Tuesday, February 28, 2006

The War on Privacy

I had forgotten that Dalibor had been asked in Chicago to give information about where he would be staying when he came to Prague in January (my post of 15 January 2006: http://cheekymax.blogspot.com/2006/01/mind-your-own-damn-business.html). I was not asked for any information at all at LAX yesterday, but I don’t know if that was because I have a Czech residency visa in my passport or because the check-in lady forgot or because there really is no such requirement.

But then, while waiting to board my plane, I heard an announcement for a flight to Toronto. It said (paraphrasing): US citizens, you are required to fill out an information card…if you have not already done so, please come to the podium at gate 24A. I can’t remember if they said what kind of information they were demanding, and I don’t know if it was a requirement exclusively for travellers to Canada.

I have just looked around online to see if I could figure it out. I looked at the State Department’s travel website: http://www.travel.state.gov/ and found nothing. I looked at the US Customs and Border Protection website: http://www.cbp.gov/ and the Transportation Security Administration’s website: http://www.tsa.gov/public/ and again (and again) found nothing related to an information requirement.

Has anyone else been asked for information upon leaving the US? Or does anyone know what it is all about?

Interesting things I did find…

· A message on the CBP website: Report Suspicious Activity to 1-800-BE-ALERT.

· You can sign up for TSA critical travel alerts: http://listman.desyne.com/tsa.htm?1

Max & Jono in The America

a blurry photo of Paradise Cove Beach Café

I got back from The America today and I was very relieved. That place is WEIRD, although I am sure that a lot of that impression comes from the fact that I was surrounded by relatives for half of my trip. My family is like anyone else’s, I suppose: approximately half of the relatives are pretty cool, the other half are mad as a box of frogs, and a couple are absolute retards. I met my new niece who, at 10 weeks old, is pretty cuddly but otherwise shockingly insect-like. I had never realised that babies have very little control over their limbs and move around like a bug that is stuck on its back and unable to right itself.

Because of everything that was going on with family, etc, I barely got any news – I had almost no time to read newspapers and no time at all to get online for real news. I saw a bit of tv “news” and was shocked to find out that the port security-UAE connection was just coming out in mainstream sources. We had some political discussions in DC, but nothing too in-depth. That was a big contrast for me because we seem to talk about politics and Iraq and everything that is going on in the world all the bloody time here in Prague. I felt very out of touch with the world, kind of sheltered, in fact, and I wonder if that is the reality for a lot of Americans (and perhaps people of other nationalities) much of the time.

Washington, DC

Our main purpose in going to Washington was to see friends, which was fantastic. Other than that, our tourist highlights were going out to Great Falls, Maryland and going to the National Archive to visit the Magna Carta and The Charters of Freedom. I had not known that there was an original copy (over 700 years old) of the Magna Carta in the US. Jono, being a limey, tried to claim that it was his, but I reminded him that the Magna Carta also belongs to us as it is the first constitutional document of the legal system that we used to share with England and that is the basis of our own system.

The Charters of Freedom is the collective name for the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It was extraordinarily cool to see the originals. They are still there in their holy of holies being properly protected from the elements, and I was relieved to see that they had not actually been used as toilet paper by anyone.


The main reason for Jono’s and my trip was Nephew #2’s bar mitzvah – hence seeing the plethora of relatives. The weather in LA was perfect, about 21°C (70°F) – a very nice break for us from winter in London and Prague. We took advantage of our free afternoon on Saturday (between the bar mitzvah itself and the party in the evening) to drive through Malibu Canyon and up Pacific Coast Highway, with the top down, to Paradise Cove to sit at a table outside in the sand where a nice lady brought us beers. That was, of course, the only aspect of our stay in LA that was remotely vacation-like.

Oh, and if anyone is wondering about the bar mitzvah – Nephew #2 did very well and made us all proud. Nephew #1, Little Sister and Max also managed to read their torah portions without fucking up. In addition, New Niece’s baby-naming took place at the service – she slept right through it. That evening at the party, having pre-arranged a lift home, Jono and I drank lots of vodka martinis. Of course there is always hard alcohol at our family functions. Nephew #1 asked Auntie Max to order him a drink at the bar, which Auntie Max was happy to do.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Friday, February 17, 2006

Max in The America

Max is away

Max is still pissed off about propaganda

I know that some people (Riggs) think that I am over-estimating the reach of the US government’s propaganda machine. My perspective is obviously based on paranoia and I have become one of those wacky conspiracy theorists. Hey ho. If the shoe fits, I can wear it.

