There are two major demonstrations this coming week..

… and attending one of them could lead to your arrest. Can you guess which?

BURMA: GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION
SATURDAY 6th OCTOBER 2007

Join us for a march and rally in solidarity with the monks and peaceful demonstrators in Burma and demand international action.

Assemble at 11.00am at Tate Britain (nearest tube Pimlico). March to Trafalgar Square for a rally at 12.45pm

For more information visit www.burmacampaign.org.uk

STOP THE WAR: MARCH TO PARLIAMENT, IN DEFIANCE OF THE BAN
MONDAY 8th OCTOBER 2007

Calling for the immediate withdrawal of all British troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assemble at 1.00pm in Trafalgar Square (nearest tube Charing Cross) for rally followed by march along Whitehall to the House of Commons.

For more information visit www.stopwar.org.uk








Posted in The War on Stupid | Comments Off

Gordon Brown and his mysterious movements

In the greatest show of cheek since adopting the word ‘change’ for a campaign slogan, the Conservatives are now laying into Gordon Brown for playing ‘dog-whistle’ politics; partisan/projection nonsense aside, this is all part of a growing impatience with Brown’s will-he/won’t-he possibly maybe nudge-wink snap election game.

(His greatest weapons are fear, surprise, and the return home of 2,000 1,000 730 500 0 troops from Iraq.)








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off

Debra Cagan: Why isn’t this everywhere in the UK? Did I a miss a meeting?

Well, I know I appear to have missed a whopper of a meeting in Washington, but you’ll get what I mean:

(Prepare yourselves, darlings; you’ll simply love what she’s wearing… but I should point out that she wore it for this event, and not the reported event.)

Daily Mail – I hate all Iranians, US aide tells MPs: British MPs visiting the Pentagon to discuss America’s stance on Iran and Iraq were shocked to be told by one of President Bush’s senior women officials (Debra Cagan): “I hate all Iranians.” And she also accused Britain of “dismantling” the Anglo-US-led coalition in Iraq by pulling troops out of Basra too soon… The Pentagon denied Ms Cagan said she “hated” Iranians. “She doesn’t speak that way,” said an official. But when The Mail on Sunday spoke to four of the six MPs, three confirmed privately that she made the remark and one declined to comment. The other two could not be contacted.

(Note – Even if this turns out to be old/non-news, it’s still fun to watch the folks at the Mail scream ‘Nazi’.)

Washington Post – An Iranian University Invites Bush to Speak: In a separate matter, a remark attributed to Debra Cagan, deputy assistant secretary of defense for coalition affairs, that she “hates” all Iranians has led to calls by Iranian Americans for her resignation… In a statement relayed by the Pentagon press office yesterday, Cagan denied making the comment. “I never said that. And I don’t speak that way in any event,” she said.

Well, this is begging to be settled; even if it’s a bullshit story, it’s worth knowing where it came from.

But even though it’s all over the place in the U.S. (Wonkette and Crooks & Liars head a long list of blogs), I’m not seeing any significant UK-based attention beyond the Mail’s piece, and looking for people who are talking about it locally takes me into new and worrying neighbourhoods.

What this needs is a little British spunk; someone to press that local advantage and clear this up (and, perhaps, to clear up the spunk afterwards).

The Mail says Stuart Graham was there, but they *may* just have been talking about Graham Stuart. Whatever his name is, he’s not talking.

So, who else was there? I count 5 missing MPs, and all of them are (allegedly) members of a cross-party group that travelled to Washington on a ten-day trip “to discuss America’s stance on Iran and Iraq”.

We need names, people.

UPDATE (03 Oct) – I’ve left a message with Graham Stuart’s office seeking more information about this mysterious cross-party group; I can’t find any mention of it beyond repeats of the Mail article above.

UPDATE – I thought that name rang a bell… some background on Simon Walters, the author of the article and political editor for the Mail on Sunday, can be found here and here.








Posted in Old Media, The War on Stupid | 2 Comments

Gordon Brown Down With Teh Kids: does anyone smell photoshopping?

Via Charlie, a heads-up about the image currently dominating the front page of the Labour website. The original can be downloaded here if you’d like to take a closer look.

Me, I’m thinking that your average British arm has unique reflective qualities, and what we are seeing here is probably an optical illusion created by reflected light and Gordon’s natural highlights.

