Saturday, December 11, 2010

Wilson Pickett: A Few Great Songs

I just thought I'd take a moment and pull a few great songs by Wilson Pickett from You Tube. A highly underrated performer. Let's start with "Mustang Sally"

Next Up: "In the Midnight Hour"

Next: Believe it or not, an R&B version of "Sugar Sugar", best known by "The Archies", but first recorded by Wilson Pickett.

And finally, my personally favorite version of "Hey Jude". Why? Because unlike the original Beatles version it doesn't included minutes of "na na na na na na na's".

Mario Lanza - Christmas - Guardian Angels

I don't know how this necessarily qualifies as a Christmas song, but it was written by Harpo Marx and on Mario Lanza's Christmas Album. One of my favorites, for what it's worth.

Why Don't We Regulate Trial Lawyers Instead?

From: Pajamas Media » Will the Supreme Court Empower Trial Lawyers to ‘Legislate’ Climate Policy?

Earlier this week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from five electric utilities in a case called State of Connecticut v. American Electric Power. The utilities are challenging an appellate court decision that the “political questions” doctrine does not bar states and other plaintiffs from suing emitters of carbon dioxide (CO2) for injuries alleged to result from CO2-induced global warming.

Troutman Sanders, a law firm with an extensive environmental practice, provides excellent summaries of the history and basic issues of the case. In a nutshell, in 2004, eight states (led by Connecticut), New York City, and three environmental groups sued five electric utilities, arguing that the companies’ CO2 emissions created a significant public nuisance. Plaintiffs asked the court to fashion a remedy whereby the utilities would be required to reduce their CO2 emissions by a “specified percentage each year for at least a decade.”

In September 2005, Southern New York District Court Judge Loretta Preska dismissed the lawsuit on the grounds that regulating greenhouse gases is a “non-justiciable political question.” In September 2009, however, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Judge Preska’s decision. The appellate court did not rule on the merits of plaintiffs’ injury claims, but held that those claims “do not present non-justiciable political questions.” The utilities appealed that decision to the Supreme Court, which this week agreed to review the case.

A victory for Connecticut et al. would be a boon to ambulance chasers both at home and abroad but a bane to the U.S. economy. It would also further erode our constitutional system of democratic accountability.
Carbon dioxide is the inescapable byproduct of the carbon-based fuels that power modern manufacturing, agriculture, and commerce. This means that classifying CO2 as a “public nuisance” has an enormous potential to endanger public health and welfare. As the American Farm Bureau Federation noted in an amicus brief on a related case (Comer et al. v. Murphy Oil et al.), pre-industrial society “was not a healthy society,” even though CO2 concentrations were 35% lower than they are today.

Like the politicians who assured an earlier generation of Americans that the income tax would apply only to the super rich, plaintiffs in Connecticut v. AEP say they just want to compel the nation’s biggest coal-burning utilities to cut their emissions. However, once the precedent is established, there can be no principled basis for shielding any class of emitters from tort claims. As I explained previously on Pajamas Media:
If litigators can sue large utilities for emitting CO2, they can also sue smaller utilities and manufacturers. Indeed, they can in principle sue anyone and everyone. Utilities, after all, only emit CO2 in the process of serving customers who use electricity. People lighting their homes, powering their factories, and running their laptops are ultimately to blame for destroying the planet, according to the “science” invoked by plaintiffs. In their worldview, everybody is injuring everybody else — which implies that everybody has standing to sue everybody else. Plaintiffs may preach “green peace,” but they sow the seeds of a war of all against all.
Since global warming is, by definition, global, and since anyone anywhere on the planet who uses carbon-based energy, or consumes goods and services made or transported with carbon-based energy, contributes to CO2 emissions, both the pool of potential victims and the pool of alleged perpetrators number in the billions! This despite the fact that without carbon-based energy, billions of people would starve and/or freeze in the dark, and billions more would not even exist.

The Court’s decision in its earlier global warming case, Massachusetts v. EPA, proved to be a font of absurd results. For example, regulating greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act would crash the statute’s preconstruction and operating permits programs, crippling both environmental enforcement and economic development. As EPA acknowledges, once CO2 is classified as a “regulated air pollutant,” literally millions of previously unregulated entities — office buildings, big box stores, restaurants, churches, hospitals, and schools — meet the permitting program definitions of “major emitting facility.” EPA’s solution — “tailoring” the definitions to exempt non-industrial facilities — substitutes one absurd result for another. “Tailor” is just a euphemism for “amend,” and an administrative agency cannot amend a statute without violating the separation of powers.

One hopes the Court has learned something from the “glorious mess” that its earlier decision teed up. Mass. v. EPA’s legacy of absurd results could well be chump change compared to the Hobbesian nightmare that will ensue if the Court decides Connecticut v. AEP in favor of plaintiffs.

If plaintiffs win, firms large and small will face the threat of interminable litigation, from a potentially limitless pool of plaintiffs, in which multiple courts, acting without benefit of statutory guidance, improvise remedies — both injunctive relief and damage awards — as they see fit. In short, a victory for plaintiffs will destroy for many firms the legal predictability essential to business planning.

