Illustration by Belle Mellor
Class war, generation war, war against women, war between the regions: George Osborne's autumn statement blatantly declares itself for the few against the many. Gloves are off and gauntlets down, and the nasty party bares its teeth. Here is the re-toxified Tory party, the final curtain on David Cameron's electoral charade. No more crocodile tears for the poor, no more cant about social mobility or "the most family-friendly government" or "we're all in this together". Forget "vote blue go green", with this mockery of husky-hugging. Let the planet fry.
Exposed was the extent of pain for no gain, exactly as Keynesian economists predicted, a textbook case. Things are "proving harder than anyone envisaged", says Cameron. But precisely this was envisaged by Nobel-winning economists. Extreme austerity is causing £100bn extra borrowing, not less, while everything else shrinks – most incomes (the poorest most of all), employment, order books and exports. Pre-Christmas shopping – already discounted – heralds more imminent company collapses, and the only high street growth is in pawnbrokers, charity shops and Poundlands filling up the black gaps. For all the flurry of small announcements to kickstart business, infrastructure doesn't create jobs fast enough to replace the 710,000 more public jobs to go. The iron envelope of public spending is unchanged. Osborne learns nothing from experience.
What was missing from his list? Not one penny more was taken from the top 10% of earners. Every hit fell upon those with less not more. Fat plums ripe for the plucking stayed on the tree as the poorest bore 16% of the brunt of new cuts and the richest only 3%, according to the Resolution Foundation. Over £7bn could be harvested with 40% tax relief on higher pensions, while most earners only get 20% tax relief; £2bn should be nipped from taxing bankers' bonuses, but the bank levy announced was nothing extra. There was no mansion tax on high-value properties, though owners don't even pay their fair share of council tax, and property is greatly undertaxed compared with other countries...
Ross MacManus, who has died aged 84, was a popular singer and trumpet player and in later years became well known as the father of Elvis Costello; his choice of career as a band singer, although it afforded him security and a measure of recognition, precluded him from developing his talent fully, as his son has observed publicly on several occasions. MORE
It's almost impossible to comprehend the scale of these historic photographs by Englishman Arthur S Mole and his American colleague John D Thomas, who were commissioned by the US government to take the pictures as a way to raise morale among the troops and raise money by selling the shots to the public during WWI.
In the photo above, "there are 18,000 men: 12,000 of them in the torch alone, but just 17 at the base. The men at the top of the picture are actually half a mile away from the men at the bottom," explains Arthur's great nephew Joseph Mole, 70.
Mole and Thomas were the first to use a unique technique to beat the problem of perspective after they devised a clever way of getting so many soldiers in the pictures. Joseph explains: "Arthur was able to get the image by actually drawing an outline on the lens, he then had the troops place flags in certain positions while he looked through the camera. It would take a week to get all the outlines right, but just 30 minutes to move all the men into position to take the shot. It must have been amazing to watch."
What's makes the story even more fascinating is that instead of profiting from the sale of the images produced, the photographers donated the entire income derived to the families of the returning soldiers and to this country’s efforts to re-build their lives as a part of the re-entry process... MORE
DJ Smith works with Xanax the dog in a search for drugs at a Santa Monica sober living home on Nov. 18, 2011. (John McCoy/Daily News Staff Photographer)
As DJ Smith watched Xanax, a drug-sniffing dog, search for narcotics around a sober living home, he couldn't help but think how a dog like the eager Belgian Malinois might have changed his own life.
Smith, 23, had become addicted to prescription drugs and alcohol at age 16. His family suspected, but they never knew the extent of his problem. Nor did they find the pills he'd hidden in innocuous over-the-counter medicine bottles or disguised in other ways.
So the Agoura Hills family constantly worried if and when Smith would come home at night, or if he would survive his latest hospitalization.
"Unfortunately, I didn't have a service like this," said Smith of Narc with a Bark, a North Hollywood-based business that uses Xanax the drug detection dog to find drugs in private homes and rehab facilities, and doesn't involve law enforcement.
"A service like this would have intervened a lot quicker," Smith added.
Now nine months sober and training to become Xanax's handler, Smith likes the fact that the service is geared not toward catching people with drugs in order to report them to police, but to offer solid proof of use to those interested in helping them recover.
"It's not to get anyone in trouble," said Smith, who is now working on a counseling degree. "It's not like a bust, it's not to get you expelled from school. It's strictly for gaining more information for a family that is worried and doesn't know what's going on..."
