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This is the news. Here are some kittens.

Is it me, or is the news even more depressing than usual today?

Second post-mortem finds that Ian Tomlinson died of abdominal bleeding, not a heart attack as the first post-mortem claimed. There would never have been a second post-mortem without the combination of citizen video footage, decent journalism from the Guardian and C4 News in particular, and sustained public outrage. Also, the guy that carried out the first post-mortem has previous form for diagnosing a murder as a heart attack. A police officer has been questioned under caution in a manslaughter investigation, now.

Obama publishes torture memos but guarantees no CIA employees will be prosecuted. I'm not particularly surprised by the latter (and I have mixed feelings about it), but some of the stuff in the memos is just gobsmacking.

As we explained in the Section 2340A Memorandum, "pain and suffering" as used in Section 2340 is best understood as a single concept, not distinct concepts of "pain" as distinguished from "suffering"... The waterboard, which inflicts no pain or actual harm whatsoever, does not, in our view inflict "severe pain or suffering". Even if one were to parse the statute more finely to treat "suffering" as a distinct concept, the waterboard could not be said to inflict severe sufering. The waterboard is simply a controlled acute episode, lacking the connotation of a protracted period of time generally given to suffering.

Somebody on metafilter called the memos Orwellian, which gets over-used, but in this case? Yeah. I'm impressed Obama has published the memos, and I would hope that it leads to someone in charge getting into some trouble, though I doubt it. Hey, I wonder if the Tories will publish memos on things like Britain's involvement in extraordinary rendition when they get in. Doubt it, somehow.

In both of these cases, I would much rather see investigation into and prosecution of the people in charge, who drew up the operational policies, than the people on the front line who carried out the orders as they interpreted them. The officer who batoned and pushed Tomlinson was by no means the only officer acting with excessive violence that day; in many ways, he was just unlucky. The CIA agents carrying out the torture were also "just following orders". It's not an excuse...but there's certainly more excuse for them than for the people who drafted the policies in the first place.

The other big story of the day was the Pirate Bay founders being jailed and fined. It was just a bit baffling, really. An over-the-top sentence, an over-the-top fine, which I'd be surprised if they could pay. Some news stories say that Swedish courts take the financial situation of the defendents into account before they decide on a fine, so maybe these guys have been making millions in profit on ads, but it seems unlikely - I doubt if you can charge that much for advertising on a file-sharing site; most major advertisers wouldn't touch it. Unless they're huge hypocrites, which is perfectly possible. I expect most file-sharers have ad-blockers, too, which would lower the value of advertising space if the advertisers were smart enough to realise that.

It seems like a verdict to try and "send a message" about the immorality of piracy, but...it's way too late for that. It was too late for that when Napster got shut down, ferchrissakes. (Technically, it was too late for that when we got LPs out of the library and copied them on to tape, or when we traded Amiga games on blank C90 tapes, or taped the Top 40 off the radio.) The music industry - and the TV industry, in a different way - needs to restructure and find new ways of doing things, selling things, making their money - not just flail like mindless whack-a-moles at whatever bits of the internet are currently "the enemy". They're starting to do that with iTunes, last.fm, Spotify, and so on, but then they take their two steps back and try and stick their fingers in the dams again.

Bah. Too depressing.


bad wolf
Notes from extinction

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