Human lives are saved by medicines developed as a result of tests on animals; no comparable good is achieved by the republication of cartoons of the prophet. But the mechanism of intimidation is very similar, including the fact that it works across frontiers and is therefore hard to tackle by national laws or law enforcement agencies.
If the intimidators succeed, then the lesson for any group that strongly believes in anything is: shout more loudly, be more extreme, threaten violence, and you will get your way. Frightened firms, newspapers or universities will cave in, as will softbellied democratic states, where politicians scrabble to keep the votes of diverse constituencies. But in our increasingly mixed-up, multicultural world, there are so many groups that care so strongly about so many different things, from fruitarians to anti-abortionists and from Jehovah's Witnesses to Kurdish nationalists. Aggregate all their taboos and you have a vast herd of sacred cows. Let the frightened nanny state enshrine all those taboos in new laws or bureaucratic prohibitions, and you have a drastic loss of freedom. That, I think, is what is happening to us, issue by issue.
Expecting politicians to protect free speech is probably expecting too much. It's up to us.
Canada has been showered with attention for its oil sands — deposits of thick, sludgy crude in remote parts of northern Alberta — but until now most of that oil has flowed only as far south as Chicago.
This week, crude spun out of Canada's oil sands came all the way to this flat Oklahoma prairie town that's known as the oil pipeline capital of the world.
Enbridge, a Calgary-based oil delivery and storage company, opened the taps to its Spearhead Pipeline, a 650-mile stretch of steel from Chicago to Cushing, and the first western Canada crude sloshed into the company's mammoth Cushing terminal early Thursday.
For years the pipe, which used to be owned by BP, carried Gulf of Mexico crude to northern markets that needed the oil. But as the Gulf slowly but surely plays out, and Canada's oil sands production picks up steam, the crude is flowing in a different direction.
It's a sign of the times. Canada, which is already the biggest exporter of oil to the U.S., outranking Mexico, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia, will likely double its oil production in the next decade, thanks to production from the oil sands.
ED CONE: "Was the terrifying incident at UNC yesterday an act of home-grown terrorism? Nine people were struck by a Jeep driven by a man who is alleged to have said he was avenging American treatment of Muslims. Fortunately, injuries were minor. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar is reportedly being charged with nine counts of attempted first-degree murder and nine counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill."
MICHAEL MALONE POSTS a lengthy review of An Army of Davids at ABC's Silicon Insider. Excerpt:
I cannot think of a better book for the average reader to understand just how the Web and other digital technologies are reversing the polarities of modern society — restoring many features of daily life lost with the Industrial Revolution, while at the same time inventing powerful new cultural institutions. And for those of us who make careers out of watching this transformation, no book to date so well summarizes all of the diverse trends in a single narrative.
It's a great review, and I have no complaints. But I'm a bit frustrated -- with myself -- because Malone doesn't see the connection between the final chapters of the book (on nanotechnology, space, and the Singularity) and the earlier chapters on more contemporary phenomena. That's my fault, not his. I thought I had a pretty clear story arc, starting with events today, then explaining how nanotechnology will represent a vast intensification of current trends, leading to vastly (and to a degree, dangerously) empowered individuals, with worries that we'd see either explosive chaos, or a global police state (I invoke Larry Niven's A.R.M., and note that it's actually a rather benign vision of such things) -- with the space bit appearing to explain why we need the safety factor of dispersing people beyond earth, and how the new space frontier will protect values of individualism. I quote Bob Zubrin on that point. (I also discuss the X-Prize, which has a real Army-of-Davids character.)
It seemed clear to me, but Malone's not the only one to miss that, which makes it my fault. Maybe I'll add a few paragraphs to the next edition, if there is one, to make that point clearer.
When one of the candidates challenging Mr Lukashenko in this month's presidential election tried to get into the People's Assembly, he was knocked to the ground by plain clothes officers and beaten.
Alexander Kozulin was then dragged off and taken into custody.
Outside the police station, a number of his supporters and journalists were detained, too. One newspaper photographer at the scene was beaten up by police. He received concussion and a broken nose.
Later another presidential candidate from the opposition had problems.
Alexander Milinkevich attempted to hold an election rally in the city centre. But the authorities declared it illegal and sent in the security forces: hundreds of riot police blocked off the roads and dispersed a crowd of several thousand Milenkevich supporters.
"The authorities saw that the popularity of the opposition is growing rapidly," Yaroslav Romanchuk of the United Civil Party told me. "That's why they are now trying to block the opposition from campaigning. This isn't an election. It's a sham."
I have seen two very different pictures of Belarus here this week. The first - on a TV screen, painted in pomp and ceremony, depicting Belarus as a haven of stability with a leader adored by the nation. And a second Belarus - an unofficial one, not intended for live broadcast and public consumption; a country where political rivals are beaten and detained by police.
PR AND BLOGGER ETHICS: I talked to a reporter about blogs and PR -- I won't spoil the story, but the gist is that some PR people have been sending stuff to bloggers, and some bloggers have apparently reprinted some of it without attribution.
I think that's bad, but as I stressed in our interview, it's not as if this supports a "bloggers lack the standards of mainstream journalism" conclusion. In fact, here's a bit from The Appearance of Impropriety on that topic:
Thirty-five years ago Daniel Boorstin wrote of what he called "pseudo-events," and noted that much of what passes for news is actually made up of items manufactured by public relations flacks and distributed to the public by way of news organizations. The news organizations, he wrote, go along with this sort of thing out of a need for material, and out of laziness: it's just easier to take predigested material and reprint it than it is to come up with real news. In tones of dismay, Boorstin reported that the National Press Club in Washington was equipped with racks holding the handouts from press conferences throughout the capital, in order to save the reporters the trouble of actually attending. As Boorstin went on to note:
We begin to be puzzled about what is really the "original" of an event. The authentic news record of what "happens" or is said comes increasingly to seem to be what is given out in advance. More and more news events become dramatic performances in which "men in the news" simply act out more or less well their prepared script. The story prepared "for future release" acquires an authenticity that competes with that of the actual occurrences on the scheduled date.
The practice Boorstin described has not gone away: it has expanded into new frontiers. Technology in the early 1960s was primitive, and favored live or minimally-produced television news; as a result, that medium acquired a reputation for realism and immediacy that print reporting lacked. A print story could be made up, but an image on television was real. But nowadays, when many high schools have network-quality television studios, and when videotape is sold at convenience stores, that has changed. Although a "video news release" is still more expensive to produce than a standard paper press release, they have become much more common. According to a recent poll, seventy-five percent of TV news directors reported using video news releases at least once per day.
These releases, with their high quality images and slick production, are produced by companies and groups who want to get their message across, but don't want simply to purchase advertising time. They are designed so that television producers at local stations or (less often) major networks, can simply intersperse shots of their own reporters or anchors (often reading scripted lines provided with the release) to give the impression that the story is their own. Their use has been the subject of considerable controversy within the journalistic profession, although some commentators have claimed that they are used no more often, or misleadingly, than written press releases are used by the print media.
A recent scandal in Britain involved network use of a video news release produced by the group Greenpeace that some considered misleading. But of course for every video news release, or VNR as they are called in the trade, that comes from an environmental group there are hundreds that come from businesses or government organizations. Though a keen eye can usually spot a VNR (hint: the subject matter wouldn't otherwise be news, and it usually involves experts and locales far from the station that airs it) most viewers probably believe that today’s story on cell-phone safety or miracle bras is just another product of the news program's producers – and hence, implicitly backed by the news people’s public commitment to objective journalism. The truth, however, is different.
It is fair to say that the wholesale use of others' work is a major part of modern journalism. But news officials are quick to distinguish that from plagiarism. In a mini-scandal at the San Diego Tribune, a reporter's story was cancelled when editors noticed that it looked very much like a story that had already appeared elsewhere. At first, presumably, it was thought that the story had been taken from the other publication. Then it turned out that both stories were simply near-verbatim versions of a press release. According to the Tribune's deputy editor, that wasn't plagiarism. "If you look up the definition of plagiarism, it is the unauthorized use of someone's material. When someone sends you a press packet, you're entitled to use everything in there."
