Hey Australia!

Thanks to commenter Bill! Australia, your mission should you choose to accept it- Adam Curtis’ The Way of All Flesh is sitting on a shelf in a Sydney library (Customs House) in vhs form, so…if some heroic Aussie (or indeed anyone in the vicinity with library access) wanted to take it out and digitise it (returning the vhs tape to the library of course) and upload the digitised version to the web (eg. Google vid), then let the world know… they would receive much gratitude and global renown!

In case search links breaks-

City of Sydney Library Catalogue.

Customs House Branch (looks lovely, although I’m sure they would bring it to your nearest branch).

Blackwater Goes Navy

Every invasion an opportunity, the Empire took Somalia and now-

Navy Times (US)– The contractor Blackwater Worldwide is in talks with 13 shipping companies interested in hiring the firm’s ship to escort their cargo vessels through the pirate-plagued waters off the Horn of Africa, the company’s president said.

Blackwater CEO Erik Prince said the world’s shipping firms are eager for as much protection as possible for their vessels, partly because the U.S. and international warships in the Gulf of Aden haven’t done enough to stop or dissuade piracy.

Prince appeared Sunday on “This Week in Defense News,” a television show hosted by Navy Times’ sister publication, Defense News. He said the 20,000 ships that travel past the Horn of Africa each year could provide a steady market for protection services.

The U.S. and international navies that patrol the Gulf of Aden have been stymied by a thicket of legal confusion about what capabilities they have to fight pirates on the high seas and in Somali waters. Adm. Mark Fitzgerald, commander of Naval Forces Europe, told reporters Oct. 21 that NATO is debating rules of engagement for dealing with pirates.

AP- The growing interest among merchant fleets to hire their own firepower is encouraged by the U.S. Navy and represents a new and potential lucrative market for security firms scaling back operations in Iraq.

“This is a great trend,” said Lt. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the Bahrain-based U.S. 5th Fleet. “We would encourage shipping companies to take proactive measures to help ensure their own safety.”

Yeah, it’s a great trend.

Culture For ‘Em: Tinker Bell Can Fuck Off

So we have gained back our annual hour and BST/DST is over here (dark evenings await), we are back on GMT and as such all the clocks that do not take care of themselves need changing…so, I was helping change my mother’s clocks and to get the video clock spot on I used the speaking clock on the telephone and found…well this is how I described it before I knew what the story was- an irritating Disneyfied American cartoon voice. And indeed it is The Tinkerbell, Disney are sponsoring /advertising by their wretched little fairy speaking in cloyingly perky American cartoon-esque “Hi! It’s Tinker Bell. At the third bell, the time will be …”. Like I need more reasons to hate B-friggin’-T

At the third stroke, the voice of the speaking clock is going to sound like someone who is away with the fairies. Tinker Bell, once Peter Pan’s famously speechless accomplice from Never Never Land, will be marking time for millions of people over the next three months.

From the moment summer time ends early on Sunday morning, the sound of a 72-year-old British institution will change dramatically. The rushed high-pitched tones of Mae Whitman, the young American actor who provides the less-than-ethereal voice for a cartoon version of the fairy, will announce: “Hi! It’s Tinker Bell. At the third bell, the time will be …”

BT is marking the end of British summer time in a sponsorship deal with Disney, which is releasing a DVD and Blu-Ray film named after JM Barrie’s creation next month.

After Sunday, the traditional time pips will be replaced with a jaunty bell noise and there will be no calm British voice telling us what particular moment we are living in. The makers of Tinker Bell – an animated film set before the Peter Pan story – deny this is a transatlantic intrusion.

Brad Raymond, the director of the film, said: “Tinker Bell’s voice has warmth, clarity and friendliness so we’re delighted that she is being given this magical opportunity to be heard by millions. She is a natural choice for such an important job, given her very British heritage.”

What? It’s an American actress doing an American cartoon character voice from a movie (and now this prequel, lordy) taken from a British book and now this is a US corporation and an American voice telling us the British time, so the cultural imperialism is twofold (but if America wants the Royal family they’re welcome, no really take them, please). Although in terms of British heritage perhaps satirically accurate, bought by a corporation, Americanised then sold back. It’s hilarious listening to kids play, if they watch a lot of Disney Channel they put on US accents and guess where the niece gang were yesterday? Yep High School-friggin’- Musical 3. But that’s really all academic, who’s gonna argue The Wire, OZ, Twin Peaks, Cheers or Hill Street Blues (and anyone remember Picket Fences, kinda liked that) to name but a few weren’t welcome cultural masterpieces. It’s annoying because, well it’s fucking Disney perky-land doing automatic time updates, how about Hugo Chávez does Moviefone? Is this revenge for Simon Cowell? In which case, fair enough.

Huge March Against Berlusconi’s Fascism

(Reuters) – Hundreds of thousands of Italians marched through Rome on Saturday to protest against Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative government, which the left accuses of flirting with fascism. Opposition leader Walter Veltroni, who lost to Berlusconi at an April election, addressed a crowd at Rome’s ancient chariot track Circus Maximus which organisers say numbered 2.5 million.

The rally was not aimed against any particular policies — unlike dozens of smaller demonstrations over recent days protesting reforms to the school system — but was meant to buoy centre-left voters who feel their opinions are being trampled.

In an alliance with two right wing parties, the 72-year media tycoon Berlusconi has a strong majority in parliament.

Among his earliest policies have been the dismantling of gypsy shanty towns, putting soldiers on city streets and guaranteeing immunity from prosecution for himself and a handful of other top officials.

Flirting?