Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Police Clash With Youth in Paris Suburb

"PARIS May 30, 2006 (AP) Police in a troubled Parisian suburb clashed Tuesday with dozens of young people armed with baseball bats, an incident that revived fears of more riots like those that shook the nation last year.

French media reports said seven police were injured in the melee in the town of Montfermeil, where masked youths hurled projectiles and swung bats at police officers." Read More ...


All quiet on the western front? Not quite. The riots of last November were quelled through the systematic use of a State of Emergency - rather than actually resolving any of the real issues. This might just be an isolated incident, but it is also symptomatic of just how much repression there is in France.

A year ago the French voted "Non" to the European Constitution and in the last year there has been no constructive effort to address the concerns of the French population. There have been regressive efforts like the CPE/CNE employment contracts and the New Immigration Bill, but no real attempt to address the real issues that were raised by the electorate when they stated why they were voting "Non".

It kind of reminds me of when PW Botha declared a State of Emergency in SA back in the 80's - it's far easier to call out the boere and put the boot in than to face the real problems of the day. The lesson there was that the SA State had to eventually acknowledge that institutionalized racism was unsustainable and that no amount of police repression could suppress what people wanted - basic human rights. The same applies to Israel and their shameful treatment of the Palestinians.

There is racism in France today, and lots of it. It's not legislated, but in many ways it is institutionalized and insidious; there is not a single black representative in the French Parliament. The UMP and Sarkozy pander to the right wing sympathies that are widely held in a society that likes to present a liberal facade, all the while clinging to a notion of France that doesn't exist anymore.

Is it any wonder that historical dramas about Napoleon and Marie Antoinette are in vogue at the moment?

Sunday, May 28, 2006

KwaLanga

I really should've written of this before - I have been trying to find the right time when it occurred to me that there is no time like the present...

I was fortunate enough to be introduced to KwaLanga, the oldest township of Cape Town and the place of the sun, in 1995 when I'd transcended my personal crap and got to meet other true blue South Africans like 'Ta Fiks, Thoks and 'Ta Reg.

In fact this blog is really a dedication to 'Ta Fiks, Thoks and 'Ta Reg, because without them I would have been lost a long time ago.

'Ta Fiks was standing next to one of his best mates who was gunned down by the SAP on a march in KwaLanga. He left SA to join the armed struggle against apartheid when he was 16 years old. He was sent by the Pan African Congress (PAC) as an Azanian People's Liberation Army (APLA) cadre for military training in Libya, only to find himself deployed in one of the most bizarre situations imaginable; Southern Lebanon, 1982.

Knowing that it was not his war, he and and a couple of other South Africans in the same situation, managed to escape to Greece only to be faced with the threat of being deported to South Africa where they would have faced certain death. An eleventh-hour intervention by the UN saved their lives by guaranteeing safe passage to Kenya, where 'Ta Fiks lived for 11 years. Trained as a fighter he became a cultural worker and brought that back to South Africa when he returned in the early-90's under an amnesty for APLA cadres.

That is the APLA of the slogan "One Settler One Bullet" - i.e. save ammunition when shooting white people, make every shot count.

I met 'Ta Fiks as he was dying of Aids, but I knew that he was always stronger than me - when I met him I realized that if I was just another stupid mlungu he wouldn't have given a fuck about me, but the most amazing thing was that 'Ta Fiks would have put himself on the line for me because I'd come so far as to meet him - technically he had sworn off white people a long time ago but he accepted me and my friend Rich in a way that went beyond the supposed boundaries. It wasn't without it's challenges. When you thought things were getting out of hand, which would happen often, 'Ta Fiks would just say "OK Now" and then put things into perspective, which is where the title of this blog comes from.

'Ta Fiks is dead now, but this blog carries his memory, and I hope it speaks for him too because he was the "terrorist" that wasn't if you know what I mean.... bad luck if you don't ...

'Ta Reg is also dead. 'Ta Reg never left really KwaLanga physically but he found certainly found a psychic route when someone at the publishing house that he worked at, slipped him some acid in the 60's. Regie was the kindest, most gentle person that I have ever met. He was also incredibly wise, an "Old Soul" and a great fan of the Beatles. I believe that 'Ta Reg, like 'Ta Fiks, are still very much with us and their guidance is here if we are willing to listen. Their life experiences were filled with so much pain that it is just not funny, but they took these difficulties in their stride and both of these men had a human compassion that is rare.