My perspective, however, is that most people have swallowed the government’s propaganda hook, line and sinker. As I have said before, most Americans do not recognise propaganda, and I would add to that that many Americans are so naïve as to still think that our government is above disseminating propaganda.

Episodes of propaganda have been documented and publicised, but still people are not paying attention. If you do not know what I am talking about, you should look at http://www.freepress.net/propaganda/ for an outline of some of the higher profile occurrences.

While it is clear that propaganda is being propagated, there is a question of whether or not the US government’s propaganda activities are actually illegal. As I wrote in my post of 12 February, “Our Own Joseph Goebbels,” PSYOPS targeted at American citizens are illegal. But there is a question as to intent, and if the PSYOPS are targeted at non-Americans and Americans just happen to be exposed – is that illegal?

Today I read an article entitled “Is Government Propaganda Legal? Well…” on George Mason University’s History News Network. Kevin R. Kosar, the author of the article, presented an argument that the government’s propaganda may not be illegal because the law on propaganda is too vague and the term “propaganda” itself is not sufficiently defined within the law. That article is here: http://hnn.us/articles/20418.html.

It is important to determine whether the government’s propaganda is illegal or not, but it is even more important to raise the public’s awareness that they are being lied to and that they should be taking their news with a large dose of skepticism and questioning everything that they see, hear and read. I have to say that I really cannot understand how anyone can still believe that we have a free and objective press, nor can I understand how people can still trust our government. I just wish I knew what to do to wake people up to what is really going on. I suspect that the whole problem is that most people simply do not care.

I would like to tell you that this will be my last rant about propaganda, but I am afraid that it may not be because I have developed a bit of a passion for the subject. Right now, however, I am going to go bang my head against a brick wall.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

4th Amendment: R.I.P.

I found this on www.stopthelie.com; it comes from the ACLU via the Baltimore Chronicle.

Legal Analysis: Top Ten Myths about the Illegal NSA Spying on Americans

MYTH: This is merely a “terrorist surveillance program.”

REALITY: When there is evidence a person may be a terrorist, both the criminal code and intelligence laws already authorize eavesdropping. This illegal program, however, allows electronic monitoring without any showing to a court that the person being spied upon in this country is a suspected terrorist.

MYTH: The program is legal.

REALITY: The program violates the Fourth Amendment and FISA and will chill free speech.

MYTH: The Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) allows this.

REALITY: The resolution about using force in Afghanistan does not mention wiretaps and does not apply domestically, but FISA does--it requires a court order.

MYTH: The president has authority as commander in chief of the military to approve this program to spy on Americans without any court oversight.

REALITY: The Supreme Court recently found the administration’s claim of unlimited commander in chief powers during war to be an unacceptable effort to “condense power into a single branch of government,” contrary to the Constitution’s checks and balances.

MYTH: The president has the power to say what the law is.

REALITY: The courts have this power in our system of government, and no person is above the law, not even the president, or the rule of law means nothing.

MYTH: These warrantless wiretaps could never happen to you.

REALITY: Without court oversight, there is no way to ensure innocent people’s everyday communications are not monitored or catalogued by the NSA or other agencies.

MYTH: This illegal program could have prevented the 9/11 attacks.

REALITY: This is utter manipulation. Before 9/11, the federal government had gathered intelligence, without illegal NSA spying, about the looming attacks and at least two of the terrorists who perpetrated them, but failed to act.

MYTH: This illegal program has saved thousands of lives.

REALITY: Because the program is secret the administration can assert anything it wants and then claim the need for secrecy excuses its failure to document these claims, let alone reveal all the times the program distracted intelligence agents with dead ends that wasted resources and trampled individual rights.

MYTH: FISA takes too long.

REALITY: FISA allows wiretaps to begin immediately in emergencies, with three days afterward to go to court.

MYTH: Only liberals disagree with the president about the program.

REALITY: The serious concerns that have been raised transcend party labels and reflect genuine and widespread worries about the lack of checks on the president’s claim of unlimited power to illegally spy on Americans without any independent oversight.