In addition, climate policy would be made by persons even less accountable than the non-elected bureaucrats at EPA, who at least depend on congressional appropriations for their budgets and salaries. We would have to live under Kyoto-like energy-suppression mandates imposed neither by Congress nor by EPA but by trial lawyers and activist judges appointed for life.

As noted earlier, plaintiffs asked the lower court to require the utilities to reduce their CO2 emissions by “specified percentage each year for at least a decade.” That such a “remedy” is legislative in nature should be obvious. It is not an order to cease and desist but a policy regime, complete with targets and timetables, ostensibly based on a balancing of the public’s incontrovertible interest in access to reliable and affordable electric power with its supposed interest in climate change mitigation. Such a remedy is clearly beyond the competence of courts and juries to devise, as the Justice Department argued in its amicus brief on half of the Tennessee Valley Authority:
Establishing appropriate levels for the reduction of carbon-dioxide emissions from power plants by a “specified percentage each year for at least a decade” (as Plaintiffs request), would inevitably entail multifarious policy judgments, which should be made by decision-makers who are politically accountable, have expertise, and are able to pursue a coherent national or international strategy — either at a single stroke or incrementally.
No doubt plaintiffs initially hoped the specter of CO2 litigation chaos would spook industry into supporting cap-and-trade as a lesser evil, just as many climate activists hoped the prospect of EPA regulation of greenhouse gases via the Clean Air Act would tip the political scales in favor of the Waxman-Markey bill. However, this extortion strategy, which I call the greenhouse protection racket, has not worked and may even have backfired, exposing climate crusaders as self-righteous bullies.

In November, angry voters punished supporters of the stealth energy tax formerly known as cap-and-trade. They’ll be even angrier if the Supreme Court empowers ambulance chasers to “enact” the job-killing, anti-energy policies they just rejected at the polls.

Marlo Lewis is a senior fellow in environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute

Can A Jaguar God Save Us From Global Warming?

Death of the Global Warming Myth by the American Thinker

By Peter Heck

When your cockamamie theory is literally collapsing around you, it's probably best to take your plight to a higher power. But if that isn't possible, a fake jaguar goddess could work.

According to the Washington Post,

"Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, invoked the ancient jaguar goddess Ixchel in her opening statement to delegates gathered in Cancun, Mexico, noting that Ixchel was... ‘the goddess of reason, creativity and weaving.'"

I'll give this conglomeration of exploiting profiteers five stars when it comes to creativity. You can't manipulate data to produce fatalistic scenes of New York City being overwhelmed by tidal waves and Yellowstone erupting into volcanic ash without having a robust imagination. But reason? I think that went out the window long before they started praying to a jaguar.

The disintegration of this political juggernaut known as global warming is as imminent now as it is remarkable. The heights from which these scientists' credibility has plunged is equaled only by the speed at which it has done so.

Consider that it was only last year when the scientific and political world was held spellbound by the deliberations of the UN Climate Change summit held in Copenhagen. Nearly 45,000 attendees anxiously anticipated a global climate agreement that could spare us all from the imminent planetary incineration that was about to befall us thanks to the unholy alliance of SUVs, deforestation, and belching cows. American taxpayers alone shelled out nearly $400,000 for Nancy Pelosi to lead a cadre of liberal Congressmen and staffers to attend the Warmer deliberations.

Yet now, just one year later, political leaders are staying as far away from the annual climate summit (this year held in Cancun) as possible. Even the Congressional Warmer triumvirate of Henry Waxman, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer skipped the festivities. Remember it was Boxer who proclaimed not so long ago that global warming was her "signature issue." Yet when it came time for this year's convention, Boxer merely murmured, "I'm sending a statement to Cancun."

Meanwhile, across the pond, things aren't much better for the global warming hysterics in the British Meteorological Office. As the Met geared up for Copenhagen in 2009, they were warning of the "warmest year on record." Fast-forward to this year, and as Britain is in the grip of yet another extraordinarily frigid winter, their admonitions are much more subdued. Even the Daily Mail noted why: "Buried amid the details of those two Met Office statements 12 months apart lies a remarkable climbdown that has huge implications -- not just for the Met Office, but for debate over climate change as a whole...for the past 15 years, global warming has stopped."

This most inconvenient truth is why, despite millions of dollars of propaganda and free marketing offered by a totally duped American media, Al Gore's climate heist machinery is dismantling before our eyes. The defeat of climate legislation in Congress has prompted Gore's Alliance for Climate Protection to whittle its resources from 25 states down to 7 states, acknowledging, "the situation in Congress has changed."

Indeed it has. As the Democratic Party's death grip on Congress dies in January, Nancy Pelosi's House Select Committee on Global Warming will be dying with it. Republicans have announced that they have no desire to continue wasting taxpayer dollars on a committee whose only contribution was a proposed energy tax that would have destroyed millions of jobs in an already stagnant economy.

For its swan song, the committee held a final hearing - one so boring that according to the Washington Times, the Chairman never returned from lunch break.

