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Jay Currie

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11/19/2004

Net Politics

Zephyr Teachout ran part of the Dean campaign's wildly successful IT campaign. Se writes a long and vital piece on the impact of the internet, and the missed opportunities of the internet, in the last American election campaign. My bet is that a lot of political consultants, hacks and strategists are going to be passing off the ideas in this essay as their own in Canada's next election. Go read it.

The key point she makes is,
But basically, in the political evolution of the Internet, we have barely touched the surface of its potential to shift the locus of real political power. Never before in history have we had a tool that enables--with so little work--local groups to act in coordination with other local groups elsewhere. Never before in history have we had a tool that at its core holds the solution to the most difficult collective action problems in democracy. And almost no one used it.
personal democracy forum

Late, Very Late

Such is the fear that the heavily armed militants held over Fallujah that many of the residents who emerged from the ruins welcomed the US marines, despite the massive destruction their firepower had inflicted on their city.

A man in his sixties, half-naked and his underwear stained with blood from shrapnel wounds from a US munition, cursed the insurgents as he greeted the advancing marines on Saturday night.

"I wish the Americans had come here the very first day and not waited eight months," he said, trembling. Nearby, a mosque courtyard had been used as a weapons store by the militants.
times
This article appeared on the 15th. The tragedy of Fallujah lies in the fact the Americans did not take the city in April. I suspect the reason they didn't lay in a failed understanding of the readiness of the Iraqi forces to assume control.

Carolyn Parrish

Proving that the Liberals are perfectly willing to let their members damage Canada's, but not the Liberal Party's, interests, Martin booted the woman out of caucus for disloyalty.

The best part of all of this is that this leaves Martin incapable of passing any legislation without the support of either the Tories or the Bloc. February is such a nice time for a Canadian election.

11/18/2004

Away

We went into Vancouver for a couple of days. Long trip and very odd to be in the midst of a city after sitting up here on an island ridge. Very, very, noisy. Blogging will be back later today...

One note for people following the robo-blog saga...I put up a new one mortgage news. The issue with using javascripts and therefore being ignored by the googlebot seems pretty much part of the javascript landscape. The solution is, apparently, to use PHP but that is not supported at blogger...Hmmm

11/15/2004

Powell Goes

The US bloggers are seeing Powell as a "great American" or as someone who lost his integrity in the runup to the Iraq War. There is a round up of reaction here. I am not a huge Powell fan simply because I do not think he was an excellent Secretary of State. He failed to create a coalition around Iraq, he was outmanouvered by the French at the UN, and, most damningly, he could not secure the Turk's consent to allowing American troops to move through Turkey on their way to Iraq.

This last meant that the Iraq War began without a full mechanized division. It may have directly contributed to the chaos in post war Iraq. and it was an entirely diplomatic defeat. Essentially, the French told the Turks that their application for EU membership would be vetoed if they allowed the Americans passage. That needed to be countered and countered hard. Powell could not do the job. Now, reasonably, given how corrupted by Saddam the French establishment was it may have been impossible to move the French; but, in that case, the Turks themselves should have been moved.

Powell may well have been a fine, if cautious, general; but he was not a creative diplomat.

Battle Stations!

Captain Flynn sends the alert that the busies at Heritage Canada are getting ready to attempt to pass a law which will allow pretty much anyone who claims any sort of copyright in anything to tell your ISP to take down material that they alledge violates their copyright. First, go and read Flynn's summary.

How bad is the proposed law....go read Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow.
But WIPO got it horribly wrong. The approach that WIPO took to regulating the net was to create a set of rules that tried to make the Internet act more like radio, or TV, or photocopiers -- like all the things that it had already made rules for. The WIPO approach treated the ease of copying on the net as a bug, and set out to fix it.

Notice-and-takedown is an area where WIPO got it drastically, terribly wrong....

If you allow users to host stuff, you're responsible for what they host. If they put an infringing file on your server, you're required to know what they've put online, and you'll share in their punishment if you fail to block them from posting infringing material.