Certainly this statement seems to capture the attitude of many in the journalistic professions. One public-relations handbook explains it this way:
Most reporters aren’t scoop-hungry investigators. They’re wage earners who want to please their editors with as little effort as possible, and they’re happy to let you provide them with ideas and facts for publishable stories. That is why most publicity is positive for people and their businesses.
You’re still not convinced? Go to the library and glance through a few days’ issues of several newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and some local papers. You’ll discover that the same stories appear over and over again. That’s because they were initiated by the companies being covered, not by an eager young reporter looking for a scoop.
An experiment by a group of journalism students at the University of Tennessee demonstrates just how willing reporters can be to accept facts and story ideas that involve little work. The students concocted a fictitious press release from a group opposing "political correctness" and mailed it to a number of newspapers. Most did not run it, but quite a few did -- and none checked the details one way or another. One newspaper even embellished the story with additional details that were not included in the original press release. When word of the experiment got out, journalists were predictably outraged, with one even saying that it violated the bond of trust (!) between journalists and public-relations professionals. A more likely explanation for the outrage is that the experiment uncovered a pattern of shoddy work that its practitioners would have preferred to keep unexposed. Not plagiarism, perhaps, but something that in many ways is worse.
Every successful system attracts parasites. The blogosphere is a successful system. That doesn't excuse bad conduct, of course. But I hope that nobody will try to pretend that this sort of thing is new or unusual, even if the setting is.
It is far easier to repackage (or sometimes quote verbatim) what someone else is saying, rather than doing the reporting yourself. I fess up to being guilty of this when I interned with a couple airline magazines a few years ago. They basically handed me a bunch of press releases, asked me to hit the Internet, make a couple phone calls, and then craft an article from it.
Trudy Schuett, meanwhile, has thoughts on the subversive potential of republishing press releases while labeling them as such.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader John Galvin defends the PR industry in a lengthy missive. Click "read more" to read it. I don't deny that PR is valuable, actually. My point was simply that journalists rely a lot more heavily on PR than they admit, and that pointing a finger at bloggers in this case without acknowledging that fact (in a "see, you can't trust bloggers because they lack our journalistic standards" fashion) would be deeply unfair, even dishonest.
Your post on “PR and Blogger Ethics” unfortunately shows a profound misunderstanding of the very important role of Public Relations in our society and economy.
I am part owner of a very small Public Relations/Marketing firm. While my role is strictly graphics and other computer related matters, I’m certainly aware of the PR end. Without Public Relations, you simply would be unaware of many things, many very beneficial.
I’ll give you some examples that you can personally relate to.
Your wife has a serious heart condition and, I believe, had device implanted in her. How do you think the cardiologists heard about that device? Most likely they read about it in a medical journal. In some cases they might have read about it in a newspaper or magazine, or even saw a piece about it on television news.
In all of the above cases the stories about the device were the result of Public Relations. The media outlet received a press kit from a PR firm. That kit contained a press release, and a lot of other vital information about the device. A company spokesman, and possibly several doctors, was made available for interview through the PR firm. TV footage of the spokesman and or doctors might have been made available. Do you think that your local Knoxville newspapers and television stations have the resources to send a reporter, photographer, camera crew, etc across the country to cover this? The medical journals that covered this have even fewer resources.
Are you glad that your wife’s doctors heard about that device? What might have happened if they’d never heard of the device? Yes the company made a sale. More importantly, a life may have been saved.
Another example is your recent purchase of a hybrid auto. Once again, media outlets throughout the country were made aware of the introduction of that car through PR. The auto magazines, the auto writers for general interest news media, the producers at television news outlets, and others all received Press Kits before the car was introduced. Photos of the auto and the power plant were made available to the press. TV footage of the car moving, and footage of the engine compartment were also made available. Test drives were made available. You most likely heard about the car through news coverage. You might have researched it by reading various auto columns online. The reporter got a lot of that info via the PR push. (A number of years ago you read about VW’s introduction of the New Beetle. That was our firm at work. Interestingly, that car was only introduced as a concept car. The interest generated by the press coverage convinced VW to put the thing into production.)
When you read/sea the coverage of major hurricanes approaching a coast, It’s not uncommon to read/sea that outfits like Home Depot and Loewes are prepostioning lumber products for quick delivery to the effected area. Residents of the area will know that materials will be coming. That’s the result of PR by Home Depot and Lowes.
Once again, your local news outlets, and even national news outlets don’t have the resources to provide all this. You seem to be pleased with your auto. Without a very expensive PR push by Toyota, your odds of hearing about that car and being able to research it online by reading reviewer’s columns would have been greatly diminished.
The simple fact is that no news outlets have the ability to fully cover many things, or even find out about them. The cost is beyond comprehension. PR helps them provide coverage. The problem of proper coverage becomes more acute, the further you get from metropolitan areas. Many small towns have a weekly paper with only a few employees. They have to rely on PR firms for material.
Jane Bartnett Communications
HOLD THE CONSPIRACY WORRIES: A blogger reports on being unable to find a copy of An Army of Davids at bookstores. Remember, it doesn't officially come out until Tuesday, even though some places are stocking it and Amazon is starting to ship early.
UPDATE: Even if you can't find it, you can read a short excerpt from the book here, courtesy of The New Atlantis.
The stunning investigation of bribery and corruption in Congress has spread to the CIA, ABC News has learned.
The CIA Inspector General has opened an investigation into the spy agency's executive director, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, and his connections to two defense contractors accused of bribing a member of Congress and Pentagon officials.
The CIA released an official statement on the matter to ABC News, saying: "It is standard practice for CIA's Office of Inspector General — an aggressive, independent watchdog — to look into assertions that mention agency officers. That should in no way be seen as lending credibility to any allegation."
Stay tuned. Between this and the leaks investigations, there's likely to be a fair amount of action at CIA headquarters.
DANISH CONSULATE RALLY: Reader Kevin Patrick sends this report from New York:
About 150-200 People in attendance at any one time (some of us are supposed to be working). Friendly crowd handing out danish cheese (even in relatively cold weather). About a half dozen danish flags and even more signs in support of the Danes. Healthy discussions/debates going on as well. Couple of people vocalizing their attendance on behalf of friends serving in Iraq and elsewhere. Police in attendance also managing crowd in an orderly manner. All in all a good showing in suuport of the Danes.
Another reader sends the photo below, which can also be found on his blog.
GOOD IDEA: "New Mexico's 33 counties will switch from a patchwork of voting methods to a single paper-ballot system under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Bill Richardson. The governor, who pushed the proposal through the recent legislative session, said the system would make voting more secure and restore the public's confidence in elections."
Actually, it sounds like a great idea! It's bad news for the manufacturers of electronic voting machines, of course, but they've had years to build in security sufficient to earn popular trust, and they've failed miserably at that task.
The U.S. Department of Justice has opened an investigation into online music pricing at the world's major music labels, sources familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
Let the subpoenas fly.
posted at 08:59 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IN THE MAIL: The new book by Jerome Armstrong and Kos, Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. Obviously I don't think that it will help the Democratic Party to move in the DailyKos direction (though that's not quite what the book advocates), but the book's thesis that the Democratic establishment has gotten out of touch with actual Democrats seems hard to dispute.
Republicans should be worried that the GOP, now that it's in power, seems to be displaying some of the same problems.
DAVID BERNSTEIN: "Should being an active member of a racist, anti-gay, anti-semitic organization disqualify someone from serving on a state hate crimes commission? You would think so, but, at least in Illinois, you'd be wrong."
posted at 07:56 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IF YOU HAVEN'T BEEN TO TOM MAGUIRE'S BLOG lately, well, you should drop by. Lots of interesting new stuff, including this on Murray Waas's latest "scoop:"
It is reassuring that President Bush got the same news the rest of us did.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 07:48 AM by Glenn Reynolds
I HAVEN'T PAID ENOUGH ATTENTION TO "ABLE DANGER," but now there's an Able Danger blog.