So how has this environmental Goliath collapsed so quickly and so painfully? Certainly the ClimateGate scandal that revealed the epic fraud and deceit upon which the movement was built didn't help. Al Gore admitting his willingness to fabricate dire consequences for the sake of getting people's attention didn't help.

But ultimately it comes down to this: given time, truth wins out. Eventually rational people realize that groupthink and demonizing your opponents as "deniers" doesn't count for evidence. They realize that a movement so freely changing names - from Global Cooling to Global Warming to Climate Change to Global Climate Disruption - might be more about a neo-Marxist pursuit of global governance than about saving polar bears.

In the end, that is what has hastened the demise of Warmerism. This makes the climate changers' prayer to Ixchel the jaguar goddess so very myth perpetuated on humanity deserves another.

Peter is a public high school government teacher and radio talk show host in central Indiana. Email or visit

Friday, December 10, 2010

China and Nobel

From: The China_and_Nobel_Ceremony

TO HEAR China’s foreign ministry tell it, today’s ceremony in Oslo, in which the Nobel peace prize is to be awarded to Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Chinese dissident, is nothing more or less than “an anti-China farce” orchestrated by “a few clowns” on the Nobel prize committee. Whatever the merits of that complaint, the Norwegians will be hard-pressed to match the atmosphere of farce that was achieved by a hastily organised ceremony in Beijing yesterday. Ostensibly, the Chinese ceremony was designed to honour the recipient of the newly established “Confucius peace prize”.

The winner was Lien Chan, a rather dowdy senior Taiwanese politician who has been at the forefront of recent efforts to improve cross-strait relations. (In November his son, Sean Lien, was shot at a political rally in Taiwan; revenge, some suspect, for his father’s work.) As will be the case in Oslo—but for very different reasons—the recipient was not on hand for the ceremony in Beijing. Indeed, a statement from Mr Lien’s office said that he had never heard of such an award and had no plans to accept it.

Unlike the Norwegians, who plan to mark Mr Liu’s absence with the understated eloquence of an empty chair, the organisers of the Confucius prize ceremony recruited a six-year-old girl as a stand-in for Mr Lien. The young Miss Zeng Yuhan (pictured above) seemed somewhat flustered by the proceedings, in which she was thrust before cameras and handed a beribboned stack of Chinese currency in the amount of 100,000 yuan, worth about $15,000. 

The event’s organisers seemed flustered too, as they were able to offer only the fuzziest of answers to even the most obvious questions: just who is this little girl? What is the Chinese government’s involvement in their selection of a winner? To what extent is the prize intended as a riposte to the Nobel committee?

The Chinese government, for its part, has been singularly focused on neutralising the impact of Mr Liu’s selection since it was announced in October. In addition to scolding Norway and promising that its standing with China would suffer, it has mounted a heavy-handed campaign to deter other nations from sending any dignitaries to attend the ceremony in Oslo.

China has vastly overstated its success in this effort, citing the 100+ countries that will not attend the ceremony as proof that most of the world supports its position. In fact invitations were extended to only the 65 countries who keep embassies in Norway. Of those at least 45 have accepted. Those who have declined have done so for a variety of reasons.

At home China’s authorities have taken other steps, mounting a stern crackdown against the already beleaguered community of dissidents, rights activists and critics of the government. Mr Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest shortly after the big announcement, and an extra contingent of security forces were posted to the streets around her Beijing home on the eve of the Nobel ceremony, 7,000km away.
A number of Chinese activists have been stopped from leaving the country in recent weeks, apparently to ensure that none of them wends a way to Oslo to pick up the award on Mr Liu’s behalf. Chinese censors have been more active than usual in recent days, blocking internet news websites and foreign television broadcasts that are usually allowed in.

Mr Liu is a 54-year-old poet and literary critic with a long history of political activism, including a role in China’s massive pro-democracy movement of 1989. He was sentenced on Christmas Day of 2009 to an 11-year jail sentence on charges of inciting subversion. His crime was to have organised and publicised Charter 08, a petition that called for sweeping reform and the liberalisation of China’s stern one-party political system. The petition was launched December 9th 2008, just in time for December 10th, which is Human Rights Day—so designated because it was the date in 1948 that the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The Nobel ceremony is scheduled on that date each year for the same reason.

In October, China was quick to blast the Nobel committee for seeking to make a hero out of a Chinese criminal. The award, China's foreign ministry insisted, constituted misguided interference in China’s affairs as well as a violation of China’s judicial sovereignty. China has held to that line consistently over the past two months. Indeed, it is the same rhetorical line China took in 1996, when the European Parliament awarded the Andrei Sakharov prize for freedom of thought to Wei Jingsheng, another Chinese dissident, then in prison. At the time China accused the European parliamentarians of slandering China and committing “violent interference in China’s internal affairs”. China then foresaw “damage to Sino-European relations and eventually to the interests of Europeans”.

Like the EU's ambassador to China in 1996, who tried to explain that “parliaments in Europe do not take instructions from executives”, Norway this year has struggled to convince China that the government exerts no control over the independent Nobel committee. Neither side seems any more likely to accept the other's explanation.

