Thursday, November 24, 2005 

Racist policy at the French Embassy, Dublin.

I've been unsure over the last day or two about whether to put this particular post out there. It happens to cut pretty close to the bone - I know the two people involved very well, and I've been involved in helping them as well as I could over the past couple of days. Well here goes, and I hope that people can gauge how strong my feelings are through the fact that I'm going to drop the royal "we" in favour of "I" in writing this.

I am furiously angry with the actions of the French Embassy here in Ireland. And here's why.

This is a story concerning a couple of immigrants who have lived and worked here for a number of years, and have been head-over-heels in love for the last twelves months or so (let's just call them 'E.', a French national and 'D.', her Mauritian boyfriend of Indian Christian background). E. has recently had a major work promotion, which has necessitated her move to a certain continental European country. Quite understandably, both she and D. (who works here as a freelancer for several high-profile institutions) want to continue to live together. Now, as D. is a Commonwealth citizen living here under work permit, there are certain difficulties in his going to live and work in this particular Schengen Agreement country (not France), difficulties which could be resolved through marriage. And as both these two are crazy about each other, marriage was decided on and they duly got engaged.

The two lovers at the heart of this tale were naturally anxious to set the wedding as soon as possible, in order to make their separation as brief as possible. Add this to the desirability of having as many friends and family attend this happy occasion, and it was decided to hold the wedding in E.'s hometown in France, with last Saturday set as the date. The relevant local officials (under the French Civic Code) gave permission, invitations were sent, flights were arranged, bookings were made, wedding rings were bought.

Step forward the part where the French Embassy comes into the picture. D. (as we've mentioned) isn't entitled to travel to France without the appropriate short stay visa, so the Embassy was contacted more than a month ago in this regard. A relatively simple matter of at most one week, according to the Embassy's own guidelines. What ensued has been the most astounding succession of ignored contact attempts, bureaucratic delaying tactics, racist remarks by Embassy staff to both fiancées, pressure put on her parents and official harassment of the civil dignitary who agreed to conduct the ceremony in France. It's quite frankly incredible, and I don't have the space here to do the account justice.

This campaign finally culminated in the pulling of a last-minute maneuver to refuse the visa - all other tactics having failed - the day before they were both due to fly to France. So, the wedding has been cancelled (at huge cost in time, money and emotion) until likely Dublin in the spring. And there's no legal recourse whatsoever to be had in Ireland.

Let me say that there is no doubt in our minds as to the French Embassy having done everything in its power to prevent this marriage. The only question is whether this appalling saga of bureaucratic cruelty is the result of direction by the Ambassador (Monsieur Frédéric Grasset) alone, or whether this is general policy in the French diplomatic corps. Either way, it offends my sense of natural justice that these bureaucrats will likely get away with it scot-free.

Liberté, Egalité, Racisme?


Galloway continuing to plumb the depths.

We have to say that we've never liked or trusted Gorgeous George, and this is yet one more reason to continue with this policy in the future.


The joke on the "liberal hawks" continues.

We see that the rendition story grinds on, with ever more Western nations being drawn into the picture. How soon before the attention of the EU turns to Shannon, we wonder? Bertie told the Dáil on 16th November 2005, in response to a question by Trevor Sargent of the Green Party:
"Regarding Shannon, since this matter has been brought up several times recently we have once again raised it with the Americans at the highest level and they state that they are doing nothing outside the agreement. If they seek to bring up the issue of prisoners, weaponry or other issues outside the agreement, they say that they will bring it to our attention. They restated that as late as last week."
So, there you go. We asked the Bush Administration, they say there's nothing going on, ergo there is nothing going on and we therefore don't need to check if it's true. Nothing to see here, move along. Expect the EU to take a rather different line on this.

And as many people will remember, Al Jazeera - the one genuinely free and independent television station in the Arab world - has had rather bad luck (in both Afghanistan and Iraq) in terms of finding their offices the target of accidental US attack. Let's just say that there are certain indications that the present US administration didn't weep many tears when these mistakes occurred.

