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Coldplay Deny Plagiarism Accusation, Get Dissed By Reuters

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 5:57 PM EST

mojo-photo-coldplaysatriani.jpgThey just can't win. As reported here on Friday, UK ballad-producers and castoff-military-gear-sporters Coldplay had their highest-profile plagiarism accusation to date when guitarist Joe Satriani filed suit against the band, saying they'd ripped off one of his songs. Well, Coldplay have responded, calling any resemblance between "Viva La Vida" and Satriani's "If I Could Fly" "entirely coincidental":

"If there are any similarities between our two pieces of music, they are entirely coincidental, and just as surprising to us as to him," the band said in a posting on its website.
"Joe Satriani is a great musician, but he did not write or have any influence on the song 'Viva La Vida.' We respectfully ask him to accept our assurances of this and wish him well with all future endeavours."

So, take that, right? But Reuters can't help but have some fun, describing the band in a way that's gotta make Chris Martin wince:

Coldplay, whose soaring atmospheric tunes have been unfavourably compared to those of U2, brushed off the allegations.

"Unfavourably"? Is that really necessary? I mean, yes, totally, but that doesn't seem like, you know, reporting. But hey, if Reuters says it, it must be a fact. Either way, it's a good excuse for me to run my cute Photoshop collage again.

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Blur to Reunite, Inspiring This Collection of YouTube Videos

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 5:26 PM EST

mojo-photo-blurband.jpgWhile I was over looking at NME's Top 10 Singles of 2008, I noticed another screaming headline, pictured on the cover of the new issue: BLUR REUNITED! For the uninitiated, the legendary London four-piece lost guitarist Graham Coxon in 2002 after he got really annoyed during the recording of their last album. Lead singer Damon Albarn went on to wild critical and commercial success with Gorillaz and The Good, The Bad and The Queen, so he's not exactly hurting for cash, but he and Coxon have apparently buried the hatchet (hooray!) so the reunited band can play some gigs in 2009:

"It just felt it was right again," declared Albarn of Blur's return. "It somehow feels like there's something for us to do again, we're not completely useless or pointless, we've got a reason to exist." Coxon agreed, explaining the band were "making public what's been going on a little bit privately. For the benefit of the fans and those interested we can say that something's on the cards."

A single show is currently planned at London's Hyde Park on July 3rd, and an appearance at Glastonbury is rumored. Hey, howabout Coachella?

After the jump: Blur, a YouTube history!

The GOP's Fannie/Freddie Fixation

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 5:05 PM EST

aig-lehman-fannie-freddie-gravestones-300x225.jpg

Congressional Republicans finally got their big chance to blame the financial crisis on the Democrats. Ever since the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform began investigating the causes of the nation's current economic troubles in early October, the panel's Republican members have been agitating for a hearing on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They charged that their Democratic colleagues failed to rein in the two government sponsored enterprises (GSEs), which were placed in receivership in September, frequently noting that Democrats had accepted significant campaign contributions from the companies. (Republican members of the committee also took in their fair share.) Many GOPers blame the financial crisis on the extension of mortgages to poor people and minorities who couldn't afford them, which they say was facilitated by lax oversight of Fannie and Freddie. On Tuesday, with the presidential election safely over, committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) gave the GOP members their hearing.

Deluder in Chief

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 5:02 PM EST

president-bush-150x110.jpgRod Blagojevich may well be the nation's ballsiest governor, but his delusions of grandeur pale in comparison to those of our sitting president. The LA Times has obtained a copy of a talking points memo, sent by the White House to cabinet members and top officials, highlighting successes in Bush's tenure.

From the Times:

Titled "Speech Topper on the Bush Record," the talking points state that Bush "kept the American people safe" after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, lifted the economy after 2001 through tax cuts, curbed AIDS in Africa and maintained "the honor and the dignity of his office."

The document presents the Bush record as an unalloyed success.

