm for commercial web sites is to have a privacy policy, with Federal Trade Commission enforcement if the web site breaks its privacy promise.

    Without a privacy policy, the state party can tell your views to anyone at all. If you give the “wrong� answers on abortion or other issues, they can tell your boss, members of your church, or anyone else. In fact, these answers could get distributed to campaigns in your town during get-out-the-vote efforts – precisely the place where “wrong� answers can be most damaging.

    GOP = Get Over Privacy.

    In a comment, SpudgeBoy points out that this is illegal. All I can say is "Since when has that stopped the Republicans?"

  • (1)

    I found this in the in-box this morning.

    Time for Blogads' annual blog reader survey. Yes, the third annual! Now open for business. (I apologize if you've gotten several of these -- some people say they haven't gotten prior versions.)

    Right now we'll survey JUST readers of politically influential blogs... your readers. I'm sending this survey link out to 200 political blogad sellers, plus a few friends. (We'll survey other blogad niches in coming weeks.)

    As in past years, Blogads will pay for the survey. Even though the results will be severely unscientific, the project helps us all better understand blogs and where we all fit in the infosphere. Stuff like this also helps with evangelism -- headlines notwithstanding, too many pundits, advertisers and journalists are still blind to the political bloggers' radical force.

    If you want your readers to be represented, please point them to http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=84511800967....

    So we can break out your blog's data later, please ask your readers to list it as the referring blog for question #23.

    For that last part, please, if you would, put media girl (2 words, lowercase).

    That's it, that's all. We now return you to the regularly scheduled blogging.

  • (1)

    This is just amazing: Bush is on videotape, being briefed before Katrina.

    Video showing President George W Bush being warned on the eve of Hurricane Katrina that the storm could breach New Orleans' flood defences has emerged.

    The footage, obtained by the Associated Press, also shows Mr Bush being told of the risk to evacuees in the Superdome.

    It appears to contradict Mr Bush's statement four days after Katrina hit, when he said: "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."

    Of course, Bush being caught in yet another lie is hardly news.

    The footage does the president no favours, the BBC's Justin Webb reports from Washington.

    It shows plainly worried officials telling Mr Bush very clearly before the storm hit that it could breach New Orleans' flood barriers.

    In the past, the president has said nobody anticipated a breach but the video shows Michael Brown, the top emergency response official who has since resigned, saying the storm would be "a bad one, a big one".

    "We're going to need everything that we can possibly muster, not only in this state and in the region, but the nation, to respond to this event," Mr Brown says.

    He also gives a strong, clear warning that evacuees in the Superdome in New Orleans could not be given proper assistance.

    And what is the Bush Administration's response? Typically, they try to pooh-pooh the whole thing.

    New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, shown the footage for the first time at a press conference, told Reuters he was "shocked" by what it revealed.

    "It surprises me that if there was that kind of awareness, why was the response so slow?" he asked.

    But Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said most transcripts of discussions had already been made available to congressional investigators examining the response to Katrina.

    "There's nothing new or insightful on these tapes," he said.

    Yeah, Bush has lied to the American people. That's not news. Bush knew of the dangers to New Orleans, and opted to go party instead. That's not news.

    Lauren at the Center for Internet and Society notes:

    Then I realized after watching the BBC piece that the technology used to perform the video briefing (while Bush was vacationing in Texas and Nat’l weather service people were getting worried in DC) also created a record of the briefing. It may have been a secure connection, but since nobody bothered to store the file securely, or encrypt it, a whistleblower (?) was able to leak it to the press.

    I’m guessing they will not make this mistake again. But it is a great example of how in today’s world, few communications are ephemeral. Technology that enables new forms of communications— like video conferencing— also creates new records of communications that can be rebroadcast to parties the speakers never intended. Maybe this experience will make the Bush administration more sympathetic to privacy concerns?

    I think that when it comes to governmental officials' being held to accountability, they're quite vigorous in defending "privacy." It's when it comes to the rest of us peasants that privacy is either a "quaint, old-fashioned notion" or a "tool for terrorists."