But even we were shocked to discover that it appears Dubya had to be talked out of bombing Al Jazeera's head offices in Qatar to kingdom come by Tony. This doesn't sound like a line of thought the cheerleader of the supposed GWOT/GSAVE should really be having, to put it mildly. So much for "let Freedom ring". Those who insist in believing that Bush & company are motivated by love of democracy are starting to look very foolish indeed (you know who you are).

(Update 24/11/05: via Raw Story, more on this here)

Tom Griffin over at the excellent The Green Ribbon has some real scoops to impart on the two hapless Labour members being scapegoated for this embarrassing leak. We can only hope that someone doesn't decide to rub both governments' noses in it and release the whole lot to secrecy-buster Cryptome.


Equal rights for homosexual couples

This blog is proud to support the KAL case, taken to make the State recognise the legal marriage in Canada between two lesbian women now living here. This is about doing the right thing in according full civil rights to a vulnerable section of society. And the family units formed by same-sex couples deserve the same protection as any others.

Times change, folks.

(hat-tip to Cadavre Exquis)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005 

Dirty Tricks

Laura Rozen at War and Piece has an interesting story to relate on covert efforts to plant pro-Bush propaganda abroad in the world. Going on what the modus operandi of these operations appears to be, we should be looking for right-wing think-tanks and publications which seem to spontaneously pop into existence, have suspiciously easy access to Republican Party loyalists, and possess murky sources of funding.

So we've nothing to worry about in Ireland, then.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 

Sought: Fugitive from Justice

Have you seen this man?

Monday, November 21, 2005 

Blog Work

As people have no doubt noticed, we've made a serious overhaul of our links to the right. A few warrant special mention...

Guido Fawkes is one of the biggest and best of the UK blogs, and it's easy to see why. Needless to say, we particularly enjoy their Wonk Watch and we think many of you will, too. is one of our additions to the "Nordie" category. The Provisional IRA were (and are) a nihilist dead end for Irish nationalism, and there's a lot of bodies littered over the twenty-five years it took for some people to realise this. But their bloody sectarian campaign wasn't a virgin birth, and accounts like this show a side to the story you're not going to see reported down South in the Irish Times, the O'Reilly rags or on RTÉ. Read it, no matter what your opinion may be on the National Question. The Levee Breaks and The Northern Irish Magyar go on as rational writing on Northern politics from the other side.

(Update 23/11/05: The Levee Breaks wish it to be known that they don't identify as Unionist. Our sincere apologies)

Disillusioned Lefty is a co-operative effort by two young writers. We don't agree with half of what they write, but it's certainly unorthodox and never a dull read. Keep it up.

London Exile is a new blog covering terrorism and the law in the UK, with occasional reference back to the home country. It's good to see expert legal opinion coming to the Irish boggersphere - we look forward to having to create a separate Irish law category soon.

Pharyngula (by P.Z. Myers) gets included as a US-based antidote to the Creationist trojan-horse that is Intelligent Design. People will no doubt be aware that Christian fundamentalists in Kansas have just mandated the teaching of ID to schoolchildren there, and also rewrote the very definition of science itself to include the supernatural. Irish people may laugh at this as a peculiarly American madness, but it's being pimped in a thinly disguised advocacy piece in the latest Magill. While observant political junkies have come to expect second-hand US wingnuttery within those pages, this still marks the first time (that we're aware) of "the controversy" being promoted on Irish highstreet magazine shelves in a native publication.

Frank O'Dwyer's Rearranging the deckchairs often touches on a subject that we occasionally ponder, too: the continued respectability offered by such as the BBC, Slugger and Tech Central Station (perhaps the last is not exactly a surprise) to a certain pair of bigoted co-bloggers. Keep up the good work, sir.

FI Fie Foe Fum has been around for a while now as a group effort, including your humble blog host himself. We're part of the readership who gave up on the Young Blueshirt 'Freedom Institute' blog earlier this year, when the censorship of non-wingnut commenters reached ridiculous proportions. As they've lost their enthusiasm for it (particularly after the backlash over their Menendez remarks) so our output has wound down too, but hopefully FI "independent journalist" Richard Waghorne will continue to churn out the comedic wingnut material scraped off TCS thoughtful commentary FI Fie Foe Fum needs to survive.

