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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

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RIAA blow back

Pacific Bell Internet Services (PBIS), operated by telecommunications giant SBC Communications, challenged the subpoenas served against it by the RIAA on procedural grounds, arguing that hundreds of them were served improperly.
link cnet news
The validity of this challenge is not nearly so significant as the fact it is being made. The basic premise of the RIAA subpoenas was litigation in terrorum. The RIAA knows it will lose the bulk of the cases it takes to Court and is very unlikely to get 40 million dollars from my thirteen year old. The idea is to scare the living daylights out of Mr. and Mrs. Middle America so they unplug junior's modem.

It was a lame idea to begin with and a measure of just how desperate the aging moguls of music are to keep acting as unnecessary middlemen for really, really pathetic mainstream acts. It was a pretty sure bet that most of the folks whose names were being sought would have no idea how to defend themselves if they were hauled into Court and that the RIAA could count on any number of bloodless victories. As those rolled up, I suspect the RIAA brain trust figured that more and more kids and parents would get "the message".

But once Pactel decided to challenge the subpoenas that little fantasy went poof. Pactel can outlawyer the RIAA and outspend them. But the RIAA cannot afford to lose even once. If they do their lack of legal clothing will be fully exposed and the whole in terrorum campaign is legal road kill.

Once people understand just how shaky the entire RIAA case is from a procedural and evidentiary perspective - prove which songs on my hard drive I do no have CDs for, prove that you do, in fact have clear title to the copyright to my 1963 Islely Brothers tune, and so on - they will actually fight back. Terrorized no longer.

Good for Pactel.


Calgary's very own Mullah

Following a fatwa issued in the Holy City of Rome the Bishop of Calgary, Fred Henry called down a curse on the errant Prime Minister of Canada. He warned
that Mr. Chrétien could be doomed to burn in hell if he allows same-sex legislation to become legal in Canada.
the globe and mail
Fifty years ago this might have mattered. Now it is simply laughable. The sad part about it is that, as Andrew Sullivan points out today there is a strong possiblity that the next Pope may be even less humane than this one. It is a very sad day for the Catholic Church when they forget the teaching of Jesus and reach back to the Old Testament for a message of hatred.


At the risk of being called racist

White flight is ghettoizing Britain’s cities and fragmenting communities. A totally unpublicised report commissioned by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister last year found that white flight was now a leading cause of internal migration in the UK. In London as a whole, white Britons account for just 60 per cent of the population, and for fewer than half the population in six London boroughs. Mass immigration from the Third World to the cities exacerbates white flight, but the government refuses to face up to the consequences. Professor Robert Putnam, author of the celebrated Bowling Alone, which is about the decline of community spirit in the US, has found that the more ethnically diverse a population, the less sense of community there is.
link the spectator
As Anthony Browne points out in the Spectator objecting to mass immigration or even noticing its transformative effects will get you called racist in England. In Canada too. What is interesting is that the situation in England is the result of Third World immigration whereas Canada has been more selective. (And had few Commonwealth obligations.)

However, the strains which mass non-English speaking immigration has placed on the civility of Canadians has been extraordinary. Whether or not the experiment has been worth it - other than ensuring an almost permenant Liberal Party majority and, thus, a permanent commitment to mass immigration - is a question my kids are going to have to answer. For the moment I will simply note that Vancouver has been ghettoized and enclaved. There has been massive white flight to the burbs and the dirty little secret of bilingual schools - no ESL therefore no Chinese - is passed from family to family. I rather think that multi-culturalism other than as a statement of earnest hope is a myth. Seldom do you see a white face at a Hong Kong Television live concert or a Chinese one at a Sikh festival.

Politically, however, continued massive immigration will remain a sacred cow and anyone suggesting that it might be a good idea to take a decade long breather and let everyone settle in will be denouced as a racist. The poor Alliance candidate who dared to mention that the absurd increases in Vancouver house prices had something to do with mass Asian immigration has to resign her candidacy.

