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LATE-STAGE SOCIALISM: Venezuela’s Teachers And Students Skip School For Survival.

School staff are resigning in droves. Legions of students and teachers are among the 4 million Venezuelans who have fled the country in recent years. Those still going to school in the country often find that classes have been canceled due to power outages, water shortages and other breakdowns.

Some school buildings are falling apart, have been taken over by homeless squatters or are used by pro-government militias for training, says Nancy Hernández, a founder and board member of FENASOPADRES, a national association of PTAs.

In 2016, the last year the Venezuelan government released enrollment figures, about 8.5 million Venezuelan children were attending K-12 schools. Now, that figure may have dropped to about 6.5 million, according to rough estimates provided by Hernández.

One independent education group in Aragua state, just west of Caracas, reported that at the start of the current school year more than half of all students were no longer going to classes.

In a TV interview in May, Education Minister Aristóbulo Istúriz acknowledged problems but blamed them on U.S. economic sanctions and pointed out that, in spite of the government’s challenges, public school remains free.

Just like medical care in Cuba: It’s free, if you can get it.

SHOCKER: Guy who yelled “Heil Hitler, Heil Trump” wasn’t Trump supporter, but Trump-hater.


Then: “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed, and supported.”

Hillary Clinton(!), November 22nd, 2015.

Now? Not so much:

In making her announcement on Twitter, Ms. Bloom did not offer an explanation for her resignation. The tactics and tenor of her defense of Mr. Weinstein have varied, and there were often substantial differences in her public and private statements. The emails, viewed by The New York Times, reveal that at least two board members did not approve of her approach.

As the board convened an emergency phone meeting on Thursday evening to address the allegations, published in an investigation by The Times, Ms. Bloom sent an email to board members attacking the article. She outlined a plan that involved “more and different reporting,” including “photos of several of the accusers in very friendly poses with Harvey after his alleged misconduct.”

—“Lisa Bloom, Lawyer Advising Harvey Weinstein, Resigns Amid Criticism From Board Members,” the New York Times, yesterday.

Hollywood in 2014: “Hollywood PSA: ‘It’s On Us’ to Stop Sexual Assault.”

Rob Reiner, yesterday: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Audience member at LBJ movie screener: In the wake of what we learned about Harvey Weinstein, how can that still be happening in 2017 and what can your community do about it?

Rob Reiner: What can my community do? Listen, this is happening in every workplace in America. I mean, you have Fox News. I mean, this is — you talk about sexual harassment. That goes on and it’s disgusting. It’s disgusting, you know? And the thing to do about it is to – how about this? Harvey Weinstein funded this movie The Hunting Ground. How do you do that? I mean, you know.

That’s something that we all have to — you know, we have to create these safe atmospheres where women can come forward and say what they need to say in order to get these things — but this kind of stuff is going on in every industry.

It’s not just Hollywood. He’s one schmuck who did what he did but you know, there’s lot of great people in Hollywood that don’t do that kind of stuff.

“So there are a lot of fine people among those sexual harassers who run Hollywood? Is that what we’re hearing?”, Twitchy adds.

Incidentally, as Sopan Deb of the New York Times notes, Lawrence Wright of the New Yorker, the moderator of the event “teed up multiple questions about Trump. Didn’t ask about Weinstein. Good on the audience member for asking.”

JIMMY KIMMEL THREATENS TO “POUND” FNC HOST BRIAN KILMEADE; Amazingly, CNN’s Brian Stelter and NYT’s Sopan Deb, Who Routinely Decry Threats Against the Media, Claim That Kimmel Meant Give “Fist Bumps” to Kilmeade.

Shouldn’t Kimmel just threaten Kilmeade with a good doxxing? That’s the acceptable form of left to right retribution for both CNN and the Times.


I’m still voting for the guy, but he doesn’t make it easy.



There was a telling confrontation on Obama’s third day in office, when he visited the West Wing pressroom to say hi, then bristled when a Politico reporter asked why he had nominated a Raytheon lobbyist to a Pentagon job despite having recently banned lobbyists from top posts in his administration. “I can’t end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I’m going to get grilled every time I come down here,” Obama complained. When the reporter tried again, Obama told him to save his questions for a news conference. Politico’s headline: “Obama Flashes Irritation in the Press Room.” To the president, it was an example of no good deed going unpunished—not just that he was grilled when he was trying to be polite, but that he was grilled over an exception to his rule against hiring lobbyists instead of credited for the groundbreaking rule. To the reporters, it was an early example of Obama feeling entitled to avoid probing questions about matters of public importance. They wouldn’t see much more of him in the press room.

“The Selling of Obama — The inside story of how a great communicator lost the narrative,” Michael Grunwald, the Politico, today.


Still, the baseline hostility between campaign and press corps was dictated by the candidate himself, and from the start Trump, often through his alter ego Lewandowski, sought to dominate and demean us. And besides, it quickly became clear that the campaign didn’t need more conventional tools of media management, given that its messaging operation primarily consisted of Trump’s mouth—and he often said outrageous and provocative things that guaranteed negative coverage.

* * * * * * *

For all its brass, though, the New York tabloid environment is insular, small and transactional, with an established set of protocols and a relatively limited cast of characters. Trump has a great instinct for what will hit, and has always served as his own publicist, cultivating relationships with reporters who play ball, planting tips, navigating negative stories through sheer bombast, ditching anyone who causes too much trouble—often by feeding scoops to competitors at their own organizations.

But the national press is much, much bigger and much harder to control. And it probably doesn’t help that, at 69, Trump faces a press pack chock full of millennials he’s never dealt with before. Ali Vitali at NBC, Sopan Deb at CBS, Jeremy Diamond and Noah Gray at CNN, and Kevin Cirilli at Bloomberg are all around my age—a few years out of college. It makes for a volatile mix, and might help explain Trump’s zigzag path between flattering and threatening, avoiding and bulldozing reporters as he searched out the elusive route to controlling our message.

Which is why if there’s one consistent theme to what I’ve experienced covering Trump, it’s the unpredictability. The handshakes sometimes come after the hardest slaps, and the doghouse is a short elevator ride away from the penthouse.

“Inside Trump’s Press Pen — A reporter’s first campaign job blows up into the biggest story in America,” 26 year old Ben Schreckinger, in way too deep at the Politico and apparently forgetting Saul Alinsky’s Rule #5, Rule 12, and a few other Rules for Radicals as well.

(Classical reference in headline.)



The old guard in Hollywood, so frightened of an internet they don’t understand, tends to be rather transparently buffoonish in its strategies to try to break the internet. For a few years, the MPAA was totally focused on a “three strikes” strategy — believing that if people were getting kicked off the internet, that it would lead them to stop file sharing and go back to paying large sums of money for bad movies. That plan failed miserably. The followup idea was even worse: known as full site blocking, the idea was to convince countries to pass laws that would force ISPs, search engines, domain registrars and others to completely block access not just to infringing content, but to entire sites that the legacy copyright industries deemed “bad.”

I say, repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts, crack down on Hollywood Accounting, and force record companies to pay musicians what they owe them. Play your cards right and you can even split the talent from the money men on these issues. Is the GOP that smart? I’d have to say . . . clearly not.

PUNCH BACK TWICE AS HARD: Tech groups send Miss. AG a “friendly reminder” about how bad SOPA was. “Trade groups that represent the industry’s biggest companies along with several public interest groups sent a letter to Hood this afternoon reminding him about how widely unpopular SOPA was. Attached are several other letters from prominent persons and groups who fought against SOPA back in 2011.”

SECRET TREATIES: Leaked TPP IP Chapter Would Lead To Much Greater Online Surveillance… Because Hollywood Still Hates The Internet. “Over the last few years, after Hollywood lost the SOPA fight and realized that legislation was more difficult, it’s now seeking these so-called ‘voluntary’ agreements — even when they’re really done by the government with the threat of regulations if an agreement isn’t reached. These kinds of campaigns are hardly ‘voluntary’ in reality, and are generally designed to get Hollywood everything it wants without having to through any sort of democratic process. Kind of like trade agreements. Is it any wonder why the USTR has been so adamant about keeping the details of this agreement a secret?”

If Republicans were smart, they’d make an issue of this. So they won’t. Smart people would see it as an opportunity to (1) stick it to Hollywood, one of the Dems’ biggest funders; (2) Look good to libertarian-leaning tech youth; and (3) do the right thing. Instead, the GOP will reflexively side with Hollywood because, hey, it’s a big business, right?

LIFE IN THE ERA OF HOPE AND CHANGE: One Year Later, Unlocking Your Phone Is Still A Crime. “It was a clear case of crony capitalism on behalf of some of the largest companies with the largest lobbying shops in Washington, D.C. . . . The resulting public outcry, perhaps the largest online response since SOPA/PIPA, led the White House, FCC and Members of Congress to condemn the ruling by the Librarian of Congress and to support cellphone unlocking. One year later, despite an overwhelming consensus in favor of unlocking, unlocking your phone, without permission from your carrier, is still a crime. It’s difficult to find another issue that has such overwhelming and bipartisan support, and it’s difficult to understand why Congress still refuses to act.”

