2007 - %3, July

Monday Fun Links

| Mon Jul. 30, 2007 4:01 PM EDT

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  • UK producer Mark Ronson is the first to officially remix Bob Dylan; check out a clip on his MySpace page.

  • Led Zeppelin will finally allow their music to be (legally) downloaded. Your move, Radiohead.
  • The Guardian gives us a brief history of Shoegaze, in which Creation Records founder Alan McGee calls My Bloody Valentine a "joke".
  • A fascinating look at Michel Gondry's slightly, erm, obsessive process creating the mind-blowing video for the Chemical Brothers 2002 single "Star Guitar." Watch 'til the end to see the prototype video made with oranges and shoes and stuff.

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    Iraqi Soccer Captain: "I Want America to Go Out"

    | Mon Jul. 30, 2007 3:08 PM EDT

    To build on Elizabeth's post below, the captain of the victorious Iraqi soccer team isn't terribly happy with the American presence in his country.

    Iraq's 1-0 victory over Saudi Arabia on a 71st-minute header by captain Younis Mahmoud was an inspirational triumph for a team whose players straddle bitter and violent ethnic divides. After the game, Mahmoud called for the United States to withdraw its troops from his nation.
    "I want America to go out," he said. "Today, tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow, but out. I wish the American people didn't invade Iraq and, hopefully, it will be over soon."

    Reminds me of when the Iraqi Olympic team rebuffed the president's attempts to use it in campaign commercials.

    "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," [Iraqi midfielder Salih] Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself."
    Ahmed Manajid, who played as a midfielder on Wednesday, had an even stronger response when asked about Bush's TV advertisement. "How will he meet his god having slaughtered so many men and women?" Manajid told me. "He has committed so many crimes."
    [snip]
    They also find it offensive that Bush is using Iraq for his own gain when they do not support his administration's actions. "My problems are not with the American people," says Iraqi soccer coach Adnan Hamad. "They are with what America has done in Iraq: destroy everything. The American army has killed so many people in Iraq. What is freedom when I go to the [national] stadium and there are shootings on the road?"
    At a speech in Beaverton, Ore., last Friday, Bush attached himself to the Iraqi soccer team after its opening-game upset of Portugal. "The image of the Iraqi soccer team playing in this Olympics, it's fantastic, isn't it?" Bush said. "It wouldn't have been free if the United States had not acted."

    The article, originally from Sports Illustrated in 2004, is well worth a read.

    New Order Back-and-Forth Continues

    | Mon Jul. 30, 2007 2:53 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-neworderx.jpgThe, ahem, bizarre love triangle (sorry) that British synth-pop band New Order has become got even more bizarre over the weekend, as (former?) bassist Peter Hook threatened to sue the remaining members if they continue under the New Order name, reports NME.com.

    Hook had previously announced that the band (a three-piece after Gillian Gilbert left in 2005) had split up for good; this prompted remaining members Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner to issue a statement saying that, in fact, they had every intention of continuing under the New Order name, with or without Hooky.

    Hook then posted an angry rant on his MySpace blog, saying, "This group has SPLIT UP! you are no more new order than i am! you may have two thirds but dont assume you have the rights to do anything NEW ordery cos you dont ive still got a third!" He then adds, somewhat cryptically, "But am open to negotiation."

    Can people please learn to spell? I know it's just a blog, but still.

    Victory in Iraq!

    | Mon Jul. 30, 2007 11:53 AM EDT

    (And not a doping scandal to be found.)

    Okay, so not in Iraq, but for Iraq, and the unity was short-lived, but still. Duct tape and soccer, they hold this crazy world together.

    U.S. Special Forces Hunting Turkish PKK Leaders

    | Mon Jul. 30, 2007 9:45 AM EDT

    In this morning's Washington Post, Robert Novak reports that select members of Congress were informed last week of a covert operation now underway to target leaders of the PKK, a Kurdish separatist movement in southeastern Turkey. According to Novak:

    The development of an autonomous Kurdish entity inside Iraq, resulting from the decline and fall of Saddam Hussein, has alarmed the Turkish government. That led to Ankara's refusal to allow U.S. combat troops to enter Iraq through Turkey, an eleventh-hour complication for the 2003 invasion. As the Kurds' political power grew inside Iraq, the Turkish government became steadily more uneasy about the centuries-old project of a Kurdistan spreading across international boundaries—and chewing up big pieces of Turkey...
    Turkey has a well-trained, well-equipped army of 250,000 near the border, facing some 4,000 PKK fighters hiding in the mountains of northern Iraq. But significant cross-border operations surely would bring to the PKK's side the military forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the best U.S. ally in Iraq. What is Washington to do in the dilemma of two friends battling each other on an unwanted new front in Iraq?

    This is a good question. None of the options are particularly attractive. As Iraq sage (and Kurdish sympathizer) Peter Galbraith writes in the latest New York Review of Books, one option for withdrawing the majority of U.S. troops from Iraq, but leaving enough of a presence to contain the aftermath (and Iran), would be to base a smaller, semi-permanent force in Iraqi Kurdistan. But if Turkey were to invade northern Iraq, this would put the U.S. in an almost impossible position: balancing the continued peace and stability of Iraq's Kurdish areas (the country's only success story) against the deeply-held concerns of Turkey, one of America's best allies in the region... this despite the overwhelming hostility of its citizens to U.S. foreign policy.

    That there is war brewing in southeastern Turkey comes as no surprise. Even when I visited the region in early 2005, a time of relative calm, most Kurds I met there held the view that the Turkish government's long war against the PKK rebels was not over. The mere existence of "Iraqi Kurdistan" (don't call it Iraq) had given much-needed encouragement to the PKK, whose powers had been waning since the 1999 capture of their fugitive leader, Abdullah Ocalan. Moreover, sympathetic leaders across the border had allowed the PKK to shelter and reequip in the mountains of northern Iraq, while staging periodic raids across the border into Turkey.

    For their part, the Turks had maintained a significant military presence in the southeast, complete with mountain-top observation posts, mine fields, and numerous check points on the roads leading in and out of Kurdish cities. Even then, their operations were not limited to Turkey. During a visit to the Iraqi border city of Zakho, I was shown a house from which Turkish intelligence agents were said to be tracking the movements of PKK leaders.

    Since then, things have worsened. PKK strikes into Turkey have become more frequent and spectacular, and the Turks have responded in kind with cross-border artillery barrages directed at guerilla staging areas. A rumor circulated earlier this summer that the Turkish military had poured into Iraqi Kurdistan in hot pursuit of Kurdish rebels. It was just a rumor, but one that didn't seem too far off.

    The sabre-rattling in Turkey is growing louder, and it's unclear what the U.S. can do to calm things down. Bush apparently believes that deploying Special Forces troops to hunt down PKK leaders will help resolve the issue. This seems doubtful. But it could succeed in exhausting the patience and goodwill of Iraq's Kurds. What then?

    Cheney Big Brother?

    | Mon Jul. 30, 2007 8:13 AM EDT

    Last week, increasingly beleaguered attorney general Alberto Gonzales exasperated Senators with another round of dubious testimony concerning everything from warrantless domestic surveillance to authorizing torture to US attorneys firings. But on one point, Gonzales' prevaricating may have been to protect his career benefactor Bush not from direct responsibility, but from something else. Gonzales refused to tell Senators who had ordered him to go to then ailing attorney general John Ashcroft's hospital bedside to try to coerce him to sign off on a domestic spying program that then acting attorney general James Comey had refused to reauthorize.

    There are growing signs that Cheney was behind the whole incredible series of events that culminated with Gonzales and former chief of staff Andy Card being sent to a nearly comatose Ashcroft's bedside on March 2004 with an envelope with the orders to reauthorize the NSA domestic spying program. Former deputy attorney general James Comey had previously testified about the extraordinary scene at Aschroft's hospital bed.

    Yesterday, Newsweek revealed that it was Cheney who briefed the "Gang of Eight" Congressional leaders on the so-called Terrorist Surveillance Program the day of the controversial Gonzales Ashcroft hospital visit:

    Late on the afternoon of March 10, 2004, eight congressional leaders filed into the White House Situation Room for an urgent briefing on one of the Bush administration's top secrets: a classified surveillance program that involved monitoring Americans' e-mails and phone calls without court warrants. Vice President Dick Cheney did most of the briefing. But as he explained the National Security Agency program, the lawmakers weren't fully grasping the dimensions of what he was saying.

    Today, via TPM, a New York Times editorial says that it was Cheney who ordered Gonzales to Ashcroft's bedside.

    Is "Fredo" Gonzales protecting Bush not from acknowledgement that he ordered the attempted end run around the acting attorney general on warrantless domestic spying, but rather from the revelation that he had turned over the keys on the issue to Cheney?

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    Henry Rollins: Down With the Troops

    | Fri Jul. 27, 2007 7:32 PM EDT

    Musician, spoken word artist and writer Henry Rollins may hate the war, but he's got nothing but love for U.S troops fighting in Iraq.

    The former Black Flag singer spoke with Mother Jones recently about his experiences doing several USO tours in Iraq, the legacy of punk rock, same-sex marriages, Wal-Mart and William Shatner. And we got it all on tape.

    First Listen: M.I.A. - Kala

    | Fri Jul. 27, 2007 7:02 PM EDT

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    Track # / Title Sounds Like Lyrical Excerpt Rating /10
    1. Bamboo Banga mojo-photo-miat1.jpg "M.I.A. comin' back with power power" 8
    2. Bird Flu mojo-photo-miat2.JPG "What's the point of knocking me down?" 6.5
    3. Boyz mojo-photo-miat3.JPG "How many no money boys are crazy?" 10
    4. Jimmy mojo-photo-miat4.JPG "Take me on a genocide tour" 7.5
    5. Hussel mojo-photo-miat5.jpg "I hate money cause it makes me numb" 8
    6. Mango Pickle Down River mojo-photo-miat6.jpg "I like fish and mango pickle" 7
    7. 20 Dollar mojo-photo-miat7.JPG "20 dollars ain't s*** to you" 10
    8. World Town mojo-photo-miat8.jpg "Hands up, guns out" 7.5
    9. The Trun mojo-photo-miat9.JPG "I'm trying to do my best" 6
    10. XR2 mojo-photo-miat10.JPG "Where were you in '92?" 9
    11. Paper Planes mojo-photo-miat11.JPG "All I wanna do is (bang bang) and take your money" 6.5
    12. Come Around mojo-photo-miat12.JPG "The beat goes on…" 7

    M.I.A.'s Kala is out 8/21 on Interscope.

    Video Artist Jeremy Blake Presumed Dead

    | Fri Jul. 27, 2007 4:55 PM EDT

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    The LA Times is reporting a body found in the ocean off of New Jersey is presumed to be that of video artist Jeremy Blake. Blake had left his wallet and a suicide note behind in his East Village apartment where his girlfriend had also committed suicide just a month ago, and was reportedly seen walking into the ocean off New York's Rockaway Beach on July 17th.

    Blake, who was until recently based in Los Angeles, created hypnotic, abstract video pieces often consisting of slowly-changing washes of bright colors. He was best known for his work on Beck's "Sea Change" video, as well as interlude sequences in the 2002 Adam Sandler-starring film "Punch-Drunk Love." He was 35 years old.

    Above: Detail from Winchester (2002)

    Beck – "Round the Bend"

    "Punch-Drunk Love" trailer

    Friday Music News Wrapup

    | Fri Jul. 27, 2007 4:17 PM EDT

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  • The Stooges are to perform their seminal 1970 album Fun House in its entirety for the first time in the US at a show in Las Vegas. (NME)
  • Kurt Cobain documentary "About a Son" to get a US release in October. (Yahoo! Music)
  • Rihanna's "Umbrella" tops the UK charts for a 10th week, becoming the longest-running UK #1 single in a decade. (BBC)
  • Former bassist Mark Ibold hints at Pavement reunion. (Idolator)
  • Group of sculptors conduct "Hello Experiment" to see if they, too, can sculpt Lionel Ritchie's head without the benefit of sight. (Rolling Stone)