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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another









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3/05/2004

Blair's Decision

Here is the crux. It is possible that even with all of this, nothing would have happened. Possible that Saddam would change his ambitions; possible he would develop the WMD but never use it; possible that the terrorists would never get their hands on WMD, whether from Iraq or elsewhere.

We cannot be certain. Perhaps we would have found different ways of reducing it. Perhaps this Islamic terrorism would ebb of its own accord.

But do we want to take the risk? That is the judgment. And my judgment then and now is that the risk of this new global terrorism and its interaction with states or organisations or individuals proliferating WMD, is one I simply am not prepared to run.

This is not a time to err on the side of caution; not a time to weigh the risks to an infinite balance; not a time for the cynicism of the worldly wise who favour playing it long.

Their worldly wise cynicism is actually at best naivete and at worst dereliction.
bbc
Follow the link to the full text of Tony Blair's frightening but clear sighted examination of the world post 9/11, post Iraq. Real decisions had to and have to be made. England is lucky to have a man as able and a principled as Blair making them.

Copy Rights?

The Canadian Supreme Court has expressly endorsed user as well as creator rights as issues to be considered when determining copyright cases. The Chief Justice, writing for the Court in CCH Canadian Ltd. v. Law Society of Upper Canada (which is online here).

The issues all turned on whether providing self service photocopiers in a law library constituted secondary infringement and whether a fax transmission service - which essentially allows a lawyer to phone in and have a fax of a decision sent to him - was a communication to the public and hence a violation of the Copyright Act.

Were I acting for the Canadian music industry in its unfortunate attempt to emulate the RIAA and go after file sharers, I would take cold comfort from this decision. The Court explicitly rejected the notion that a) merely providing self serve photocopiers constituted secondary infringement, b) that faxing decisions was a communication to the public.

Oddly, it is the question of transmission to the public which will likely cause the CRIA the most grief. The way that file sharing works, a given song is transmitted to a user at the user's request and that transmission is essentially point to point. The "shared folder" from which the song is selected is arguably identical to an online catalogue or list of cases.

It is by no means a knock down argument to protect people who upload files; but it provides a legal framework upon which to make such an argument.

Just as importantly, the Court enunciated broad principles governing the balance of rights between creator and user. Those principles are likely to govern decisions on everything from software to movies and on through music.

The contrast between copyright law in Canada and the more draconian Digital millennium Copyright Act in the United States has been underlined by the Court. Creators have rights, but they do not have monopolies.

3/04/2004

Is anarchy civil war?

As night falls, the roads empty and armed gangs are free to impose their rule of law through the barrel of an AK-47.

Nablus, the largest city in the northern West Bank, represents an extreme illustration of the anarchy which has taken hold in the Palestinian territories - a situation which, according to analysts, could well descend into civil war when veteran Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat finally departs the scene.

Struggles between different factions of Arafat's Fatah movement are thought to be behind the assassination earlier this week of the Palestinian journalist Khalil al-Ziban, who also served as an advisor to Arafat, as well as a raft of other violent crimes in the territories.
middle east online
At a certain point the weakness of the Palestinian Authority will be sufficient to allow the gunmen to take over. Arguably that point has been reached in Nablus and in Gaza.

Does the Troll of Ramallah's writ run past the walls of his compound? Officially every faction, from Hamas though Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades and Islamic Jihad are unwilling to acknowledge the end of the Troll's rule. Unofficially, they are lining up to seize the pathetic streets of the West Bank and Gaza.

The end of the Troll is being measured out a kilometer at a time as the security wall reduces the ability of the terrorists to strike against Israel and demonstrates that Israel has had more than enough of the ineffectual Palestinian Authority's refusal to actually take on the gunmen who are responsible for that terror. The Troll has simply ceased to be a player in any negotiation with Israel.

The question now is whether the assorted zealots with their AK47s and bomb belts will, in fact, seize control of the West Bank and Gaza. If they do, the Palestinians will cease to matter. No one will blame Israel for refusing to negotiate with people who are absolutely dedicated to her destruction.

The first round of the civil war is being played out in Gaza. Here Hamas has become the dominant political entity. The question being whether the Troll's Fatah can still exercise its alleged authority.
Mohammed Dahalan, the Fatah former interior minister, who still commands thousands of security forces in the Strip, signaled last week in the Al Ayyam newspaper that as far as he is concerned, Fatah will call the shots after Israel's withdrawal. "We have to view Hamas as a partner in the political future but to achieve that, Hamas must also know that the Authority has the right to take the decisions. Unfortunately, the Authority has lost some of its standing and Hamas is exploiting this and trying to impose an alternative authority."
christian science monitor
An alternative authority is a polite way of announcing a rival civil government and with it the potential for a full scale civil war.

