February 10, 2006

Tony Snow Explains Why American Muslims Aren’t Participating in the Cartoon Jihad

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:34 pm

It’s easy:

Q: Why aren’t angry Muslims in the United States torching buildings owned by Danes, Norwegians, French, Spanish and other Cartoon Infidels whose newspapers have printed cartoons, first published in Denmark, bearing the likeness of the Prophet Muhammad?

A: Because American Muslims have better things to do.

Here lies an important fact, too little mentioned or explored. The recent outburst of righteous arson in the Muslim world has been described as a warning to the West, a sign that radical Islam has become a force of considerable sweep and power, an indicator that terrorists have mastered propaganda techniques capable of sending raging hordes into the streets in a matter of minutes.

But another explanation fits the facts. The mayhem has centered in four nations: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Syria. Each has a double-digit unemployment rate, and poverty rates between 32 percent and 52 percent. All have large pools of idle men who can show up for a mob activity at a moment’s notice. In short, they’re havens for losers, uniquely equipped to stage such spectacles.

In other words, it’s amazing how a functioning economy influences civilized behavior.

Calling Out the Radical Hypocrites at the American Library Association

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 10:50 am

The American Library Association (ALA) goes apoplectic when it thinks that the US government might be interested in finding out if a terror suspect checked out a book on, say, bombmaking, but coddles a dictator who won’t provide their library comrades any kind of meaningful freedom at all.

The Taste section of OpinionJournal.com calls the ALA out today, and rightly so:

More revealing than a single librarian’s awful judgment is the ALA’s forked tongue when it claims to defend all library freedoms. Since 1998, Cuban authorities have arrested and imprisoned citizens who operate “independent libraries,” and destroyed their collections. Often based in houses, these libraries provide books and other information, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, considered criminal by the Communist dictatorship.

Human-rights organizations, including Amnesty International, have condemned the repression and called for the librarians’ release. Yet the ALA refuses to even acknowledge their suffering Cuban counterparts. It apparently accepts the Cuban government’s assertion that “the dissidents” don’t qualify as librarians and that freedom of information flourishes on the island.

A cat jumped out of the bag at the ALA’s January meeting in San Antonio, though, when keynote speaker and Romanian-born author Andrei Codrescu blasted the organization for abandoning the independent librarians. “Is this the same American Library Association that stands against censorship and for freedom of expression everywhere?” To add insult to injury for apoplectic ALA leaders, a subsequent informal poll of the rank-and-file in an electronic newsletter suggested that 75% want the organization to stand up for the Cubans.

On Sunday, ALA President Michael Gorman emailed the newsletter’s editor to say that “we would be better off without these polls.” That smells like censorship–from the very same people who bring us “Banned Books Week.” An organization that roars about the chilling effect of Section 215 on library users also looks pretty hypocritical when its own member-readers are discouraged from circulating their opinions openly.

All something to remember in March, or any time the ALA next tells us that, on issues of freedom, librarians know best


You Might Be Surprised at What Some in the Mainstream Media Call “Theft”

OVERVIEW: The threat by Mainstream Media outlets in Europe to force search engines to pay to list their content has far-reaching implications that have mostly been ignored.

I wanted to comment on Gavin O’Reilly’s speech last week, but expected it to get a lot of attention before I would be able to get around to it. It hasn’t happened: Blog reaction has been minimal. The blogs I found by doing a blog search on “Gavin O’Reilly” that did more than merely relay the story are noted below, and all but two of them didn’t catch on to the full extent of the threat.

I suppose that the State of the Union address, the ongoing China search engine censorship saga, and the horrid actions by Muslims who can’t handle cartoon caricatures against the Danes and others, have all made what Mr. O’Reilly said seem unimportant.

But, it is NOT unimportant — in fact, although their targets are currently search engines, if Gavin O’Reilly and his cohort have their way, what I am about to do will either be illegal, or will cost me (a briefer story is at Cnet if the Financial Times piece gets pulled behind their subscription wall; bolds are mine):

Search engines challenged on ‘theft’
By Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson, Media Editor in London
Published: January 31 2006 19:55

A group of newspaper, magazine and book publishers is accusing Google and other aggregators of online news stories of unfairly exploiting their content. They are demanding compensation from search engines.

Gavin O’Reilly, the president of the World Association of Newspapers, which is co-ordinating the campaign, said on Tuesday: “We need search engines, and they do help consumers navigate an increasingly complicated medium, but they’re building [their business] on the back of kleptomania.”

