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June 26, 2003



I'M HEADING OFF ON VACATION: I'll be off laundering the millions in tipjar contributions scuba diving in the Cayman Islands until July 3d.

Anyway, I'm not taking a computer, and I won't be blogging unless something big happens. Really big. Email sent while I'm gone will likely be be unanswered and unread. But Eugene Volokh will be guest-blogging over at GlennReynolds.com, and my TechCentralStation column will run on Wednesday as usual. It's about mind uploading.

Have a nice week, and enjoy the many fine blogs linked over on the left.

And in keeping with Dan Drezner's post, here's a list of some books I'm taking with me, though I'm afraid it's a somewhat less elevated list -- but then I am going to a tropical island, while he is on a "working" vacation.

Ken MacLeod, The Cassini Division -- I've read the earlier parts of his future history, now looking alarmingly accurate in some ways, and so I'm continuing the cycle.

The Lost Coast and The Straight Man by Roger Simon. 'Nuff said. (I've already read his newest book, Director's Cut, which sucked me into the Moses Wine world and then sent me back to start from the beginning with The Big Fix.

And, finally, on the off-chance that I feel like doing something constructive, I'm taking the manuscript for Jeffrey Stout's forthcoming book, Democracy and Tradition. I'm rather a fan of his even though we come at things from a different perspective.

So long -- have a good week!

J'ACCUSE: John Sweeney writes: "I accuse John Pilger of cheating the public and favouring a dictator."

PRESIDENT BUSH IS CALLING ON CHARLES TAYLOR TO QUIT:

"President Taylor needs to step down so that his country can be spared further bloodshed," Mr. Bush said in Washington during a wide-ranging speech on his administration's Africa policy.

The president is scheduled to travel to Africa on July 7 for a five-day visit that will take him to Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, and Nigeria.

In his speech, he also urged the formation by June 30th of an interim government in Congo. He urged leaders of neighboring governments to assist the creation of an integrated national army. A war in Congo has killed more than 3 million people in the past four years.

It's nice to see Africa get some attention.

MORE ON SABINE HEROLD, FRENCH HEROINE:

She is a political science student, very beautiful and speaks perfect English. She has also just become the most famous 21-year-old in France.

Dubbed France's Lady Thatcher by the newspapers, Mademoiselle Herold has been leading the rallies against the unions who have been crippling her country. Standing on a telephone box in her pearl earrings and high heels, she addresses crowds of 80,000, urging them to rise up against the striking teachers, Metro workers, rubbish collectors and air traffic controllers who are ruining people's lives. With her student friends, she has set up an organisation: Liberte J'Ecris Ton Nom, which has thousands of members, demanding that France reforms.

Now, she wants to come to Britain. Her email is simple: "I would like to spend my time meeting politicians. I don't wear jeans; I like red meat; please could I bring a camera crew?"

Here, she has been called Joan of Arc. "That is stupid," she says. "I love Britain. I love Margaret Thatcher. I love the way you have overcome the unions and are not afraid to privatise. I love the way you work so hard. In France, we have become lazy and staid. We think only of weekends, holidays and how great we once were. We need a dose of Thatcherism."

Good sense has not died in France.

MARK GLASER REPORTS ON SOFTWARE FILTERING:

Blocking legitimate Web sites for minors is bad, but blocking these same sites for adults is even worse, which led to the American Library Association's suit in the first place. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Online Policy Group released a study that coincided with the Supreme Court decision, showing just how much gets blocked by the top two filters, N2H2's Bess and SurfControl. The study focused on a broad number of subjects that a student might research online.

"We found that for every page blocked correctly, filters block one or more pages inappropriately," said Will Doherty, EFF's media relations director. "We thought a lot of pages would be blocked because of ideological views of the software companies -- and they were -- but what surprised us were the random pages that were blocked for seemingly no reason. There was a punctuation site blocked, and a theater arts site blocked. We don't know why."

I don't trust filters very much, but I suppose that they will improve with time. I hope.

RON BAILEY HAS BEEN COVERING the Bio2003 conference. Here's a link to his latest piece, which has links to the earlier coverage. It's all worth reading.

AN INTERESTING TAKE:

For the last few years, top executives from all the major record companies have been giving interviews in which they criticize consumers for doing exactly what the execs have been doing for years - getting music for free. I was “in the loop” for a couple years, when I was writing about music for a free weekly, as well as a major daily newspaper, in Los Angeles, many years ago. And I can tell you – none of these characters paid for anything, ever.

The bookcases in their offices and their homes were (and are) filled with “product” that they receive for free as a matter of course. They would not dream of ever paying for recorded music, themselves, with very few exceptions. But now that the average consumer can download a ripped file from the Internet, you’d think it was the end of Western Civilization, from the way they talk.

The false piousness of their pronouncements on this subject really offends me. I assure you, back in the day, if somebody at Record Company A wanted a copy of the new LP by so-and-so and the such-and-suches, they would shout at the secretary to call their good friend at Record Company B and have it messengered over, with the fee for the messenger charged to the artist signed to Company B! Maybe it took a little longer than getting an mp3 off the web now, but my point is that they did not go down to their local record store and pay list price to nobly support the artist who they claimed to be interested in.

I made money selling the promos I received. It never paid my rent, it was more like a meal here and there, but I knew of other journalists who were much more handsomely rewarded for pumping up certain labels’ artists by being double or triple-listed on the promo mailing list. And, back then, many records were released each month, and there were far more record companies, so if someone got that privilege at five or six different publicity departments, it could really add up.

Basically, if you were connected to the teat, you waved your magic wand and any music you wanted came to you free of charge.

Heh. I love the part about the messenger fee. (It's, er, "promotion.") Read the whole thing.

JEFF JARVIS is shameless. I mean that in the nicest possible way, of course.

LOCALBLOGGING: Ed Cone writes that the blogosphere recapitulates geography.

PHIL CARTER THINKS that the Lawrence decision will open the path for gays in the military.

Hey, maybe it was all that talk about diversity in the "green brief" that did it.

ARTHUR SILBER thinks Justice Scalia is really Rick Santorum:

SANTORUM=SCALIA??!!: I think they're the same person. Santorum said:



"If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything," Santorum, R-Pa., said in the interview, published Monday.

And in his dissent, Scalia says:



State laws against bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation, adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity are likewise sustainable only in light of Bowers' validation of laws based on moral choices. Every single one of these laws is called into question by today's decision; the Court makes no effort to cabin the scope of its decision to exclude them from its holding.

Has anyone ever seen them together at the same time?

But James Taranto thinks Scalia is really Jerry Seinfeld:

Scalia Imitates Seinfeld

" 'The court has taken sides in the culture war,' Scalia said, adding that he has 'nothing against homosexuals.' "--CNN.com, June 26, 2003

"We're not gay! Not that there's anything wrong with that . . ."--Jerry Seinfeld, "Seinfeld," Feb. 11 1993

He looks a bit like George Costanza. But only a bit.

RAND SIMBERG MUSES on the question of names and meaning.

PROF. ERIC MULLER writes that Justice O'Connor shouldn't have given the interview (linked here earlier) to the Chicago Tribune's Jan Crawford Greenburg in which she talked about the affirmative action case.

A WHILE BACK I LINKED TO THE BURNING ANNIE movie website. They've got some new stuff up, and I'm trying to persuade them to start selling videos online. If you liked the trailers and might be interested in buying one, drop by and let 'em know.

JEFF JARVIS, AS USUAL, has rounded up blog posts from Iraq.

THE SUPREME COURT JUST STRUCK DOWN the Texas sodomy law in Lawrence. That's all I know at the moment.

UPDATE: Here's a story from the Houston Chronicle. Excerpt:

The 6-3 ruling reverses course from a ruling 17 years ago that states could punish homosexuals for what such laws historically called deviant sex.

The case is a major reexamination of the rights and acceptance of gay people in the United States. More broadly, it also tests a state's ability to classify as a crime what goes on behind the closed bedroom doors of consenting adults.

Today's ruling invalidated a Texas law against "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex."

The law "demeans the lives of homosexual persons," Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote for the majority.

These early reports are often unreliable as to the reasoning or reach of the case, but it certainly sounds like the end of Bowers v. Hardwick, which I see as a good thing.