SOPA BACKER REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-HOLLYWOOD) has a primary challenger: “Lamar Smith went to Washington in 1987 and it is time for him to go home. The debt was $2.2 trillion when he started ‘representing’ us and it’s now more than $16 trillion.”

ROLL CALL: Goodlatte At Nexus Of Obama Agenda. He’s got a strong Tea Party operation in his district, which may stiffen his spine. But he’s also making moves that look like he might try to bring back SOPA.

Instead, I say repeal the Hollywood Tax Cuts! It’s time for Hollywood to pay its fair share!

UH OH: Internet Users, Tech Companies Beware: Son of SOPA Lives. “The new House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the former chairman of the House Judiciary Intellectual Property subcommittee and one of the co-sponsors of SOPA last year, has taken the extraordinary step of rehiring one of the chief architects of SOPA from the K Street entertainment lobby, signaling a possible resurrection of SOPA from its legislative grave.”

SOME POSITIVE SOPA/PIPA FALLOUT: The Hill: ‘Shell-shocked’ lawmakers shy away from online piracy in new Congress.

Now if we could just shell-shock them about spending and gun control. . . .


FORGET THE FISCAL CLIFF: How About Copyright Reform?

“The bad news for the movie studios and record companies is that the discussion about how to make copyright law make sense in a digital age has already started in Washington, and it will continue, with our without them,” Gigi Sohn, an attorney and president and co-founder of the public policy non-profit Public Knowledge, wrote in her blog.

Indeed, Public Knowledge and others advocating for change to the copyright system have at least one ally in Congress. Rep. Darell Issa, who sits on the Judiciary Committee and its Intellectual Property, Competition and the Internet Subcommittee, wrote on his Twitter account Monday that the report was a “very interesting copyright reform proposal” and “It’s time to start this copyright reform conversation.”

The Congressman, who emerged as a leader on issues related to Internet rights earlier this year when he opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), has already said he plans to make digital rights a priority in the new Congress.

Internet and tech-savvy activists ardently opposed SOPA, which was aimed at foreign websites that violate U.S. copyright laws. They said the law was overly broad and would hamper online speech. They also want to see changes made to current copyright law, including some of those proposed in the Republican report that officially no longer exists.

The report, written by a young RSC staffer named Derek Khanna, is highly critical of the current copyright system, which it says “violates nearly every tenet of laissez-faire capitalism” and gives content producers a “government subsidized content-monopoly.”

It starts by describing the original constitutional purpose of copyright protection and argues that the current system has veered away from the intent. It says the law as it stands favors content creators instead of focusing on the public good or what will promote the most productivity and innovation.

By the way, Rob Merges and I wrote a piece on this in the Harvard Journal on Legislation some years ago: The Proper Scope of the Copyright and Patent Power.

APPARENTLY, HE HASN’T GOTTEN THE MESSAGE: SOPA Provisions Being Introduced Piecemeal From Lamar Smith.

SOME GOOD NEWS: European Parliament’s Rejection of ACTA Demonstrates Again the Power of Digital Activism.

ZOMBIE SOPA: Now Is The Time To Tell Your Senator That Privacy Is Awesome And CISPA Is Not.

SOPA’S RETURN: White House calls for new law targeting ‘offshore’ Web sites.

Via Passive Guy, Comments on the British book business from FutureBook:

Those who want bold steps from an industry fixated on a 500-year-old format and locked to the fortunes of those businesses that sell it on their behalf, are looking in the wrong direction. Those publishers who attended the a.g.m made it clear that they would continue to fight the old battles, against piracy, tax, and ‘retailer dominance’.     And this is why you keep seeing things like SOPA and other attempts to get government to outlaw modernity.  And also why Amazon is eating their lunch, their dinner and their mid-afternoon snack.

JENNIFER RUBIN: Ann Romney discusses Hilary Rosen controversy. “Does she think women at home don’t work?”

UPDATE: Reader John Miller writes:

I don’t get it.

Why doesn’t every GOP statement on Rosen lead with ‘SOPA lobbyist and shadow-author Hilary Rosen’?

It’s the one issue that had Obama’s base up in arms last year, and in opposition to his party’s stance. It’s the one issue that wedges Obama’s base from the party’s Hollywood moneybags. And this rotting albatross hangs forevermore on her neck.

I have to think that her visibility is a huge Obama own-goal but someone has to get the refs to notice.

Indeed. And forget the refs — it’s hard to get the GOP team to notice . . . .

ROLL CALL: Cybersecurity Bill Faces Tough Odds.

After last year’s intense debate of an anti-piracy bill, any legislation dealing with Internet security faces an uphill climb.

That point was made clear today by House Intelligence Chairman Mike Rogers, who was careful to point out differences between his bipartisan cybersecurity legislation and last year’s failed online piracy bill that was crushed after an all-out lobbying campaign from Internet companies and users.

Nice to know that they’re still scared by SOPA. But don’t trust them.

THEY HAVEN’T LEARNED: MPAA Chief Dodd Hints At Talks To Revive SOPA.

Christopher Dodd, the former Connecticut senator who now leads the MPAA, hasn’t given up on his dream of censoring the Internet. In an interview with Hollywood Reporter, he said that Hollywood and the technology industry ‘need to come to an understanding’ about new copyright legislation. Dodd said that there were ‘conversations going on now,’ about SOPA-style legislation, but that he was ‘not going to go into more detail because obviously if I do, it becomes counterproductive.’ Asked whether the White House’s decision to oppose SOPA had created tensions with Hollywood, Dodd insisted that he was ‘not going to revisit the events of last winter,’ but said he hoped the president would use his ‘good relationships’ with both Hollywood and the technology industry to broker a deal.

You can’t trust these guys. The GOP should overcome its reluctance to criticize a big business and go after Hollywood hammer-and-tongs. It would be a good issue for them, and it’s the right thing to do. But I’ve been pointing this out for a decade, and they’re still not listening.

SOPA FALLOUT: Nobody in Congress all that interested in new “anti-piracy” legislation. Until after the election, anyway. Keep an eye on them.

KILL IT. Europe In Turmoil Over Internet Anti-Piracy Legislation. “In the wake of the public outcry in the United States over proposed domestic antipiracy legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), international regulation is also taking a hit. The edifice of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) seems to have crumbled. This time, however, it happened in Europe.”

ACTA UPDATE: Top EU court to decide whether trade treaty with US violates rights. “The European Union on Wednesday decided to have Europe’s top court decide whether the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), which the United States signed last year, violates the freedom of expression. Critics of the ACTA say it has the potential to stifle the Internet and compare it to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which is before Congress.”

Bury it in a crossroads with a stake through its heart.

NOW HOW ABOUT AMERICA? How the European Internet Rose Up Against ACTA.

Prime Minister Donald Tusk of Poland sent a letter to his fellow leaders in the EU Friday urging them to reject ACTA, reversing Poland’s course with the controversial intellectual-property treaty, and possibly taking Europe with them.

“I was wrong,” Tusk explained to a news conference, confessing his government had acted recklessly with a legal regime that wasn’t right for the 21st century. The reversal came after Tusk’s own strong statements in support of ACTA and condemnation of Anonymous attacks on Polish government sites, and weeks of street protest in Poland and across Europe.

The seeming overnight success came after both years of work by European NGOs, and the spark of the SOPA/PIPA protests in America (which included

ACTA, or the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, is an international treaty that was negotiated in secret over the span of four years. While the provisions are currently public, their genesis was hidden from democratic scrutiny, and most nations signed on to ACTA without any chance for their citizenry to review or comment on the process. Beyond its undemocratic origins, it’s often unclear how ACTA’s requirements would be implemented, or could be implemented without creating a technical architecture online that restricts speech. For instance, ACTA’s harsh DMCA-like provisions against anti-circumvention could effectively render some free software, which by its nature can’t support DRM, illegal in the Western world.

A cynic would suspect that was much of its purpose. How about making this a campaign issue?

REASON: Meet Richard Mack, the Oath Keeper Running Against SOPA Author Lamar Smith: How a state’s rights conservative became an ally to the tech industry.

Mack isn’t opposed just to SOPA, but a slew of other acronyms that Smith has supported: TARP, NDAA, the PATRIOT Act. The former Graham County, Arizona sheriff announced he would run against Smith in the 21st District’s GOP primary back in December, but his profile didn’t blow up until this past Sunday, when the social media giant Reddit christened him the anti-Smith, and promoted his Ask Me Anything (AMA) question-and-answer session on the Reddit homepage. . . .

By Reddit standards, the thread was a success. Many Reddit users seemed to agree that an ObamaCare opponent who also opposed SOPA was better than the ObamaCare opponent who wrote SOPA. After Mack laid out his opposition to the drug war, the PATRIOT Act, and the National Defense Authorization Act, one user wrote, “I hope you are not talking out of your ass, because I like you.”

“No, I am sitting on it,” Mack replied minutes later.

SOPA is just an entry point for Mack’s campaign against federal overreach. “Lamar Smith has been a tax, borrow, and spend Republican, who has tried to increase the powers of D.C. with SOPA, TARP, and increasing the debt ceiling,” Mack said. “His vote for NDAA gave more power to President Obama than all the Democrats put together.”

