Singing the Bite Me Song


Interactivity


September 05, 2005

"Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired?"

"Why did it happen? Who needs to be fired?"

-Aaron Broussard, president of Jefferson Parish, south of New Orleans

This quotation should be printed on T-shirts and bumper stickers and spread all over the U.S.

September 5, 2005 at 01:43 PM in Best Essays, Current Affairs, Democracy, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Politics, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 27, 2005

Freeway Blogging for fun and profit...

What do you want for nothing... Burmashave?

Contest: Blog Your Campus

I've written about freeway blogging on this site before, but I thought a picture or two would be nice.

Also, college students make note: a contest to "freeway blog" your campus with prizes at Operation Yellow Elephant.

Link: FREEWAYBLOGGER.com - Free Speech: Use It or Lose It.

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Wskr7small


Link: Operation Yellow Elephant: Contest: Blog Your Campus.

Many of you may be familiar with the Freeway Blogger's brilliant work. We'd like to see something similar happening at or near college campuses. To that end, Operation Yellow Elephant is holding a "Blog Your Campus" contest.

Description

Create signs relating to Operation Elephant's mission to expose the hypocrisy of hawkish College Republicans and other young conservatives who are too cowardly to fight in the war they demanded. Post these signs near roadways and pedestrian pathways on or near college campuses. Photograph your work and send it to OYE@charter.net. I'll post them here. In early October, the OYE contributing Writers and the Freeway Blogger will pick a winner.

How to Make Your Sign

It's always a good idea to learn from the masters.

How to Win

Send us a photo featuring a sign with a great message and lots of people or cars traveling past it. If it generates press, it wouldn't hurt to send us a url or a clipping.

[...]

Rules

1. Signs must be placed near roadways or pedestrian pathways on or near campus.

2. Photos of the signs must demonstrate that the sign can be viewed by many people (people or cars in the foreground)

3. Submit your entries here [OYE@charter.net] no later than September 30, 2005.

4. Vaughn adds this:

Make sure the sign really kicks ass, it's easy to see, and it's clear that it is not a fake. I'm a Photoshop master, so don't f&*k with me and you will get your musical device -- grasshopper. Perhaps take photos of the sign making process including the hanging of it?

August 27, 2005 at 01:49 AM in Cyberculture, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, Photography, Privacy & Free Speech, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 07, 2005

Video - Orwell Rolls In His Grave - Parts I & II

It's long, but go watch the whole thing! Requires RealPlayer.

Link: Video - Orwell Rolls In His Grave - Part I .

Link: Video - Orwell Rolls In His Grave Part II .

When Lies Become Truth

Video - Orwell Rolls In His Grave

A Must Watch Documentary
"Could a media system, controlled by a few global corporations with the ability to overwhelm all competing voices, be able to turn lies into truth?..."

Director Robert Kane Pappas’ "Orwell Rolls In His Grave" is the consummate critical examination of the Fourth Estate, once the bastion of American democracy. Asking whether America has entered an Orwellian world of doublespeak where outright lies can pass for the truth, Pappas explores what the media doesn’t like to talk about: itself.



August 7, 2005 at 11:15 AM in Cyberculture, Democracy, Favorite Links, Intellectual Property, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 06, 2005

An eye-opening story from Iraq...

Khalid is the brother of Raed: http://raedinthemiddle.blogspot.com/ ("Dear Raed", known in the U.S. as the "Baghdad Blogger" from earlier in the war)

Link: Tell Me a Secret: I found myself....

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I found myself...

Sleeping in a grave-size space, defined by two walls touching both my head my and feet, and surrounded with human bodies touching me from both sides, in a way that hardly leaves any chance to move at all during the long… long night, in a 12 square meters room stuffed with 35 people trying to sleep, and to hold themselves together in order not to fight…

The whole thing started when I went to the university to pay my tuition fees, the thing is that the engineering campus is separated from the rest of the university with few kilometers, but for such administrative issues, students should go to the headquarter, and this is what I did. I entered the main campus and went to the financial department to pay money. I started the paperwork process, and then reached to a point where we needed the director’s signature to finish the paperwork, but she was in a meeting. So, the employee asked me to go and waste an hour inside the campus till the meeting is over, and I did.