In the hectic, confused hours after Hurricane Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast, Louisiana's governor hesitantly but mistakenly assured the Bush administration that New Orleans' protective levees were intact, according to new video obtained by The Associated Press showing briefings that day with federal officials.
MICHAEL BARONE: "Here's a fascinating issue, and one of great importance for the news business: whether the government should prosecute newspapers for printing classified information and government employees for divulging it. Specifically, should the New York Times be prosecuted for its Dec. 16, 2005, story on the NSA surveillance of communications between suspected al Qaeda operatives abroad and people in the United States?"
Is the despised, self-parodying MSM intentionally glossing over this important difference in order to exaggerate the anti-Bush shock value of the video? I don't know--but I do know that the actual "topped" quote was hard to find in print, lending some of the stories an eerie, undocumented quality. Do reporters not print the quote because then they couldn't justify the charge that Bush lied about the "breach"? You make the call. I'm too paranoid at this point. ... P.P.S.: Shouldn't Bush's press operation, rather than Patterico, be pointing all this out?
Bush's operation has relied rather heavily on the Army. Too heavily, I'd say.
posted at 08:32 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JIM BENNETT: "Bush's trip to India, and the deal made there today, may end up being the single most consequential act of the Bush presidency."
posted at 07:45 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JIM GERAGHTY thinks that post-tipping-point politics are going to be ugly, and agrees with me that the Bush Administration's limp response to the Cartoon Wars is part of the reason:
In the USA Today poll, when asked, “Which comes closer to your view about Arab and Muslim countries that are allies of the United States?” 45 percent of respondents said, “trust the same as any other ally”; 51 percent said they trust these countries “less than other allies.”
That’s a remarkably honest poll result. Let’s face it, Americans have been told since kindergarten not to judge ethnic and religious groups differently from one another; now slightly more than half are willing to come out and say, “you know, I just don’t trust those guys as much as I trust others.”
Welcome to Post-Tipping Point politics. There is no upside to doing the right thing – which is to emphasize, as one blogger put it, that there is a difference between Dubai and Damascus. There is tremendous political upside to doing the wrong thing, boldly declaring, “I don’t care what the Muslim world thinks, I’m not allowing any Arab country running ports here in America! I don’t care how much President Bush claims these guys are our allies, I don’t trust them, and I’m not going to hand them the keys to the vital entries to our country!”
And more and more, I think Glenn Reynolds had it right; the entire Tipping Point phenomenon can be summed up as action and reaction. The Bush Administration’s reaction to the cartoon riots was comparably milquetoast. The violence and threats committed over the cartoons shocked, frightened and really, really angered Americans. They want somebody to smack the Muslim world back onto its heels and set them straight: “It doesn’t matter how offensive a cartoon is, you’re not allowed to riot, burn down embassies and kill people over it.”
They’re ashamed that Denmark is leading the fight over this.
When the Bush administration’s reaction was mostly equivocating statements and a failure to confront the Muslim world over its insistence of the worldwide applicability of its blasphemy laws, I suspect a lot of folks whose top issue is the war on terror concluded that Bush was going wobbly. . . . The interesting thing is the post-Tipping Point view on the Muslim world is alien to Bush; I suspect he would find it abhorrent. Unfortunately, that puts him out of step with a large chunk of the public — a vocal, angry chunk that is likely to have plenty of politicians courting it.
I'LL BE ON HUGH HEWITT'S SHOW in just a minute. You can listen live here, though I probably won't hang up on Hugh the way John Zogby just did.
posted at 06:18 PM by Glenn Reynolds
IT'S NOT JUST BILL CLINTON: Reader Daniel Holmes sends this story, which I had missed:
The lobbying of former Senate majority leader Robert J. Dole on behalf of the Dubai-owned company set to take over management of terminals at six major U.S. seaports is creating a political problem for his wife, Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.).
The chairman of the North Carolina Democratic Party, Jerry Meek, yesterday called on Sen. Dole to remove herself from "any congressional oversight" of the Dubai port deal. "The fact that Dubai is paying her husband to help pass the deal presents both a financial and ethical conflict of interest for Senator Dole," Meek said.
It always seems a bit shady to me when former elected officials are paid to represent foreign interests. We're not talking Gerhard Schroeder territory here for either Clinton or Dole, but it's still a bit iffy.
posted at 04:05 PM by Glenn Reynolds
A WHILE BACK, I suggested that lawyers might be overpaid, which led to a stirring dissent from attorney Ronald Coleman. ("It’s the free market, Instapundit.") He makes some good points, though take it from a member of the cartel: the market's not that free . . .
MARC COOPER: "Oh, I can’t tell you how much I love this one. Bill Clinton advising the monarchs of Dubai on how to sell the ports deal. I’d expect no less from Slick Willie. Just happy to see one more confirmation of what absolute, rank opportunists he and the Missus are. It all reminds me of how the Whitewater development project specialized in ripping off working class rubes with bait and switch mortgage deals. Yum-yum!"
He also wonders how Bush is going to get out of trouble on the ports deal. Perhaps it depends on what else happens in the next 45 days.
posted at 01:31 PM by Glenn Reynolds
BLAMING IRAN for the mosque attack. I don't know, but it seems like the way to bet.
UPDATE: Greg Djerejian emails to disagree: "The chances of Iran being involved in the Samarra shrine bombing are somewhere between zero and less than zero. It’s almost as absurd as Ahmadi-Nejad blaming the Jews and Americans for it. . . . The trail is much simpler. It goes to al-Qaeda in Iraq, namely Zarqawi."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Gary Metz thinks that Djerejian is too quick to dismiss the Iranian connection:
First of all, Al Qaeda takes credit for its attacks. They have NOT taken credit for this.
But it is also important to remember that Zarqawi has been spending much of his time inside of Iran.
Lastly, Greg just dismisses the preliminary findings of those on the ground. Hmmmm.
Hard to know. I can certainly see why Iran would want a Sunni-Shia split.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Jon Henke looks at some other Iran evidence. And TigerHawk has related thoughts.
In a press conference on the steps of the Capitol Monday, Congressional Democrats announced that, despite the scandals plaguing the Republican Party and widespread calls for change in Washington, their party will remain true to its hopeless direction.
"We are entirely capable of bungling this opportunity to regain control of the House and Senate and the trust of the American people," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said to scattered applause. "It will take some doing, but we're in this for the long and pointless haul." . . . "Don't lose faithlessness, Democrats," Kennedy said. "The next election is ours to lose. To those who say we can't, I say: Remember Michael Dukakis. Remember Al Gore. Remember John Kerry."
Kennedy said that, even if the Democrats were to regain the upper hand in the midterm elections, they would still need to agree on a platform and chart a legislative agenda—an obstacle he called "insurmountable."
"Universal health care, the war in Iraq, civil liberties, a living wage, gun control—we're not even close to a consensus within our own ranks," Kennedy said. "And even if we were, we wouldn't know how to implement that consensus."
WE'RE BACK TO HEARING ABOUT KATRINA, which is a pretty good sign the media is trying to gin up another anti-Bush swarm ("While the information in the video has been public for months, and was the subject of hearings and reports by Congress and the White House, the footage is giving new life to charges that the administration was detached and unresponsive in the face of one of the nation's worst natural disasters." In other words, there's no news here, but we hope it'll have traction anyway.) Patterico says that the Los Angeles Times is dishonestly portraying the video's contents, but if you get to the second page of the LAT story you find a bit of a dig at the AP for selective editing:
The AP video does not include footage of Chertoff asking Brown whether he needs any other help or of Chertoff asking whether Brown wants him to approach the Department of Defense. Transcripts show that to both questions, Brown indicated that no additional assistance was needed.
In the transcript of a briefing the following day, Aug. 29, Brown is quoted as saying that Bush "is very engaged, and he's asking a lot of really good questions I would expect him to ask."