Here's what I wrote about the case back in December, and here's a law review article that Dave Kopel and I wrote that's relevant, too. It will be interesting to see if the Court followed our suggestions.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I've given the majority opinion -- which is mercifully short -- a quick read. No big surprises, except perhaps the weight given to decisions by the European Court of Human Rights, etc. Fundamentally, though, the opinion holds that Bowers was wrong in both its history and its law. State decisions under state constitutions get a good deal of attention, and the upshot is that there seems to be a general right of consenting adults to engage in non-commercial sexual activity without the interference of the state.

My only real complaint is that this is couched solely in terms of the scope of a liberty interest, and not -- as many of the state cases the Court cites do -- in terms of limits to the legitimate exercise of state power. That's largely a matter of rhetoric, but it's an important one, I think.

O'Connor's concurrence, however, makes clear that a statute based on "moral disapproval" fails even rational basis review, because moral disapproval cannot be a legitimate government interest. "Texas' invocation of moral disapproval as a legitimate state interest proves nothing more than Texas' desire to criminalize homosexual sodomy." That's exactly right.

Obvious disclaimer: This is based on a very quick reading. My views on further reflection may change.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jack Balkin has a post up. And, natch, Howard Bashman has quite a roundup.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Larry Solum has a lot more on his site, and there's an ongoing discusson at The Volokh Conspiracy, too.

Clayton Cramer, meanwhile, is unhappy with the decision. I kind of figured. He says that the Court has its history wrong.

MORE: Tony Adragna is unimpressed with Scalia's dissent.

NOAH SHACHTMAN LOOKS AT the case for mercenaries in Africa. It's worth reading his article along with this long post by Trent Telenko on contracting-out military logistics.

BLOGTUNEZ: So I was running errands yesterday, listening to Pieter K's CD Everything All the Time, and then to a mix tape that Kaus sent me a while back (lots of depressed, yet somehow sexy, women singers). And it occurred to me that more and more I get my cues to music from blogs, not from mainstream publications. In my case that's probably no surprise, but I'll bet it's true of a lot of people nowadays. I wonder how much the music industry is picking up on this? Not much, as far as I can tell.

GO TO JAMES LILEKS' SITE. Read The Bleat. Scroll to bottom of page. (Er, well, you're already there if you've read The Bleat, I guess.) Donate to tip jar. Repeat as desired.

UPDATE: John Scalzi is more eloquent than the above:

If you've ever enjoyed the Bleat or one of his books, go leave him a nice tip. James is not claiming poverty or hardship, nor is he suggesting that what's going on in his household is the end of the world. He's not even asking people to hit his tip jar (aside from the fact that his tip jar exists at all). My suggestion about you leaving him a tip isn't about that. It's just a way to let him know you appreciate the Bleat, and that he and his lovely and talented wife will soon see the backend of this blip, and in the meantime, here's what you'd pay to buy him that drink you'd undoubtedly have together if you happened to be in Minneapolis at the moment.

What he said. As I can attest, while the money from online donations is, of course nice -- it's money, after all -- it's the fact that strangers like your stuff enough to send you money when they don't even have to that makes it especially gratifying and cheering. I'm still surprised every time it happens, and the fact that it happens at all is causing me to rethink my view of economics. But that's another post. For now, go send Lileks money and cheer.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Apparently, enough contributions have gone in to cause Amazon's computers to seize up. You can always mail him a check care of the Star Tribune of course.

BTW, I should note that I completely misread his post yesterday -- I thought he was in trouble over The Bleat. Judging by my email, so did pretty much everyone who read it. I'm glad that's not the case.

MORE CRUSHING OF DISSENT, in New Hampshire this time.

And that's really what it is.

June 25, 2003

JEFF JARVIS IS A DIRTY OLD PREMATURELY GRAY MAN. I think this will be a huge success.

ONE OF MY FORMER LAW STUDENTS -- with the assistance of at least one other -- has started a computer game company. They've got a new game going into beta testing called Hostile Intent (you can see screenshots here) that looks pretty cool to me.

Knoxville once had CyberFlix, known for such games as Lunicus, Jump Raven, and Titanic, but its owners sold out and shut down a few years ago. There seems to be another wave of creativity coming, though. I wonder if that means the recession is over?

ANOTHER CLIMBDOWN:

Media coverage of the attack on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad that killed two television cameramen was "overblown" because journalists were at the centre of the story, BBC and Sky correspondents in the Iraqi capital have claimed.

The head of Sky News, Nick Pollard, today told the MediaGuardian forum on war coverage that on the day of the attack on the hotel - the main centre for western journalists reporting the war - he decided after a few hours to stop running it as the main story.

"It was overblown, but for a very good reason, because that was the centre for the media," said Sky reporter David Chater.

Well, so long as there was a good reason.

I'VE LINKED TO THIS STORY BEFORE, but Blogcritics has more on the Secret Service's absurd behavior regarding anti-Bush protesters in South Carolna. This has been a Secret Service problem for about 20 years, ever since Ronald Reagan was shot, and it seems to be getting worse. The Secret Service seems to have serious management problems that don't seem to be getting the attention they deserve.

WHAT CAN WEB JOURNALISM LEARN FROM PORN? I've got a piece on that topic over at the SuicideGirls website.

STIRRINGS IN KOREA?

How bad are things for the North Koreans? It's hard to be certain. We do know that at least 100,000 of them prefer living like hunted animals in China to life at home. Satellite photographs support estimates that 200,000 of them live in North Korea¡'s horrific concentration camp systems. Up to 2 million of them are estimated to have starved to death since a famine, selectively focused on the least "politically reliable," began in 1994. No government has been so oppressive of its own people since the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. No government has ever let its people suffer such a fate while spending so lavishly on the opulent lifestyles of its leaders, and on a bloated war machine that it holds against the throats of its neighbors.

Given that the greatest mass slaughter of Koreans in history is taking place 30 miles north of Seoul -- at this very hour and minute -- one would expect strong reactions in South Korea. One would expect to see mass candlelight vigils for the millions of North Koreans selectively culled for starvation since 1994. One would expect Koreans to rain their nationalist fury at China for propping up Kim Jong Il's failed state in order to keep Korea divided. There should be battalions of riot police protecting the Chinese Embassy from angry students each time China hunts down more North Korean refugees and pitches whole families of them back into Kim Jong Il¡¯s furnace. There should be outcries that Korea's government tolerates this without a peep of protest. Politicians should face eternal demands not to kowtow to the leaders of China, and to demand apologies from them for the next century. One would not expect South Koreans to help perpetuate the oppression of their brothers by buying North Korean products or booking overpriced Mount Kumgang tour packages. One would expect them to be passionately interested in the courageous work of the brave souls who risk confinement in Chinese prisons to save the lives of North Korean refugees.

Yes. Instead we have this:

Two aides in the administration of former South Korean president, Kim Dae Jung, have been indicted over allegations the government made secret payments to secure an inter-Korean summit.

An indepedent inquiry has found the Kim administration paid more than $US100 million to the North ahead of the landmark inter-Korean summit in 2000.

The investigation stopped short of describing the money as a bribe, but did say the donation was clearly related to the summit and had been secretly sent through improper channels.

I met with Kim Dae Jung some years ago, and I thought he was a well-meaning man though a bit kooky (he explained to me that he had once been saved from murder by Jesus' personal intervention). But I repeat what I've said here before: The dreadful goings-on in North Korea will come out, as will the complicity of many South Korean politicians. And the result will be quite dramatic. (Via The Marmot's Hole).

ED CRANE AND THE VAST NEOCONSERVATIVE CONSPIRACY: Porphyrogenitus isn't persuaded.

NOT SO MUCH A SMOKING GUN as a gun factory, apparently:

U.S. investigators in Iraq have found equipment for a nuclear weapons program and millions of detailed documents relating to chemical and biological weapons, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday. . . .

Three U.S. officials told NBC’s Andrea Mitchell that an Iraqi scientist who was part of what Saddam called his “nuclear mujahadeen” had led intelligence officials to a barrel in a residential garden in an undisclosed part of Iraq, where they found plans for a nuclear centrifuge and components of a uranium enrichment system.