Sudan and Jihad

From:Pajamas Media » Sudan Government Seeking to Intensify Jihad

On January 9, 2011, South Sudan votes on whether to remain part of Sudan, or, as is widely assumed, to separate and form a new, free, democratic nation of South Sudan. The Referendum on Secession was guaranteed to the South in the hard-won 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).

But the marginalized and oppressed peoples of other regions of Sudan have no such guarantees. Particularly vulnerable are the “disputed regions” on the north/south border, not included in the secession vote. These regions include Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Abyei. In light of the South’s anticipated departure, the National Congress Party (NCP) regime is preparing to intensify the jihad elsewhere in the country. A document recently leaked, not by Julian Assange, but by courageous members of Sudan’s resistance to Islamization and Arabization, details the Khartoum regime’s agenda for the Nuba Mountain region of Southern Kordofan.

The confidential memo regarding the Nuba Mountains was sent to Ahmed Haroun, governor of Southern Kordofan, by Sudanese Vice-President Ali Osman Taha. Along with his fellow ideologue, President Omar el Bashir, Haroun is an indicted International Criminal Court criminal. Smooth-as-a-snake Taha, who charms the common sense right out of some U.S. State Department officials, is one of the ruthless architects and enforcers of Shari’a in South Sudan and Darfur. Taha’s original Arabic memo was translated into English as a cry for help for the Nuba Mountains. Its contents, speaking of various methods which will be used to radicalize the Nuba, should disturb and motivate those in the West concerned about both the spread of Islamic/Arab supremacism and about human rights in Africa.

Vice President Taha announces “quadrupled plans towards the ‘Modern Southerners.’” The term “Modern Southerners” is a derogatory label applied to all Sudanese who oppose the NCP Islamist agenda of Shari’a. In the document, this means specifically those in the Nuba Mountain’s “liberated area” (freed from Islamic control by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) but under continuous attack by Khartoum during the war). These Nuba Mountain Modern Southerners are to be undermined and neutralized so that their infection does not spread to their children or to other areas of Sudan.

First, Taha tells Governor Haroun they must “recruit descendants of the Modern Southerners into security forces” in order to “control them through military commands.” Understand that this would not be done through bright young men in a Sudanese version of ROTC, persuading young Nuba how great it would be to serve in the Sudanese jihad. The means of attaining recruits would include abducting children and creating child soldiers through brainwashing in Islamic camps, as well as various forms of intimidation and impressment. The latter strategy has worked wonderfully well in Darfur, where a large number of the well-known janjaweed were actually pressed into service by Khartoum through threats on their families. Ironically, when these young men were able to escape, they fled to the Nuba Mountains seeking refuge.
The vice president’s second order is to “disrupt the return” of Nuba “elites” from the Diaspora to stop their political, social, and cultural influence in the region. “It is essential that they be absorbed and organized to weaken the Modern Southerners,” he says chillingly. In typical Islamic parlance, where “peace” means submission to Islam and “unity” means complete Arabization of the country, “disrupting the return” could have definite malevolent implications.

Absorption and organization is equally unsettling. During Sudan’s first genocide, in the south and in the Nuba Mountains, Khartoum’s campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Nuba Mountains included absorption and organization. In the U.S. Committee for Refugees report Quantifying Genocide in Southern Sudan and the Nuba Mountains 1983-1998, Dr. Millard Burr writes how the Islamic regime resettled over 170,000 Nuba forcibly into 91 “peace villages.” These villages were in reality prison camps enhanced by government-orchestrated famine that killed tens of thousands. Burr says that rape was also “an integral part of the government plan for Nuba.” Thousands of women transported to the peace villages were raped as part of the cultural “absorption.” This is the future that Taha plans for the Nuba.

Another means of dealing with children of the Nuba says Taha is to “revive religious institutions (Islamic teachings, Islamic moralization, Islamic charities … etc.)” and to enlist “a large number of the descendants of the Modern Southerners in the above-mentioned projects … until it is possible to control their intellects.” The creation and expansion of madrassas, along with the military recruitment noted above, would turn young people against their own families and culture. This is also resurrecting what was done to the Nuba during the war. Children were separated from their parents and educated forcibly in Islamic schools. Apart from the immorality of this, the West should consider the impact of thousands of madrassa-indoctrinated young people on Africa and beyond.

Finally, says Taha, the Islamists must “occupy them with internal and external quarrels.” This may include political infighting, graft, and other forms of corruption, but more likely has a further nefarious meaning. Throughout the war and since the signing of the CPA, the NCP has been using proxy militias to destabilize the region by attacking communities in South Sudan and the disputed regions of Nuba Mountains, Blue Nile, and Abyei. There is no reason to believe that Khartoum will not continue this pattern after the referendum.
The people of the Nuba Mountains, with 52 ethnic groups featuring multiple languages and dialects, modeled the polar opposite of Khartoum’s ideal Islamic nation. People of African and Arab ethnicities, Christians, Muslims, and followers of traditional religion lived together in peace, proud of their shared heritage. Although initially the Nuba tried to remain neutral in Sudan’s civil war, the SPLA New Cush Brigade, comprised of Nuba, was created by a former schoolteacher, Yusif Kuwa Mekki, in January 1989. Kuwa’s eyes were opened to the rampant racism and discrimination shown to them by Khartoum as a young student, when a schoolteacher complained, “What is the use of teaching Nuba, who are going to work as servants in houses?”

