By Bob Cesca: Yesterday I wrote a column with the headline The Biggest Mitt Romney Lie (So Far). I specifically covered my ass with the parenthetical qualifier “so far” knowing that he’d one-up himself with another cynical whopper of a lie very, very soon. I had no idea it would be the same day.
To recap: over the weekend, Romney wrote on The Facebook that President Obama was trying to disenfranchise military voters in Ohio when, in fact, the president was actually trying to extend weekend early voting to all Ohio voters including members of the military. Romney flagrantly lied about the Justice Department’s lawsuit to overturn the Ohio Republican law that ended weekend voting.
No sooner could everyone scramble to debunk this nonsense, but a new Romney commercial was released on Tuesday that contained a grotesquely misleading statement. The video falsely claims the president tried to “gut” President Clinton’s welfare reform legislation from 1996.
Big-time lie. (You can watch the entire video on YouTube, but if you don’t want to torture yourself with the deluge of crackpot Rove-style lies and propaganda then stick with me here.)
The commercial narration, ostensibly approved by Romney himself, says, “On July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.” Wrong, wrong, wrong. No gutting, no dropping of the work requirement. In fact, a long list of Republican governors wanted to do more than what the president and Health & Human Services has actually allowed. We’ll get back to that presently.
What did the administration do? HHS authorized state governments to experiment with new ways of expediting welfare recipients (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program) back into the workforce; specifically, as the HHS website reports, to “test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
Full stop. That’s all. Nothing more. Even the most bizarre left-field Orwellian use of the word “gut” wouldn’t apply here.
Furthermore, in 2005, a letter signed by 28 Republican governors requested far more extensive leeway with the program. 28 Republican governors, including conservative sacred cows like Rick Perry, Mark Sanford, Jeb Bush, Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels and Mike Huckabee, requested “increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work.”
And in keeping with everything we know about Mitt Romney and his ongoing strategy of attacking the president for things Romney himself once supported — yes, then-Governor Romney also signed the letter.
So no — the president hasn’t gutted welfare reform, at least if you go by the Republican standard, which was a request for considerably more leeway than anything the administration has done. Another massive Romney lie.
Are you noticing a pattern here? On various occasions, the president has acted like the grown-up in the room and acquiesced to several Republican policy demands and, again and again, the Republicans have attacked him for the policies that they themselves requested and, in some cases, invented. Do the list. The individual mandate for health insurance, cap and trade, all-of-the-above energy policy and now this.
See, the Romney campaign and GOP leadership understand the far-right Republican base. They know the base doesn’t care about (or can’t remember) anything that happened prior to January 20, 2009. They know that fact-checking will come too late. They know that right-wing voters will repeat any and all lies simply because they’re wildly desperate to get rid of the African-American liberal with the exotic non-presidential name in the White House.
Speaking of which, if you think the welfare line of attack is a racial dog-whistle, you’re goddamn right. Republicans only ever bring up perceived Democratic weakness on welfare when they’re trying to motivate the angry, resentful white base. So this particular commercial combines a whopper lie about the president’s record with some bonus Southern Strategy politics as the gravy.
By Chez Pazienza: There are a few subjects that I feel like I’ve written about so often that when they inevitably come up again, I’m at a loss to say anything about them that I haven’t said before. It’s one of the occupational hazards of blogging steadily for six years: You just run out of clever twists to put on the subjects you’re passionate about and which inspire you to speak up and so you essentially wind up recycling all your previous points and arguments while hoping no one notices how tedious you’ve become. (This is known as “Greenwalding.”) Among my cast of rotating regular topics, there’s Nancy Grace doing something despicable, Fox News doing something unethical and not giving a damn what anyone thinks about it, and the subject I’ve been embroiled in an ongoing online debate over for the past few days: a comedian or entertainer saying something offensive and the whole world losing its fucking mind.
By now you’re probably well aware of the person and incident at the center of the latest episode of the long-running pop culture series, “You’re Not Allowed To Say That Because It’ll Make Me Cry.” Last week, stand-up comic, wildly popular TV host and all-around snarky asshole Daniel Tosh made a crack about how “rape jokes are always funny” during a set at the Laugh Factory in L.A. when an apparently offended woman in the audience spoke up and took him to task for it, reportedly saying that “rape jokes are never funny.” Supposedly, Tosh’s response was something along the lines of, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that girl got raped by, like, 5 guys right now? Like right now? What if a bunch of guys just raped her.” For the record, that’s the most times the word “rape” has appeared in any single paragraph I’ve ever written. (The previous record was three.)