The sources said the plans, the discovery of which was first reported by CNN, dated back to the end of the first Gulf War, when Saddam was already widely known to be seeking such weapons, and came as no great surprise.

Sources told NBC News’ Jim Miklaszewski that within just the past week, U.S. investigators had found two shipping containers filled with millions of much more recent documents relating to chemical and biological weapons.

One of the documents, from 2001, was titled “Document burial and U.N. Activities in Iraq,” the sources said. It gave detailed instructions on how to hide materials and deceive U.N. weapons inspectors, the sources said.

Other documents related to the concealment of VX nerve gas, the sources said.

Then there's this:

Obeidi told CNN the parts of a gas centrifuge system for enriching uranium were part of a highly sophisticated system he was ordered to hide so as to be ready to rebuild the bomb program at some time in the future.

"I have very important things at my disposal that I have been ordered to have, to keep, and I've kept them, and I don't want this to proliferate, because of its potential consequences if it falls in the hands of tyrants, in the hands of dictators or of terrorists," said Obeidi, who has been taken out of Iraq with the help of the U.S. government.

WMD has never been the key reason for war, in my opinion, but this sounds like pretty clear proof of "material breach" to me (assuming, of course, that these reports pan out). And Saddam certainly suffered the promised "serious consquences," didn't he?

Of course, the usual suspects will no doubt claim that these were all planted by the Bushitler and his cabal of evil (Jewish) neoconservative handlers.

JACOB T. LEVY WRITES on constitutonal change in Britain, in The New Republic. Excerpt:

In the past the system has tottered along largely on the strength of British institutional conservatism. The traditional constitutional order exercised a hold on the political imagination; upheavals were out of character. But New Labour's modernizing project shows that this Burkean conservatism has dwindled, and it's further contributing to its diminution. Whatever emotional attachment Britons might have had to the centuries-old Lord Chancellorship--with its pomp, circumstance, and Great Seal--they are unlikely to extend to the new Minister of Constitutional Affairs.

Indeed.

GEPHARDT'S UNPERSUASIVE DEFENSE: I got the same email that Eugene Volokh did, and I know the source, so I can vouch for its reliability. But while I was off having a leisurely lunch talking about blogs with a colleague from the Journalism School, Eugene Volokh posted a lengthy analysis of Gephardt's statement, together with a what-he-said-then-vs.-what-he's-saying-now table. So rather than duplicate Eugene's work, I'm going to send you there.

UPDATE: Stuart Buck is defending Gephardt. But I don't think Gephardt is Lincoln.

WILLIAM GIBSON WRITES:

That our own biggish brothers, in the name of national security, draw from ever wider and increasingly transparent fields of data may disturb us, but this is something that corporations, nongovernmental organizations and individuals do as well, with greater and greater frequency. The collection and management of information, at every level, is exponentially empowered by the global nature of the system itself, a system unfettered by national boundaries or, increasingly, government control.

It is becoming unprecedentedly difficult for anyone, anyone at all, to keep a secret.

In the age of the leak and the blog, of evidence extraction and link discovery, truths will either out or be outed, later if not sooner. This is something I would bring to the attention of every diplomat, politician and corporate leader: the future, eventually, will find you out. The future, wielding unimaginable tools of transparency, will have its way with you. In the end, you will be seen to have done that which you did.

Indeed. But read the whole essay.

MY TECHCENTRALSTATION COLUMN on outsourcing in the Information Technology area is getting a lot of feedback. There's an interesting debate going on in the comments. There's also this email:

A certain large laser printer company started outsourcing to India not because of costs, but because, when they started this project, it was IMPOSSIBLE to hire engineers here. Intel was leasing cars for college hires as an incentive to get them to come to work; trying to hire anyone in a place where you can buy houses for $100,000 was nearly impossible.

The savings from outsourcing turn out to be smaller than you might expect considering wage rates in India). The net effect will probably not be dramatic losses of jobs, but reducing upward pressure on salaries of engineers.

I have great sympathy for the engineers out of work, but this was mostly the collapse of the 1990s bubble, and foreign outsourcing is probably not a significant part of it. It does mean that some of these jobs may not come back after the economy recovers, and when they do come back, the wages won't be quite so spectacular for recent college grads.

At least my employer is still doing H1B visas--because they claim that they can't find people willing to work for $65-75K--and they probably can't. Lots of engineers won't leave California to work in Idaho. The H1B visas need to stop, however, to encourage employers to raise pay scales enough to get people to move.

I don't know much about the H1B program, but I keep hearing that it's being abused. Reader Yann A. Le Gouellec says it's not true:

Re: your TCS column about immigration and outsourcing ... While I agree with you about outsourcing, I would like, however, to debunk the fallacy (as reported by the Boston Globe) about H1-B holders taking jobs from "good americans".

Having been one H1-B holder (now with a green card) and having recently hired one, I can tell you that the minimum requirements include: high degree (usually Ph.D.), publications, and agreement from the Labor Commission that this job could not be filled by a US Citizen, and salary in the level prescribed by the State. So enough with whinings that US citizen can't compete ...

Jayakrishnan Nair, meanwhile, notes that it's not just tech jobs, but cartoons that are moving to India. And reader Daryl Biberdorf sends this:

Speaking as as a worker in the technical trenches, though, the REAL impact of the continued flood of H1B/L-1 visa workers coupled with the mass exodus of information technology (IT) jobs to India and other places, is that I expect a strong trend to unionization in these fields within the next five years. Every day, the American IT worker sees entire organizations moved to India, thousands of jobs at a time. The logical arguments lose their attraction when you're the guy wondering how the mortgage is going to get paid. The unionizers are going to appeal to this. Then, the question is, how does the AFL-CIO vote?

Yes, I suppose it's possible that the AFL-CIO will (on issues outside its core) move right in response to a different crop of union members.

UPDATE: Many, many readers wrote to say that Le Gouellec is overstating the requirements for an H1B visa. and they appear to be right -- as reader Kevin McKinley notes, this site says a 4-year degree is all that is required, and missing years of college can be replaced by work experience. One reader wrote:

Your reader Yann A. Le Gouellec is, I think, incorrect.

My last experience dealing with the H-1B visa bureaucracy was 1986, when I hired a software engineer from South Africa. I tried, very hard, to find an American, but several weeks of advertising gave us about 40 nominally qualified applicants--of whom more than half were fresh graduates, who needed H-1B visas to start work. This guy was the only of the 40 applicants who actually had work experience, along with two bachelor's degrees (electrical engineering and computer sciences). No publication history, and only about three years of work experience.

The Dept. of Labor made it a laborious process, and seemed to be making a serious effort to make sure that we hired an American if at all possible--but it was longer on process than intelligence, and I suspect it would have been possible to work around their process, if we had been so inclined.

The current situation is quite different. On the bulletin board here at work are three H-1B visa applications, one for a software engineer (salary described as $55,000 to $65,000, so apparently someone with 2-3 years experience and a CS degree), and two for electrical engineers, one at $80,000 a year, and another at $100,000 a year, so these are probably people with at least five and ten years experience, respecitvely. (These are good salaries, in southwestern Idaho.) None of these positions should be hard to fill, since so many engineers in this field are out of work.

Reader Davis King writes:

The big abuse behind H1B's and L-1's, though, is not whether they take away "American" jobs, but that people who are brought here on H1B's and 1L's face legal restrictions on their ability to switch employers. If they could compete in the job market on equal terms, their wages would quickly rise to match the wages of US citizens, and any economic incentive to replace existing workers with new visa holders would disappear.

In other words, this is one of those cases where the press blames free-market competition, greedy corporations, and globalization, while the real culprit is a government regulation that restricts labor market competition. A simple, libertarian solution -- granting every H1B holder a green card and the right to compete freely for any job he/she chooses -- would be much more effective than a union-led effort to cut visa numbers and expel immigrant engineers from
the country.

I will never understand why the people who created the H1B program thought it was a good idea for us to single out the highest-educated, most tech-savvy, hardest-working immigrants for a "temporary" worker program that can force them to leave the United States if they lose their jobs.

Interesting.

