"The 2011 census is likely to be Britain’s last following concerns that the 209-year-old survey is unable to cope with the nation’s rapidly changing population — and respondents’ lies.
"When a voluntary question on faith was asked for the first time at the 2001 census, 390,127 respondents drew inspiration from Star Wars and stated their religion as “Jedi” or “Jedi Knight” — more than the number of people who said they were Jewish or Buddhist. Some 7,227 people declared themselves as witches, adherents of the pagan religion of Wicca"
I gave my religion as Jedi last time round in the hope of preventing them from asking such a stupid question again. Looks like it was more successful than I imagined. Although the transient population is a larger factor in the flaws with the current survey.
When Gita Sahgal questioned the human rights group’s links to Islamic radicals, it suspended her. Now she fears for her safety.
"Last week Gita Sahgal, a highly respected lifelong human rights activist and head of Amnesty’s gender unit, told The Sunday Times of her concerns about Amnesty’s relationship with Cageprisoners, an organisation headed by Moazzam Begg, a former Guantanamo internee.
"Since his release in 2005, Begg has spoken alongside Amnesty at a number of events and accompanied the organisation to a meeting at Downing Street last month. Sahgal felt the closeness of the relationship between Amnesty and Cageprisoners — which appears to give succour to those who believe in global jihad — was a threat to Amnesty’s integrity. “To be appearing on platforms with Britain’s most famous supporter of the Taliban, whom we treat as a human rights defender, is a gross error of judgment,” she wrote to Amnesty’s leaders following the Downing Street visit."
Interesting. It's getting into the same murky water that free speech campaigners got into when they started delivering the BNP leaflets that the posties refused to. It's also worth noting that the Times seem to have an axe to grind on this issue. I searched their website for articles about Amnesty and the first five hits were attacks on it. (Thats a live search link and will change over time.)
"Sylvester McCoy, the actor who played Doctor Who for two years in the 1980s, has revealed that left-wing scriptwriters hired by the BBC wrote propaganda into the plots in an attempt to undermine Margaret Thatcher’s premiership.
"His revelation will reinforce suspicions about antipathy within the corporation to Thatcher’s government. Norman Tebbit, then the Tory party chairman, claimed at the time that the BBC was in the hands of a “Marxist mafia”."
Hardly a surprise. It's more amazing that the Times seems so scandalised by it. In another 20 years they might suddenly notice the Gay Rights angle Russell T Davies spent his time at the helm shoe-horning into every episode.
I guess its good news for those concerned about Google's presence in China. Seems things are getting worse rather than better (the official line was the hoped to improve the situation over time) so they are as good as giving up. Shame the goal of bringing information to the people wasn't reached and sad to see the extent the government (presumably) will go to to infringe human rights and prevent activism.
"Like many other well-known organizations, we face cyber attacks of varying degrees on a regular basis. In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different.
"First, this attack was not just on Google. As part of our investigation we have discovered that at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses--including the Internet, finance, technology, media and chemical sectors--have been similarly targeted. ...
"Second, we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists. Based on our investigation to date we believe their attack did not achieve that objective. ...
"Third, as part of this investigation but independent of the attack on Google, we have discovered that the accounts of dozens of U.S.-, China- and Europe-based Gmail users who are advocates of human rights in China appear to have been routinely accessed by third parties. These accounts have not been accessed through any security breach at Google, but most likely via phishing scams or malware placed on the users' computers."
Mr Free As In Freedom and all round, umm, interesting guy Richard Stallman doesn’t like bull shit. If you ever need something to be angry about you can find a useful summary in his notes archives. To quote some recent examples that caught my attention:
8 December 2009 (Abuse of anti-terrorist laws acknowledged by UK cops) UK police officials told police to stop threatening photographers using "anti-terror" laws. Ending this one abuse of these unjust laws does not make them acceptable. Some of these laws make it a crime to be suspected, and others are handy for sabotaging protests of any kind. It is not enough for the authorities to be refrain from trampling the rights of people in one activity. The UK must explicitly restore human rights.
The UK police must also pass an "attitude" of their own: to respect people's rights instead of trying to intimidate people out of them. Do they still pressure pubs to set up cameras and let the police view the footage whenever they wish? It should be illegal for anyone to show security camera footage to the police without a court order.
8 December 2009 (Recording industry masters creative accounting) A musician tells how his record company habitually lies to him about income even though it would not have to pay the band any money for many years. http://www.toomuchjoy.com/?p=1397
6 December 2009 (Some very creepy politics) Rom Houben, who has been in a coma for 23 years, is said to be conscious and able to communicate. But is it really he who is communicating?