No, really…

UPDATE – Via B3ta… [slaps forehead]… the most obvious ‘edge’ is probably a sleeve.

Gordon 'Pied Piper' Brown

PS – Tch. All the fun stuff seems to happen while I’m away. (more)








Posted in Photoshopping | 3 Comments

Did anyone else just hear the sound of a tightening screw?

The New Yorker – The Senate Does the Right Thing: Late last night, to the amazement of refugee advocates, the Senate approved by unanimous consent an amendment by Senator Kennedy to a defense bill that will make it easier for America’s Iraqi friends to be admitted as refugees to the United States.

If you haven’t done so yet, mention this to your local MP… just in case they don’t feel like looking a little isolated.








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off

Greetings, comrades

Bloggerheads is back online, but I suspect that most of the action will take place here for a few more days at least.

If you miss the old ‘obsessions’, here’s some local news of (online) poll-rigging and the immediate reaction from Guildford Borough Council.

Also, the fight for freedom in Burma has led to a minor mutiny (swiftly put down) a little closer to home. (And before you start yelling at me, yes, I’m well aware that our present government does draw the line at shooting protestors in the street.)

[Psst! Another Uzbek parallel emerges here.]

UPDATE – Justin has another related affront to democracy here. Heaven forbid that any protest march should come within a mile of Parliament while it’s in session.








Posted in The War on Stupid, Updates | 7 Comments

The Andrew Meyer Tasering incident

BBC – Stun gun used during Kerry debate: University of Florida police used a stun gun on a student taking part in a forum with former presidential candidate John Kerry. Andrew Meyer was questioning Senator Kerry on why he did not contest the results of the 2004 election. University officials said he exceeded his allotted time and became disruptive after his microphone was cut off. Video footage shows police pulling Mr Meyer from the audience and pinning him to the ground before stunning him. The 21-year-old student can be heard screaming for help as the stun gun is administered.

Video footage of the incident is available on YouTube.

The most popular one can be found here:
University of Florida student Tasered at Kerry forum

But a far more complete one can be found here:
UF student Tasered at Kerry forum (new, complete)

I think the use of the Taser was excessive and grossly insensitive given the circumstances. On the latter point; the University police, if they had an interest in public order, should at the very least have considered how the act would have been interpreted, both immediately and in the following days. It was also OTT of them to initially detain Meyer for ‘inciting a riot’.

However, it needs to be pointed out that Andrew Meyer was ‘drive stunned’. This does not amount to a full deployment of a Taser as most people understand it.

I’ll link to the relevant Wikipedia entry here, because the Taser brochure it refers to is quite large and likely to cause browser droop; Some TASER devices, particularly those used by police departments, also have a “Drive Stun” capability, where the taser is held against the target without firing barbs and is intended to cause pain without incapacitating the target. TASER defines “Drive Stun” as “the process of using the EMD weapon as a pain compliance technique. This is done by activating the EMD and placing it against an individual’s body. This can be done without an air cartridge in place or after an air cartridge has been deployed.”

I think it’s important that the limited use of this weapon (in what is charmingly referred to as a ‘pain compliance technique’) be considered in light of Andrew Meyer’s reaction to its application (“OW! OW! OW!” and the instant classic “Don’t Tase me, Bro!”) and the response this has initiated in some quarters because:

Eyewitness report: This is probably the most important piece that the video did not cover. While Senator Kerry was answering a student’s question about Iraq, Meyer rushed to the microphone with cops in tail. No one knew what was going on at that point and I’m sure the cops were looking at the worst case scenario.

He’s already offside, even before he uses the term ‘blow job’ and asks his third and most ridiculous question:

The Register: As you can see, Andrew Meyer, 21, was pretty determined to quiz Kerry on the possible impeachment of President Bush, and indeed, “whether he and Bush were both members of the secret society Skull and Bones at Yale University”, although his impertinence was not actually the cause of his electric exit from the proceedings.

Of course, watching the most popular version of this on YouTube alone, and one might get the impression that the authorities are watching anybody who dares to ask a question very closely and took Meyer down for mentioning a dreaded and all-powerful secret society.