ONE FINAL UPDATE, to this too-long post: Reader Scott Wood sends this:

I have worked in the IT department of a very large manufacturing company for most of the last 7 years, and I can't remember a single (technical) meeting in which American's weren't greatly outnumbered by Indians, Mexicans and Filipinos. (In other departments China is the country du jour.) And everyone in my department (I am a short term interloper, so the skin in the game is a little different for me) is due to be replaced by an Indian contingent by September. So here are my somewhat knowledgeable but not at all unbiased observations:

1) I'm skeptical about it being cheaper. Our experience is that for all the talk about their vaunted education, the Indian replacements are, by and large, just not very qualified. Managers who say otherwise are, well, managers, and probably have bonuses linked to short term budgetary savings, and want to curry favor which higher level managers. However.

2) They are probably not very qualified as much for lack of experience as anything else. I wonder if the outsourcing firms aren't going to create a bad reputation for themselves by growing more quickly then they can handle. This is complicated by sheer distance and the nature of the outsourcing contract itself making seriously judging individual qualifications before hiring pretty much impossible. Lots of people have paper qualifications that were probably acquired through book cramming. Finally,

3) Here, anyway, the daily work environment is so poisoned that coming to work is drudgery for me for pretty much the first time in my life. This is exceptionally ironic since I am working with pretty much my entire corps of best friends that I have made since moving to this area. I can't help but assume that the large contingent of on-site Indians, including some personal friends, feel the hostility. I've never experienced anything like it, and hope, after I leave in September, never to experience it again.

--sw

ps-For the record, I agree with your correspondent who criticizes the H1B program for making the most qualified people leave the country. After years of arguing that the political clout of auto and textile workers shouldn't be able to everyone else poorer, I can't very easily carve out an exception for myself. It's hard to maintain that position in the face of my (local) friends who have always been much more protectionist, trade-unionist types.

Well, I don't know where I come down on this exactly -- I'm generally pro-immigration and pro-free trade, but H1B isn't exactly either, though outsourcing more or less is -- but it seems that this is a hot-button issue that's likely to generate some heat unless the economy recovers sufficiently to take the pressure off here.

Interestingly, another (Indian) reader emailed that Indian companies are starting to outsource low-cost work to China. Sooner or later, I suppose, they'll run out of low-cost places. . . .

DAVID NISHIMURA RELAYS A "DEVASTATING" REPORT ON LOOTING in Baghdad.

It appears that there were, in fact, massive violations of the Hague Convention -- by the Iraqis. I'm waiting for the chorus of condemnation now. . . .

JUSTICE O'CONNOR TALKS about affirmative action and the Michigan decision, in an interview by Jan Crawford Greenburg.

AMY ALKON IS A bright woman.

THIS PUTS A WHOLE NEW SPIN ON AGGRESSIVE REPORTING:

More than a half-dozen military officers said that Miller acted as a middleman between the Army unit with which she was embedded and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi, on one occasion accompanying Army officers to Chalabi's headquarters, where they took custody of Saddam Hussein's son-in-law. She also sat in on the initial debriefing of the son-in-law, these sources say.

Since interrogating Iraqis was not the mission of the unit, these officials said, it became a "Judith Miller team," in the words of one officer close to the situation.

In April, Miller wrote a letter objecting to an Army commander's order to withdraw the unit, Mobile Exploitation Team Alpha, from the field. She said this would be a "waste" of time and suggested that she would write about it unfavorably in the Times. After Miller took up the matter with a two-star general, the pullback order was dropped.

On the other hand,

Viewed from one perspective, Miller, a Pulitzer Prize-winning correspondent, nationally recognized expert on weapons of mass destruction and co-author of a best-selling book on bioterrorism, was acting as an aggressive journalist. She ferreted out sources, used her long-standing relationship with Chalabi to pursue potential stories and, in the process, helped the United States take custody of two important Iraqis. Some military officers say she cared passionately about her reporting without abandoning her objectivity, and some of her critics may be overly concerned with regulations and perhaps jealous of the attention Miller's unit received.

I link. You decide.

LOTS OF TECHNICAL JOBS are being outsourced to Third-World countries. My TechCentralStation column looks at the response to this phenomenon, and at whether there will be a political backlash that might affect the 2004 elections.

ADVICE TO GEPHARDT: "When in a hole, stop digging."

Meanwhile Porphyrogenitus notes: "I like to think that if Paul Tsongas (D - MA) were still alive, he'd give Gephardt a 'Pander Bear'. " And Bill Hobbs offers a history of Executive Orders and their abuse.

AUSTIN BAY: "Rogue states that aid and abet terrorists are erasing their own borders."

COLBY COSH'S PLEDGE DRIVE / Blogosphere unemployment compensation solicitation has raised $1,000 so far. In terms of relative deprivation, he figures this makes him a match for Andrew Sullivan.

SOME THOUGHTS ON IRAN, REVOLUTION, and what the United States should do.

THIS WEEK'S Carnival of the Vanities is up, full of fresh bloggy goodness from all over.

JAMES LILEKS IS BEING OBLIQUE -- but it's obvious that someone doesn't like The Bleat.

Which just proves that there are idiots in need of stern correction everywhere.

UPDATE: Ken Layne agrees.

June 24, 2003

NGO WATCH is a project aimed at scrutinizing NGOs. Well, someone should.

SEVERAL YEARS AGO, INVOKING FANCY MATHEMATICS, I WROTE IN THE COLUMBIA LAW REVIEW that scholars should look at the Supreme Court's actions, however random-seeming, for signs of deeper patterns. Now, a mathematician has done just that, and those patterns seem to be there, and to exist independent of legal issues, or the composition or politics of the Court. I find this very interesting, though not entirely surprising.

SO IF YOU'RE ANTI-GLOBALIZATION, YOU SHOULD DENOUNCE THIS, RIGHT? Turner Classic Movies is featuring the best of Bollywood this month.

IS BRIGHT the new gay?

UPDATE: Next, meet the Tony Blair Democrats!

FOUR COLOR HELL is a comics blog that's worth your time. Er, if you're into comics, that is.

THE GEPHARDT CAMPAIGN is invoking Harry Truman to defend his comments about Executive Orders and the Supreme Court. Phil Carter points out that Truman's record with Executive Orders and the Supreme Court doesn't really help the Gephardt campaign's position. Carter points out that Truman acted by Executive Order in the Steel Seizure Cases and his action was overturned by the Court:

There is great irony in the assertion by Dick Gephardt's campaign that he would follow the example of Harry Truman with respect to Executive Orders. Harry Truman did some great things unilaterally, such as his desegregation of the military and recognition of Israel, among others. But we can also learn what presidents cannot do from Truman's experience in the White House. I hope that Mr. Gephardt learns those lessons as well.

Good point.

I HAVE JUST LEARNED THAT KEN SCHWETJE, general counsel of the NSS and former chair of the ABA's International Space Law committee (which I also chaired some years earlier, and which is where I think I first met him), and adjunct professor teaching space law at George Washington University, has died suddenly of a heart attack.

Ken was a very smart and nice man, and an excellent lawyer. He will be missed.

WILL NANOTECHNOLOGY BRING ABOUT THE SOCIALIST PARADISE? I have a piece speculating on that in the new issue of Legal Affairs. You can read it on the web here. There's also a piece on privacy in the same issue by Orin Kerr, and an interesting piece on the legal aspects of role-playing games, too.

PEJMAN YOUSEFZADEH offers a survey of the Iranian freedom movement.

THE UNITED STATES IS REINING IN NGOS and some people aren't very happy about it.

Given the often-destructive and usually-political nature of NGO behavior around the world, some adult supervision seems warranted. And outfits that tailor their agenda to ensure their "viability" in thugocracies can hardly complain about pushback.

I'd like to see some accountability, where at the moment there is little or none.

OVERLAWYERED IS NOW RUNNING MOVABLE TYPE. Same URL, though. No, it didn't move from Blogger: Walter Olson was baking his HTML on clay tablets until today.

GEPHARDT UPDATE: Ernie the Attorney writes:

[P]redictably, we now are in the "explanatory phase" wherein the politician's handlers provide information on what he really meant. Fortunately, the blogosphere is impervious to this sort of thing. Unfortunately, we can't say the same thing for the traditional media. But then they've got smaller (but more entertaining) fish to fry.

