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Tuesday 30 September 2008

This just in ...

: Toby

Barack in the Virginia Rain

This really is an astonishing speech, given in the rain in Fredericksburg, rural Virginia. A state which hasn't gone Dem. in the Presidential for over forty years. 26' of Barack worth your time to get an intense flavour of the stump. The intensity in his face is something else.

Only The Daily Mirror and The Guardian picked this up.

Music: Stevie Wonder 'Superstition'

Live on Sesame Street from 1972.

Monday 29 September 2008

US election: where to look

Forget the BBC - I may have mentioned the pointlessness of them as a news source before ...

Here are some bookmarks I have, if you're interested:

memeorandum - brings all the news and blog sources together in a nice, tidy cascade. We definitely need something exactly like this in UK politics coverage.

The Huffington Post - Top Liberal news source

DRUDGE REPORT - Top Conservative news source - what's happening in the polls and the electoral vote

marbury - a generally spot-on UK journos take

Michael Tomasky - - about the only other UK journo worth reading

Mudflats - the best Palin news, and from Alaska

The Daily Dish By Andrew Sullivan
Crooks and Liars
Ben Smith's Blog -
Countdown with Keith Olbermann -
Rachel Maddow
Glenn Greenwald -

And for the online election - techPresident – blogs

And for fun - Wonkette: The D.C. Gossip

Anything I'm missing here?

Alaskans for Truth

Hurrah! After the last anti-Palin rally only got covered on the interwebs, this one on Sunday got covered by the MSM.

Lots more here.

The Rich Are Staging a Coup

The Rich Are Staging a Coup This Morning ...a message from Michael Moore


Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no matter how many scare words they use, they are up to their old tricks of creating fear and confusion in order to make and keep themselves and the upper one percent filthy rich. Just read the first four paragraphs of the lead story in last Monday's New York Times and you can see what the real deal is:

"Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

"Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

"At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

"Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury's proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions."

Unbelievable. Wall Street and its backers created this mess and now they are going to clean up like bandits. Even Rudy Giuliani is lobbying for his firm to be hired (and paid) to "consult" in the bailout.

The problem is, nobody truly knows what this "collapse" is all about. Even Treasury Secretary Paulson admitted he doesn't know the exact amount that is needed (he just picked the $700 billion number out of his head!). The head of the congressional budget office said he can't figure it out nor can he explain it to anyone.

And yet, they are screeching about how the end is near! Panic! Recession! The Great Depression! Y2K! Bird flu! Killer bees! We must pass the bailout bill today!! The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Falling for whom? NOTHING in this "bailout" package will lower the price of the gas you have to put in your car to get to work. NOTHING in this bill will protect you from losing your home. NOTHING in this bill will give you health insurance.

Health insurance? Mike, why are you bringing this up? What's this got to do with the Wall Street collapse?

It has everything to do with it. This so-called "collapse" was triggered by the massive defaulting and foreclosures going on with people's home mortgages. Do you know why so many Americans are losing their homes? To hear the Republicans describe it, it's because too many working class idiots were given mortgages that they really couldn't afford. Here's the truth: The number one cause of people declaring bankruptcy is because of medical bills. Let me state this simply: If we had had universal health coverage, this mortgage "crisis" may never have happened.

This bailout's mission is to protect the obscene amount of wealth that has been accumulated in the last eight years. It's to protect the top shareholders who own and control corporate America. It's to make sure their yachts and mansions and "way of life" go uninterrupted while the rest of America suffers and struggles to pay the bills. Let the rich suffer for once. Let them pay for the bailout. We are spending 400 million dollars a day on the war in Iraq. Let them end the war immediately and save us all another half-trillion dollars!

I have to stop writing this and you have to stop reading it. They are staging a financial coup this morning in our country. They are hoping Congress will act fast before they stop to think, before we have a chance to stop them ourselves. So stop reading this and do something -- NOW! Here's what you can do immediately:

1. Call or e-mail Senator Obama. Tell him he does not need to be sitting there trying to help prop up Bush and Cheney and the mess they've made. Tell him we know he has the smarts to slow this thing down and figure out what's the best route to take. Tell him the rich have to pay for whatever help is offered. Use the leverage we have now to insist on a moratorium on home foreclosures, to insist on a move to universal health coverage, and tell him that we the people need to be in charge of the economic decisions that affect our lives, not the barons of Wall Street.

2. Take to the streets. Participate in one of the hundreds of quickly-called demonstrations that are taking place all over the country (especially those near Wall Street and DC).

3. Call your Representative in Congress and your Senators. (click here to find their phone numbers). Tell them what you told Senator Obama.

When you screw up in life, there is hell to pay. Each and every one of you reading this knows that basic lesson and has paid the consequences of your actions at some point. In this great democracy, we cannot let there be one set of rules for the vast majority of hard-working citizens, and another set of rules for the elite, who, when they screw up, are handed one more gift on a silver platter. No more! Not again!

Michael Moore

P.S. Having read further the details of this bailout bill, you need to know you are being lied to. They talk about how they will prevent golden parachutes. It says NOTHING about what these executives and fat cats will make in SALARY. According to Rep. Brad Sherman of California, these top managers will continue to receive million-dollar-a-month paychecks under this new bill. There is no direct ownership given to the American people for the money being handed over. Foreign banks and investors will be allowed to receive billion-dollar handouts. A large chunk of this $700 billion is going to be given directly to Chinese and Middle Eastern banks. There is NO guarantee of ever seeing that money again.

