You’d have thought that in the last couple of thousand years we’d have moved on from allowing governments to do whatever they like provided they’re prepared to entertain us with circuses. But maybe not. As is now the tradition, the upcoming Olympic Games are an opportunity for authoritarian control-freaks to indulge themselves. Welcome to Lockdown London.
London is set to meet and exceed Beijing for civil liberties violations, violent suppression of dissent, and overwhelming surveillance during the games, from the rule that says you’re not allowed to display anti-Olympics posters in your own home to the sniper-toting helicopters hovering over the town. “Security” trade magazines are buoyant about the enormous sums of money the industry stands to take out of “austere” Britain’s tax-coffers to buy razor-wire, drones, and water cannons.
Faster, higher, stronger
Yes, that crushing of civil liberties doesn’t come cheap. Pay for the privilege of living in a police state, peasants:
The imminent Olympics will take place in a city still recovering from riots that the Guardian-LSE Reading the Riots project showed were partly fuelled by resentment at their lavish cost. Last week, the UK spending watchdog warned that the overall costs of the Games were set to be at least £11bn – £2 bn over even recently inflated budgets. When major infrastructure projects such as Crossrail, speeded up for the Games, are factored in, the figure may be as high as £24bn, according to Sky News. The estimated cost put forward only seven years ago when the Games were won was £2.37 bn.
And adding insult to injury:
And on top of it all, some of London’s public roads will be turned into “priority” roads that are only open to corporate sponsors’ vehicles — off-limits even to the athletes competing in the games (and ambulances).
One day the corrupt plutocrats of the IOC will run out of cities run by gullible suckers prepared to prostrate themselves before them. One day they’ll get the reception they deserve – no tribute, just doors slammed in their grasping faces.
One day. If there’s any justice in the world.
We’re not making enormous profits and then forcing Australian staff we’ve just sacked to train incompetent but much cheaper overseas replacements, says Westpac – we’re
“improving our skill capability by leveraging global scale of sourcing providers,” a spokeswoman said.
Bravo. I like the way that sentence in no way responds to the allegation that they are in fact reducing their “skill capability” by hiring cheaper, less qualified staff to fund obscene executive salaries.
Just out of interest – and obviously I’m not an economist – what would be the negative effect of offering tax incentives to companies who employ, say, 90% or more of their staff physically in Australia?
How an unjust, ridiculously punitive copyright law gets passed.
- Step 1: Industry makes up outrageous lies about the industry’s “losses”:
In IPI-land, when a movie studio makes $10 selling a DVD to a Canadian, and then gives $7 to the company that manufactured the DVD and $2 to the guy who shipped it to Canada, society has benefitted by $10+$7+$2=$19. Yet some simple math shows that this is nonsense: the studio is $1 richer, the trucker is $2, and the manufacturer is $7. Shockingly enough, that adds up to $10. What each participant cares about is his profits, not his revenues.
Lazy journalists, particularly those working for media companies with related movie or TV studios, repeat this lie as if it were true.
- Step 2: Donate huge amounts of money to both US political parties, who pretend to believe your lie.
- Step 3: Both US parties support draconian anti-citizen copyright laws like SOPA. Oh, and expend the power of the US state bullying other countries to do likewise:
The US ambassador in Madrid threatened Spain with “retaliation actions” if the country did not pass tough new internet piracy laws, according to leaked documents.
Nice country you have there. Shame if something happened to it.
And that’s how an obscenely greedy person – untouchable corporate entity, in fact – who wants to lock up grandmothers because their kids downloaded a music file gets their way. Hooray!
Game publisher Electronic Arts has a special new power it’s given itself over products consumers buy from it – the power to block them from playing their own software.
It’s like if you bought a car from Holden, and then said something publicly that Holden didn’t like, and so Holden came around and disabled your car and it was now worthless.
Meanwhile, EA and other dinosaur publishers think they can charge more for a digital download than a physical product, as part of their cunning strategy to delay digital distribution (from which they profit handsomely, having no physical costs and no retailers to cut in on the profits).
Which, given what they want to do with it, is possibly a blessing in disguise.
Professional grumpy person, and original V for Vendetta author Alan Moore, finds something ironic in the sudden popularity of Vendetta-style Guy Fawkes masks for anti-corporate protests:
“I find it comical, watching Time Warner try to walk this precarious tightrope.” Through contacts in the comics industry, he explains, he has heard that boosted sales of the masks have become a troubling issue for the company. “It’s a bit embarrassing to be a corporation that seems to be profiting from an anti-corporate protest. It’s not really anything that they want to be associated with. And yet they really don’t like turning down money – it goes against all of their instincts.” Moore chuckles. “I find it more funny than irksome.”
Although I doubt any corporations are really ashamed of flogging stuff to anti-corporate protesters. I suspect they giggle to each other about it.
I must have signed up to some loyalty program at Strandbags when I bought a briefcase some time. Tonight I received this:
We have received a number of complaints in relation to our ‘Happy Holidays’ promotion.
It was never our intention to offend or in any way reduce the importance of Christmas, and if it has done so, we sincerely apologise.
To this end, we have instructed our stores to remove the ‘Happy Holidays’ promotion immediately.
As always, your valued input and feedback is welcomed and appreciated.
Chief Executive Officer
You have got to be kidding. Somebody actually complained that saying “Happy Holidays” didn’t pander sufficiently to their religion? And instead of responding with something pointing out how silly that is, and how even Christians can have happy holidays, they actually caved?
Well now you’ve pissed off people who aren’t insane fundamentalists. And there are a lot more of us. And our objection – that you think we’re some kind of theocracy where you must pander to the religious in order to do business – makes a hell of a lot more sense than theirs.
Strandbags’ contact details, if you’d like to let them know what you think of their cowardice.
PS Talking of cowardice, despite ending the email with “your valued input and feedback is welcomed and appreciated”, Rory’s email comes from the presumably not-checked “firstname.lastname@example.org” and there’s no return email address given. Funny, that.
Naturally, the only sorts of shift we see in national copyright law are the ones making it easier for corporate copyright holders to screw over Australian citizens:
The Federal Government has proposed to modify federal regulations to make it easier for anti-piracy organisations to request details of alleged Internet pirates from ISPs, in a modified process which would make it easier for organisations such as Movie Rights Group and AFACT to pursue individuals allegedly illegally downloading content online.
No shifts to protect parallel importing and enable Australians to circumvent anti-competitive regional blocks that artificially prevent them accessing material at the same price and same time as those in other countries. No shifts to protect the public domain from ever-increasing copyright terms. Nothing to protect fair use from copyright trolling (as in the outrageous Down Under case). Just more help for IP parasites to rip off Australians and for non-commercial copyright infringement to be treated more seriously than theft or assaults.
There’s no balance in this debate, and the big parties are just giving the well-funded lobbyists everything they want, at the expense of ordinary (if unfortunately disengaged) Australian citizens.