Gaza is the most heavily Hamas dominated section of the Palestinian Authority. The situation in the West Bank is closer to anarchy than civil war, but as the mayor of Nablus, and prominent member of Fatah, resigns and Bethlehem is turned into a fertile suicide bomber recruiting ground, the potential for civil war there grows as well.

Is there an alternative to the gunmen? At the moment none seems obvious. There does not seem to be a moderate Palestinian political force. Nor is it obvious how such a force could come into being so long as the zealots hold the streets. It would take a very brave man to speak out against the terrorists and an even braver one to do so before the carnage of the pending civil war.


Do you think the guns were registered?

Fantino also said there have been 11 homicides in Toronto so far this year - eight of them gun-related. Last year at this time, there were seven homicides, but only three were gun-related deaths.
yahoo
Dodge City arrived in Toronto last night with three seperate shots fired incidents. Perhaps the best response would be to double the budget for the gun registry...er, maybe not.

3/03/2004

Sullivan on Bush's fatal mistep

I've been following same-sex marriage developments for fifteen years, and I keep getting surprised. The groundswell of support - in San Francisco, New Mexico, New Paltz, and now Portland, Oregon - has stunned me. What I didn't anticipate is how empowering this issue has become for gay people and how energizing it has been for their heterosexual peers. We keep seeing straight poeple under a certain age seeing this as their generation's civil rights movement. Now we see black legislators in Georgia putting aside religious objections to stop what they recognize as an attack on a small minority by forces of exclusion and intolerance they have been attacked by in the past. Bush's religious right amendment has also united Democrats behind this issue in ways they never were before. Attacking the amendment is now an applause line in John Kerry's election speech - and he will get every gay vote and every vote from their families and friends. Meanwhile, key Republicans, like Arnold Schwarzenegger, have come out and opposed this unnecessary meddling with the Constitution. Even the vice-president cannot manage to explicitly endorse such graffiti on the founding document of this country. What the religious right amendment is doing is splitting the Republican coalition and uniting the Democrats. What the religious right did to destroy the Republican party in a state like California, they are now trying to do across the country as a whole. They are not only on the wrong side of history; and on the wrong side of morality; they are putting the Republican party on the losing side of politics. They must and will be stopped.
andrew sullivan
It is long past time for conservatives to ditch the religious right and its mean spirited attempts to restrict the rights of a particular group of American citizens. Sullivan gets it and he gets the politics of it.

You do not have to be a pundit to know that for people under forty gay marriage and hmosecuality itself are non-issues. For people under fifty there may be an issue, but it is not worth a constitutional ammendment which, as Sen. McCain points out has not the ghost of a chance of getting through the House and Senate. Bush's support will certainly cement his standing with socons; but at the cost of perhaps losing the election. It was a remarkably dumb move.

3/02/2004

Aristide: a pillar of democracy ousted

Damian Penny points to the Human Rights Watch summary of Aristide's so called democratic election.
Police and government passivity in the face of intimidation and violence by supporters of the Fanmi Lavalas party raised serious human rights concerns. Fanmi Lavalas, the party of former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, employed fraud to boost its electoral gains and win near total control over the parliament that was sworn in on August 28.
. Go read the whole thing before lamenting the passing of Aristide. Much less wondering if there was anything Canad could do to keep the murderous bastard in power.

Rail Ops, Not Grow Ops

The summary says the police investigation focused on whether two government officials leaked confidential information about the B.C. Rail deal for their own personal gain.
cbc
So much for the rumours that Basi and Virk were running about with bags of grow op cash buying East Indians memberships to vote for Paul Martin delegates at Liberal nomination meetings....Plain old breach of trust. Hardly any fun at all.

The Trouble with riding a tiger is getting off

The disaster which is the Palestinian Authority took another hit today. Magazine publisher Khalil al-Zaben was gunned down. Not even The Independent could figure out a way to make this a postive for the Palis or blame it on the Israelis.
Amid mounting fears of a descent into anarchy, Ahmad Qureia, the Palestinian Prime Minister, last night promised to crack down on Palestinian gunmen after one of Yasser Arafat's most loyal supporters was shot dead.

Khalil al-Zaben, a 59-year-old magazine publisher, was hit by 12 bullets at 1am yesterday as he left his home in the Sabra district of Gaza City. He was a man with many enemies, including dissident members of Mr Arafat's Fatah. His magazine, An-Nanashra, campaigned against the Syrian regime, Islamic extremists, Palestinian left-wing groups and local NGOs, which he accused of corruption.
The short, shrp civil war which I have thought might well lead to the one bullet solution for the Troll of Ramallah (TM) seems a little closer.

Hamas is reported to be working at ensuring that the Troll's writ does not run to Gaza.
Not good news; but at least a degree of proof that there really are terrorists in charge of at least part of Palestine. Arafat's days are numbered.

Western Standard

A commentor noted that Mark Steyn will be joining the new magazine, The Western Standard. This is Ezra Levant's biweekly scheduled to come out on March 12th. Worth keeping an eye out for.

Religion of Peace

In my JewBusters piece in the American Spectator I said, "Al Qaeda has cleverly revised its strategy and is now blowing up Muslims." Horrible evidence of that appeared in Iraq today:
Near-simultaneous suicide bombings in two Iraqi cities killed at least 143 people Tuesday as they crowded near mosques to celebrate Shiite Islam's most important holiday.

Iraqi and American officials blamed the bombings, just outside revered Shiite shrines in Baghdad and Karbala, on terrorists seeking to provoke conflict among Iraq's ethnic groups and to disrupt U.S. attempts to return sovereignty to a transitional Iraqi government on July 1.

A main suspect, they said, was Abu Musab al Zarqawi, a Jordanian with reputed links to al-Qaida, who allegedly authored an intercepted letter calling for attacks on Shiites.
kansas city star
The murderous logic of Zarqawi was outlined in a plaintive letter found by coalition forces in Iraq and published at The National Review Online:
D. The Shi'a in our opinion, these are the key to change. Targeting and striking their religious, political, and military symbols, will make them show their rage against the Sunnis and bear their inner vengeance. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis who are fearful of destruction and death at the hands of these Sabeans, i.e., the Shi'a. Despite their weakness, the Sunnis are strong-willed and honest and different from the coward and deceitful Shi'a, who only attack the weak. Most of the Sunnis are aware of the danger of these people and they fear them. If it were not for those disappointing shaykhs, Sufis, and Muslim brothers, Sunnis would have a different attitude.
nro

Islam in France

"The Crisis of Islam" is real. Regardless of whether France is at war against Islam the fact is that Islam is at war with itself. Only Muslims can help their religion evolve towards modernity. Only Muslims can interpret all the violent statements against Jews and Christians contained in Koran as parts of a past history. Only Muslims can define jihad not as war against non-Muslims but rather as a personal and interior fight against evil. Only they can abolish the belief that women are inferior to men and that non-Muslims are inferior to Muslims. Only they can accept secularism, freedom and democracy.
techcentralstation
Jean-Christophe Mounicq writes an interesting article about the intersection of the West's, particularily France's, recognition that radical Islam is a direct threat at home and the Muslim world's seeming inability to reign in its radicals. For the French, the banning of the headscarf is an attempt to assert the fundamental French concept of secularism in the face of a huge and somewhat radical Muslim population. Worth reading.

Google and Yahoo

To a degree this is being cast as a competition and, of course it is. It is also a pretty interesting exercise in deciding how information on the internet is catalogued and organized. And, if Yahoo is ambitious, it could be the moment when the real power of the net is multiplied.

Google has become many net users' default search engine. Which has meant that how Google sees the net is how millions upon millions of people also see it. Entire websites and discussion groups buzz every time Google tweaks its search algorithm. The more or less monthly Google dance, when website rankings twitch and change, causes consternation, paranoia and despair as people see their information ranked lower than their competitors.

Dark theories abound. Google likes commercial sites more than non-commercial, put AdSense on your site and Google will spider you faster and boost your site up the rankings, Google loves blogs. Companies exist for no other purpose than to "optimize" websites for Google.

It is difficult to overestimate Google's perceived importance to everyone from porn merchants to plastics manufactures because if you are not on the first page of the Google rankings for your particular sort of site you are missing traffic. And traffic equals sales.

At the non-commercial level, Google has essentially structured the internet for millions of users. Through a series of partnerships with AOL, Yahoo and other search engines, Google results have become the de facto internet standard.

None of which is a bad thing. After all, one of the biggest issues of the early internet was simply trying to find reliable information.

If Google posed a problem it was that it was too authoritative. Sites which Google ranked low or missed altogether effectively vanished from the net. Indeed there were occasional calls for Google to be somehow regulated. For some people Google looked like an emerging information monopoly and while there was no clear evidence that it was abusing this position, the possibility existed. Worse, as Google headed towards its IPO concern grew that its commercial interests might over ride its original business model of simply being the best search engine on the internet.