Now being that this is the 21st century and we’ve evolved to the point where no one should ever be offended by anything, the aggrieved audience member didn’t simply leave the club and tell herself that since Tosh’s comedy wasn’t her particular brand of vodka and he’d been a dick to her, she’d never watch him again — she of course went right to a friend with a Tumblr account and related her outrage over being offended by a comic who delights in offending people, at a comedy show she’d paid money to be at and then took it upon herself to heckle. That friend, offended herself by the comment she didn’t actually hear and wasn’t aware of the comedic context of, immediately banged out a post about what her friend had told her and breathed that fireball right out into the ether, no doubt presuming that others just like her would also be shocked and outraged by the comment they didn’t hear at the comedy show they didn’t attend delivered by the comic they probably didn’t like already. And so it began. And snowballed. Into a fucking ridiculous maelstrom. The way this kind of thing always does.
Welcome to America, circa 2012: the Indignation Nation.
Like Denis Leary, Bill Maher, Tracy Morgan, Gilbert Gottfried and so on before him — to say nothing of the legion of non-comedic types who’ve either unintentionally breached the nationally agreed-upon etiquette when it comes to what can and can’t be said or have just accidentally blurted out something stupid — Daniel Tosh now gets to face the wrath of the general public and be subjected to the standard offense/outrage cycle that’s become a fact of life in the age of digital media. And that’s really what it is — a cycle, a mechanism. And that’s the problem. Because while it may be completely reasonable for someone to face a certain set of consequences for the things he or she says, it’s gotten to the point where the reaction to hearing something we don’t like has become pretty damn unreasonable. It’s one thing to voice a complaint or to turn off the offending content and go on with our lives, but we don’t do that — not anymore. We spread our outrage like virulent wildfire across social media in the hope that our anger can become the anger of others, so that as many random people as possible can hear our roar and ultimately join in our personal pissy-party pile-on. What’s more, as the number of aggrieved mounts and the noise intensifies, the cost of satisfying us becomes higher. It no longer becomes about wanting to let the person who said something we don’t like know that he or she might have been thoughtless or cruel or uninformed — it’s about silencing that person or simply taking away his or her livelihood.
In Tosh’s case, let’s start with the original sin in this already overblown controversy — I mean besides Tosh having made what very well appears to be a harsh crack about rape. The thing about comedy is that it’s not only completely subjective, with each person alone determining what he or she thinks is funny, but it also relies more on context than just about any other art form. Hearing a joke, a crack, a bit, even a rude remark repeated outside of the setting it was delivered in and without the precise inflection that was intended for it and so on can change everything about it. When it comes to humor, there’s a fine line between inappropriate and unacceptable, and it’s easy as hell for a joke to get lost in translation. A “shock” comic can be made to seem like pure evil if his or her stuff is parroted by some idiot who doesn’t like the comedian or the material in the first place; it’s like watching Tipper Gore read WASP lyrics, with a stern voice and a look on her face like she just sucked on a lemon, all those years ago. And that’s the thing: Almost nobody who’s currently having a meltdown over Tosh’s “rape joke” has any idea not only what the mood was like or what the full context was in that club on that night — they don’t even know what was actually said. It’s not like we’re getting this story with accompanying YouTube video, à la Michael Richards; we’re getting it third hand, not even from the audience member herself but from a friend of hers relaying it. Again, that’s a shitload of room for tiny, very important details to get lost in — and it should effectively temper the level of outrage.
But just for argument’s sake, let’s say Daniel Tosh did make a crack to a heckler that wondered what it would be like if she were suddenly gang-raped. So what? He obviously wasn’t the least bit serious and was playing the line for a laugh because that’s what he does. That’s the kind of comic he is, and anyone in the audience that night knew this. Tosh is host of a show that’s currently the most popular thing on Comedy Central several times over; his stuff is readily available and it’s not like somebody with a reputation like his was just gonna sneak up on you, especially not if you paid to be there that night. What’s really interesting is that Tosh says things on his show that I think are quite a bit more demeaning and tasteless than the Laugh Factory line but the people who are now clutching their figurative pearls over this particular joke — one that again they didn’t hear and that wasn’t intended for them — very likely never raised an eyebrow when Tosh was mischievously taking shots in every other direction. I get that kind of selective outrage a lot on my site, the subheading of which is “Making a Mockery of Mockery”: People love it and laugh along when I’m offensive — until I finally offend them.
