Inspired by the Egyptian and Tunisian protests, a similar movement in Bahrain against their autocratic government fell victim to an immense police crackdown last night, with 5 people being killed and the destruction of their camp in Pearl Square, central Manama.
Hundreds of security forces used batons, rubber bullets and tear gas on demonstrators who had been camped out in Pearl Square calling for political reform.
“Police are coming, they are shooting teargas at us,” one protestor said amid the chaos. Another said: “I am wounded, I am bleeding. They are killing us.”
The protests are against the monarchy rule of the country, where the Al Khalifa family (a Sunni family) rule over a predominately Shia population.
By the morning, the square appeared nearly empty of protesters. Abandoned tents, blankets and rubbish dotted the area, and the smell of teargas wafted through the air.
One protester said he had driven away two people who had been wounded by rubber bullets.
Clearly, the ruling Al Khalifa family and the military weren’t willing to let what happened to Egypt happen to them, and used an over-zealous response to cut the protests off in their infancy.
“We were asleep and they started slicing through our tent,” said Nabeel Ebrahim, who was sleeping alongside two trauma surgeons from Salmaniya hospital. “They started firing gas from the overpass and attacking us from all directions.”
But it was not just protestors that were clamped down on, ambulances and civilians trying to help also felt the wrath of police, too.
Ambulances are being prevented from arriving at Pearl roundabout to collect dozens of wounded people thought to be trapped there.
They were quickly beaten back by riot police firing sound grenades and teargas as they charged towards the demonstrators, who retreated to the hospital grounds. Several more were wounded in the clashes.
One ambulance driver said he was stopped by police, who violently removed wounded protesters from the back of his vehicle and ordered him at gunpoint to leave.
The police were always going to clamp down hard on any signs of protest following the success of the peaceful demonstrations in Egypt, especially somewhere like Bahrain, were there has been strained relations between the ruling Al Khalifa family and the Shia population, following years of perceived discrimination towards the country’s religious majority. The use of force in Bahrain is likely to be replicated by other autocratic regions facing protest aswell, in particular Libya, where police statements released said ‘that protests will be met by lethal force’.
Other papers were more concerned with the major UK story of the day; welfare-state reform.
Work and Pensions secretary Ian Duncan Smith has outlined new reforms that will be – reportedly – the biggest welfare shake-up in 60 years. These include;
- A single universal credit to come into force in 2013
- Tax changes to enable people to keep more income
- Changes to the disability living allowance
- More details of the back-to-work programme
- Those refusing to work facing a maximum three-year loss of benefits
- Annual benefit cap of about £26,000 per family
- Review of sickness absence level
Response has been mixed to the proposals. Naturally, the Daily Mail and other right wing press were abso-fucking-lutely delighted about it, considering to them everyone without a job is a Burberry wearing sponge with 3 kids.
In an interview with the Mail, Mr Duncan Smith pledged that it would no longer be possible for anyone to choose a ‘life on benefits’, which he says has fuelled mass immigration over the past decade.
Yeah it’s the old ‘people choose to be employed, foreigners come here for hand-outs’ shtick again. The thing is, there is no point incentivising people returning to work and reforming the benefit system, when there’s no work for these people to go into. These reforms are on the back-drop of massive redundancies facing both the state and private sector. 2,000 jobs were axed from Manchester City Council alone, so it seems senseless to spend resources encouraging people to return to work when you just booted them out of the job they already had! (……..and, breath….)
Although an estimated 2.4 million people would be better enough, and estimated 1.6 would be worse off, and as chief executive of the National Housing Federation David Orr states, “To reduce the housing allowance for those out of work means punishing people for failing to find a job in a very difficult job market,”. Taken into account the £2.1bn cost to establish these reforms, it makes you ask the question; why now?
The other issue I have with it is that, is Duncan-Smith’s insistence on the family and his attempt to govern alongside his prominent Christian beliefs, including a cap on benefits paid to single-parent families, and this excerpt from the Mail, stating new plans to give kick-backs to married couples:
Best Daily Mail reader comment
- Let in a lot more immigrants in and make them do the work and pay tax while the rest of us live on benefits and live a life doing what we would like to do instead of spending our lives slaving away for little or no reward.
- Gaz, n/e, 17/2/2011 2:37
Some words what I written…
Title: An Unusual Valentine’s Day Proposal
The Spring Offensive was a series of German attacks along the Western Front during World War I. A common trait of bands with names based on Eastern European conflicts (The Decemberists, The Crimea….Dresden Dolls?) is of a certain experimental, surrealist feel to them. Spring Offensive are no different.