For the complete report with in-depth explanation and analysis, go to: http://baltimorechronicle.com/2006/020906ACLU.shtml

Same-sex partnership vetoed

The Czech Republic would have been the first post-communist country to pass a same-sex registered partnership law, and I would have been very proud, but today President Václav Klaus vetoed the bill.

Klaus believes that giving legal status to same-sex relationships is somehow damaging to the traditional institution of marriage. I don’t get it. The bill would have made life easier and fairer for homosexuals. They would have obtained rights of family members in such areas as medical notification, hospital visitation and inheritance. And while giving homosexuals some of the same rights that heterosexuals already have, no one would have lost anything, no one would have been hurt by it.

Aside from wanting to deny a significant proportion of the population certain state-decreed rights, Klaus said that the law was not a good idea because it would “expand the area of state regulation.” Hmm, another politician talking out of his arse. Registering a same-sex partnership would not be compulsory; the law would merely give homosexual couples another option.

There is still a chance that the Senate will override the veto. We shall see…

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Life gets weirder

Here is the background:

  1. Max went to law school in England.
  2. Max was already 36 when she started law school, and 38 when she finished.
  3. Max did not get a training contract in England and so is not on her way to becoming a fully qualified English solicitor.
  4. Max instead returned to Prague and has been working in a PSL (professional support lawyer) capacity. Being a native speaker of English with law qualifications has allowed Max to create a fairly unique niche for herself here. Max has been pretty happy with the way things have worked out.

Sudden turn of events:

I started work with a new firm last week. This week, my handler (the junior partner with whom I share a luxurious cubicle) announced to me that she is talking to the Czech Chamber of Advocates (Bar Association) about getting me qualified as a Czech advokát, i.e. admitted to the bar.

Because the Czech Republic is now in the EU, I am protected by mutual recognition of academic qualifications regulations, and they have to accept my English law diplomas over here. Therefore, if I do my 3 years of training as a koncipientka (trainee), working in Czech law, which is exactly what I am doing now anyway, I will be eligible to take the Czech bar exam in 2008 or 2009.

I have already taken and passed my English exams because they do things in a different order over there. I loathe the thought of another set of exams. Czech exams will entail 3 days of written exams + 2-3 hours of oral exams, and it will all be in Czech. But I guess that if I am offered the opportunity, I am going to have to do it. It would be a bit lazy not to.

Monday, February 13, 2006

A Post Without Anger*

It seems to be time for another post without anger so today, instead of writing about how fucked up the world is (etc), I am going to give you the recipe for Max’s night time cold medicine. One dose will help you sleep and will clear out some of the snot so your head will not feel so heavy and congested the next morning. It is a Scottish remedy which was first prepared for me by a lovely lad from Glasgow.

Ingredients: orange juice, honey, whisky.

Measure out the juice into a mug so you know how much you need. Don’t fill the friggin’ mug all the way because you will need some room for the other ingredients. Pour the juice from the mug into a saucepan. Heat the orange juice on the stove. Add a miserly teaspoon of honey (or to taste) to the orange juice while it is heating. Stir the honey into the juice. When the juice and honey mixture is just about boiling, pour it back into the mug. Add a generous shot of whisky. Stir, drink while hot, go to bed.

I suppose you could heat the oj and honey in a microwave too, if you have one.

Hardened alcoholics may need two doses.

* still seething inside, of course.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Our Own Joseph Goebbels

He has described himself as “an information warrior and a perception manager.” John Rendon currently runs the propaganda war for the Bush administration.

I found John Rendon by chance tonight when I came across “Rumsfeld’s Roadmap to Propaganda” on the website of the National Security Archive at George Washington University. The secret Roadmap was approved by Rumsfeld in October 2003 and obtained by the Archive on 26 January 2006 through the Freedom of Information Act.

The Information Operations Roadmap, “provides the Department with a plan to advance the goal of information operations as a core military competency.” The Roadmap emphasises the importance of psychological operations – “PSYOPS” in the lingo, which are “planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence the emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

It is, in fact, against the law to target PSYOPS at US citizens, but it is being done – just another law being broken by the government in the post-9/11 free-for-all.

The Archive website cites publications that had referred to the Roadmap even before it was released under the Freedom of Information Act. One of those publications was Rolling Stone magazine, and so I read the article they had published in November 2005: “The Man Who Sold the War: Meet John Rendon, Bush's general in the propaganda war” by James Bamford.