“Dozens of Iranian protesters screaming ‘death to England!’ stormed the British embassy compound in Tehran on Tuesday, tore down the British flag and ransacked the offices, according to officials in London, Iranian news dispatches and images broadcast live on Iranian state television.
“The assault came a day after Iran’s Islamic leaders moved to downgrade relations with Britain because of harsh financial sanctions imposed by the West — and Britain in particular — over Iran’s suspect nuclear program, and it appeared to be the most serious diplomatic breach between the two countries in more than 20 years of troubled relations.” @The New York Times
Jamie Woon performs "Lady Luck" at Babel in Malmö, Sweden
A very special low-key version of the song since most of his equipment got stuck on an airplane between Oslo and Malmö.
Shot by Jesper Berg & Jessica Blohmé
Edited by Jesper Berg
Thanks to Babel babelmalmo.se
Richard James came up with the idea of controlling a 48 piece string section and a 24 strong choir by remote control, using midi controllers, lots of headphones and some remote visual cues, after being commissioned to write some pieces for the European culture congress in Poland.
There was only one opportunity for a rehearsal to see if the idea worked, it was in the morning, the day of the concert!
This is the result.
See the other Aphex Twin edits for this show here = http://vimeo.com/album/1735255
See all other performances from the show here http://www.youtube.com/user/fixedmachine#grid/user/CFB3F7A0029A764C
Visual interface design by weirdcore Via
Media reports of two deaths at the weekend in the same party venue have once again been accompanied by police suggestions that the drug responsible is ecstasy that may be from a "contaminated" batch. Speculation as to the cause of these tragic deaths is unhelpful, and recent experience with mephedrone has shown such preliminary comments are often quite wrong, we will know the truth only when toxicology results are reported.
Users of club drugs are exhorted to attend hospital casualty departments if they feel ill; this is good general advice for anyone that is feeling ill after taking drugs, whether legal or controlled. While deaths from MDMA are now quite uncommon following the instigation of health-promotion regulations such as free water and chill-out rooms in dance clubs, they are still very regrettable and hugely distressing to family and friends. So is there anything that could be done to reduce risks to the users of this and other recreational drugs?
This is a topic the Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (ISCD) has considered at some length over the past years, and on which we have taken evidence of good practice elsewhere. We need to abandon the current government approach that relies on fear of harms underpinned by ignorance of what drugs users are taking as the prime approach. This has failed, and will continue to do so, for young people are relatively uninterested in possible threats to health. It may even make things worse as often young drugs users are fearful of seeking medical help for themselves or their friends because of the real threat of police prosecution.
We should replace it with a knowledge-based approach to their keeping safe. This should be based on the Dutch Drugs Information and Monitoring System (Dims), a nationwide network of hospital-based labs that will analyse substances with no questions asked. Users – or those considering use – can have their purchases analysed free from any risk of prosecution. The turnaround time is in the order of days and when they collect the information on their purchase they are told about its nature and given advice on its dosing, adverse effects and safety. This then reduces the risk to the user (provided they take the advice) and, vitally, also provides the government with information on what drugs are being used. In this way, trends in purity can be quickly established and new entrants to the market detected very early.
Sadly in the UK, we do not apply anything so sophisticated and logical. Instead, we rely on a few test purchases and some amnesty bin surveys to gather information – and no clear personalised guidance can be given. The UK coroners system is slow, often taking months after the death for the analysis of drugs in the body to be completed and usually it's months before the final coroner's assessment of the contribution that these made to the death is reported. The current proposed reorganisation of coroners and the disbanding of the Forensic Science Service that provided much of the analytical tools for drug detection will make the situation even worse. The new early warning system announced as part of the new drugs bill has not since been formulated and, without investment in a structured approach, is unlikely to be useful except in retrospect.
When I was chair of the Advisory Council on Misuse of Drugs I wrote to the then home secretary, Jacqui Smith, suggesting that the UK might benefit from a conversation with the Dutch experts about their system and the evidence base that has emerged from it over the past decade, I received a very clear message that the government had no interest in this approach.
Perhaps the coalition might like to rethink? David Nutt @'The Guardian'
A landmark 2006 study, analyzing data from a large survey of Americans, found that atheists “are less likely to be accepted, publicly and privately, than any others from a long list of ethnic, religious and other minority groups.” Writing in the American Sociological Review,researchers noted that “while rejection of Muslims may have spiked in post-9/11 America, rejection of atheists was higher.”