The late, great Patrice O’Neal made an entire career out of pissing just about everybody off — even his biggest fans. He had a way of verbally beating the crap out of an audience but then at the very last minute reeling it in and wrapping his big arms around it. It was exhilarating, dangerous comedy — and it’s what made him a kind of genius. Patrice used to say that when it came to comments that people took offense to, you had to look at the intent versus the impact. True, you can be negligent in how you use language, but for the most part it’s easy to tell whether someone is serious when he or she says something. That’s the intent. The impact is often out of the person doing the talking’s hands. People interpret shit the way they interpret it. For a comic, that means that some will think it’s funny and some won’t, but if that comic offends then you have to look at the intent — and obviously the intent of a comedian is always to make people laugh. How he or she does it varies: some tell stories, some make simplistic jokes, some become characters — and some throw bombs. The goal of the comedian who pushes the limits of what we’d normally consider appropriate is to test us, to test our societal constraints and make us question them, to smash taboos and ask us to kill our idols. Because there’s a kind of self-imposed oppression in the rules many of us live by and freedom on the other side.
Here’s where I repeat something I’ve said a few times before, but I really can’t put it any better way: Comics stand as the vanguard of our right to free speech — the canary in the coal mine, so to speak. They’re the ones we count on to be able to push the envelope, challenge our sensibilities, even offend us occasionally because it’s necessary for us as a culture. The world would be a much more tedious place without comedians willing to truly put themselves out there and take risks — to make fun of the sacrosanct and vilify the revered if necessary — and their ability to do that should be protected at all costs. Making them grovel before the altar of political correctness, in the end, damages all of us.
I’m not saying that Tosh or anyone else should just blurt out anything and not expect a backlash to it. If there weren’t a price to be paid for it, it wouldn’t be worth saying in the first place. But there’s a difference between expressing disapproval and cranking up the entire concentrated, high-powered outrage industry for every little fucking thing that rattles our fragile cages. The indignation machine quickly takes on a life of its own and barrels out of control, and what you wind up with is what we’re seeing now: demands for an apology that was already given and that wasn’t owed to 99.9% of the people who now expect it; article after article by people who feel that it’s their personal responsibility to educate Daniel Tosh on the right and wrong way to do a rape joke simply because they don’t find his jokes funny (as if there’s ever a right and wrong way to do comedy); the breathless and heavy-handed elevation of a fucking rude comedy show crack into a “teachable moment” about women’s issues; and of course, the inevitable push to get Tosh completely taken off the air at Comedy Central. Because he should lose his job and be forced to wander the earth in sack-cloth eating bugs for 40 years because somebody didn’t like what he said to a heckler at a comedy club.
And the intent of all of this is clear: to ensure that the next comic thinks twice before saying something somebody might find offensive and inexcusable. As for the impact if the outrage machine gets its way and the aggrieved receive the satisfaction they feel they’re owed: the next comic may do just that. Maybe then we’ll have won a victory in the long war to make sure we live in a world where nobody’s sensibilities are ever threatened. But it’ll be a world that’s a hell of a lot less interesting.
By Ben Cohen: On a fairly regular basis, I’m asked to comment on various political and economic issues on the RT network (the English language Russian news network). I enjoy going on the shows and engaging in debate and commentary that is never seen on regular cable news. RT has hired a bunch of young, hungry journalists and presenters in the US who make it their business to cover topics the mainstream media routinely avoids. It’s a great news network and other more established players could learn a great deal from them about the meaning of actual journalism and commentary.
It’s always a bit strange seeing yourself on television – you rarely look and sound the way you think you do, and rather than focusing on the topic of the conversation, I find myself critiquing my mannerism more than anything else. Anyhow, I make it a habit of watching my interviews on youtube so I can get better at articulating myself and getting across my point intelligently for the next time, and I often look at the comments section to see whether there are any relevant observations. Sometimes there are, and the comments can be interesting and entertaining. More often than not however, the comments section is filled with some of the most hateful, racist venom I’ve ever seen.
In everyday life, interactions in person are generally friendly and polite. Online, they can be vicious and nasty, devoid of feeling and completely alien to regular human contact. And as our lives increasingly shift online, we could be in danger of losing the ability to connect properly with other people.