Read the whole thing.

MARGOT KAMINSKI: Enough, Already: The SOPA Debate Ignores How Much Copyright Protection We Already Have.


IT’S LIKE THESE PEOPLE JUST HAVE IT IN FOR THE INTERNET OR SOMETHING: Democrats to continue Internet coup with new cyber bill. “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, following a recent anti-piracy legislative debacle with SOPA and PIPA, will lead his second effort of 2012 to push Internet-regulating legislation, this time in the form of a new cybersecurity bill. The expected bill is the latest attempt by the Democrats to broadly expand the authority of executive branch agencies over the Internet.”

INDEED: Groups urge Congress to take it slow on piracy.

A coalition of about 70 advocacy groups and companies sent a letter to Congress on Monday urging lawmakers to take their time in drafting anti-piracy legislation.

“Now is the time for Congress to take a breath, step back, and approach the issues from a fresh perspective,” the groups wrote. “The concerns are too fundamental and too numerous to be fully addressed through hasty revisions to these bills. Nor can they be addressed by closed door negotiations among a small set of inside the-beltway stakeholders.”The letter was signed by advocacy groups including Public Knowledge, the Center for Democracy and Technology, Free Press, Amnesty International and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Companies such as Mozilla, reddit and Twitpic also signed the letter.

Support for two anti-piracy bills, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect Intellectual Property Act (PIPA), evaporated last month after thousands of websites staged a massive protest. Lawmakers said they plan to re-work the legislation before moving forward.

Wait until after the election. And ponder why we protect intellectual property rights so much more . . . vigorously than we do other kinds of property right. What gives?


You mentioned this guy before, and now he’s officially filed to take out Lamar Smith in TX-21.

He’s not only making an issue out of SOPA, but Smith’s Internet snooping bill.

Not working for the guy, and no need for a h/t.


“A Buck to Crush SOPA”:

I met him once back in the 1990s at a Second Amendment event in Arizona. Seemed like a nice guy.

UPDATE: Here’s more on Mack’s candidacy.


In Washington, the accepted wisdom by year-end was that the technology industry had matured at last into a lobbying force commensurate with its size and pocketbook. But what everyone missed was that the users had opened a third front in this fight, and clearly the one that determined its outcome.

The bitroots movement wasn’t led by Google. It wasn’t led by anyone. Even to look for its leaders is to miss the point. Internet users didn’t lobby or buy their way into influence. They used the tools at their disposal—Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter and the rest—to make their voices heard. They encouraged voluntary boycotts and blackouts, and organized awareness days. This was a revolt of, by and with social networks, turning the tools that organized them into groups in the first place into potent new weapons for political advocacy. The users had figured out how to hack politics.

Somebody should really write a book on this phenomenon.

THE SOPA FIGHT IS OVER, but the ACTA Fight is still on.

IN THE MAIL: From Rebecca MacKinnon, Consent of the Networked: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom. Particularly timely in light of the SOPA battle.

UPDATE: Hiawatha Bray writes: “Just finished writing a review of it for the Globe. Quite good. Very sound in its understanding of threats to Internet freedom from the private and public sectors alike.”


Hi. My name is Al Franken. I am a Senator from Minnesota. A proposed bill in the Senate, PIPA, threatens to treat the concept of free speech in much the same way that totalitarian regimes in China, Iran and North Korea do. This bill is why so many internet sites have ‘gone black’ in protest. It was written for lobbyists to place corporate greed over the fundamental freedoms our nation was founded on, and I support it.
What Are SOPA and PIPA ?

SOPA and PIPA are two poorly conceived bills in the US House and Senate, respectively, that were written to address issues regarding content theft and piracy.

Does my support of this bill mean Lobbyist Money is more important to me than Free Speech?

Would it surprise you to know that, during the 2010 Election Cycle, I accepted at least $88,900 in contributions from members of the Entertainment industry, who are leading the push to have these bills hastily approved?

Did I say “Heh?” Why yes, yes I did.

SOPA/PIPA: In fight between lobbyists and the Internet over piracy bill, techies won. Generally, if it’s an outright battle between special interests and the public, the special interests lose. Which is why everything is designed to minimize the likelihood of the public figuring out what’s going on until it’s too late.

BILL MAHER: Yes, I’m just a yes-man for Big Entertainment. Duh. From the comments: “Maher is just siding with his Hollywood masters on this one. He’ll jump when he needs to like any good TV monkey.” Is there a bigger phony on TV?

SO SOPA IS MOSTLY DEAD, but the Feds’ raid on MegaUpload demonstrates that there are still issues. Now thousands of people have lost their personal, non-infringing files as a result of the raid. Related item here: How can the US seize a “Hong Kong site” like Megaupload?

SOPA UPDATE: Senate Delays Vote on Piracy Bill as House Balks, Too.

Okay. But why doesn’t that NYT news story have the word “Dodd” in it? This story the NYT put up last night had “Dodd” in it. Have you noticed the role of the former Senator in the SOPA fight? He’s kind of a lobbyist (for the movie industry), except that he can’t actually be a lobbyist, because it’s illegal for a former Senator to lobby Congress in his first 2 years out of office.


CHANGE: Staunch SOPA Supporter, Marsha Blackburn, Says It’s Time To Scrap SOPA. First you have to get their attention.

PAUL RAHE: “If our copyright laws were not already a disgrace, we would not be discussing enormities like SOPA and PIPA.”

Related: Here’s a paper that Rob Merges and I wrote on the proper scope of the patent and copyright power.


6:11PM A SOPA question!

6:12PM Newt: “You’re asking a conservative about the economic interests of Hollywood.”

I think Newt has been reading Instapundit.

6:12PM The GOP, by and large, is so RIGHT about SOPA — and techies will still give and vote overwhelmingly to Democrats who love SOPA.


6:14PM Every single candidate on this stage hates SOPA. Damnit, techies, what’s wrong with you?

6:14PM Excuse me. Rick Santorum only mostly hates SOPA.

And the techies will latch on to that as they write their checks to Obama 2012.

Rubes. But there’ll be fewer than in 2008.

HMM: Lefty bloggers irked that SOPA activism is moving Republicans and not Democrats in Congress. From the comments, an explanation: “They did the same thing with Obamacare. Told the electorate to piss off and passed it so they could see what’s in it.”

Meanwhile, righty bloggers are gloating.

THE REAL SOPA BATTLE: Innovators vs. Goliath. “So if ‘content’ vs ‘technology’ doesn’t capture what’s going on in this fight, what does? Well, SOPA makes much more sense if you look at the debate as big companies unwilling to accept change versus the innovative companies and startups that embrace change. And if we accept that startups are created to find new ways to create value for consumers, the debate is actually between the financial interests of ‘big content’ shareholders versus consumer interests at large.”

NOT DEAD YET: What’s Next for SOPA and PIPA? “With popular sites all over the Internet ‘going dark’ to protest well-intentioned but ill-considered antipiracy legislation, the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT-IP Act are shedding supporters faster than Anthony Weiner on a Twitter spree. But as I explain in a Cato podcast today, neither is dead yet: Rep. Lamar Smith has pledged to continue marking up SOPA next month, and PIPA is still set for a cloture vote next week.”

If you haven’t done so, you may want to tell ’em how you feel.

PAUL HSIEH: SOPA, Guns, and Freedom. “You do not protect honest online content producers from pirates by breaking the internet for the innocent.”

THE HILL: Lawmakers Rush To Drop Piracy Bills As Websites Go Dark. “Support for two controversial online-piracy bills began to crumble Wednesday in the face of protests from thousands of websites, including tech titans Google and Wikipedia. The unprecedented online demonstration against the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA) — epitomized by a black censorship bar plastered over the Google logo — spurred a rush for the exits on Capitol Hill as lawmakers rapidly withdrew their support for the legislation.”

SOPA UPDATE: Rick Santelli On Piracy, Protection, And Policy Amendments.



You don’t need a link to find out what’s going with the SOPA “Blackout,” or all that other stuff. It’s all over the place, beyond those with a special interest in intellectual property.

Real news over an IP issue? Not quite.

Rather, the news and the attention arise from the fact that the threatened power-grab that SOPA represents goes far beyond IP, or “enforcement,” or “brands,” or even “piracy.”

Oh, those are all real things, real concepts. But their meaning has become so distorted in the public and political debate and spin that they get scare-quotes here today. It is precisely by turning piracy into a mission-critical bogey-man that the strong-IP advocates have perhaps, for once, overplayed their hands.


Yes, it’s about protecting existing companies from new business models, not piracy. But here’s an easy fix for SOPA: Allow anyone whose site is taken down to recover the greater of either $50,000 or five times actual damages imposed if their site is taken down without good reason, or if they can show bad faith. Given that Big Entertainment was robo-signing complaints a decade ago, that seems a reasonable thing to ask. Also make it a felony to sign a false affidavit in these cases, and allow private prosecution. . . .

Meanwhile, here’s Julian Sanchez on Internet regulation and the economics of piracy.