What would you do in such a case? Go to the café? I tried, but was totally bored after less than 15 minutes, and then I don’t remember how an idea flashed in my head like a big light bulb: internet!
Of course, what is better than the internet to kill time?

I remembered there was an internet café inside the campus. I rarely came to this campus during the last five years. I think I came like three or four times only. Anyways, so I went to the internet café and did my regular tour: raed in the middle, riverbend, etc etc..and then I was bored again. I left the internet café heading towards the financial department again.

In my way, I was stopped by an old man, with a hateful face. “tfa`6al” he said (it means something like: “how can I help you?”) I was a bit surprised, I said “inta tfa`6al!” (meaning: “how can I help you?”) he said: where are you going? So I knew that he must be some kind of a security guy. I should have guessed from his tone, he sounds like a typical saddam-style security-man.
“to the financial department, to pay my tuition money” I said.

“where were you right now?”

“ in the internet café !”

“where is your ID?”

“at the campus entrance reception, with my mobile phone” (this is common now, in all governmental buildings you have to leave your mobile phone in the reception, you cant take it with you).

Please people; don’t be surprised because of all these questions. It used to be very common in “Saddam’s Iraq” and it’s very common in today’s Iraq.

Anyway, the old hateful man decided to escort me to make sure I was telling him the truth. Once we entered the financial office, the employees there talked to me spontaneously, so he knew I was there before and he left. I paid the money, took the receipt, and left. When I went back the campus entrance reception to take my mobile and leave, I found out that the mobiles’ closet was “mistakenly locked” as I was told. They were waiting for the guy that has the key. “He’ll be here in any moment” I was told.

I sat there waiting for my mobile phone to be freed. Then suddenly, after few minutes, someone came and asked “where is the detained guy?”

The other security guard pointed at me!!!

I was like: ehhhhh..sorry there is misunderstanding here, I am not detained, its only that the mobile phones closet is mistakenly locked!

“come with us, we have some questions please” they said, and I went with them, searching for answers inside my head…

[...]

Go read the rest here. It's long and detailed, but also absorbing and downright Kafkaesque.

August 6, 2005 at 09:01 PM in Democracy, Favorite Links, Interactivity, News to Note, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

congratulating ms vivian darkbloom on her new identity...

Isn't blogland wonderful? Change identities like trying on a new pair of pants! Sorry I was so late catching on.

Miasma

Link: adventures in navel-gazing: the taking of darkbloom, one two three, or, who am I this time?.

the taking of darkbloom, one two three, or, who am I this time?

So I created this blog thing.

Not surprisingly, some Nabokov-loving soul had already snagged "vivian darkbloom" as a user name. "darkbloom" was taken too. Quelle disappointment. Well, for all of five minutes, actually.

While I tried to think of some other vaguely fashionable, literary-wanker nom de plume, I realized something: I was tired of being vivian darkbloom. Well, that's all fine and good. As someone once said, "change is as good as a haircut." (Er, it may have been the other way around, I fear; but wait, does that make sense? "A haircut is as good as change"? Why not just, "A haircut is a good change"? Can we just forget I said all that? Too lazy to delete.)

This blog is about turning over a new leaf, about taking my writing in a different direction--or trying to at the very least. So it makes sense I would craft another "identity" of sorts to celebrate that, to mark the occasion, as inauspicious as it may be.

So I draw inspiration from Lolita again. There's Quilty, Clare Quilty to be precise, the nymphet-loving writer in the book, Humbert's quarry. Darker than Darkbloom, crueler than Humbert, more powerful than a Charlotte Haze leaping into a suburban street. (And played memorably by Peter Sellars in the movie; every time I go back to read the book now, I see Sellars as Quilty.)

It's not that I love Quilty as a character; but his unregenerate bastardness is appealing. You have to be bold to be a Quilty. And I imagine you'd have to be even bolder and stronger to be a Madame Quilty. Because I mean, really, who would marry such an asshole?