And bra Thoks, to who, as the originator of the saying: "Ok Now", I must say; Thank You. It must have been one evening together, when we all picked up on the phrase, which has stuck with me ever since. And to him I will also be indebted forever, for showing me an new path. Such is life, and hopefully we continue the learning process throughout, together.

The time that I spent in KwaLanga with 'Ta Fiks, Thoks and 'Ta Reg remains as the most special part of my life, where I learnt the most about the world I live in and myself. KwaLanga is one of the most important places on the planet to me, and is quite rightly known as the place of the sun.

In our African culture our ancestors are a vital component of our lives and I keep both Fikele and Regie close to my heart as two adoptive ancestors who are both my guides now as they were then.

Long live 'Ta Fiks and 'Ta Reg!

And even longer life to bra Thoks!

Mayibuye iAfrika! Return to Africa!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cut the Crap

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain."
The "Litany against Fear," Frank Herbert, Dune
Team America and Israel have fine tuned their timeline for the attack on Iran this last week, with Ehud and Tony passing through Washington, one can rest assured that the final pieces of the plan have been put in place.

Now is it too much to ask to fill the rest of us in on what that timeline is exactly? That means stop treating us like fools and start being honest about your intentions because we are sick of all the crap. Not that Iran is doing anything illegal, and we already know that Team America is not interested in a diplomatic settlement and has begun covert operations against Iran. So just tell us what you are doing and stop beating around the Bush already!

What I am asking for is that we are no longer treated like idiots by the powers that be - George, Ehud and Tony are cooking up plans that affect every single person on the planet, all the while pretending that they are acting in "our" best interest! They are not. They are fuckers of the highest order and we will stop them.

Why? Because we know what they are doing and we aren't gonna take it anymore. We are gonna take them down because we are fed up with their shit.

Revolt Now. Ok!

Friday, May 26, 2006

The Sunfish

I have no religion
I have no culture
I have only what
I invent for myself

When it's grey and starts to rain
We don't hear the crying
Of the hungry child
Because we know it's sunny in Spain

Troubledvision and misprinted words
Plague our global hamlet
Where the old and the young
Still live side by aching side

In god we entrust our dollars
In satan's arms we sleep every night
In our own arrogance we still believe
As we comfort ourselves on credit:

"I didn't pull the trigger
I never gave the orders
I didn't know what was going on
My grandfather did it"

The steel gates are locked
The filing cabinets are empty
The dentist can't see your teeth
For all the shit in your mouth

And when its grey and starts to rain
I look outside
And see the child
Through my window of pain

I do not long for the faded glory of the past
I do not live for the sublime promise of tomorrow
I do want to see the world around me
As it is

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Thursday, May 25, 2006

A tiny glimmer of hope...

... that all is not lost. It's not without a certain amount of glee that I heard today that George's big china Ken Lay got taken down today, along with Jeff Skilling. It may not be quite "Justice for All", but when 2 major cretins are found guilty on 19 of 28 charges it does restore one's faith in a legal system that has been severely eroded over last few years.

The Enron debacle is a prime example of the debauchery of what modern business management has become, and is merely the tip of the proverbial ice-berg, but as long as these two "titans" of business never see a window without bars again, I'll be happy. Mind you, I'm sure the lawyers are the ones who are going to be making the real skilling on appeal.

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Review : No God but God by Reza Aslan

No God but God – the origins, evolution and future of Islam by Reza Aslan
Reviewed by Sean Badal

Reza Aslan’s book comes profusely adorned with lavish praise from the usual suspects – it was shortlisted for the Guardian’s First Book Award, and …cripes… there’s a quote from A.S Byatt on the front cover. Never figured her for an Islamophile somehow. Do they know she’s a white woman from the counties?

The Washington Post waxed lyrical about his “unusual background”. Er, he was born in Iran and fled the country with his parents in 1978, aged seven. This was in the aftermath of the Iranian revolution. What the fuck is so “unusual” about that. The coffee-shops of North London are teeming with shaggy-haired, sad-eyed Iranian exiles and the New York Times bestseller lists of recent are cluttered with Iranian memoirs of varying shades.

Admittedly Aslan doesn’t quite fit that description. He’s a handsome bloke in that dark (but not too dark) and smoldering way so beloved by westerners who simply adore all things Middle Eastern.