UPDATE: From reader Max Mulholland, a prediction. Is Obama playing a deep game here?

I am a undergraduate student in mechanical engineering at Missouri S&T and from what I have observed over the last few days is, If SOPA or PIPA are passed by congress and obama vetos them he will most likely get reelected in 2012 by energizing the youth by becoming “the savior of the internet” or something along those lines. It would be reasonable to assume that if he vetoed SOPA or PIPA now to get reelected he would just ram them through in the beginning of his second term.

Interesting. Is he that smart? Regardless, it’s looking as if he’s not going to get the chance. Missouri S&T is a great school, by the way.

MARK MECKLER ON the united left/right opposition to SOPA. “The effort against SOPA/PIPA is non-partisan and involves folks from both the left, the right and everywhere in between. From, to tea partiers, citizens of all political ideologies across the country are uniting against SOPA / PIPA. This is a good model for pushing back against government intrusion on our liberties. This is not about ‘policy.’ It’s about liberty.”

NO, I’M NOT GOING DARK TODAY: But you can tell your Congressmember about how you feel about SOPA. And you should. (Bumped).

UPDATE: A reader emails: “Glenn, no name please. I work for Congressman Tim Johnson. Just to let you know, we’re getting about a hundred emails an hour opposing SOPA. We were already opposed, but this certainly makes us feel that much better about our opposition.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Web Protests Piracy Bill And Senators Change Course. “Members of Congress, many of whom are grappling with the issues posed by the explosion in new media and social Web sites, appeared caught off guard by the enmity toward what had been a relatively obscure piece of legislation to many of them.”

MORE: A reader emails:

From the NYT Article:

“The problem for the content industry is they just don’t know how to mobilize people,” said John P. Feehery, a former Republican leadership aide and executive at the motion picture lobby. “They have a small group of content makers, a few unions, whereas the Internet world, the social media world especially, has a tremendous reach. They can reach people in ways we never dreamed of before.”

That’s not their problem at all. The problem for the content industry is that they have no people to mobilize. All they have is Hollywood cash and insider access. The number of flesh-and-blood, voting people they can bring to the table in support of SOPA and PIPA is trivial. The media companies, the ones that actually provide the services that people use on a daily basis… they’re the ones who have the people and the votes, and they didn’t need cash or insider access to make an impact today.

Cash and insider access do not get members of Congress re-elected. Votes do. Let this be an object lesson to Dodd, Feehery, and the whole corrupt, rent-seeking crowd at the MPAA.

(As an aside: …and to the “campaign finance reform” crowd who believes that cash = votes).

Indeed. Related: Hollywood Moguls Stopping Obama Donations Because Of President’s Piracy Stand: ‘Not Give A Dime Anymore.’

GOOD: SOPA Blackout Leads Co-Sponsors To Defect.

AN EMAIL FROM READER RICHARD DOYLE: “It’s not 6 am yet and I already miss Wikipedia. How did my life come to this?” Yep. Wikipedia has gone black, with a notice and a how-to-contact-your Congressman page. Amazon is carrying an anti-SOPA message. Google has blacked out its logo. It’s a big deal.

UPDATE: Fark, too! “While SOPA might be ‘almost dead,’ it’s not quite all the way there, and under various drafts of both SOPA/PIPA, Fark could have its DNS assignment (the thing that turns an IP address, like, into words like revoked without notice simply for linking to content that could come under foreign copyright claims. This means, even if it is actual news in and of itself, if we link to it, we can be shut down.”

REP. LAMAR SMITH (R-HOLLYWOOD): Unbowed by protests, Lamar Smith to move ahead on piracy bill. He’s an honest politician: He stays bought.

UPDATE: Speaking of SOPA Phonies: Chris Dodd’s paid SOPA crusading. “It’s behavior like Chris Dodd’s that makes it rational not only to be cynical about our political culture, but outright jaded. What makes Dodd’s shilling for this censorship law so galling is that, during the 2008 presidential campaign, he postured as the candidate who would devote himself first and foremost to defending core Constitutional freedoms and civil liberties. When Dodd led the 2007 fight against warrantless surveillance and amnesty for lawbreaking telecoms as part of the FISA debate, I, along with several other blogs, helped raise close to $250,000 in a few days from small donors for his flagging presidential campaign. . . . Apparently, the person Chris Dodd scorned back then as someone ‘wanting to be president of a trade association’ was . . . Chris Dodd, who is now President of Hollywood’s trade association.” Hey, Rube!

A more serious point: You can scorn bought-and-paid-for shills for Big Media like Lamar Smith and Chris Dodd. But the real problem isn’t their lack of morals, but an oversized government that inevitably lures people with loose morals. When government has the opportunity to make or break industries, industries will find people to lobby it to make their industry, and break their competitors’. The solution is to return the government to its — much, much smaller — intended constitutional scope.

WIKIPEDIA AND GOOGLE will protest SOPA tomorrow.

Google will join Wednesday’s protest of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA).

Unlike Wikipedia and reddit, Google will not shut down its homepage, which is the world’s most visited site.

Instead, the company will display a message opposing the legislation.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Hollywood) calls it a “stunt.”

UPDATE: A reader emails with a devilishly clever suggestion:

On the Wikipedia-Google strike/protest… what I’ve said all along is they need to go on strike in a more sensible, targeted way. The most onerous part of SOPA is the IP blocking and information control… the sites in opposition should give the would-be Ministry of Information a taste of their own medicine. Block all US government IP addresses from Wikipedia, Google, YouTube, Amazon, Facebook, and other opponents- from now until this bill is dead and buried- with a message redirecting to AFF’s “call your legislator” page.

Or if you REALLY want to get results… cut off IP addresses of the constituents of all members of the Judiciary committees, starting with those registered to their biggest donors (which is all publicly available information). This “do not serve” list could be made available for download by anyone who wishes to put it on their server. That might move the needle.


THE HILL: Internet piracy bill’s future uncertain as House returns. “The future of the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has grown murky as House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has all but declared the bill dead, but the measure’s sponsor, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), has vowed to push ahead.”

Say this much for Lamar Smith: When he’s bought, he stays bought.

REPORT: House Kills Sopa. “In a surprise move today, Representative Eric Cantor(R-VA) announced that he will stop all action on SOPA, effectively killing the bill. This move was most likely due to several things. One of those things is that SOPA and PIPA met huge online protest against the bills. Another reason would be that the White House threatened to veto the bill if it had passed. However, it isn’t quite time yet to celebrate, as PIPA(the Senate’s version of SOPA) is still up for consideration.” Bury it at a crossroads with a stake through its heart. Then vote against its sponsors. (Via Slashdot).

LAMAR SMITH UPDATE: Irony Alert: Congressman Who Wrote SOPA Violated Copyright Law.

Related: Backlash over piracy bill.

“UNCONSCIONABLE POWER GRABS:” SOPA and PROTECT-IP: A Line-By-Line Analysis of the Bills We Must Kill. As I noted last night, they seem to be backpedaling on this one, which is a good reason to keep after them.

SOPA UPDATE: SOPA shelved until ‘consensus’ is found. “House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said early Saturday morning that Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) promised him the House will not vote on the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) unless there is consensus on the bill.”

The White House is looking wobbly, too. But Lamar Smith remains bought-and-paid-for.

UPDATE: Reader Thad Puckett says that former Sheriff Richard Mack is running against Smith in the primary, though the report he links — which is mostly about other stuff — only mentions in passing that Mack is planning to file. I couldn’t find any more recent reports. Anybody know anything? Puckett writes: “I’ll vote for Mack in the primary…Smith has not handled SOPA well at all.” No, he hasn’t.

WELL, GOOD: Under voter pressure, members of Congress backpedal (hard) on SOPA. Keep up the pressure. If you’d like to contact your member of Congress, you can do so here.

HOLLYWOOD OR SILICON VALLEY? President Obama Must Choose.

A controversial online piracy bill could force President Obama to choose between two of his most important allies: Hollywood and Silicon Valley.

Obama hasn’t taken a position yet on the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) that has divided senior lawmakers in both parties, but that will have to change if it clears Congress.

If Obama signs the bill, he will dash the hopes of Silicon Valley executives who donated heavily to his 2008 campaign and are vehemently opposed to the anti-piracy measure.

But the entertainment industry would see a veto as a betrayal by the administration on its most significant priority.

In a choice between the past and the future, I think I know how Obama will go. Meanwhile, if you’d like to contact your congressmembers, you can do so here.

CHANGE: SOPA becoming election liability for backers. “Among the fattest targets: SOPA’s lead author, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and two of its most vocal co-sponsors, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has also felt the wrath of SOPA opponents.”

Keep after them.

ISSA SCHEDULES HEARING TO LOOK INTO EGREGIOUS SOPA BILL: “Folks anything that can get Google, Mozilla (Firefox browser) and Microsoft to agree it’s a bad idea as there probably is. Contact your congressmen and senators and urge them to vote against this bill.”

RELATED: Why The Movie Industry Can’t Innovate and the Result is SOPA.

