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Radiohead to Release New Album in Ten Days!

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 2:49 PM EDT

Radiohead - In Rainbows

Well now I feel bad, since I'd been complaining about how cryptic they were being. Radiohead have announced they will be releasing their new album, In Rainbows, in ten days. Rumors had been swirling about the band's upcoming material in recent days, with coded messages on their official site leading some to look for a March, 2008 release of a new album. Radiohead left EMI in 2005, so their next move had been the topic of great speculation. Thus this announcement has come as a major shock, with Pitchfork headlining their article, "NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM AAAAAAAHHH!!!"

The unexpectedness of the announcement may be the least unusual thing about the release, which is breaking with many record industry conventions. First of all, the album will be available for the first two months after its release only as a digital download from the band's website; second, and most interestingly, fans will be able to "name their own price" for the purchase. A disclaimer on the checkout screen reads, "It's up to you." Agh! Pressure!

The band will also sell In Rainbows on traditional CDs and double vinyl, just not immediately; the CDs will begin shipping in early December. Billboard has a tracklisting.

[update] For an interesting take on In Rainbows UK Telegraph blogger Shane Richmond has a piece called "How Radiohead Killed the Record Labels." His point is mostly that while Radiohead isn't doing anything that new here, it's still a big deal because, well, Radiohead is a big deal:

None of the things Radiohead are doing with this is unique. All of them have been developed and used by other artists for quite some time. But this is Radiohead. When one of the world's biggest bands does something like this, it will get noticed and it will start people thinking. ...Record labels survived for years on the value they added to the process. They made it possible for bands to make records and get them into the stores and then used their marketing weight to get those records played on the radio and featured in magazines. In the process they made enormous profits by overcharging fans and underpaying artists. ...[But] they no longer add any value to the process. In fact, they act as a barrier between fans and musicians. It's time to move them out of the way and Radiohead have just showed us how.

Well! All praise be to Radiohead! The album's popularity is assured, but the question remains on how all this will work out; the website has already crashed once due to overwhelming traffic. Any problems with delivering the mp3s (or the actual CDs) could be looked at as a warning for any band trying to imitate Radiohead's move. We'll see in ten days...

[update #2] As news emerges that no advance copies of In Rainbows will be sent to the press, British music weekly NME has taken it upon themselves to match up the album's tracklisting with YouTubed live footage of the band, and they've found clips of almost every one of the songs. Whether they're completely accurate, it's hard to be sure, but if you can't wait ten days for your Radiohead experience, check the videos out here.

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More Blackwater Revelations

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 2:35 PM EDT

This from the office of the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Henry Waxman: "Previously undisclosed information reveals (1) Blackwater has engaged in 195 'escalation of force' incidents since 2005, an average of 1.4 per week, including over 160 incidents in which Blackwater forces fired first; (2) after a drunken Blackwater contractor shot the guard of the Iraqi Vice President, the State Department allowed the contractor to leave Iraq and advised Blackwater on the size of the payment needed 'to help them resolve this'; and (3) Blackwater, which has received over $1 billion in federal contracts since 2001, is charging the federal government over $1,200 per day for each 'protective security specialist' employed by the company." Memo available here.

Christian Right Considering Supporting 3rd Party if Giuliani Gets GOP Nod

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 2:08 PM EDT

It's been well-documented that James Dobson hates most of the Republican field, but he realllly hates Rudy Giuliani. According to Salon's Michael Scherer:

A powerful group of conservative Christian leaders decided Saturday at a private meeting in Salt Lake City to consider supporting a third-party candidate for president if a pro-choice nominee like Rudy Giuliani wins the Republican nomination.
The meeting of about 50 leaders, including Focus on the Family's James Dobson, the Family Research Council's Tony Perkins and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who called in by phone, took place at the Grand America Hotel during a gathering of the Council for National Policy, a powerful shadow group of mostly religious conservatives...
"The conclusion was that if there is a pro-abortion nominee they will consider working with a third party," said the person, who spoke to Salon on the condition of anonymity. The private meeting was not a part of the official CNP schedule, which is itself a closely held secret. "Dobson came in just for this meeting," the person said.

I wonder if this is just another form of pressure — that is to say, perhaps the Christian right is letting it be known in the press that they will consider supporting a third party if Giuliani wins the nomination as a way of pressuring Giuliani into moving his views on gays and abortion closer to theirs.

If you think that theory presumes too much organization and discipline on the part of the evangelical community, you obviously haven't read our cover package on the Christian right.

Kanye on SNL: What the Hell?

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 1:58 PM EDT
kanye-west.gif

For weeks I've been hearing how great Kanye West's new CD is, so I was chomping at the bit to see his performance on Saturday Night Live's season opener this weekend. His first song? Awesome. But by the time his second song had ended, I was scratching my head trying to figure out what the hell happened.

His first , a "Stronger/Good Life" medley, was a seamless performance. He was high energy (almost too high), he had an all-female (under-utilized) backup orchestra, solid backup vocalists, a tight live band, and stage lighting brighter and flashier than I remember seeing anyone under on the SNL stage. So far, so good.