4 December 2009 (Poster boy for torturers) After the Bush regime's monsters tortured Abu Zubaydah, and took photos of his injuries, they showed the photos to other prisoners threatening to torture them the same way.
2 December 2009 (Paranoia reigns amongst London cops) A BBC photographer was stopped by police from taking a photo of a cathedral in London.
BHA on BBC Consultation "We want an end to the privileged status and position of religions and religious broadcasting by the BBC, and for some programmes about humanism or from a humanist perspective to be broadcast. In spite of legislation making clear that religions and beliefs, including non-religious beliefs such as Humanism, should be treated equally in terms of broadcasting, the BBC continues to resist doing so. We want the BBC to fulfil its obligations and include Humanist programmes in its broadcasting!"
Radio 4 Front Row from Tues, available to stream for a week "Lord Mandelson recently announced the government's plans for tackling illegal file sharing online. Under new measures, repeat offenders who ignore warning letters could have their internet connection removed. High-profile figures including Lily Allen and Radiohead's Ed O'Brien have been weighing into the debate over what approach the government and music industry should take to tackle the problem. Minister for Digital Britain Stephen Timms, CEO of UK Music Feargal Sharkey and Cory Doctorow, the journalist and supporter of copyright liberalisation, discuss the issues surrounding the file sharing debate." Plus a report on Health & Safety vs cartoon violence.
"Anakissed, 606 & Parasite host this month’s Goatlab Radio show from the streets of Bristol, with chat and music from across the spectrum. The winner of last month’s competiton will be announced, as well as dropping some exclusive breakcore from Maladriot off of his album “Best Breakcore Album Ever” on Hard-2B-Core Records." Download the show here: Goatlab Radio October 2009 [59MB MP3]
There's an offensive joke in there about one country/area banning imagines of beautiful women from another country/area to to protect women from 'false' images of female beauty. Substitute place names at your discretion.
Following from this there is of course next weeks Pestival, which Stewart Lee fans will probably already be aware of from his 41st Greatest Stand-up routine. Comedy at the insect themed festival is provided by Robin Ince along with many other fasinating insect based art projects from the Termite Pavilion to broadcasts from Resonance FM and workshops from The Art of Being a Maggot to Praying Mantis Kung Fu. Sadly I can't make any of this, but I'm most upset missing out on Cross Pollination, where “Internationally acclaimed sound recordist for BBC’s Life in the Undergrowth and original member of Cabaret Voltaire, Chris Watson, curates an evening of experimental insect music.”
Due to a family wedding I was also unable to attend Chris Watson's workshop at UWE last weekend, and I forgot to blog about it in advance, but there are still some events to go on the STAGING SOUND 2.0programme, including the Dorkbot Bristol Sound Hack followed by Guerilla Busking in Bath this Saturday.
Back on an environmental footing, various national media have picked up on the “living wall that died” in Islington. Most of the press have hung the story off of the waste-of-public-money angle rather than the technical issues with the failed watering system / learning experience / maybe the odd weather we've had? There most be an engineer somewhere mopping a sweaty brow as that one passes over. Either that or (s)he will be saying “I told you so.” A year or so ago I'd've worried that this would lead to a cut in spending on environmental projects but in the current financial and political climate I know it's going to get cut anyway regardless of previous successes or failures. Not good times.
Heya! It's been some time. I know I may have thrown you the odd scrap of music now and again but that old spark, it just hasn't been there lately has it. I know you have other places to hang out. I hope you understand what a death in the family has done here. But it's great to meet up again, have a drink, chew that fat, catch up on what we would have been chatting shit about if other events hadn't conspired against us.
Did I tell you I attended the BLDGBLOG book launch last week?
[v.o.g.: You mentioned you were going]
Ah, well, I did. And not only did I get a great book out of it, not only did I meet with and chat with Geoff Manaugh, whose a really inspiring guy, not only is there a photo floating around flickr of me sat at the same table as Warren Ellis (I didn't realise that at the time, I was distracted by the woman with him), but I've also come away with some blog based inspiration.
In the introduction to the book Geoff explains that when he started BLDGBLOG he decided that he wasn't going to pour concerns and negativity into it, it would just be for stuff that interested him. Things that made him think, gave him ideas, starting points for flights of fancy. I like that philosophy. I may try to take it on to some degree.
"But seriously, is this not one of the best presidential photographs of all-time? Even Sarkozy looks like he's sneaking a peek, though he's French, so we expect him to do it. However, in Obama's defense, that is a great ass!"