Spring Offensive first gained national attention following 2010’s Pull Us Apart EP. The 7-track release was a fantastic amalgamation of styles based around a low-fi palette. Shades of shoe-gaze, avant-garde, alternative-dance, mathrock and folk all came together to give Spring Offensive their unique sound. Think ‘The National’ meets ‘Foals’. It was one of the better EP’s of 2010 and had a couple of standout-tracks on it, like the dark, neo-gothic I Found Myself Smiling, and the more upbeat, stripped-down number Abacus Rex.
Spring Offensive’s latest move is to release an acoustic double-single, with the slightly bizarre marketing move of crediting people who pay above
Words I wrote for The Whiteboard Project
Label: ZION NOIZ
Release: February 28th
Rating : 5.5/6
Whenever someone tells me that I’ll like a band because ‘NME and MTV have said they are one of the bands to watch this year,’ part of me winces, part of me curls up and dies, and the other part of me thinks ‘meh, at least it’s not X-Factor’. MONA, Nashville based four-piece, are the latest band to have earned the moniker ‘liked by the mainstream music media’. They won MTV’s ‘Brand New for 2011’ award, but interestingly were also on the shortlist for the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2011’ award, which contained some very solid acts.
To get to obvious criticisms of the record, it is generic pop-rock rubbish. It’s IKEA-lite ‘insert column A into slot B’, flat-pack, turn your brain off, mainstream rocking and a rolling. All the components are there; thumping ‘my first drum kit’ snare-highhat-bass pattern, gratuitous use of power cords, lyrics mainly consisting ‘Wo oh aaaho, Wo oh aaaho’, etc. The lead singer looks like a budget Joe Strummer. There are more skinny jeans on show than a Topman warehouse. The video is almost like a hipster parody; lots of stunning women in laundrettes and motels looking demure. I mean, it’s almost comical just how many clichés this song seems to contain.
I doubt it comes as much of a shock to people that photos of celebrities in magazines are airbrushed. Tweaked and tinted to such an extent that the person in the image may as well be a member of another species. The result is that women and men out there wonder why a) they can’t look like that, and b)they can’t be with them. For a guy, the closest they will ever get to women that looks as superficially enhanced as that, is to eject their disk-drive and try and fuck their PC.
Some airbrushing is easy to understand, skin, wrinkles etc, but others a bit odder. Original shots of Katy Perry were released this week from a Rolling Stone shoot last year, along with the post-edited versions. The airbrushing her photos received makes you wonder; why?!
Now they’ve edited out some blemishes on her stomach and made her skin brighter. Fine, whatever. But what about the rest? Firstly, why enlarge the tits? Katy Perry is well known for having a pair of bosoms so large that she could breast feed a crèche. Yet some bright spark though ‘yeah they’re big, but, they could always be, you know, bigger?’. You don’t need to be a genius to work out that she has a pair of breasts so glorious that God himself probably crafted them by hand between day four and five. Whammers, chebs, jugs, wabs, funbags, bristols, melons; whatever you call them, she’s got them. If anything, make them smaller. I mean imagine trying to hold a conversation with her and those two are looking at you right in the face, it would be an utter farce.
Secondly; her hand. For some reason they have changed her hand position because according to the editors of Rolling Stone, straight fingers are fucking minging. Rancid. Any they seem to think that she lacks the ability to close her palm. Call me odd, but when looking at a photo, the first thing I think is rarely if ever ‘wait……the fuck is she doing with her hand?’. I obviously lack a certain pseudo-hand fetish (now I feel like an outcast…).
And the lastly; the sock. They have artificially removed a sock. What’s wrong with a sock? Are socks that incredibly out of fashion in LA? Are they spoken in the same breath as parachute pants and mullets, now? Also, if you don’t want a sock in the photo, why not just ask her to take it off? Would it have been that much effort?
Photographer: Hi Katy, if you’d like to just sit over there we can………oh…..
Perry: Wait, is there a problem?
Photographer: It just, erm, the sock. Doesn’t really go with the shoot
Perry: Oh really? No problem. I can just take it off.
Photographer: Nah, don’t worry about it. We’ll just pay a digital editor a few thousand dollars to photo-shop it out.
Anyway, clearly it proves how little I know about High fashion because I’m sure there is a very logical reason for it, but until someone informs me of what it is, I’m going to appear all intellectually superior and call Rolling Stone magazine dicks. Because…why not.
Friday’s protests in Cairo proved to be the final scenes for Hosni Mubarak’s presidency, and his resignation saw the end to of 30 year autocratic rule of Egypt.