Then came his second song, "Champion." Once again, high energy coming from everyone on stage. Then Kanye tells the band to break it down, and he goes "off the dome" (what came across as an improvised, off the top of his head freestyle) without any backup from the band. A risky move indeed, considering he didn't really have much to say. There were several lines about him being on top of his game, being number one, and being "the Don," but unfortunately his freestyle meandered toward a complete anti-climax of him saying "I keep going, going, going going..." Well, yeah, that's what he did alright, for way too long (about six minutes).

He recognized the flubs of the performance by mixing "I meant to mess up" into one line. I give him a lot of credit for improvising on live television; that's a bold move. But in this case, I'm thinking he should have stuck to the script.

After Killing 11 Iraqi Civilians, Blackwater Gets $92 Million Contract from Pentagon

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 1:44 PM EDT

Hey, here's a shocker — there's no accountability in the Bush Administration.

Rudy Giuliani and Those Horrible Phone Calls

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 1:29 PM EDT

If you're a regular user of the internets, you've probably seen the video of Rudy Giuliani awkwardly interrupting a speech to the NRA in order to take a phone call from his wife Judith.

Turns out, Rudy's made quite a habit of this behavior. According to John Fund at the Wall Street Journal, Rudy's own staffers estimate the candidate has taken phone calls from his wife "more than 40 times in the middle of speeches, conferences and presentations to large donors." And it's pissing people off. Witness:

Consider a spring incident in Oklahoma City. Mr. Giuliani spoke twice at the Oklahoma History Center, first at a small private roundtable for $2,300 donors and then to 150 people who donated $500 apiece. Ten minutes into the roundtable, Mr. Giuliani's phone rang. He left the room to take the call, apparently from Mrs. Giuliani, and never returned. The snubbed donors received no explanation. "The people there viewed it as disrespectful and cheesy," says Pat McGuigan, a local newspaper editor who was asked by the Giuliani campaign to moderate the roundtable.
An hour or so later, Mr. Giuliani was speaking to the bigger group of donors when his phone rang again. While he spoke with his wife, he invited her to say hello to the assembled crowd...
I've been told of many other incidents, from a California fund-raiser to a Florida speech to a gathering with top donors at Bear Stearns in New York. At the Bear Stearns meeting, Mr. Giuliani took a call from his wife and then noting the strained faces of his supporters, he sheepishly tried a joke. "I've been married three times," he explained. "I can't afford to lose another one. I'm sure you understand."

Rudy's bizarre behavior just gives the media more opportunities to bring up the "Queen Bitch" meme about his wife. Consider this from Fund's closing paragraphs: "Staffers have been fired, advisers shut out of meetings, schedules changed based on [Judith Giuliani's] whim. But it was her idea for Mr. Giuliani to suggest on national TV that he might let her attend cabinet meetings... The staff remains "terrified" of her, according to a former staffer. "Mollifying Judith is at the top of the to-do list for far too many people on the campaign," one person close to Mr. Giuliani told me."

So what's the deal? Is Rudy really so devoted to his wife that he can't resist taking her phone call even at the most inappropriate of times? Or does he think this staged tenderness humanizes him? Or is he as afraid of his wife as his staffers are? Whatever the explanation, I certainly hope this trend continues. I'd love to see Rudy interrupt a nationally televised debate by taking a phone call from his wife. Or, heaven forbid, the oath of office itself.

Oh, and PS — Rudy's explanation for all this? What else, 9/11.

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Race War, Schmace War: Racial Porn is the Real Problem

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 11:34 AM EDT

My good buddy, and one of the smartest race-thinkers we have, the LA Times' Gregory Rodriguez has a very good question for America: "Why is everyone so anxious to elevate Latino-black violence to historic levels?" (Violent crime, generally, is down there due to police innovations like asking locals to help instead of only asking them to assume the position.)

As he wrote in his latest column, "A new study by three UC Irvine criminologists has concluded that Los Angeles is not on the brink of a major interracial crime wave. Surprised? That's understandable. Because for the last several years, the media have been increasingly fixated on the specter of black-versus-brown violence."

Sadly, violence remains intra-communal. It aint even close. Though Gregory's analysis is great, as usual, I think there's a puzzle piece missing in figuring out why everyone's primed for a good old-fashioned race war.

It's true that scaring readers sells newspapers and magazines. It's also true that whites like to believe that black-white relations are good (75% of white Angelenos think so, given how well our racial rivenings work out for them), while black-Hispanic (black-anybody) relations must be bad (46% think so). Funny, then, that 68% of blacks and 59% of Hispanics think the opposite. True, too, that white racial fatigue, well underway while Kunta Kinte was getting his toes chopped off, compels them to flip the script. "We're not the problem anymore. Look at how those people behave." Career criminals are always bored by their victims' complaints. Still, however real white fatigue may be, it's only a slice of the phenomenon.