"Solicitors for the National Portrait Gallery are apparently threatening legal action against a US Wikipedia user for downloading 3,300 digital photographs of paintings in the UK museum's collection, and then uploading them to Wikipedia." [via clayton cubitt]
"Patti Smith is one of the most anticipated gigs of the week, and the audience the most vocal. … joined by SMZ leader Efrim Menuck on drums and Portishead’s Adrian Utley, who attacks a guitar with a paintbrush to spooky effect." Festival review: Ornette Coleman’s Meltdown, Southbank Centre, London SE1 | Music | The Observer I mentioned this to Leafcutter John, wondering if he was aware Ade was at the Polar Bear gig where John had used the same paintbrush trick a few months back. His response was a spirited "Ah, but did he do it better?"
Open Source TIC - ePetition response | Number10.gov.uk "The Government supports the principle that, where new software is being developed by the Timely Information to Citizens pilots, this should wherever possible be released under open source licence and available for use by other local authorities. ... Where the pilots will result in new software tools, ownership and intellectual property rights will usually remain with the individual local authorities" Is this not a contradiction?
Stuff you've missed on the tumblr * a whole bunch of new photographers discoveries * shoes by architects * a bunch of LEGO stuff inc jewellery, USB sticks and giant Star Wars models * London Underground Map print dress * Geek guide to shoe lacing * The Battleships drinking game
I've also just discovered that Blogger is limited to 20 tags per post.
Thousands of Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras are already operating on Britain's roads. Police forces across England, Wales and Scotland will soon be able to share the information on one central computer.
John Catt found himself on the wrong side of the ANPR system. He regularly attends anti-war demonstrations outside a factory in Brighton, his home town.
It was at one of these protests that Sussex police put a "marker" on his car. That meant he was added to a "hotlist".
This is a system meant for criminals but John Catt has not been convicted of anything and on a trip to London, the pensioner found himself pulled over by an anti-terror unit.
"I was threatened under the Terrorist Act. I had to answer every question they put to me, and if there were any questions I would refuse to answer, I would be arrested. I thought to myself, what kind of world are we living in?"
Sussex police would not talk about the case.
The police say they do not know how many cameras there are in total, and they say that for operational reasons they will not say where the fixed cameras are positioned.
The police themselves say they have nothing to hide and would welcome the introduction of a regulatory code. But that seems some way off - and for now this secretive system continues to watch us and continues to grow.
It's nice that the Police acknowledge the need for regulation but shouldn't that be in place BEFORE the system goes live, not after it goes wrong?
"This is a message from Mark Thomas who is playing at the Tobacco Factory Theatre tonight in Bristol. He is organising a demonstration today (Friday) at 4.30pm outside Norfolk House, the local tax office in Temple Street: Message from Mark Thomas: While I am down in Bristol performing I thought it might be fun to do a little demo. So if you fancy coming along the demo is for the shutting down of tax havens and forcing corporations to pay their tax onshore. Where better to start campaigning than HMRC , the tax office in Bristol at Norfolk House. The government obsession with the free market means that buildings that were public are now private, so the tax office is owned by Sigma 2004 Ltd and the tax office in Bristol pay rent for their building. BUT Sigma 2004 Ltd were incorporated in the British Virgin Islands and Jersey - tax havens... so the tax office pay rent for a building we should own to tax dodgers. There is only one answer to this absurdity and that is to invade Jersey! No more multi lateral agreements at the G20, no more polite resolutions! Send in the troops, it's the only language these bankers and landlords understand! DEMO FRIDAY outside Norfolk House - Temple St Bristol BS1 6HS at 4.30pm bring banners and fun. INVADE JERSEY! We call on the HMRC to go on rent strike and move to a squat! Mark Thomas"
"Chaplaincy services are costing the NHS more than £32 million every year, according to figures obtained from hospital trusts.This money could instead be used to pay for another 1,300 nurses or 2,500 cleaning staff."
That's my money! (As a tax payer. Admittedly I'd have a greater claim if I smoked too.) Seeing it pissed up the wall by zealots leaching on to the most vulnerable is a fucking outrage.
Yes, you can have Chaplins if people want them. No, I am not prepared to pay towards them. Keep them away from me, keep them away from people not old enough to have made up their own minds, and if you have to pay these fuckwits for their "services" you can pay them through donations from other fuckwits.