Now what is and isn't a copyright infringement isn't anything like a clearcut issue. ISPs aren't equipped to evaluate what's infringing and what isn't -- hell, even Supreme Court judges have a hard time figuring it out. Operating a server doesn't qualify you to understand and evaluate copyright law.

So there's a get-out-of-jail in notice-and-takedown. If you respond to accusations of infringement by taking your customers' materials offline quickly, you won't share in their liability. Now, given the kinds of penalties available to rights-holders for online infringment (in the US, it's $150,000 per infringement!), it's not surprising that most ISPs avail themself of this "safe harbour," removing stuff whenever a complaint comes in.

But a complaint isn't proof -- someone who rings up your ISP and says, "That file infringes on my rights" is like the guy who busts into a restaurant and shouts, "That guy is wearing my hat!" There's no way for an ISP to evaluate whether he's genuinely aggreived, whether he's nursing a grudge, whether he's just a nut. In the US, nuts, grudge-nursers and flakes all use notice-and-takedown to censor the Internet and get material removed.
boing boing
Now there are lots of petitions to sign. Which might help. But the real deal here is to get to the politicians - Liberal, Tory, Bloc and NDP - and point out that this law will simply ensure that Canada ceases to be a country involved with the internet.

What amazes me, and I am just coming up to speed here, is that the major ISPs - Rogers, Shaw, Bell - are not up in arms. This is potentially much more devastating than the P2P music sharing arguments where they fought the good fight and won.

The good news is that this is currently a report of a Commons Committee so there is time to mobilize and defeat this absolutist approach to internet copyright. The better news is that - so far - there is nothing to stop a Canadian from hosting a website or blog in another country. A fact which seems to have escaped the Parliamentary geniuses.

11/14/2004

The Dutch they are A'Changing

When the mythology of multiculturalism is exposed, as it has been in Holland by the murder of Theo van Gogh, the icons crumble fast:
(The concern has long existed that if liberals didn't address the problem of Muslim intolerance responsibly, it would be answered with the intolerance of the far right.)
In the 1930's, Europe faced a struggle and, many thought, a need to choose between two competing totalitarianisms. Many analysts are wondering if this is Europe's future, as well. They also wonder whether the Dutch people's anger will blow over or whether they will act decisively to protect their democracy from the undemocratic enemy within.

At present, most appear to agree strongly with one commentator, Paul Scheffer, who wrote in the daily NRC Handelsblad last weekend: "We cannot hand over our country.... Words such as diversity, respect and dialogue fade against the dark context of this ritual assassination."
nyt
Interestingly, the key point in this article is in the parenthesis I have highlighted. If the multicult vision is to succeed, it requires ruthless prosecution of Muslim intolerance. At the moment, in much of Europe and Canada, the imams can preach hate without fear of prosecution or consequence. So long as this is allowed to continue, so long as Muslim intolerance is given a pass while the rest of the culture is asked to make nice, the foundations of multiculturalism will continue to be undermined.

The multicultural enterprise requires a great deal of forebearance on the part of the majority culture. At a point, and that point has been reached in Holland, the working consensus in favour of multicult will collapse and politicians will face calls to abandon the entire enterprise. Tragically, if they do not heed those calls, the extremists will take matters into their own hands.

Toleration is not licence, nor is an invitation to relentlessly call for the destruction of the host culture. Muslims - and others - who do not realize this need to be reminded, initially by their own communities but, if they persist, through the criminal and immigration law.

I do not like hate crimes laws in general; but there is a huge difference between preaching hatred of the Jews or the Gentiles or all non Muslims and inciting the murder of specific individuals. The former should simply embarass the preacher's community, the later should lead to jail time and a one way ticket to country of origin if the hate monger is an immigrant.

If a society is willing to back up its multiculturalism with this sort of firm defence of its own soverign rights then the question of right wing extremism in the face of Muslim provocation should not come up.