The group of publishers, which includes the International Publishers’ Association, the European Federation of Magazine Publishers and Agence France Presse, is seeking meetings with Charlie McCreevy, the European Union’s internal market commissioner, and Viviane Reding, the commissioner responsible for media. It would not rule out legal action to enforce copyright or “collective action,” Mr. O’Reilly said. “Ultimately, the aggregators need the content providers.”

Services such as Google News link to original news stories on the home pages of newspapers and magazines and display only the headline and one paragraph of the story. “That’s often enough” for readers browsing the top stories, Mr. O’Reilly said.

The Print Advertising Blog, an industry mouthpiece, calls it “exploitation of content by search engines without fair compensation to copyright owners.” (which is interesting, since the Print Advertising Blog carries Google ads, and many of its blog entries are aggregations of long headlines.–Ed.)

So, by extension, anyone who reads a search engine news entry and doesn’t click through to the news site is stealing. (Next, I suppose Gannett will want a few pennies if I read the USA Today headlines through the news rack as I walk by it.)

First, they came for the search engines. Gee, I wonder who would be next?

O’Reilly’s speech may and the threat of legal action or government coercion appears to be the first shot in a protracted war between the WORMs (Worn-Out Reactionary Media, known to most as the Mainstream Media) and the online world over who gets to see content, where they get to see it, and at what cost.

The major search engines, all of whom are members of BizzyBlog’s Internet Wall of Shame, have placed themselves in a very weak position with the public by kowtowing to the Chinese government over search-engine result censorship. The WORMs can credibly argue that they are the ones breaking news in China that the rest of the world actually sees (BBC has done particularly well in this regard under what has to be very difficult circumstances), while Google, MSN, and Yahoo! are helping the Chinese government keep it away from their own people.

But make no mistake: This could get ugly — every bit as ugly as the possibility of a UN or EU takeover of Internet management that was the subject of so much concern last fall. If the WORMs force the search engines to stop at headlines in an attempt to force more clickthroughs (which I predict would happen, because I don’t believe the search engines will pay to run the first couple of sentences of every single news story or result), then they will go after anyone else who excerpts their articles and supposedly “steals” clicks from them.

The fact that many, if not most, readers only found the news because it was listed in a search engine, mentioned at a blog, or included at an aggregation site doesn’t seem to faze Mr. O’Reilly one bit. Mike at Techdirt wonders how they can be so clueless:

Just as stories are hitting the press about slow-to-innovate newspapers finally embracing the internet comes the news that a bunch of newspapers are quite upset that Google drives more traffic to their websites.

They’re not clueless, Mike. They either want users coming directly to them, or to force any intermediaries to pay for the “privilege” of being the conduit. Virtually all original content still comes through the WORMs. Unless and until that changes (and it is changing, but slowly), is it possibile that Gavin O’Reilly and his wannabe gatekeepers will get their way.

I would caution Mr. O’Reilly against overconfidence, though: Given the incredible things search engines and their robots are already doing, how difficult would it be for Google or some aggregator to sift through all of the coverage of major stories, jumble it up so that the source of the original material can’t be identified, and then simply run the resulting hashed-together content as their own news?

All of this bears watching, and deserves a lot more ongoing attention than it has received thus far.

Reax Roundup (let me know if I missed anyone):