P.P.S. From talking to people I know in DC, they say the reason so many Dems are behind this is because Wall Street this weekend put a gun to their heads and said either turn over the $700 billion or the first thing we'll start blowing up are the pension funds and 401(k)s of your middle class constituents. The Dems are scared they may make good on their threat. But this is not the time to back down or act like the typical Democrat we have witnessed for the last eight years. The Dems handed a stolen election over to Bush. The Dems gave Bush the votes he needed to invade a sovereign country. Once they took over Congress in 2007, they refused to pull the plug on the war. And now they have been cowered into being accomplices in the crime of the century. You have to call them now and say "NO!" If we let them do this, just imagine how hard it will be to get anything good done when President Obama is in the White House. THESE DEMOCRATS ARE ONLY AS STRONG AS THE BACKBONE WE GIVE THEM. CALL CONGRESS NOW.

To be a Republican today ...

HT: Toby

To be a Republican today you need to believe:

1. Jesus loves you and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

2. Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's Daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we-can't-find-Bin-Laden" diversion.

3. Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

4. The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iran

5. A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multinational drug corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

6. The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

7. If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

8. A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our longtime allies, ("That's just old Europe- Donald Rumsfeld---Freedom Fries, --etc.) then demand their cooperation and money.

9. Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMO's and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

10. Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in schools.

11. A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is sol id defense policy.

12. Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

13. The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's aviation and driving records are none of our business.

14. Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

15. Support for "Executive Privilege" in perpetuity for every Republican ever born, who will be born, or who might be born.

16. What Bill Clinton did in the 1960's is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80's is irrelevant.

17. Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

Scrapbook clips catch up

Shockingly slow catch-up ... so sue me!

Danny Finkelstein likes the new Conservative website and, er, so do I. It doesn't actually just adopt the US template (like Paddick did) and has some innovations. Like Danny I fancied the Conservative Wall with its pop out voters.

And two thumbs up for a strong accessibility statement.

Via arstechnica: Fake popup study sadly confirms most users are idiots

Via techpresident: Tracking a Political Meme: McCain vs Paris Hilton. This has some fab animated 'maps' showing the meme's spread across the blogosphere.

Via fivethirtyeight:Intrade Betting is Suspicious. Very interesting post about how some partisans are - apparently - gaming this major online betting shop, one which is often reported on as an impartial predictor.

HT: Tom Watson: Election 08 on Twitter. V. Useful pull-together of related twitter feeds.

These tools were also used to great effect during the Republican convention, where mass arrests, including of many journalists, and 'pre-emptive' raids occurred.

Andy Burnham threatened web regulation in a recent speech, which contained the following daft quote:
"The internet as a whole is an excellent source of casual opinion. TV is where people often look for expert or authoritative opinion."
Half world's population 'will have mobile phone by end of year', apparently. Speaking at a conference, Hamadoun Touré, secretary general of the International Telecom Union, said:
"The fact that 4 billion subscribers have been registered worldwide indicates that it is technically feasible to connect the world to the benefits of information communications technology."
You'd have to think that much of the innovation will not come from the first world in this area (e.g. micropayments). Google has some good ideas though in this recent official blog post.

Two egov 'production' blogs - ones like the BBC's where the team feeds back and sources comment. Parliament and Aberdeenshire.

Very neat website add-on tool. odiogo converts text to speech for download or playing right there.

Another bit of political blogosphere content attracting shut-down notices and legal action, this time in Scotland.
An SNP councillor suing a Labour blogger for mentioning something that was already in the public domain is going to do more harm to the councillor and his party than ignoring it would have done. I hope that Alex Salmond has the sense to publicly distance the party from the individual actions of the councillor, otherwise the SNP will be open to attack for using the law to silence its critics.
Matt Wardman has more detail on blogger Christopher Glamorganshire's sacking from the Welsh Assembly and more from Wales. Plus a Welsh LibDem confirms that the recently worked out civil service blogging guidance doesn't apply to Wales (as they're writing their own)

Search text advertising has taken off big time in 08 election: Our Brand Is Crisis: Prez Candidates Buy Words To Brand Each Other Online.

Electronic voting machines are going to be extensively deployed in the election and a lot of people don't trust them. So a campaign is being organised to get tekkies to sign-up as supervisors - citizen undercover monitoring.

FT on how Google doesn't rule all of the world: It's mainly to do with language.

New York becomes first city to accept photos and video from computers and cell phones for emergency services (they already handle text).

“Internet optimists” versus “Internet Pessimists”
: TLF groups recent books.

Adherents & Their Books / Writings

Internet Optimist

Internet Pessimists

Yochai Benkler, The Wealth of Networks

Andrew Keen, The Cult of the Amateur

Chris Anderson, The Long Tail and “Free!”

Lee Siegel, Against the Machine

Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody

Nick Carr, The Big Switch

Cass Sunstein, Infotopia

Cass Sunstein,

Don Tapscott, Wikinomics

Todd Gitlin, Media Unlimited

Kevin Kelly & Wired mag in general

Alex Iskold, “The Danger of Free

Mike Masnick & TechDirt blog

Mark Cuban

And here’s a rough sketch of the major beliefs or key themes that separate these two schools of thinking about the impact of the Internet on our culture and economy:

Beliefs / Themes

Internet Optimists

Internet Pessimists

Culture / Social

Net is Participatory

Net is Polarizing

Net yields Personalization

Net yields Fragmentation

a “Global village


Heterogeneity / Diversity of Thought

Homogeneity / Close-mindedness

Net breeds pro-democratic tendencies

Net breeds anti-democratic tendencies

Tool of liberation & empowerment

Tool of frequent misuse & abuse

Economics / Business

Benefits of “free” (“Free” = future of media / business)

Costs of “free” (“Free” = end of media / business)

Increasing importance of “Gift economy

Continuing importance of property rights, profits, firms

“Wiki” model = wisdom of crowds; power of collective intelligence

“Wiki” model = stupidity of crowds; errors of collective intelligence

Mass collaboration

Individual effort

Academics need guidance on how to make best use of web 2.0 technologies, according to a report from the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association (UCISA).