WELL, OBAMACARE AND THE STIMULUS SET A PRECEDENT OF PASSING BILLS THE PUBLIC DOESN’T WANT: Lawmakers seem intent on approving SOPA, PIPA: So far, strong opposition to the controversial copyright bills hasn’t changed many minds in Congress.

If you’d like to communicate your sentiments, you can contact your members here.

WHY 2012 IS STARTING TO LOOK LIKE 1984. “Between SOPA, NDAA, telecommunications surveillance, and people’s willingness to share endlessly via social networking, will 2012 mark the year consumers irreversibly surrender their privacy and freedoms?”

Related: US Threatened To Blacklist Spain For Not Implementing Site Blocking Law.

BLACKOUT: SOPA Opponents May Go Nuclear.

Related: Will Google, Amazon and Facebook Black Out The Net?

In the growing battle for the future of the Web, some of the biggest sites online — Google, Facebook, and other tech stalwarts — are considering a coordinated blackout of their sites, some of the web’s most popular destinations.

No Google searches. No Facebook updates. No Tweets. No shopping. Nothing.

The action would be a dramatic response to the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a bill backed by the motion picture and recording industries that is intended to eliminate theft online once and for all. HR 3261 would require ISPs to block access to sites that infringe on copyrights — but how exactly it does that has many up in arms. The creators of some of the web’s biggest sites argue it could instead dramatically restrict law-abiding U.S. companies — and reshape the web as we know it.

It’s an act of war against the Internet community. You can call Congress right here.

SOPA UPDATE: Online community Reddit driving opposition to piracy bill. “Members of Congress and their staff have grown used to scouring the Web, Twitter and Facebook to see where voters stand before finalizing their positions. But the heated debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has turned the social news website Reddit into an unlikely rallying point for opponents of the bill. . . . Last week a protest thread started on Reddit against the domain name registrar GoDaddy prompted a large-scale boycott of the firm, forcing GoDaddy to reverse its support for the bill and trumpet the news. The boycott and most of the other organizing efforts currently underway on Reddit are organic, driven by the grassroots community of loyal users that dictate which stories top the site’s feed. But Reddit, owned by Conde Nast parent company Advanced Publications, has joined Tumblr, Mozilla and other Web firms in declaring open opposition to SOPA.”

Related: Take 30 Seconds To Stop Online Censorship.

You can call Congress right here. (Reposted from yesterday, because this is important).

DAVID POST on SOPA: “The regulators have started to understand scale, and the solutions they’ve come up with — law enforcement via the domain name system — is positively chilling. If that’s the best we can do, we’re in trouble.”

SOPA UPDATE: Online community Reddit driving opposition to piracy bill. “Members of Congress and their staff have grown used to scouring the Web, Twitter and Facebook to see where voters stand before finalizing their positions. But the heated debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) has turned the social news website Reddit into an unlikely rallying point for opponents of the bill. . . . Last week a protest thread started on Reddit against the domain name registrar GoDaddy prompted a large-scale boycott of the firm, forcing GoDaddy to reverse its support for the bill and trumpet the news. The boycott and most of the other organizing efforts currently underway on Reddit are organic, driven by the grassroots community of loyal users that dictate which stories top the site’s feed. But Reddit, owned by Conde Nast parent company Advanced Publications, has joined Tumblr, Mozilla and other Web firms in declaring open opposition to SOPA.”

Related: Take 30 Seconds To Stop Online Censorship.

You can call Congress right here.

SOPA BLOWBACK: “The dynamic is clear. Once SOPA — and its Senate counterpart, Protecting IP Act, or PIPA — became high-profile among the Internet community, the lazy endorsements from companies and various hangers-on became toxic. And now, those supporters are scrambling, hollowing out the actual support for the bill. Suddenly, a bill with ‘widespread’ corporate support doesn’t have much support at all.”

ARS TECHNICA: SOPA Faces Growing Opposition On The Right. “In short, the fight over SOPA is less about left versus right than it is about declining industries—Hollywood and major labels—versus the Internet community.” Note to Tim Lee, though: I’m one of those “libertarian counterparts.” Just sayin’. . . .

GO DADDY GONE: Go Daddy loses over 37,000 domains due to SOPA stance.



In Iraq this year I asked an Iraqi military officer doing joint training at an American base what was the big thing he’d come to believe about Americans in the years they’d been there. He thought. “You are a better people than your movies say.” He had judged us by our exports. He had seen the low slag heap of our culture and assumed it was a true expression of who we are.

And so he’d assumed we were disgusting.

A good argument against SOPA.

MARKETS: GoDaddy supports SOPA, customers take business elsewhere. “Following GoDaddy’s announcement backing the controversial Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, many customers have started to move their domains to other hosts. I guess that throwing your customers to the wolves isn’t a good business tactic.”

IT’S LIKE IT’S SOME SORT OF INSIDER CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE INTERNET OR SOMETHING: Legacy media bankrolling campaigns of SOPA cosponsors. “Traditional big media firms have contributed more than $5 million to the sponsors of the Stop Online Piracy Act, with California Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Adam Schiff as the top recipients.”

Lots of Republicans among these names, too. I see that Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) is a cosponsor and got $261,700. Is it too late for a Tea Party primary challenger?

UPDATE: Reader Jeff Mitchell writes:

Glenn. Saw your post this morning regarding donations to various pols… including my representative Marsha Blackburn. I went to her Facebook page and posted this on her wall:

“Regarding SOPA: Marsha Blackburn’s co-sponsorship of this bill is an outrage. This bill is a direct attack on First Amendment rights of every citizen with a computer and a blog. Any unmonitored comment linking a post to a “suspected site” would make any site a potential target of “big brother”. Do you, as a Republican not understand how this could be used for political purposes? Remember when youtube took down all of McCains content just prior to the 2008 election because some news footage was declared protected? this bill would extend those Draconian policies across the entire internet to be controlled by any content providers (mostly entertainment and MSM which have a decidedly LIBERAL bias) without DUE PROCESS of LAW. Marsha, you have to withdraw your support and return the corrupting donation of $261,700 from liberal entertainment special interests! ”

Her staff dutifully took it down immediately. I then went to my own FB wall and posted the identical content. I received the FB error msg, “Something went wrong. Try again later”. I repeatedly tried to post and received the same error. Interesting, eh? Is this what it has come to? Maybe it’s just a fluke or a coincidence. Or maybe not.

As an experiment, I posted “Marsha Blackburn’s cosponsorship of SOPA is an outrage. But she got a lot of money from the legacy media.” on Facebook, together with the link above. It went through just fine. I think it’s good to post stuff on pols’ facebook pages even if their staff takes it down — they still get the message.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Jeff Mitchell’s comment is on Marsha Blackburn’s facebook page now, along with quite a few other negative responses. I suspect it was just a Facebook glitch.

JULIAN SANCHEZ: SOPA: An Architecture For Censorship. “The Stop Online Piracy Act—a bill misleadingly named for its aspirations, not its probable effect—has provoked an outpouring of justified opposition, much of it centered on two primary concerns: The virtual certainty that it will result in the ancillary blocking of much legitimate free speech, and the damage it would do to the basic architecture of the open Internet. One point I haven’t seen pressed forcefully enough thus far, however, is that architectural and free speech concerns are not entirely independent. The practical effect of SOPA will be to create an architecture for censorship—both legal and technological—that will radically alter the costs of engaging in future censorship unrelated to piracy or counterfeiting.” To some this is not a bug, but a feature.

MYTHBUSTER ADAM SAVAGE: SOPA Could Destroy the Internet as We Know It. “Make no mistake: These bills aren’t simply unconstitutional, they are anticonstitutional. They would allow for the wholesale elimination of entire websites, domain names, and chunks of the DNS (the underlying structure of the whole Internet), based on nothing more than the ‘good faith’ assertion by a single party that the website is infringing on a copyright of the complainant. The accused doesn’t even have to be aware that the complaint has been made.”

SOPA COULD BE USED TO CENSOR CANDIDATES: I predict that it will be used mostly on candidates that Hollywood doesn’t like.

During the waning days of the 2008 presidential race, there was an important but overlooked occurrence on the John McCain campaign. In mid-October, the McCain campaign awoke to find that its Web videos and online advertisements were disappearing from its YouTube page.

The culprit turned out to be a major television network claiming they owned portions of the videos and that posting the clips was a violation of copyright law. Even though the campaign, and many others in the online community, believed the content to be privileged under the “Fair Use Doctrine,” the videos were pulled down.

Fast-forward more than three years, and a new piece of legislation is making its way through Congress that would make it easier for online campaign content and websites to be taken down. Even more concerning, if passed, this bill would allow opposing campaigns or campaign committees — not just the original content provider — to pull down websites harboring “infringing content.”

But I’m probably just cynical.

GOOD ADVICE: Don’t Break The Internet. “Two bills now pending in Congress—the PROTECT IP Act of 2011 (Protect IP) in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House—represent the latest legislative attempts to address a serious global problem: large-scale online copyright and trademark infringement. Although the bills differ in certain respects, they share an underlying approach and an enforcement philosophy that pose grave constitutional problems and that could have potentially disastrous consequences for the stability and security of the Internet’s addressing system, for the principle of interconnectivity that has helped drive the Internet’s extraordinary growth, and for free expression.”