Oh. Right.

you go girl! I'm staying tuned.

June 14, 2005 at 09:31 PM in Cyberculture, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Singing the Bite Me Song, Writing | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

George Galloway's Showdown: the Best Quotes

Link: BBC NEWS | UK | UK Politics | In quotes: Galloway showdown.

Some of my own favorite picks from the transcript below slipped in too.

"Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars? The answer to that is nobody and if you had anybody who paid me a penny you would have produced them here today."

Imagine that! A radical idea for the right-wing in the US today. To actually produce evidence, a smoking gun, instead of trafficking in innuendo and allegation. The effect of calling someone out on these ridiculous practices has the effect for us watchers of standing up and boldly saying, "The emperor has no clothes." Nekkid Norm Coleman. My heart bleeds for him. Do ya think somewhere Paul Wellstone is watching with a sweet smile on his face?

"You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever having written to me or telephoned me, without any contact with me whatsoever and you call that justice."

"You have nothing on me Senator [Coleman], except my name on lists of names in Iraq, many of which were drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Iraq."

""Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice."

Terrific, to call these assholes on what they've been passing off as arguments and "effective" rhetoric, undoing years of Open Records laws, the Freedom of Information Act, Government Sunshine Laws, just about anything that makes decision-making processes transparent in a true democracy.

Not that anyone would mistake the US government for a true democracy. One "side benefit" of the movement of decisions into stereotypical "back rooms" where cronys make deals and corruption reins in darkness is that actual argument skills declined to such a level that people like Norm Coleman are so ripe to be made an utter fool of, and perhaps even more deliciously, he may not even know it!

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his."

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

Here is a deliberate rhetorical move directed not to the senators, but to the viewing television audience. While Rumsfeld's trips to make deals with Saddam in the 1980s are widely known OUTSIDE the US, the US media has rarely if ever mentioned the easily documentable fact (hell, there is even a picture, and folks, Rummy was implicated in getting Saddam chemical supplies that he later turned into the weapons he used to gas his own people). By using his bully pulpit to get this out, Galloway ran a tidy end-run around the US Velvet Curtain censorship machine. Outstanding!

Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

What a radical idea, to employ fact-checkers and actually do homework for accusatory documents. When Colin Powell was given a report to take to the UN, a case for Iraq's WMDs, with a whole section cribbed from some master's student thesis! Sorry Mr Galloway, but the disease of errors, bad proofreading, and plagiarism runs rampant on US college campuses too, which is where we try to teach students real argument and rhetoric skills.

(oh please please, somebody publish a formal rhetorical analysis of Galloway's testimony in a scholarly communication journal, mmm-kay?)

You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

The lack of credibility of US's hidden international gulag system finally comes home to roost? And then there's the matter of using "secret evidence" against someone. That's what passes for justice in the US these days. It's right up there with saying someone's specter came to my room and pinched me in the night, so that person should be hanged. This is the nature of the pure hysteria that has swept the US since 9/11.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

I have to say, the presentation of the "schoolboy howler" example is my ALL TIME favorite bit in the whole tirade. SO rich, so wonderfully rich, to have the pomposity of the Senate committee punctured so fully by citing the use of evidence that aims to convict someone of actions in the Oil-for-Food program before the program was even in existence. I about fell out of my chair on that one today. Coleman should have melted like the Wicked Witch of the West with embarrassment. That he didn't speaks volumes.

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

Another story that is virtually non-existent behind the US media Velvet Curtain is the true consequences of US sanctions against Iraq after the Gulf War. To the average American media consumer, NO information about the deaths of children and others due to US sanctions has penetrated the velvet, so that this next quote is another shout-out to the TV audience, a way to slip something in sideways that normally gets NO mention in the US. It was a sweet move, a terrific moment.

Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

Another rhetorical penetration of the Velvet Curtain. The US media is in almost universal agreement to not report ANY numbers of Iraqi civilian casualties in the Iraq war, claiming they are impossible to verify. Yet there are amazingly precise numbers of deaths out of Afghanistan for the "riots against Newsweek magazine." As a matter of fact, the US military IS counting those civilian casualties in Iraq, because families are getting financial reimbursal for their losses, but none of those numbers are being released to the public. If the US media quotes a casualty number, it isn't Galloway's 100,000, but something more like 29,000.

Which is quite a bit bigger than the US losses in the WTC and other 9/11 attacks, but we won't talk about that, will we?

I just gotta quote this final bit one more time, it is so wonderful.

Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

May 17, 2005 at 10:23 PM in Best Essays, Current Affairs, Democracy, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Politics, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

MOP George Galloway rips Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) a new one

Oh joy! Go to BBC and listen to the video stream. The transcripts don't do the words justice, but the words are tremendous to dwell on as well. Galloway aptly demonstrates the difference between a culture where real public debate takes place, vs a world of myopic cronyism, innuendo, and intellectually ill-equipped wheeler-dealers who are drunk with power and stupid enough to believe their own media, locked behind the Velvet Curtain of US propaganda.

I'll do another post and pull out the best quotes, but these public words need to be out in the air as much as possible.

Link: World news from The Times and the Sunday Times - Times Online.

World News

May 18, 2005

Galloway v the US Senate: transcript of statement

By Times Online

George Galloway, Respect MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, delivered this statement to US Senators today who have accused him of corruption

George Galloway after arriving in the Senate committee room to give evidence (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

"Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader. and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one - and neither has anyone on my behalf.

"Now I know that standards have slipped in the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer you are remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice. I am here today but last week you already found me guilty. You traduced my name around the world without ever having asked me a single question, without ever having contacted me, without ever written to me or telephoned me, without any attempt to contact me whatsoever. And you call that justice.

"Now I want to deal with the pages that relate to me in this dossier and I want to point out areas where there are - let's be charitable and say errors. Then I want to put this in the context where I believe it ought to be. On the very first page of your document about me you assert that I have had 'many meetings' with Saddam Hussein. This is false.

"I have had two meetings with Saddam Hussein, once in 1994 and once in August of 2002. By no stretch of the English language can that be described as "many meetings" with Saddam Hussein.

"As a matter of fact, I have met Saddam Hussein exactly the same number of times as Donald Rumsfeld met him. The difference is Donald Rumsfeld met him to sell him guns and to give him maps the better to target those guns. I met him to try and bring about an end to sanctions, suffering and war, and on the second of the two occasions, I met him to try and persuade him to let Dr Hans Blix and the United Nations weapons inspectors back into the country - a rather better use of two meetings with Saddam Hussein than your own Secretary of State for Defence made of his.

"I was an opponent of Saddam Hussein when British and Americans governments and businessmen were selling him guns and gas. I used to demonstrate outside the Iraqi embassy when British and American officials were going in and doing commerce.

"You will see from the official parliamentary record, Hansard, from the 15th March 1990 onwards, voluminous evidence that I have a rather better record of opposition to Saddam Hussein than you do and than any other member of the British or American governments do.

"Now you say in this document, you quote a source, you have the gall to quote a source, without ever having asked me whether the allegation from the source is true, that I am 'the owner of a company which has made substantial profits from trading in Iraqi oil'.

"Senator, I do not own any companies, beyond a small company whose entire purpose, whose sole purpose, is to receive the income from my journalistic earnings from my employer, Associated Newspapers, in London. I do not own a company that's been trading in Iraqi oil. And you have no business to carry a quotation, utterly unsubstantiated and false, implying otherwise.

"Now you have nothing on me, Senator, except my name on lists of names from Iraq, many of which have been drawn up after the installation of your puppet government in Baghdad. If you had any of the letters against me that you had against Zhirinovsky, and even Pasqua, they would have been up there in your slideshow for the members of your committee today.

"You have my name on lists provided to you by the Duelfer inquiry, provided to him by the convicted bank robber, and fraudster and conman Ahmed Chalabi who many people to their credit in your country now realise played a decisive role in leading your country into the disaster in Iraq.