Having got all that off my chest, the book itself is rattling good story. I know “accessible” is a clichéd word, but it’s hard to believe that there has hardly ever been a comprehensible account of the history of Islam that can be read as easily as Aslan’s book. The story of Islam from the birth of the Prophet Muhammad to the 2001 Al-Qaeda attacks in the US is presented in one breathtaking sweep. It’s an artificial end-point but hey, if he’d carried on with the attacks, it would be like Groundhog Day in Basra.

The first half of the book is most compelling. Muhammed’s trials and tribulations are presented as a gripping narrative. From the moment Muhammed received his first revelation on Mt Hira in 610, he saw himself – quite unequivocally – as a messenger of God. His people though, were a bit dubious, referring to him as a “kahin”, a fortuneteller. Muhammed’s first major battles were based on issues of economic justice in the most commercial of all Arabic cities, Mecca. His fight with the Quraysh tribe is well documented in heart-stopping detail, and so is his flight to Yathrib which later came to be known as Medinat an-Nabi (the home of the prophet), Medina.

Although firmly monotheist, the author argues that "As far as Muhammad understood, the Torah, the Gospels and the Quran must be read as a single, cohesive narrative about humanity's relationship to God. ..." Interestingly the Ka’ba was also worshipped in pre-Islamic times, together with a panoply of other gods. They were all chucked out, with the exception of the Ka’ba. This I did not know.

Sadly the history of Islam after Muhammed’s death is grisly catalogue of slaughter, both within Muslim territory and outside.

The history of Wahhabism is also revelatory. It started with a small clan based in Najd, the eastern Arabian region, led by one Muhammed ibn Saud (you know where this is going). Saud, a wealthy landowner, offered refuge to an exiled preacher, Muhammed ibn Abd al-Wahhab who was something of a religious zealot, to put it mildly. Powered by a puritanical ideology Al-Wahhab declared jihad on all forms of Islam – including Sufism – that didn’t conform to his rigid interpretation of the Koran. The author states that the alliance between the two men “not only altered the course of Islamic history but changed the geo-political balance of the world.” Phew.

It gets more interesting. The Ottoman Muslims, what with their drinking and whoring, weren’t too keen on the Wahhabis either. They sent an army to Arabia to crush them, but, guess what, the British, eager to get their hands on the Ottoman empire secretly funded and armed the Wahhabis.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Title: No God but God – the origins, evolution and future of Islam
Author: Reza Aslan
ISBN:0099472325
http://www.rezaaslan.com

*** Once again, many thanks to Sean for providing this book review.

Bangladesh factory rioting ends

Well that's the headline according to the BBC website. The truth is probably something more like "Millitary repress Bangladeshi workers":
"Police and security forces have been deployed to protect garment factories in industrial areas of Bangladesh.

The operation has prevented a repeat of widespread rioting which destroyed or damaged dozens of factories on Saturday, Monday and Tuesday." More...
Just because people aren't out in the streets torching cars and factories does not mean that they are happy. Even more so when you have to call out the army to quell an uprising. Apparently the stress has been to much for President Iajuddin Ahmed who has been shipped out to Singapore.

I don't think that this is the end of story. I know someone who works in the clothing industry here in France, and their production in Bangladesh is being held up. The factory is blaming the situation on a "conspiracy" against Bangladesh, such as noted by the BBC article. I think the only conspiracy here is between the factory owners and clothing companies who have been raping their workers for every last red cent that they can possibly squeeze out of a 7 day work week.

Thomas Paine's Corner: Slaves to the "Free Market" Unite

This is an extremely well written post that encapusulates many issues of the day, with the strong message that we need a global response to globalisation.

No matter whether you are a garment worker in Bangladesh, a student in the anti-CPE movement in France or part of the dying middle-class in the US, the root problem is the same.

Global capital has maneuvered us into a "precarious" position; where our working lives are disposable, where the entirety of humanity has been placed in competition which each other as we fight for the scraps from the table of a small but powerful global elite.

We are doomed to fight in their meaningless wars, to fulfill meaningless jobs in order buy meaningless products.

This post is a call to take back our lives by uniting globally against this fickle slavery. This is not an empty call for "workers of the world to unite", but an appeal to realise the common humanity that we all share and to transcend the divide and rule tactics employed by global capital.

Read it here: Thomas Paine's Corner: Slaves to the "Free Market" Unite

The Truth Will Set You Free: Global Jihad is now popularity contest

"I'll see your Osama and raise you an Al-Zarqawi" said George, "This is a high stakes game here."

"I'll bet my bogeyman is bigger than yours, you don't stand chance old boy" replied Tony.

"Aha, you are just playing for pennies here and unless you've got ace up your sleeve, I'll take your Al-Zaqwari and raise you an Ahmadinejad" said Ehud.

"I fold" Tony said dejectedly.

"I ain't no fool" George stammered, "I know when I am whipped and when to quit, but I ain't quitting until I got all them there terrorists."

"Ahmadinejad isn't a terrorist my dear chap..." Tony pointed out.

"Yeah well, whatever. Ehud amigo, I'll call you with as much Palestinian land as you can grab" continued George, glaring at Ehud.

Ehud lays down a full-house.

"Ha! I knew that you boys were virgins when it came to poker!" said George as he lays down his pair of jokers and takes a deep puff on his Cohiba.

Just when you thought things couldn't get anymore absurd: The Truth Will Set You Free: Global Jihad is now popularity contest

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

How to survive on less than a dollar a day

Garment workers in Bangladesh are continuing their mobilisation and clothing companies in the US and Europe must be starting to get edgy - their winter 2006 production in Bangladesh is in the balance here.

"The workers started demonstrating after authorities failed to meet their demands, which include higher wages and benefits, one day off per week and an end to forced overtime, said labor leader Belayet Hossain.

Workers are often forced to work seven days a week or late into the night to meet production deadlines, Hossain added.

"We have joined the protest as we are paid pittance for our hard work," said Kamal Hussain, a garment worker who was demonstrating with about 100 others in Uttara, just outside Dhaka.

A textile worker earns about $22 a month in Bangladesh. Hossain said they were seeking at least a 30 percent raise." More...
$22 a month. €17. R145. I don't give a flying fuck about exchange rates or relative costs of living in Bangladesh, that does not even rate as a pittance in my book. 1,8 million people work in a $6 billion industry in Bangladesh so that people in Europe can have cheap but fashionable underpants for next winter. Even if it was $50 or $100 dollars a month, that is still not a living wage.

And it's not just Bangladesh. It's India, China, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. And more. There is probably someone in Cambodia willing to work for $18 a month.

If the fashion gurus of Europe and the US cancel their production and shift it elsewhere, as is their want, and although these fashion houses may suffer lost profits temporarily, it is the 1.8 million workers in Bangladesh who will be up shit creek without a paddle.

But that is not why the factory owners are calling for the army to be brought in to crush the uprising, it is their fear of losing their lion's share of the $6 billion.

Greed and the profit motive is destroying this world.

Dying to work

More details are emerging from Bangladesh where police fired on garment workers, killing one and injuring 80 others. These are people who are working for a pittance so that Europeans can buy a sweater for 30 euros. They aren't saying that they don't want to work, but they want better conditions and a living wage.

Bangladeshi textile factory owners and government ministers aren't interested in seeing Bangladesh losing out on the lucrative textile export earnings to other South East Asian countries, and in the competitve world of the garment trade where it costs a few US cents to make a t-shirt, these workers don't stand much of chance. They'll be replaced by those hungrier and more desparate long before there is any kind of wage increase.

Such is the nature of the beast. The scary part is that in Europe there are literally wharehouses full of these cheap clothes that were overproduced from season to season that never get sold, even after being marked down and flogged on to discount wholesalers.

None of these clothes are made in Europe as the textile industry is pretty much dead. Just like the Bangladeshi worker.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Let's have an Industrial Revolution

Now how the hell am I supposed to get my H & M t-shirts for 4 euros if a bunch of uppity workers are burning down factories in Bangladesh??

I mean really, who do they think they are demanding a pay increase and 1 day off a week? Didn't they get the memo?

"DHAKA, Bangladesh May 22, 2006 (AP)— Textile workers demanding better pay and one day off per week went on a rampage Monday at an industrial park near the Bangladeshi capital, setting fire to two factories and several buses, a domestic news agency reported." More...
The next thing you know they will be demanding to be treated like human beings and wanting all kinds of rights like French workers. "No more sweatshops for us!" they'll say, and be wanting Unions and things like social security and holidays.

No this has to be stopped now or the past 300 years of capitalism, exploitation and globalisation would have been for naught, and we can't have that can we?

OK Now.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Important French words : No.1 - "Le Dossier"

One might be forgiven for thinking that the notion of "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity" only applies to French people, especially when the lower house of the French Parliament votes through yet another reactionary Immigration Bill, designed by that luminary of political intrigue, Nicolas Sarkozy.

This new Bill has nothing to with equality or fraternity and everything to do with protecting cultural hygiene. New immigration bills, no matter where, are normally indicative of a right-wing swerve in any society but as with anything Sarkozy related, this is also an attempt to garner right-wing voters for his bid for the presidency. Isn't it wonderful when you can introduce legislation as part of your future election campaign?

France is already an incredibly difficult country to get legal residency in. I know this first-hand. And I'm also directly affected by this new Bill. Just as I am vulnerable to being forced into accepting a CNE employment contract. Wonder-fucking-ful.

The best part is that I am still liable for all the taxes, even though I have no representation and the bar is being raised even higher by this new Bill.

Even more wonder-fucking-ful ek sê.

OK Now. But what has this to do with the word "dossier" (noun, masculine - "file") you may well ask?

Well, whether you are a French Citizen or not, any official interaction in France involves a "dossier" of variable weight, and that is where I suppose the equality part is meant to fit into the new Bill; you have to learn how to deal with "dossiers" just like French people would.

As a would-be immigrant, from, say an African country like South Africa, unless you are marrying a French person, you might as well not even bother trying to get in.

Marrying a French person, even more so now, requires a strong fortitude for filling in forms, being medically examined from arse to elbow, a photocopy machine with an endless supply of paper, standing in queues for immigration windows that are only open from 8 am to 10 am four days a week and essentially a desire to become a master at the art of "dossier" compilation.

The normal "dossier" submission process, as I have learnt, entails numerous visits to that inaccessible window. No matter how good you become at pre-compiling a "dossier", you still have to stand in the queue to find out what the exact "dossier" contents has to be as there is invariably no website or helpline to call to verify what is needed beforehand.

Thus "Coming Prepared" is not really an option; you will require a stamped document that just isn't in your possession at that moment in time.

Getting that document will nornally require yet another a separate file or "dossier".

Once that is sorted out, on your return trip, after that endless queue, you will hopefully see your "dossier" being accepted for processing. Usually after a couple of weeks, you are invited back to the queue to receive your Officially stamped document.

Just a tourist Visa to France on a SA passport these days, requires a "dossier" of enormous length and detail, along with all kinds of personal information about your paternal great grandmother. This is the result of the last Bill not so long ago, which also introduced new bureaucratic counter-tourist measures.

And god-forbid you are staying with friends in France, because they have to provide a "dossier" too, pay 15 euros in stamp tax and send a paper receipt to you before you can get your visa. If you do ever intend to holiday in France, be sure to give yourself a long lead time for all the "dossier" preparation. It's already a fucking nightmare getting into France and Sarkozy is happily creating even more work for the hordes of bureaucrats. Kafka must be pissing himself. So sorry if I can't invite you to come and visit me anymore - it's just too much goddamned paper work.

As a foreigner, your first introduction France is most likely to involve a "dossier" before you even enter the country. And it just doesn't stop there. French people seem to take them in their stride, as it is all part of being French or something. Legal immigration into France is a disaster already and I don't think this Bill is going to slow illegal immigration, but rather the opposite; I believe it will lead to an increase because poephols like Sarkozy don't understand people - producing more paper hurdles will just lead to more people jumping the fence and bypassing all the crazy bureaucracy.

Welcome to Fortress Europe.

Review : Rough Music by Tariq Ali

Rough Music: Blair Bombs Baghdad London Terror
Reviewed by Sean Badal

Tariq Ali’s latest is a bit of a tirade. It is however a tirade that is gripping from start to finish. It’s a flimsy book (more of a pamphlet really – appropriate somehow as it recalls the great pamphleteers - Swift, Bageshot, Voltaire).
The title comes from Edward Thompson’s Customs in Common - ‘Rough music’ is a seventeenth century English term to denote mockery or hostility against individuals who offended against certain community norms.

It may have been written in haste, following the shooting of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes at Stockwell Underground station on July 22nd 2005, but the book provides a trenchant analysis of the pernicious rot that has set in into British politics. It has always been there of course – in the appendix there’s a shocking piece by Gerry Adam who writes (somewhat wryly, thirty-odd years on) of his experience of torture at the hands of the British military). If anything, it reads worse than the accounts by the Iraqi prisoners who were recently tortured.


Ali’s first target is the British media. Most of it is old hat. We all know how the Murdoch press and the “liberal” newspapers swung behind TB in his hour of need. Ali personalises it a bit, writing how Alistair Campbell (TB’s media rottweiler) rang Greg Dyke, the DG of the BBC, after the February 15 demonstration to denounce the BBC for saying that there were a million people out on the streets of London.
Dyke’s written response to Blair was revealing: 'Having faced the biggest ever public demonstration in this country and the biggest ever backbench rebellion against a sitting government... would you not agree that your communications advisers are not best placed to advise whether or not the BBC has got its balance right?'
If there is a man viler than TB in this nasty saga, it’s Campbell. How this pompous, lying twat of a Goebbels-like scumbug ever reached such a position of power in government is a mystery. Despite all the blood on his hands, he’s still out there plying his evil trade, doing his one-man shows around England, and still pontificating when the need arises. If there’s a disgruntled citizen who’s reading this,and happens to be an expert in one of those high-velocity rifles that causes heads to explode on impact, we’d be quite willing to have a whip-around…
Dyke off course lost his job. Funny how all the people who actually stood up to Blair and his motley crew up ended up losing their jobs and/or their lives. Dyke, Andrew Gilligan, David Kelly, Robin Cook (okay, that was a heart-attack but you never know).

Ali has a particularly vitriolic stab at the Guardian – and rightly so. The newspaper cravenly submitted to the will of it Downing Street when the crunch came. As Ali points out, if it weren’t for the Comment pages, there wouldn’t be much to it. Mmm…wonder how long he’s going to keep writing for them then.

On a more poignant note, the book is dedicated to the late, great Paul Foot, a man singularly did much to expose the shenanigans of the rich and the powerful over the years. He’s still vastly missed from the pages of Private Eye.

Pub Date: September 2005
ISBN: 1844675459
Author: Tariq Ali

** Many thanks to Sean for providing this review - I get to read so little non-fiction these days that it is depressing and hopefully Sean will be contributing more to the blog soon.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

© Rights and Wrongs - The DADVSI is upon us


I've been meaning to follow up on the issue of the DADVSI law here in France for a while now, but I just haven't had enough time to research it properly. From what I can gather, the DADVSI law is the French government's interpretation of the EU Copyright Directive, and apparently that interpretation has been strongly assisted by Vivendi-Universal, the big Music and Movie conglomerate.

Now while there are all kinds of issues involved in the matter of copyrights, it is another thing entirely when one powerful interest group is holding sway over legislation.
"On the bad side, the government has cancelled amendment voted in December that would have legalized p2p download. There is now a so-called "progressive repression", that punishes file download with a EUR 38 fine; file upload with a EUR 150 fine; usage of means to circumvent a DRM with a EUR 750 fine; creation of means to circumvent a DRM with a EUR 3,750 fine; publishing of means or information to circumvent a DRM with a EUR 30,000 fine and 6 months of prison. Also no exception for education has been accepted, government has preferred to pass some contracts that have been signed during the examination of the law and appeared to be very insufficient.

On the very dark side, there was the adoption of the so-called "Vivendi-Universal" amendement that punishes with EUR 300,000 fine and 3 years of prison the publishing of a software "obviously intended" to provide to public some unauthorised copyrighted works. There is a subamendment that nullify this one by excluding every software that can be used to exchange non-copyrighted work. But it doesn't prevent threats from right-holders. Anyway, this amendement in criminal law is likely to be rejected because it's unconstitutional. But there is also a part for civil law, which could forbid any publishing of such a software which wouldn't included DRM. And for this civil part, there is no nullifying sub-amendement. Also a major decision was that right to private copy is subject to decision from a newly created "mediation" committee, who is allowed to fix the number of authorised copy, which can be as low as zero in case of DVD !" More...
More information in English is available at: http://eucd.info/index.php?English-readers and in French at the StopDRM blog.

All too often the issue I find in copyrights, particularly in music and films, is that it is not the artist or actor who owns the copyright but the music or film company. The music industry today is controlled by a couple of big players like Vivendi-Universal, Sony and a few others and they have the power to make or break an artist, so much so that 90% of the new music we hear is dictated by the record companies and what they think we will buy. No wonder there is so much crap out there.

I'll keep an eye on the situation, but if you have any info, please send it through.