The SPLA Nuba leaders — Commanders Kuwa and Abdel Aziz Adam el-Hilu — were hated by Khartoum, but heroes to lovers of freedom. Although Kuwa died in 2001, el-Hilu is the deputy governor of Southern Kordofan and is extremely popular with Sudanese all over the country.

As the days count down to the referendum, Khartoum is counting on the West’s Sudan attention-deficit disorder to pursue its agenda throughout the country. While the United States focused on Darfur, all the while taking pains to avoid terms like “jihad,” “forced Islamization,” or “Arabist supremacism,” it was free to violate and ignore protocols of the CPA. Now the NCP is stepping up the genocide in western Sudan and plotting to bring the rest of the country in line with Islamization and Arabization while all eyes are focused on South Sudan.

U.S. policymakers and jihad-watchers should take Vice President Taha’s memo very seriously. Like the Southern Sudanese, the people of Nuba Mountains resisted Islamization and Arabization. They, along with all of Sudan’s marginalized and oppressed people, want freedom and democracy. Hopefully, the new Congress will renew its efforts against Islamic terrorism, concentrate more on jihad in Africa, and counter Khartoum’s war against its people throughout the country. Alongside the people of the new, free nation of South Sudan, the Nuba and others who have been marginalized could lead to the transformation of the entire country and stop Khartoum and its Islamist allies’ plans for the rest of Africa.

Faith J. H. McDonnell directs The Institute on Religion and Democracy’s Religious Liberty Program and Church Alliance for a New Sudan, and is the author of Girl Soldier: A Story of Hope for Northern Uganda’s Children (Chosen Books, 2007).

Banning Water?

Original Article Here: UN climate kooks want to cripple US economy and ban H2O

Some people will sign anything that includes phrases like, ”global effort,” “international community,” and “planetary.” Such was the case at COP 16, this year’s United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Cancun, Mexico.

This year, CFACT students created two mock-petitions to test U.N. Delegates. The first asked participants to help destabilize the United States economy, the second to ban water.

The first project, entitled “Petition to Set a Global Standard” sought to isolate and punish the United States of America for defying the international community, by refusing to bite, hook, line and sinker on the bait that is the Kyoto Protocol. The petition went so far as to encourage the United Nations to impose tariffs and trade restrictions on the U.S. in a scheme to destabilize the nation’s economy. Specifically, the scheme seeks to lower the U.S. GDP by 6% over a ten year period, unless the U.S. signs a U.N. treaty on global warming.
This would be an extremely radical move by the United Nations. Even so, radical left-wing environmentalists from around the world scrambled eagerly to sign.

The second project was as successful as the first. It was euphemistically entitled “Petition to Ban the Use of Dihydrogen Monoxide (DHMO)” (translation water). It was designed to show that if official U.N. delegates could be duped by college students into banning water, that they could essentially fall for anything, including pseudo-scientific studies which claim to show that global warming is man-caused.

Despite the apparently not-so-obvious reference to H2O, almost every delegate that collegian students approached signed their petition to ban that all too dangerous substance, which contributes to the greenhouse effect, is the major substance in acid rain, and is fatal if inhaled.

Perhaps together, the footage associated with these two projects will illustrate to mainstream America the radical lengths many current U.N. delegates are willing to go to carry out an agenda no more ethical, plausible or practical than the banning water.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Another Reason To Oppose "Net Neutrality"

Pajamas Media » Net Neutrality: Treating the Internet Like a Utility

According to a story on PJM by Charlie Martin, in 2004 Comcast and some of the other big providers started looking at what data was being sent, and decided to start throttling down how much data of certain types — most notably streaming audio and video — people could receive. This tended to irritate people who watch their favorite shows on Hulu or movies on Netflix (I happen to be one of the people who prefers his shows this way). Thus, the push for net neutrality began.

On its face, the idea of net neutrality seems like a good one: internet service providers, such as Comcast, should move all data equally regardless of its source or type. ISPs aren’t allowed to look at what’s in a data packet; they just have to move it to whoever requested it. This would also prevent networks from blocking voice-over IP services like Skype, or favoring their own data over that from rival networks.

So far, so good — and if this was what was actually going to happen, it would be fine.

The problem commences with who gets to regulate the Internet. The usual suspects in Washington, from Henry Waxman (D-CA) to Federal Communications Commission Chair Julius Genachowski, are pushing for rules which would take things in a radically different direction. Recall the “Fairness Doctrine” in radio was an FCC regulation — not a law. What’s currently being pushed as “net neutrality” is in many ways simply a fairness doctrine for the Internet.