"There were 270 names on that list originally. That's somehow been filleted down to the names you chose to deal with in this committee. Some of the names on that committee included the former secretary to his Holiness Pope John Paul II, the former head of the African National Congress Presidential office and many others who had one defining characteristic in common: they all stood against the policy of sanctions and war which you vociferously prosecuted and which has led us to this disaster.

"You quote Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Well, you have something on me, I've never met Mr Dahar Yassein Ramadan. Your sub-committee apparently has. But I do know that he's your prisoner, I believe he's in Abu Ghraib prison. I believe he is facing war crimes charges, punishable by death. In these circumstances, knowing what the world knows about how you treat prisoners in Abu Ghraib prison, in Bagram Airbase, in Guantanamo Bay, including I may say, British citizens being held in those places.

"I'm not sure how much credibility anyone would put on anything you manage to get from a prisoner in those circumstances. But you quote 13 words from Dahar Yassein Ramadan whom I have never met. If he said what he said, then he is wrong.

"And if you had any evidence that I had ever engaged in any actual oil transaction, if you had any evidence that anybody ever gave me any money, it would be before the public and before this committee today because I agreed with your Mr Greenblatt [Mark Greenblatt, legal counsel on the committee].
"Your Mr Greenblatt was absolutely correct. What counts is not the names on the paper, what counts is where's the money. Senator? Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody. And if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them today.

"Now you refer at length to a company names in these documents as Aredio Petroleum. I say to you under oath here today: I have never heard of this company, I have never met anyone from this company. This company has never paid a penny to me and I'll tell you something else: I can assure you that Aredio Petroleum has never paid a single penny to the Mariam Appeal Campaign. Not a thin dime. I don't know who Aredio Petroleum are, but I daresay if you were to ask them they would confirm that they have never met me or ever paid me a penny.

"Whilst I'm on that subject, who is this senior former regime official that you spoke to yesterday? Don't you think I have a right to know? Don't you think the Committee and the public have a right to know who this senior former regime official you were quoting against me interviewed yesterday actually is?

"Now, one of the most serious of the mistakes you have made in this set of documents is, to be frank, such a schoolboy howler as to make a fool of the efforts that you have made. You assert on page 19, not once but twice, that the documents that you are referring to cover a different period in time from the documents covered by The Daily Telegraph which were a subject of a libel action won by me in the High Court in England late last year.

"You state that The Daily Telegraph article cited documents from 1992 and 1993 whilst you are dealing with documents dating from 2001. Senator, The Daily Telegraph's documents date identically to the documents that you were dealing with in your report here. None of The Daily Telegraph's documents dealt with a period of 1992, 1993. I had never set foot in Iraq until late in 1993 - never in my life. There could possibly be no documents relating to Oil-for-Food matters in 1992, 1993, for the Oil-for-Food scheme did not exist at that time.

"And yet you've allocated a full section of this document to claiming that your documents are from a different era to the Daily Telegraph documents when the opposite is true. Your documents and the Daily Telegraph documents deal with exactly the same period.

"But perhaps you were confusing the Daily Telegraph action with the Christian Science Monitor. The Christian Science Monitor did indeed publish on its front pages a set of allegations against me very similar to the ones that your committee have made. They did indeed rely on documents which started in 1992, 1993. These documents were unmasked by the Christian Science Monitor themselves as forgeries.

"Now, the neo-con websites and newspapers in which you're such a hero, senator, were all absolutely cock-a-hoop at the publication of the Christian Science Monitor documents, they were all absolutely convinced of their authenticity. They were all absolutely convinced that these documents showed me receiving $10 million from the Saddam regime. And they were all lies.

"In the same week as the Daily Telegraph published their documents against me, the Christian Science Monitor published theirs which turned out to be forgeries and the British newspaper, Mail on Sunday, purchased a third set of documents which also upon forensic examination turned out to be forgeries. So there's nothing fanciful about this. Nothing at all fanciful about it.