UCISA also says that higher education institutions need dedicated local champions to promote and develop the new methods. It calls for academics to be given the time to learn and develop the skills to use technology based tools.

Sunday 28 September 2008

Hilarious SNL Palin vs Couric skit

Saturday Night Live's Tina Fey spoofing Palin's interview with Katie Couric - not so much a send up as a millimeter away from the actual interview.

The word is that her performance in a mock VP debate was so awful that they stopped it halfway through.
One senior McCain aide was quoted as saying, "What are we going to do?" The McCain people want to move this first debate to some later, undetermined date, possibly never. People on the inside are saying the Alaska Governor is "clueless."
Latest prediction from

Friday 26 September 2008

Schlepping for Obama

The Great Schlep from Sarah Silverman.

Ahmadinejad on gays

Summary: yes, we have them. They are drug traffickers.

In an interview with Democracy Now's Amy Goodman and the NY Daily News, Iranian President Ahmadinejad finally says that LGBT exist in Iran

Here's the interchange:
I didn’t say they don’t exist; I said not the way they are here. In Iran, it’s considered as a very unlikable and abhorrent act. People simply don’t like it. Our religious decrees tell us that it’s against our values, and all divine laws, actually, believe in the same. Who has given them permission to engage in homosexual acts? It’s considered as an abhorrent act. It shakes the foundations of a society, the family foundation. It robs humanity. It brings about diseases.

It should be of no pride to the American society to say that they defend homosexuals and support it. It’s not a good act, in and by itself, to then hold others accountable for banning it. And it’s not called freedom, either. Sure, if somebody engages in an act in their own house without being known to others, we don’t pay any attention to that. People are free to do what they like in their private realms. But nobody can engage in what breaks the law in public.

Why is it that in the West all moral boundaries have been shaken? Just because some people want to get votes, they are ready to overlook every morality? This goes against the values of a society. It is the divine rule of the Prophets. And then, of course, in Iran, it’s not an issue as big as it is of concern here in the United States. There might be a few people who are known. In general, our country would not accept it. And there’s a law about it, too, which one must follow.

AMY GOODMAN: July 19th is a day that is honored around the world, where two gay teenagers, Iranian teens, were hung. This is a picture of them hanging. They were two young men, named Mahmoud Asgari and Ayaz Marhoni. Do you think gay men and lesbians should die in Iran?

PRESIDENT MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD: [translated] No, there is no law for their execution in Iran. Either they were drug traffickers or they had killed someone else. Those who kill someone else or engage in acts of rape could be punished by execution. Otherwise, homosexuals are not even known who they are to be hung, in the second place. So, we don’t have executions of homosexuals. Of course, we consider it an abhorrent act, but it is not punished through capital punishment. It’s basically an immoral act. There are a lot of acts that can be immoral, but there’s no capital punishment for them.

I don’t know where you obtained these pictures from. Either they’re a network of drug traffickers or some other—or people who generally might have killed someone else. You know that we take our sort of social security seriously, because it’s important. What would you do in the United States if someone picked up a gun and killed a bunch of people? If there is a person to complain, then there’s capital punishment awaiting the person. Or drug traffickers, if they carry above a certain amount, volume, of drugs with them, they can be executed in Iran.
NB: Iran is one of a few countries in world with the death penalty for lesbians and gays. Ahmadinejad is 'mis-speaking'. Drug traffickers? I thought the original excuse was 'rape'? And no, I'm not going to run the photos of Asgari and Marhon again. Google if you must ...
Oh, and both J.Smith and G.Brown believes that Iranian lesbians and gays can "be discreet".

Postscript: Don't piss off Dave!

Letterman Attacks McCain Day 2: "I Feel Like An Ugly Date"

CBS News Executives "Aggravated" By Letterman's Use Of Internal News Feed: Report

Thursday 25 September 2008

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Queer Fear - Gay Life, Gay Death in Iraq

From Peter Tatchell's CIF article:
Even children suspected of being gay are abducted and later found shot in the head.
But what can I do? Answer: Donate for safe houses.

Jacqui Smith (and Gordon Brown) would tell these people to 'be discreet'.

Comin' home to momma

More of Marcy Kaptur:

Transcript of first video.

Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, here is the latest reality game. Let’s play Wall Street Bailout.

Rule one: Rush the decision. Time the game to fall in the week before Congress is set to adjourn and just 6 weeks before an historic election so your opponents will be preoccupied, pressured, distracted, and in a hurry.

Rule two: Disarm the public through fear. Warn that the entire global financial system will collapse and the world will fall into another Great Depression. Control the media enough to ensure that the public will not notice this.

Bailout will indebt them for generations, taking from them trillions of dollars they earned and deserve to keep.