The Republic is a regular periodical put out by the Ireland Institute. As they themselves state:
"The Republic aims to provide a forum for discussion, debate and analysis of contemporary and historical issues. Irish and international matters across a range of disciplines will be addressed. Republican ideas and principles will shape and inform the contents of the journal. Our aim is to serve a general rather than a specialist readership."
We highly recommend The Republic as an insightful and informative read (their scholarly articles are available in full and for free on their website). We look forward to great things from them in the future.


Ideological Bias

William Sjostrom (an American expat right-winger economist in UCC whom we've remarked on before, for those who don't know him) is back at the blogging we see. It's the usual stuff - RTÉ are "thieves", anyone who mentions the word "neo-conservative" is automatically anti-Semitic, bashing feminism etc. The latest, as an example, is a highly affronted attack on the Irish Examiner for daring to publicise the overwhelming CAO advantages conferred by expensive fee-paying schools:

"I do not doubt that fee paying schools are academically better than average, and I have already remarked that I hope to send my daughter to a fee paying school. But none of that means that all the outcomes of fee paying schools are the result of the school."
This may be unwelcome news to the parents who send them there at such expense, then.

"Children who go to fee paying schools are sent by parents who are particularly concerned about education, so they are hardly a random sample of children. Why is that so hard for the Examiner to grasp?"
Children who go to fee-paying schools also happen to be sent by parents who are particularly well-off. Do we really want to abandon the meritocratic ideals of this Republic in favour of a plutocracy, which is what school vouchers, etc. are designed to nudge us towards?

Update 23/11/05: Dick O'Brien also touches on this subject.

p.s. the title is an allusion to his post title, and his enthusiasm for the McCarthyism of David Horowitz.


We can't wait for Charlie McCreevey's

Speaking of stealth bloggers, we've been aware for a while now of another well-known blogger who's flown under the radar[1], namely Swedish Vice-President of the European Commission Margot Wallström (see her blog here). We know that a couple of politicians here (such as Michael Turley and Damien Blake) have set up blogs, but Margot is the highest profile politician blogger we're aware of so far[2].

We have to say that we like the idea of getting some insight into the actual thoughts and reasoning of senior politicians, away from the usual scripts written by the bureaucracy. More, please.

[1] Except for the Little Englander europhobes who've flooded her comments, that is. The perils of blogging in the Queen's English...
[2] There's plenty of dry wits out there, so how come we've yet to see
De Blog of de Dubbelin Taoiseach?


Exit Plan

Brilliant. (Yes, it's snarky. No, he richly deserves it)

Update: Here's the BBC account (via The Poor Man). Another sordid, booze-fueled chapter in something people've been noticing recently?

Sunday, November 20, 2005 

e-government - more understanding needed by the Civil Service?

Progressive Ireland has quite a scoop about the Oireachtas' first toe in the water with RSS feeds. We note also (through following RR's link) that live webcasting from the national parliament is on the agenda, too. Soon, international political junkies will be able to marvel - in realtime - at a Dáil session in full flow. Whatever will they think of the Drumcondra Renaissance Man, we wonder?

However, we have a few issues with the technical implementation of this worthy undertaking.

i) the RSS feed is so far sparse on information. You have to click through to the actual WWW page to get at the information, which is a click too far. Why offer the RSS feed in the first place?

ii) the schedule of committee meetings is unfortunately in Word format, rather than HTML. Tying documents to a non-open format is coming to be recognised as a serious long-term liability, and they shouldn't be doing it.

iii) The live webcasting uses Windows Media Player, which of course (like Word) is a closed, proprietary format. It's really not tenable for the State to favour a particular vendor's technology in this manner, and we suspect the EU may have a few words to say on the subject in the future (as per the recent ruling about giving preference for Intel processors over other x86 implementations).


David McWilliams - de facto blogger?

While nosing around celebrity Irish economist David McWilliam's website, we noticed this.

Saturday, November 19, 2005 

Jonathan Ive Interview

London's Design Museum has an interview up with the well-known Apple designer.

Friday, November 18, 2005 

The humble Lego brick as intellectual 'property'

TCAL links to a piece by Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow on Lego losing an important - to them - legal battle in Canada. In short, though their patent on Lego blocks has expired, they were trying to prevent others manufacturing similar toys by claiming that the Lego block is itself a trademark of the company, and therefore protected. Thankfully, the Canadian judiciary has ruled against this potential new and abusive interpretation of IP law.