The reaction amongst the media, public and politicians was a mixture between joy of apprehension. On the ground, it was a moment of elation for the Egyptian public. Activist and Noble prize winner Mohammed El-Baradi described it as ‘The greatest day of his life’, while Ayman Nour, the only person who ran against Mubarak in the previous rigged election, stated that “This nation has been born again, these people have been born again, and this is a new Egypt,”.
Mubarak’s authoritarian rule was a mixture of fear and external support. He had governed with an iron fist for thirty years, following the assassination of predecessor Anwar Sadat. His presidency established an ‘us v them’ psyche towards the Muslim Brotherhood, which also saw him receive mass amounts of aid from the US, and them turning a blind eye towards the abhorrent human rights abuses during his leadership. He claims his aims were to bring stability to Egypt, though his idea of stability was only accessible through police brutality, corruption and rigged-elections.
Upon his announcement, many went on the attack at Mubarak. MSNBC stated that:
He resisted calls for reform even as public bitterness grew over corruption, deteriorating infrastructure and rampant poverty in a country where 40 percent live below or near the poverty line.
Whilst the Guardian were even more searing in their criticism;
The police state drove many into the hands of extremists. And this, it was often said, was Mubarak’s deliberate policy. The Muslim Brotherhood was useful to him because the threat it represented, which he exaggerated, silenced much western criticism of his human rights abuses. In truth, he was always more afraid of the pro-democracy movement than the Islamists – a fear that proved to be well-founded.
Apprehension following the resignation was two-fold; some feared that the Army would continue to rule with brutality, while others feared that free and fair elections would see Egypt descend into the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Independent felt that toppling Mubarak may have only been the first step for Egyptian democracy.
There was a note of caution in the background, however, over how far the military under Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s veteran defence minister, are ready to permit a democracy.
“This is just the end of the beginning,” said Jon Alterman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. “Egypt isn’t moving toward democracy, it’s moved into martial law and where it goes is now subject to debate.”
While the army were remained tight-lipped, the Armed Forces Supreme Council reaffirmed that they were committed to moving to country towards a democratic model, stating that they were “to sponsor the legitimate demands of the people and endeavour for their implementation within a defined timetable”.
Now obviously, the fear with simply axing the head of a regime is that the mechanics still remain untouched. What it will depend on is the pressure that The US puts on the Egyptian army following the resignation, considering the aid that the regime is so dependent on. In a statement to the press, President Obama claimed that;
The Egyptian people have made it clear that there is no going back to the way things were: Egypt has changed, and its future is in the hands of the people.
Other world leaders weren’t as positive as Obama. In Israel, where Mubarak had become a key ally for the country, they hoped the resignation “would bring no change to its peaceful relations with Cairo”. The worry, for some, is that a more extreme party would gain power, in a similar vein to the Iranian revolution of 1979. The Telegraph went one further, citing fears that this revolution could lead to calamitous scenes in the wider region.
“The escalating confrontation has raised fear of uncontrolled violence in the most populous Arab nation, a key US ally in an oil-rich region where the chance of chaos spreading to other long stable but repressive states troubles the West.”
Anyone that has studied the region would surely agree that the fears are completely unfounded. This revolution is totally different to the Iranian one of 1979. The Iranian revolution was a pro-Islamic, pro-theocratic, pro-Khomeini, anti-shah and anti-western movement. The Egyptian revolution is pro-democracy. The only thing they have in common is that they are both in the Middle East. If anything, it replicates the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czech-Republic. I don’t see why they’ll free themselves from one dictator and plunge themselves into another. I cannot see the Muslim Brotherhood (who are only a fringe party anyway) getting into power. It just expresses baseless fears by countries that have no understanding of the area and of its people. Hence why they were so happy to keep a tyrant in charge for so long.
Wherever Egypt goes now remains to be seen. One hopes that the revolution doesn’t get hijacked by a group or political party, and that power does indeed remain with the people.
Channel 4 seems to have had an alarming shift in its programming. Rather than scripting TV shows on interesting topics and scenarios, their sole commission structure now seems to be based around putting well-known faces into various subject matters that they know nothing about.
Kirstie Allsop in December was showing you how to tart up a Turkey roast, and Jamie Oliver has an impeding show about to air where he prats around a classroom with Alistair Campbell telling you how good school is, because he went to school and now he gets paid shitloads to knock up pukka Caesar Salads.
A series currently being rolled out showcases Mary Portas going undercover to stop you getting ripped off by furniture and mobile-phone salesmen. Portas - when not subliminally promoting companies she has share options in though her various newspaper columns – explores how estate agents don’t exactly tell the whole truth when trying to flog you a bijou studio apartment (next week “fire = hot” and “isn’t it amazing how wet you become when sitting in the bath?”). Now I don’t know about you, but when I’m looking to avoid being shafted by evil property tycoons, I would always look for help from a lady who was made famous by dressing up mannequins.
One estate agent describes a house as on a ‘popular turning’ while other is on a ‘prestigious turning’. Sorry, what? Clearly the turning market is currently all the rage in that there London. You don’t want to buy a house on an ‘arsehole turning’, or else you’ll probably end up with some right shits for neighbours.Portas goes undercover to see agents at work, though her outfit mainly consists of a wig and a funny little bobble hat. Oh, but she takes her novelty sized ring off as well. Wow, Mary, you’re like James fucking Bond with your masterful disguises. The agents, unsurprisingly, are bullshit merchants of the nth degree, using jargon that I couldn’t even begin to comprehend.
Another house Portas views undercover is in Hackney. You know, that leafy suburb with all the stabbing and whatnot. Turns out this house was broken into last week and Portas – shit, I’ve blown her cover… this is like the Valerie Plame affair all over again… let’s just call her ‘Lady P’ – asks about the safety of the area.
Estate Agent: Well, it is in East London. It’s not, you know, the safest place in the world.
Yes, basically estate agent speak for ‘yeah it’s Hackney, dear, so you will be mugged and shot within a week…but the master bedroom is en-suite, and wait look; are those some original features in the kitchen…’
Portas decides that to revolutionise the estate agent business she needs to re-brand a pre-existing firm, and chooses firm Martyn Gerrard to be her prototype. They are populated by the usual Next-suit wearing, spikey haired, reformed chav dullards that tend to populate these establishments, and Phillip who is just about the biggest berk I have ever laid eyes on. His hair spiked in every direction (co-incidentally, it’s the spit of the ‘geek pie’ barnet from Nathan Barley), fake tanned to a point where I’m now not sure what race he is, he looks like he’s been electrocuted in a bathtub of Fanta.
Phillip, it transpires, is actually a minor internet celeb, the organiser of some group called ‘Team Gorgeous’, a group of what one can only assume are comprised of failed lower league footballers and girls deemed too trashy for page 3, that prowl around the shittest night-spots London has to offer. God knows what Phil’s position is in the group, presumably ‘top tit’ or something of a similar ilk. This is a recent post by Phillip himself from their Facebook group;
Last few weeks we have bought a new genre to Valbonne with the xmasLOVE party and the style victims show-off party that was last week – now we get to play the games of champagne drinking fashion conscious love of partying.
The new “in crowd”
The glamorous the gorgeous the beautiful and the el…ite are all partying so now we link the best Saturday to hit London with the sexiest fashion styled crowd ever seen…LIST SHUTS @ 7PM SATURDAY** this is the epitome of London weekend partying and I AM LOVING IT. THIS IS STUDIO VALBONNE.
This, ladies and gentleman, proves that evolution got it wrong.
Judge for yourself:
Agency owner Simon sees no problem with this practice, claiming that ‘everyone else is doing it’, which I believe was a defence used by Nazi war criminals. Portas isn’t happy, so takes the staff to Kenwood House – a stately home in North London – to gives tours to groups of visitors, as you don’t have to be a fool to realise that reeling off a load of arbitrary facts about a mansion that you have no vested interest in is perfect practice for selling a ‘two-up two-down’ around Clapham Common.Phillip’s desk is covered in awards that only he seems to ever have won (won/knocked up in his garage; same thing really) and makes prestigious claims about making £20M for the company last year. Suitably impressed, Mary goes out with Phillip to a viewing, and the guy gives her a lesson in talking bollocks. Making up rubbish about the reason old drawstring light switches haven’t been removed (describing them as Victorian ‘servant bells’), saying the house has another 17 viewings for today; his real high point is when he claims that ‘west-facing is the new south-facing’, meaning that your house won’t overheat in summer as the sun won’t hit the back windows. I mean, you really have to admire someone which such a nominal amount of shame.
To be fair to Portas, Simon’s staff training isn’t much better. His consists of some piss-poor slides that look like they were stolen from a pre-school green cross code presentation, and some woeful buzz-terms like ‘you need to read your customers’. It’s like two bald men fighting over a comb, this.
Portas calls a board meeting with the directors of the agency. Look, she used to tart up mannequins in Harvey Nicks, alright - she knows what she’s talking about. Her idea is a new policy called ‘honesty’, where she wants the agents to be honest and tell the whole facts about the property to the customer. Call me pessimistic, but was she this ‘honest’ when working as a visual-merchandiser for Topshop? ‘These clothes, dear? Yeah, all from sweatshops. India or something. Anything else I can help you with?’. I very much doubt it. Owner Steve tries to claim that you can be a bullshit merchant and still tell the truth.
Steve: But not having a garden can still be a good thing.
Portas: How can it?
Steve: Well, it means you save money as you don’t have to employ a gardener.
Quite honestly, you have to admire this guy’s balls. They’re like fucking watermelons.
Portas, in a bid to show that people want to be spoken to honestly, takes the team out to see what the public thinks of their industry lingo. Phillip has come dressed in a fetching blue and orange suit, so either he’s starting to colour co-ordinate his shirts with his skin, or he’s just finished the day shift at Sainsbury’s.
Among the highlights are her asking a man in a café what he thinks ‘superb intercommunicating double aspect reception rooms’ means, and a deli owner if he can make any sense of the term ‘motorway accessible’ (my only assumption is that it means that the house isn’t at sea).
Portas asks the deli owner ‘Would you prefer estate agents to be honest?’ What a brilliant rhetorical question that is. What do you think he’s going to say? ‘Nah, I’d rather they kept on bullshitting me. Makes it more interesting when the front door falls off the hinges after a couple of months. Can I interest you in 400 grams of Brie?’
So, re-educated and re-buffed, Phillip and the team go out researching their ‘for sale’ property. Phillip takes much more interest in the pros of the property, in particular one woman’s very pretty radiator:
‘We got the radiator shipped in from Turkey, then installed it with eco-friendly valves’
Slightly self-defeating, no?
Anyway, clued up with facts, Phillip now sells the house like a dream, reciting every last detail to a potential buyer. The problem that I assume Phillip has in this area is that anyone listening to his spiel must be looking at his face and thinking ‘I’d quite like the downstairs bathroom to be that colour’, and would miss a number of his witticisms.
The new approach proves to be a huge success, and of all the hand-picked people chosen by Channel 4 to be subjected to their new selling methods, 100% thought it was impressive. Hooray!
So, what we’ve all learned is that Mary Portas is the smartest most bestest woman in The UK, and everything she does is perfect and we should make her Queen of England. Next week, she attempts to solve the Israeli-Palestine thingy.
(For more like this by myself and others, head to shouting at cows. ooohh yeah!)
The continuing wave of far-right groups attempting to gain mainstream legitimization continued today with a front-page story on the Daily Star concerning The English Defence League (EDL).
THE English Defence League is set to break into mainstream politics with a bid to get MPs in Parliament.
It wants to field official EDL candidates in national and council elections.
The party’s boss Tommy Robinson said: “We aren’t ruling it out. I think this country needs a party that’s not afraid to say things some would consider unpopular.
“My hope is still that the Tories will take a tougher stance.”
“We are a single issue group and at the moment we would rather have a dialogue with the other political parties – but that could change.”
So in a sense it’s a bit of a non-story; Far-right group with no real interest in turning political making an unsubstantiated threat against the Conservative party. Hardly worth the headline ‘EDL Go Political’. They themselves say that they are not a political party, but are a single issue group. A pressure group if you will. That single issue was outlined by leader Tommy Robinson;
He said the organisation’s main aim was to outlaw the Koran then adapt it to fit in with British society.
He said the only way to do this would be to force Muslims to realise the words of their holy scriptures are outdated.
He said: “They have got a responsibility to sort out their religion. They have to reform their religion so it fits in.”
One key statement that people drew out of the story was a statistic at the foot of the piece which claimed that;So the group is – in their own words – an anti-Muslim pressure group. Call me short-sighted, but I can’t see that going political. At least the BNP had a manifesto with policies (I should add, it was one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read, blaming – amongst other things – battery farming on immigration. Your guess is as good as mine).
In the Daily Star phone poll yesterday, 98% of readers said they agreed with the EDL’s policies.
This lead many observers to claim that the paper was now supporting the EDL. This was certainly the claim of the more left-wing newspapers. In a column by Roy Greenslade in the Guardian, he questioned the neutrality of the piece.
The story cannot be read as anything other than a cheer-leading, uncritical piece on behalf of the EDL. Triumphalist in tone throughout, it required no between-the-lines deconstruction to grasp its intention – to build support for the group among its readers.
Greensdale cites a long list of flattering EDL articles that have appeared in the Daily Star recently as evidence of a shift in support to the EDL. As well as this, Greensdale states that reaction of EDL members has been incredibly supportive of the article.
The Star’s coverage is manna from heaven for the EDL. Stephen Martin, who wrote on Facebook: “TODAY i sat there with my daily star with PRIDE, the pictures and banners were fair, the write up was fair, the Star comment was fair and 98 per cent back us… We have a voice now, 25p a day, if they have 74,000 new readers, we have a BIGGER voice.”