As Charlie Martin points out:
The push for net neutrality, however, was quickly picked up by other people for other political purposes, starting with the idea that “net neutrality” meant that everyone ought to have equal access to Internet service, whether they live in the borough of Manhattan, or Manhattan, Kansas, or in a cabin twelve miles by road from the nearest human habitation. This quickly picked up other ideas: that “net neutrality” meant different ethnic groups have equal access — which would mean the government looking not just at the content of the messages, but the race of the person on the wire; or that different viewpoints ought to have equal access to the Internet — so, potentially, Fox News would be limited based on how much bandwidth the Huffington Post consumed; and even that “hate speech” and “lies” could be regulated.
This is what we might call net neutrality of the second kind: not content neutral, but instead, content “fairness.”
No one entity has rule-making authority for the Internet. The FCC can not and does not regulate its content.
And therein lies the rub: the FCC, like most bureaucratic organizations, and Genachowski, like most bureaucrats, tend toward empire building. With a regulatory agency like the FCC, this means that when they see something which currently is unregulated and for which they could make a reasonable argument that it falls in their bailiwick, they are going to try to get control of it. When that agency is also very much a political agency, the implications become more troubling still — regardless of which party is in power.

There is always the danger, as Charlie points out, that the FCC and its political appointee head could decide that Fox News — or the Huffington Post, for that matter — constitutes hate speech. They could use the rules as a club to limit access to those sites, thereby limiting the openness that Genachowski himself said in a recent speech is the great strength of the net.

In that same speech, and within some of the proposed rules which have from time to time been circulated, Genachowski has also suggested usage-based fee structures. Currently, most people pay a flat rate to their providers for access — much like you do for your cable television — and get all the data they care to download. Under a usage-based structure, this would end up being more like a cell phone plan where you get so many minutes each month and then must pay extra for any overages. The Internet becomes less and less a convenience, and more of a utility like your electricity or natural gas.

Many of us simply cannot do without Internet access. For instance, Charlie and I are collaborating on these stories on net neutrality. Charlie is based in Colorado, and I am in Kansas. PJM is based in California, but some of our editors are in New York and Washington, D.C. Without the Internet, Charlie and I would be unable to do our jobs. Under a usage-based fee structure, I might only be able to afford Internet access part of the month, and would be unable to do my job. My ISP might provide a flat-rate service, but if they can make more off usage-based, that flat-rate might be prohibitively expensive.

I’m not at all certain how openness or fairness are served here.

While it is apparent some sort of regulation is needed, what form it should take is less so. It is also less than apparent where the FCC derives authority to make this particular power grab, as Congress to date has not authorized them to regulate the Internet.

Moreover, the Internet is truly international in scope. Regulations which, whatever the stated intent, tend to limit growth and stifle competition within this particular sector will put the United States at an economic disadvantage globally at a time when we can ill afford any more disadvantages.

One More Reason To Abolish the F.C.C.

Meet the FCC Commissioner Who Wants to Control the News By The Daily Caller

In 1949, the Federal Communications Commission created a rule requiring broadcasters to cover issues that the government deemed important, and to do so in a way that the government found “honest, equitable and balanced.” If a broadcaster did not agree to abide by this rule, the FCC reserved the right to revoke the station’s broadcasting license. This rule was called the Fairness Doctrine. The FCC abandoned it in 1987. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, a socially conservative Democrat appointed to the FCC in 2001, would like to bring it back.

Copps has a long history of advocating for government control of media, dating to the beginning of his tenure. But it wasn’t until last week, after Copps spoke to the BBC and an audience at Columbia University, that Congress decided to look into the commissioner’s philosophy against private media companies.

“We are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country,” Copps told the BBC. Media outlets are not “producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue.”

Copps went on to criticize his Republican colleagues at the FCC, who he claims, “eviscerated just about every public interest responsibility that generations of reformers had fought for and won in radio and TV.” In other words, the FCC folded the Fairness Doctrine in the 80s when it should have been cooking up legal justification for applying it more widely.

Republican Rep. Joe Barton got wind of Copps’ remarks and sent him a letter in which he asked if Copps meant “to suggest that it is the job of the federal government, through the Federal Communications Commission, to determine the content that is available for Americans to consume.” While Copps has not publicly answered Barton’s query, it’s no secret what he’d say: Hell yes.

Just a year after assuming his role at the FCC, Copps made clear that he wasn’t interested in mediating just when necessary. In a 2002 speech, Copps revealed that he was on a crusade against programming that isn’t good for America.

“Every day I hear from Americans who are fed up with the patently offensive programming coming their way,” Copps said. “I even hear from broadcast station owners that something needs to be done….When it comes to the broadcast media, the FCC has a statutory obligation to protect children from obscene, indecent or profane programming. I take this responsibility with the utmost seriousness.”

Copps demonstrated his commitment to cleanliness in 2004, when he made a federal case out of the now infamous Super Bowl nipple-slip incident, in which pop singer Janet Jackson’s breast was visible to TV viewers for a full split second. In the aftermath of the incident, Copps had no problem rallying Democrats and Republicans around his philosophy. As a result of the incident, the House passed a bill empowering the FCC to increase indecency fines by more than 10-fold, from $27,500 to $500,000.

But Copps wasn’t finished. Invigorated by the outcry over Jackson’s split second of nudity, he threatened to go after daytime soap operas, as well as network dramas like “ER” and “The Bedford Diaries.” The ripple spread even to public media, for which the commissioner has an unabashed fetish. PBS pulled certain episodes of the British detective series “Prime Suspect,” and a PBS programmer in Boston felt compelled to ask his superiors if he should cut an episode of “Antiques Roadshow” that featured a nude photograph of Marilyn Monroe. According to a report from the First Amendment Center, Copps’ stomping around got so bad that “television producers complained about network intimidation.”

Hailed by groups like the Parents Television Council and Concerned Women for America, Copps appeared to be unstoppable until 2006, when Fox, NBC, and other networks filed suit against the FCC for going overboard on indecency. In 2009, the Supreme Court ruled that the commission “had enacted its policy correctly,” but sent the case back to the Second Circuit to determine which of the FCC’s guidelines were constitutional. The Second Circuit decided in July of this year that they were not.

In response, Copps promptly labeled the ruling as “anti-family” and encouraged his colleagues “to clarify and strengthen [the FCC’s] indecency framework.”

While the FCC has a statutory obligation to respond to complaints about broadcast content, it has no jurisdiction over cable TV or the Internet. Copps, whose tenure at the commission ends next year, hopes to change that before he leaves. At a National Association of Broadcasters event held in April, Copps said that “we need to have a national discussion about” decency standards on the Internet, because Americans dislike “over the top…mindless violence” and sexual content.

Copps’ obsession with telling media companies what content they cannot publish or broadcast is rivaled only by his insistence on telling them what they should publish or broadcast. Never was this more clear than in March of this year, when Copps traveled to Los Angeles to present a USC-Annenberg study of LA-area TV that found the “average 30-minute TV newscast packs all of its local government coverage into just 22 seconds.”

Copps put on a grave face while delivering his response to the study. “I am really, really worried about this. We’ve got too much infotainment subbing for real news and I think democracy is, is in peril by this and it’s a problem. It’s a problem, it’s a challenge for us to fix our old media,” he said.

“The FCC has not regulated any of these stations with anything approaching a serious degree of public interest oversight,” Copps added, trailing off.

But it very well could.

Copps has been incredibly supportive of a Federal Trade Commission working paper called “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism.” Among the project’s many proposals are plans for increasing government-owned media’s market share and knee-capping private media corporations. One of the biggest influences on this working paper is Free Press founder, neo-Marxist media scholar Robert McChesney. In his book, “The Death and Life of American Journalism,” McChesney praises Copps for being one of only a few bureaucrats willing to publicly assert that the government should have greater control over news, writing, “Copps has been concerned about the decline of journalism, especially at the local level, for years.”

His remarks last week suggest that Copps isn’t going to quit his media reform crusade any time soon.

Read more:

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

And Another Tribute

Reaganite Republican: Remembering Pearl Harbor.

Remembering Pearl Harbor. . .

December 7th, 1941: a dark day that indeed lives in infamy

The December 7 1941 Japanese air and naval raid on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was one of the great defining moments in history.

A single carefully-planned and well-executed stroke removed the United States Navy's battleship force as a possible threat to the Japanese Empire's southward expansion. America, unprepared and now considerably weakened, was abruptly brought into the Second World War as a full combatant.

Eighteen months earlier, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had transferred the United States Fleet to Pearl Harbor as a presumed deterrent to Japanese agression. But the Japanese military, deeply engaged in the seemingly endless war it had started against China in mid-1937, badly needed oil and other raw materials. Commercial access to these was gradually curtailed as the conquests continued.

In July 1941 the Western powers effectively halted trade with Japan. From then on, as the desperate Japanese schemed to seize the oil and mineral-rich East Indies and Southeast Asia, a Pacific war was virtually inevitable.

By late November 1941, with peace negotiations clearly approaching an end, informed U.S. officials (and they were well-informed, they believed, through an ability to read Japan's diplomatic codes) fully expected a Japanese attack into the Indies, Malaya and probably the Philippines. Completely unanticipated was the prospect that Japan would attack east, as well.

The U.S. Fleet's Pearl Harbor base was reachable by an aircraft carrier force, and the Japanese Navy secretly sent one across the Pacific with greater aerial striking power than had ever been seen on the World's oceans.

Its planes hit just before 8AM on December 7 1941. Within a short time five of eight battleships at Pearl Harbor were sunk or sinking, with the rest damaged. Several other ships and most Hawaii-based combat planes were also knocked out and over 2400 Americans were dead.

Soon after, Japanese planes eliminated much of the American air force in the Philippines, and a Japanese Army was ashore in Malaya. These great Japanese successes, achieved without prior diplomatic formalities, shocked and enraged the previously divided American people into a level of purposeful unity hardly seen before or since.