But CD in the course of his post goes on to claim:
"That’s the patent bargain: in exchange for asking the government to keep your competitors at bay, you agree to let the public copy your invention for free when the period of exclusivity is expired."
With all due respect to CD, that's a gross misunderstanding of the history and purpose of patents (legal eagles, insert any corrections/additions hereafter). They're bestowed by governments as an extraordinary monopoly to the holder for x number of years in order to have the opportunity to profit from his work, thereby providing a monetary incentive to innovation (or so the theory goes, at least. We'll leave that particular example of laissez-faire ideology to the Free Software and Open Source crowds to critique in the case of software).

But when that period expires, the holder isn't then cruelly robbed by the state of his 'property'- despite what the pigopolists, as The Register terms them, may tell us. Instead, a temporary, unfair privilege which was itself bestowed by the state in the public interest is merely reverting back to the public domain, in order to form the basis of further advancements for the common good.

It's important that this be understood in the context of the relentless lobbying these days by corporations to extend both copyright and patent law beyond their original intended purposes (a government intervention which temporarily deprives the public of our own 'intellectual rights', as we note above). "If I have seen a little further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants", as a scientist once said.

(post-edited 20/11/05 for grammatical clarity)


Another independent bookshop bites the dust - Reads taken over by Easons

Via WYSIWYG we see that our favourite bookshop-cum-newsagents in Dublin, Reads of Nassau Street, is to be bought by Easons (which had already bought out, then gutted, the fondly-remembered Hanna's Bookshop next door some years ago).

We're sorry to see this happen - the conglomeration of Dublin bookstores into the hands of a couple of big corporate players doesn't portend much good for the reading public. People may not realise this, but both Hodges Figgis ("Dublin's leading independent bookstore", says the NY Times) and Waterstones - who face each other on Dawson Street - are in fact owned by the same parent company, namely HMV. Beats us as to where the competition is supposed to be when it comes to physical bookstores (and smug Amazonians, just wait for 'variable pricing' to creep in for books, in addition to Internet purchase taxes).

And it's only when you browse through smaller independent bookstores (like Connolly Books, in Mick Wallace's northside Italian quarter) that you begin to realise just how sterile the reading choice in high-street chain-stores in fact is. We're not going to hold our breath waiting for someone in this PD-influenced government to kick up a fuss over this growing consolidation in the hands of a couple of UK corporate owners. But it'd be nice to be proved wrong in our cynicism, just this once.

Well, another old Dublin haunt of ours now goes into memory. Reads has always aggressively fought their old rivals in terms of discounts, and as to character we're not too sure where else in Dublin one can find such a reliable stocker of positively smokin' female staff. Getting a low-wage, expensive, colourless Easons branch in exchange is a poor consolation prize.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005 

Dubya now losing it bigtime?

While busy packing the last few days for a trip to la belle France, we nonetheless make sure to at least occasionally peruse through our favourite blogs (we love y'all, kids). Giving us chuckles were two posts in particular, one by Fiona de Londras[1] on recent Crooks and Liars speculation about Bush falling off the wagon, the other a snarky piece by the Bull Moose about imaginary diary entries by an Andy Card dealing with a now-sulking Dubya (read both of these pieces - this is important to what we're coming to).

You probably get the same picture we did - some mischievous gossip-mongering at the expense of the most disastrous US President in living memory, but not exactly to be taken seriously.

Well, that was until all of an hour or two ago, when we clicked over to AMERICAblog. Because both the Washington Times (the Moonie-owned rag so loyal to Bush 41) and Republican smear artist Matt Drudge are now saying the same things. Call us thunderstruck - not that we're surprised, given the individual in question, but we had hoped that someone was keeping an eye on him still. We guess Karl's got his own problems these days - a distraction evidenced by Junior's cringe-worthy solo run on the Harriet Miers nomination.