Here are a selection of some of the comments from my latest interview on immigration with RT’s Abby Martin:
xAnonymousTruth’s comment about deporting ‘all these Jews in our government’ received more ‘likes’ from other users than any of the others and is displayed at the top underneath the video. I’m sure most of the viewers are watching in order to see political issues covered in an intelligent and thoughtful way, but it seems that an awful lot of people who want to engage in the debate through the commenting section have some serious psychological problems.
I used to work as a boxing journalist when I lived in Los Angeles, and posted video interviews on youtube with some pretty famous boxers (you can still find them online I believe). The last time I engaged with a youtube commenter (or ‘troll’ as they are referred to in internet speak) was way back in 2007. I was responding to an anti semitic comment he made implying I had something to do with rigging fights, and since then, I stopped bothering to engage with them. I actually saved the back and forth because I thought it was so funny (and disturbing):
Me: Please do not post anti semitic rantings on my video. I am a boxing journalist, not a promoter. I have nothing to do with making money out of fighters. I simply report on the sport. I suggest you go and do some reading to improve your simple minded views about jewish people. Grow up.
Troll: shurrup u bich. i said thank you to the business orientated jewish people. do u have comprehension problems?????? u c**t i said it is a GOOD THING> i was biggin em up. now f**k off with your over sensitive pc dispostion and lock yourself up you c**t if you cant face the real world
I was mostly astonished that someone that stupid had the confidence to talk about issues pertaining to culture and business – I would have thought porn and bare knuckle boxing would have been more up his street. After all, that’s mostly what youtube is used for, isn’t it?
I don’t take any of the vicious comments personally – I’ve been working as a journalist in the internet age for far too long, but it does make me wonder about how desensitized people have become to others from the safety of their parent’s basements. I’m sure most of the trolls are harmless teenagers with social problems, venting their frustrations online because they have nowhere else to let it out – but a generation brought up on online has the potential to be shaped by the culture sites like youtube foster, and it could potentially be quite dangerous. There is already a worrying culture of cyberbullying amongst young people where texting and facebook messages are used to victimize others, and it can be just as psychologically devastating as face to face bullying (and in some cases more so when private photos are spread on social networks).
Two weeks ago, a 68 year old widow was verbally abused for over 10 minutes by a group of cruel teenage boys. The taunts were so bad the elderly bus monitor was reduced to tears, and the teenagers thought it so hilarious that they posted the footage onto youtube. The bus monitor was not a human being to them, but an object to be ridiculed.
The horrific episode was significant from a cultural point of view as it displayed the convergence of completely desensitized cyber culture with real life human interaction.
And the problem was that the young boys saw no difference.
From Information Week:
Google warns that government attempts to remove online information are increasing and that some of the governments making censorship requests are Western democracies.
U.S. authorities, for example, made 6,192 requests seeking the removal of information from Google during the second half of 2011, the company said in a report published Sunday. In the first half of 2011, the U.S. government made 757 such requests.
In the U.K., authorities made 847 information removal requests during the second half of 2011, up from 333 during the first half of that year.
Google began documenting government data requests in September 2010, when it first published its Transparency Report. Prior to that, the company published data about service accessibility in China, but not elsewhere.
Google’s mission to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible both pleases and vexes governments around the world. On the one hand, governments find Google’s store of data irresistible as a form of surveillance; on the other hand, they resent the role Google plays in facilitating the publication of data without prior approval and making such data available via search query.
Google made its name as a champion of personal privacy in 2005 when, unlike AOL, Microsoft, or Yahoo, it resisted a Department of Justice subpoena for its store of Internet search data. The DOJ sought the information to help it uphold the 1998 Child Online Protection Act (COPA), which was ultimately ruled unconstitutional.
Since then, the pressure on Google and other companies with stores of online data has only increased. Over the weekend, Google published information about government data requests from the July to December 2011 period.
I received a fair few emails about my piece defending George Monbiot against Noam Chomsky, most of them supporting Chomsky’s point of view. My take was pretty one sided – I believe that Chomsky was way off the mark and was completely unfair to Monbiot, who was asking him a relatively straight forward question that Chomsky didn’t seem to want to answer.