That Aug. 29 transcript showed that hours after the hurricane hit, federal and state officials remained optimistic about handling the disaster and were unaware that the levees in New Orleans were failing.
Katrina taught the media that if they all swarmed Bush at once they could do harm even if -- as turned out to be the case -- much of what they reported was outright false. I've noticed a lot more of that since. The Bush Administration is quite capable of making its own trouble with PR -- see the ports issue, for example -- but it's also quite clear that the media is doing this sort of thing for entirely partisan reasons.
UPDATE: For some history here, it's worth revisiting this post. And this one. Also a reader sends this useful point:
I have to admit, it had me spun up for about a half an hour, too. What did Bush know? When did he know it? Then I stopped and remembered... wait a minute! Didn't we already know that Bush knew about the potential of the hurricane in advance, because he made calls to Mayor Nagin asking him to make the evacuation call?
Where is the actual news, here?
The news is that the port-deal publicity is dying down, Iraq's not in a civil war, and we need something to fill the headlines with anti-Bush stuff.
a shamefully squalid organization whose corruption is almost impossible to exaggerate. If you think—as the media and the left do in this country—that Iraq is a God-awful mess (which it’s not), then try being the Balkans or Sudan or even Cyprus or anywhere where the problem’s been left to the United Nations. If you don’t want to bulk up your pension by skimming the Oil-for-Food program, no need to worry. Whatever your bag, the UN can find somewhere that suits—in West Africa, it’s Sex-for-Food, with aid workers demanding sexual services from locals as young as four; in Cambodia, it’s drug dealing; in Kenya, it’s the refugee extortion racket; in the Balkans, sex slaves. On a UN peace mission, everyone gets his piece.
posted at 07:40 AM by Glenn Reynolds
PUBLIUS LOOKS at the politics of the Iraqi shrine attack, the questionable role of Al Sadr, and the Iranian influence. Publius seems to have joined the rather large group of people who think that it is time for Sadr to go.
UPDATE: Here's more on the post-shrine attack fallout from StrategyPage. And Mickey Kaus pronounces the perennially doomsaying New York Times one of the major casualties of the attack. "I'm not saying Bill Keller's headline and lede writers were amping up the Iraq hysteria in order to manufacture another Tet. Maybe they just have no judgment or perspective."
The folks at the Times are lucky they've got Mickey to defend them!
posted at 07:13 AM by Glenn Reynolds
March 01, 2006
A DOUBLE-BARRELLED APPROACH: "Bill Clinton, former US president, advised top officials from Dubai two weeks ago on how to address growing US concerns over the acquisition of five US container terminals by DP World. It came even as his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, was leading efforts to derail the deal."
posted at 11:25 PM by Glenn Reynolds
MICKEY KAUS: "I notice my hits have been down a bit this week--must be the lack of Brokeback coverage."
PEOPLE OFTEN ASK where the moderate Muslims are, and why they don't stand up. Well, Tim Blair has noticed something:
The forbidden cartoons of Mohammadness have been published more widely in Muslim countries than in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada combined. In Malaysia alone, three newspapers ran images – compared to just two newspapers in Australia.
AMERICA'S NEWEST FRIEND: Jacques Chirac? "After five years of trying to build an anti-U.S. front with Germany—splitting Europe down the middle—the French president is reaching into his diplomatic toolbox and coming up with initiatives that are increasingly in tune with America's global agenda."
UPDATE: Jim Hoft emails that it's not just Chirac. He says that Silvio Berlusconi is shamelessly using President Bush to get votes.
ANOTHER UPDATE: A couple of readers complain that the update equates Chirac with Berlusconi, who's been a reliable friend all along. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise; I thought that it was interesting that Berlusconi thought Bush was worth votes at home, despite what we hear about US unpopularity in Europe.
I'm happy to say that the medical woes that my family has experienced haven't reached this caliber, but I'm sorry to say that I've learned many of the same things.
Speaking of which, if you're an oncologist and know something about spindle-cell sarcoma, I'd appreciate you dropping me a line. No it's not a problem in my immediate family, but it's a problem in my family nonetheless, alas.
There was a step 4 to the plan, by the way. That would be the violent takfiri "response" to the desired Shiite response to the shrine bombing. While that Shiite response was less than anticipated, the response of the media met the planners expectations to the point they could move forward anyway, so we're seeing elements of step 4 enacted now with continuing violence across Iraq. More people are dying, but no, you're not seeing civil war.
And don't offer undue credit to the American troops. You are seeing proof of what they all know to be true - violence is ongoing, but the Iraqis are increasingly capable of handling it themselves. A few more "civil wars" like this one and the troops will indeed be home.
He's particularly hard on the Washington Post's wildly inflated death toll.
A DARK SIDE OF THE ARMY OF DAVIDS? Yankee Muse reads the book and foresees an Army of Mohammeds. Well, as I note in the book, terrorism is an early bad manifestation of technology empowering individuals and small groups. Fortunately, that's not the whole story.
UPDATE: N.Z. Bear emails:
Quick reaction thought to the terrorism as Army of Davids-like --you're exactly right that terrorism was an early manifestation of a similar phenomenon. The key difference, however, is that while we have already seen what happens when destructive technologies become widely available (explosives, etc.), we are now seeing what happens when *constructive* technologies become highly distributed. We're already dealing with the bad side of the coin, now we're at least starting to see some of the good...
BILL STUNTZ says that Harvard is the General Motors of universities: "rich, bureaucratic, and confident--a deadly combination. Fifty years from now, Larry Summers's resignation will be known as the moment when Harvard embraced GM's fate."
UPDATE: Bad news for Harvard -- when you compare it to GM, the GM fans complain! Reader William Girardot emails:
I usually find myself agreeing with your commentary and even when I don't, your views are quite thought provoking. Unfortunately, your opinions on GM and its products don't fall into that category. GM's products, from its new offerings in the Cadillac line to its new convertible roadsters, are eye-catching automobiles that surpass most German engineered cars and are nearly the equal of the Japanese.
Well, it's the arrogant GM of several decades ago that Stuntz was invoking, not the much more eager to please GM of today.
Of course, it's worth noting that it's not just Harvard that's suffering from the problems that Stuntz points out.
ARMY OF DAVIDS UPDATE: Reader Don Hodun reports that his copy has arrived in Seattle: "Looks great!"
I had ordered from Barnes & Noble and that one arrived yesterday, but my Amazon test-order hasn't shown up yet. Since the book isn't officially out until next week, I imagine both shipments and bookstore appearances will be uneven for the next few days. But if you get a copy -- or see it in a bookstore -- let me know! Photos optional.
MAX BOOT: "ARE WE WINNING or losing in Iraq? Liberals and conservatives safe at home have no trouble formulating glib answers to that fundamental question. The former can always point to setbacks, the latter to successes. The picture becomes blurrier, the future murkier when you spend time in Iraq, as I did last week."
The administration believes Yale is lucky to have Hashemi. According to the New York Times, Yale had "another foreigner of Rahmatullah's caliber apply for special-student status." Said former Dean of Admissions Richard Shaw, "We lost him to Harvard. I don't want that to happen again." Who was the applicant? A member of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party? A protege of Robert Mugabe's?
Don't expect a word of protest from our feminist and gay groups, who now have in their midst a live remnant of one of the most misogynistic and homophobic regimes ever. They're busy hunting bogeymen like frat parties and single-sex bathrooms. The answer Hashemi gave five years ago when asked about the lack of women's rights in Afghanistan, "American women don't have the right not to find images of themselves in swimsuits on the side of a bus," is the sort of sophistry likely to curry favor among Yale's feminist activists, who make every effort to paint American society as chauvinistic while refraining from criticizing non-Western cultures. To do so would be "cultural imperialism," and we cannot have that at an enlightened place like Yale.
I personally want to know whether Hashemi supports the flattening of homosexuals via brick walls, which was one of the ways the Taliban dealt with gay men. Having written a newspaper column for nearly my entire time at Yale, I suspect some of my peers would like to see me flattened by a wall, but I doubt any of them served a regime that carried out such a practice as official policy.
WRITING IN FOREIGN POLICY,PHILLIP LONGMAN expounds on a theme that James Taranto has been sounding for a while: "Across the globe, people are choosing to have fewer children or none at all. Governments are desperate to halt the trend, but their influence seems to stop at the bedroom door. Are some societies destined to become extinct? Hardly. It’s more likely that conservatives will inherit the Earth. Like it or not, a growing proportion of the next generation will be born into families who believe that father knows best."
I'm somewhat skeptical of demographic arguments like this, but he's a serious guy.
IF YOU'RE IN THE D.C. AREA, I'll be doing a book launch program at the National Press Club on Monday at 6:30, co-sponsored by Reason and TCS Daily. Barry Lynn and Joe Trippi will be debating the whole "Army of Davids" concept with me.
IMPORTANT ADVICE ON PORT SECURITY from Frank J.: "Muslim extremists hate cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), so put an unflattering comic about Mohammed on your door. If anyone tries to kill you over it, treat that person with suspicion." He's got a lot more of 'em.
Last week the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra was blown apart. Sectarian riots followed, and reprisals and deaths ensued. Thugs and criminals came out of the woodwork to foment further violence. But instead of the apocalypse of an ensuing civil war, a curfew was enforced. Iraqi security forces stepped in with some success. Shaken Sunni and Shiite leaders appeared on television to urge restraint, and there appeared at least the semblance of reconciliation that may soon presage a viable coalition government.
But here at home you would have thought that our own capitol dome had exploded. Indeed, Americans more than the Iraqis needed such advice for calm to quiet our own frenzy. Almost before the golden shards of the mosque hit the pavement, pundits wrote off the war as lost--as we heard the tired metaphors of "final straw" and "camel's back" mindlessly repeated. The long-anticipated civil strife among Shiites and Sunnis, we were assured, was not merely imminent, but already well upon us. Then the great civil war sort of fizzled out; our own frenzy subsided; and now exhausted we await next week's new prescription of doom--apparently the hyped-up story of Arabs at our ports. That the Iraqi security forces are becoming bigger and better, that we have witnessed three successful elections, and that hundreds of brave American soldiers have died to get us to the brink of seeing an Iraqi government emerge was forgotten in a 24-hour news cycle.
Yesterday, I crisscrossed Baghdad, visiting communities on both banks of the Tigris and logging at least 25 miles on the streets. With the weekend curfew lifted, I saw traffic jams, booming business — and everyday life in abundance.
Yes, there were bombings yesterday. The terrorists won't give up on their dream of sectional strife, and know they can count on allies in the media as long as they keep the images of carnage coming. They'll keep on bombing. But Baghdad isn't London during the Blitz, and certainly not New York on 9/11. . . .
The bombing made headlines (and a news photographer just happened to be on the scene). Here in Baghdad, it just made the average Iraqis hate the terrorists even more.
You are being lied to. By elements in the media determined that Iraq must fail. Just give 'em the Bronx cheer.
Read the whole thing.
posted at 07:44 AM by Glenn Reynolds
AN EXTRAORDINARY ACT OF CIVIL OBEDIENCE: Some Atlanta students drive the speed limit and videotape the resulting mayhem. As one of them says, "I'm just glad nobody got hurt. It had the potential to be dangerous, which was really, again, the point. We were dangerous because we were obeying the law."
UPDAE: Alan, Esq. thinks that this was against the law, and there's an interesting discussion going on in the comments with some of the students.
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
Like all totalitarianisms, Islamism is nurtured by fears and frustrations. The hate preachers bet on these feelings in order to form battalions destined to impose a liberticidal and unegalitarian world. But we clearly and firmly state: nothing, not even despair, justifies the choice of obscurantism, totalitarianism and hatred. Islamism is a reactionary ideology which kills equality, freedom and secularism wherever it is present. Its success can only lead to a world of domination: man’s domination of woman, the Islamists’ domination of all the others. To counter this, we must assure universal rights to oppressed or discriminated people.
We reject « cultural relativism », which consists in accepting that men and women of Muslim culture should be deprived of the right to equality, freedom and secular values in the name of respect for cultures and traditions. We refuse to renounce our critical spirit out of fear of being accused of "Islamophobia", an unfortunate concept which confuses criticism of Islam as a religion with stigmatisation of its believers.
We plead for the universality of freedom of expression, so that a critical spirit may be exercised on all continents, against all abuses and all dogmas.
We appeal to democrats and free spirits of all countries that our century should be one of Enlightenment, not of obscurantism.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, from somilian origin, is member of Dutch parliement, member of the liberal party VVD. Writter of the film Submission which caused the assasination of Theo Van Gogh by an islamist in november 2004, she lives under police protection.
Chahla Chafiq, writer from iranian origin, exiled in France is a novelist and an essayist. She’s the author of "Le nouvel homme islamiste , la prison politique en Iran " (2002). She also wrote novels such as "Chemins et brouillard" (2005).
Essayist, editor in chief of Prochoix (a review who defend liberties against dogmatic and integrist ideologies), author of several reference books on « laicitй » and fanatism : Tirs Croisйs : la laпcitй а l’йpreuve des intйgrismes juif, chrйtien et musulman (with Fiammetta Venner), Frиre Tariq : discours, stratйgie et mйthode de Tariq Ramadan, et la Tentation obscurantiste (Grasset, 2005). She receieved the National prize of laicitй in 2005.
French philosoph, born in Algeria, engaged against all the XXth century « ism » (Fascism, antisemitism, totalitarism, terrorism), he is the author of La Barbarie а visage humain, L’Idйologie franзaise, La Puretй dangereuse, and more recently American Vertigo.
Irshad Manji is a Fellow at Yale University and the internationally best-selling author of "The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith" (en francais: "Musulmane Mais Libre"). She speaks out for free expression based on the Koran itself. Nйe en Ouganda, elle a fui ce pays avec sa famille musulmane d’origine indienne а l’вge de quatre ans et vit maintenant au Canada, oщ ses йmissions et ses livres connaissent un йnorme succиs.
Mehdi Mozaffari, professor from iranian origin and exiled in Denmark, is the author of several articles and books on islam and islamism such as : Authority in Islam: From Muhammad to Khomeini, Fatwa: Violence and Discourtesy and Glaobalization and Civilizations.
Writer, TV International English producer; Director of the Worker-communist Party of Iran’s International Relations; and 2005 winner of the National Secular Society’s Secularist of the Year award.
Taslima Nasreen is born in Bangladesh. Doctor, her positions defending women and minorities brought her in trouble with a comittee of integrist called « Destroy Taslima » and to be persecuted as « apostate »
Salman Rushdie is the author of nine novels, including Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses and, most recently, Shalimar the Clown. He has received many literary awards, including the Booker Prize, the Whitbread Prize for Best Novel, Germany’s Author of the Year Award, the European Union’s Aristeion Prize, the Budapest Grand Prize for Literature, the Premio Mantova, and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature. He is a Commandeur of the Ordre des Arts et Lettres, an Honorary Professor in the Humanities at M.I.T., and the president of PEN American Center. His books have been translated into over 40 languages.
Director of publication of Charlie Hebdo (Leftwing french newspaper who have republished the cartoons on the prophet Muhammad by solidarity with the danish citizens targeted by islamists).
Ibn Warraq , author notably of Why I am Not a Muslim ; Leaving Islam : Apostates Speak Out ; and The Origins of the Koran , is at present Research Fellow at a New York Institute conducting philological and historical research into the Origins of Islam and its Holy Book.
Born in Lebanon, christian, Antoine Sfeir choosed french nationality to live in an universalist and « laпc » (real secular) country. He is the director of Les cahiers de l’Orient and has published several reference books on islamism such as Les rйseaux d’Allah (2001) et Libertй, йgalitй, Islam : la Rйpublique face au communautarisme (2005).