Anyway, to quote John Aravosis at the aforementioned AMERICAblog:
"The Washington Times, you may know, is an "independent" newspaper that is basically the mouthpiece of the Republican party. For that reason, it sometimes gets inside scoops as to what the GOP is thinking, and even what's going on inside the White House. For that reason, their latest story on Bush is extremely disturbing:

President Bush feels betrayed by several of his most senior aides and advisors and has severely restricted access to the Oval Office, administration sources say. The president's reclusiveness in the face of relentless public scrutiny of the U.S.-led war in Iraq and White House leaks regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame has become so extreme that Mr. Bush has also reduced contact with his father, former President George H.W. Bush, administration sources said on the condition of anonymity.

Matt Drudge adds on his site:

The sources said Mr. Bush maintains daily contact with only four people: first lady Laura Bush, his mother, Barbara Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes. The sources also say that Mr. Bush has stopped talking with his father, except on family occasions.

So basically Bush is melting down. (Or, at the very least, the number one propaganda organ of the GOP wants us to think Bush is losing it - that's just bizarre on its face, and shows had bad things are for Bush, and the party.) This is rather disturbing in view of the increased chatter about Bush, an alcoholic who never sought treatment, now reportedly drinking again."
Which means that suddenly the original two blog posts we referred to aren't looking so humorous anymore. Add this to sign of rats like Rummy now deserting the sinking, 37%-approval-rating ship, and we wonder how long it will be before certain Irish-based rightwing ideologues scrub mention of the re-election of Bush 43 as their "highlight" of 2004?

[1] no, we haven't become the Melancholic Madam's PR agent, promise.

Monday, November 14, 2005 

For those still in doubt over Ann Althouse's wingnut credentials

She's now pimping this disgraceful Instahack talking-point, straight from the RNC (speaking of Reynolds, we see that Bill O'Reilly is following up on this particular theme).

And just for our small-but-lucrative legal readership (note to potential advertisers out there) we have news on one of our favourite wingnut obsessions: the "Constitution in Exile". Enjoy.

Sunday, November 13, 2005 

Academic Integrity

As the Examiner says:

"It is a shame that the only academic brave enough to come forward - until now - was Fiona De Londras, from Dublin’s Griffith College. She, and in turn Ed Walsh displayed the kind of bravery, integrity and force of conviction so lacking in all the other protagonists this scandal has touched this past month."
Damn right. Catch Ms. de Londras over at Mental Meanderings.

(p.s. "Mental Meanderings of a Melancholic Madam"?)

Wednesday, November 09, 2005 

"Get America Out of Shannon"

Free Stater endorses Fiona's call for removing a stain from our country's foreign policy. And as Red Rover at Progressive Ireland asks:
"Does anyone in Government or Power actually know, or has Charlie Haughey's habit of knowing little gotten contagious?"
A good question for some reporter to put to Brian Cowen or Michael McDowell, next time they're being interviewed.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005 

Powell aide - Cheney ordered US prisoner torture

From the International Herald Tribune:

"WASHINGTON Vice President Dick Cheney's office was responsible for directives that led to U.S. soldiers' abusing prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan, a former top State Department official said Thursday.

Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, then the secretary of state, told National Public Radio he had traced a trail of memos and directives authorizing questionable detention practices up through Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's office directly to Cheney's staff.

"The secretary of defense under cover of the vice president's office," Wilkerson said, "regardless of the president having put out this memo" - "they began to authorize procedures within the armed forces that led to what we've seen."

He said the directives contradicted a 2002 order by President George W. Bush for the U.S. military to abide by the Geneva conventions against torture.

"There was a visible audit trail from the vice president's office through the secretary of defense, down to the commanders in the field," authorizing practices that led to the abuse of detainees, Wilkerson said.

The directives were "in carefully couched terms," Wilkerson conceded, but said they had the effect of loosening the reins on U.S. troops, leading to many cases of prisoner abuse, including at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, that were contrary to the Geneva Conventions.

"If you are a military man, you know that you just don't do these sorts of things," Wilkerson said, because troops will take advantage, or feel so pressured to obtain information that "they have to do what they have to do to get it."

He said that Powell had assigned him to investigate the matter after reports emerged in the media about U.S. troops abusing detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan. Both men had formerly served in the U.S. military.


Wilkerson has also said recently that Cheney and Rumsfeld operated a "cabal" that hijacked U.S. foreign and military policy."
I believe that this may be a moment for what the Terrorism Freedom Institute's Richard Waghorne refers to as "moral clarity". US Senator John McCain - hardly a bleeding heart liberal - is determinedly pushing an anti-torture measure in Congress which is being fought tooth and nail by none other than... Dick Cheney. The complicity of Ireland, Poland and the Czech Republic in this cannot be ignored any longer, either.

From The New Yorker's Jane Mayer (via Laura Rozen):

"John Radsan, a lawyer formerly in the C.I.A’s Office of General Counsel, says, “Along with the usual problems of dealing with classified information in a criminal case, this could open a can of worms if a C.I.A. official in this case got indicted—a big fat can of worms about what set of rules apply to people like Jamadi. The sixty-four-thousand-dollar question is: What has been authorized? Can the C.I.A. torture people? A case like this opens up Pandora’s box.”

Since September 11, 2001, the C.I.A.’ treatment and interrogation of terrorist suspect has remained almost entirely hidden fro public view. Human-rights groups estimate tha some ten thousand foreign suspects are bein held in U.S. detention facilities in Afghanistan Iraq, Cuba, and other countries. A small bu unknown part of this population is in th custody of the C.I.A., which, as Dana Pries reported recently in the Washington Post, has operated secret prisons in Thailand and in Eastern Europe. It is also unclear how seriously the agency deals with allegations of prisoner abuse. "
The question someone such as Amnesty needs to be asking this Irish Government (and if necessary in court) is: Do we have blood on our hands?



Sure is. How is it that this individual didn't recuse himself from the Pit Stop Plowshares case, despite there being an apparent conflict of interest? Just how many Irish judges went to Dubya's inauguration as guests of alleged crook (and associate of mobsters) Tom DeLay, anyway?

(P. O'Neill and Maman Poulet both have speculative thoughts on the Tom DeLay angle)

Friday, November 04, 2005 

This would be Rummy's "New Europe", then

AP (via Talking Points Memo):

EU, human rights group to investigate allegations CIA set up secret jails to interrogate terror suspects

Associated Press Writer

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- The European Union and the continent's top human rights group said Thursday they will investigate allegations the CIA set up secret jails in eastern Europe and elsewhere to interrogate terror suspects, and the Red Cross demanded access to any prisoners.

Human Rights Watch said it has evidence, based on flight logs, that indicate the CIA transported suspects captured in Afghanistan to Poland and Romania. But the two countries - and others in the former Soviet bloc - denied the allegations. U.S. officials have refused to confirm or deny the claims.

Such prisons, European officials say, would violate the continent's human rights principles. At work may be a complex web of global politics, in which eastern European countries face choices between the views of the European Union and their interest in close ties with the United States.

The International Committee of the Red Cross expressed strong interest in the claims, first reported Wednesday in the Washington Post, that the CIA has been hiding and interrogating some of its most important al-Qaida captives at Soviet-era compounds.

Red Cross chief spokeswoman Antonella Notari said the agency asked Washington about the allegations and requested access to the prisons if they exist. The Red Cross, which has exclusive rights to visit terror suspects detained at a U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, long has been concerned about reports U.S. officials were hiding detainees from ICRC delegates.
We don't get off lightly from this, either. As Senator David Norris pointed out on Wednesday night (in the Hist debate on the so-called "Global War On Terror"), we are complicit in the kidnapping and "extraordinary rendition" of US prisoners, through the deliberate blind eye being turned to these CIA aircraft using Shannon (see also Phoenix magazine issues passim). This isn't the transport of US troops by way of the airport, or the the over-flight by squadrons of American military aircraft at dawn, both of which we excuse through technicalities. This is an acquiescence in one of the most shameful episodes in recent Western history, yet another part of the Dubya Legacy.

If an EU investigation comes up with formal findings of what we know to be the case, what will be the consequences of involvement in such wrong-doing? What then for our international reputation as an honest broker? What then for the proud record of generations of painstaking Irish diplomacy, of service to the cause of peace and justice through the League of Nations and the UN? What then for the tarnishing of Ireland and the EU's credibility with respect to human rights and the protection of the law?

How much damage has this Government done to our State on the international stage? This is a hard question which needs to be asked of our politicians.

UPDATE 4/11/05: Fiona de Londras also has comments on this - see here and here.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005 

US Democratic Party rediscovers its cahones

Courtesy of Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. About bloody time, too.


The United States is a disgrace to the civilised Western world

Latest good news from Gitmo:

"U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler last week ordered the government to provide medical records on Guantanamo prisoners who are being force-fed and to notify their lawyers about forced feedings.

The judge said detainees' lawyers had presented "deeply troubling" allegations of U.S. personnel violently shoving feeding tubes as thick as a finger through the men's noses and into their stomachs without anesthesia or sedatives, with detainees vomiting blood as U.S. personnel mocked them.

Rumsfeld appeared to distance himself from the decision to force-feed detainees.

"I'm not a doctor and I'm not the kind of a person who would be in a position to approve or disapprove. It seems to me, looking at it from this distance, is that the responsible people are the combatant commanders. And the Army is the executive agent for detainees," Rumsfeld said."
Brave, brave Sir Robin, shoving the blame onto career soldiers (as with Abu Ghraib). We have a couple of legal minds out there in the Boggersphere now - anyone care to comment on this?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005 

The 51st (Free) State

Our own beloved Republic seems to have lately become quite the fashionable destination for political debating overspill from other jurisdictions, especially the United States. A cynic might remark that given our spineless Government's virtual ceding of sovereign territory to the Bush Administration, our latest tourist wave perhaps realises something we don't (yet).

This week alone, we have 'Gorgeous George' Galloway showing up tonight at The Helix in DCU at 8pm; Robert Fisk, Fintan O'Toole and Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed duking it out over the GWOT GSAVE with Brit ambassador Stewart Eldon, 'Republican Abroad' James Young (we'll hazard a guess that he's this same ORI contributor) and A.N. Other in TCD's Hist at 7.30pm on Wednesday; and RTE's Charlie Bird and Richard Downes as well as Patrick Cockburn, Charlie Wolf, the National Review's Cliff May, Tim Llewellyn, and Craig Murray at the Phil on Thursday at 7.30 also. Phew (we wonder if they've set up WiFi in the GMB yet?).

As if all this wasn't enough, joint DUP/Loyalist hatefest "Love Ulster" have reportedly claimed to have been asked to hold a rally in Dublin (our money's on this shower being responsible) and Chomsky's coming to Dublin in January. Such largesse for Irish political junkies in these heady times - we swear that the Irish Times letters page won't be back to its normal obsession with issues such as correct grammar for weeks, if not months.

(More from Best of Both Worlds here and here. We reckon that P. O'Neill's proposed motion at that last particular link is a particularly fine topic for skewering debating the NRO representative on. Perhaps some intrepid soul at the Phil debate can make a point of order on it...?)


Sony looks to shut out iPods

From The Big Picture (via Atrios) comes a tale of Sony using DRM (Digital Rights Management) technology on at least some of their new music releases in an attempt to compensate for the hitherto suckiness of the Japanese firm's digital music offerings:

"It turns out that all Engadget (quoting Variety) notes that this DRM is not at all about making the CD immune to piracy. Instead, its part of a pissing contest between Sony and Apple: Variety writes that "the new copy protection scheme — which makes it difficult to rip CDs and listen to them with an iPod — is designed to put pressure on Apple to open the iPod to other music services, rather than making it dependent on the iTunes Music Store for downloads.""
iTunes and iPod together have formed the overwhelming market-leader in digital music; a success we think people will agree is due to the iPod's appeal rather than to any DRM scheme (the iPod will happily play any ripped, non-DRM'd MP3 and AAC files). So Sony - who only recently started to support MP3 in their own players - have now decided to employ decidely Microsoftian tactics in leveraging its music-publishing business to try to force the great unwashed masses to turn away from Apple's little wonder.

This is a matter of the erosion of the rights of we, the consumers, to enjoy listening to our highstreet-purchased music in any way we like - including these days ripping to any portable device we please. And if Sony gets away with this new ploy, then it's highly likely that the other record labels - already champing at the bit for a larger bite of Apple's success - will follow suit along similar lines in order to put pressure on Jobs & co.

Sounds like a case for organisations like our own Digital Rights Ireland to get actively involved in. Where and how do we donate, guys?

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)


Powered by Blogger
and Blogger Templates