F 9/11 Reloaded

The Fat Bastard is ready to launch the sequel to F9/11.
Michael Moore plans a follow-up to "Fahrenheit 9/11," his hit documentary that assails President Bush over the handling of the September 11 attacks and the war on terrorism, according to a Hollywood trade paper.

Moore told Daily Variety that he and Harvey Weinstein, the Miramax boss who produced the film, hope to have "Fahrenheit 9/11 1/2" ready in two to three years.

"Fifty-one percent of the American people lacked information (in this election) and we want to educate and enlighten them," Moore was quoted in Thursday's edition of Variety. "They weren't told the truth. We're communicators and it's up to us to start doing it now."
cnn
There is no truth to the rumor that Karl Rove is bankrolling Son of F9/11.

Guys with Guns

Palestinian militants burst into a Gaza City mourning tent set up for Yasser Arafat on Sunday and fired shots in protest at the presence of his moderate successor Mahmoud Abbas, but he was unhurt, witnesses said.

Palestinian officials said it was not an assassination attempt.

A Palestinian security man was fatally wounded in an exchange of fire between the militants and bodyguards shielding Abbas, also known as Abu Mazen, witnesses said.
reuters
No real need to assassinate if the message "You're dead whenever we want." can be conveyed. I am afraid Palestine is going to get a lot uglier before it gets much better and a large reason will be the number of thugs with guns.

At this point the Palestinians need their own ben-Gurion to simply say that the state (or authority) is to have a monopoly on force and weapons. But the one thing which the Palestinians have not got is a leader of that stature or a culture which is likely to throw one up.

Endgame in Fallujah

A week ago the Americans launched the attack on Fallujah. Late. Late enough that some insurgents have bolted. Late enough that other flareups are happening in Mosul and other towns. But the Marines are now dealing with the last of the battle.
"We control 90 percent, but the 10 percent that's left is the most difficult," said Capt. Erik Krivda, a member of Task Force 2-2 tactical operations command from Gaithersburg.

U.S. and Iraqi security forces have been battling fighters in this insurgent stronghold since ground troops followed a barrage of artillery fire into the city Monday night. Dawood said that more than 1,000 insurgents had been killed and 200 captured. A militia group, the Army of Mohammad, reported that 73 fighters had been killed.
washington post
The effect of the fall of Fallujah is a step in the path towards hunting down and killing the Sunni and foreign insurgents. It is a long way from over.

Yup

The future of news is online, and traditional media outlets must learn to tailor their products for consumers who demand instant, personalized information, the head of The Associated Press said Friday.

The growth of high-speed broadband connections is leading to a future in which computers are always on "and so are the users," Tom Curley, president and chief executive officer of the world's largest news organization, told the Online News Association conference in Hollywood

The Internet is picking up the readers and viewers that newspapers and TV news shows have been losing, Curley said. It also has changed the balance of power from news providers to consumers, who use Web-surfing programs and video recording devices to control what they want to know and when and where they'll learn it.
cbs via the command post
This past week I have done two interviews - well emailviews - with people writing for journalism reviews in Canada. Both of the intereviews were about blogging and where it is going generally and in Canada.

One of the things I hope I emphasized is that blogging is a tiny part of the picture. In fact,what I think is happening is a significant migration from newspapers and television to the net for news and opinion. I have written elsewhate about the drop off in readership and viewership for MSM among younger people. This is an accelerating trend.

So are ways of getting what you want from the internet. For fun I set up a couple of blogs: www.serversecuritynews.blogspot.com and www.christinaaguileranews.blogspot.com. These are entirely fire and forget. They automatically update. Now, at the moment I don't know how to manage the RSS feed so that the Google spider will see the updates and I don't know how to get it to generate archive pages/permalinks (and yes, help or hints would be appreciated). But, very quickly, robo-bloggingtm will allow people to build a site which caters to their interests in real time.

Along with being very cool, it will be yet another nail in the coffin of MSM.