PAUL TASSI: How SOPA Could Ruin My Life.

Hi, my name is Paul, and I’m a small business owner. But my storefront isn’t quite of the traditional variety. Rather, it’s a virtual one, a website I built from scratch, and currently own and operate. . . . It’s a movie/tv/video game site that I started with a partner about three years ago. Since then, it’s grown to averaging between 2.8 and 3.2 million page views a month. Not a giant, but not bad for two people, and with ad revenue, it’s enough to live on.

But that might not be the case if the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) passes. My virtual small business, along with many others like it, might be history.

Why is this? Am I a pirate, who feeds my users stolen content every day and deserves to be slain by a new law like this? Not at all, and this is the fundamental problem with SOPA and other prospective laws like it (Protect IP most recently). . . . The fine print of the law says sites that distribute copyrighted content could be subject to summary censorship, ie Torrent sites and the like. But it also encompasses any sites that LINK to copyrighted content, which is the bomb that blows up any semblance of sense this bill might have had. . . . Watching the House debate this bill yesterday was beyond pathetic. These representatives, if they deserve to be called that, have no idea the amount of power they’re giving the entertainment industry. Or maybe they do, as most of their pockets are lined with donations from media behemoths, and have been for years in the hopes that someday, they might pass a law like this.

Tar. Feathers.

ERIC S. RAYMOND: SOPA and the oblivious.

It’s a bad bill, all right. It’s a terrible bill – awful from start to finish, idiotic to the core, corruptly pandering to a powerful special-interest group at the cost of everyone else’s liberty.

But I can’t help noticing that a lot of the righteous panic about it is being ginned up by people who were cheerfully on board for the last seventeen or so government power grabs – cap and trade, campaign finance “reform”, the incandescent lightbulb ban, Obamacare, you name it – and I have to wonder…

Don’t these people ever learn? Anything? Do they even listen to themselves?

It’s bizarre and entertaining to hear people who yesterday were all about allegedly benign and intelligent government interventions suddenly discovering that in practice, what they get is stupid and vicious legislation that has been captured by a venal and evil interest group.

Yeah, no shit? How…how do they avoid noticing that in reality it’s like this all the time?

Well, only about 98% of the time, actually. I mean, nobody’s perfect.

AMY ALKON ON STOPPING THE INTERNET CENSORSHIP BILL: “Click this Electronic Frontier Foundation link, type in your zip code, and get your Congressperson’s phone number, and make the call. Call Now to Stop SOPA, the Internet Blacklist Bill.” (Bumped.)

THE “STOP ONLINE PIRACY ACT” AND THE REVOLVING DOOR: Sixteen former Judiciary staffers lobby on online copyright issues. “As the House Judiciary Committee readies to consider a controversial bill that supporters say will crack down on websites pirating content, some interest groups may have a leg up on influencing the legislators. That’s because 16 lobbyists, representing various companies and organizations favoring, opposing or watching the bill, used to work on the House panel. The committee plans to markup the measure tomorrow.” Call your representative.

PROTESTS: Wikipedia Mulls Total Blackout to Oppose SOPA. “Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales wants to blank out all pages of the online encyclopedia to oppose the pending SOPA anti-piracy bill in the US. Wales, who has asked the Wikipedia community for input on the idea, fears the bill could seriously hurt the Internet and thinks that blanking out Wikipedia will send a strong message to lawmakers.”

It’s a terrible bill. Simply by introducing it, the sponsors — including Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have violated their oaths of office. In a moral society, they would immediately resign and commit honorable suicide. Since this isn’t such, we must hound them and humiliate them as best we can. They’ll probably try to make that illegal next.

Related: Google chairman says online piracy bill would ‘criminalize’ the Internet. Why not criminalize efforts to restrict free speech?

MORE ON THE HORRIBLE “STOP ONLINE PIRACY ACT:” NBC Universal Threatens Partners That They Need To Sign ‘Grassroots’ Support Of SOPA/PIPA Or It Might Have To Drop Them.

Take a moment to call your Representative and urge them to vote against this horrible sellout to Hollywood.

#OCCUPYHOLLYWOOD: MORE ON THE “STOP ONLINE PIRACY ACT,” which is in fact an Internet censorship act.

Reader Mike Lee writes:

This is the biggest power grab by Hollywood since DMCA.

Lamar Smith, Republican from Texas is one of the sponsors.

He refuses all feedback on his web site unless you put in a Zip+4 from his district.

Here’s a Zip+4 in Lamar Smith’s district:


Contact link for Lamar:

Please publish. We must let this guy know that he should never weigh in on a tech issue again no matter how much money he gets from Hollywood.

Yeah, I was pretty hard on him earlier and I see no reason to feel differently. This is a power-grab by Hollywood — and it’s a sellout by Lamar Smith, who took a lot of Hollywood money. Is it too late for a primary challenge?

UPDATE: Reader James Ruhland writes: “It’s not too late for a Primary Challenge. Prospective challengers in Lamar! Smith’s district can look here for the rules.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Removed the Zip+4 because it identifies an individual address.

#OCCUPYHOLLYWOOD: DAVID POST: How About Occupy Hollywood? “One of the obvious dangers of the Internet Age is that we’ll be so distracted by everything going on around us — lots of it interesting, complicated, and even important (not to mention all the stuff that’s idiotic and unimportant and fundamentally uninteresting) — that we will fail to recognize the truly important stuff when it comes along. The IP bills that Congress now has before it — the Senate version of which is known as PROTECT-IP, the House version as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act), sometimes known as the “E-Parasite” bill — are deep and profound threats to the Net and to our freedom on the Net. If anyone has good ideas about how to fight back other than to stand on the street-corner, as I am doing now, and shouting to the rooftops, I’d be interested to hear them.”

SO YESTERDAY’S POST ON LOW-BUDGET DISASTER PREP has produced still more email. Mostly it’s suggestions for what more people can do. That, of course, goes all the way up to a custom bomb-shelter / retreat in the mountains somewhere. But for most people, resources are limited. What are some things you can do that go beyond just keeping some extra groceries and bottled water? But not too far beyond?

You can keep a case or two of self-heating MREs around. They last a long time, they aren’t bad, and they’re more portable than canned foods if you have to leave home, but they don’t need separate water to prepare them like freeze-dried foods.

You might invest in a water filter, which will let you turn iffy water into drinkable water.

You should stock first-aid supplies and extra needed medications, in case you can’t get prescriptions refilled.

You might want some sort of backup power, ranging from a big uninterruptible power supply (keeps laptops and internet going for a long time, recharges cellphones, etc.) to a generator. Generators take annoying degrees of maintenance; a UPS can back up your computer or modem/wireless router until needed for more. But they put out a lot less power than a generator, and won’t keep your freezer from thawing. But generators cross the line into “more serious” as opposed to “slightly serious” preparedness, which is what this post is about.

Some additional source of heat. If you have a gas fireplace, make sure you know how to start it without an electric igniter. If you have a woodburning fireplace or stove, make sure you have plenty of wood, and matches and kindling, etc. (Woodburning fireplaces aren’t much good for heat, really; stoves on the other hand put out a lot). A backup kerosene or propane heater is good, too. Propane is easier to store than kerosene, and there are some propane heaters that are supposed to be safe for indoor use — though I’d invest in a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector to go with any kind of backup indoor heat. Also, extra blankets. And wool socks! Maybe even a Snuggie or two. In case the power goes out in the summer, make sure you have screens on your windows so that you can open them without filling your house with bugs. A small battery-powered fan is nice, too — clip it on to the headboard of your bed and it’ll be easier to sleep on a sticky night. Keep plenty of batteries, too.

Backup lamps and lanterns. One nice thing I have are plug-in nightlights that turn on when the power goes off, so that stairs, etc., remain navigable. I have them at the top and bottom of stairs, and in parts of the house that would be really dark if the power went off. They double as flashlights. These look good, too.

A list of phone numbers for family, friends, neighbors, and various services — plumbers, doctors, etc. — that you won’t be able to look up on the Internet if the power’s out.

A shovel, a crowbar, a water shutoff tool that fits your hookup — make sure you know that it works, how to use it, and where your hookup is in advance — and other simple tools.

A couple of tarps. During the Great Water Incident of a couple of years ago, one of these saved my basement carpet when water started coming out of the ceiling. . . .

Duct tape, duct tape, duct tape. And extra plastic garbage bags. Very versatile.

Any other reader suggestions for things that don’t cost too much, but would take disaster-prep up a level from yesterday’s post?

UPDATE: Reader Thomas Leahy writes: “Don’t forget a little extra food for the pets.” Good point.