Ain't it the truth.

L'ETAT C'EST MOI:

PARIS, June 24 — France plans to strengthen its president's immunity from criminal investigation and prosecution but create clearer guidelines for impeaching a head of state, Justice Minister Dominique Perben announced on Tuesday.

The reform would put into law the blanket immunity that the Constitutional Council granted to President Jacques Chirac in 1999 as an investigating magistrate sought to question him about alleged fraud cases during his 1977-1995 stint as Paris mayor.

It was announced two weeks after an investigating magistrate defied the public prosecutor and pledged to open an inquiry into charges of false billing for 14 million francs ($2.5 million) Chirac and his wife spent on food while at Paris city hall.

But of course.

COULTERGEIST? Ann Coulter will soon be blogging.

LOTS MORE ON IRAN FROM JEFF JARVIS: "Accusations of American backing actually have given courage to the demonstrators. Unlike the streets of Paris, Berlin or Berkeley, anti-Americanism is not fashionable in Tehran."

CHAD IS TRYING THE OIL TRUST FUND IDEA, after a fashion:

More audacious is the route along which Chad's oil money will flow. For the first time, a nation has agreed to surrender part of its sovereignty over how to spend the money earned by unlocking its oil wealth. Proceeds from Chad's sale of oil from the first three fields -- expected to exceed $100 million a year, nearly doubling the nation's fiscal revenue -- will travel a financial pipeline designed, and insisted upon, by the World Bank and other outsiders and monitored by a Chadian committee that includes Muslim and Christian religious figures and other community leaders. Their job is to ensure the money is spent on development projects such as schools, clinics and rural roads, and isn't siphoned into secret overseas bank accounts, as happened in neighboring Nigeria, or funneled into civil wars, as in Angola and Sudan.

If it succeeds, the project -- known officially as the Chad Cameroon Petroleum Development and Pipeline Project -- could offer the world a blueprint for how multinational companies, aid groups and governments can join hands to beneficially exploit the mineral wealth of Iraq and other countries. It could also reverse the violent curse of oil money in Africa. In recent years, the GDP of some oil-rich nations has actually declined, amid bloodshed and corruption.

Weirdly, I got a couple of emails regarding yesterday's post on the Iraqi oil-trust idea in which the writers accused me of statism. Huh? The point of the oil-trust idea is to take control of oil revenues away from the state.

UPDATE: Reader Ben Szobody emails:

What the WSJ report ignored was France and TotalFinaElf's complicity in the country's poverty, the leadership's corruption and the stumbling blocks already encountered by Exxon in its drive to pipe oil from Chad.

There's not an regular Chadian citizen, in the bush where I lived, who will take tea with a Frenchman -- it was to my advantage to garble "la langue celeste," at times. It's because Chadian oil wells have long been drilled and capped and sat upon by France, while jerry-rigged president Deby sits in his mansion, purchased by our anti-nation-builders, of course. At least, this is what nearly any native on the street will tell you, and they believe it as firmly as they believe that their votes don't count, come election time.

French fighter jets routinely fly over remote parts of the Chadian bush, where my American parents still live. Ask any hut-dwelling native, and he'll explain: "l'huile!"

Reporters Thurow and Warren note that Elf pulled out of its partnership with Exxon abruptly, and without explanation. Later, Deby nearly derails the deal by siphoning away some of the early windfall for his own uses. Could it be the French, yet again protecting their black gold after realizing their bit role in the pipeline? No wonder the story sardonically describes Mr. Chevallier's full-time job of "harass[ing] people day and night to get things done."

If Exxon succeeds in getting oil out of there, and the World Bank forces the corrupt leaders to use the money properly, it will be despite the wishes of the French, whose contracts have lamely papered over the oppression and poverty in Chad for years.

Heh. Good.

GEPHARDT RESPONDS -- well, via a spokesman quoted in ABC's The Note:

Dick Gephardt knows the law. The president can not overturn a Supreme Court decision. That's not what he said. He was simply expressing his commitment to diversity and his willingness to use the tools of his office to promote affirmative action programs to the fullest extent possible. It's important to remember that Harry Truman used an executive order to integrate the military.

Yeah. But that's certainly not what Gephardt was talking about. I don't think I can improve on Eugene Volokh's comments on this:

Harry Truman's executive order was very important -- but it had nothing to do with an attempt to overcome a contrary Supreme Court decision. It's hard to see how it's evidence that a President can successfully "overcome" Supreme Court decisions that prohibit things that he thinks are good. (The Court had ruled, 50 years earlier, that segregation was permissible, but it certainly didn't say it was mandated, and Truman's court order wasn't remotely a response to that decision. In fact, by the date of Truman's order, the Court had begun its path towards desegregation, see, e.g., Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938) and Sipuel v. Oklahoma (1948), so Truman's decision was actually quite consistent with the trend of Supreme Court decisions.)

Furthermore, Gephardt was speaking about the University of Michigan affirmative action case -- a case involving a state university's admissions policy. What Presidential executive order could have possibly "overcome" a decision upholding the policy?

More broadly, Gephardt said he'd "do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does." I'm not trying to stick him with a too literal interpretation of the "any," but I assume that he was at least saying he'd fight via executive order a broad range of the sorts of decisions that Democratic audiences would disfavor. So if the Court holds there's no constitutional right to an abortion, he'd issue an executive order to -- do what exactly? How would he overcome that "wrong thing the Supreme Court does" with an executive order? Or if the Court reverses Miranda, what precisely would he order? (He could of course order federal officials to follow the old rule, but federal law enforcement is a tiny fraction of all law enforcement.)

So it seems that, given the Gephardt office response, Gephardt's statement was still wrong, though perhaps in a more traditional way: He was promising the audience something that he must have known he couldn't possibly deliver (an "overcoming" by Presidential executive order, addressed to federal employees, of a hypothetical Supreme Court decision that held unconstitutional a state university policy).

I guess, then, the Gephardt response translates to "Gephardt's not a constitutional ignoramus, or an incipient dictator. He's just your standard-model lying politician!"

Woohoo! That gets my vote.

UPDATE: Yale Law professor Jack Balkin is pretty critical of Gephardt's remarks, though he disagrees with Bryan Preston's statement that they're comparable to Trent Lott's.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Another law professor reader, who prefers to be anonymous, sends this:

On Gephardt, the better comparison is not Trent Lott, but John Ashcroft.

If you care about civil liberties, you criticize both Gephardt and Ashcroft (as you do).

For those lefty bloggers who refuse to criticize Gephardt, I'll just have to remember that when they criticize John Ashcroft, they wouldn't be doing so if Ashcroft were a Democrat--that their own political bias is one of the things determining whom they consider OK to criticize.

Indeed.

YET ANOTHER UPDATE: Daniel Drezner weighs in: "I'm even more alarmed by Gephardt's casual assumption that he knows more about constitutional law than the Supreme Court. Shudder." And, sadly, this comment from a reader may be true:

The key difference between the Democrats handling of Gephardt's statement and the Republican's handling of the Trent Lott fiasco is that the Republicans were actually ashamed and embarassed by Senator Lott's comments.

The Democrats are thrilled and encouraged by those of Rep. Gephardt.

Yeah. And as quite a few readers note, we're not hearing any comments about the inherent illegitimacy of 5-4 decisions, today.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Dan Ward emails:

To my mind, you missed one of the most important parts of the Gephardt aide's dismissal/backpedaling on the Executive Order stupidity. The aide's quote started with: ' "The fact that this question comes from libertarian law professors should speak for itself," spokesman Erik Smith wrote in an e-mail.'

Ah. Well. Obviously all libertarians are out of their minds and have no thoughts worth considering.

I'm a former anarcho-socialist and I'm still about as far from being a libertarian as you can be without being actively Communist. But come on. Dismissing someone's question about your candidate's recorded statements because you don't like his political background is mental arteriosclerosis.

Mental arteriosclerosis is, unfortunately, the order of the day in the Democratic Party, which is why I am no longer -- as I once was -- a card-carrying member.