The Glenn and Helen Show: Claire Berlinski on Europe
We interviewed Claire Berlinski, author of Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's, Too, about Europe, Muslim integration (and the lack thereof), and the political, diplomatic, and military consequences thereof. I think it's one of the most important books of the year, and that this is one of the most important podcast interviews we've done. Her advice to the White House and State Department on Europe: "Make contingency plans in case it all goes to hell, because it very well might."
There's also a podcast archive here, and there are low-bandwidth versions for dialup users, etc., here.
Music: "Too Many Goodbyes," by The Defenders of the Faith, from Original Sins, the first album I ever produced. That's the Insta-Brother, Jonathan Reynolds, on guitar along with Hector Qirko, and Doug Weinstein plays drums and Hammond organ.
In the days that followed the bombing of a sacred Shiite shrine, Iraq seemed within a hair's breadth of civil war. But an aggressive U.S. and Kurdish diplomatic campaign appears for now to have coaxed the country back from open conflict between Sunni Arabs and Shiites, according to Iraqi politicians and Western diplomats speaking in interviews on Monday.
In the southwest, where most of Iran's oil, and Arabs, are found, two bombs went off in government offices. There were four injuries. These bombings have been going on since last Summer. The government blames foreign instigators. That may be true, but not the British foreigners the government names, but Iraqi Shia Arabs who feel the connection with their fellow Shia Arabs across the border in Iran. Like the Iraqi Shia Arabs, the Iranian Shia Arabs have not gotten much from all the oil produced around them. The ethnic Iranians (an Indo-European people) control the oil, and the money it brings in. The 1980 war between Iran and Iraq was started when Saddam Hussein tried to "liberate" his fellow Arabs just across the border in Iran, along with the oil they were sitting on. Saddam already had a reputation for treating Shias badly, and Iran's Arabs remained loyal in resisting Saddam's army. But now, the situation is different. Shia Arabs are basically running Iraq. This bothers the non-Arab Iranians, and encourages the Arab Iranians.
There's also this:
Iran would also like to get rid of all the foreign spies. Increasingly, Iranian intelligence is getting reports of more foreigners offering money for information. This is a common intelligence gathering technique in the Middle East, where information is just another item to be bought, sold or bartered. In Iran, where smuggling has been big business for a long time, information is one of the items carried into, and out of, the country. Foreigners want to know about resistance to the government and attitudes towards Iran's nuclear weapons program.
Hmm. I wonder who is behind that.
posted at 03:55 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I'M ON WAMU talking about blogs, the ports, and An Army of Davids until 1:00. Follow the link to stream live.
And speaking of U.S. News, wouldn't it be funny if it used faculty blogging as a factor? There would be all these blogs by lawprofs trying to move their school up the rankings.
Indeed there would.
posted at 11:14 AM by Glenn Reynolds
THREATSWATCH looks at Iran's efforts to gain influence in the Middle East, which seem to be succeeding while the world is occupied with nuke rumors and cartoon wars:
But, typically, the nature of the Iranian nuclear program is not revealed by the UN agency tasked with investigating the crisis, but rather by the swirling events that continue to define it. And while the world remains affixed on the state of the Iranian nuclear countdown and the IAEA as it haplessly tries to get a fix on a moving target, the nature of the Iranian crisis transcends developments on the atomic front. . . .
While the Iranians are seemingly making little progress convincing the world of their ‘peaceful nuclear power program’ save for buying time, they are making considerable progress elsewhere throughout the region with visible, tangible gains in the Palestinian Territories, conditions inexplicably favorable in Lebanon, constant bloody tinkering in Iraq (especially through Basra) and a regional diplomatic ‘charm offensive’ ongoing.
Meanwhile, where it appears Iran is employing a short to mid-term regional strategy, the United States seems entrenched employing long-term strategies of seemingly endless UN-centered wrangling and funding supportive broadcasts into a largely immobile internal Iranian opposition.
I'm afraid that it's going to come to open military action against Iran, sooner rather than later.
‘Would you write the name you’d like to use here, and your real name there?” asked the girl at reception. I had just been driven to a hotel in the Hague. An hour earlier I’d been greeted at Amsterdam airport by a man holding a sign with a pre-agreed cipher. I hadn’t known where I would be staying, or where I would be speaking. The secrecy was necessary: I had come to Holland to talk about Islam. . . .
The event was scholarly, incisive and wide-ranging. There were no ranters or rabble-rousers, just an invited audience of academics, writers, politicians and sombre party members. As yet another example of Islam’s violent confrontation with the West (this time caused by cartoons) swept across the globe, we tried to discuss Islam as openly as we could. The Dutch security service in the Hague was among those who considered the threat to us for doing this as particularly high. The security status of the event was put at just one level below “national emergency”.
This may seem fantastic to people in Britain. But the story of Holland — which I have been charting for some years — should be noted by her allies. Where Holland has gone, Britain and the rest of Europe are following. The silencing happens bit by bit. A student paper in Britain that ran the Danish cartoons got pulped. A London magazine withdrew the cartoons from its website after the British police informed the editor they could not protect him, his staff, or his offices from attack. This happened only days before the police provided 500 officers to protect a “peaceful” Muslim protest in Trafalgar Square.
It seems the British police — who regularly provide protection for mosques (as they did after the 7/7 bombs) — were unable to send even one policeman to protect an organ of free speech. At the notorious London protests, Islamists were allowed to incite murder and bloodshed on the streets, but a passer-by objecting to these displays was threatened with detention for making trouble.
When other groups decide that the way to get favorable press is to use violence, those who have wimped out now will have no one to blame but themselves. As a reader emailed me a while back, what use is a free press if it doesn't believe in free speech?
People talk about Eurabia, but what's really happened is that Europe has become Weimarized, with governments and institutions too morally and intellectually weak to stand up for the principles they pretend to embody. And we know what that led to last time . . . .
BOINGBOING IS BANNED IN VARIOUS MIDDLE EASTERN COUNTRIES: Here's some advice on how to get around the censorware, but since it's on BoingBoing, and hence presumably blocked to the people who need it, I'm also reposting it below; I'm pretty sure the BoingBoing folks won't mind. [LATER: Xeni Jardin emails: "Mind???? We're thrilled!"] Click "read more" to read it.
What's really lame is that these countries, which include Iran, are using filtering software made by a United States company to block content. Selling the rope, and all that.
BOING BOING'S GUIDE TO DEFEATING CENSORWARE (see story here)
"The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." -- John Gilmore
If your employer or corrupt, undemocratic, dictator-based government uses a filtering service such as Secure Computing's SmartFilter to block access to BoingBoing.net, you can try the following workarounds:
Google can act as a lightweight, proxy-like tool for accessing forbidden sites -- but don't rely on this method for anonymity. Link.
The popular RSS reader Bloglines can offer lightweight help in some cases, too. Boing Boing reader Tom Jeziorny
says, "I work for a BIG financial services company that apparently uses (not-so-) SmartFilter because BoingBoing has recently become a forbidden site. I use Bloglines as my RSS reader so that I can access the blogs I read from work and home. It turns out that Bloglines is acting as sort of a proxy, since it connects to your RSS feed and not my computer, I'm still able to read BoingBoing at work. Since you publish the full text of your entries in your feeds I'm not missing much, though any photos linked directly from your site are edited out."
A group called Peacefire created proxy software called Circumventor to bypass censorware. Install this software on your home computer and allow others to use your proxy to access the web, or use your proxy from work or school to access any web site. (Thanks, Sean!)
"For 90% of users in the USA affected by SmartFilter, there is no reason to use anything but Circumventor. The reasons are:
1) It's simple to set up. Just run three simple point-and-click installers. We even have a wizard that comes up automatically to help you set up port forwarding on your router if you've never done it before.
2) You are not required to install anything on the "censored" computer, you just bring a URL in with you to work.
3) It works even if the censored network blocks direct connections to IP addresses outside the network (which would break some of the other solutions recommended in this guide).