So why are atheists “among the least liked people … in most of the world,” in the words of a research team led by University of British Columbia psychologist Will Gervais? In a newly published paper, he and his colleagues provide evidence supporting a plausible explanation.
Atheists, they argue, are widely viewed as people you cannot trust.
“People use cues of religiosity as a signal for trustworthiness,” the researchers write in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.Given that “trustworthiness is the most valued trait in other people,” this mental equation engenders a decidedly negative attitude toward nonbelievers.
Gervais and his colleagues approach this phenomenon from an evolutionary perspective. “A number of researchers have argued that religious beliefs may have been one of several mechanisms allowing people to cooperate in large groups, by in effect outsourcing social monitoring and punishment to supernatural agents,” they write.
Religion, in other words, has served a specific function throughout much of human history (beyond assuaging existential fears): It keeps people in line, discouraging them from engaging in selfish acts that hurt the larger community. Gervais and his colleagues point to recent research that bears this notion out; several studies have found people engage in less-selfish behavior “when reminded of watchful supernatural agents.”
If you believe – even implicitly – that the prospect of divine retribution is the primary factor inhibiting immoral behavior, then a lack of belief in a higher power could amount to a free pass. A 2002 Pew Research Center survey found nearly half of Americans feel morality is impossible without belief in God.
There is no actual evidence backing up the assumption that atheism somehow leads to a decline in morality. In a 2009 study, sociologist Phil Zuckerman argued that “a strong case could be made that atheists and secular people actually possess a stronger or more ethical sense of social justice than their religious peers,” adding that they, on average, have “lower levels of prejudice, ethnocentrism, racism and homophobia” than the much larger population of believers.
He adds that “with the important exception of suicide, states and nations with a preponderance of nonreligious people actually fare better on most indicators of societal health than those without...”
The single "I'll House You," added to the album "Straight out the Jungle" in 1989, is known for being the first hip-house record recorded outside of the Chicago scene, which was a club hit that drastically changed the way the hip-hop and dance-music industries worked. (wiki)
Tracklist: 01.Bill Laswell & Pete Namlook – Definition Of Life 02.Pete Namlook aka 4 Voice – Old Love Dies 03.The Fires Of Ork (P.Namlook & Geir Jensen) – In Heaven 04.Bill Laswell & Pete Namlook – Holy Man 05.Tetsu Inoue & Pete Namlook – Shades Of Orion Parts XII, XIII & XIV 06 & 07.Bill Laswell & Pete Namlook – African Virus Parts II & III 08.Pete Namlook aka 4 Voice – The Final Frontier 09.Pete Namlook & Pascal F.E.O.S. aka Hearts Of Space – All About Sensuality 10.Pete Namlook – Summer Part IV 11.Pete Namlook & DJ Dag – Pure Energy 12.Pete Namlook & Dr. Atmo – Heaven 13.The Fires Of Ork (P.Namlook & Geir Jensen) – When The Night Is Black 14.Air aka Pete Namlook – Travelling Without Moving Trips IV & V 15.The Fires Of Ork (P.Namlook & Geir Jensen) – The Fires Of Ork 16.Pete Namlook & Charles Uzzell Edwards – Chill In (Lowrider) 17.Pete Namlook & Atom Heart – Beel 18.Pete Namlook & Atom Heart – The Third Option 19.Pete Namlook aka SYN – Jugoslavia 20.Pete Namlook aka SYN – Night Time Pleasures 21.Pete Namlook – While Angels Sing 22.Air aka Pete Namlook – Give Space A Trance (Chance III) 23.Tetsu Inoue & Pete Namlook – Biotrip 24.Bill Laswell & Pete Namlook – Angel Tech 25.David Moufang aka Move D – Goofi 26.The Fires Of Ork (P.Namlook & Geir Jensen) – Sky Lounge 27.Pete Namlook & Mixmaster Morris – Underwater 28.Pete Namlook aka Romantic Warrior – Romantic Warrior 29.Pete Namlook aka Romantic Warrior – Reflexion Au Jour 30.Pete Namlook – Homo Ambiens 31.Sequential (P.Namlook & DJ Criss) – 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea 32.SOL Featuring Antonia Langesdorf – Venus/Stardust (Electro Mix) 33.Anthony Rother – Don’t Stop The Beat 34.Daniel Pemberton – Antartica 35.Pete Namlook – 25th Of November 2089 36.Daniel Pemberton – Antartica 37.Peter Kuhlmann aka Pete Namlook – Road VI 38.Peter Kuhlmann aka Pete Namlook – Wandering Soul Part XII 39.Chris Meloche – In The Air Part X 40.Solphax aka Victor Sol – S-pac-E/P-Machine 41.Pete Namlook – Finis 42.Pete Namlook & Peter Prochir – Terminal Beach 43.Koolfang (P.Namlook & David Moufang) – Counter 44.Pete Namlook & Move D – Bad Hair Day 45.Pete Namlook & Hubertus Held – Hey Leroy! 46.Pete Namlook & Move D – False Decodings 47.Pete Namlook & Move D – Saucerful 48.Pete Namlook & Move D – Nite Out/Time To Go 49.Pete Namlook & Move D – As Peter Plays The Strings/At The End 50.Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts – Radio Free Mars Talk 7
An attempt by the United States and others to weaken the comprehensive ban on cluster munitions has failed, Human Rights Watch said today. The effort by the US and other users and stockpilers of cluster munitions to create a new protocol to the 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) was rejected on November 25, 2011, in Geneva after more than 50 states said there was no consensus for adopting it.
The draft protocol had been developed, discussed, and negotiated over the past four years as a response, and an alternative, to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, which comprehensively bans all use, production, stockpiling, and trade of all cluster munitions.
“The proposed law would have posed serious threats to civilians living in conflict by promoting increased use of cluster munitions,” said Steve Goose, Arms director at Human Rights Watch, and chair of the international Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC). “It's remarkable and gratifying that so many nations put humanitarian concerns above other interests and resisted the pressures of the major military powers.”
The convention banning cluster munitions has been signed or ratified by 111 nations, including some of the biggest users, producers, and stockpilers of cluster munitions in recent decades, such as the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and the Netherlands. Twenty of 28 NATO members have joined the ban convention.
The United States, Russia, China, India, Israel, and a few other nations attempted to cut a deal in which they would ban cluster munitions produced before 1980, but be given specific legal authorization to use all of their other cluster munitions. That would have included the vast majority of their arsenals, many millions of cluster munitions containing many hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of submunitions. Nearly all of these types of cluster munitions have already been well-documented by Human Rights Watch and others to have caused extensive harm to civilians in conflicts in the past decade in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Georgia. They were banned in 2008 by the Convention on Cluster Munitions.
A powerful alliance comprised of Norway, Austria, Mexico, and about 50 other governments, as well as several UN agencies (most notably the UN Development Programme), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and the CMC, led by Human Rights Watch, fought the creation of the CCW protocol. In addition to highlighting the humanitarian harm that could be brought about by the proposed protocol, the alliance expressed strong concern that it represented a regression in international humanitarian law, and could have set a precedent where, for the first time, nations agreed to an international instrument with weaker provisions than one on the same subject that had already been adopted.
“It is a great day for those who care about the protection of civilians,” Goose said. “This protocol would have given political and legal cover to those who want to continue to use these weapons that have already caused so much human suffering.”
@'Human Rights watch'
This is from the 2007 documentary by Steven Okazaki "White Light/Black Rain: The Destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki". http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0911010/
Some Hiroshima survivors were flown to the US in 1955 to get plastic surgery for wounds they received when the atomic bomb was dropped. Among them was Shigeko Sasamori, who was interviewed for the film.
At the time, the leader of the mission, Kiyoshi Tanimoto, was featured on the TV show "This Is Your Life" where he met Captain Robert A. Lewis, the co-pilot of the Enola Gay... Via
Occupy Wall Street protester Brandon Watts lies injured on the ground after clashes with police over the eviction of OWS from Zuccotti Park. Photograph: Allison Joyce/Getty Images
US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparallelled police brutality in a coordinated crackdown against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week. An elderly woman was pepper-sprayed in the face; the scene of unresisting, supine students at UC Davis being pepper-sprayed by phalanxes of riot police went viral online; images proliferated of young women – targeted seemingly for their gender – screaming, dragged by the hair by police in riot gear; and the pictures of a young man, stunned and bleeding profusely from the head, emerged in the record of the middle-of-the-night clearing of Zuccotti Park.
But just when Americans thought we had the picture – was this crazy police and mayoral overkill, on a municipal level, in many different cities? – the picture darkened. The National Union of Journalists and the Committee to Protect Journalists issued a Freedom of Information Act request to investigate possible federal involvement with law enforcement practices that appeared to target journalists. The New York Times reported that "New York cops have arrested, punched, whacked, shoved to the ground and tossed a barrier at reporters and photographers" covering protests. Reporters were asked by NYPD to raise their hands to prove they had credentials: when many dutifully did so, they were taken, upon threat of arrest, away from the story they were covering, and penned far from the site in which the news was unfolding. Other reporters wearing press passes were arrested and roughed up by cops, after being – falsely – informed by police that "It is illegal to take pictures on the sidewalk."
In New York, a state supreme court justice and a New York City council member were beaten up; in Berkeley, California, one of our greatest national poets, Robert Hass, was beaten with batons. The picture darkened still further when Wonkette and Washingtonsblog.com reported that the Mayor of Oakland acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had participated in an 18-city mayor conference call advising mayors on "how to suppress" Occupy protests...
Eric Fisher, A visualization of London using Flickr and Twitter accounts. Orange dots are the locations of Flickr accounts, blue dots are the locations of tweets and white dots are the locations of both, 2010
Even if you were having a great time in 1991 (I sure was), you should resolutely refuse that year any reverent nostalgia. That halcyon year is gone for ever, yes, but its legacy is alive and also unstable. 1991 was the heyday of cyber-counterculture. 1991 was the triumph of neo-liberalism over the corpse of Communism. 1991 was the flushed, tubercular onset of the dotcom collapse. 1991 was when a feral oil market destroyed a new world order. 1991 was all of those things at one time. The past takes its meaning from what we do today, and 1991 can be construed – just as 2031 can.
1991 hasn’t yet been through the full, awful rigour of historical revisionism – it’s not like the year 1789, chewed to mulch by generations of ideological stakeholders. But the only fate that history offers is to be re-interpreted; re-cast as retrodiction, more and more wildly as its constituent elements vanish, as its eyewitnesses leave us, as the past’s quotidian aspects become remote, romantic, fantastic ...
Twenty years from now is 2031. That year is not Utopia or Oblivion, it’s not made of sci-fi hologrammed tinsel; it’s just another year among many, and most of its working parts are already scattered around. Like any other year, it offers novelties, but also huge absences. 1991 had many thriving elements denied to 2031. Film cameras. Newspapers. Bookshops. Print magazines that were simply, entirely and utterly print. National analogue broadcast television networks. Young people.
2031, by contrast, has the common 21st-century population: huge and old. Back in 1991, only Florida, Japan and Italy had that solid, permanent preponderance of the elderly that is common everywhere in 2031. This vast social transition changed everything and created all kinds of financial and political mayhem, but it was nothing much to get excited about, because there was nothing much to be done about it. Nobody ever gets less old...
Harrison and White with Nano Langenheim, Implementing the Rhetoric, 2010, Graphic rendering of Melbourne in 2050, from the exhibition ‘Now and When’ shown at the Australian Pavilion for the 12th Venice Architectural Biennale, 2010 Via
A poster of Mohammad Al Bouazizi (Photo: Getty Images Time magazine gives its annual Person of the Year award to the person or group who has had the most profound effect on the year's news. By definition, therefore, it tends to go to the great and the good. This year it should go the man who started the Arab Spring: a 26 year old Tunisian street vendor named Mohammad Al Bouazizi.
Last December, confrontations with a local government official left Mohammad fearing he was losing his family's only source of livelihood. Desperate and unable to get the authorities to listen to him, he set fire to himself in front of the gates of the Governors office in Sidi Bouzid.
He died on 4 January 2011 from his injuries. In the intervening time, rioting, sparked by his act, had started in cities across the country. Before Mohammad died, the man who couldn't get anyone to hear his pleas was visited in hospital by President Zine el-Abidine Ben, and 10 days after his death, the President fled the country.
As we now know, this was nowhere near the end of it. Presidents have fallen in Egypt, Libya and now Yemen. Tunisia itself has had democratic elections. The West has been pulled in to new military action. Syria is in civil war. And all can be traced back to a fruitseller in a small provincial Tunisian town.
Of course, Mohammad Al Bouazizi could not have known where his protest could lead. But that is not the point. One man's act has changed the Middle East more than decades of diplomacy have managed. And I think his influence and memory should be marked.
I don't know if Time will make him Person of the Year -- they've short listed him (which is great), but he's not the favourite. Steve Jobs appears to have a clear lead.
But this year? Please drop Time a line and tell them there's really only one choice. Richard Morris @'The New Statesman'