Rule three: Control the playing field and set the rules. Hide from the public and most of the Congress just who is arranging this deal. Communicate with the public through leaks to media insiders. Limit any open congressional hearings. Communicate with Congress via private teleconferencing calls. Heighten political anxiety by contacting each political party separately. Treat Members of Congress condescendingly, telling them that the matter is so complex that they must rely on those few insiders who really do know what’s going on.

Rule four: Divert attention and keep people confused. Manage the news cycle so Congress and the public have no time to examine who destroyed the prudent banking system that served America so well for 60 years after the financial meltdown of the 1920s.

Rule five: Always keep in mind the goal is to privatize gains to a few and socialize loss to the many. For 30 years in one financial scandal after another, Wall Street game masters have kept billions of dollars of their gain and shifted their losses to American taxpayers. Once this bailout is in place, the greed game will begin again.

But I have a counter-game. It’s called Wall Street Reckoning. Congress shouldn’t go home to campaign. It should put America’s accounts in order.

To Wall Street insiders, it says “no” on behalf of the American people. You have perpetrated the greatest financial crimes ever on this American republic. You think you can get by with it because you are extraordinarily wealthy and the largest contributors to both Presidential and congressional campaigns in both major parties, but you are about to be brought under firm control.

First, America doesn’t need to bail you out, it needs to secure the real assets and property, not your paper, that means the homes and properties of hardworking Americans who are about to lose their homes because of your mortgage greed. There should be a new job for regional Federal Reserve Banks. We want no home foreclosed if a serious work-out agreement can be put into place. And if you don’t do it, we want a notarized statement by a Federal Reserve official that they tried and failed.

Second, taxpayers should directly gain any equity benefits that may flow from this historic bailout. We want the American people to get first priority in taking ownership of the institutions that want to pass their toxic paper onto the taxpayers.

Third, before any bailouts for Wall Street, America needs major job creation to rebuild our major infrastructure. America needs assets, not paper. We need working assets.

Fourth, the time for real financial regulatory change is now, not next year. A modernized Glass Eagle Act must be put in place. We need to reestablish locally-owned community savings banks across this country and create within the Justice Department a fully funded unit to prosecute every single high-flying thief whose fraud and criminal acts created this debacle and then forced their disgorgement of assets going back 15 years.

Fifth, any refinancing must return a major share of profits to a new Social Security and Medicare lockbox, where the monies can go to pay for a dignified and assured retirement for every American. This Member isn’t voting for a penny of it. Those who created and profited from this game of games must be brought to justice. The assets they stole must be returned to the American taxpayers, right down to the tires on their Mercedes.

Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to join me in cosponsoring my bill to create an independent commission to investigate these well-heeled wrongdoers. Real reform now, or nothing.

Bit of a contrast to Palin, ya'think?

Repost: The Shock Doctrine by Alfonso Cuarón and Naomi Klein

nb: contains strong images.

Don't piss off Dave!

In US politics late night talk show hosts have always held some major sway - that's why candidates want to be on their shows.

So for McCain to piss off David Letterman by pulling out of an appearance at the last minute, claiming "country first" and then appear on a cable TV news show down the road is a really desperate move.

As Andrew Sullivan put it:
You may get away with lying to the rest of us, but this man is powerful enough to expose you - and ridicule you. Here's another surreal moment in a campaign where pop cultural figures are standing up to raw lies and power as effectively as the MSM. More effectively, in fact.
This is the short version.

This is hugely viral.

Here's MSNBC's Keith Olbermann (a personal fave) standing in for McCain on Letterman.


Some cynical commentators have suggested that the entire "I'm shuttering the campaign" move might have been because of this rather 'put your palms on your face' interview with Palin (oh, and this, and this):

Interesting point from Danny Finkelstein in in Times today "this election is not the nail biting close contest that is being portrayed". Well, doh!

After that to Finkelstein point, I added:
Do ya'think journos might have a little, er, self interest here Danny?

Why isn't the electoral map getting much play?

But my second, let's call it nuanced, reaction is to look at what's not being reported.

Like Palin and her 'witchdoctor'. McCain and his lobbyists. The 'maverick' meme'. Zero play for the veterans against McCain. Etc.

'Liberal' US media??? Seems more like a marriage which had been in denial and breaking up these past weeks.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

Postscript: How not to do video about recycling

My post on 'How not to do video about recycling' was reproduced by PSF. This provoked a rather negative but, n'est ce pas, expected response.

Here's how I responded to the commentator's points.
"Firstly: Why is every council doing this separately? Simple. Every council's bin and recycling arrangements is different"
But they're not. Many are the same or pretty much so. What is the efficiency loss in not sending out similar messages? - for one thing. And where can councils connect with other councils doing the same and share cost - for another thing? Answer? Nowhere. That's my point.

Plus there's isn't even one central (web based) resource point where even more generic messaging resources are available.

This is very inefficient when most British people spend lots of time online.

I wish the audit office would focus on shit like this rather than the stuff PSF is currently highlighting ... [NB: Most PSF content is behind a firewall, this comment refers to how the audit office believes council staff are all "potential fraudsters" and thus want their bank details].
"Councils have been given great big dollops of central government money to spend solely on recycling publicity"
Er, this just speaks to the first point I'm making and you expand on this - use of amateurs etc. I found this when looking for centralised resources around marketing around recycling. Including video. The EU actually has a good video (past blog post), but Whitehall?? Whitehall tips on online marketing around recycling? Hello?
"I have to disagree on the Allerdale video"
Point taken, as it's not viral yet. But I was trying to get to the different dynamic which works in this space. What you think of as crappy might actually end up going viral. Allerdale made me laugh - that's a plus.
"All these things require skills that only come with professional training and years of practice"
This is absolutely not true for viral video! C'mon! have you seen utube lately? I have seen enough viral video to recognise in Allendale's a potential viral. It actually looks like some of the professional virals I've seen, who - shock - attempt to evoke amateurism.