There is a pattern to my blogging here that shows that every time I buy an actual hard copy of a newspaper I blog about half a dozen stories out of it I may otherwise never have stumbled upon. This is no exception, here are my picks from Thursday's Guardian:
British therapists still offer treatments to 'cure' homosexuality "Survey suggests a significant minority of mental health professionals continue to provide treatments to gay men and lesbians despite no evidence they can change orientation and concerns they are harmful...One counsellor who is a member of the British Psychological Society said: "Although homosexual feelings are usual in people, their physical expression, and being a person's only way of having sexual relations is problematic. The physical act for male homosexuals is physically damaging and is the main reason in this country for Aids/HIV. It is also perverse."" This is outrageous. It can be criticised, if not demolished, from so many different angles I don't think I need to point that out. It's like a throw back to the 50s, when our society lost great minds like Turing because of it's backwards treatment of sexuality. From some of the quotes in the article there are, to me, some scary signs of counsellors forcing their personal (probably 2000 year old religious based beliefs) on people. These practitioners should not be allowed to "help" people again.
Delightfully, he's planning to release one such box depicting the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, bound and gagged. Westwood had hoped to project the image on to the Houses of Parliament, but has been advised by the Palace of Westminster Police that he must seek prior consent from the crimson-coiffed Serjeant-at-Arms, Jill Pay.
He reckons Pay is likely to decline his request, but after her recent decision to let the Metropolitan Police rootle around the Commons at will, I say it's worth asking."
What would his mother say? "Brought up by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, he spent his teenage years at the epicentre of the punk-rock explosion. After that, there were only two ways Ben Westwood could rebel: become a chartered accountant, or do something really shocking. Stuart Husband discusses fetishes, fantasy and family ties with a crusading pornographer"
The British National Party has lost its membership list - the whole thing has been published online.
The list includes names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of all members up to September 2008. It also includes some people's ages, especially those under 18 - the BNP offers family membership for £40. Many entries also contain more personal comments about jobs or hobbies. That's how we know that that BNP members include receptionists, district nurses, amateur historians, pagans, line dancers and a male witch.
Members have unsurprisingly reacted with outrage. One commenter said: "I'm also on the list, what the f#ck is going on? I could lose my job." Another: "The most shocking thing is some of the comments by the names! God help anyone who is in the army, the pison [sic] service, health care, police officer or a teacher." Several professions in the UK are expected to refrain from party political activities. ...
Taking Liberties is BAFTA nominated director Chris Atkins's film that uncovers the stories the government don't want you to hear so ridiculous you will laugh, so ultimately terrifying you will want to take action. Teenage sisters detained for 36 hours for a peaceful protest; an RAF war veteran arrested for wearing an anti-Bush and Blair T-shirt; an innocent man shot in a police raid; and a man held under house arrest for two years, after being found innocent in court. Law-abiding citizens being punished for ordinary activities, after a decade of dangerous laws have demolished the rights which we fought for over centuries.
The film will be introduced by by Dave Gould of the Bristol No2ID campaign.
'A dozen London boroughs have implemented a "risk assessment" policy for live music that permits the police to ban any live music if they fail to receive personal details from the performers 14 days in advance. The demand explicitly singles out performances and musical styles favoured by the black community: garage and R&B, and MCs and DJs.'
Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comic strip, commissioned a survey of over 500 economists to find out which candidate for President of the United States would be best for the economy long term.
Says Adams, “I found myself wishing someone would give voters useful and unbiased information about which candidate has the best plans for the economy. Then I realized that I am someone, which is both inconvenient and expensive.”
When asked which candidate for President would be best for the economy in the long run, not surprisingly, 88% of Democratic economists think Obama would be best, while 80% of Republican economists pick McCain. Independent economists, who in this sample are largely from the academic world, lean toward Obama by 46% compared to 39% for McCain. Overall, 59% of the economists say Obama would be best for the economy long term, with 31% picking McCain, and 8% saying there would be no difference.
The economists in the survey favor Obama on 11 of the top 13 issues. But keep in mind that 48% are Democrats and only 17% are Republicans. Among Independents, things are less clear, with 54% thinking that in the long run there would either be no difference between the candidates or McCain would do better.
Follow link for more information and full survey data. Also, see the story on CNN.
"The document states that emos are aged from 12 to 16, wear black and pink, and have long, black hair which may "cover half the face". Other characteristics identified include black fingernails, black belts with studs and pins, and ear and eyebrow piercings."
Hmm, I think I'm safe. I may be wearing some pink but I'm too old and don't have enough hair to cover half my head let alone my face.
It's as ridiculous as the Commie witch hunt in the US in the '60s, where the list of signs to look out for included 'may carry a guitar.' (I can't find an online reference for that. I think I'm quoting a Bob Dylan documentary.)