"The existence of forged documents implicating me in commercial activities with the Iraqi regime is a proven fact. It's a proven fact that these forged documents existed and were being circulated amongst right-wing newspapers in Baghdad and around the world in the immediate aftermath of the fall of the Iraqi regime.

"Now, Senator, I gave my heart and soul to oppose the policy that you promoted. I gave my political life's blood to try to stop the mass killing of Iraqis by the sanctions on Iraq which killed one million Iraqis, most of them children, most of them died before they even knew that they were Iraqis, but they died for no other reason other than that they were Iraqis with the misfortune to born at that time. I gave my heart and soul to stop you committing the disaster that you did commit in invading Iraq. And I told the world that your case for the war was a pack of lies.

“I told the world that Iraq, contrary to your claims did not have weapons of mass destruction. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to al-Qaeda. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that Iraq had no connection to the atrocity on 9/11 2001. I told the world, contrary to your claims, that the Iraqi people would resist a British and American invasion of their country and that the fall of Baghdad would not be the beginning of the end, but merely the end of the beginning.

"Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong and 100,000 people paid with their lives; 1600 of them American soldiers sent to their deaths on a pack of lies; 15,000 of them wounded, many of them disabled forever on a pack of lies.

If the world had listened to Kofi Annan, whose dismissal you demanded, if the world had listened to President Chirac who you want to paint as some kind of corrupt traitor, if the world had listened to me and the anti-war movement in Britain, we would not be in the disaster that we are in today. Senator, this is the mother of all smokescreens. You are trying to divert attention from the crimes that you supported, from the theft of billions of dollars of Iraq's wealth.

"Have a look at the real Oil-for-Food scandal. Have a look at the 14 months you were in charge of Baghdad, the first 14 months when $8.8 billion of Iraq's wealth went missing on your watch. Have a look at Haliburton and other American corporations that stole not only Iraq's money, but the money of the American taxpayer.

"Have a look at the oil that you didn't even meter, that you were shipping out of the country and selling, the proceeds of which went who knows where? Have a look at the $800 million you gave to American military commanders to hand out around the country without even counting it or weighing it.

"Have a look at the real scandal breaking in the newspapers today, revealed in the earlier testimony in this committee. That the biggest sanctions busters were not me or Russian politicians or French politicians. The real sanctions busters were your own companies with the connivance of your own Government."

May 17, 2005 at 09:34 PM in Democracy, Favorite Links, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, News to Note, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Rhetoric, Singing the Bite Me Song, War/Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 25, 2005

Do I really care what celebrities have to say?

While my title begs the question, my own cynicism is not so well-ingrained. Sure, I don't really give a flying flip about most of those fawning "entertainment news" programs out there. They are driven by PR people and agents, the publicity machine, so they're compromised, not to mention obnoxious with more time spent teasing vapid stories than is actually spent on the vapid stories.

Still, I can't say I'd fault celebrities for wanting to break out of that relentless ET and talk show promo-circuit box that is usually the only way people get to know them. There are smart and thoughtful people who just happen to be celebrities, you know? (check out their 10th house... did they do it on purpose?)

What I can't stand is the endless fawning. Maybe this will help them break out of that massive ego stroke. Maybe it will expose a few ridiculous egos along the way, and perhaps even take some of these schmoes to task for the money they spend on stupid things to prove they are richer than rich ($80 pair of socks, Winona? Your feet were THAT cold?), while lacking the common sense of Angelina Jolie, who gets that people are living on a pittance in other parts of the world so they can hoard their unreflexive bling.

Maybe we will discover different measures by which to assess the cult of celebrity, eh? Wouldn't that be nice?

The mainstream media force-feeds this courtier-wannabe world on a passive audience, makes us think that celebrities are all lords and ladies from the Middle Ages, and if we don't aspire to be a courtier hanger-on, we might as well be a trailer park serf. Who can resist such pressure?

Active and empowered users with interactive media, perhaps? Whoo doggie!

Miasma

Link: The New York Times > Technology > A Boldface Name Invites Others to Blog With Her.