Like with most things web I was pointing at entry points, things you can do, to get some audience for video rather than just post it and wait for an audience (which is, truth, what most are doing). But yes, it would probably actually pay - i.e. have an ROI - to hire someone who has-a-clue to promote and advise on what you're making.

But don't confuse this with film-making or other skills. What works in online video is a whole other ballgame and really it's - in what we're talking about here - simply putting your efforts in front of as many possible eyeballs as possible and keep doing it and keep honing. This we just don't do.
"What makes some council officer decide he can stand in a stupid suit and green make-up and be an actor for the day, instead of... er... doing what the council tax-payers expect them to do."
Like what? Excuse me but this is a bit patronising. I would never criticise someone for trying, just offer some tips about how they might get their point over and seen by more people. I'd like to see you face the opprobrium of doning a green monster suit in an effort to stop people littering :] This (poor) guy just needs more tips on how to get that message across. (for one, the vid should be half the length at least, which is pretty easily achieved using cheap video editors).

I would say that UK online video, from what I can see, is still in the 'taking off' stage compared to elsewhere (like, er, France). But having looked around it's clear that the potential audiences - yes, including localised audiences - are huge.

It's another channel with mass potential. I s'pose, given how we're barely if at all in others it might seem a little pointless but with viral video it's amazing how quickly something pops up which, er, 'hits the spot'. and I would be the last to be shocked if this actually came from some enterprising council officer prepared to make a fool of himself. And in a good way!

Project 10 to the 100th

Good ad. Sucked me in.

You could either view this as good ethical corporate marketing or something more. I'm trying to be positive ....

And more ...

The Corpus Clock & Chronophage

Saw this close up today for the first time (HT: Tris) - just as a tourist guide arrived saying "and here is Cambridge's latest attraction."

F+++ing amazing sight.

What is a Chronophage?


Daily Show, August 9, 2004

Dominic Lawson: Here we go again: another dirty fight

Tuesday 23 September 2008

Music: Norman Whitfield

The legendary writer, arranger and producer past away yesterday.

Marvin Gaye

Gladys Knight & The Pips


Edwin Starr

Rose Royce

Sunday 21 September 2008

Both Bosco and Babi deported, government and airline condemned

Cross-posted from LGBT asylum news

Campaigners have lost two gay asylum seekers to deportation over the past two days. Both are returning to unsafe situations where they are at real risk of violence, one has documented evidence of a death threat, and in both cases lawyers for the men believe the deportations are illegal.

The deportations occurred despite assurances from the Deputy Prime Minister to correct unfair treatment of LGBT asylum seekers.

John 'Bosco' Nyombi was deported on a flight to Entebbe, Uganda on Friday evening. He has managed to briefly borrow a phone (he didn't have one) to contact UK supporters and is now in hiding from police.

His story has been featured in the Ugandan Press within the last few days including an up-to-date photo of him.

He is in danger of being murdered by Ugandan extremists who are homophobic and he is in danger from Ugandan government political supporters who murdered Bosco's brother because of his high-profile political opposition.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission issued an action alert on Thursday because of the escalating violence directed at the emerging LGBT community in Uganda.

Bosco's solicitors believe that the deportation was "an illegal act of the UK Border Agency".

Bosco is a former bank manager who spent the past six years caring for mentally challenged people in Southampton.

Babakhan (Babi) Badalov was deported from Heathrow Airport yesterday afternoon on a British Midlands Airways (BMI) plane to Baku.

The deportation was described by his supporters as appearing to go against the UK Border Agency's rules as they changed the details of Babi’s forced removal at the last minute and did so on a Saturday.

Babi reported being told by a Border Agent, "you make us sick, you're going back where you belong.”

He was due to fly earlier in the day on Azerbaijan Airlines but the airline refused to take him after they were contacted by supporters of Babi. As soon as supporters learned of the change of airline to BMI they attempted to contact them, however many were not able to get through and claim that the Press Officer of BMI's contact number was deliberately switched off.

A medical assesment conducted on Friday had strongly recommended that Babi required a mental health check and an appointment with a neurologist had been arranged. His local MP Jenny Willotts has made strong representations for Babi urging the Home Office not to deport him.

Further, Peter Tatchell, who was contacted by Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman, after she was booed at the London Pride Rally in July because of the government's approach to LGBT asylum, contacted Harman about Babi:
He (Babi) is scheduled for deportation despite him being in the process of filing a new asylum claim with fresh evidence. This new evidence includes one of his brothers threatening to kill him on grounds that he had shamed the family by being gay. There are also new witness statements detailing Babi’s history of violent, homophobic persecution in Azerbaijan.

In these circumstances, his removal should be put on hold until he has an opportunity to put forward this new evidence to an asylum tribunal.
Tatchell says that when he recently met Harriet Harman, she and Barbara Follett MP sagreed to examine and assist in the correction of any unfair treatment of LGBT asylum applicants.

Babi emailed the following message to supporters on Sunday:
His supporters said:
If anything happens to Babi in Azerbaijan, British government and the BMI airline will bear the ultimate responsibility for that.