    I expect much stonewalling and bluster on this one.

  • (1)

    Rape survives in the traditional Christian wedding ceremony, for it is the Best Man who can be trusted to help protect the bride should unruly thugs come to rape her at the ceremony.

    In classics, we read about the Rape of the Sabine Women and how rape is an instrument of policy.

    And we don't have to go back to Rome, either, though we could pause in medieval history and get more of the same. Just turn to the 1990's, within living memory, and read about the rape squads in Bosnia who raped as part of ethnic cleansing.

    The strategy was to humiliate the females of the "enemy side." Deflower the girls and even make them carry the babies of the raping armies.

    Go forward one decade and we witness the South Dakota law that would force a woman to carry a child to term who is spawn by a rapist. His seed is furthered - thanks to the new law - and the woman has to cross a state line to get relief.

    There are laws on the books that prevent people from profiting from their crimes. For example, a murderer cannot get royalties from a tell-all book about the murder he committed. Yet a rapist gets to see that his baby is brought to term and raised by someone - spending the rest of her life caring and feeding the child that is a result of her humiliation.

    South Dakota - Bizzaro World.

  • (1)

    Liberal Street Fighter

    What else are we going to "privatize" in this country?

    Storm-Wracked Parish Considers Hired Guns
    ST. BERNARD PARISH, La. -- Maj. Pete Tufaro scanned the fenced lot packed with hundreds of stark white trailers soon to be inhabited by Hurricane Katrina evacuees. Shaking his head, he predicted the cramped quarters would ignite fights, hide criminals and become an incubator for crime, posing another test for his cash-strapped sheriff's department, which furloughed 206 of its 390 officers after the storm.
    Tufaro thinks the parish has the solution: DynCorp International LLC, the Texas company that provided personal security to Afghan President Hamid Karzai and is one of the largest security contractors in Iraq. If the Federal Emergency Management Agency approves the sheriff's department's proposal, which would cost $70 million over three years, up to 100 DynCorp employees would be deputized to be make arrests, carry weapons, and dress in the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff's Department khaki and black uniforms.
  • (1)

    What floated above the fold, Just the big ones.

    First snowfall, winter '95-'96, on the
    Korean War Veterans Memorial,
    the Mall, Washington DC

    From the magazine of the National Archives, Prologue:

    The Korean War Memorial in Washington, D.C., presents in granite what for many remains its most powerful lesson— that "Freedom Is Not Free." Tourists can buy T-shirts sporting a map of Korea over which appears the judgment that this was "The Place Where Communism Was Stopped."

    But since 1981 a swelling stream of books and articles reexamining not only the war itself, but U.S. policy toward Korea before June 1950, has shattered traditional beliefs about the conflict.

    An artillery officer directs UN troops
    as they drop white phosphorous on a
    Communist-held post in February 1951.
    (NARA, 111-SC-358293)

    Viet-Nam

    At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial,
    a former soldier touches the granite wall
    dedicated to casualties of the Vietnam War.
    [National Geographic]

    George Aiken's 1966 memo, Declare Victory and Withdraw:

    Today, the American commitment in Viet Nam no longer involves the fundamental objective of preserving the credibility and integrity of U.S. Armed Forces - provided that the war is not extended in time or in geography to the point where a wholly n ew threat to U.S. military power exists.

    The new threat might take either the form of Chinese intervention, or, more pertinent, the form of a prolonged erosion of the _credibility_ of U.S. power through harassment in a political context, namely through the disintegration of the South Vi etnamese society.

    The United States government has asserted frequently and emphatically that there is no military "solution" or objective in this war.

    We do not seek to destroy North Viet Nam nor its government.

    This assertion is shared by virtually every type of observer, allied, official and hostile.

    The greater the U.S. military commitment in South Viet Nam, however, the less possibility that any South Vietnamese government will be capable of asserting its own authority on its home ground or abroad.

    The size of the U.S. commitment already clearly is suffocating any serious possibility of self-determination in South Viet Nam for the simple reason that the whole defense of that country is now totally dependent on the U.S. armed presence.

    This was also true in Korea in 1954, but then the United States was operating under the umbrella of collective U.N. action, and along a well-defined battlefront which permitted organization of the rear areas.

    None of this is true in South Viet Nam.

    Beirut Barracks, October 1983

    On October 23, 1983, a truck loaded
    with thousands of pounds of explosives
    destroyed the 4 storey command headquarters
    of the US Marine Battalion Landing Unit
    located at Beirut Airport.

    A brief timeline:

    On June 6,1982, Israeli troops invaded southern Lebanon to eradicate the PLO, which was launching its terrorist raids from there against Israel to the south.

    On September 29, 1982, US Marines and French soldiers and Italian soldiers entered Beirut as part of a multinational peace-keeping force (MNF).

    On April 18, 1983, a large car bomb exploded at the US Embassy in Beirut, causing massive structural damage and killing 61, including 17 Americans, and injuring 100.

    On September 19, 1983, as a result of the buildup of tensions among numerous factions and nations operating in Lebanon, the USS Virginia, cruising with other American ships off Lebanon’s coast, shelled Druze militia in the Shouf Mountains to help the beleaguered Lebanese Armed Forces hold onto a strategic mountain village.

    This shelling officially shifted the American role from a “presence� in Lebanon to the “direct support of Lebanese Armed Forces� and cost the US its appearance of neutrality.

    On October 23, 1983, a truck loaded with thousands of pounds of explosives destroyed command headquarters of the US Marine Battalion Landing Unit located at Beirut Airport. An almost simultaneous suicide attack destroyed a building occupied by French paratroopers. US casualties were 241 killedand 70 wounded. French casualties were 58 killed.

    In early 1984, the battleship USS New Jersey shelled Muslim Beirut and its suburbs, intensifying violent anti-American feeling.

    On September 6, 1984, the US vetoed a United Nations resolution condemning Israel’s ongoing tactics in Lebanon as a result of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.

    On March 8, 1985, a car bomb went off near the Beirut home of Shiite Muslim cleric Sheikh Fadlallah (who was not killed in the attack), resulting in 45 Lebanese killed and 175 injured. Lebanese Shiites widely rumored that the Central Intelligence Agency was involved with the car bomb incident.

    February to June 1985, Israel pulled out of Lebanon, taking 700+ Shiite hostages with them as security for their departing troops. Instead of immediately releasing the prisoners when their withdrawal was complete, however, the Israelis moved them to Atlit prison camp in northern Israel.

    Mogadishu, Somalia 1993

    Mogadishu timeline, 1991 forward.

    The Former Yugoslavia

    On patrol in Bosnia: U.S. Army Maj. Daniel Mahoney,
    base commander at Camp Demi [USA Weekend]

    In September, 1998 USA Today carried an exchange of emails between Maj Mahoney and his family:

    Dear MacroMouse,

    [W]e are putting a lot of miles on on our High-Mobility, Multi-Purpose, Wheeled Vehicle. Mine is called "the Beast." I have a three-person crew (four if you include me)... When I go out, I have 1,000 rounds for my M-60 machine gun (the main gun), 210 rounds for my driver's M-16 and 30 rounds for my M9 pistol... The armor on my vehicle can withstand up to .50 CAL machine-gun fire -- so I feel pretty safe. It is a mean little machine. Well, that's it for now, little muncher. Make sure you write back... I will be back before you know it!

    Love, Dad

    Kosovo

    Administration officials pledged, meanwhile, that the NATO offensive would go on and denied that the allies' attacks on the Serbs had prompted Belgrade to retaliate against ethnic civilians.

    "We had every reason to believe that they had both the intent and the capability to conduct massive offensive operations that would have been conducted with or without NATO airstrikes," Rubin said.

    With the American public about evenly divided in its opinion of the NATO assault, the administration gave no ground either on the mission or that it holds Milosevic accountable for the havoc among Kosovo's civilian population.