A friend of mine, Jan Frel (former editor of Alternet) engaged in a conversation with me about the article on the comments section, and I think he brought up some pretty good points. I will always look for ways to be lenient with Chomsky given his extraordinary contribution to human knowledge, and I think Jan’s explanation at least helps understand Chomsky’s side. Here’s the dialogue:
Jan: Monbiot is good sometimes, fishy others. I emailed him some simple questions about his support for the nuclear industry after he endorsed it, and he couldn’t answer them, as in: he didn’t. Monbiot disappoints often, but is also often good. Chomsky, at age 82 or whatever he is, I have a lot of charity for, especially on the question of genocide, especially when it comes to questions of genocide in former Yugoslavia, since there is an ongoing geopolitical campaign to overstate the number of corpses created there. There’s a lot of back story on that one, and one constant trend is to instill in our memories that pre-NATO/US political-military intervention, there was the potential for enormous horrific bloodshed, and that this was in full swing until the US came in there.
Me: Interesting point Jan – I do agree that Chomsky is worthy of a lot of charity – he’s done an inhuman amount of good work and can be forgiven for taking his eyes off the ball at his age. I just think that this time, he was way off the mark and was clearly not answering Monbiot’s questions because he probably knew he was wrong.
Jan: Right, there is that point that the guy may well not have read the book, but there’s a fairly involved history here. It becomes apparent if you watch a handful of Chomsky talks on YouTube and his article archive on Chomsky.info, and his essays available on Nexis on state terror and genocide denial and the fairly sophisticated and counter intuitive methods of undermining scholarly work on the topic that he and his colleagues endured since he got in the business starting with Vietnam, proceeding to East Timor, and then in Nicaragua and beyond. Scholars and journalists did employ exactly the method that Monbiot did, and many of its cousins, and when Chomsky was fully on his game, he refuted them. At this point it’s probably reflexive for Chomsky to respond the way he did, and meanwhile, he very well may not have read the book he blurbed, which is quite a common thing. I think Chomsky felt secure about the book because he and Herman did a book together I believe.
I think Jan is probably right – I’ve seen Chomsky refute a lot of journalists for completely ignoring the crimes of their own country while focusing on those on the ‘official enemies’ list (his take down of the BBC’s Andrew Marr for example, was absolutely devastating) – and I think he just reverted to type when dealing with Monbiot. The thing is, he completely underestimated his subject and got caught out. Rather than back track and apologize, Chomsky continued his attack and came off looking petty and arrogant.
Still, it doesn’t undermine the work Chomsky has done over the years, and that’s why his spat with Monbiot is probably best put down to a bit of age weariness.
By Bob Cesca: There’s a YouTube video circulating throughout the right-wing blogosphere showing an older woman sobbing out loud while an airport TSA security official pats down her legs. The woman is clearly very upset by the indignity she’s suffering in the name of simply getting on airplane — a process already packed with an increasing list of indignities.
And you know what? I don’t blame her for being upset. The security situation at airports is far beyond reasonable and, in most cases, is a clear Fourth Amendment violation. But of course conservatives like Gateway Pundit are shockingly amnesic for suggesting that President Obama is exclusively to blame for this.
The title of the YouTube video, “Sobbing Woman Suffers Obama TSA Patdown” is pure intellectual violence and stunningly ignorant times a thousand. And the Gateway Pundit item, too-cleverly trying to turn the “war on women” line against Democrats, is textbook “I know you are but what am I” conservative childishness.
For eight years, the fear of death was drilled into our heads by post-9/11 Republican fear-mongers. Throughout the duration of the Bush years, anyone who opposed heightened security measures and unconstitutional trespasses were shouted down as being “terrorist sympathizers” who are undermining American security and endangering the troops, while evildoers were lurking under our beds like jittery suicide-toe-monsters ready to spring forth and crash airplanes into our feet.
In those years, “patriotism” was defined by the speed and vigor by which we gave up our civil liberties in lieu of a lot of extra security. You might recall how, for example, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, in a pathetic display of both childish pants-peeing and authoritarian manipulation, totally fell apart during a speech — publicly sobbing over the opposition to President Bush’s demand for illegal wiretaps, explaining how another September 11 was inevitable unless the government was allowed to eavesdrop on American citizens.
Furthermore, I don’t recall any Democrats, least of all President Obama, who said anything resembling this:
“You have no civil liberties if you are dead.” –Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS
“None of your civil liberties matter much after you’re dead.” –Senator “Big John” Cornyn, R-TX
“Our civil liberties are worthless if we are dead! If you are dead and pushing up daisies, if you’re sucking dirt inside a casket, do you know what your civil liberties are worth? Zilch, zero, nada.” –Rush Limbaugh
Put another way: take the pat-down like a man, you sniveling old lady, your constitutional rights are irrelevant if you’re dead.