Please write to BMI stating that you will ensure none of your friends and family travel with them in the future, that you will campaign ceaselessly against them, for they have acted selfishly, with no regard to an individual’s health and mental well-being.

Let’s make sure they experience a backlash.
The editor of Scotsgay Magazine John Heim noted that the MD of airline BMI is gay man Sir Michael David Bishop CBE.

In the wake of the deportations, gayasylumuk reiterated its call made on Thursday for two things:
1. maximum embarrassment and a collective 'turning of the back' by UK LGBT and all right thinking people, particularly as the governing Labour Party conducts its annual conference in Manchester next week
2. signatures to the petition initiated by the Rev. Walter Attwood to Gordon Brown []
Noting that the government has flown rainbow flags from Eastern European embassies, they also reiterated their call made earlier this year that:
"Gay and lesbian Labour voters in particular consider changing their vote if the [LGBT asylum] policy isn't changed before the next election. This is one way to get the message through on their hypocrisy regarding lesbian and gay rights issues — when embassies in other countries are flying the rainbow flag they aren't doing this in Tehran, Kingston or Kampala."

Saturday 20 September 2008

Nick Clegg on the Daily Show

"Just one more thing, ask the Prime Minister why he dragged my country into an unnecessary war ... "

Music: Love Sensation

Dan Hartman
and Tom Mouton wrote, produced and arranged this masterpiece of disco by Loleatta Holloway.

Famously sampled for the hideous "Ride On Time" (she sued, successfully) and subject to numerous unnecessary remixes.

Friday 19 September 2008

Culture en péril



I've been using Snipshot for ages now as as v. quick, in-browser method for generating web ready images on-the-fly. For web purposes it's great.

But it's not ready yet for Firefox 3.0 and has thus disappeared from my right-click.

What's replaced it is Picnik, which is similar photo editor but with more options and also a firefox add-on (Facebook too). It is Flash based, takes slightly longer, it does try to sell to you and it is tied into Flickr.

But that's being picky. Recommended!

Music: Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now

WARNING: low volume. I love the byline on this YouTube clip "Pour les anciens!"

:[ Gone. 2015 replacement with extended original.

McFadden & Whitehead's classic was played as Barack Obama accepted the Democratic party nomination.

There are innumerate versions of this. Here's the original extended version for extensive partying down.

Ban this sick filth ...

HT: Chris Boland

Try the Daily Mail headline generator:
From the people who bring you the David Blunkett policy maker, Michael Howard Sings The Smiths, and Alastair Campbell’s Wheel of Retribution.

Thursday 18 September 2008

LGBT asylum emergency

Two gay asylum seekers at serious and real risk of attack, imprisonment and possible killing are currently at the last stage before being deported by the British government.

gayasylumuk has been notified that gay Ugandan John Bosco Nyombi has been transferred from a detention centre to Heathrow. Azerbaijani Babi Badalov has been transferred to a detention centre with a flight booked for this Saturday.

The government plans to return Nyombi to a country which actively - led by its President - persecutes LGBT. Newspapers print the names and addresses of gays and lesbians and demands 'action' is taken against them.

Badalov has been threatened with death by 'honour killing' and his sexuality has already led to persecution and would definitely lead to more persecution if he is returned.

The answer of the British government to this: "be discreet" Seriously. This is the position of the British government.

In reality the policy is to refuse the maximum number of asylum applications on the most spurious of grounds. In reality the British Home Office, which manages asylum seekers, is rife with homophobia.

When he was informed that he was going to be detained and deported Babi responded by saying "I feel sick" To which the UK Border agent told him "well you make us sick, you're going back where you belong."

Recent LGBT asylum cases such as that of the Iranian Mehdi Kazemi have highlighted the absurd and shameful attitude of the British government to LGBT asylum seekers. It is an embarrassment to all right-thinking British people and it is therefore no surprise that support for LGBT asylum seekers has come from across the political spectrum.

gayasylumuk calls for two things:

1. maximum embarrassment and a collective 'turning of the back' by UK LGBT and all right thinking people, particularly as the governing Labour Party conducts its annual conference in Manchester next week
2. signatures to the petition initiated by the Rev. Walter Attwood to Gordon Brown []

We also reiterate our call earlier this year that:
"We hope that gay and lesbian Labour voters in particular will consider changing their vote if the policy isn't changed before the next election. This is one way to get the message through on their hypocrisy regarding lesbian and gay rights issues — when embassies in other countries are flying the rainbow flag they aren't doing this in Tehran, Kingston or Kampala."


Further information
Museveni launches campaign against gays
Human Rights Watch adds Home Office to 'Hall of Shame'
gayasylumuk condemns "inhumane, anti-gay" Labour government

Babi campaign
Bosco campaign

Zim: good signs

On Tuesday I voluntarily stopped at a Police road block set up in the vicinity of Bob’s palace and offered my hand in congratulations to the Police saying, “now you will have a better deal with MDC running Home Affairs”. They vigorously shook my hand and they were over the moon!
Witness, from Sokwanele.

Outside the Sheraton on Monday some war vets were singing “You sold out!” to Mugabe during the signing ceremony.

There were tens of hundreds of MDC supporters gathered singing and waving outside the hotel entrance. They completely blocked out the few Zanu supporters. The mood was electric, tangible with excitement and joy. Even the Presidential guard were looking relaxed!

When the ZPF dignatories left the hotel in their cars they were faced with a sea of waving open hands, chanting “chinja” (change) and just loving every bit of the rare window of freedom of expression.