"If you're in Iran, Saudi Arabia, or some other country censored by SmartFilter, then your best choices are (a) TOR, or (b) use a Circumventor if you can get someone in a "free country" to set one up for you. (The reason Circumventor works for 90% of workplace-filtered users in the U.S. is that they can almost always set it up on their home computer and take the URL in with them. But not everybody in a censored *country* has someone outside who can help them.)
"Circumventor is the *only* method (as far as I know) that will work reliably on computers where people are blocked from installing their own software (or even changing proxy settings) -- because after you install it on your home computer, all it gives you is a URL, and you can take that URL in with you to work and use it whenever you want. Many people in workplaces and libraries are blocked from installing software on their computers. Or even if they could, it would be a definite 'smoking gun' if anyone noticed that the software had been installed; whereas our software leaves fewer traces. (There is a 'smoking gun' in the form of a URL in the URL history, but that's much less likely to be noticed than a TOR icon on your desktop!)"
says, "This cgi-bin script is the guts inside Peacefire's Circumventor - a Perl CGI script that proxys for you. While Circumventor is a full script to get it working under Win2k/XP, the cgiproxy script alone lets you get it going on Linux and (presumeably) Mac OSX. And the best part - the setup is dirt simple - if you're already running a web server, pretty much just drop it in your cgi-bin directory.
Access the TOR network. The more people who run Tor servers, the faster and more anonymous the network becomes.
Using an SSH tunnel, VPN, or anonymous overlay to an unfiltered network is widely considered to be the best way to protect yourself while accessing "prohibited" content. (Thanks, chris)
Chris says, "There is a new option in OpenSSH that allows for ethernet level tunneling using the kernel's TUN interface. This is probably the most powerful solution if you have access to a friendly system to use as the end point of the tunnel. Manual for ssh, see -w option: Link. For ssh_config, see Tunnel option: Link. And one more way to use SSH as a tunnel is to with SOCKS: Link. osx example script: Link.
For BoingBoing readers in the UAE or Qatar, or other countries where BoingBoing is blocked, one anonymous reader tells us: "There is an internet via satellite called OPENSKY sold through www.broadsat.com which goes around these problems. Using VPN with normal dialup, the signal gets sent back from Europe, so, uncensored. Works really well and is cheap!"
Ben says, "You can also set your home computer up for remote access. Windows XP has the components built in. If you run XP at home it will take you about 30 min to set up. You can find instructions here. Once you set up remote access you can use Zone Edit freeware to set up a static IP, even if you are on a cable modem. If you really want to go all out register a website for $5 and have that point to the Zone Edit IP address. I can hit my home computer from anywhere with web access, and have its full functionality, including censor-free web browsing."
says, "This is how I dodged Etisalat's (The UAE ISP and telco) proxy-server blacklist. It is only really useful for text-rich sites since it involves using Lynx a text browser."
says, "It's a pain to know that countries and companies alike are blocking and censoring sites like Boing Boing. I face this at my office everyday. I've mentioned two ways on my site by which you can bypass these proxies and filters safely and securely without breaking any rules or arousing the network admin's suspicions." Link
If possible, ask your system administrator to whitelist BoingBoing.net. Sometimes network admins leave all the defaults on when they install enterprise filtering software. If they're using SmartFilter, for example, the admin can selectively allow the BoingBoing.net domain, while keeping the rest of the entries for the "blocked" category in which BoingBoing is listed. Bribing your sysadmin with cartons of Skittles and Red Bull may expedite this option. (Thanks, mcsey!)
Maybe you've heard: Blogs are a vanishing fad -- this year's digital Pet Rock. Or a business bubble about to pop. Or a sucker's bet for new-media fame seekers.
Recent weeks have seen the rise of a cottage industry in Whither Blogging? articles. New York magazine cast cold water on newly minted bloggers' dreams with an examination of the divide between a handful of A-list blogs and countless B-list and C-list blogs that can't get much traffic no matter how hard their creators work. Slate's Daniel Gross spotlighted signs that blogs may have peaked as a business. And a much-discussed poll from Gallup concluded that growth in U.S. blog readers was "somewhere between nil and negative." From there it was off to the races, with all manner of commentators weighing in, led by the Chicago Tribune, which smirked its way through an anti-blogging editorial that got Mr. Gross's name wrong while taking odd potshots at Al Gore and snowboarding.
Reports of blogging's demise are bosh, but if we're lucky, something else really is going away: the by-turns overheated and uninformed obsession with blogging. Which would be just fine, because it would let blogging become what it was always destined to be: just another digital technology and method of communication, one with plenty to offer but no particular claim to revolution.
He's mostly right. Blogging isn't so much a revolution in itself as a symptom of a larger revolution. You can read my thoughts on blogs in particular here.
The reason I have written so copiously on this subject -- not the cartoons themselves, but what I have called the “organized apoplexy” in response to them -- is because it is important. In my judgement, it is the most important thing that has happened since the Al Qaeda attack on the United States, in 2001. It is important in combination with other fast-developing events, including the victory of the openly terrorist Hamas in a Palestinian election; Iran’s public promise to “wipe Israel off the map”; collapsing public order in Pakistan, Nigeria, and elsewhere; the recent Muslim riots, and continuing low-level Intifada in France; and now the destruction of the Golden Mosque in Samarra, triggering vicious sectarian strife in Iraq. And quite literally, hundreds of lesser events of the same nature -- each revealing an Islamic world in combustion, and a West retreating into contrived apologies and other confused gestures of cowardice and panic.
One cannot keep up with all these events -- the wheels of history are turning too quickly. The world in which we will find ourselves, a few years hence, will not resemble the world we inhabited a few years ago. Yet this is among the few predictions that can be safely made.
Vladimir Bukovksy, the 63-year old former Soviet dissident, fears that the European Union is on its way to becoming another Soviet Union. In a speech he delivered in Brussels last week Mr Bukovsky called the EU a “monster” that must be destroyed, the sooner the better, before it develops into a fullfledged totalitarian state.
I doubt the E.U. will last long enough for that. I certainly hope that it straightens out, though.
EUGENE VOLOKH NOTES a new opinion on the right to keep and bear arms by the Kentucky Supreme Court, in Posey v. State. (Big pdf file). I haven't had time to read the whole thing yet (it's 64 pages) but it looks pretty interesting.
posted at 09:08 PM by Glenn Reynolds
I HAVE A NEW BLOGCHILD: "I must admit, although I've read many blogs recently, I never considered starting a blog of my own until I caught Glenn Reynolds, the creator of Instapundit, on C-SPAN yesterday."
posted at 08:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THIS LOOKS LIKE A NON-STORY: Lots of people are talking about this AP story, which scarily begins:
Citing broad gaps in U.S. intelligence, the Coast Guard cautioned the Bush administration weeks ago that it could not determine whether a United Arab Emirates-based company seeking a stake in some U.S. port operations might support terrorist operations.
Of course, Rob Port notes that further on the same story says:
The Coast Guard said the concerns reflected in the document ultimately were addressed. In a statement, the Coast Guard said other U.S. intelligence agencies were able to provide answers to the questions it raised.
ROGER SIMON joins those with questions about Yale's admissions policies.
posted at 03:35 PM by Glenn Reynolds
THE MUDVILLE GAZETTE notes an overlooked third party in the ports imbroglio.
posted at 01:59 PM by Glenn Reynolds
ARMY OF DAVIDS ARRIVES: Reader Dusty Loy emails: "Arrived from Barnes and Noble 15 minutes ago, can't wait to read it!" I guess those other reports were right.
Meanwhile my publisher emails: "Army of Davids is Amazon's no. 1 business preorder." Cool.
posted at 01:39 PM by Glenn Reynolds
JAMES JOYNER thinks there may be an upside to Iraqi civil war. Hmm. Mickey Kaus said the same thing a while back, but as I've noted here before, I think it's better off avoided. This kind of thinking reminds me of Josh Marshall's worries in 2003 that we didn't kill enough Iraqis to ensure stable government postwar. Of course, some people today might say he was right about that, though I haven't noticed any I-told-you-sos on this account from Josh.