In fact, it seems increasingly likely that this (minus the jolt of electricity) was Meyer’s intention all along:

Washington Post: This was not Meyer’s first escapade as a provocateur, but it may be his most physically punishing. As a freshman his weekly columns for the Alligator, the campus newspaper, regularly prompted debate. “He would take an idea such as a fundraiser for cancer research, and would bash the way the whole event would go down,” wrote Meyer’s friend Brandon Crone in an e-mail, noting that some of Meyer’s articles were rejected for publication because of their incendiary material. Some have speculated that his penchant for attention (his e-mail handle is “famouswriterman”) led him to stage the outburst to draw traffic to his Web site, http://www.theandrewmeyer.com, a mishmash of political commentary, sketch comedy and filmed practical jokes.

WTOPNews: Meyer, a senior telecommunications major from the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Weston, has a Web site featuring several homemade videos. In one, he stands in a street with a sign that says “Harry Dies” after the latest Harry Potter book was released. In another, he acts like a drunk in a bar while trying to pick up a man dressed in drag.

Meyer’s partner in one such ‘funny’ video (which appears to have replaced the Harry Potter one, which has been removed from Meyer’s site for some reason) has since released a comical remix of the arrest footage in an effort to promote the sale of “Don’t Tase Me, Bro” t-shirts.

Further, we also have this:

University of Florida Offense Report: Before I returned to my post I observed Meyer hand a digital hand-held camera to white female he was present with, and it appeared that he instructed her to film his interaction… As the man was escorted down stairs with no cameras in sight, he remained quiet, but once the cameras made their way down stairs he started screaming and yelling again. Some of the comments that the man made were “You can’t kill me.”, “They are giving me to the government.” and “They are going to kill me.” Meyer stated, on the way to the jail, “I am not mad at you guys, you didn’t do anything wrong, you were just trying to do your job.” Meyer was laughing and being lighthearted in the car, his demeanor completely changed once the cameras were not in sight. Meyer did ask, at one point, if the cameras were going to be at the jail….

Just in case you’re not willing to take that at face value…

From 2:30 right here, you can see Andrew Meyer in custody saying: “There are people that know I’m here. You can’t like, kill me…. Oh my god, they’re giving me to the government. They’re giving me to the government. They’re giving me to the government. They’re giving me to the government… Everyone that was here to day please call the police station. Ask them, ask them ‘Where’s the guy that was arrested at the protest?’ Ask them ‘Where’s the guy that was arrested at the John Kerry rally?’ OK? Ask them. Ask them where I am, because they are going to try and kill me. They are going to try and kill me.”

At 03:50, right here, you can see Andrew Meyer in custody saying: “Anybody? Anybody want to follow along, just come with us? And make sure they don’t kill me? Anybody?”

Mark Thomas he is not.

In fact, Teh Interwebs being what it is, you should probably keep a sharp eye out for the first headline or video remix of the event using/referencing this famous advert.

And, despite many people objecting to the use of force in this way, a website and petition in support of Meyer that describes him as “martyr for humanity and freedom of speech” has so far drawn only 8 signatures.

Additionally, it’s reported here that: Thanks to Facebook, we know that about 5,000 students were invited to the protest today. So far, 184 “might show up” and 936 have declined.

All of this will bear watching over the coming days, as will the inevitable bunfight over this new Wikipedia entry.

[Psst! On that last point, I found this on my travels… Wikirage “lists the pages in Wikipedia which are receiving the most edits per unique editor over various periods of time.”]

UPDATE – I went hunting for the ‘Harry Potter spoiler’ video mentioned above, and not only has the embedding code been removed from Andrew Meyer’s website, but the entire video has been removed from YouTube. It was posted using this account (where you can see a duplicated comment posted 18 September 2007 saying “pleaze bring back the harry dies prank”), the URL of the removed file is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-dpvVRBp8s and you can see the stunt/video described here, here, here and, apparently by Meyer himself, here. Would it be unreasonable to suggest that the video was removed because Meyer was concerned about possible PR implications?

UPDATE – Another useful tool found on my travels; Delutube allows you to watch videos that have been deleted from YouTube… not this one, though.

UPDATE – Some related bloggage raising similar points:

Attytood – UPDATED: Meet the future savior of journalism
Gary Bourgeault – Andrew Meyer and the New, Dangerous Media World

And, lest we forget the inappropriate level of force used against this dickhead, this comment from ‘a former Federal law enforcement officer’ under this DailyKos post: The police should have had no part in this situation. Whoever set them on the kid deserves the blame. And the officers who escalated force needlessly deserve to be fired. They are not suitable for their job.