A small group of (brave, stupid!) ZPF youth split into two groups and surrounded a small group of MDC supporters and started stoning them. Well, it was a matter of seconds before the wider crowd of MDC retaliated angrily on the spot. The ZPF youth were seen to go to the Presidential guards standing nearby complaining they had been beaten by the MDC. The guards response was, “what were you doing going into their group in the first place? !!”

The body language, reaction of the military man behind, standard of rhetoric, everything is summed up in these clips of Tsvangirai and Mugabe from Monday:

Tsvangari from his interview with Chris O'Neal today:
We had a similar kind of people in 1980, those who refused to accept black majority rule has arrived and were even undermining the government, even going to the extent of sabotaging the government. In the process of change of this nature that is expected, but it does not stop a train moving forward.

Cute animal tricks

Engaged as I am with somewhat serious matters ATM, thank the skygod for u-toob. [But even in this space I learn that Sarah Palin hates cats. Grrrrrr.]

Wednesday 17 September 2008

My letter to Jacqui Smith

Dear Ms Smith

I have voted Labour all my life and worked for many years for the party. It is because of the work of people like me that Labour has gay rights policies.

But your treatment of gay asylum seekers has driven me to vow to never put an X next to any Labour candidate ever again.

Babi Badalov is just the latest under threat of death by 'honour killing' (this is the threat he faces) or similar if returned but you believe he can be 'discreet'.

I learn tonight that your thugs will be deporting him.

There is a word for this Ms. Smith, hypocrisy. You would not dare use language like 'discreet' to British gay people.

This is not 'civilised', this is not honorable and it is not fair.

You have forever lost my vote and support for Labour until and unless the party changes its shameful attitudes to these most vulnerable people.


Paul Canning

'You make us sick, you're going back where you belong'

The Azerbaijani artist and gay asylum seeker Babi Badalov, who I wrote about recently (Insight: the hell of the asylum seeker), has been detained and has been given deportation directions for this coming Saturday.

Campaigners are urgently seeking the intervention of his local MP, which they believe will stop the deportation.

Babi's campaign has already gained the support of writer and playwright Patrick Jones, Leane Wood AM, Bethan Jenkins AM, Chris Bryant MP, Cardiff Council Leader Rodney Berman and Deputy Leader Neil McEvoy.

A demonstration is also being urgently organised. A campaign organiser wrote to me that, "I've never seen him, or anyone for that matter, looking so scared".

When he was informed that he was going to be detained and deported Babi responded by saying “I feel sick”

To which the UK Border agent told him “well you make us sick, you're going back where you belong.”

As a result of beatings and bullying over the years Babi has only eight teeth remaining and suffers from a number of mental health problems.

Since arriving in Cardiff in December 2006, Babi has engaged fully with various parts of the local community and has made many friends in his new home. He is still producing poetry, is writing a book about his art/gay life experiences and is also working on a film addressing the rise of Muslim fundamentalism. This latter work, as well as many other aspects of his art, would of course be impossible in Azerbaijan.

For the first time in his life, Babi felt happy and safe in Cardiff. He felt able to openly express himself artistically, politically and with regard to his sexuality, without associated feelings of fear, shame and imminent repression.

Babi is under open threat of death by 'honour killing' but Jacqui Smith believes he can be 'discreet'.

What you can do to help Babi stay

Use this model campaign letter to copy/amend or write your own letter to the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith, asking her to allow Babi to stay safe in Cardiff.

Hand-written letters can be more effective, if you have the time. Remember to quote the Home Office ref. number: B1234623

Send to:

Rt Hon Jacqui Smith MP
Secretary of State for the Home Department
3rd Floor Peel Buildings
2 Marsham Street

Please send any copies of letters/faxes to

More about Babi.

Update: Cardiff picket for Babi

Tuesday 16 September 2008

No blinking!

What will her eyelids do in the face of terror? Sarah Palin doesn't need to know what the Bush Doctrine is — she is the Bush Doctrine.

Forgotten heroes

Our current Paralympics medal tally, with one day to go. Am I missing something here? Why is this not 'news'?

Sunday 14 September 2008

Britain's indigenous peoples shame

Here's something you won't read, er, anywhere:
One year after the UN General Assembly approved the Declaration on Indigenous Peoples’ Rights, Britain and four of its former colonies have not shaken off their reputation as leading opponents of tribal peoples’ rights.

The four countries which voted against the declaration – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the US – are all former British colonies. And the British government continues to resist calls to sign up to ILO Convention 169, the leading international law on tribal peoples.

In addition, many of the companies in the spotlight for targeting tribal lands are based in Britain, Australia, the US or Canada. Perhaps the most controversial is UK-based Vedanta, which is planning a massive bauxite mine on the sacred hills of the Dongria Kondh tribe in India, despite their steadfast opposition.

Other mining companies mired in controversy are US-based Freeport McMoran, operators of the world’s biggest gold mine at Grasberg, in Papua, Indonesia, and Canadian TVI Pacific, whose mine in the Philippines has been fiercely opposed by the Subanen people. Norway’s government has recently sold its shares in British company Rio Tinto, a joint venture partner in the Grasberg mine, due to ‘a risk of contributing to severe environmental damage’.

Stephen Corry, Survival’s Director, said today, ‘For centuries the colonial policies of Britain and other European countries were directly responsible for the deaths of millions of tribal people around the world. How tragic that today Britain and its former colonies are exporting another kind of misery – commercial exploitation under the guise of ‘development’.’
From Survival International. THE most vulnerable peoples in the world. And Miliband/Brown will stamp all over them. In your name.