CHRISTIAN BLOGGERS ON HARRY POTTER: "Funny, 700+ links. Not one of them condeming anyone to hell for reading the book, though some concern with regards over seeking to find Biblical analogies and metaphors within this particular body of fiction."

Not everyone, however, is as enlightened -- something with which I have firsthand experience. But I survived unscathed. And I stand by my Elizabeth Montgomery / Melissa Joan Hart point.

UPDATE: Reader Mark Jones emails:

Two points on your argument that witches would all be babes.

1. Well, yeah, Elizabeth Montgomery and Melissa Joan Hart are definitely babes. And, yeah, if you have that kind of power why not be a babe?

2. On the other hand, Samantha Stevens had a lot of witchly relatives, many of whom where not--to put it charitably--babealicious. Maybe they were makinng fashion/political statements, but I dunno. I suspect the distribution of babes among witches (barring spells to change their appearance) is fairly normal.

Of course, I may be overthinking this just a tad.

Gee, do you think?

MORE ALGERIAN CONNECTIONS:

Italy's financial police launched a major swoop against a group it said was close to the Islamic extremist al-Qaeda network in the north around Milan, arresting six people. . . .

The suspects are accused of giving logistical help to a cell of the Algerian Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), a militant Islamic group waging a bloody civil war to overthrow the secular government in Algiers.

I keep harping on the Algerian connections, don't I?

UPDATE: Reader Brian Reilly points out this story from 1999:

Five arrests made in Boston as part of bomb probe
By Catherine Ivey, Associated Press, 12/30/99
BOSTON - Five men, three of whom identified themselves as Algerian, were arrested Thursday by federal officials wanting to question them about their possible links to Ahmed Ressam, an Algerian arrested in Washington state on explosive smuggling charges.

He sends this link, to a related story, too:

Ghani told an associate he was angry that Ressam brought explosives to the United States, and also mentioned "that the situation was boiling in Algeria and that the United States and the CIA are running everything over there.'' Algeria has been locked in a bloody civil war.

Despite the details of the arrest, Lewis Schiliro, head of the FBI in New York, acted to reassure New Yorkers as the new year approached.

"There are no specific and credible threats to any part of New York City or elsewhere and no explosives or explosive devices were found in connection with the investigation of Abdel Ghani,'' he said.

There's also this:

Government links Vermont, Washington border arrests

By Wilson Ring, Associated Press, 12/30/99

BURLINGTON, Vt. -- Federal prosecutors today linked a Canadian woman arrested at a remote Vermont border crossing with an Algerian man taken into custody at the border in Washington state.

A prosecutor said in court documents that Lucia Garofalo and Ahmed Ressam were in the same cell of "a violent Algerian terrorist organization" known as GIA.

Amazing what you can learn on this Internet thingie.

NOW THIS IS INTERESTING:

Most Americans would support the United States taking military action to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons despite growing public concern about the mounting number of U.S. military casualties in the aftermath of the war with Iraq, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

People often ask me if the blogosphere really changes minds. And I don't know. But it's obvious that the marches and rhetoric of the antiwar movement, not to mention dozens of Paul Krugman columns, haven't had much impact on public opinion.

ME, DAN QUAYLE, AND JUSTICE BRENNAN: All in the space law symposium from the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, which has now put its archives online.

JAMES CEASER OFFERS AN INTELLECTUAL HISTORY OF ANTI-AMERICANISM.

ERNIE THE ATTORNEY ON DICK GEPHARDT'S LATEST: "When are these guys going to figure out that it isn't just the lazy old media that is taking note of what they are saying?"

When, indeed?

Meanwhile Bryan Preston says that Gephardt's remarks are worse than Trent Lott's -- Lott just wished that Strom Thurmand had succeeded in subverting the Constitution. Gephardt is promising to do it himself. And Preston is challenging Lefty bloggers to make an issue of this, as conservative bloggers did with Trent Lott.

So far they don't seem to be rising to the challenge.

UPDATE: Bill Hobbs is also noting the silence from the left.

MORE NEWS FROM BAGHDAD:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - You can find just about anything at the Baab al Sharjee market in the center of Baghdad. Air conditioners, electric fans, radios, satellite dishes. And short videos that chronicle the torture chambers of Saddam Hussein.

One video - "Saddam's Crimes and His Followers: Mukhabarat Torturing" - shows men lying on the ground as their legs are tied to a stick in the air. They writhe in pain as military officers whip the soles of their bare feet. Another shows a grenade being strapped to the chest of a blindfolded man. A few minutes later, he's blown up.

"Thousands of people have bought them," said Taha Adnan, 16, a vendor in the market.

The world long has known that Saddam used chemical weapons against the Kurds and brutally repressed Shiite Muslims, has known of his secret police and torture chambers. But until his regime disintegrated in the face of a U.S. onslaught, it seldom heard the cries of his victims or their survivors.

Now they are starting to tell their stories.

And they're not very pretty stories.

THIS JUST IN: Jonah Goldberg is a muddle-brained Frenchman.

Funny, he doesn't sound Frankish.

WHY YOU'D ALMOST THINK THEY WANTED TO KEEP THINGS CHAOTIC IN THE MIDEAST:

State Department and White House sources tell TIME the U.S. has lodged complaints that Paris is turning a blind eye to fund raising in France by front organizations for Hamas, the terrorist group that has claimed responsibility for most of the recent wave of suicide attacks. The U.S. also claims France is blocking European Union efforts to restrict these front groups elsewhere. "There's a lot of intelligence to suggest that the French have become increasingly a conduit for funds to Hamas and that they're just not taking the steps that are necessary," says a State official. Some Administration hard-liners suspect the French of positioning themselves to influence the Arab-Israeli peace process by leveraging Hamas' European funding.

It can't actually be true that the French are backing the bad guys everywhere, can it? Because it sure seems that way.

June 23, 2003

BOY, THAT WAS A QUICK CHANGE: Now Bill O'Reilly is praising the Internet, and (well, sort of) suggesting that news anchors should start weblogs.

PETER LEWIS WRITES on the Supreme Court's library internet filtering decision:

Sure, some kids will use the Internet to search for porn, just as they'll snoop for dad's collection of Playboys out in the garage. I suspect that if they are blocked on the library computers, they'll simply use someone else's computer. (Or, they'll hack around the software.) Meanwhile, everyone else at the library wanting to use the Internet will be assumed to be a pervert, especially those who ask that the software filters be disabled.

Another issue: Whose filter will the libraries use? The software has to be compiled by someone whose value judgments are trustworthy.

Indeed. But the real lesson is that librarians who don't like being bossed around by the feds should think twice about accepting federal money, which always comes with strings.

THE NEW YORK TIMES' BILL BORDERS responds to a critic. Rather lamely.

EUGENE VOLOKH BLOGS A BIZARRE QUOTE FROM DICK GEPHARDT about overturning the Supreme Court via Executive Order. I saw the Fox story that Eugene links and decided -- as he suspects -- that it had to be a misquote. But CNN has it, too. Here it is:

When I'm president, we'll do executive orders to overcome any wrong thing the Supreme Court does tomorrow or any other day.

I agree with Eugene that if Gephardt meant this as written he has no business running for President -- but I still find it hard to believe that Gephardt would say something so dumb.

UPDATE: Eugene now has a link to the C-SPAN video and at about 45:40 Gephardt says exactly what's quoted up above, and the context is exactly as represented. Sheesh. That's absolutely pathetic. Either (1) Gephardt, despite all his years in Congress, has still failed to learn that you can't overturn a Constitutional decision by the Supreme Court with an executive order; or (2) Gephardt was in Full Pander Mode and hoped his audience wouldn't know better. Neither speaks very well for him.

FACT-CHECKING MORT ZUCKERMAN: Howard Kurtz points out that some of those frivolous lawsuit stories are, well, not true.

The real problem, in my opinion, isn't garden-variety frivolous lawsuits, but the use of the tort system to end-run the regulatory process, as in tobacco -- and as has been attempted with firearms and fast food. Doing that is an effort by people in the government to subcontract the legislation process to private interests, without democratic safeguards. I think it is unfortunate that people have been distracted from this concern by bogus stories of slip-and-fall chicanery.

Plus: Orrin Hatch apologizes! But for the wrong thing.