John Rendon and his company, the Rendon Group, have been in the business of wars and clandestine operations for about 16 years. They get paid to do work which is too sketchy for the CIA and they get paid to disseminate false information. They are paid for most of their work by the US taxpayers, but they can hire themselves out to any government for propaganda purposes. In 1990, the government of Kuwait paid John Rendon $100,000 per month + expenses.

What the Kuwaitis wanted was help in selling a war of liberation to the American government -- and the American public. Rendon proposed a massive “perception management” campaign designed to convince the world of the need to join forces to rescue Kuwait.

Most of the Rolling Stone article deals with what John Rendon has been doing since 1990 in relation to Iraq. He was instrumental in creating the anti-Saddam Iraqi National Congress and installing Ahmad Chalabi as its leader. He has created news and twisted reality to serve the purposes of his masters. He “manages perceptions” and manipulates people’s thoughts; he is the Minister for Propaganda. He does all of this for money, and seemingly without a care for the consequences. Please read the article.

Rolling Stone – The Man Who Sold the War:

Rumsfeld’s Roadmap to Propaganda:

Saturday, February 11, 2006

More Propaganda

As soon as I saw the first report that the Bush administration had foiled a plot to crash an airplane into the Library Tower in LA, I thought, “What is that dickhead trying to make us believe now?” I realised that I will always doubt every statement that comes out of the White House while George Bush (or perhaps any president) is resident there. I will always suspect a sinister motive behind every scrap of disinformation that is disseminated from Washington.

I know that the government regularly lies to the American people, and it seems that everything I have been reading recently is reinforcing that belief. The government also lies to itself, and anyone who tells the president that his policies are wrong or that a strategy is not working is likely to lose his/her job. King George and his cronies are dangerously mad with power.

Yesterday Doug Thompson wrote in Capitol Hill Blue that “sources who said they were current and retired intelligence pros from the CIA, NSA, FBI and the military” had contacted Capitol Hill Blue to angrily dispute the president’s story. Bush is “full of shit,” reads one of the quotes.

Apparently, the “intelligence” that the president had chosen to share with the American people had been garnered from a discredited informant. Not coincidentally, most of the “intelligence” that gave the government reason to invade Iraq had also come from discredited sources, while real intelligence was conveniently ignored.

Intelligence pros say much of the information used by Bush in an attempt to justify his increased spying on Americans by the National Security Agency, trampling of civil rights under the USA Patriot Act, and massive buildup of the Department of Homeland Security, now the nation’s largest federal bureaucracy, was “worthless intel that was discarded long ago.”

The United States government runs the greatest propaganda machine the world has ever seen. The Soviet Union had good propaganda, but the people knew that it was propaganda. Nazi Germany also had very good propaganda, but again, the people recognised it for what it was. The United States is unique in being able to fool the majority of its citizens into thinking that its propaganda is not propaganda at all, but actually the truth.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Program: US Domestic Surveillance

I am currently reading an enlightening book, State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration by James Risen (2006). This book right now is one of the many reasons for my constant anger. Chapter 2 is called “The Program”.

“The Program”, as it is referred to by “the very few people at the Justice Department who are aware of its existence,…may be the largest domestic spying operation since the 1960s, larger than anything conducted by the FBI or CIA inside the United States since the Vietnam War.” The Program is conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA).

On 16 December 2005, the New York Times printed a story which claimed that the NSA had been, without warrants, eavesdropping on phone calls of persons in the United States to persons outside the United States. James Risen is one of the two reporters who broke that story. The claims in Risen’s book go a lot further.

According to Risen, the NSA is now listening to up to 500 phone calls at any given time. In early 2002, President Bush secretly authorised the NSA to monitor telephone, email and other internet traffic inside the United States and without obtaining warrants. As we all know, this is against the law and specifically violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The legal opinions produced by Bush administration lawyers, as well as other documents which support the Program, remain classified.

The Bush administration does not publicly discuss the Program, but it was hinted at by the Justice Department in an obscure legal brief in an unrelated court case in 2002.

…the Constitution vests in the president inherent authority to conduct warrantless intelligence surveillance (electronic or otherwise) of foreign powers or their agents, and Congress cannot by statute extinguish that constitutional authority.

Foreign agents, of course, can be anywhere, even within the territory of the United States and so, according to the administration’s justification, the Program is essential to preventing terrorist activities.

Americans are generally not aware of the “extremely close relationships” between the NSA and the telecommunications and computer industries. Knowledge of such relationships is limited to a very few people at the highest levels in the individual corporations. The relationships themselves enable the surveillance.

One of the reasons for the Program, as told to Risen, is that telecommunications and email, even when originating and being received in two countries outside of the US, often go through switches which are inside the US, which then makes the communications “domestic” within the meaning of intelligence gathering regulations, and therefore protected. The fact of US-based switches makes the illegal eavesdropping easier for the NSA, and their access to international communications also allows them access to purely domestic communications.

According to Risen, the NSA is listening to transit calls (those that are only routed through the US), calls that originate in the US to individuals overseas, and calls within the US. The same applies to emails and other internet communications (but probably reading rather than listening). Risen was told by defenders of the Program that the NSA makes efforts to minimise their monitoring of domestic communications traffic amongst American citizens, but there is no way to confirm that.

With its direct access to the US telecommunications system, there seems to be no physical or logistical obstacle to prevent the NSA from eavesdropping on anyone in the United States that it chooses.

As the CIA captured al-Qaeda operatives overseas beginning in 2002, they seized the operatives’ computers, mobile phones and whatever else they had. The CIA turned over to the NSA all of the phone numbers and email addresses that they had thus acquired. The NSA began monitoring those telephone numbers and email accounts and then the numbers and emails contacted by the first set of numbers and emails and then those contacted by the second set and so on. Within the theory of six degrees of separation, it was not long before the NSA had “cause” to monitor us all.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

State of Mind du Jour

kd and I have just exchanged a few emails to arrange a meeting for tonight. In the first email, I told her that I had a book for her.

Max: I have brought you the book I finished last night, Fortune’s Rocks by Anita Shreve. This is my assessment: a good story well told – no more, no less, the kind of thing you want to take to bed with you when you need an absolute escape from everything. You know, when you can’t look at the news anymore because it is making you so angry that you cry.

kd: I'll be happy to borrow a good story...and I understand about the news - right now it's particularly stupid, and it's making no sense. I hate people, generally, and the world's idiots seem to be out in force trying to prove why.

Max: Exactly, that’s it. So now I am reading a book about Bush and the CIA and all of that shit -- I don’t even have to look at the news anymore to be all pissed off 24/7.

* * * * *
The book, by the way, is State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration by James Risen – book report forthcoming.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Max's First Day

I have made a good move. I started my new job in a new firm today, doing more or less the same thing I was doing in my old firm, but with better conditions.

My old firm was uptight and pretentious. They were a very good Prague firm, but were attempting to force the culture of a London City firm onto Czechs. It doesn’t quite work and a lot of people have left the firm in the past year.

My new firm is another top Prague firm, but with a normal relaxed Czech atmosphere. The people are outgoing and friendly and there was a lot of laughter in the office today.

They were not quite ready for me. My email account had not been set up, and there was not so much as a pen waiting for me on my desk, but all of that was resolved within the first hour or so.

Instead of having my own office as I did before, I am sitting in an open plan office, basically in a large cubicle which I share with one of the junior partners. This may prove to be a problem for me because:
i. My work takes focus and I am very easily distracted (attention deficit).
ii. I talk to myself while I work. My work is writing and editing and I read aloud to myself to make sure everything sounds the way I want it to. This may disturb those who work near me.
iii. I may not be able to blog at work anymore.

Comedy problems:
· there are no towels (paper or otherwise) in the women’s toilet on my floor and the hand dryer does not work at all, but perhaps it will be repaired soon.
· the coffee is awful.
· there are no 1.5 litre bottles of water to take to my desk. Instead there is a water cooler on the ground floor. I usually get through at least 1.5 litres per day which means many trips down and up the 2 flights of stairs to fill my glass (exercise is good). However tomorrow I will bring a bottle of water with me, which I can then refill whenever needed. That will have the added benefit of giving the water a chance to get to room temperature because the water from the cooler is too cold anyway.

· a much more pleasant working environment in which I already feel more appreciated.
· instead of paying me overtime, they want to compensate me with extra time off.
· I get to go buy new dictionaries and a thesaurus again.
· there is someone in the office who actually knows how to deal with the trade licence office and the foreigner police.

Czech bureaucratic comedy:
· my trade licence has been temporarily invalidated because the trade licence office has just realised that I never informed them of the name change that followed my divorce in 1999.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Credit Card Theft

Barclaycard, the credit card arm of Barclays Bank in the UK, are being criticised, and rightfully so, for their new policy aimed at credit card holders who pay their bills in full every month.

Barclaycard have informed the BBC that customers who regularly pay their full month’s balance may have their payment due dates brought forward. One of their customers reported to the BBC that his payment date, which had consistently been the 9th of every month, had suddenly been brought forward this January to the 3rd. Although Barclaycard deny that their aim is to catch people out and collect late payment penalties, that is clearly their objective.

Barclaycard’s Ian Barber told the BBC that Barclaycard are “having to face up to the fact that clearly we are not making as much money out of customers that pay their bill in full as we are out of those that borrow… Once we recognise that someone is regularly paying their bill in full, we will shorten the time that they have got to pay.”

Barclaycard’s late payment fee is £20, which is equivalent to just over $35.

My guess is that if Barclaycard are moving payment dates forward, then other banks are either also doing it or will be doing it very soon. Credit card companies are greedy wankers – look at your statements carefully.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Danish Cartoons

Last night at dinner, kd and I were discussing the east-west conflict over the Danish cartoonists’ depictions of the prophet Mohammed. We agreed that there is a problem of societies not understanding or respecting each other, people seeing everything in black and white, and a prevailing attitude of ‘we’re right and you’re wrong.’ Having said all of that, we strongly believe in a free press and the value of satire, both of which are not necessarily valued in certain cultures.

I found this in the Washington Post:

Geert Wilders, a member of the Dutch parliament, posted the cartoons on his website Thursday under this explanation: “What is the price of freedom? As a token of support to the Danish cartoonists and to stand up for free speech, we will place their drawings here.”

If, like me, you are curious and want to see the cartoons that have caused such offence and subsequently boycotts, a kidnapping, threats and violence, they are here:


Under the entry for woensdag, 1 februari 2006, which is currently at the top of the page, click on Lees verder>>.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Max shops for books

I learned an important lesson today about shopping for books that I want to share in case anyone else looks for hard-to-find books. Here is the whole story.

It started in a book shop in London with Jono. We were looking at children’s books so he could get ideas for a christening gift. I went in search of nursery rhymes and found beautiful books filled with coloured illustrations, but I immediately thought of my book of nursery rhymes that my aunt had bought for me when I was a baby, which I consider the definitive collection. It is Marguerite De Angeli’s Book of Nursery and Mother Goose Rhymes. I decided to look for it on Amazon.

The book was first published in 1954 and it is now out of print, but Amazon US was offering it used through private sellers. I found a 1954 hardcover first edition in “very good” condition for $7.50 + shipping. I thought it was an impossible bargain, but it is now on its way to my new niece in Oregon. I was talking about it last night with friends and mentioned that I would have happily paid $50 for a first edition of that book.

Today, while searching for other books that are hard to find in the US, I looked at Barnes & Noble online and found other hardcover first editions of the nursery rhyme book with prices ranging from $13.60 to $61.95. Then, while looking for an image, I found a 1955 edition, identical to the one I have, for $35.

The other books I was looking for today are for Mike the barman. They are Redemption Song: The Authorised Biography of Joe Strummer by Chris Salewicz and 2stoned by Andrew Loog Oldham. Both are available on Amazon UK, but I wanted to find them in the US because I will be there to pick them up in a few weeks’ time.

I found Redemption Song: The Ballad of Joe Strummer (same book, slightly different title), but Amazon US says it has not yet been released and they give no further information. 2stoned is not even listed on Amazon US.

I decided to look at Barnes & Noble. They have one used copy of Redemption Song: The Authorised Biography, it is in “good” condition and it is being offered for $1,100. No joke - $1,100. On Amazon UK, you can get the book new for £13.20. If you were in the US, you would have to pay shipping from the UK, which would not be cheap, but the entire cost would still be about $1,065 less than buying the book through Barnes & Noble.

Now, I would like to think that someone in The America who is considering paying $1,100 for a used book would have the sense to look elsewhere, including bookshops outside of The America, but you never know.
Shop around.