January 30, 2006

Slippery, Meet Slope: EU Wants Google to Agree to Content Regulation

It didn’t take long, did it?

Thanks to their agreement to cooperate with the government of China in search-content censorship, exactly what credible defense does BizzyBlog Internet Wall of Shame member Google have against this idea?

Google challenges EU plan to regulate the internet
By Andrew Murray-Watson (Filed: 29/01/2006)

Google, the giant internet search company, is to lead industry opposition to new proposals from the European Commission to regulate online content.

Google was criticised for bowing to pressure from Beijing.

The company, which last week said it would self-censor its Chinese search engine to appease the country’s government, objects to the commission’s proposals to extend regulations in the Television Without Frontiers directive (TWFD) to cover video content shown on the internet.

James Purnell, the minister for creative industries, has backed Google’s stance.

He said: “There is no benefit to the consumer that justifies this move. This increased scope could mean significant regulation of the internet and stifle the growth of new media services. That would raise prices for consumers and deprive them of potential new services.”

Existing national laws that regulate TV broadcasting – for example, the British ban on tobacco advertising and child porn – were sufficient, he added.

If the proposals became part of European law, Purnell said, “in 10 years our successors will bemoan the handicaps we gave to European industry and the restraints we put on free speech”.

“For example, the proposals suggest that member states should ensure that media service providers. . . do not offer material which contains incitement to hatred on grounds of, for example, disability or age. I’m the last person to say that issues like this are not important and of course we have been discussing race and religious hatred in our own Parliament only recently.

“But what that debate showed was that these are wide-ranging issues on which there are different, strongly and legitimately held opinions and where intervention must have the strongest justification. Some member states – and I don’t just mean the UK – will have serious difficulties with such an approach on grounds of freedom of speech.”

Other opponents to the new proposals include James Murdoch, the chief executive of British Sky Broadcasting.

The plan to extend the scope of the TWFD is set to go before the European Parliament later this year. The new proposals, if implemented, will govern material shown on the internet which originates in EU member states. The internet industry fears that some content providers will move outside the trading bloc rather than submit to regulation.

Thanks to Google and other Wall of Shame members, China, the EU, and other governments may be able to accomplish through high-tech companies without conscience what the UN and EU utterly failed to do in Tunisia last November.

NYT Columnist: Bush Reads “Mao: The Unknown Story,” Confirming That It’s a “Conservative” Book

As noted at this NewsBusters post last week, when it became known that President Bush was reading “Mao: The Unknown Story,” Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times pigeonholed the book:

The book might at first seem an odd choice for Mr. Bush, whose taste in biography, like that of other American presidents, runs to previous occupants of the Oval Office. But it is not so surprising given that “Mao: The Unknown Story” has been embraced by the right as a searing indictment of Communism.

As you can see from this October post that addressed Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s review of the book, it hasn’t exactly been “embraced” by bitter-enders on the left. Despite the book’s painstakingly thorough chronicle of Mao’s horrible death toll, Kristof still holds that Mao was “not all bad” for China (most of this quote is also at this “TimesWatch Worst of 2005″ NewsBusters post):

But Mao’s legacy is not all bad. Land reform in China, like the land reform in Japan and Taiwan, helped lay the groundwork for prosperity today. The emancipation of women and end of child marriages moved China from one of the worst places in the world to be a girl to one where women have more equality than in, say, Japan or Korea. Indeed, Mao’s entire assault on the old economic and social structure made it easier for China to emerge as the world’s new economic dragon.

Just like that, 60-70 million deaths become collateral damage in the (fictional) advancement of women’s equality (see: “one-child policy”) and supposed economic rebirth (which didn’t begin until years after Mao’s death, and never would have happened while he remained alive, even if he had lived to be 100).

What I’m getting from all this is that “Mao: The Unknown Story” is being “embraced by the right” because it is the unvarnished if uncomfortable truth, while far leftists, in the face of facts that can only be disputed at the margins, if at all, aren’t happy with the book, because believing it would force them to let go of their 1960s romantic notions of Mao. Fortunately for those steeped in reality, you can be an open-minded person on either side of the political spectrum and accept the profoundly important work the authors, Jung Chang and Jon Halliday, have done to shine the light of truth on one of history’s most evil people.

But thanks for the compliment to conservatives, Liz. And get a grip, Nick.

And, finally, I have to wonder if the Left’s near silence over Google’s Chinese censorship isn’t a hangover from its reluctance to acknowledge the full, ugly truth about Mao.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Rhode Island RINO Report: Lincoln Chapstick

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:25 pm

Item: Chafee will vote against confirming Alito



UPDATE: Other comments:

  • S.O.B. Alliance Member Large Bill“Can anyone explain why the Republican National Committee is supporting Chafee against Mayor Steve Laffey in the upcoming primary?”
  • From a commenter at Anchor Rising“The President has the right to choose his nominee to the Supreme Court. The Senate should only reject a nominee if the individual is not qualified. Alito is very well-qualified and Chafee should have voted for him.”
  • S.O.B. Alliance Member Weapons of Mass Discussion“Why continue to give the GOP money to support people like this?”

UPDATE 2, Feb. 1: An e-mail I get occasionally from Evans-Novak says, “Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) may have gotten a White House OK to vote against Alito, but this will not help him with GOP primary voters back home. It was not a wise decision for him. He is increasingly looking like a one-termer.” Giving the OK was also not a wise decision by the White House.

Internet Wall of Shame: Google-China Update

RConversation is still in daily multilink mode. Yesterday’s helping is here.