Enter Yahoo. For years Yahoo ran an internet directory operation - a list of sites rather than a true search engine - and supplemented its results through a partnership with Google. On ______ Yahoo announced it was cutting its tie to Google and that it would be crawling the internet on its own.

At a technical level the Google and Yahoo crawls of the internet will start out with fairly similar results. After all there are only so many ways to determine the content and relative importance of a website. However, those results will tend to diverge over time and that divergence will come to represent two very different versions of the vast array of information the 'net can provide.

Very subtle differences in the weight the two search algorithms assign to such things as inbound links, keyword densities, size, search engine optimization strategies, internal links and the value of a given inbound link will mean that the results of the two engines will begin to diverge.

Fairly quickly, the Google map of the internet and the Yahoo map of the internet will become maps of different internets. While the major landmarks are likely to be the same, the detail may very well emerge is strikingly different contours.

Other entrants, including Microsoft, are preparing to offer their own search algorithms, their own maps. With each new map, the Internet will be re-invented.

2/29/2004

Over the Top

The zealous Andrew Coyne, fresh from archiving his million word, two decade long stream of punditry at the Financial Post, Glove and Mail, Southam News and the National Post, has adapted blogrolling to create a little inline mini blog with news headlines....but that's not all folks,
I've adapted another Blogrolling feature to a very pleasing end. Roll your mouse over one of the headlines in the blog-in-a-blog, wait a moment, and up pops a line of text -- a sub-hed, a nugget from lower down in the story, a quick comment, or if nothing else, the story's URL. The effect is quite addictive: rather like consulting the old 8-Ball oracle ("Signs point to yes.")
andrew coyne
Now that the National Post has decided to leave the internet put up a subscribers only wall around its content, it better hope it has a non-compete with Coyne who is well on his way to building a full on Canadian political portal. Now if he could cut a deal with Mark Steyn to post a column a week...

JewBusters up at The American Spectator

A much expanded and revised version of my earlier blog entry on the decent of Adbusters magazine to the pit of Jew baiting is up at The American Spectator.

Bad Date

It would probably be a bad idea to ask Socar at Ratty's Ghost out on a date for a little while....Go read her instead.

Expanding Rights

Joseph Ellies in today's NYT
But the open-ended character of their language on individual rights is a crucial clue to a more relevant version of their original intentions. Both Adams and Jefferson regarded the American Revolution as a long-term experiment to test the limits of personal freedom. Present at the creation, they did not want to place any cap on the potential achievement of the experiment in the future. Jefferson was particularly eloquent in urging each new generation to interpret his famous words anew. Adams was a more cautious revolutionary, emphasizing way stations on the road forward to allow time for popular opinion to catch up with jarring changes. He may well have favored civil unions as a sensible compromise in the current furor.

Most important, the way they framed the question gave great advantage to the side in favor of expanding the scope of individual rights. Notice, for example, that recognizing gay marriage will not require a constitutional amendment, but blocking it will. And the founders made passage of a constitutional amendment very difficult indeed. Our debate over gay rights has just begun, so it would be foolish to predict all the legal and political contortions that lie ahead. If history is a guide, however, everyone who has bet against the expansive legacy has eventually lost.
new york times
These are critical points in the unfolding American debate. The question of original intent plagues constitutional scholarship when it comes to the details, but issues of direction can be discerned from the Founder's own writings.

Expanding individual rights was at the heart of the invention of America.

A Blind Eye at the UN

It has finally dawned on the New York Times that the United Nations supervised the systematic looting of the Oil for Food food program in Iraq.
United Nations overseers say they were unaware of the systematic skimming of oil-for-food revenues. They were focused on running aid programs and assuring food deliveries, they add.

The director of the Office of Iraq Programs, Benon V. Sevan, declined to be interviewed about the oil-for-food program. In written responses to questions sent by e-mail, his office said he learned of the 10 percent kickback scheme from the occupation authority only after the end of major combat operations.

In the few instances when Mr. Sevan's office suspected an irregularity, the statement said, it notified the sanctions committee, "which then requested member states concerned to investigate."
new york times
I have been banging away about the need to audit the program from top to bottom and to determine exactly who benefited and who failed to exercise the oversight which was the United Nations' responsibility.

Throughout the late 1990s we heard endless screeds from the Left about the thousands of Iraqis and Iraqi children who were dying each month as a result of the UN imposed sanctions (of course the blame was always redirected toward the United States). We now know that those numbers were exagerated. But we also know that billions of dollars were diverted from the program into the hands of the regimes high command. So, if there were the dead babies and children the Left claimed there were, whose fault was that?