Zimbabwe: the end is nigh

The signing of the deal between Mugabe/Mbeki/Tsvangari is opaque. But as soon as I began reading about behind-the-scenes deals for the generals who have been running Mugabe for months I began to think: this is it, it's almost over, they're negotiating an exit strategy.

And the key driver behind this? The collapsing economy.

If you read/watch Zim at all you soon learn that there are always more factors at play than you'd thought of. Devil/detail. But let's be hopeful.

Chris O'Neal says 'Mugabe is now poised to sign his own political death warrant'. His big point about the deal: "Mugabe will not be without power, but he may be reduced to obstructing more than governing.":
Crucially, the two MDC factions have a majority of one in both bodies [council of ministers /cabinet], as well as control of parliament, allowing the party to out-vote Mugabe and set policy. That will allow the MDC to dismantle the apparatus of repression which helped keep Mugabe in power long after his popularity crumbled. The government will be able to abolish legislation banning newspapers, locking up journalists and imposing severe restrictions on freedom of speech.

Mugabe is expected to keep his hands on the military through a Zanu-PF defence minister, which the MDC can live with because it will help reassure the generals. Tsvangirai has pressed hard for control of the police, which is crucial if he hopes to assure people that they can vote as they wish in future elections. Both sides are pressing to run the justice ministry, but that may be one that Tsvangirai loses because of fears within Zanu-PF that if he controls the police and the justice system the MDC could hold the guilty to account.

Crucially, the MDC is likely to get the finance portfolio because foreign donors will not want to hand money over to a Zanu-PF minister. It is the prospect of that money that unlocked the prospect of agreement. Without power for Tsvangirai there will be no foreign aid, and without hard currency Mugabe had no means of turning around an imploding economy.
Here's the key, as the economy collapses:
Western governments have said they want to wait and see if Tsvangirai is really wielding power, fearing that he may have been duped into a deal that allows Mugabe to outmanoeuvre him.
More from David Coltart.
This is undoubtedly historic but we still have a long and treacherous road to travel. Even had we in the combined MDC obtained total control the challenges are immense. The grave humanitarian and economic crises are enough to test any Government. The new Cabinet that will have to address these challenges is composed of protagonists – virtually all of the Cabinet Ministers to be appointed by the MDC T and M have at some stage in the last 9 years been brutalized on the instructions of those they will now have to work with. Zimbabwe remains highly polarised and it will take statesmanship on all sides to make this work.

But work this must. Zimbabwe is a great country with a tremendous future and it can and will get through to a new dawn of freedom.
And here's another view, civic society in Zim is strong. And undiminished - note; kept strong by the web - still discussing Transitional justice options for Zimbabwe.
The organizations present at the workshop, having agreed on these principles also set non-negotiable minimum demands for a transitional justice process. The civil society’s minimum demands include no amnesty for crimes against humanity, torture, rape and other sexual crimes, and economic crimes such as corruption; no extinguishing of civil claims against the perpetrators or the state; comprehensive reparations for victims of human rights violations; no-one should hold an official office who has been responsible for gross human rights violations and corruption; a credible and independent truth seeking inquiry into the conflicts of the past which holds perpetrators to account and which provides victims the opportunity to tell their story; independent monitoring and reform of the operations and structures of the police, army, paramilitary, security coordination, administration of justice, food distribution and other organs of state involved in the implementation of the transition.
We wait to see whether the deal is as positive as it seems. Whether in any way the guilty will be held to account in Zim. Whether the hope is correct. But what is very, very clear is that if the world has chosen to forget and ignore - as they have in so many other countries - none of this would have happened.

And there's your take-away.

Alaska Women Reject Palin

Back from a short break to this news: a huge ‘Alaska Women Reject Palin’ Rally.

I say news, but no-one is covering it except the local press. And I say huge - it was huge for Alaska. This is some of Mudflats report of today's (Sunday's) rally in Anchorage:
The rally was organized by a small group of women, talking over coffee. It made me wonder what other things have started with small groups of women talking over coffee. It’s probably an impressive list. These women hatched the plan, printed up flyers, posted them around town, and sent notices to local media outlets. One of those media outlets was KBYR radio, home of Eddie Burke, a long-time uber-conservative Anchorage talk show host. Turns out that Eddie Burke not only announced the rally, but called the people who planned to attend the rally “a bunch of socialist baby-killing maggots”, and read the home phone numbers of the organizers aloud over the air, urging listeners to call and tell them what they thought. The women, of course, received many nasty, harassing and threatening messages.


Never, have I seen anything like it in my 17 and a half years living in Anchorage. The organizers had someone walk the rally with a counter, and they clicked off well over 1400 people (not including the 90 counter-demonstrators). This was the biggest political rally ever, in the history of the state. I was absolutely stunned. The second most amazing thing is how many people honked and gave the thumbs up as they drove by. And even those that didn’t honk looked wide-eyed and awe-struck at the huge crowd that was growing by the minute. This just doesn’t happen here.


So, if you’ve been doing the math… Yes. The Alaska Women Reject Palin rally was significantly bigger than Palin’s rally that got all the national media coverage! So take heart.

Todays' New York Times has an extensive piece on Palin's past. Two of the books she tried to get removed from library? 'Daddy's Roommate' and 'Pastor I Am Gay'.

Update: Late to it but now some of the MSM is covering the rally.