A Boldface Name Invites Others to Blog With Her

New York Times
April 25, 2005
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE

OS ANGELES, April 23 - Get ready for the next level in the blogosphere.

Arianna Huffington, the columnist and onetime candidate for governor of California, is about to move blogging from the realm of the anonymous individual to the realm of the celebrity collective.

She has lined up more than 250 of what she calls "the most creative minds" in the country to write a group blog that will range over topics from politics and entertainment to sports and religion. It is essentially a nonstop virtual talk show that will be part of a Web site that will also serve up breaking news around the clock. It is to be introduced May 9.

Having prominent people join the blogosphere, Ms. Huffington said in an interview, "is an affirmation of its success and will only enrich and strengthen its impact on the national conversation." Among those signed up to contribute are Walter Cronkite, David Mamet, Nora Ephron, Warren Beatty, James Fallows, Vernon E. Jordan Jr., Maggie Gyllenhaal, Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., Diane Keaton, Norman Mailer and Mortimer B. Zuckerman.

"This gives me a chance to sound off with a few words or a long editorial," said Mr. Cronkite, 88, the longtime "CBS Evening News" anchorman. "It's a medium that is new and interesting, and I thought I'd have some fun."

[...]

Ms. Huffington's effort - to be called the Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com) - will also seek to ferret out potentially juicy items and give them legs. In fact, she has hired away Mr. Drudge's right-hand Web whiz, Andrew Breitbart, who used to be her researcher.

But unlike the Drudge Report, the Huffington Post will be interactive, offering news as well as commentary from famous people and allowing the masses to comment too, although not always directly with the celebs. Notables will oversee certain sections, with Gary Hart, the former Colorado senator, for example, taking the lead on national security issues. R. O. Blechman, the magazine illustrator, has designed the site. All material will be free and available on archives.

While many of the bloggers are on the left of the political spectrum, some conservatives have also signed on, among them Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of The Washington Times, and David Frum, the writer who coined the phrase "axis of evil" when he was a speechwriter for President Bush.

In a solicitation letter to hundreds of people in her eclectic Rolodex, Ms. Huffington said the site "won't be left wing or right wing; indeed, it will punch holes in that very stale way of looking at the world."

[...]

April 25, 2005 at 11:38 PM in Current Affairs, Cyberculture, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, Singing the Bite Me Song | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2005

Why Dave Weinberger is still my hero

It has suddenly become fashionable for cable news to cover the "blog beat," but in a typical shoehorn move, blog voices must be forced into the pre-existing TV news template: every issue has exactly two and no more barely distinguishable sides with about a teaspoonful intellectual depth or complexity. Plug in X and Y, let them bristle at each other for about two minutes (any longer and the story count drops, and whoops! there goes that 18-35 demographic), and then move on.

I get a good laugh at one method of covering blogs... sticking a couple of "blog babes" in front of two computers to talk about the text, highlight unreadable text, and just generally gesture at the screen.

Since when is waving your hands in front of an illegible screen a good use of the video medium? Is that an acceptable method to translate the ethos of cyberspace and geek chic to the couch potato sonambulists? At least when news programs answer or report on email responses on the air, they make a screen graphic of the quoted email, instead of displaying little gray lines of highlighted hieroglyphs.

I shouldn't be surprised. After all, this is a medium that turned every tech story into a PR-driven "nifty gadget of the week to fill the segment hole."

Dave tells the story best. Here are my favorite bits.

Link: Joho the Blog: The spit fight that ended my career at MSNBC.

The spit fight that ended my career at MSNBC

[...]

They want reports on what moderate left and right wing bloggers — "Nothing out of the mainstream," the producer told me yesterday — say about a "major" topic. What the hell does that have to do with blogging? And when two of the producers yesterday independently suggested that I report on the blogosphere's reaction to a Vietnam veteran spitting on Jane Fonda, I blurted out — because the flu had lowered my normal Walls of Timidity — that this wasn't a job I'm comfortable with.