NOW THIS IS INTERESTING:

Saad al-Faqih, head of the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia and critic of the Saudi royal family, was admitted to hospital on Sunday with a leg wound, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

Mr al-Faqih told the BBC that two men claiming to be plumbers knocked on his door and then forced their way into his home.

He said he had received recent warnings of a plan to abduct or kill him.

The BBC is spelling his name differently, for some reason, but he's been in the press previously as Saad Al Fagih and he's a "Saudi dissident" in the same way that Osama bin Laden is a Saudi "dissident" -- seemingly exactly the same way, as this story from last year indicates:

Osama Bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, has connections to a leading Saudi dissident based in London, BBC Radio's Five Live Report has revealed.

The programme provides evidence that Saad Al-Fagih, a key figure in the London-based campaign opposed to the Saudi regime, bought a satellite phone that was later used by Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation.

On 30 July 1998 one of the suicide bombers who blew up the US embassy in Nairobi telephoned the satellite phone number: 00 873 682 505 331.

Eight days later the suicide bombers struck in Nairobi and Dar-es-Salaam killing 247 people.

The satellite phone was the very same one that had been bought by Saad Al-Fagih in November 1996.

So who was behind this attack? Was it real, or staged? I don't know, but stay tuned. A British reader suggests a connection with this arrest in London, but I have no idea whether that's the case. It does seem, however, as if things continue to be active on the Al Qaeda "Saudi dissident" front.

LOTS OF BLOGGING ON THE SUPREME COURT'S AFFIRMATIVE ACTION DECISIONS -- from rather different perspectives -- from Jack Balkin and The Volokh Conspiracy.

THE BAGHDAD BULLETIN is now publishing. (Via Jeff Jarvis).

THE LOS ANGELES TIMES has more on nepotism in Washington today, with this observation:

"Lots of people have children, wives and stuff that work back here," he said. "It is not as if a lot of cash is changing hands."

Seeking favors is as old as the Capitol, but the new tendency to come at it from the side — through family members — may be a consequence of campaign-finance reform: As restrictions have tightened on traditional political giving, interest groups have cast about for new ways to ingratiate themselves.

Nothing strikes quite such a personal note as channeling fees or lucrative jobs to relatives — whether the relatives lobby Congress or perform other services. There are no restrictions. Neither House nor Senate rules bar the practice.

At least 17 senators and 11 members of the House have children, spouses or other close relatives who lobby or work as consultants, most in Washington, according to lobbyist reports, financial-disclosure forms and other state and federal records. Many are paid by clients who count on the related lawmaker for support.

Indeed.

SELLING OUT: Radley Balko is looking for advertisers.

THE OIL-TRUST IDEA SEEMS TO BE GATHERING STEAM:

DEAD SEA, Jordan, June 22 -- As Iraq began shipping crude oil today for the first time since the start of the war, the U.S. administrator of the country broached the politically sensitive issue of how oil revenue should be spent, proposing that some of the money be shared with Iraqis through a system of dividend payments or a national trust fund to finance public pensions. . . .

Bremer said one option would pay Iraqis annual dividends based on the year's oil sales, a system used in Alaska. Another option, he said, would be to deposit the oil revenue into a trust fund to create a social security system. Either way, he said in a speech at the conference, "every individual Iraqi would come to understand [that] his or her stake in the country's economic success was there to see."

Seems like a good idea to me.

Read this item from Newsday, too.

SPLIT DECISION on affirmative action. Well, that'll keep it alive as a political issue.

THE NATION'S SCHOOLS GET A "REPORT CARD:" The results are about what you'd expect.

THIS STORY SEEMS SADLY TYPICAL of our Tribunes Of The People:

A United States senator doesn't go unnoticed when he pulls rank in public. So when populist Democrat Tom Harkin jumped a snaking security line of less exalted passengers at Reagan National Airport on Friday to make his flight home to Iowa, it was only a matter of minutes before someone dropped a dime.

In this case, that someone was Jim Warren, deputy managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, who had just arrived around 10 a.m. when he spotted Harkin flashing his Senate ID at the Midwest Express counter and being escorted past some 200 long-suffering travelers who were waiting to go through security.

Note the miserable self-justifying excuse: "we were more worried about getting the job done for the people of Iowa than about getting a call from a gossip columnist." Harkin was done voting. He just didn't want to have to take a later flight home, even though as a member of Congress he gets special treatment in that regard from the airline industry, too. Members of Congress should have to travel like the rest of us -- because if they did, it would ensure that the rest of us had a better flying experience.

MARK STEYN ON IRAN:

That's why the term ''Middle East peace process'' is better applied to the region as a whole than to the so-called Palestinian road map. Dignifying the swamp of the West Bank with the name of the entire neighborhood buys into the Arabs' propaganda that the Palestinian situation is responsible for the wretched nature of the Middle East, rather than the other way round. Looked at the other way round, peace is processing apace, and the chips are all falling George W. Bush's way. Whatever the defects of post-Taliban Afghanistan, it's no longer the world's biggest training camp for Saudi-funded terrorism. Whatever the defects of post-Saddam Iraq, it's no longer a self-promotion exercise for the ne plus ultra of anti-American Arab strongmen. And, whatever the defects of post-ayatollah Iran, the fall of the prototype Islamic Republic will be a huge setback to the world's jihadi.

It was Ayatollah Khomeini who successfully grafted a mid-20th century European-style fascist movement onto Islam and made the religion an explicitly political vehicle for anti-Westernism. It was the ayatollah who first bestowed on the United States the title of ''Great Satan.'' And it was the ayatollah who insisted that this Islamic revolution had to be taken directly to the infidels--to the embassy hostages, to Salman Rushdie and, ultimately, to America itself. Twenty years ago, there was a minor British pop hit called ''Ayatollah, Don't Khomeini Closer.'' He came too close. And the end of a regime built on his psychosis is good news for Iranians and Westerners alike.

Indeed.

THE TELEGRAPH is standing by its Galloway story. It also notes -- as Tapped and others did not -- that the same experts who pronounced the Christian Science Monitor's Galloway documents probable forgeries said that the Telegraph's documents appeared genuine.

The Guardian adds:

"We were offered the Monitor story before it appeared and we didn't like the look of it because it involved taking an unknown source on trust," said Charles Moore, the editor of the Telegraph.

Although the authenticity of the documents may ultimately have to be tested in court, America's Christian Monitor newspaper, which also alleged he was in the pay of the Saddam regime, said its expert also looked at the Telegraph's document and judged it to be genuine.

Despite threats of legal action, Mr Galloway has not yet issued a writ against the Telegraph.

"We've had a lot of bluster but we haven't had the writ," Moore said.

"We feel there are many questions that Mr Galloway hasn't answered and it's in his interests to create a general atmosphere in which all accusations against him are lumped together," he added.

That's obviously true for Galloway. It's to the Guardian's credit that it is distinguishing the two stories.

It remains, of course, an open question which is worse: If Galloway was defending Saddam's interests because he was being paid off, or if he was doing so out of genuine sympathy for a mass-murdering dictator. Either way, Galloway seems unfit to hold office in a civilized country, and it surprises me that anyone on the left would feel moved to defend him.

MESSAGE TO LILEKS: Got the Epson Photo Stylus 900 printer and installed it over the weekend. Also got some inkjet-printable CD-Rs and DVD+Rs. Not much more expensive than the regular kind. It works fine, and the results look just like commercially produced CDs and DVDs. It even comes with Mac software!

With one of these, and the requisite audio/video you can be a one-man record or movie company. Knock yourself out.

DAVID ADESNIK ANALYZES the WMD / "Bush lied!" claims:

If there still is solid evidence that Saddam had chemical and biological weapons, then Saddam was in material breach of Resolution 1441. Do those words sound strange to you? "Material breach"? "Resolution 1441"?

They should. Because the question everyone is now asking is "Did Bush lie?" rather than "Did the United States have good cause to invade Iraq without the express written consent of the Security Council?

Indeed. Read the whole thing, which suggests that there's as much spinning going on from self-justifying antiwar revisionists as there ever was from the Bush Administrations.

ANONYMOUS INFORMANTS, people fired for no reason -- it's neo-McCarthyism!