All of which is a shame because it is well past time to ask about the real costs of mass immigration.


Mark Steyn - the National Post's greatest loss - is just devastating and funny obout Liberia and the surrounding swamps.
To most people in Britain, colonial Africa isn’t that long ago. It’s only a little over three decades since the Queen was Sierra Leone’s first post-independence head of state. But, in a land where male life-expectancy is 32, who remembers the late Sixties? Who remembers district commissioners and functioning schools and non-psychopathic police forces? These are cultures that, except for a few quaintly revived traditions like genital-eating, exist more and more completely in a present-tense dystopia. In the Atlantic Monthly a few years back, casting around for a phrase to describe the ‘citizens’ of such ‘states’, Robert D. Kaplan called them ‘re-primitivised man’. Demographic growth, environmental devastation, accelerated urbanisation and civic decay have reduced them to a far more primitive state than their parents and grandparents.
link et seq. the spectator
And this
I’m an imperialist, and right now no one could use a little imperialism more than Africa. The British insertion into Sierra Leone was a good thing; Ivory Coast is on balance better off with the French on the ground. Why shouldn’t the Americans also have a little piece of the West African mosquito swamp?

Rock on

Meanwhile, organizers will be mulling over the international media coverage which was, arguably, the raison d'etre of the whole exercise, in order to get tourists back to T.O.

But there was no mention on the major U.S. networks' supper-hour newscasts Wednesday. CNN provided sporadic coverage and it was all largely ignored by Britain's major TV newscasts and daily papers. The Financial Times printed a story on page 7.

The New York Times published an article under the headline "Toronto turns on rock to drown out SARS fears." The Associated Press and Reuters news agencies provided similar coverage.
link the national post
Only in Canada would people worry about international coverage of a rock concert which, apparently, went brilliantly. Seriously, who cares what page of the Financial Times the concert was on.

Mozilla Firebird

For some reason my Explorer simply disappeared from my system about a month ago and I have been using a build of Mozilla ever since....but it was slow and took forever to load. Downloaded Firebird tonight. It is a pure browser, kills popups, loads in less than ten seconds and is a treat to use.

The Fence

Now the fence, one-fourth completed, provides what Sharon sees as not only more security for all Israelis but also as an incentive to Palestinians to make peace.

"Tens of thousands of Arabs had been infiltrating illegally into Israel," he told me after his meeting with President Bush this week. "A minority are involved in terror. That's a dangerous development and has to be stopped."

Beyond the physical barrier is the chance to change the diplomatic dynamic: "Arafat's strategy is to make terror a part of political negotiation. When you don't get all you want, you use terror ? you start an intifada. The security fence, when it is finished, will close off this strategy. Losing this negotiating weapon bothers them."
link et seq. safire nyt
So long as Abbas refuses to get on with the job of disarming the terrorists and dismantling the infrastructure which supports them, the Israelis are going to keep building the fence. Which just screws the majority of Palestinians who are not terrorists and are dependent upon the only real economy in the Middle East for work. Which is too bad but which is not Israel's fault.

If and when the PA realizes that terror is not getting it anywhere it is just possible that the fence will be less important. For now it is a fact on the ground build in response to the bombings and the shootings which the Palestinians and their supporters seem to think are part of a negotiating strategy. They are wrong.

Culture Clash

We refuse the appointment of a woman judge, because it contradicts Islamic law," said Rajiha al-Amidi, one of the women in the group protesting the appointment. "This is what the Americans wanted to achieve in the first place with their invasion, to undermine Islam."

A woman cannot be a judge, she explained, because "women are always ruled by their emotions."
link et seq. nyt
Superficially this is absurd. However, the law, whether in Canada or Iraq, a judge has to hold the respect of the community. Appointing a female judge in the face of no less than three Shi'ite fatwas was not going to work.