  • Miss Porcupine totally gets it — “So, basically, the newspapers say that by reading the first paragraph of a news story on Google News (or Yahoo News or MyWay or whatever else you use), you’re stealing from the newspaper. And that means that by quoting the above paragraphs, I am committing a crime against The Financial Times. They want copyright payments for every single quotation. Can you imagine that in the blogosphere? The ‘first paragraph’ bit is especially ludicrous in a world where newspapers provide RSS feeds for their own material.”
  • The Ocean View gets it, and overreacts (maybe) — “Left UnChecked, These People Would “OutLaw” The Simple HyperLink (a.k.a Link) To ANY Website Outside of Your Own Domain!!! These Newspaper Publishers Are Just *MAD* Because They Didn’t Take The Internet Seriously, Soon Enough, & That, They Didn’t Think of “eBay”, 1st!”
  • VLLB Linkblog has a bigger problem with caching of full-page content.
  • Michael Fraase“Google may not get it, but the publishing industry doesn’t even know that there’s something to get.”
  • Cincom Small Talk: “If this were actually about controlling content, these publishers would have solved it already – by blocking the various search bots in robots.txt. Since they haven’t, we know it’s not actually about copyright. Instead, they want (just like the telcos!) to find a way to get deep pocketed Google to make charity payments to them.”
  • Chosaq“If there is no content, there is no need for an index. If there is content, you’ll need some sort of index. It’s that simple. So what is wrong with Google making that index? Maybe the fact that it shows competing media outlets on the same page, possibly inviting people to go elsewhere?”
  • I Might Be in a Tree“the only reason I saw this news story at all was because a content aggregator found it for me!”
  • JimmyKat“The ironic thing is that most news is put together by the wire agencies – AP, UPI, etc. – and the newspapers, et al. are only re-publishing the same story as every other publisher who subscribes to that news agency. In essence, they’re mad because Google is re-aggregating what they aggregated from other sources in the first place…and making money on it that they think belongs in their pockets instead.”
  • Extranet Revolution“I found (this FT article) thanks to Newsgator. In this instance, therefore, far from exploiting the FT’s content, Newsgator has enabled me to view an FT article (and some adverts) that I would otherwise have missed. At this level, it seems quite a good symbiotic relationship to me.”
  • Search Engine Lowdown“Hey WAN. Don’t like being in search engines? Tell your members to put up a robots.txt file to block the search engines, and they’ll be happy to drop them. When they do, then blogs and other news sources can have the traffic the search engines were previously sending to your members.”
  • 4 Cents Worth (his and hers at 2 cents each-cute) — “Google News and other aggregators are free advertising for the paper and the content they hold. As advertising, the Newspapers should pay Google to be included. And rather than go down that road, why not just leave the collaboration free to both parties involved?”
  • Good Morning Silicon Valley“Newspaper association seeks Google’s help in assisted suicide”
    A Networked World“Oh no, taking headlines and sometimes three whole lines of their precious text, my god what is the world coming to. Lets get rid of fair use right now shall we? It will save so much hassle.”
  • Others: Britain Gallery, As I See It, Marketer Blog.

Bizzy’s AM Coffee Biz-Econ Links (021006)

Free Links:

  • Michelle Malkin has a grim and aptly named post called “The War on the Press,” chronicling successful suppressions around the world by the Cartoon Jihadists (update ….. and their hide-in-the-corner enablers — now Sweden, per Malkin). This is every bit as important as it’s being portrayed.
  • Legal Challenge to the Constitutionality of Sarbanes OxleyThe Free Enterprise Fund is bringing the suit with the help of a lot of high-priced legal talent. The linked Biz Weak analysis piece says this:

    The complaint turns on two points. One is the assertion that the PCAOB (Public Company Accounting Oversight Board) exercises wide-ranging governmental powers with little oversight, violating the Constitution’s separation of powers. The second issue deals with how five members of PCAOB are appointed.

    “The PCAOB is an unaccountable, unconstitutional regulatory body,” says Mallory Factor, chairman of the Free Enterprise Fund. “It’s the poster child for the dangers of a runaway bureaucracy.”

    This looks like one that is going all the way to the Supremes. The reporting on this by The Associated Press and others is absurdly making this look like some Vast Right Wing Conspiracy project. I guess anyone who believes in free-market capitalism free of strangling government and quasi-government bureaucracy is now a presumptive VRWC member.

  • Rock the Broke — It’s still called Rock the Vote, but it’s $700,000 in the hole (HT Lucianne), and prospects are dim.
  • The Fed Says Consumer Borrowing slowed in ’05 — This story is more notable for its snarky first sentence than it is for its substance: “Consumers, weighed down by high debt loads and low savings rates, increased borrowing last year by the smallest amount in 13 years, the Federal Reserve reported Tuesday.” Though it probably exists, no “weighed down by heavy debt loads” evidence is provided in the article.
  • Read this before Apple sues them again like they did last yearThink Secret says it can confirm that “Apple is nearing completion of a completely revamped video iPod that will shed the ubiquitous mechanical click wheel for a touch screen and will sport a 3.5-inch diagonal display.”
  • Yeah, we can protect you, but it will cost you“A new security service from Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) will charge users $49.95 per year to better protect its Windows operating system from spyware, viruses and other Internet attacks.”

Requires free registration:

  • Since the Cartoon Jihad isn’t going away any time soon, go to OpinionJournal.com and get the straight scoop from a Muslim with sense: “Bonfire of the Pieties–Islam prohibits neither images of Muhammad nor jokes about religion.”

Positivity: Post-Katrina Success of Landmark Jeweler Surprises Even the Owner

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 6:05 am

Mignon Faget thought her jewelry store might go bankrupt after the hurricance. In fact, just the opposite has occurred, and a city’s spirit has been buoyed: