Thursday, December 01, 2005

Dickie's quickies...sort of

David Byrne has a rant on his blog today about the RIAA. It seems that they have sent him a nasty gram for playing more than 4 tunes by one artist within a 3 hour period. Byrne, who has a streaming radio program on his site, featured a play list of all Missy Elliott and that caught the RIAA's ire. Check out his rant:

In my case the law forbids streaming “radio” that features more than 4 tracks by any one artist in a three-hour period. My guess is that they may have confused streaming with downloading — in the same way that people often confuse downloading with file sharing. They are afraid that even if it’s not down loadable somehow if a fan knows there will be 3 Missy songs at a given time they can prepare their gear and tape them. The assumption being that sale is lost. [I’ve been informed that the fear is less sensible than that — it is that if you know you can hear a specific artist whenever you want, then the reasoning is you would never buy their records.]

Back in the day I used my boom box to tape things off the radio all the time — that’s how I found out about music I didn’t know about, and eventually I not only bought those records, but ended up promoting them, too. Which made a fair amount of money for some record labels — but not for me. Not complaining, though.

So, we have one wrong assumption piled on top of another.

Not much of a rant, really, but about as "ranty" as Byrne ever gets. He's a gentle soul. Not so the pharmaceutical industry. It seems that in order to curtail imports of cheap drugs from such rogue nations as, say, Canada, a drug company lobbying firm decided to take a page from the Bush administration propaganda program. The lobbying firm decided to commission a novel that would portray an evil scheme of importing drugs and raise hysteria about the dangers of doing so. Michael Chrichton was busy, so they got a publishing house to get 2 other authors to do it for them. Ah, but according to Slate, everything went wrong from there. The deal fell through after the book was finished. The lobbying firm offered money to the authors anyhow in order to buy their silence about the initial proposal. The authors, to their credit, turned down the bribe and decided to write a different book: one in which a drug company is the evil force attempting to thwart the import of cheaper drugs from other countries into the U.S. From the article:

In the end, Spivak and Chrystyn turned down the money, rewrote the book, and retitled it The Karasik Conspiracy. The thriller is due out next month. We've read part of an early draft, and we can't recommend it as great literature. But the book has an instructive new bad guy: A large pharmaceutical company, so far unnamed, has poisoned Canadian-sold drugs—and then tried to make it look like a bunch of terrorists were behind the plot.

Since the book's villain turned into a drug company, PhRMA has been trying to distance itself from the venture. Calling the deal with Phoenix an "underhanded and sneaky idea," Ken Johnson, PhRMA's senior vice president of communications, denies that higher-ups at the trade group authorized the book and says it was the work of a low-level, "renegade" employee. Volpe has been suspended.

Knight Ridder has a follow-up to yesterday's LA Times story on the U.S. military planting "news stories" for papers in Iraq. You should really read the Knight Ridder story as it provides a short version of the LA Times story plus some new information (quoted below). This thing is only getting worse. From the KR story:

A Knight Ridder investigation has found that the American military's information operations have been far more extensive.

In addition to the Army's secret payments to Iraqi newspaper, radio and television journalists for positive stories, U.S. psychological-warfare officers have been involved in writing news releases and drafting media strategies for top commanders, two defense officials said.

On at least one occasion, psychological warfare specialists have taken a group of international journalists on a tour of Iraq's border with Syria, a route used by Islamic terrorists and arms smugglers, one of the officials said.

Usually, these duties are the responsibility of military public-affairs officers.

In Iraq, public affairs staff at the American-run multinational headquarters in Baghdad have been combined with information operations experts in an organization known as the Information Operations Task Force.

The unit's public affairs officers are subservient to the information operations experts, military and defense officials said.

The result is a "fuzzing up" of what's supposed to be a strict division between public affairs, which provides factual information about U.S. military operations, and information operations, which can use propaganda and doctored or false information to influence enemy actions, perceptions and behavior.

Information operations are intended to "influence foreign adversary audiences using psychological operations capabilities," according to a Sept. 27, 2004, memo sent to top American commanders by the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retired Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers.

Myers warned that putting public affairs and information operations in the same office had "the potential to compromise the commander's credibility with the media and the public."

On the foreign front of politics, The Guardian reports that Colin Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson (who recently has had some damning criticisms of the Bush Administration and how they cooked intelligence leading up to the war then botched the planning) is suggesting that Dick Cheney might be in violation of international law for advocating torture. Quotes:

Mr Wilkerson said that in an internal administration debate over whether to abide by the Geneva conventions in the treatment of detainees, Mr Cheney led the argument "that essentially wanted to do away with all restrictions".

Asked whether the vice-president was guilty of a war crime, Mr Wilkerson replied: "Well, that's an interesting question - it was certainly a domestic crime to advocate terror and I would suspect that it is ... an international crime as well." In the context of other remarks it appeared he was using the word "terror" to apply to the systematic abuse of prisoners.

Mr Wilkerson, a former army colonel, also said he had seen increasing evidence that the White House had manipulated pre-war intelligence on Iraq to make its case for the invasion. He said: "You begin to wonder was this intelligence spun? Was it politicized? Was it cherry-picked? Did, in fact, the American people get fooled? I am beginning to have my concerns."

Mr Cheney has been under fire for his role in assembling evidence of weapons of mass destruction. Mr Wilkerson told the Associated Press that the vice-president must have sincerely believed Iraq could be a spawning ground for terrorism because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard".

Sounds about right to me. Now, go read the whole thing. It isn't much longer than what is quoted.

1 comment:

Scott said...

This is getting too public. Our administration just might clean the whole thing up by sending the prisoners to the showers. I am absolutely sure they are weighing the dark merits a "final solution." The dirty secrets are finally coming out. I hope it breaks so fast there isn't time to 'dispose' of the evidence.

That may be the worst thing of all. Suspecting our government of mass murder to cover their tracks is more than plausible. It makes me furious such degraded behavior has climbed out of the pages of spy thrillers, and is now an integral part of our diplomacy.