The Colonel who pulled the appointment will likely catch some flak but he did the right thing. It will take years before Shi'ite Iraqis will accept and respect a female judge.Their loss. The American lawyer advising in the appointment learned a stiffish lesson.
"I don't think that government institutions should be controlled by religious organizations," she said. "I was under the impression that Iraq was going to have a secular government. I might have been wrong."


Gimme Shelter

Pop star Justin Timberlake got a few boos, but also a lot of cheers from the crowd as the evening program of the concert started.
link et seq. cbc
Timberlake was indeed a little out of place at Torontostock 2003.
Later, Timberlake said the crowd's reaction was understandable.
"If I came to see AC/DC, I wouldn't want to see me, either," he told reporters.


A pair of major music labels have been hit with another round of price-fixing charges courtesy of the FTC - a decision which raises the question as to who exactly is to blame for falling music revenue.

In a unanimous decision, members of the U.S. FTC (Federal Trade Comission) chastised Vivendi Universal and Warner Communications for restricting competition in the sale of "The Three Tenors" - Jose Carreras, Placido Domingo, and Luciano Pavarotti - audio and video products. It seems that PolyGram (a company later bought by Vivendi) conspired with Warner "to curb discounting and advertising to boost sales of recordings that the two companies jointly had distributed based on the tenors' concert in Paris during the 1998 soccer World Cup."
link et seq. the register
This is not the sort of behaviour which creates much sympathy as the RIAA goes out to sue P2P users.

SoCons beaten back

The Montgomery County Society for the Prevention of Vice and the Promotion of Virtue, aka the Christian conservative Republican Leadership Council, was defeated in its attempt to divy the books in the Montgomery County Library with some wacky sort of rating system. they also lost in their attempt to end the Montgomery County Library's membership in the American Library Association. The ALA was described as "atheistic, communistic and supportive of homosexuality".
Apparently the ALA opponents are particularily worked up about,
an ALA-endorsed children's sex-education work, It's Perfectly Normal, that became a lightning rod for library bond foes last fall. The book, and others like it, was criticized, removed from the shelves, reviewed by a public panel, then returned to circulation late last year.
link et seq. houston chronicle
Imagine, as resident Jennifer Breedlove does,
"While reading The Cat in the Hat to my 3-year-old, I should not have to worry about my 5-year-old wandering off to pick up a book on human sexuality,"
You can't make this stuff up.

Smug, us...never

Iraq is a much harder nut to crack, but there too are some encouraging signs. With the UN-backed governing council now in place, the way is open for a European role in reconstruction efforts specialising in education, health and institutions, the sort of nation-building that the US knows little about.
the guardian
It is difficult to imagine why Ian Black seems to think that the Americans know little about education, health and institutions. They may know very little about the glories of British comprehensive schools or French bureaucracy or the miracle of the National Health; but they seem to shamble along fairly well.

Saddam confirms

Many Iraqis, especially Saddam the brothers were indeed dead. Many Iraqis, especially Saddam supporters, believed the story of the brothers' killing was created by the US to demoralize opponents of their occupation of Iraq. This was before a July29 th audiotape, attributed to Saddam, which acknowledged the sons' death.
link et seq Al Bawaba
In an otherwise loathsome article Al Bawada points out that Saddam has confirmed the death of his sons thus putting an end to the loony speculation that the pics were of body doubles.

With the bizarre double standards the Middle Eastern media tends to display the article goes on to condem the fact the US displayed the bodies,
This lack of respect towards the bodies of Uday and Qusay is This lack of respect towards the bodies of Uday and Qusay is especially frustrating, when one examines the manner in which Islam treats the bodies of its enemies. Islam has categorically prohibited its followers from disgracing or mutilating the corpses of their enemies and calls for the humane treatment of the dead and wounded.

One would have a bit more sympathy with this had Al Jazeera not shown 24/7 coverage of US soldiers bodies in full bloody camoflage with bullet wounds to the head.