Reader Peter Gookins emails:

This goes a bit beyond “prep on the cheap,” but you asked…

Generators-most people get one that’s much bigger than they actually need. Back north, I needed a large 240 volt generator (Honda ES 6500) to power the well pump, fridge and freezer when power went out (“locked rotor current,” which is the technical name for the high amperage required to start an electric motor from rest, on a 1 HP deep well pump is a LOT higher than the 8-12 amps (which, at 240 volts, is 1/2 the amperage it would be at 120; figure starting draw on most motors will be about 4X-5X running current; the 6500 puts out 52 amps and at pump start you could tell it picker up a lot of load) it takes to run the pump, and don’t forget that some stuff – like most -but not all- deep well pumps – are 240 volt only); here in Florida I’m on county water. During the 2004 hurricanes I loaned the big one to a neighbor, and it wound up feeding three houses for refrigerators, fans and TVs. I ran off a portable 120 volt 3K watt portable Honda RV generator (EU 3000) just fine, which powered the fridge, fans, lights and and a window AC at night for sleeping. Since then I’ve picked up a 2K watt Honda to use as “an infinite extension cord” at the gun club – it’ll power ONE saw, or a couple of floodlights and a fan, run cordless drill battery chargers, etc, and it weights 47 lbs. so it’s portable. Turns out it will run my fridge, some lights and a fan OR my window AC and some lights, all on less gas than the 3K watt Honda used. The fuel tank is small, but the RV crowd has solutions for that, just Google “EU2000+fuel tank.” And, Honda sells kits (but it’s cheaper to make your own) that allow tying two EU2000s together to get 3200 watts at 120 volts (about 26 amps) steady output. RVers do it all the time.

Remember, the smaller the generator the less fuel it uses. You can get aftermarket propane conversion kits for the Hondas, which I’ve considered doing with the 6500 when I move back north next year, because even with wheels under it it’s not very portable. I haven’t considered doing it with the 3K or the 2000 because having to drag around a propane tank reduces the portability, but if one expected a semi-stationary use, a propane conversion kit and a couple of 70 lb propane tanks would be a good investment. If I were staying in Florida I’d convert from electric water heater to propane tankless, and replace the electric range with a dual-fuel range, and stick a 250 gallon propane tank in the back corner of the yard. All the propane dealers here brag about how their trucks are propane-powered and they never missed a delivery during the hurricanes.

Speaking of well pumps…there is a great advantage to replacing the small well tank ( about 3.5 gallon draw down – one flush with old style toilets, so your pump is starting up a lot) builders always put in because it’s cheap with multiple large tanks. Well-X-Trol makes one that has a 46 gallon draw down from full before the pump needs to start and refill it. I put in two back north; in daily use the pump starts fewer times and runs longer, which extends its life, and when the power went out I ran the pump on generator until the tanks were full, which gave us 92 gallons before we needed the pump again. With water saving shower heads and minimal flushing we could get through an entire day (BTW, with a little judicious circuit breaker adjusting, one can power only one of the heating elements in an electric water heater with one’s generator, preferably the bottom element; takes a little while, but in 30 minutes or so you have a tank full of hot water. Check what wattage the elements are and replace the bottom one with a 4500 watt or 3800 watt (assuming the original is a 5500 watt) to ease the load on the generator. During normal use you won’t notice the difference.

If I were building my house from scratch, I’d consider putting in an underground propane tank and running everything off propane instead of natural gas, with a propane-powered generator thrown into the mix. A couple of deliveries a year and you’re semi self-sufficient.

Reader Anthony Swenson writes with a low-budget point that’s more in the spirit I meant for this post:

One of the cheapest things you can do – it won’t cost you anything but a nice smell in your laundry – is to make sure you always buy plain, unscented, unflavored chlorine bleach.

“In an emergency, think of this (one gallon of Regular Clorox Bleach) as 3,800 gallons of drinking water.”

Yeah, bleach is good for sanitizing stuff, too. I keep extra around — but it’s harder and harder to find plain old Clorox bleach anymore amid all the scented, splash-resistant, etc. stuff on the shelf. Read the label carefully. . . .

UPDATE: Reader Henry Bowman writes:

Another item to consider if you have a hybrid vehicle: a large inverter. I read an article a couple of years ago about a fellow in Connecticut who ran many of his electric appliances in his house for three days off his Prius, with inverter. He claimed it cost him 5 gallons of fuel. Seems like an inexpensive backup, and one for which you don’t need to worry about starting often, as is the case with a portable generator.

My sister and brother-in-law, who live in the Houston vicinity, were without power for 13 days after Hurricane Ike. They have two Priuses: they could have used a couple of inverters.

A big inverter is a lot cheaper than a comparable generator, and probably safer, too. And you can use it to recharge your UPS. But the hybrid thing isn’t as easy as it sounds. The guy you mention modded his Prius, because the big honking battery that drives the electric motors doesn’t put out 12v DC, and the 12v power system that starts the motor in the Prius (or in my Highlander) is separate. So I’m not sure there’s any special benefit to having a hybrid unless it’s modified, but correct me if I’m missing something.

Speaking of cars, think about when you’re not at home. Reader Mike von Cannon writes:

A note about disaster kits: I work for the Sevier County Sheriff’s Office and starting the morning of Dec 26 our dispatch center was flooded with calls from tourists in rental cabins who were stranded and running out of food (it was even worse during the blizzard in 93, which also hit on a weekend), so even on vacation it would pay to buy extra in case we get more snow than you expect. many tourists who thought they’d be going home sunday were stranded til Wed or Thur.

Good advice. And you should travel with at least a bit of helpful stuff. I keep some emergency stuff in the back of the car — some food bars, water, a spare pair of shoes in case mine get nasty while changing a tire, etc., and assorted minor toiletries and hygiene products and, very important, a roll of toilet paper — which helps. (And if you can produce tampons in a pinch, you can be a hero to women everywhere.)

I use these food bars, because they stand up to the heat in the summer better and they’re not appetizing enough that people will snitch ’em just for a quick snack, and these water packets because they don’t burst if they freeze. Most of this stuff never gets used, but being stuck by the side of the road for an extended period just once makes it worth having.

Also: Some survival blankets, some basic tools, and a Swiss Army knife or a Leatherman. (Make sure it’s one with a can opener/bottle opener). And a roll of duct tape! I keep all of this in a small pack that takes up very little room in the back; there’s one in Helen’s car, too.

Reader Gary Saffer writes:

A couple of things that I didn’t notice in your disaster preparedness posts.

Chemical light sticks. A friend of mine suggested these for general use. They’re cheap, they provide enough light to move around, and they save batteries for more light intensive tasks. And of course, you can get them at Amazon.

Consider that under most circumstances, it’s going to be 48-72 hours before rescue or relief shows up. If you are planning for much longer periods of being off the grid, consider moving to a rural area where you can build you entire house around being off the grid for long periods of time.

Firearms. You don’t mention them, but everyone should have a means of self defense. The veneer of civilization is thin at the best of times, it vaporizes in a real emergency. The predators will be out fairly quickly because their disaster plan is to use your prepared material to survive on. They don’t know specifically who you are, but they’ll keep looking until they find someone who has the stuff they want. Or a firearm they want no part of.

Yeah, light sticks are cool, even if Joe Biden thinks they’re drug paraphernalia. The gun issue is a whole separate post, but a gun (or several) is important disaster-prep, but that moves beyond the “easy steps” focus of this post. And the rural retreat approach goes way beyond it.

Reader Tina Howard writes:

For those who actually have a landline: an old-fashioned, non-electric telephone that plugs into the phone jack & has the handset attached to the phone. Easy to identify because there is no electric cord with it. Our phone lines worked after 2003’s Hurricane Claudette but the cordless phones wouldn’t. Very cheap at Salvation Army Thrift shops.

In the same vein, keep the necessary cords to plug a computer directly into the phone modem, because the wireless router is also electric. We were able to get online and check weather and news reports, as well as make posts to update others.

Good advice. Yeah, an old-fashioned landline phone that uses line power is good to have. Cellphone batteries die. Phone company line power is more reliable than utility power. Some multi-handset wireless phone setups or answering machines have a handset at the base that still works when the power is out. (Mine does). Most don’t. You can also hook the base into a big UPS — they don’t draw much power so they’ll work for days that way if you do. Ditto your cable/DSL modem and wireless router.

Reader J.R. Ott writes:

Three lengths of sturdy rope,5/8 climbing rope,inexpensive clothesline type,for bundling up stuff,para chute chord,All three are handy for bug out 50′ min and a few short hunks.Each bundle of rope has a snap knife taped to it (about a dollar each from the paint dept) . . . . Lastly if folks can afford it a Westie dog or a Shepard,good alarm and a Westie will shred an attacker as they are very possessive Terriers and if the dogs women folk are attacked you would not believe how damaging the dog can be.

Dogs are good to have around. More advice on low-cost preparation here, from a reader.

I should also note that while having extra stuff is handy — if the roads are blocked, and you don’t have enough food, there’s not much you can do — it’s also important to have skills. Most of the survival books are aimed at somebody lost in the woods, but, again, a low-budget approach means being able to deal with home-based small-scale disasters. This book, When Duct Tape Just Isn’t Enough, is a good focus. My own skillset is nothing to brag about: I can do basic plumbing, electrical, and carpentry stuff, but I don’t really like it because I’m a perfectionist, but not skilled enough to make it perfect very fast so I get frustrated. (Plus, I’ve usually got an article I should be writing, or something) However, it suffices for quick-and-dirty solutions to problems like clogged or burst pipes, etc. Being able to deal with that sort of thing is a big leg-up, and that’s the kind of thing this book addresses.