It mentions none of the episodes that detractors say have marred his presidency: the collapse of the housing market and major financial services companies, the flawed intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, the federal response to Hurricane Katrina or the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

In a section on the economy, speakers are invited to say that Bush cut taxes after 2001, setting the stage for years of job growth.

As for the current economic crisis, the memo says that Bush "responded with bold measures to prevent an economic meltdown."

The document is otherwise silent on the recession, which claimed 533,000 jobs in November, the highest number in 34 years."

And the kicker: The memo concludes with a quote from Bush's 1999 memoir, A Charge to Keep:

"Above all, George W. Bush promised to uphold the honor and the dignity of his office. And through all the challenges and trials of his time in office, that is a charge that our president has kept."

For another perspective, Mother Jones's September/October issue features interviews with myriad historians, scientists, lawyers, and policy-makers on Bush's legacy and How to Fix a Post-Bush Nation. You can find all of their interviews here.

We want to hear from you, too: Did Bush succeed in upholding the "honor and dignity" of the office of president?

Photo used under Creative Commons license.

Possible Byproduct of a Down Economy: Less Gun Violence

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 4:46 PM EST

Due to increasingly successful gun trade-in programs. The AP, via AMERICAblog:

A program to exchange guns for gifts brought in a record number of weapons this year as residents hit hard by the economy look under the bed and in closets to find items to trade for groceries.
The annual Gifts for Guns program ended Sunday in Compton [in which] the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department allows residents to anonymously relinquish firearms in return for $100 gift cards....
In years past, Target and Best Buy were the cards of choice, with residents wanting presents for the holidays. This year, most asked for the supermarket cards, said sheriff's Sgt. Byron Woods. "People just don't have the money to buy the food these days," he said.
Authorities said Sunday that a record 965 firearms and two hand grenades were handed in during the two weekends the program was in operation. That's more than in any other year and easily eclipses last year's total of 387 guns collected over both weekends.

Freedom's Watch Not Immune to Financial Crisis

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 4:33 PM EST

After little more than a year in existence, conservative advocacy group Freedom's Watch is closing up shop. The group's primary financial backer was Sheldon Adelson, the owner of Las Vegas Sands Corp. and Forbes' third richest man last year. But Sands Corp. stock has taken a 95% hit in 2008, and Freedom's Watch seems to be one of the first casualties along with Adelson's net worth ranking.

There were signs that Freedom's Watch was on its way out before yesterday's announcement. According to the Washington Times, the group spent $30 million on political races this year—a relatively small sum considering it originally planned to hand out $200 million to conservative candidates. Before that, when the cash was still flowing, it funded a $15 million campaign to promote the surge in Iraq. Here's one of those ads:


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NME Best Singles of 2008 List All About 2007

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 3:58 PM EST

mojo-photo-bestof20087.jpgWe know it's hard. Singles get released in one year, then the album's released the next; UK release dates come months before we get them here; or maybe you got a promo copy (or—gasp!—a leak) in December, and it didn't go on sale until January. Then there's human error: what if you just didn't get around to checking out that Amadou and Mariam album until 2006? Keeping your year-end best-of list to the actual calendar year can be tough, but you'd think British music mag NME would at least try to stick to the rules. The magazine released their "tracks of the year" last week, but amusingly enough, fully half of them came out in 2007. Check out their list and my bitter commentary after the jump.

Patrick Fitzgerald Is Back: Maybe This Time GOPers Will Not Attack

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 2:44 PM EST

Patrick Fitzgerald is back.

With his dramatic arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on an assortment of corruption charges--including the allegation that Blagojevich wanted to sell the Senate seat vacated by President-elect Barack Obama--Fitzgerald, the hard-charging U.S. attorney in Chicago, has returned to the national stage as a scourge of dishonest government. His last star turn was as the special counsel who successfully prosecuted Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, for having lied to FBI agents and a grand jury during the investigation of the leak that outed CIA officer Valerie Plame Wilson.