What makes the blogosphere interesting to me is not that there are moderate left and right voices talking about mainstream topics. Mainstream major stories are about issues such as freakish celebrity pedophiles, a spit match over a fight from 30 years ago that the press is hoping to revive, and whatever unfortunate child has been reported missing and presumed (better for the story) murdered. I'm in the blogosphere to escape from this degradation of values.

In the ninety seconds MSNBC gives over to blogging, they want to pair A-Listers into a he-said/she-said report on a Major Topic. Yippee for the A-Team! You do two of those and the last of the three segments should be something "fun," i.e., humorous and trivial because the news no longer knows how to operate without a closing joke. It's downright pathological.

[...]

The odd thing is that the two I did for them (1 2) didn't follow the pattern they want, but they were happy with them nonetheless, so I probably could have kept on if I hadn't raised the issue. But I just couldn't face implicitly confirming the idea that the blogosphere consists of big voices arguing with one another — spit fights! — instead of 10 million real voices engaged in every variety of human conversation and delight.

So, fuck it. I quit.

April 23, 2005 at 12:16 AM in Favorite Links, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, Television, Weblogs | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 09, 2005

CNET's Charles Cooper rips on the DMCA

Link: Rethinking the DMCA | Perspectives | CNET News.com.

Ya gotta love this tag line:

"At its inception, many people called it a lousy law. CNET News.com's Charles Cooper says that proved to be too charitable an appraisal."

He's letting it rip, and here are a few of the highlights... don't hold back man, tell 'em what you really think.

Rethinking the DMCA

April 8, 2005, 4:00 AM PT

By Charles Cooper

Time and again since its 1998 passage, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has proved to be one of the worst-ever pieces of technology legislation.

By now, nearly every sentient being in Silicon Valley must wonder why Congress couldn't have done a better job thinking through the implications of its handicraft before voting the DMCA into law. The act has been responsible for needless litigation and even transmogrified into something of a gag on free expression. More about that in a moment.

[...]

So it was that Congress bowed to the copyright industry's demands and created a marvelously one-sided document. By making it illegal to circumvent technology used by the copyright industries to protect digital content, legislators took care of a key constituency. But they also created an invitation to trouble.

With no clear boundaries and very little legal precedent, the predictable result has been a messy conflict between the public and the moneyed interests. And that's where we are now with the specter of the DMCA, like Marley's Ghost, rising up to chill the spirit of free inquiry when it comes to encryption and computer security research.

Here's my favorite example he gives:

2003: In an extreme example of the application of the DMCA, an Illinois-based manufacturer of garage-door openers claimed that a rival's replacement product violated copyright law. A federal court later dismissed the lawsuit.

Cooper's main point is that the threat of lawsuits is having worse than a chilling effect on free speech, and the suits are being used to keep QA folks from fairly evaluating the software.

Now where I come from, that is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, called "fair comment and criticism." Imagine if such an odious rule were applied to movie and theater critics who gave away endings, for instance!

It seems to me that the whole point of the DMCA is to create a catch-all black box that anything created or produced can be stuck in and held exempt from nearly any kind of scrutiny at all.

This has far-reaching ramifications that Cooper doesn't look at here. I'm talking about proprietary voting software in the US, and its potential for manipulation.

It is beyond my comprehension that ANY kind of legal precedent is allowing Diebold and other e-voting providers to operate outside the public interest and the public trust by monitoring democratic processes inside a black box!

Hypothetically, I'd speculate that if property law (you know, the deeds and such that are open records at most counties in the US) were being created from scratch right now, I think these same folks would find a way to keep property ownership records, hell, all government procedures and processes, in that same black box. Hell, they'd subcontract it out to a private company in the name of government "efficiency," and that company would claim it's paperwork and software was so proprietary that all property records would be closed to the public, unless some "government" or whatever interest wanted to pay for it.

We know what company would be running such a venture in that black box, if that were the case. ChoicePoint.

April 9, 2005 at 11:37 PM in Cyberculture, Democracy, Intellectual Property, Interactivity, Media & Journalism, Politics, Privacy & Free Speech, Web/Tech | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack