Taylor Swift Decides She is Better Than Spotify

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The world somehow keeps spinning

by Luis Gomez

 

I haven’t listened to 1989. At least not the whole way through. Sure, I’ve been subjected to the unmitigated horror that is “Welcome to New York” and I’ve willingly and unwillingly listened to “Shake It Off” more times than I’d care to admit in public. But the album itself remains untouched, and that’s because TSwift decided to pull her music off Spotify.

In many ways, this is something only Taylor Swift could have done. Why? Because she is Taylor Fucking Swift, that’s why. She would have sold a bazillion copies of any album she released. She’s one of the very, very few artists with enough leverage behind her name to make companies bow down before her, and it makes sense from her perspective. Spotify, by their own account, pays about $0.006 and $0.0084 cents per stream or something, which means that you’d have to play a song 215 times on Spotify to make the same amount of money you would if someone just bought the song on iTunes, which is slightly ridiculous.

But there is an underlying problem here, and it isn’t just that I now have to find a way to replace “I Knew You Were Trouble” in my playlists.

The issue is that while Taylor can pull all her music off of Spotify, she might become a dangerous example. While there’s an argument for more fair compensation that she is (rightly) highlighting, artists moving their music off of Spotify en masse would be the most anti-consumer move since…I don’t know, cable companies still existing.

Think back to the 2000s. N*SYNC still mattered. Eminem had just released The Marshal Mathers LP to critical acclaim. Phones had more than three buttons.

Also, there was rampant music piracy. Like, seriously shitty levels of music piracy. Limewire and Napster gave you easy access to a few million songs that you’d never have to pay for, were never licensed, and artists never saw a cent.

But then this great little thing called progress happened. The iTunes Store introduced digital distribution to the world and simultaneously started the death of the album model. Streaming services popped up. Outlets for more and more indie artists emerged. Today, if someone wants to get music, they can stream it from iTunes Radio, Google Play, Spotify, Pandora, Rdio, Beats Music, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, Xbox Music, and YouTube. The rise of streaming services accelerated the death of album sales, and in response, Taylor decided that the best thing to do was take her toys away and say “I don’t like change!”

Like it or not, consumers want free music. Consumers have always wanted free music. And now through Spotify, they have an actually legal, mainstream avenue by which to access and share music. Taking away people’s choice in regard to streaming platforms is, for one, completely useless. When you have twenty different ways to stream music, there’s no real way to effectively get rid of anything, nor is there anything stopping someone from uploading an album to YouTube or Soundcloud.

Also, this is a pretty blatant fuck you to consumers. Basically, Ms. Swift and her label have decided that they’re not getting enough money, so fuck you for listening to her music in a convenient, painless manner. Which is fine if it’s just her, but if every label and artist suddenly decide they’re not raking in enough cash from streaming services and pull their music, that’s a problem. Two other artists on Taylor’s label have pulled their music, and artist like Garth Brooks, who never let his music onto Spotify to begin with, decided now would be a great time to make the case for getting paid even more. And one can only expect that, after seeing how many sales this drove for Swift’s label, other labels may start pressuring their artists to pull off of Spotify and other services, and demand that customers just stop listening to music the way they want to, and listen to it the way the label wants them to.

But see, the funny thing about technology is that you can’t stop it. Spotify is probably the best example of the music industry adapting to the internet age. Going directly against the market is a recipe for failure. So is antagonizing your customer base by implicitly telling them that they should feel ashamed for listening to your songs on a streaming service. Trying to kill streaming doesn’t mean you’ll bring album sales back to life. It means that people will start pirating again, and in larger numbers.

So yeah, taking your music off of Spotify isn’t really a great idea Taylor. Maybe you can get away with it for a while, but if this becomes a precedent, then we are never, ever, ever getting back together.

Wilson and Pantaleo Walk Free, Nation Laments

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Murder now officially legal in America if you’re a cop

by Will Speros

News Co-Editor

 

Bob McCulloch, the smug-faced Prosecuting Attorney for St. Louis County, Missouri, stepped in front of cameras nearly fifteen minutes late on the night of November 24. As he began reading his statement, McCulloch made some pretty bizarre and ultimately tactless choices. In providing background of the Michael Brown case, McCulloch decided to blame the media for the social unrest and distrust toward law enforcement that resulted from Brown’s murder over the summer. “The real villain is the 24 hour news cycle,” McCulloch said. While he is not wrong that the 24 hour news cycle is inherently problematic for our society, to try and blame the media for their coverage of the highly controversial shooting when there is a dead unarmed teenager is borderline sociopathic behavior in my opinion. McCulloch then went on to say the eyewitness testimonies to Darren Wilson’s shooting of Michael Brown were “inconsistent” and “refuted by physical evidence,” though all eight eyewitness accounts include Darren Wilson shooting Michael Brown in cold blood, unarmed, with his hands up in the street.

On December 3, the Staten Island grand jury announced it would also not bring up charges against Daniel Pantaleo for choking another unarmed black man, Eric Garner, to death. The murder, which was captured on video, depicted Garner repeatedly screaming “I can’t breathe!” as Officer Pantaleo held his chokehold. Garner had been suspected of selling illegal cigarettes on the streets of Staten Island.

Tom Wolfe famously quipped that a grand jury could indict a ham sandwich if they wanted to, and the entire legal community has rallied almost unanimously in support of this assertion. What went so wrong with these cases that these juries were unable to indict Darren Wilson or Officer Pantaleo? The morning of November 25, a Foreign Ministry spokesman in North Korea released a statement referring to the United States as a “graveyard of human rights” over the previous night’s ruling. It feels quite compelling to agree with North Korea on something for a change.

It’s safe to say we all knew where McCulloch’s speech was headed, and his announcement (which he made with a fucking smile on his face) that the grand jury had elected not to prosecute Darren Wilson for shooting Michael Brown was something everyone had braced themselves for. President Obama himself did not seem all that shocked when he gave a speech an hour after McCulloch’s announcement, though he was visibly upset. Our very own president came right out and said “There are still problems. Communities of color are not just making this up,” amidst those ever-ignorant talking heads labeling these shootings as isolated incidents in no way related to race.

Chris Hayes from MSNBC, among others, pointed out that what McCulloch described procedurally in his statements were “so far removed from normal criminal procedure it’s unrecognizable.” Jeffrey Toobin, a lawyer and law analyst, wrote that The National Bar Association even launched an investigation into the questionable proceedings that had been described. “McCulloch gave Wilson’s case special treatment,” said Toobin. “He turned it over to the grand jury, a rarity itself, and then used the investigation as a document dump, an approach that is virtually without precedent in the law of Missouri or anywhere else.”

The same day the Staten Island grand jury declined to indict Pantaleo, Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. announced that the Justice Department would be launching a federal civil rights investigation in light of the ruling. Holder referred to Garner’s murder as “one of several recent incidents across our great country that tested our sense of trust” in law enforcement. News broke recently from NBC New York that Staten Island Attorney General Daniel Donovan did not ask the grand jury to consider lesser charges in the case.

Multiple members of our Congress brought a “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” protest to the floors of Congress. Players from the St. Louis Rams took to the field during a recent game in similar protest, and defended their actions when the team’s administration tried to make a public apology for the act. Derrick Rose showed up to warm-ups before a game wearing a shirt reading “I Can’t Breathe.” Bill O’Reilly even expressed his shock that Pantaleo would not be taken to trial, as did former president George W. Bush. There is no mistaking it; something is colossally wrong.

On December 3 and 4, thousands of us took to the streets of New York and cities around the country to protest the racism, the injustice, and the violence that can no longer be tolerated. There is something truly inspiring about seeing so many of your fellow New Yorkers marching in solidarity and being cheered on by those stuck in traffic or observing from their homes. The public outcry against recent police racism, violence, and brutality has been unprecedented, and the families of victims have come forward in recent months, such as the family of Ramarley Graham (18) and Aiyana Stanley-Jones (7), both of whom were shot and killed by police officers in their respective homes were they should both have expected to be safe.

Is our country on the threshold of a major sea change? As we slowly approach 2016, we can only hope the anger and determination of the public can influence legislation in some capacity. Despite the overwhelming injustice we are standing up against, putting faith in the solidarity we maintain is something that cannot be underestimated in its ability to overpower hate.

British Porn Getting Less Sexy Than Usual

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New ban combats violence, undermines women

by Elena Meuse

Opinions Co-Editor

 

Interested in filming some face-sitting porn in the UK? Sorry, you’re out of luck. On Monday, December 1, the Audiovisual Media Services Regulations 2014 came into effect in the United Kingdom, stipulating that all video-on-demand online porn produced in the UK must adhere to the same guidelines as the porn available in UK sex shops. This amendment to the 2003 Communications Act,  included a list of sex acts now banned in online porn, now regulated by the British Board of Film censors. While UK porn is already subject to some of the harshest restrictions in all of Europe and these new regulations only effect about 1%  of the porn online available to UK residents, the new law is drawing large amounts of criticism based on the acts now banned in UK porn.

The law bans a large number of sex acts in what is being said to be an attempt to discourage “sexual activity which involves real or apparent lack of consent” and “the infliction of pain or acts which may cause lasting physical harm.” The law bans: spanking, caning, aggressive whipping, penetration by any object associated with violence, physical or verbal abuse (regardless of consent), urolangnia (otherwise known as water sports), role-playing as non-adults, physical restraint, humiliation, female ejaculation, strangulation, face-sitting, and fisting (but only if all knuckles are inserted.) The final three on the list, (strangulation, face-sitting, and fisting) are all considered “life endangering.”

This ban has incited widespread criticism for a variety of reasons, most notably for the fact that female ejaculation somehow made it onto a list meant to decrease violence right between humiliation and strangulation. This would seem to somehow be suggesting intense female pleasure is in some way violent or harmful, which is not quite scientifically correct. The ban has been accused of sexism for disproportionately taking aim at female pleasure without addressing male pleasure at all. Under the ban, male ejaculation is still completely legal even in more controversial acts such as the “money shot” and “bukkake” both of which are generally regarded more questionable than female ejaculation. Additionally, the ban has been criticized for its apparent inability to discern between consensual and nonconsensual practices failing to acknowledge many of the acts upon the list could in fact be desired by the receiver. There are also concerns that this ban would further disadvantage the already struggling UK porn industry, producing bland content that will simply be passed over in favor of competitors in other countries.

While the new UK porn law will not have a major impact upon the porn offered on the internet, it is being seen as a disturbing attack on sexual behavior, particularly that of women. While supporters of the ban argue it helps discourage violence and illegal behaviors, opponents contest that its unequal focus on female pleasure undermines much of the progress being made in regard to gender equality. By treating female pleasure—and acts which bring it about—as something dangerous or wrong, it only further perpetuates a male-centered idea of sex, denying women equal pleasure. Additionally, people on both sides of the debate acknowledge that the ban leaves a large gray area of what is acceptable in porn, potentially resulting in a great deal of confusion. Overall, the UK porn ban is being criticized as an arbitrary list of random sex acts leaving people with a wide array of questions regarding what is acceptable and unacceptable, and more importantly, why certain acts have been privileged over others.

Ram Article Identifies Sexual Assault Victims Without Consent

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Conflict between sensitivity and journalistic integrity rages on

by Connor O’Brien

Co-Editor-in-Chief

Near the end of October, dozens of students participated in the Carry That Weight speak-out. In the wake of Columbia student Emma Sulkowicz, who has been carrying around her mattress and has vowed to only stop once the man who allegedly raped her is removed from campus, Women’s Empowerment and the Sexual Misconduct Task Force hosted the event as part of the National Day of Action. Students gathered on McGinley lawn with their pillows and mattresses in solidarity with Sulkowicz and other victims of sexual assault. Later that week, The Ram published an article covering the event in Issue 19 of Volume 96. Written by Managing Editor Joe Vitale, the article begins by describing the mattresses that people decided to lug around before getting into the coverage of the event.

At one point in the event, organizers invited participants to share their experiences if they felt compelled to speak in opposition to feelings of suppression by administrators and others who would look to silence them. One student commented about her reluctance to tell anyone about the event: “I was just confused, I didn’t know what was happening. I did not want allies because I did not feel like a survivor in the least bit.” She later commented that having that safe space with supporters was a huge improvement for her. Other students shared their emotional accounts in front of the crowd of nearly fifty people.

In Vitale’s article, he made the decision to include full names and school years of those who spoke of their assaults. This caused uproar among those mentioned and the organizers of the events. Members of the Sexual Misconduct Task force and Women’s Empowerment said they tried to get the issue pulled or edited because of the inclusion of the names after The Ram published the article. The exchange took place over several days, with most of the complaints from WE and SMTF centering around the fact that Vitale did not individually contact those named in the article about their consent to be attributed in the article. The newspaper did not pull the issue. Instead, the editors just amended their online version. At the bottom of the article on fordhamram.com, an editor’s note reads: “This article appears differently than its print edition following the removal of a number of student names and an amended quote. The Ram regrets the decision to include the names that have been removed in this version.”

Rumors also followed that The Ram would not be covering issues revolving around sexual assault and/or SAGES unless there were significant developments or changes. However, editors from The Ram denied these allegations vehemently. Subsequent issues proved them right, publishing articles about Campus Assault and Relationship Program (CARE) and the SAGES protest near Lincoln Center in Issue 22 of Volume 96, published on December 3.

However, this kind of journalistic misstep has unfortunately been more commonplace in the past few weeks. In the wake of the Rolling Stone article concerning the alleged gang rape of a student at a fraternity house, Managing Editor Will Dana published a statement of apology and redaction of the article. The Washington Post and other publications have brought up lots of contradicting evidence against “Jackie,” the subject of the article. They issued an apology for not following up with some subjects in the article: “We published the article with the firm belief that it was accurate. Given all of these reports, however, we have come to the conclusion that we were mistaken in honoring Jackie’s request to not contact the alleged assaulters to get their account.” This recent development represents the fact that failure to contact all parties involved in the story results in controversy and additional pain for all those involved.

The tactics surrounding dealing with sexual assault on college campuses differ from school to school, but it remains a universal issue throughout universities everywhere. Too often, a case comes to the forefront of our consciousness simply because of the fact that it was improperly handled or blown out of proportion. Sexual assault is arguably the biggest social issue facing college campuses today, and each case must be treated with absolute sensitivity and tact. Most of all, every account must be taken with gravity and taken into consideration. College newspapers, therefore, need to practice journalistic sensitivity and get consent from subjects of articles. A small addendum at the end of the online version of the article, posted without announcement, cannot be the norm after an entire staff edited it without being able to recognize its problems.

Colombian Rebels Release Three Hostages After Two Weeks

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Government hoping for more steps toward peace and unity

by Linette Muñoz

In an attempt to continue the peace talks previously suspended by President Juan Manuel Santos, Colombian rebels, known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) released three government-employed hostages to the Cuban and Norwegian governments and the Red Cross two weeks after they were captured. These hostages were Brigadier General Rubén Darío Alzate, who commands a group of 2,500 soldiers and was the head of the Colombian army’s anti-kidnapping unit, lawyer Gloria Urrego, and Corporal Jorge Rodriguez.  According to a tweet by the president, the hostages were “in perfect condition” upon release after their fourteen days in captivity.

On the day of their capture, Alzate, Urrego, Rodriguez, and another soldier that escaped were traveling by boat along a river in order to inspect an energy project. But, according to FARC leaders, there were no such projects in the area. The soldier that escaped was able to go back and inform officials of the detainment of Alzate, Urrego, and Rodriguez.

This hostage crisis is just one of many alarming incidents that have taken place during this war. Since 1964, FARC has been terrorizing Colombia in an ongoing war for political power. Its peasant army of Marxist-Leninists have tried to push their political agenda of anti-imperialism and agrarianism. This guerrilla rebel group will do anything for the cause, even if it means destroying their country in the process. In order to gain awareness of their group and their message they have sabotaged oil pipelines, trying to damage Colombia’s biggest export industry. In addition, terrorist attacks on buildings has increased over 300% and extortion has tripled in the past four years. Juan Carlos Barreto, Bishop of Quidbo, said that he does not “see any reduction in their activity” as “extortion, illegal mining and drugs has made them stronger.”

Since 2012, the Colombian government has been holding peace talks in Havana, Cuba with the leaders of the FARC group in hopes of putting an end to this fifty-year war. As a sign of good faith, FARC leaders released all of their prisoners and hostages at the beginning of the peace talks. Unfortunately, these talks have been at a standstill for the past few years. While FARC calls for a ceasefire, President Santos has rejected the request due to past rebel seizes of land during these armistices. The hope for a  ceasefire was reiterated on Sunday November 30 after the release of the hostages with a twitter post by FARC stating their desire for a bilateral ceasefire.

Many hope that with the release of the hostages, the peace talks will be reignited. Head of the Red Cross delegation in Colombia, Christoph Harnisch, said, “We continue to support this process, with a view to alleviating the suffering of all the victims of this long conflict.”

There is still no word when the peace talks will continue.

Civil Rights Leaders Aren’t Dead, They’re Just in a Headlock

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Dr. Cornel West: “Black Prophetic Fire”

by Arthur Banach

 

Anyone who knows me knows I’m the dorkiest dork when it comes to Hip Hop, so I want to talk about the power of “peaceful” protest leaders like my main man, Dr. Cornel West, through the eyes of Ice-T. Yes Ice-T. Before his TV career, he was a dope MC and if you deny that you’re just hating. Anyway, Ice-T put out a gun-toting track with all the classic pop-a-cap-in-your-ass bravado, but he’s not talking about physical bullets.

“Cops try to flex/but guns they’ll never find/My Lethal Weapon’s my mind!”

That’s why I put the word peaceful in quotation marks earlier. I believe too many people in society underestimate the power behind intellect and rational thought. They’ll claim that protesters are exercising too much passivity. Old-fashioned anchors will say protesters are just sitting around on their asses and talking while the anchors also sit on their asses talking. It’s so easy to throw a punch and to let hatred take over but I think we should take a cue from James Baldwin (a famously eloquent black and gay author) who says, “hatred; which has the power to destroy so much, never failed to destroy the man who hated.” Let’s get real here. How can we expect to challenge a hateful system with more hate, then turn around and ask where all our leaders are? They’re here. They’re beside us. Cornel West got down in the thick of it and was arrested for civil disobedience. Yet we don’t appreciate his actions. We want a Rambo-esque leader to come through and blow away the opposition. Our society today is akin to the Jews who wanted a zealot to decimate the Romans, but instead they got a carpenter who wanted to turn the other cheek. Dr. West gets it. In an interview with Roots drummer (and my personal hero) ?uestlove, West said he was going to Ferguson“to show the young brothers and sisters that we love them. To bear witness. Because too many of them feel unloved, unattended to, uncared for. Marvin Gaye raised the question, “Who really cares?” Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway raised the question, “Where is the love?” We may not be able to change the world, but we’ve got to be able to say, “We do love y’all. And we are going to sacrifice.”

I think that’s part of the reason we choose to be militant and hate: it doesn’t require sacrifice. Love requires sacrifice. Dr. West has sacrificed a lot for his beliefs. He’s rallied against numerous issues with nothing but love in his heart. He’s carried the banner of a truly Christ-like Christian, and as I watch his exploits I contemplate whether we even deserve a man so eloquent in speech and thought. What it boils down to is that I choose to stand with Dr. West. I choose love over hate and as hard as it is I won’t hate Darren Wilson because I don’t disagree with the fact that hate gets shit done, but you can’t deny it has some serious blowback. I’ll just leave you with a lyric from legendary group Public Enemy, who defined the consequences of violence succinctly and poetically:  “This uzi weighs a ton”

Police Body Cameras To Serve As Band-Aid On Gaping Wound

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How do you solve a problem like institutionalized racism?

by Monica Cruz

Arts Co-Editor

 

Last Monday, President Obama proposed spending $75 million federal dollars to provide body cameras for about 50,000 police officers across the country, a whopping 2% of our total police force. The Congressional Black Caucus, the American Civil Liberties Union and George Zimmerman’s lawyer Mark O’Mara all publicly expressed their support for the proposal. I doubt I’m alone in automatically distrusting anything that George fucking Zimmerman’s lawyer agrees with.

The absurd ineffectiveness of this proposition was confirmed two days later when a jury declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the Staten Island police officer who was caught on film killing Eric Garner. In the disturbing video, Pantaleo is shown using an illegal chokehold to overpower the asthmatic Garner, a black convenience storeowner accused of the trivial crime of unlawfully selling cigarettes. Struggling for air, Garner is heard gasping, “I can’t breathe!” a total of eleven times before he goes quiet and stops moving, then the officers proceed to handcuff him. Despite recorded evidence literally showing Pantaleo killing Garner (using a chokehold that was banned in New York decades ago), Garner’s family was declined justice for his murder. If cops are given body cameras, how can justice be served when recorded evidence of a crime is not seen as enough to prove the murder of a black man? Obama’s proposal is a step in the right direction, but will likely do nothing at all in combating police brutality.

The problem of violence against people of color by police runs much deeper than simply giving out a few cameras.Garner’s unjust death is only one of several publicized murders of black people at the hands of cops. The national outcry for justice for victims of racially charged police brutality began back in August, when 18-year-old Mike Brown was gunned down by Darren Wilson in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown was accused of stealing a pack of cigars prompting Wilson to attempt to detain him. Contrary to many false reports, the owner of the store he was accused of stealing from stated multiple times that Brown had not stolen anything from him. In his conflicting testimony, Wilson claimed that Brown punched him multiple times in the face and attempted to take his gun, yet there is absolutely no shred of evidence to prove this. Finally, Brown was shot at close range in his chest, shoulders, and hands, proving that he was kneeling and had his hands up in surrender when he was killed. The media largely brushed over the indisputable evidence proving Wilson’s guilt, and focused more on the traces of marijuana found in Brown’s system and the (disproven) accusation that he stole from the convenience store. This attempt to thugify the unquestionably innocent Brown follows our culture’s trend of blaming black victims of police brutality for their own deaths.

Last month, 12 year-old Tamir Rice was shot eight times by a cop in Cleveland after being seen holding a fake gun. The media first made an effort to criminalize the young boy by reporting that he came from a “bad” neighborhood and his father had a history of violent behavior. It took almost a week for incriminating information about his killer, Officer Timothy Loehmann, to be reported. This blatantly racist depiction of Rice is simply the media’s way of convincing us that his life wasn’t really worth it anyway. His crime-riddled neighborhood and violent father were deceitfully used as “proof” that he would have ended up deserving death, a disgusting trope used to criminalize black people even as young as Rice.

Our government must realize that police body cameras are hardly a band-aid for the gaping wound of racism that has existed in our society for pretty much all of history. Eric Garner’s recorded murder, and the unjust killing of hundreds of innocent black people by those who claim to “serve and protect” prove that this problem needs a solution much bigger than simply giving cops cameras. In order for real change to occur, we must eradicate institutionalized racism of every form and end our culture’s dehumanizing portrayals of people of color. Of course, this is a tremendous task and I am in no way qualified to make up a single, concise solution. The best thing we can do is to stay aware of injustice and stand up for marginalized communities in our day-to-day lives in any way possible. Attending a protest, sharing information on social media, and speaking up when others say problematic things are small ways we can help eliminate racism and every other form of injustice poisoning our society. Racism is a much bigger than we can even understand sometimes because it is so engrained in our way of thinking. But with knowledge and action, we can help end injustice one day at a time.