Wayne Jeffrey, a seven-year veteran of the Fall River force, was fired May 29 after an internal investigation, prompted by an unsigned letter that claimed he smoked tobacco at a party.

I blame John Ashcroft.

MULLAHS GONE WILD! I think I'll pass on the video.

AMERICAN DIGEST IS BACK, after a prolonged absence. Drop by and say hello!

THIS USA TODAY STORY on domestic violence notes new evidence that women are frequently initiators of abuse, and men often the target. That's not really news, though it's true that you don't hear it that much. What interested me was this passage:

Still, the newest findings challenge the feminist belief that "it is men only who cause violence," says psychologist Deborah Capaldi of the Oregon Social Learning Center. "That is a myth." . . .

Capaldi and two other female researchers call for a re-evaluation of treatment programs nationwide. Such programs focus on men and ignore women. Men are court-ordered into some type of rehabilitation, and their women are told in support groups or shelters that they had nothing to do with the violence, Capaldi says.

Why, exactly, is it relevant that these researchers are all female? If they were male, would their research be deemed less trustworthy?

IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH U.S. PRESSURE, we're told, but Belgium is climbing down and amending its war-crimes law, limiting its application to citizens and residents of Belgium.

Score one for Rumsfeld.

HERE'S A CBC PRESENTATION on the Congo. I haven't watched/listened to the whole thing, but the parts I sampled were quite good. (Via Jeff Jarvis).

LT SMASH has some thoughts on how things are going that are worth reading.

June 22, 2003

ARTHUR SILBER NOTES THAT ORRIN HATCH HAS ANOTHER CONNECTION to the world of computers and communications.

MORE ON THE MISSING 727: Rand Simberg links a story that suggests it was an unsuccessful repo effort.

BELLICOSE WOMEN UPDATE: I've mentioned many times that there's a culture change underway regarding women and firearms. Here's more evidence. The rather frothy friend-bio of pop star Jewel, Revealing Jewel: An Intimate Portrait from Family and Friends, contains this bit:

Q: What are your guilty pleasures?

A: I love lingerie and jewelry. And I don't know if I should say this, but I like firearms. Ty just gave me a lever action Winchester 30-30. It's pretty much a vintage gun -- the gun that won the West. They made a limited series of 500 with Ty, to honor hsi breakign the record with seven all-around titles. It's beautiful. I have number two.

Having looked at the book, I feel pretty sure that this passage wouldn't have appeared (the bio isn't exactly hard-hitting) if anyone thought that this revelation would hurt Jewel's reputation in her target market. Which suggests to me that attitudes are definitely changing.

DROP BY AND CONGRATULATE MATT WELCH But watch out for the spatula!

DAVID ROSENBAUM WRITES IN THE NEW YORK TIMES that Bush didn't lie, though he is guilty of salesmanship. FDR is invoked, by way of comparison.

UPDATE: Stefan Sharkansky says that Rosenbaum is guilty of "salesmanship" himself.

HIAWATHA BRAY IS BLOGGING AGAIN. Check it out.

READER DAVID NISHIMURA EMAILS:

I am constantly astonished how "Old Europe" routinely comes up with
scandals of this sort, of a depth unthinkable to most Americans --
yet still see fit to lecture us on everything from individual rights
to modes of governance.

Indeed. Here's what he's talking about:

AN anti-pornography campaigner, who heads France’s broadcasting authority, has been accused of attending sadomasochistic orgies and conniving in the murder of a transvestite prostitute who threatened to expose him and other pillars of the establishment in the city of Toulouse.

So serious are the allegations against Dominique Baudis, 56, the former mayor of Toulouse, that President Jacques Chirac may be forced to sack him from his post as director of the watchdog Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovision.

You gotta watch those anti-pornography crusaders. And it does give a bit more credibility to Eva Joly's remarks made in connection with a different scandal:

"Mme Joly, 57, said the French establishment was one of the most rotten in Europe. "It is a country of networks that don't like to be challenged."

In their defense, I believe that the French regard rampant and widely-acknowledged corruption as a powerful protection against totalitarianism. David Carr, who's doing a better job defending France than Woody Allen, seems to think it works.

TWENTY QUESTIONS ON IRAQ, with answers, from the Globe and Mail.

CHANGING HIS NAME TO COLBY CASH? He's got a PayPal button now. Go give it a breaking-in.

INTERESTING REPORT from a reader in Washington:

Around 2:00PM, we drove past the French Embassy, and traffic was stopped by the D.C. police on Reservoir Rd., in front of the gate. They were pulling guys waving a huge Iranian flag off of the gates, and there were about 50 people across the street with signs saying "No Oil for Blood." They were still there on the way back, but the flag wavers were gone. Geepers, my first Iranian protest.

Quite possibly, not the last. There's a bit more in this report from the Post.

THE INSTA-DAUGHTER AND I are only on page 60 of the new Harry Potter book, but here's a blog review that says the book has libertarian themes. No spoilers, exactly, but some plot details are mentioned.

GREAT MINDS THINK ALIKE: Megan McArdle:

Jane's Law: The devotees of the party in power are smug and arrogant. The devotees of the party out of power are insane.

David Brooks:

Something similar seems to be happening domestically between Republicans and Democrats. It's not just that members of the two parties disagree. It's that the disagreements have recently grown so deep that liberals and conservatives don't seem to perceive the same reality. Whether it is across the ocean or across the aisle, powerlessness corrupts just as certainly as power does. Those on top become overly self-assured, emotionally calloused, dishonest with themselves, and complacent. Those on the bottom become vicious. Sensing that their dignity is perpetually insulted, they begin to see their plight in lurid terms. They exaggerate the power of their foes. They invent malevolent conspiracy theories to explain their unfortunate position. They develop a gloomy and panicked view of the world.

Powerlessness corrupts, indeed.

UPDATE: This post by Armed Liberal provides an interesting counterpoint.

INTERESTING REPORT FROM THE WINE SPECTATOR:

Are Americans still holding a grudge? For the third consecutive four-week period, sales of French table wines in the United States have declined substantially, following drops in March and April.

French wine sales dropped 26.2 percent in case volume and 27 percent in dollar value for the four weeks ending May 18, 2003, compared to the same period a year ago, according to retail data from Information Resources Inc. That's the biggest decrease in French wines for any four-week period since the calls for a boycott heated up in response to France's refusal to support war in Iraq; for the 12 weeks ending May 18, the decline averages out to 23.9 percent in volume and 24 percent in dollar value.

At the same time, sales of table wines from around the world have been on the rise compared to a year ago. According to IRI, overall wine sales increased 4.4 percent in volume and 1.5 percent in value for the four weeks ending May 18. Those numbers would have been even higher if it had not been for the drop in French wines. IRI's InfoScan tracking service collects scanner data from multiple retail outlets in the United States.

I've become quite partial to Chilean, Argentinean, and Australian wines myself.

UPDATE: Reader Peter Ingemi suggests that a lot of people preferred other wines but bought French labels out of snobbery or insecurity, and are now feeling free to buy the many excellent cheaper wines out there. That's very possible. The French are likely to face more of that, if stories like this one keep appearing:

LYON, France -- For the second straight game, fans at the Confederations Cup booed when the "The Star-Spangled Banner'' was played before the United States took the field.

Have I mentioned the many excellent wines from California?

MATT WELCH WRITES ON HOW HORIZONTAL KNOWLEDGE CAME TO BASEBALL:

James had one other quality that helped make him the cranky pied piper for the "sabermetric" revolution: He actively solicited help from readers and other amateurs, and encouraged them to form parallel structures of information far superior to what Major League Baseball had to offer. This collaborative, open-source movement was an early adopter to the Internet and World Wide Web, predating and predicting such things as the modern-day explosion in Weblogs.

By the late 1980s, members of the James-organized "Project Scoresheet" (now called Retrosheet) were attending nearly every professional game, writing down minute details of each play, and sharing it in a centralized database. People started proposing new theories and formulas, engaging in brutal but collegial peer review, and buying enough James books to make him a perennial best-seller.

"All these exquisitely trained, brilliantly successful scientists and mathematicians," Lewis writes, "were working for love, not money."

Read the whole thing.