This worrying approval of EDL supporters towards the article was also reported by Steven Baxter in the New Statesman.
At the time,I looked at the reactionon nationalist and EDL message boards and blogs, and found it was highly positive. One blogger wrote, delightedly, “This is the first article I have read, from both the national and regional media, that hasn’t been critical of the EDL,” and hoped for more in the future. It would seem that wish has been granted.
Undoubtedly, the nature of the response towards the article from supporters has left critics united in the belief that the Daily Star is now supporting the EDL. In the Independent, Ian Burrel’s article also looked at the nature of recent pieces on the EDL, echoing Greensdale’s statements;
A day earlier the newspaper had run a story saying that the EDL would “fight for heroes” and claiming that two Muslim councillors had “snubbed” a soldier by not rising to their feet when he was being given a standing ovation for winning a George Cross.
The EDL boss said that, unlike bumbling BNP leader Nick Griffin, 51, he would be a sure fire hit on the show,” the paper said. The article appeared alongside the Star’s coverage of upheaval in Egypt, a piece that began: “Thousands of illegal immigrants willflee riot-torn Egypt and flood to Britain.”
The worry within left-wing circles is that giving an extremist group a national voice will spread and purport their ideas. Sorry, call me naïve, but how would that make their content any different? The BNP and EDL has constantly been used by right-wing critics and papers as a tool to legitimize them against accusations of racism. ‘I can’t be racist, I hate the BNP’, is a line regularly rolled out by the likes of Richard Littlejohn and Robert Kilroy-Silk. Just being ‘against the BNP’ doesn’t give you immunity from having your comments condemned, or carte-blanche to make race-baiting statements. Regardless of whether or not the Daily Staractively supports the EDL, their content will be the same. It’ll be anti-Muslim stories without cessation; the only difference will be that they won’t have the temerity to claim innocence.
Words I wrote for the Whiteboard project.
Seriously, check the song out. It’s fantastic.
Release: March 21st
Exposed to a range of music at a young age, Calvi’s blend of melancholic and atmospheric music saw her earmarked as one of the acts to watch in 2011 in BBC’s ‘Sound of 2011’ shortlist. Considering the success of other acts on the shortlist such as Jessie J, James Blake and The Vaccines, it’s no surprise that 2011 has already been a spectacular year for the Anglo-Italian singer. Her self-titled album was released in January to almost universal praise. Co-produced by PJ Harvey (a woman who was undoubtedly a clear influence on her music) Calvi described it as a ‘culmination of 3 years of work in her parents’ basement’, a reassuring affirmation to all independent and alternative music fans out there that ‘DIY’ is still a prominent and successful form of production. Efficacious promotion and early releases saw Calvi support Interpol in 2010, and support Grinderman by personal request from Nick Cave. I think I speak for everyone when I say; if it’s good enough for Nick Cave and Interpol, it’s good enough for me.
Blackout has a bittersweet quality that seems to teeter between beauty and hopelessness effortlessly. It has a sort of ‘if I don’t laugh I’ll cry’ feel to it, like as if the track could be paraphrased as Anna, post-breakup, simply saying to herself “everything will be alright”. Calvi cites amongst her influences film directors Gus van Sant and David Lynch, and you can certainly feel their associated dark, psychedelic and surrealist themes in her song.
- Come, have a 4 minute education - for free! (Fuck school, this is where it’s at).
George Monbiot’s article in the Guardian caused quite a stir within Twitter and other inconsequential social media outlets. It was about the government being bloody bastards again, this time by cutting taxes of super wealthy business (while the same government claims that they have so little money they are having to cut council jobs, NHS spending and privatise forests. Hmmm…)
If you’ve heard nothing of it, you’re in good company. The obscure adjustments the government is planning to the tax acts of 1988 and 2009 have been missed by almost everyone – and are, anyway, almost impossible to understand without expert help. But as soon as you grasp the implications, you realise that a kind of corporate coup d’etat is taking place.
This has been the main tool of the current coalition; ambiguity. It’s very easy to bemoan a woman on benefits with several children, but high level macro-economic decisions that cost the county BILLIONS; not so easy to dissect, given that some of it is so complicated I’d have more chance with ‘Advanced Japanese’.
Monbiot lays it out clearly:
At the moment tax law ensures that companies based here, with branches in other countries, don’t get taxed twice on the same money. They have to pay only the difference between our rate and that of the other country. If, for example, Dirty Oil plc pays 10% corporation tax on its profits in Oblivia, then shifts the money over here, it should pay a further 18% in the UK, to match our rate of 28%. But under the new proposals, companies will pay nothing at all in this country on money made by their foreign branches.
These new laws would Britain on par with a tax haven like Switzerland. So in a period of austerity when Osbourne, Cameron and that utter sycophant Clegg were making sweeping cuts all over the welfare state, he made sure he kept the biggest cut for corporation tax.
So how did to come to pass, considering it was absent from the manifesto?
You don’t have to look far to find out. Almost all the members of the seven committees the government set up “to provide strategic oversight of the development of corporate tax policy” are corporate executives. Among them are representatives of Vodafone, Tesco, BP, British American Tobacco and several of the major banks: HSBC, Santander, Standard Chartered, Citigroup, Schroders, RBS and Barclays.
So essentially, the lunatics are running the asylum. Brilliant. And let’s not forget that this isn’t the first time that Cameron has let big business decide the rules which bind them. In November, the Guardian reported how the Department of Health was allowing fast-food companies like KFC and Mcdonald’s to write and dictate the government’s policy on obesity.
The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises. The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal’s sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo, owner of Walkers crisps.
You – quite literally – couldn’t make it up. I’d be fuming right now, if I wasn’t so utterly apathetic towards everything. Ooh look, a squirrel…
The Telegraph talks about statements from Julian Assange’s lawyer. He hits out at everything and everyone; the prosecution, the courts, the evidence etc, involved in Assange’s case, basically saying what most have been over the preceding months, that the facts of the Assange case are a bit – let’s just say – ‘suspicious’.
He said: ”In my opinion, having studied the case file, as well as other material I was permitted to inspect but not to take copies or notes of (SMS/text messages from the complainants’ mobile telephones) the case is one of the weakest I have ever seen in my professional career.
”Even leaving to one side evidential problems, I can see from the SMS/text messages, in which the complainants speak of ‘revenge’, obtaining money and speaking about Mr Assange in the press, that they may have a hidden agenda, which casts serious doubt on their accusations and their trustworthiness.”
I think we can safely assume that Assange is entering a ‘not guilty’ plea. Assange is fighting against being extradited to Sweden for trial; with his lawyer claiming the extradition would be a ‘breach of Human Rights’. More to follow…
The Daily Mail! Guess what? Littlejohn is back! Hooray! What do we get today? PC gone maaad? EU bureaucracy? Gay Muslims in hoodies? No actually he talks about discrimination and how bad it is.
You can hurl the most vile smears at anyone these days, provided you insert the word ‘Tory’.
Take the case of the Conservative MP Paul Maynard, who suffers from cerebral palsy and was cruelly mocked by Labour members in the Commons.
If the lads from Top Gear had insulted Tories instead of Mexicans they would have been hailed as heroes by the Left.
Last week a moderate students’ union leader in Leeds was subjected to a barrage of abuse from demonstrators who called him ‘Tory Jew scum’ — despite him being neither Jewish nor a Conservative.
But like ‘Tory’, ‘Jew’ is now an acceptable insult on the Left. So virulent is their hatred of Israel that all Jews are considered fair game.
Ah I see, so rather than it being a story about how ‘we are the world we are the people’ what Littejohn is actually saying is; ‘aren’t left-wingers utter shits!’. Great, I’ll file it under everything-Richard-Littlejohn-has-ever-written, then.
So the man who wrote spare me the’ people’s prostitutes’ routine is joining the PC brigade then? No, not quite. In fact he gets confused at this utter alien position of bemoaning discrimination half way through his piece, and manages to intersect a few ‘Political Correctness gone mad’ anecdotes into it.
In Wiltshire, a health watchdog has had its funding withdrawn because its chairman was overheard referring to ‘jungle drums’ at a public meeting in a local scout hut.
Mrs Anna Farquhar, aged 70, was using the expression to describe gossip, in much the same way as others might have said ‘the grapevine’. But she was immediately branded a racist by a humourless fanatic called Sonia Carr, who describes herself as a member of the Wiltshire Racial Equality Council.
But, Richie; I thought we’d turned the corner?
Littlejohn’s article could be paraphrased as ‘don’t say anything against the Conservatives you liberal twats, but everyone else is fair game’, which is about as useful a piece of political rhetoric as me covering my nose in ink and attempting to write a review of ‘The World according to Clarkson’ with my face. i.e not very.
Finally The Sun, where – brace yourselves – a footballer has slept with a Z-List, reality TV celebrity, whilst in relationship with another women.
*Faints through shock*
Claudia Ciardone, 28, who appeared in Argentina’s versions of Big Brother and Dancing on Ice, told the country’s telly show Intrusos: “I was with Carlos Tevez before, during and after the World Cup. Until I realised he was already in a relationship, and so I broke up with him.”
So for all those out there would needed a ‘footballer in infidelity EXLCUSIVE’, here you are.
Have a reconstruction of Julian Assange enjoying a Brandy (brought to you by Bill Hader).
Words I wrote for The Whiteboard project, in which I gave Miles Kane’s new single a bit of a (deserved) kicking.
Single: Come Closer
Release: 21st February
Most people know Miles Kane as the most famous best friend in music since Andrew Garfield, after he and Arctic Monkeys’ Alex Turner formed The Last Shadow Puppets. Their album The Age of the Understatement went number 1 in the UK, and it put Miles Kane on the musical map. Kane was then in The Rascals - a Lancastrian, indie 3-piece - and despite a modicum more attention following his sojourn with Turner, The Rascals remained on the fringes of the indie music scene, and Kane decided in August 2009 to leave and go solo.
Come Closer is his debut single as a solo artist. The sound and look of Miles Kane feels like a one-man attempt to bring us a 2010 version of The Beatles. Whimsical indie rock with a modern, dark edge; polished and produced to within an inch of its life. Miles’ only problem is, he’s not The Beatles. The whole song feels like style over substance. Even the video, which takes place in a dimly lit strip club paralleled with some sort of Guy Richie mob skit (and with such an extent of professionalism that it feels like it’s had a large amount of cash thrown at it by Sony) gives the impression that Miles thinks he’s a lot smarter, smother and cooler than he actually is. The song is flat and uninspiring. Simple power-cord rhythm section which sounds like a poor imitation of Beck’s Modern Guilt, with Miles’ very bland and droll lyrics of ‘I guess we’ll see, what might be, woaaaah woaaah’, and my personal favourite ‘you’re a million miles, million miles……away……so come closer’ (This actually may not be a bad lyric, just a very pithy suggestion for overcoming proximity issues).
Henry Rollins ‘Get in The Van’ (p181)
You know that pub conversation people have, where they ask each other ‘what would you do if a Genie gave you three wishes?’. Mine have always been the same; go back in time and convince Axl Rose that singing isn’t a viable career choice, someone to explain to me slowly and clearly what David Lynch’s ‘Lost Highway’ was all about, and, I dunno, something gay like world peace. But if someone had suggested to me ‘what about if chocolate becomes healthy?’ I would have strongly thought about knocking the old world peace shtick on the head.
Alas! I now need not to worry!
IT’S what chocoholics have always dreamed of hearing. Scientists have announced that their favourite treat is actually better for them than fruit.
Wow! What a sensation. So all these years that I’ve been thinking that exorbitant amounts of sugar and butter were bad for you, turns out they’re just like a super healthy bag of grapes!
Researchers have proved that it is packed with more healthy plant compounds and antioxidants gram-for-gram than fruit juice and provides far more nutritional goodness than food experts had previously thought.
So is the new 5 a day now Snickers, Double Decker, Curly Wurly, Wispa and a modestly sized bag of revels? (Except the orange ones of course. You’d have to pick them out).
The discovery means cocoa beans meet the nutritional criteria needed for fruits to be classed as “super fruits”, according to the scientists at the Hershey Center for Health & Nutrition.
……wait hold on. Hershey? Where have I seen that word before.
OH NOES! We’ve been duped! So wait, chocolate people tried to trick us? And, chocolate isn’t actually better for you? And…wait, so internal affairs knew about it the whole time!? (oops sorry, got confused here with this story and the plot to ‘The Departed’. My mistake).
Ok, so is or isn’t chocolate good for you?
It all sounds too good to be true for chocolate lovers – and it is. The findings do not alter the fact that their favourite is high in fat and sugar, meaning dieticians say it should be balanced with less yummy foods such as brown rice and pulses.
Brilliant, so what your saying is that chocolate can only be enjoyed moderately and as part of a healty diet. Any excessive consumption can incure weight and health problems as well as serious conditions such as diabetes. STOP THE PRESS! THE EXPRESS HAVE FOUND AN EXCLUSIVE FUCKING SCOOP!
Oh well. Pass me that banana….
Best Reader Comment
Don’t forgot some chocolate factories were moved to Poland by Kraft . The first rule of any quality brand is that they do as they promise. Kraft didn’t keep production in Britain so I wont buy it. Kraft don’t care but if we all did it they would.
Yes that’s right; don’t forget that even in a story as stupid, absurd and pointless as this, we still need get a xenophobic dig in. This is the Daily Express after all.