FORGET THE PORTS: "Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday's New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far. . . . 'In some ways,' Mr. Rahmatullah told the New York Times. 'I'm the luckiest person in the world. I could have ended up in Guantanamo Bay. Instead I ended up at Yale.'"
Unless things have improved since I was there, however, the food will be inferior to Guantanamo's. I wonder if he attends Yale's famous naked parties. If so, someone should save pictures.
posted at 08:09 AM by Glenn Reynolds
IT'S NOT OFFICIALLY OUT FOR A WEEK, but An Army of Davids is apparently starting to ship from Amazon. At least, several readers have gotten emails from Amazon saying that their copies have shipped.
UPDATE: Another reader writes: "FYI, it's also shipping from Barnes & Noble if I'm to believe their E-mail."
ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Stephen Keating emails: "It's in Books a Million in Reston already."
Ask for it at your bookstore! Maybe I should do like Scalzi and ask for people to send in photos. . . .
Proponents of single-payer health care reform in the United States have long pointed toward Canada as a model for the US to emulate.
The New York Times reports that the Canadian system is imploding. A recent Candian Supreme Court decision allowed private health care (oh, the shame, the horror) and as a result, Canadians tired of waiting for radiation therapy, eye surgery and hip replacements have turned toward private alternatives springing up under the new legal environment.
Read the whole thing. Evan Coyne Maloney and Stuart Browning had better finish their film on the Canadian health system fast.
posted at 07:13 AM by Glenn Reynolds
February 26, 2006
JEFF JARVIS goes from a BBC reporter's thoughts on American politics to some thoughts on the impact of different media:
But perhaps it’s not the use or control of the media but, instead, the appropriateness of the message for the medium of the time. Cue McLuhan.
Broadcasting — sermonizing — to the masses was, then, inherently liberal.
Narrowcasting — ranting — on cable is better for the conservatives.
But what about the internet? It’s tailor-made for the libertarians. The internet is the embodiment of individual liberty, the great product and celebration of freedom.
When blogs started, I wondered why so many bloggers seemed to be libertarian, why they gathered in this medium in apparently disproportionate numbers. That’s obvious to me now. They have found their home. They have the message and the medium for it. But they’re just as disorganized as the Democrats and the Republicans. It’s not just about Democratic disarray. It’s about a benign anarchy sweeping the politics of the land.
There's an old joke: "How many libertarians does it take to change a lightbulb? Only one, but you've got to get him to show up."
HERE'S AN INTERESTING BIT from the transcript I just got in the mail from CNN. It's the Iraqi National Security Adviser, on "Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer."
On who is responsible for the recent bombing of the Golden Mosque in Samarra
MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE: The blueprint of that unfortunate event, the blueprints of al Qaeda in Iraq is that. It’s the same design, the same methods, the same objectives they want to achieve, which is a civil war. They wanted to drive a wedge between the two communities in Iraq, between the Shia and Sunnis. And they've been trying this for the last two and a half years. And they failed miserably in this.
And I think also this is one of the most horrible, really terrible attacks on the doctrine, on the belief of the largest community in Iraq. And still, Iraqi people have proven that they've gone through this difficulty, yet again, and they have shown the al Qaeda and the outside world that they will never be driven to the civil war.
BLITZER: So when you saw al Qaeda in Iraq, you mean Abu Musab al- Zarqawi? Is that right?
AL-RUBAIE: That's absolutely right. It's the same organization of al Qaeda, this international terrorist organization, and one -- the branch office in Iraq is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi leading this -- this terrible attack, terrorist attack against our people.
On whether any individuals have been arrested for the bombing
AL-RUBAIE: We have arrested 10 people. Four from the guards of the Golden Tomb shrine. And six -- there were in the city of Samarra, just moved in and rented a place. Six young people there. So we are investigating then. We are very -- there are two leads, and these leads are very, very good in our investigations. And we will reveal this in the very near future at Jala (ph).
I wonder if the trail will lead back to Iran.
posted at 07:57 PM by Glenn Reynolds
RIOTS IN DUBLIN were covered by Irish bloggers, here,here and here. Lots of photos and firsthand reportage.
Tens of thousands of people have marched through Paris to protest against racism and anti-Semitism after the kidnap and murder of a young Jew. Ilan Halimi, 23, was found naked with horrific injuries, three weeks after he was kidnapped by an extortion gang. . . .
Among those at Sunday's rally were members of the government and the opposition, Jewish and anti-racism campaigners, and leaders of the Jewish and other religious communities.
Worried as I am, I haven't written Europe off yet. As Roger Simon observes: "This may not equal the crowds they muster for a transit workers strike, but let's hope this marks a new resistance to racism and anti-Semitism in France."
MEDIA OVERLOAD: I'll be on Brian Lamb's Q&A on C-SPAN tonight at 8 pm Eastern. I think it reruns at 11.
If you're tired of hearing about me, An Army of Davids, etc., well, I guess I don't blame you. It'll settle down in a couple of weeks, unless a miracle occurs and the book becomes a bestseller, in which case it'll settle down in a couple of more weeks after that.
In five years' time, how many Jews will be living in France? Two years ago, a 23-year-old Paris disc jockey called Sebastien Selam was heading off to work from his parents' apartment when he was jumped in the parking garage by his Muslim neighbor Adel. Selam's throat was slit twice, to the point of near-decapitation; his face was ripped off with a fork; and his eyes were gouged out. Adel climbed the stairs of the apartment house dripping blood and yelling, "I have killed my Jew. I will go to heaven."
Is that an gripping story? You'd think so. Particularly when, in the same city, on the same night, a Jewish woman was brutally murdered in the presence of her daughter by another Muslim. You've got the making of a mini-trend there, and the media love trends.
Yet no major French newspaper carried the story.
This month, there was another murder. Ilan Halimi, also 23, also Jewish, was found by a railway track outside Paris with burns and knife wounds all over his body. He died en route to the hospital, having been held prisoner, hooded and naked, and brutally tortured for almost three weeks by a gang that had demanded half a million dollars from his family. Can you take a wild guess at the particular identity of the gang? During the ransom phone calls, his uncle reported that they were made to listen to Ilan's screams as he was being burned while his torturers read out verses from the Quran.
This time around, the French media did carry the story, yet every public official insisted there was no anti-Jewish element.
I've linked 'em before, but you can read Brad Miner's interviews with Bawer and Berlinski online. We recorded a podcast interview with Berlinski the other day, and it'll be up probably on Tuesday.
posted at 11:53 AM by Glenn Reynolds
GPS UPDATE: In response to a reader question yesterday, reader Bobby Sayer emails:
In response to a reader's request for in-car GPS info...I'd recommend TomTom's products. I'm using their "TomTom Navigator 5" software for my Windows Mobile phone (Cingular 8125), and so far it's been pretty good. The software comes with a rechargable Bluetooth GPS module for $300, though you could probably find it cheaper online. If you don't have a Windows Mobile or Palm device, TomTom's GO 300 and 700 are pretty sweet as well.
My brother has a handheld GPS that he likes a lot, but I'm not sure of the model. I don't own one. Heck, I don't even own a TiVo -- and when I tried to get a DirecTV TiVo-equivalent I discovered that they don't offer a model that will burn DVDs, which sucks, so I probably won't own one any time soon.
posted at 11:28 AM by Glenn Reynolds
I'LL BE ON CNN'S RELIABLE SOURCES at about 10:15 Eastern, talking about the ports imbroglio, events in Iraq, and more.
JOHN HINDERAKER: "Actually, I think this kind of conflict is a good thing: the plain vanilla ad man slogan vs. the early 19th century challenge. Personally, I'm with General Stark."
posted at 07:43 AM by Glenn Reynolds
WHILE THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PEDIATRICS DESERVES SOME PUSHBACK on its irritating and intrusive stance regarding guns, I agree with Eugene Volokh that laws to ban pediatricians asking about guns are a clear First Amendment violation.