France? Mais non

The president of the French travel agents’ union has estimated the number of American visitors plunged by up to 80 per cent in the first half of 2003 compared to the same period in 2002, when some four million US tourists came to France.
link the scotsman
The French Ministry of Tourism is saying 30% in the first quarter...but they would. Americans know who their friends are. The only thing saving Canada from the same fate is, well, France.

DARPA Terror Futures Market Cancelled

The DARPA Terror Futures Market Project has apparently been cancelled due to pressure from the nitwits in the American Congress. I say nitwits advisedly.

The fact is that a futures market used to predict future terrorist and geopolitical events already exists. Running a futures market out of DARPA would give the US government another insight into how the world is unfolding. The science behind such markets, whether they use real money or play money, is fairly well understood. More to the point, if the market took off there is every possiblity that greedy terrorists and their backers might bet on "sure things".

At the horse race track, occasionally, a long shot will suddenly have its odds shorten. The "stable money", money bet by agents working for corrupt jockeys and trainers, is dumped on a horse which, big surprise, wins. It does not happen often at a well regulated track but it does happen. If the same thing occurred on a terror futures market it would be one more bit of data which could be used to fight terrorism. Why the Congress would object beats me...

Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who learned about PAM in the newspapers this morning, has assured Congress that he had been "shocked" and that the program, which was supposed to start registering traders Aug 1st, was being terminated.
Normally I would have counted on Wolfowitz, who is no enemy of math and games theory - his father was a mathematician and he was a disciple of Albert Wohstetter a mathematical logician at the University of Chicago - to tell the Senators just how silly they were being. Which suggests that John Poindexter's gift for firmly alienating supporters and enemies alike is still flourishing.

Panic in the House of Saud?

Yesterday's New York Times carried the story that the Saudi foreign Minister was on his way to Washington to meet with President Bush. The general buzz seems to be that the Saudis are concerned that the 28 pages of the Congressional Report on 9/11.

But, in a strange twist, the Saudi government has asked the Whitehouse to declassify the 28 censored pages of the report.
Prince Bandar said in a statement last week that "28 blanked-out pages are being used by some to malign our country and our people."
"Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide," he said after the declassified version of the report was released Thursday. "We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages."
link msnbc
Despite this the Administration is refusing to declassify the section.

Apparently the FBI wants it kept under wraps for the moment as it may compromise ongoing investigations. Of course the natural question is "investigations of whom".

Advice for Democrats

Sitting up in Canada I am astonished at the sheer inability of the Democrats to realize that the neo-con agenda has, in fact, become the long term strategy for foreign policy in the States.

And, I might add, it is the Democrats' own fault for effectively eliminating the Scoop Jackson/Sam Nunn side of the party. That particular chicken came home to roost on 9/11. There was simply no effective Democratic response other than the nitwits suggesting that this was all America's fault. Most of America knew it was nothing of the sort and when they looked the only people they saw taking leadership were Republicans.

Three things the Democrats should do right now to get back in the game:

1) State that getting rid of Saddam was an absolutely good thing - with or without WMDs.
2) Get away from the "liar, liar, pants on fire" rhetoric which is clearly getting them no where outside their core supporters.
3) Shift focus away from the Bush foreign policy - where he has done a remarkable job - and onto the economy and the deficit where he's been asleep at the switch.

In the immortal words of Jimmy Carville as he took down Bush I "It's the economy stupid."


David Warren on War

It never, ever makes sense to follow civilized rules when your enemy does not play by them. As Lee Harris has recently so cogently argued from the philosophical side, and Robert D. Kaplan and others have spelled out in practical detail, this is an ages-old issue in the defence of civilization itself. The enemies of civilization must be given no quarter; there can be no "rules" beyond the frontier; the purpose of engagement is not to win friends and popularity. It is instead to find and utterly annihilate the enemy -- in this case all those secular and religious "Islamists" dedicated to our own destruction.

There are no fine points of procedure, and excessive compunction about "collateral damage" is a surrender to the other side. The balance of terror must remain with us: those hesitating to take our side must learn that hesitation is fatal. Nor can we wait for the kind of evidence acceptable in a courtroom, before acting upon each threat. As long as civilization has existed, it has survived by doing the necessary against savages who threaten from its frontiers. It has engaged them there, in order to avoid being unable to engage them in the middle of Imperial Rome, or the middle of Manhattan.
link david warren
Gradually there is a consensus forming as to what must be done in the War on Terrorism. It is a consensus which does not, unfortunately, include much of the mainstream media simply because it treats the war seriously. A serious war is well beyond the comprehension of the generation '68 types who sit on editorial boards these days.

What Warren and Kaplan and Lee Harris recognize is that this really is a cultural collision, a clash of civilizations. It is not politically correct to say so but the West - even the French - is coming under increasing pressure from a radicalized religious minority which can promise salvation to its martyrs. And that fringe is supported by a despondent and largely ignorant mass throughout the Islamic world. Hope is replaced by jihad, reason with fatwa, education with madrases and progress with a nostalgia for the distant past when Islamic and culture was not an oxymoron.

Fighting the terrorists is the pointy end: the real war is to disrupt and destroy the decayed Islamic cultures which keep their people in medieval ignorance. Iraq was a start. Saudi should, by rights, be next but that honour will fall to Iran. I say honour because Iran has every chance of sending the nuclear mullahs packing without outside intervention. But, in every case the West needs to promote the moderate and destabilized the medieval. Our own interests demand no less.

Lord Black set'em straight

Conrad Black writing in the Telegraph:
The BBC is pathologically hostile to the government and official opposition, most British institutions, American policy in almost every field, Israel, moderation in Ireland, all western religions, and most manifestations of the free market economy.
link et seq the guardian
He points out that Alastair Campbell may have facilitated the pretence of the BBC "masquerading as the officially persecuted voice of truth against the government." But goes on to note that Campbell's job is to promote the interests of Tony Blair. It is not the BBC's to rip into those interests.

Quick, let's send money to Abbas

In a somewhat off the wall interview with the Washington Post Mahmoud Abbas - who I am sick of hearing is aka Abu Mazen, I mean why could it possibly matter - came up with this excellent analysis of the effects of the regime change in Iraq.
What lessons do you draw from the U.S. operation in Iraq? Reportedly, Iraq was sending money to the territories.

They [the Iraqis] did send money. I think [the Palestinians] should be compensated by the international community because Iraq sent the money for social aims, for social affairs. So we need the money for social affairs, for the victims and for the martyrs.
Hello...those are the martyrs who strap on the bomb jackets and order a pizza or get on a bus.

I am increasingly convinced that Bush knows exactly how lame Abbas and the PA are and realizes that a completely new plan to end terrorism in Israel is required. The unilateral annexation of the West Bank and Gaza by Jordan with Israeli and American backing seems to be the next stop. It is very clear that Abbas has neither the will nor the means of dismantling the terrorist infrastructure. If he can't or won't then someone else will have to.

The West and the Arab

In 2002, in the Arabic language daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat an Arab diplomat published a set of articles on the leadership crisis in the Arab world. The Middle East Media Research Insititute has translated experpts:
"The inquiry into why the West has advanced and why we continue to endure backwardness would lead us to study the difference between the two mentalities ? the Arab and the Western. It should be noted that the [Arab] concentrates on the past, lives in it, and longs to return to it, and clings to everything related to it: rituals, customs, and fantasies. On the other hand, the Western mentality is no longer occupied with these matters and does not consider them important in achieving what societies aspire to and what the common people long for. Rather, it has relegated these matters to a small number of people specializing in the past and benefiting from it. They, however, do not claim sanctity; nor do they deny it to others. We hear about court cases in which religious institutions in the West bring to trial many who are in charge of these institutions, and this is not held against them [i.e. the institutions]?" link memri
I wither on about pre and post Enlightenment thinking and the pieces in this valuable collection underscore the importance of an Arab Enlightenment....come the day!