People see what they want to see. In this racially ridiculous country, people want, need, to see 'the other' reduced to the characteristics assigned to them by their worst enemy. Blacks and browns are lazy, rapacious animals who could never handle freedom. Raping, clawing and murdering each other in the Super Dome post-Katrina. Grandmothers at 14. Welfare queens. Super predators. Sing good, though and boy can they box/dance/shoot hoops. All's right with the world when whites are socially constructed as beneficent, enlightened, long suffering. When white criminals are culturally understood as individuals, minority criminals: mascots. When there's lots of blacks and browns to feel superior to. And here's the bonus: jones-ing for minority crime 'proves' that our criminal justice system isn't racist. Just a sad fact of life.

We all do it.

Worldcom, Enron, Halliburton's no-bid Iraq contracts, Blackwater, insider trading, stolen elections, corporate kickbacks--we Negroes LOVE that stuff. Don't even get us started on how sexually kinky we believe whites to be. I'm guessing, Hispanics get off on white corruption, too (but I have no idea how Asians fit into this except as the 'model minority'). Even as we lose our jobs, pensions, and houses, wer'e crowing, we can't forward each other emails fast enough, because we have the threadbare, pathetic joy of seeing whites exposed as their 'true' selves: hypocrites who'd deal with the devil for a dollar, happily selling their own mothers out for a time share in the Hamptons. Selling out the nation? No problem if the price is right.

It's porn. Racial porn. And we all do it.

David Corn To Become Mother Jones' Washington Bureau Chief

| Mon Oct. 1, 2007 3:05 AM EDT

Everybody here at Mother Jones is very pleased to announce that David Corn, long-time Washington Editor for The Nation, best-selling author, blogger, and TV commentator has agreed to take the reins of our greatly expanded Washington bureau.

You can read our old school, fully committeed, awesome press release after the jump. (Quick, somebody "leak" it to Romenesko.) But the gist is: David will head up a team of seven reporters and all this firepower in D.C. represents a fundamental change in the way we do business. Better, stronger, faster than before.

Look out D.C.! Oh, and we've also hired Debra Dickerson (author of The End of Blackness) as an on-line columnist and Nick Aster (who built Treehugger and a lot of the Gawker blogs) to head up our web team. Read more after the jump.

The Attack of the Brain-Eating Amoebas

| Sun Sep. 30, 2007 1:11 PM EDT

Yet another reason to worry about rising global temperatures: Brain-eating amoebas are apparently thriving in warmer water in lakes and other popular swimming spots. The amoebas have killed a record six people nationwide this year, a trend that's expected to get worse as the world gets hotter. The amoebas swim up your nose and eat away at your brain until you die. Experts warn against performing somersaults in shallow water where the bugs hang out. Nose plug sales are expected to skyrocket...

McKibben On The Race Against Warming

| Sat Sep. 29, 2007 2:45 PM EDT

A rousing op-ed by MoJo's contributing writer Bill McKibben in today's Washington Post—just in case you're unclear on what Bush's tepid and untimely global warming conference is really about. Some highlights:

It's the oldest and most clichéd of metaphors, but when it comes to global warming, it's the only one that really works: We're in a desperate race. Politics is chasing reality, and the gap between them isn't closing nearly fast enough.

Shaken scientists see every prediction about the future surpassed by events. As Martin Parry, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, told reporters this month, "We are all used to talking about these impacts coming in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren. Now we know that it's us."

The panel's chair, Rajendra Pachauri, offered the planet an absolute deadline: We need to be producing less carbon dioxide—which is to say burning less coal, gas and oil—by 2015 at the latest, and after that we would need "very sharp reductions" or else there is no hope of avoiding an eventual temperature increase of 2 degrees Celsius and the accompanying prospect of catastrophe.

Such news has finally begun to penetrate the bubble of denial that has surrounded Washington for two decades. President Bush, after ignoring the issue for six years, has convened a conference of the major carbon-emitting nations to begin considering . . . something. Bush said in a speech yesterday that "we acknowledge there is a problem," but few expect the process to amount to much; cynics see it as a way to derail ongoing U.N.-sponsored talks for a firm agreement on reducing emissions.

The only real hope is for decisive legislation from Congress; activists are calling for a law that commits the United States to early cuts, closes all coal-fired power plants and auctions the right to pollute so that we can raise the revenue to fund the transformation of our energy system. President Bush won't sign such a law, so it doesn't have to pass this fall; we're working to set the stage for 2009, when a new leader takes over.

It will take a movement to force that kind of change—a movement as urgent, and one to which people are as morally committed and willing to sacrifice, as the civil rights movement was a generation ago. Last spring, I worked with six college students to put together StepItUp07.org. In the course of 12 weeks, with almost no money, we helped put together 1,400 rallies in all 50 states demanding action. This fall we're trying again.

I've blogged StepItUp07.org before. Check it out. Better yet, participate. —Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent, to read from her new book "The Fragile Edge" and other writings…