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The end of prank calls?

The end of prank calls? | Political Animals | Scoop.it
The death of Jacintha Saldanha has put hoax calls under the spotlight. Where is the line between humour and cruelty?
Christopher Gardner's insight:

The suicide of Jacintha Saldanha in London - the nurse caught up in the phone prank from Austrailian radio personalities Michael Christian and Mel Greig - is terribly tragic in many ways, and others much closer to the story personally, geographically, forensically,... have all talked of it and tried to explain it. But one particular concern about this sad story has not been discussed, and I propose to throw the first molotov cocktail.

The only people fretting and fetishising this story are those who follow it walking on their knees, bowing before the myth that 'The House of Windsor' carries some special blood that the rest of us don't have or deserve. Sure, we all get caught out, overstep the boundaries of a tasteful joke periodically, actually hurt people unintentionally with our humor... But the legs of this particular story is that it pertains to Dutchess Kate Middleton who, as a 'royal,' should be above the rest of us and our slings, arrows, and ribald jests.

Why is the crux of the matter not the death of Nurse Saldana (http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/jacintha-saldanha-nurse-left-suicide-1484664)? Because she would not have been overwhelmed with guilt had the poor patient suffering with hyperremesis gravidarum been 'one of us.' Why is the crux of the matter not the pranksters themselves? Because prank calls (for better and mostly worse) have been a part of comedy since the phone was first invented (at least according to Seth McFarlane's "Family Guy"). Neither suicide nor humor can be outlawed.

 

That Saldanha felt compelled to take her own life is a sadness for her family and friends I would not dare to comment upon. May they find strength to rebuild.

 

That some are questioning the role (or tastefulness) of the prank call is merely a subterfuge for those people unwilling to admit that humor should not be aimed at our betters − even if the Windsors are our 'betters' only in so far as they pillaged properties, destroyed enemies (seeking to outpillage them), imposed private cosa-nostro justice on their peers who dared challenge them and their 'blood.' Now they help stimultate the economy by taking months-long holidays and further the cause of peace by encouraging tourists to crowd around the crown jewels (honor there should go as much to Cecil Rhodes's wars in southern Africa as to King Richard I's crusade.). If anyone responds to my rant, please do not do so to praise the queen's work with heads of state or her grandsons' participation in Afghanistan or the fact that there is a 'Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.' Many many thousands of people do such good work, and they do it without cameras or insulated regiments or private helicopters (or, if they have the private helicopter, most of them did something to earn it). The concept of 'noblesse oblige' is the problem, not the solution.

In the essay on the BBC site that inspired this tirade, Robin Galloway had this comment about the inappropriate quality of the prank: "'It would have tied up a hospital phone line', he argues, and it would have felt wrong to send up a pregnant woman, especially when the duchess was unwell."

Did you see how quickly he moved from practical concerns to the bended knee and doffed cap? The quote is not entirely his, nor do I have any idea of Galloway's politics, so I do not want to judge him or the specifics of the statement. But either he or the BBC writers (Brian Wheeler & Tom de Castella) felt compelled to point out that pranking a pregnant woman is of sketchy judgement to be sure, but the fact that such a pregnant woman was the duchess just puts it beyond the pale!

May the Saldanha family find whatever is necessary to rebuild the ties of family. I wouldn't expect much more than a nod from the royals though. Don't you see that they were the real victims? Could it be that Jacintha Saldanha felt the guilt of making Kate, of the House of Windsor!, the victim of the prank? Would she have felt as guilty if a commoner had been under her care and she put a prank call from the ill-and-pregnant woman's faux-boss demanding why she wasn't at work?

Such mere speculation aside, I say England should do the only right and honorable thing: Hold an election for the next king and/or queen. Let anyone run who can offer the merit, skill, influence, and/or crowd-pandering pablum that constitute free-and-fair elections around the world.

If that doesn't work, let us take the advice of another sage English author and satirist: "Off with their heads!"

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Black Knights and Dead Parrots: Monty Python and the Presidential Race

Black Knights and Dead Parrots: Monty Python and the Presidential Race | Political Animals | Scoop.it
As anyone who's ever heard of the Silly Party knows, Monty Python has never shied away from politics.

Great compendium article pulled together by Chuck McCutcheon at NationalJournal. Too bad a meaningful third-party candidate will not get the corporate/conglomerate support required to be a serious contender. Because really, who wouldn't want to hear these words in a political stump speech: "And now for something...completely different."?

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Bullet sales 'must be regulated' - Chris Rock is already on that!

Bullet sales 'must be regulated' - Chris Rock is already on that! | Political Animals | Scoop.it
UK-based charity Oxfam says the global trade in ammunition must be regulated, ahead of a UN conference on a new arms treaty.

I agree, and so does Chris Rock. He argued back in 2008 that bullets, not guns, should be controlled (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OuX-nFmL0II). And I'm not just poking some black humor at a serious issue. Economics drive arms sales and economics feed conflicts. If we could find a way to price the arms out of the market, we'd have a much surer way of lowering violence than if governments simply claimed the right to own guns. But, human ingenuity being what it is, Oxfam is just wistling past the graveyard. The whole point of an arms treaty is to set some standards for law-abiding nations. Those who do not want to follow those laws will find no other motivation to sign on than economic (viz: the sanctions against Syria in an effort to stop the ongoing massacre of civilians).

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Greek Election Fallout: Who is Alexis Tsipras?

Greek Election Fallout: Who is Alexis Tsipras? | Political Animals | Scoop.it
The euro fell below $1.30 in the wake of Alexis Tsipras' comments, with CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera. (Greek Election Fallout: Who is Alexis Tsipras?

Of course, the monied concerns come first. So however radical Mr. Tsipras might appear at first speech, he'll be reigned in, or kicked out.

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Is it normal to drink and end up naked? - Or thank God we're mere 'subjects'!

Is it normal to drink and end up naked? - Or thank God we're mere 'subjects'! | Political Animals | Scoop.it
Photos of Prince Harry naked have been defended. So is it normal for young people to take their clothes off after drinking?

 

Yes it is. What's different in a situation like this is that the clothes belong to a young man genetically & tempermentally no different from you or me. What is different is that he gets to play king and enjoy the financial and legal resources few get to enjoy. I'm no fan of Microsoft or Papa John's Pizza, but at least the multi-millionaires who run them did something. Harry and his family did nothing, do nothing, and will do nothing. But their billions will be theirs, and their protection from anything more than the occasional gossip mongering  will continue to protect them.

Or worse. As much as I enjoyed almost every aspect of the Olympics this summer (and kudos to London and to the British for the success of the games!), I still felt the gall in my esphagus each time I had to listen to the British sing about how happy they were that God would protect their gracious queen (and the king soon enough) so that said queen could still rule over them. Does any other 'nation' (Britain is, of course, a kingdom) have such an obsequious anthem?

Party on, Harry! You don't seriously expect it to change your prospects, do you? Who's going to 'fire' you?

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Thames pageant in three minutes for QE2 from BBCK

Thames pageant in three minutes for QE2 from BBCK | Political Animals | Scoop.it
The BBC used a time lapse camera to film the Diamond Jubilee Thames River Pageant, so you can watch every one of the 1,000 ships that took part, sail past in under three minutes.

So I just need to get this off my chest. There is SOOOOO much wrong with this 'pageant,' this event, this system. Note the moments toward the end of the video when we see the queen, her husband, Charles, and some of the younger royals bouncing ideosyncratically to the music. Note what they are wearing, and remember that they did absolutely nothing to earn that wealth or most of those medals except to enjoy the quirk of birth fate.

Moreover, not they but the fawning voices you hear in the video are paying for all this with their taxes and labo(u)r and gullible belief that they live in a democratic and parliamentary kingdom in which exactly and only one person can be king or queen, and that person requires no schooling or talent or idea or ambition to get that title.

The video might be trying to report on the 'brilliant' occasion of Queen Elizabeth's diamond jubilee, but I see a rainy-grey tragedy of a society as class-ridden as it was in the fifteenth century, when to become monarch you had at least to have the temerity to lop off the heads of a few challengers.

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Facebook Goes Public - Left, Right & Center on KCRW

Facebook Goes Public - Left, Right & Center on KCRW | Political Animals | Scoop.it
Facebook takes the leap. JP Morgan chief Jamie Dimon takes one for the team. TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts gets rolled. Greece leaving the Eurozone?

One of my favorite radio programs/Podcasts (that ought to be an hour long!) is LR&C, and the discussion of 18 May I found particularly engaging and wanted to share. The argument over Facebook's IPO and overwhelming influence on news, media, privacy, and the cultural 'moment' was particularly intriguing as it highlighted each commentator's particular position on the political-economic spectrum (Robert Scheer on the Left, Joshua Trevino on the right, Chrystia Freeland on the 'progressive right and Matt Miller as moderator of 'the extreme center').

Scheer's arguments against FB's self-apotheosis (NB: the show was taped right as the IPO launched) is that it has become the de facto news source for millions of people, thus driving 'serious' reporting agencies and media ('traditional media') toward bankruptcy. Trevino and Freeland countered (rightly, I would argue) that traditional media are not divinely sanctioned as the sources for 'serious reporting' and capitalism has always encouraged creative destruction. So perhaps Zuckerberg et al. will use their billions to support newsrooms and overseas reporters.

But Robert Scheer is correct in terms of longer-term structrual changes in what we consider news and what we want of our news sources. Facebook is both the byproduct and the cause of our wanting news to be entertaining, largely nonthreatening, and at the least, brief. As I write this post, the most watched story on the BBC World News Site is a video of a brown bear swimming in a pool in a luxury home in California. Nothing wrong with that, although the fact that the masacre in Houla or the ongoing slide of Facebook stocks were not on that list is at least disheartening.

Money, baseball cards, information... Anything that can be exchanged for its value follows the principle that bad pushes out good. Neither Facebook's CEO nor stockholders are involved in any conspiratorial effort to bring down the BBC or Le Monde. But they see value in snippets of the personal and the outrageous, not in the researched analysis of facts and coherent narrative. FoxNews works similarly.

I encourage people to listen to the discussion not only in terms of how these four sharp thinkers see Facebook, but also how they envision news media in the near term. Whether you lean toward the left, right, or center will have some influence on where you think 'news' should be made and where it should be reported.

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Hollande says 'change starts now' as he will 'give back hope' and end French divides − What about Europe?

Hollande says 'change starts now' as he will 'give back hope' and end French divides − What about Europe? | Political Animals | Scoop.it

The election in France this weekend, which brought the Socialists back into power only for the second time since 1946, could be the start of leftist reactions across Europe. Even less well covered in the US is the inconclusive elections in Greece that left far left and far right parties having to hammer out some kind of coalition.
Like in the early 1990s, when French citizens leaned toward either the Socialists or Le Pen's 'Front Nationale' party, the elections this weekend show growing levels of anxiety toward the banking-corporate complex that has governed European politics for the last couple of decades. But the elections also show growing hostility toward a German-driven European economic policy. What is not yet clear is whether the electoral responses are for a hard turn to the left or to the right. Centrism is really only praised in the US, and Europe's record of going socialist or fascist should be cause of real concern (Note to Fox News: but not demagogic fear).

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