All of these airport security policies, especially the naked body scanners, were invented by Republicans in an atmosphere of manufactured fear during conservative control of, well, everything. In fact, Janet Napolitano’s predecessor, Bush administration Homeland Security Secretary Michael “Shirt Off” Chertoff runs a security consulting firm whose clients include the manufacturers of the naked body scanner machines.
Consequently, most Americans are still trapped inside a nationwide panic room despite the reality of the so-called “terrorist threat.” Polls indicate 81 percent support for the body scanners, even though, contrary to the Bush Republican bed-wetting, there is no terrorist threat. It simply doesn’t exist as a serious danger to you or your family. Nate Silver, arguably one of the leading statisticians of our time, calculated that your odds of dying in an airborne terror attack are 1 in 10,408,947. Conversely, yours odds of dying from a fall off a ladder is 1 in 10,010, according to Foreign Policy magazine. Your odds of committing suicide are 1 in 121. Fact: you’re more of a threat to yourself than any terrorist.
So why do we submit to unconstitutional airport molestation? Mainly because the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were so horribly dramatic and shocking, airborne terrorism has taken on a greatly inflated level of crisis — in spite of the statistically impossible odds of it happening to you. Therefore, way too many Americans acquiesce to humiliating and unconstitutional gropings and pornographic photography in order to convey ourselves quickly from one point to another.
Yes, President Obama ought to put an end to this nonsense. And soon. Already, the administration has rolled back some of the more inane security policies at airports. Nevertheless, more steps should be taken to stop the madness beginning with those naked body scanners and certainly the intrusive pat-downs. Just because he hasn’t done it yet doesn’t mean he’s responsible for the policies themselves or the climate of fear in which they were invented.
If your junk is groped at an airport, thank a Republican.
Newt Gingrich is dramatically curtailing his campaign schedule, laying off about a third of his staff and dismissing his campaign manager as he focuses on a last-ditch effort to win the Republican presidential nomination at the party’s convention.
Gingrich’s strategy hinges on preventing front-runner Mitt Romney from winning the 1,144 delegates he needs for the nomination, Gingrich spokesman RC Hammond said Tuesday night. The former House speaker plans to spend much less time in primary states and instead personally call delegates to try to persuade them to back him at the Republican National Convention in August.
“We are not going to cede to Mitt Romney’s strategy to take the party down,” Hammond said. Ultimately, Gingrich would take the fight to the convention floor, Hammond said.
The new strategy doesn’t change Gingrich’s promise to support Romney if Romney collects the necessary delegates before the party convenes in Tampa, Fla., Hammond said.
In the meantime, Gingrich planned to shift the campaign’s focus to digital outreach – in particular Twitter, YouTube and other social media.
Gingrich’s campaign manager, Michael Krull, was asked to resign. Hammond and campaign communications director Joe DeSantis will remain with the campaign. Both have been working for Gingrich for more than a year, even as a group of consultants quit the campaign last summer.
The growing ranks of Syria’s disaffected appeared to get a high-profile addition Wednesday, when a man identifying himself as Abdo Hussam el Din, the country’s deputy oil minister, announced in a video posted on YouTube that he was defecting from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“I am joining the revolution of this noble people who will not accept injustice,” says the man in Arabic. “I’ve been part of this government for 33 years and I have acquired many titles, and I do not want to retire serving the crimes of this regime.” He appears to be the same man pictured on the government’s oil website, which says he was appointed deputy oil minister in August 2009.
“I decided to join the voice of the righteous despite the notion that this regime will burn my house and harass my family and will invent many lies,” he adds.
The announcement came on the same day that the United Nations emergency relief chief met in Syria with top government officials and visited an area ravaged by weeks of government attacks, describing it as devastated. Read more on CNN….
by Ben Cohen
TechCrunch reports on a bizarre case when London based artist Calvin Harris found his own music removed from youtube. Harris apparently wasn't informed before the song was removed, and needless to say, wasn't particularly happy. Here is his response on his twitter page (be warned, strong language):
According to TechCrunch, youtube wasn't technically to blame, and Harris was mostly angry at his recording label:
Harris’ strong words are directed mostly at the BPI,
‘the representative voice of the UK recorded music business’ according
to the organization’s website, who apparently filed the DMCA complaint
in this case.
Harris probably overreacted given the company had his best interests at heart – after all, if someone was infringing on the copyrights to his music, his value as an artist ultimately suffers.