Nicholas Carr says Google is getting blasted more than other Wall of Shame members because its “Do No Evil” slogan represents a big “Hit Me” sign:

I think the reason Google is getting its feet held to the fire is simple: It asked for it. As soon as the company broadcast its “Don’t Be Evil” pledge, it guaranteed that any time it stepped into ethically ambiguous territory it was going to touch off a firestorm in the press – and, in turn, draw the attention of the public and the public’s media-hungry elected representatives. It’s the old Gary Hart effect. Plenty of Senators get a little on the side without finding their dalliances on Page One, but as soon as Hart claimed to be pure, he guaranteed that reporters and cameramen would come knocking on the door of his lovenest. Whether it was hubris or just naivete that led Google to proclaim its moral purity can be debated, but from a business standpoint it was a surpassingly dumb thing to do – and the consequences were entirely predictable.

Finally, The Wall Street Journal (link requires subscription) stakes out ground in the middle:

China’s leaders have made a bet that they can have economic growth, and the exposure to the outside world that it requires, while maintaining political control. In the long run, we continue to think that’s a losing bet. Google may have its own business dilemma, but the modern dictator’s dilemma is that the path to economic progress demands a loosening of centralized control on just about everything, including information.

As for Google’s executives, we also hope that, even as they make their business compromises with the Communists, they don’t forget their larger obligations to promoting the freedom that has made them as rich as they are.

The wild card is whether Google and other kowtowing search engines will hasten the growth of freedom, slow it down, or kill it. It would be nice if everyone, including those on the left who seemingly aren’t paying attention, would stay on Google’s case about the obligations The Journal mentioned.

Overpaid and Underworked: Exhibit A Is Joel Stein

Filed under: Business Moves,MSM Biz/Other Ignorance — Tom @ 9:20 am

For comic relief, first put the coffee down.

Then go here to see what BizzyBlog is supposedly worth (if you spit out coffee, it’s not my fault).

If you agree with the valuation, contact me for my PayPal account data and send the money. I’ll quit and start a new blog tomorrow.

It was $107, 827.14 (cough, cough) as of 11PM on Jan. 29; it has bounced between $54K and $108K during the past week. I am really impressed at their ability to nail the value down to the penny.

Then again, maybe the valuation isn’t so unreasonable. In fact, to borrow a political word, it might be “conservative.”

I say that because I learned in the course of Hugh Hewitt’s interview with Clueless Joel Stein of the Los Angeles Times about his controversial “Warriors and Wusses” column (requires free registration, and will probably be archived by Feb. 1) that he is paid (notice I didn’t say “earns”) over $75,000 per year (about 75% of the way through the interview transcript) — for one column per week.

So BizzyBlog is either hopelessly undervalued, or Joel Stein is ridiculously overpaid (too bad for me it’s the latter).

Memo to LAT: I’ll write TWO better columns every week for $50 grand a year. Just pick the two submission days. I’ll even deal with all the brickbats Patterico throws my way.

Just leave me alone for the rest of the week, so I can make three more deals just like this one….. and still keep my $108,000 blog.

No wonder the stocks of mainstream newspapers, including LAT’s parent The Tribune Company, are performing so poorly.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (013006)

Free Links:

  • Hope they’re right — Economists quoted in USA Today on Friday afternoon think the weak 1.1% showing for GDP growth was a temporary setback, and not an indicator of slower growth to come.
  • Why didn’t the oil companies think of this? (/sarcasm) — US Internet companies snub Congressional hearing: “The leading US-based Internet companies are showing little interest in attending a Congressional briefing on worries that the firms are bending to the wishes of China’s censors. Microsoft and Cisco Systems have refused to attend the event, while Google and Yahoo are non-committal, officials said.” One word: Subpoenas.
  • I am SOOOOO not sorry this happened — Pixar axes Toy Story 3. Usually the third time is NOT the charm for a movie sequel.
  • I hope he asked Mrs. Berlusconi first — (Italian Premier) “Berlusconi Vows No Sex Until Voting” on April 9.
  • Once more, with feeling — Alan Greenspan retires on January 31, and to celebrate the Fed is expected to raise interest rates by another quarter-point. It’s probably necessary to keep inflation from coming back, but still, what a party pooper.
  • A lot of people left holding VERY big, empty bags — United Airlines’ parent company reported a $16.9 billion loss for the 4th quarter: “Most of those on-paper losses will be reversed within days, reflecting unsecured claims that will be settled for a fraction of the charges. The company is expected to disclose a multibillion-dollar gain when it leaves bankruptcy next week, formally accounting for overturning many of the losses.” Among the bagholders: UAL employees, whose pension plans were terminated back in May.
  • Now this is a cool idea — “Apple Offers College Lectures Via Podcasts.” No word on whether the company will make the lecture content or the lecturers themselves more interesting.
  • 40-year Quagmire Update — In a supposedly magnanimous move by the government, Vietnamese dissident Nguyen Khac Toan was released from prison after his jail sentence was reduced from 12 years to 4. But he still faces three years of house arrest. His crime? “Toan was judged to have emailed details about farmers’ demonstrations to Vietnamese groups overseas.”
  • What Google is helping to perpetuate“The editor of a campaigning Chinese newspaper supplement has denounced the authorities’ decision to shut it down.” According to the article, China is ranked 159th out of 167 countries in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index.
  • China’s largest commercial bank, ICBC, just sold 10% of itself to a group of three different US financial firms. The fact that these two sentences wrap up the piece gives me reason to believe that they have no idea what they’re getting into: “China’s biggest lender, it announced last week that its 2005 profit had jumped by more than 20%. During 2005 it received a $15bn capital injection from the government to help it cope with a legacy of bad loans.”

Positivity: Gates Pledges $900 Million For Tuberculosis Eradication

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:13 am

This a tripling of his Foundation’s current level, and is necessary because the disease is as deadly as ever (HT, and content from after the first three paragraphs, to Happy News):