FINALLY: Good advice from reader Spencer Reiss: Keep some cash around. Preferably in relatively small denominations: “The universal solvent–gets anything else you need. and no power, no phone=no ATM, no credit cards. Post-Andrew desperate Miamians were driving halfway to Orlando to get some (and in some areas systems were down for up to two weeks). Much easier/smarter to keep $1000 stashed somewhere.”


The recent blizzard has shown once again the importance of having at least a basic short-term food store. Intentional slowdown or otherwise, people found themselves trapped in their home or apartment unable to go out for sustenance. Even if not technically trapped, many were in a position where they did not want to be forced out to face the elements or on to the dangerous roads.

The importance of having enough to eat and drink for a few days is matched by the ease of preparation. On your next trip to the supermarket, buy a few bags of beef-jerky, a jar of honey, and a mini-keg of beer and/or a few gallons of water. When you get home, put them away together in a cool dark place. That’s it.

Add some canned goods (with a mechanical can opener, and/or easy-open cans), a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and lantern, and a few extra blankets. (I don’t think the mini-keg of beer will really keep for a year, though.) You can do a lot more to prepare, but if you do this much you’ll be prepared for most reasonably-probable eventualities.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Rafton emails: “Never been much interested in your disaster-preparedness blogging until you mention this morning that one should stock a small keg of beer. You’ve now won me over.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Richard Dean writes: “Excellent advice on the storing essentials in case of a disaster, even a minor one. One word of caution: beware of the thin plastic gallon jugs of water sold at most grocery stores. They will keep for maybe a year before the plastic breaks down and they spring leaks. I found this out the hard way one time when I checked my emergency kit and found that my water had leaked and I had lost several cans of food, 100 rounds of premium handgun ammunition, a roll of duct tape, and a hand-crank emergency radio into a soupy mess. Luckily, it wasn’t during an emergency that I found this out.” Yeah, and if you store plastic containers directly on a concrete floor they break down faster. Canned goods shouldn’t be hurt by wetting, though, except for the labels.

MORE: Reader Paul Carlson writes: “For metal cans of food, write down the contents on the lid with a magic marker. Thus, if the labels do come off, you still know what you have before you open it.”

Meanwhile, Rick Lee emails:

After 9/11 I stored a bunch of emergency materials and had the nasty experience of plastic water jugs going bad and ruining a bunch of stuff in the garage.’ve never replaced those things… How SHOULD one store water?

And the response comes from reader Kevin Menard:

We buy the five gallon carboys that you normally stick in a water cooler. It’s a bit more expensive but the plastic holds up for years and we haven’t had a break or leak yet. I date them and use the oldest first. We opened a three year old one last year and the water was okay. Needed aeration but other wise fine. Since most of our emergency food is freeze dried, our expected emergency water usage will be higher. A forty pound propane tank and a propane stove help too. If you lived up north, you could run a camping heater off that too.

Yes, my sister-in-law — no prepper, but a poet — keeps those because her water comes from a well and she has to be ready for when the power goes off. Seems to work, er, well. And reader Marica Bernstein writes:

One thought about food preps. Canned goods, etc. are just common sense. But if you’re used to “real” food, I imagine it would be something of a shock to the system to switch abruptly to several days of the canned stuff. Making a weekly menu, and shopping for what you need on a designated grocery day (as opposed to stopping in at the store after work each day), wouldn’t solve all your problems, but at least you’d have on hand the items you’d need to carry on as usual– meal-wise (well, unless the disaster hits the day before grocery day).

We woke this morning after serious storm threats last night to discover we have no running water! No problem. We’re prepared.

Well, that’s always a comfort. And note that none of this requires Omega-Man style apocalypse planning — just maintaining a bit of a reserve. And when people do that, it helps things upstream, as everyone who does so is one less person trying to navigate jammed grocery stores, or calling 911 or whatever.

MORE: Bill Quick emails:

1. Crystal Geyser sells one gallon jugs of water made of the same long-lasting plastic as their smaller bottles.

2. Free: Rinse and reuse the two-liter bottles you get your soda pop in. They last forever, too, and have the added bonus that the water inside can be disinfected by letting them rest in direct sunlight. According to the medical doc posting here, the heat will kill all living organisms inside.

3. Those 2.5 gallon jugs with handles available at most drug and grocery stores will last forever, too.

All this and more, for those who read the “Water Storage at Home” thread at!

I’ll just note that if you want to go a step farther, you might want a Katadyn (or similar) water filter, too. That lets you turn iffy water into drinkable water without having to store mass quantities. Also note that your hot water heater will contain many gallons of clean water, and your toilet tanks will, too — though you might want to treat or filter the latter, as much for your own peace of mind as anything else.

Plus, try-before-you-buy advice from reader Joseph Dorsett:

When deciding whether we wanted to go with freeze dried we got a “free sample” from e-foods direct. It actually cost the $14.95 shipping and handling. It was really pretty good though we decided to stick with canned goods and true individual meals for our boogie bags. We have friends who went with freeze dried because of the longer shelf life and variety of food. Readers may want to do this before investing in large lots. It will certainly give you a good idea of what the options are.

Yes, “large lots” go beyond the advice above, but if you’re storing food you should be sure it’s stuff people will want to eat. Even lousy food will keep you from starving, of course, but if you’re stuck at home for days because of an ice storm, food will be one of the few things that alleviates the boredom and it’s better if it’s good.

And reader Ken Lightcap writes:

Having been through several ice storms in Kansas City, once without power for four days and only partial power for another five, I was greatful beyond words for a gas hot water heater and a gas range and oven. It was forty-seven degrees in the house but we had hot water for showers (feeling clean is a huge morale boost) and always fire to cook and bake. Also, don’t over-look the old K-1 kerosene heaters popular in the 70s and 80s. I was glad I never threw mine away. It kept pipes from freezing for nine days.

I keep one of those kerosene heaters, and an indoor-rated propane heater. When I was a little kid, we got through the Great Northeastern Blackout fairly well because we had a gas stove. It would have been much worse if we’d had all-electric.

And reader Peter Gookins offers this advice for canned goods: “Don’t forget to write the purchase date on the tops of canned goods so you can use the oldest first.”

EVEN MORE: Reader Tom Anderson writes:

One easy thing to do to prepare for an emergency is to keep an extra full tank of propane for your gas grill. Not only will you never run out of propane in the middle of a barbecue, but if you lose electric power for your stove/range you will be able to cook for days using your grill.

In addition, troll Craigslist for a lightly used generator; people buy them after a storm or hurricane, then sell them after they sit for a few years. I bought one in excellent condition for $50 that would not run because an oil pressure sensor went bad from sitting too long. $20 in repairs plus a siphon line so I can use the 25 gallon gas tank in my SUV as a gas reserve of fresh gasoline and I’m good to go.

Combine the generator, the mini-keg of beer, and the gas grill, and I’m almost looking forward to an ice storm.

Heh. Meanwhile, reader Drew Kelley wonders why I’m not talking about MREs. Well, no reason — you can keep a case handy for fairly cheap, with heaters even. But they kind of go beyond the sort of incidental-effort preparedness that was the theme of this post.

FINALLY: Reader Alan Colon writes:

I am the Emergency Manager for my city, and you hit almost all of the high points in your posts on preparedness.
The most important things are the simple things. Have food and water, have medications and essential supplies (baby food, diapers, etc) for 96 hours.

That said, here’s a couple of things people should know about their homes:

– Modern homes are very tightly insulated and wrapped with vapor barrier. Using any kind of fuel based heater (propane, etc) inside the house is an invitation to carbon monoxide poisoning.
– If your house has a gas fireplace, find the instructions and learn how to light it without the electrical igniter (wall switch) normally used.
– If your house has gas heat, it usually takes relatively few amps to run the fan the the electronic controls. With a power connector wired in and a small generator, you can keep your furnace running for a long period of time.

– Make sure you have an old-fashioned plug-in phone in the house (less than $10 at your local big box). If power goes out your cordless phones are dead. A cheapie analog phone is powered from the phone line and will continue to function of the power is out.
– If you have gone all cellphone or VOIP, consider keeping a landline phone line on the cheapest plan your phone company will give you. With power outages, cell sites are quickly overloaded with calls, then they go offline after their backup batteries quit. Without power, DSL and cable lines will fail, then knocking out your VOIP service.

Backup Power: This is not cheap, but it provides definitive standby capacity:
– If your home or business has gas service, companies make relatively inexpensive natural-gas-powered standby generators which will auto-start and run off gas pressure (which is not dependent on the electrical grid being up).
– These will provide power for critical circuits such as heat, hot water, cooking, basic lighting, etc.
– Installed prices can be under $3000

Thanks for helping get the word out!

Happy to. I should note that you can get tri-fuel generators that will run on natural gas, propane, or gasoline, though they’re pricier. That’s kind of beyond the scope of this post.