Throughout that investigation, the no-nonsense Fitzgerald repeatedly insisted that the case was about a simple matter: whether Libby had lied. But he did note it had wider implications. When Fitzgerald presented his closing argument, he declared, "There is a cloud on the vice president." He added: "And that cloud remains because this defendant obstructed justice." Two weeks later, after winning a guilty verdict on four of five counts, Fitzgerald noted, "Mr. Libby had failed to remove that cloud....Sometimes when people tell the truth, clouds disappear. Sometimes they do not." And when Bush commuted Libby's sentence, ensuring that Libby would serve no prison time, Fitzgerald huffed, "It is fundamental to the rule of law that all citizens stand before the bar of justice as equals."

His not-too-subtle point was that when it came to integrity, the Bush White House--or at least Cheney's wing--was, well, cloudy. (The trial had revealed much about Cheney's hard-edged political operation.)

The Libby case, for some, was a hard-to-follow affair, and conservatives and Republican allies of Libby and the Bush administration had rampaged against Fitzgerald and tried mightily to muddy up the episode. Thus, Fitzgerald's implied indictment of the Bush crowd partially got lost in the middle of a partisan mud fight. With the Blagojevich case, Fitzgerald is once again championing honest government, but this time he appears to have a case less likely to get caught up in the distracting swirl of ideological attacks. After all, Blagojevich has few friends who will go on cable TV to blast Fitzgerald for being a run-amok prosecutor. There may even be Republicans who praise his pursuit of Blagojevich, a Democrat.

Blago Update

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 2:04 PM EST

BLAGO UPDATE....Thanks partly to this being a slow news day and partly to the sheer juiciness of the whole thing, the blogosphere is ablaze with chatter about the arrest of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges. Main theme: the guy has been under investigation for three years by the same prosecutor who convicted both Scooter Libby and the previous governor of Illinois, but he was merrily blathering away to friends anyway about selling off Barack Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder? What kind of fucking moron is this guy?

Other, slightly more substantive comments from around the 'sphere:

  • Who are the six possible candidates for Obama's senate seat mentioned in the idictment? Adam Serwer tries to track them down.

  • It wasn't just senate seats in play! Blago also told the Tribune Company that he wouldn't approve any state financial assistance for their effort to sell the Chicago Cubs unless they fired some editorial board members who had been critical of him. Apparently Blagojevich told the Tribune Company's representative, "our recommendation is fire all those [expletive] people, get 'em the [expletive] out of there and get us some editorial support."

  • Is Barack Obama implicated in any of this? At a press conference today, prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said no: "I should be clear that the complaint makes no allegations whatsoever about the president-elect or his conduct." What's more, the indictment quotes Blagojevich telling a friend that he wasn't willing to appoint Obama's favored candidate to the Senate because "they're not willing to give me anything except appreciation. [Expletive] them."

    Still, Time's Michael Scherer thinks this is going to be a problem for Obama anyway: "The President of the United States has a higher burden than just about any elected official anywhere. His staff will be called on by the press to account for all their conversations with Blagojevich and his aides. Obama will have to explain what he knew about these discussions." Etc. My guess is different: I think Obama will be so open about this, and so obviously uninvolved, that it won't cause him any pain whatsoever. It's an Illinois story, not an Obama story.

  • My colleage Jonathan Stein runs down the corruption record of Illinois governors since 1973. It's not pretty.

  • Bizarrely enough, despite his 4% approval rating and ongoing corruption investigation, Blago seriously considered appointing himself to Obama's open senate seat because he thought it would a good launching pad for a 2016 presidential run. The mind reels.
    Anyway, that's your Blago roundup for the morning. More, much much more, to come later, I'm sure.

In a Wonderful Synthesis of Today's Blog Posts...

| Tue Dec. 9, 2008 1:45 PM EST

We've already mentioned that Obama-Biden domains are on sale on eBay. We've also mentioned that Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich tried to sell Barack Obama's former Senate seat.

Thus, we would be remiss not to point out that Barack Obama's former Senate seat is now on sale on eBay. Oh, you internets...

And in another funny coincidence, today is International Anti-Corruption Day.