Oh By The Way, Which One’s Pink?

Music corporations shut down the UK voucher system for Allofmp3 with this to say-

BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said: “British music fans should be aware of voucher schemes like this one that seek to prop up an illegal service that rips off artists.”

John Kennedy, chairman of the global record industry’s IFPI group, said: “The action announced today is the latest to highlight allofmp3.com’s long and undistinguished history of stealing music from artists, composers and record producers and selling it at a profit.”-

You see ripping people off is their job, as Trent Reznor can attest-

As the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more. A couple of examples that quickly come to mind:

* The ABSURD retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia. Shame on you, UMG. Year Zero is selling for $34.99 Australian dollars ($29.10 US). No wonder people steal music. Avril Lavigne’s record in the same store was $21.99 ($18.21 US).
By the way, when I asked a label rep about this his response was: “It’s because we know you have a real core audience that will pay whatever it costs when you put something out – you know, true fans. It’s the pop stuff we have to discount to get people to buy.”
So… I guess as a reward for being a “true fan” you get ripped off.

* The dreaded EURO Maxi-single. Nothing but a consumer rip-off that I’ve been talked into my whole career. No more.

The point is, I am trying my best to make sure the music and items NIN puts in the marketplace have value, substance and are worth you considering purchasing. I am not allowing Capital G to be repackaged into several configurations that result in you getting ripped off. We are planning a full-length remix collection of substance that will be announced soon.

Allofmp3 were no great thing, this was a small outfit being stomped on by the big boys the threat they really posed was to the pricing structure, the industry bodies claiming the moral high ground is rank hypocrisy. People want to make music and people want to listen to music and they are happy to support artists they like, sooner or later I hope technology removes the barrier layer of the music industry and this exchange between artist and audience becomes direct thus an album would cost less but the artist receives more. This prospect is the real threat the industry is fighting, they actually have no place in the future other than marketing and there will be no monopoly on that. This is also about the egalitarian impulse which runs counter to profit driven capitalism which always amounts to a tiny few becoming very rich, in this instance the means to become rich are artists making music, but it could as easily be toothpaste, they don’t care. And the artists who cooperate with this system should get ripped off, the joy music gives should not be held hostage by ego maniacs and accountants with coke habits.

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The Supreme Empire Of War Without End

Read the full piece by Frida Berrigan here.

First in Oil Consumption:
The United States burns up 20.7 million barrels per day, the equivalent of the oil consumption of China, Japan, Germany, Russia, and India combined.

First in Carbon Dioxide Emissions:
Each year, world polluters pump 24,126,416,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) into the environment. The United States and its territories are responsible for 5.8 billion metric tons of this, more than China (3.3 billion), Russia (1.4 billion), and India (1.2 billion) combined.

First in External Debt:
The United States owes $10.040 trillion, nearly a quarter of the global debt total of $44 trillion.

First in Military Expenditures:
The White House has requested $481 billion for the Department of Defense for 2008, but this huge figure does not come close to representing total U.S. military expenditures projected for the coming year. To get a sense of the resources allocated to the military, the costs of the global war on terrorism, of the building, refurbishing, or maintaining of the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and other expenses also need to be factored in. Military analyst Winslow Wheeler did the math recently: “Add $142 billion to cover the anticipated costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; add $17 billion requested for nuclear weapons costs in the Department of Energy; add another $5 billion for miscellaneous defense costs in other agencies … and you get a grand total of $647 billion for 2008.”
The United States alone spends what the rest of the world combined devotes to military expenditures.

First in Weapons Sales:
Since 2001, U.S. global military sales have normally totaled between $10 and $13 billion. That’s a lot of weapons, but in fiscal year 2006, the Pentagon broke its own recent record, inking arms sales agreements worth $21 billion. It almost goes without saying that this is significantly more than any other nation in the world.

First in Military Training:
A thoughtful empire knows that it is not enough to send weapons; you have to teach people how to use them. The Pentagon plans on training the militaries of 138 nations in 2008 at a cost of nearly $90 million. No other nation comes close.

First in Private Military Personnel:
According to best-selling author Jeremy Scahill, there are at least 126,000 private military personnel deployed alongside uniformed military personnel in Iraq alone. Of the more than 60 major companies that supply such personnel worldwide, more than 40 are U.S.-based.

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Kuwait Cuts Free From The Dollar

Kuwait’s central bank has unpegged the dinar from the tumbling US dollar, throwing plans for currency union with other Gulf countries into disarray.
The bank, which battled speculators for weeks to defend the peg, said the dinar will now be linked to a basket of currencies.
It said the dollar’s fall against other currencies had forced it to break ranks with fellow Gulf states to contain inflation from the rising cost of some imports.

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NATO *Hearts* Fake Cowboy Bush

A relaxed President Bush welcomed NATO’s top diplomat to his ranch Sunday for talks to be dominated by the surging violence in Afghanistan. Bush and first lady Laura Bush greeted Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and his wife, Jeannine, in late afternoon sunshine after the guests arrived by helicopter. “A little slice of heaven,” Bush said of his 1,600-acre getaway from Washington. The president, in blue jeans and cowboy boots, then climbed in his extended-cab pickup truck and drove the couples down the road — men in the front seat, women in the back seat. The invitation for an overnight stay at the ranch is considered a coup, a way for the White House to underscore its commitment to NATO and its leader, de Hoop Scheffer.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were among the dignitaries joining them. The Bush administration is urging some European allies to provide more troops to fight Taliban forces in southern Afghanistan and to lift restrictions on how and where soldiers can fight.

Moscow has opposed successive enlargements of NATO into Eastern Europe. NATO’s likely expansion into the Balkans does not please Russia, but the Kremlin has shown even more concern about the prospect that neighbors Ukraine and Georgia may be brought into the alliance. Russia is also critical of U.S. plans to install radar and interceptors in Eastern Europe as part of a missile defense program, another source of growing tension between the countries.

Hmm, first the news NATO are working with big oil to lend their muscle then the head goes to the oil administration’s heart to talk missile shields that don’t work but do consolidate the Empire by provoking it’s opponents. And no mention of Iran, which makes me a little worried like in bad jungle adventure movie, “it’s quiet, too quiet.” They are most likely talking about it, but the MSM aren’t tracking it, just like Iraq in 2001 & 2002, hmmm-

There are a few civilians who were brought into the Pentagon during the first term to essentially pursue a regime change option. Some are still there working for a small six-person Iran office whose de facto head is Abram Shulsky, who formerly led the controversial Office of Special Plans. In the White House, some in the Vice President’s office are believed to be skeptical that Tehran will alter its nuclear plans in response to diplomatic or economic pressure. A few people who worked for Liz Cheney at the State Department also favor regime change for Iran, and Syria too. Outside of the administration, Richard Perle and Michael Ledeen at the American Enterprise Institute champion the idea of an Iranian opposition movement rising up to overthrow the regime with American support. There’s another group of mostly conservative former officials who want the U.S. to take the Mujahedeen e-Khalq off the list of terrorist groups and work with them to overthrow the Tehran regime.

the U.S. has set up “listening posts” in countries with large Iranian communities—the U.A.E., Azerbaijan, Germany, Turkey, the U.K. –and has created a virtual U.S. embassy for Iran in neighboring Dubai, where it talks to people coming out from Iran, arranges cultural events, and almost certainly gathers intelligence.

there’s not a great desire at the State Department or the Pentagon for another war. Some of this depends on what happens in Iraq and the larger region. If by September the “surge” is deemed to be ineffective, the Bush Administration may seek to blame Iran for its continuing difficulties. So I would not be surprised later this fall to see an uptick in Iran-bashing from elements of the administration and associated constituencies trying to gin up confrontation.

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Misdirection & Disinterest

The hunger strike by over a hundred women at Yarl’s Wood is not being covered, only the Guardian, Indymedia and Socialist Worker have reported on it. Meanwhile in true demagogue stylee NuLabour are whipping up anti-immigrant sentiment with a misdirection on council house allocation covered well at Lenin’s Tomb. So on a day when the country should be convulsed with shame over the concentration camps for detaining innocent people in awful prison conditions in out midst we are instead falling for a preplanned debate that further legitimises the BNP. Here is the press release that the MSM are studiously ignoring:-

As evidence is revealed of vulnerable detainees being imprisoned in overcrowded and flooded cells while fires burned, Liberty called on the Home Office to act. They requested the Home Secretary, John Reid, to order a public inquiry into the serious disturbance that took place at Harmondsworth detention centre in west London last November and into the treatment that led detainees to desperate measures.

Liberty Legal Officer, Alex Gask said: ‘It is clear that abuses at Harmondsworth detention centre sparked the disorder in November, abuses which escalated during the disturbance itself. These men deserve a public inquiry into the ill-treatment they faced; anything less could result in legal action.’

Should the Home Secretary refuse, Liberty intends to seek a judicial review of his decision on behalf of seven detainees it is representing – an unprecedented move that would see Britain’s immigration system placed under scrutiny in the courts.

Liberty believes that hunger strikes, destructive behaviour and self-harm are now endemic in Britain’s biggest detention centres as detainees become increasingly desperate about living in what they claim are deteriorating conditions. The November disturbance at Harmondsworth was the second such incident in less than 2 ½ years. At Yarl’s Wood in Bedfordshire, more than 100 women are refusing to eat, and there have been recent reports of major disturbances at Lindholme, South Yorkshire, and at Colnbrook in Middlesex.