UPDATE – Footage of the resulting protests here and here.








Posted in Teh Interwebs | 7 Comments

The BBC: records (broken and otherwise)

CiF: Sunny Hundal – Liberals: abandon the BBC: The bloggers and much of the press won’t be happy until the BBC reflects their worldview without accepting that the whole picture may lie somewhere in the middle, despite their continual hypocrisy. Not only are they uninterested in balance, they are completely obsessed and convinced that this vast leftwing conspiracy dominates the Beeb… Supporting the corporation or focusing on editorial balance only seems to result in the centre ground shifting further to the right, since they are the only ones complaining. The likes of Iain Dale, Guido Fawkes and Biased BBC are merely following a strategy pioneered by the American loony-right blogs. It’s time the liberal left fought back.

Heh. Iain Dale and Guido Fawkes have also been busy declaring that it’s the left who are suffering from ‘a poverty of ideas’ while they recycle this tired old shit as fresh (and original) thinking.

It’s also fun watching the people who are laying into Sunny at CiF and on his website without actually reading his article first.

:o)

Now, to business:

I agree that the BBC should not be the recipient of blind support, and I’d like to think that the I Believe in The BBC page makes that quite clear.

However, I’m not sure that a leftish incarnation of Biased BBC is called for… particularly when there are media outlets and owners that are far more deserving of this level of attention.

That said… today is as good a day as any to bring this off the back-burner for a quick look-see:

I think the BBC should produce and publish written transcripts for all (as opposed to some) key interviews and items from Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today Programme online in order to make the content of these programmes more accessible to those who wish to scrutinise/verify/reference statements and claims made during them.

Easily accessible online versions of these transcripts would allow bloggers to present this information (with a link for context, natch) on their weblogs…. without having to write a complete or partial transcript themselves (as many of us have had to do in the past).

It would also provide the BBC with a more cost-effective way of archiving this material on a long-term basis for the very simple reason that text data is far cheaper to host, and will often make the online viewing of the video version of any given interview or report surplus to requirements*.

(*Except in cases where it could be argued that the delivery of the material is as/more revealing than the material itself.)

Newsnight would make the best pilot project for this, as a passable transcript is already created upon each broadcast for the subtitles.

But I’ll leave it to you lot to see if it goes back on the back-burner; if you think it’s worth pursuing, drop me a line.

Cheers all.

UPDATE (19 Sep) – A nice comment over at Sunny’s website that pretty much nails it. Also, Iain Dale has laid into Sunny here. Persistent chap that I am, I attempted a response and discovered that Iain’s ban on my commenting on his site has been lifted just as quietly and mysteriously as it was issued.

Some emails and comments are coming in in support of the proposed call for the BBC to publish transcripts, but not enough to get me fired up about it.

UPDATE – BSSC – The King of Spin








Posted in Old Media | 10 Comments

Fighting terror by murdering civilians

Independent – Iraq tells US security company to leave after civilian deaths: The Iraqi government has ordered the American private security contractor Blackwater, which provides protection for US officials in the country, to shut down its operations after its guards were accused of killing 10 civilians and injuring 13 others in Baghdad. Employees of the company are alleged to have opened fire indiscriminately after a bomb exploded on Sunday in the Mansour district of the city, packed with people shopping for Ramadan. The Iraqi government’s decision, personally endorsed by the Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is the strongest measure taken yet against private security contractors, who have been repeatedly accused of carrying out unprovoked shootings of Iraqi civilians… Private security companies in Iraq have often been accused of being responsible for unprovoked attacks on Iraqis and there is a widely held perception that they are immune from prosecution.

If you need more information on the Aegis matter mentioned later in this article (Aegis were cleared by a US army investigation), you can find it here.








Posted in It's War! It's Legal! It's Lovely! | Comments Off

Jerry Springer: The Opera! to play in Carnegie Hall

Media Watch Watch – Jerry goes Stateside: Would have been more fun if they’d decided to put it on right in the middle of the Bible Belt, but there should nonetheless be a few fireworks from the frothier elements of religion in the good ol’ US of A.

I’m predicting much fun from the fundamentalists.








Posted in Christ... | Comments Off