And that's all the more reason to encourage it. It's not really about the way someone might dress or what music they choose to listen to, it's about controlling the way people think, and that is never acceptable.
I may not identify myself that strongly with either goth or emo culture, but I love to see people setting themselves outside of the norm. (Although I worry that in both cases what is considered outside of the norm in the West is just as prescribed and marketed as the norm itself. Just have a look around a branch of Clare's accessories to see that.) But in some countries if you don't even have the freedom to choose which harmless subculture to belong to, that's a worrying state of affairs.
As one of the protestors placards said, "Why Do We Have To Think The Same?"
Interesting responses from the papers to the Max Mosley vs the News of the World case. For those who don't know, the News of the World [NotW], a UK gutter-press tabloid fond of kiss and tell stories, secretly filmed and published stories about F1 boss Mosley, accusing him of partaking in an orgy with six prostitutes that had Nazi overtones.
Mosley claimed for libel, on the grounds there weren't any Nazi overtones. He didn't deny any of the rest of it, that was his own private business. He won a record £60k damages.
Judges and journalists might disapprove of all sorts of unconventional sexual behaviour but - so long as it was between consenting adults in private - it is not the business of the state, the courts or the media to intrude. "It is not," said Eady, "for journalists to undermine human rights, or for judges to refuse to enforce them, merely on grounds of taste or moral disapproval."
In a great piece on Channel 4 news [skip 14min into this video] last night the NotW's legal expert was interviewed about how the paper felt the case had gone. They felt that the ruling had severe implications for freedom of speech and maintained that knowing what sexual acts a person in power gets up to in their own time, between consenting adults, is in the public interest, whilst glossing over the fact that they embellished the story to make it sell better. At the end of the interview John Snow challenges him to name a previous story that may no-longer be publishable because of this ruling, although he dodged the question it is a very good one.
Why has Human Rights become a dirty word? The press hate it. This irritates me every time I see an example of it, which is almost daily. They are convinced it has done nothing but harm to their right to print whatever they like and acting as self-appointed judge and jury themselves. Even the Guardian editorial, above, spins the case for using the Press Complaints Commission rather than the courts. True, this may be easier in many cases, but I can't see the PCC handing out landmark rulings and record compensation.
"The implication of yesterday's judgment by Mr Justice Eady,"The Independent reminds us, "is that people who have sexual habits others might find bizarre or unpalatable have the same right to privacy as anyone else." And that's a very good thing.
"Ingrid Betancourt, freed from captivity and humiliation in the jungles of Colombia, returns to her beloved France and a hero's welcome Friday in the gilded halls of the presidential palace. ... [she] was freed Wednesday in a daring Colombian operation involving military spies who tricked FARC rebels into handing over Betancourt and 14 other hostages without firing a shot."
"[she] described their ecstasy with unforgettable vividness. 'The helicopter almost fell. We started jumping, we screamed, we cried, we hugged - we couldn't believe it. God carried out this miracle.'"
No he didn't. Fuck God. Try thanking your rescuers. Ungrateful bitch.
Um, apart from that this is a good thing, obviously.
I've been umming and ahhing about whether to post this story. It is ridiculous and an insane erosion of the right to protest obviously, but Scientology is such an easy target I can't get myself worked up about the campaign against it. So lets start with the facts. Scientology was started for a bet. Its mere existence, and the fact that any idiot follows it at all, demonstrates the ease of forming a religion and the gullibility of people to accept what they are told without asking questions. The question I ask every time I hear something about Scientology is, 'Why do people take religion seriously, what evidence is there to accept what any of them say?'
The difference between a "cult" like Scientology and a "respectable" religion such as Christianity is not in the plausibility of their beliefs. ... IMHO, religions and their believers should be judged on their actions, rather than on the respectability of their particular brand of mythology. (As Voltaire wrote, there is nothing more respectable than an ancient evil.) And religions shouldn't be automatically entitled to be handled with kid gloves and reverential deference, or, indeed, to impose restrictions on those who do not adhere to them (such as the proposed bans on embryo research), just because their organisations are founded on supernatural or unprovable beliefs.
The End Water Poverty campaign, which WaterAid supports, has been targeting the G8 to agree a global action plan for sanitation and water since 2007, but we now need to build even more pressure in the lead-up to the summit in July.
We need more signatures targeted at the Japanese Prime Minister, Yasuo Fukuda, who is this year's G8 host. Click below and become one of almost a million action-takers!
We need to show it's time for change! Sanitation and safe water are basic human rights. Everyone in the world should have access to them. But without these services thousands will continue to die each day. The solutions are simple but the G8 need to commit to this action plan. Please tell them: it's time for change.
Einstein letter shows disdain for religion'Albert Einstein regarded religions as "childish" and "primitive legends", a private letter he wrote a year before his death has revealed.' - Glad that's cleared up. I'm sick of religious people telling me Einstein believed in God.
Sweet Dreams Security "An outfit named Sweet Dreams Security is making designed objects for a more paranoid age; from spiked railings, barbed wire and CCTV camera covers in the shape of cute animals to heart-shaped chains and (perhaps more practically) lace curtains shaped like anti-burglar grilles." [via null device]
"Over the last 50 years, SydMead has created startling pictures for clients all over the world. His technique infuses finished scenarios with a vivid reality, allowing the viewer to gain a look into many visions of future worlds. He has designed and illustrated for corporations, motion pictures, themed entertainment, and a wide range of transportation projects. Syd's combination of recognition and creative imagination has graced scores of films, books, and other exhibits. His film work includes Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Blade Runner, Tron, 2010, Aliens, Short Circuit and other films." [via Jen]
I decided to pop into the Cold War Exhibition at the RAF Museum Cosford when I drove past it the other day. Although some of the aircraft are interesting and seeing them in the flesh is much more impressive than I expected, that wasn't really what interested me. I liked the display cases they had put together to demonstrate differences between West and East during the Cold War. Differences in sporting achievement, arts, etc. It reminded me of the Russian propaganda display at Tate Modern I saw last year, the graphic design in those magazines was way ahead of its time. In the life style section I spotted the Kommissar board game from 1966, above. It's effectively US anti-commie propaganda for kids, based on a Monopoly like board where you try to collect enough of “the peoples money” to get to “the peoples airport” to escape Serbia to retirement somewhere warm. The idea seem to be that everyone is a capitalist at heart and is just trying to escape from tyranny. Hmm.
New Steal From Work show. A group urban art show celebrating International Workers Day.
1st May – 11th May, 2008 Opening night - Thursday 1st May 7pm-10pm Then open everyday 12pm-7pm (closed on Tue 6th) The Old Motorcycle Workshop 15-19 Stokes Croft (opposite Pieminster), Bristol, UK
After the huge success of December’s ‘12 Days of Xmas' we bring you our next major group exhibition.
Lost behind the jangling of Morris Dancing and Maypoles, May 1st has long stood as the date to remember the common struggles and achievements of workers around the globe. ‘Not A Penny Off The Pay, Not A Second On The Day’ will be a celebration of the working classes, featuring a truly international line up of acclaimed urban artists
1st - 11th May 2008 Various venues, Bristol, UK
It's a lovely coincidence that the Not A Penny show coincides with this event, as it’s just round the corner so you can easily go to both!
Passing sentence at Preston Crown Court, Judge Anthony Russell QC described the attack as "feral thuggery" which raised serious questions about the "sort of society which exists in this country". He added: "This was a terrible case which has shocked and outraged all who have heard about it. "At least wild animals, when they hunt in packs, have a legitimate reason for so doing, to obtain food. "You have none and your behaviour on that night degrades humanity itself."
Strong words, totally justified. It's a sad, sad society we live in. Any form of prejudice grieves me but this one in particular stands out as she was so beautiful and caring and it is such a pointless waste of a young life. My heart goes out to her boyfriend, whom she was trying to protect, and to all her friends and family. RIP
Food Fight is an abridged history of American-centric war, from World War II to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict. Watch as traditional comestibles slug it out for world domination in this chronologically re-enacted smorgasbord of aggression.
"Despite the excessive police resence, the twelve Tibetans carried out the lighting ceremony in frontof the ancient archaeological site of Olympia, Greece, pre-empting hina’s Olympic Torch Relay launch there later this month. The TibetanFreedom Torch represents the hopes and aspirations of the Tibetan people or freedom and justice and will be carried to more than 20 countriesworldwide, reaching Tibet on the eve of the Beijing Games. The Freedom torch also highlights Tibetan opposition to the Chinese government’s politically motivated plan to carry the Olympic Torch through Tibet"
Edit: 14.03.07 Website linked above has been taken down already. Hopefully this reuters link will last longer.
"The director stepped down from his role as artistic adviser to Beijing late on Tuesday, citing his opposition to China's support for the Sudanese regime responsible for the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. He accused China of not doing enough to press Sudan to end the "continuing human suffering" in the troubled region. China imports two-thirds of Sudan's oil and in return is said to be the African country's biggest arms supplier."
Well, it's been a long time coming. It's a shame that it took the Darfur situation to prompt it rather than an objection to China's human rights record in general and the crack down on free-speech and peaceful protest that is directly related to the games themselves. However, it's a step in the right direction and he should be applauded for that. [2006 Amnesty report: China: The Olympics Countdown - Failing to keep human rights promises. There are plenty more up to date sources on specific issues if you search.]
"For the last 20 years team members have been obliged to sign a contract as a condition of taking part in the Games. But for the first time a clause had been inserted into the Team Members Agreement stating athletes must not comment on politically-sensitive issues during the event in Beijing." [BBC news]
The IOA deny this is a problem, as the events should be "about sport" and nothing else. But shouldn't sport be about something? Isn't it about bringing people together? Former British Olymipic swimmer Duncan Goodhew made a good point about how pivotal the Moscow Olympics was in bringing about change in Russia [I think the comment has been edited out of the above article since] but that doesn't mean we should take a back seat and just wait for things to change. Putting on more pressure will speed up the process and now is the perfect opportunity.
"Wonder even sang a little dittie, with a harmonica, that was sung as if he were reciting the musical scales in ascending and descending order to the name of “Ba-rack O-ba-ma.”" Stevie Wonder sings for Barack... and it sounds awful. What was he doing?
In my mind it works best sung to the tune of Long Distance Clara from Pigeon Street. He should have tried that.
[That wonderful example of Alan Rogers artwork is available as a print from easyart.com. Thanks for the bandwidth!]
"A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death is by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country's rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after "liberation" and under the democratic rule of the West's ally Hamid Karzai.
"The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed."
"MPs and human rights group have accused ministers of a cover-up over government knowledge of rendition flights and the use of British military bases to hold suspects after the United States launched its war on terror more than six years ago.
"Now ministers have blocked an attempt by an influential parliamentary committee to secure the release of secret military papers which they believe will reveal whether the British island territory of Diego Garcia was used as a detention center for rendition prisoners."
Jeremy Paxman, the Newsnight anchor famous for grilling cabinet ministers and airing his robust opinions on subjects as diverse as the future of broadcasting and the latest entries in Who's Who, has now voiced his dissatisfaction on another matter of importance to the nation: Marks & Spencer underpants.
The broadcaster is so concerned about the declining standards of men's underwear that he has written to Sir Stuart Rose, the chief executive of M&S, detailing his "anxiety" about its gussets, which he said no longer offered "adequate support".
"Like very large numbers of men in this country, I have always bought my socks and pants at Marks & Sparks," he wrote. "I've noticed that something very troubling has happened. There's no other way to put this. Their pants no longer provide adequate support. When I've discussed this with friends and acquaintances it has revealed widespread gusset anxiety. I do feel that someone should take up this mighty battle.
I have to say I'm with him on this, on two counts: 1. I also buy my underwear in Mark's and its quality has been declining over the years, and 2. It gets the word 'gusset' in the broadsheets.
"Although each participating country would manage and secure its own data, the sharing of personal data between countries is becoming an increasingly controversial area of police practice. There is political concern at Westminster about the public transparency of such cooperation."
"America has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States. A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it." read more
This story was published a month ago but I missed it at the time. Found on Hijack.
"The fun-loving Burmese regime has apparently found a non-violent method to restrict satellite TV access to foreign news services - hiking the cost of a licence by 16,700 per cent from 6000 kyat (£2.50) to 1m kyatt (£400, or "three times the average annual salary", as the BBC explains)." [via The Register]
"The 5,000-capacity park will be the first of its kind in Britain, but not in the world. In Orlando, Florida, hundreds of thousands of visitors make pilgrimages to the Holy Land Experience, where they can see a bloodied Jesus forced to carry his cross by snarling Roman soldiers."
"By producing its own films, the trust believes it will be able to provide an antidote to modern culture. It says on its website: 'On television today there is so much sex and violence, it is no wonder our youth are binge drinking ... '"
I fail to see the logic there. And I'm not taking the quote out of context. (Unless the Observer have done that already, but I doubt they would need to.)
"'Evolution has falsely become the foundation of our society and we need the television studio to advocate Genesis across this land in order to remove this falsehood, which presently is destroying the church foundation.'
"The theme park's anti-evolution bias and its emphasis on Genesis has raised eyebrows among planning officials, according to Jones, who originally wanted to build the park at the site of an old B&Q store but was refused permission by the council.
"'Wigan council slammed the door in our faces. You mention the C [Christian] word, and people don't want to know,' Jones said."
[originally a b3ta image, sourced here, worth a read for a laugh]
I mentioned David Wachtenheim & Robert Marianetti's Saddam and Osama cartoon when I attended Inspirational International at the animation festival in 2005. At the time I called it, "an absolutely hilarious satire of US foreign policy and the supposed connection between their two greatest enemies." I've just found it on YouTube finally (its only been there a year), and although it doesn't work as well online as it did in a cinema packed with liberals at the hight of the Iraq conflict, it's still well worth a viewing.
Like Hansel and Gretel hoping to follow their bread crumbs out of the forest, the FBI sifted through customer data collected by San Francisco-area grocery stores in 2005 and 2006, hoping that sales records of Middle Eastern food would lead to Iranian terrorists.
The idea was that a spike in, say, falafel sales, combined with other data, would lead to Iranian secret agents in the south San Francisco-San Jose area.
The brainchild of top FBI counterterrorism officials Phil Mudd and Willie T. Hulon, according to well-informed sources, the project didn’t last long. It was torpedoed by the head of the FBI’s criminal investigations division, Michael A. Mason, who argued that putting somebody on a terrorist list for what they ate was ridiculous — and possibly illegal.
Amnesty has infuriated the Vatican by expanding its definition of human rights to include access to abortion for rape victims and women whose health is at risk from giving birth. And about time too. The linked article explains the reasoning behind it well as well as giving some background behind the organisations soul searching of the last couple of years. There was more detail on this in the last issue of their magazine although I can't find the copy on line at the moment. I'll update this post if I find it.
"Hitler's record collection contained recordings by Jewish and Russian musicians who were banished from the concert halls of the Third Reich. The revelation came after about a hundred of his gramophone records were discovered in the attic of a former Soviet intelligence officer." [RealAudio, skip to approx 18min in]
Freegan.info "Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed."
Sounds great in principle but I wouldn't recommend going as far as eating out of supermarket bins. When I worked in a supermarket you couldn’t open the lid of the bin without retching. Given the choice I wouldn't go near one of those again never mind scamper around inside it like the image on the website gaily depicts.
Interviews from Radio 4: "Tom Feilden reports on the political creed known as Freeganism which is based on the conviction that pretty much ever area of economic activity is based on some form of exploitation." [About 20 mins in here] "We continue our discussion on Freegonism and are joined by Kevin Hawkins the director general of the British Retail Consortium." [About 10 mins in here] And as an aside, "Research being conducted at the University of Hertfordshire suggests that robots can help children with autism form relationships. We speak to Dr Ben Robins who is leading the team." [About 10 mins in here] [Real Audio links]
Dear Today programme, Why have you stopped putting individual story links on your website? The half hour chunks are nowhere near as useful when sharing stories with others. Thanks.
"From Hitler to Pinochet and beyond, history shows there are certain steps that any would-be dictator must take to destroy constitutional freedoms. And, argues Naomi Wolf, George Bush and his administration seem to be taking them all." [via dev.null]
So plausible as to be quite scary. You can see where Blair/the UK government have avoided the same risks (eg prisons) but have gone along with others (eg ID cards).
Now, how do you stop someone making that final step? They are just waiting for an opportunity, to move against it you would need to rebuild all of the erosion already caused.
It's Political Correctness Gone Racist, I Tell You
The Imus vs Rutgers debate in the US at the moment has intrigued me. Some of the media there are playing the bigoted racist angle by selectively only using photographs of the female basketball team that only show black players, there are white players on the team too. They are quick to call Imus's comment – he called them "nappy headed hos" – racist and sexist, which it could be, or it could just be a very badly judged joke. I don't know.
(I'll quickly make the point here that I had never heard of Imus before this and my initially impression of him is that of someone I would dislike and would be unlikely to agree with.)
Parts of the media have then attempted to position his comment (and in part explain it) but showing use of similar phrases in gangster rap and saying that it's perfectly normal then. (I'm thinking of Channel 4 news in the UK when I say that.) Yet they never question the borderline racism in preventing white people using words that are seemingly acceptable from a black person (in my mind as long as the context is the same it should be ok) or the issue of the glorification of sexism and degradation of women in rap culture.
By using that phrase was he pointing out the inherent hypocrisy in the allowable use of language? Or intentionally trying to provoke a response? Or just being naïve? I think he might actual just be stupid, but calling for his resignation because of that is ignoring the bigger issue and exacerbating a double standard.