    "As a political matter, it is clear that Slobodan Milosevic bears responsibility for the events that led to war crimes in Croatia, Bosnia and now Kosovo. Events in Kosovo obviously are being directed from Belgrade," Rubin said in suggesting the Yugoslav president could be charged by an international tribunal and face a lifetime prison sentence.

    "There are indicators genocide is unfolding in Kosovo," Rubin said after Secretary of State Madeleine Albright received a detailed report Sunday from Hashim Thaci, who headed the Albanian delegation that approved proposals for a settlement in Kosovo.

    A girl from Pec in western Kosovo
    peers from the back of a tractor-trailer
    as she and other refugees make their way
    over a mountain road separating Kosovo
    from Montenegro. [South Coast Today]

    Jeremy Scahill's article when Milosovic died and his ''ambush'' interview with Gen. Clark in NH, January 2004

    Afghanistan

    [rawa.org]

    Christian Parenti, London Review of Books, January 2005:

    The top drug lord here is Hazrat Ali, America’s ally in the Tora Bora campaign, the man who allowed al-Qaida to escape as US forces closed in. Now Hazrat Ali - who gave himself this nom de guerre in honour of the fifth caliph of Islam during the jihad against the Soviets - is also the provincial security chief. Karzai gave him the post at the end of the summer to buy his support in the elections. [...]

    A U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopter lands in the
    Shah-e-Kot mountains, 25 kilometers (15 miles)
    southeast of Gardez, Afghanistan March 15, 2002.
    [AP/file]

    The poppy crop has already been harvested, but some of the local farmers show me big brown blocks of opium and offer hash. They say that Mirwais Yasini, the head of the Counter-Narcotics Directorate, has done a deal with Hazrat Ali. When the harvest was over, Hazrat Ali told the farmers to burn their fields, so that Mirwais Yasini could tell the British that progress is being made. Officials in Kabul either deny these charges or decline to comment.

    American officials have started to claim that Hazrat Ali’s days are numbered. ‘One day, he will wake up and discover he’s out of business,’ David Lamm, chief of staff of US forces in Afghanistan, said in a press interview. But when I went to find Hazrat Ali, he was busy meeting US forces to plan election security. It is thanks to relationships like these that one can easily imagine the poppy economy and the new Afghan state merging into a narco-mafia with a flag and a seat at the UN.

    Kandahar children.
    MERCY Malaysia first sent its mission
    comprising four doctors and two non-medical
    volunteers to Afghanistan in October 2001.
    The aim was to alleviate the suffering of the
    Afghan refugees who fled their homes soon
    after the US and its allied forces began
    bombing the impoverished nation.

    Iraq:

    PERSIAN GULF FLYOVER — Two U.S. Navy F/A-18C Hornets,
    assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 146, and two
    U.S. Navy F/A-18F Super Hornets, assigned to
    Strike Fighter Squadron 154... in the Persian Gulf,
    June 30, 2005.
    [U.S. Navy photo by Airman Chris M. Valdez]

    Sinan Antoon, native of Baghdad, "Of Bridges and Birds":

    And so the city was conquered, sacked and rebuilt time and time again. In its heyday, Baghdad was the heart of an empire, and its rulers, too, wrought havoc on distant lands. But, most of its caliphs and sultans were also patrons of art and knowledge, connoisseurs, and sometimes composers, of the most beautiful poetry to have survived in the collective memory of the Arabs.

    Now, it is Baghdad's ironic fate to have been subjugated by a would-be emperor, who has yet to master his mother tongue. While he is fully aware of the geo- strategic importance of Baghdad, Bush is probably the one least aware, in the history of the city's conquerors, of the precious symbolism and rich history of his booty.

    Does it matter to him?

    Allied warplanes destroyed 134 bridges in Iraq during 1991 Gulf War
    [Middle East Online]

    Rivers of blood are flowing along the Tigris as America tattoos its imperial insignia into the bodies of Iraqi children, stamping their futures with its corporate logos in order to "safeguard" it. There is an abyss in and around Iraq, and it is widening by the moment.

    I used to recite Ali Ibn Al- Jahm's famous line about the enchanting, almond-shaped eyes of the Baghdadi women who used to cross from one bank to the other in the nineth century. On a lucky day, I would encounter a descendent or two of those women.

    Now the moon-like faces celebrated in thousands of verses are hiding in houses on both banks, white voyeuristic satellites are hovering above and scrutinising every inch of the city's body.

    March 29, 2003. Soldiers setting up barbed wire near Najef
    [Benjamin Lowy, Corbis for TIME Magazine]

    Orville Schell on remote reporting and the Green Zone.

    Over and over, looking at the photographs of the recent wars, I think to myself, is this person alive? I occasionally still think of a young service man, from Appalachia, infantry, hunkered down at the border in February 2003, waiting for the signal to cross over and invade Iraq.... In an interview with an ABC reporter, he said he hoped the politicians would not sacrifice them. Tears at you. It just does.

    We do know who is alive, no question. The western pols. And Saddam, Osama. Zawahiri.

    Smedley Butler, in a letter home to his parents, while serving in Nicaragua in 1910 as a young marine:

    What makes me mad is that the whole revolution is inspired and financed by Americans who have wildcat investments down here and want to make them good by putting in a Government which will declare a monopoly in their favor. The whole business is rotten to the core and I am ashamed to think that a Republican [Taft] administration is, if anything, assisting the revolution.
  • (1)

    They call it "a monument to pro-life." I don't know. It seems to me like a monument to something else. (I'm left wondering how many women give birth doggy style?)

    “Monument to Pro-Life: The Birth of Sean Preston,� believed Pro-Life’s first monument to the ‘act of giving birth,’ is purportedly an idealized depiction of Britney in delivery. Natural aspects of Spears’ pregnancy, like lactiferous breasts and protruding naval, compliment a posterior view that depicts widened hips for birthing and reveals the crowning of baby Sean’s head.

    The monument also acknowledges the pop-diva’s pin-up past by showing Spears seductively posed on all fours atop a bearskin rug with back arched, pelvis thrust upward, as she clutches the bear’s ears with ‘water-retentive’ hands.

    “Britney provides inspiration for those struggling with the ‘right choice’,� said artist Daniel Edwards, recipient of a 2005 Bartlebooth award from London’s The Art Newspaper. “She was number one with Google last year, with good reason --- people are inspired by the beauty of a pregnant woman,� said Edwards.

    Yeah, that's it. Right. Uh huh. That's why people are coming here from Google looking for "hairy armpit girl" and "girl fucks donkey."

    But hey, you're not a real artist unless you can talk total bullshit, right?

    Update: Is it a knife fetish?

    A little birdie tells me Britney gave birth by caesarean:

    Pop singer Britney Spears has given birth to a baby boy.

    The baby was born Wednesday by caesarean section at the Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center in California, the magazine said.

    Now go look at the oddball birthing posture in the Edwards fantasy. I have no further comment.

  • (1)

    from Talk to Action

    Women all across the country continue to walk into pharmacies, present prescriptions for emergency contraception, common birth control pills, or even medications such as antibiotics, and find themselves at the mercy of a growing number of graduates of the Faith-Based School of Pharmacology.

    In most states besides Illinois – where Governor Rod Blagojevich outraged the Operation Save America-affiliated Angela Michael and other self-appointed guardians of public morality by requiring pharmacists to do their jobs -- women continue to be denied prescribed medication with seeming impunity. This, despite the fact that only Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi, and South Dakota have passed laws protecting pharmacists who refuse to dispense emergency contraception.

    In 2005 such a piece of legislation was introduced in Texas, where it might have been expected to barrel through our rabidly anti-choice legislature like the Wabash Cannonball. But strangely enough, the bill was swiftly killed off in committee -– and by avowedly "pro-life" Republicans. In an unexpected twist of irony instructive to everyone fighting for a woman's right to contraception in the face of the religious right's campaign against birth control, an abortion statute already in existence dealt the death blow to a "conscience clause."