For the next five months, until the Battle of the Coral Sea in early May, Japan's far-reaching offensives proceeded untroubled by fruitful opposition. American and Allied morale suffered accordingly. Under normal political circumstances, an accomodation might have been considered...

But the memory of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor fueled a determination to fight on. Once the Battle of Midway in early June 1942 had eliminated much of Japan's striking power, that same memory stoked a relentless war to reverse her conquests and remove her, and her German and Italian allies, as future threats to World peace...

Another Pear Harbor Tribute

COMMON CENTS: "December 7th, 1941

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"December 7th, 1941 - 'A date which will live in infamy'"

“When the Arizona exploded, she rained sailors.” — Memories of a survivorToday is the 69th anniversary of the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The next day the United States entered World War II against the Axis powers (Japan, Germany and Italy). It is remarkable that they are all allies of the United States today!

The culmination of that battle was the sinking of the USS Arizona at the cost of over 1100 American men. They are forever entombed in the ship. The Arizona memorial remains the most popular attraction in Hawaii, please visit when you are in the state. But we should never forget what happened today. Here are a couple of pictures taken from my honeymoon of the Arizona as she sits today under water.

Amazingly, she is still leaking oil after all these years!
The names of the 1177 Sailors and Marines who died on the Arizona:
Battleship Row: The White moorings are the positions of the ships on December 7th, 1941.
The USS Missouri is permanently moored next the the Arizona. The war ended on the decks of the Missouri in in 1945 in Tokyo Harbor.

69 Years Later

Remembering Pearl Harbor: 69 Years by Cassy Fiano

Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy — the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
… Always will be remembered the character of the onslaught against us. No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.

… With confidence in our armed forces — with the unbounding determination of our people — we will gain the inevitable triumph — so help us God.

— from Franklin D. Roosevelt’s December 8, 1941 speech to Congress.

Today marks the 69 year anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The surprise attack shocked the nation and catapulted the United States into World War II. It was, at the time, the worst attack on American soil. 1,178 were wounded. 2,043 were killed. The water itself burned and bodies of the injured and the dead piled up.

As more are more Pearl Harbor survivors and World War II veterans leave this Earth, it becomes more and more of a distant historical event that we no longer honor and no longer remember. Each year, Pearl Harbor gets a little closer to becoming one of those events that we will only know of thanks to a few pages in a history book. The vast majority of survivors are gone now, and when there are none left, who will keep their memory alive? Who will honor the sacrifices of the fallen? Where survivors once fought the Japanese, they’re now fighting time — fighting to keep the memory of their fallen brothers alive, fighting to ensure that we continue to remember and honor Pearl Harbor always.

This summer, my husband and I chose to go to Hawaii for his pre-deployment leave. One of our first stops was at Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial. We had the honor and privilege of meeting several survivors before riding out to the watery tomb of the 1177 American heroes killed that day. 33 survivors of the bombing of the Arizona chose to be interred with their shipmates.

We watched the black tears bubble to the surface, but the remains of the ship are less visible than ever. Standing before the solemn wall of names of those killed sobers you in a way we weren’t completely prepared for.

Seeing the names of these heroes was an emotional moment. Far more saddening was the behavior of the people at the memorial. The park ranger on the boat on the way to the remains of the Arizona laughed and joked about partying that weekend. When learning there were servicemembers aboard — my husband, a sailor, and an airman — she said nothing and continued laughing about her weekend party plans. Once we arrived at the memorial, I was appalled at the lack of respect shown. People ran around the memorial, laughing and joking. I couldn’t understand how anyone could treat the tombs of American heroes so callously. It was a warning sign, in my eyes, that too many have stopped seeing the attack on Pearl Harbor as the horrific day that it was, a day that deserves solemn remembrance and honor.

We can still make a choice, though. We can choose to remember the sacrifices of the men who fought valiantly and died with honor in service to their country.

We can remember men like Frank Flaherty. When it became known that the USS Oklahoma was going to capsize and the order was given to abandon ship, Flaherty chose instead to remain at his post with a flashlight, illuminating the way so that the rest of the turret crew could escape. Flaherty perished with the ship and was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.

We can remember men like Doris Miller, Navy Cross recipient. On the bridge of the USS West Virginia, Miller refused to leave his mortally wounded captain, despite enemy bombing and strafing and heavy fire. At great risk to himself, he moved his captain to a safer place and then returned to the bridge where he continued to man and operate a machine gun until ordered to leave the bridge.

We can remember men like William Turner, awarded the Bronze Star. Stationed at the Ewa Marine Corps Air Station, he jumped into the rear cockpit of an airplane with a fellow Marine, Master Sergeant Peters. Both men used the rear machine guns to fire at attacking Japanese planes, and despite being wounded, managed to shoot down one of the enemy planes. Private Turner ultimately died of the wounds he received that day on December 12th.

We can choose to let their memory fade away. Or we can choose to honor their valour, their bravery, their sacrifice.

Remember Pearl Harbor. Remember the men who fought and died 69 years ago today.

They fought together as brothers-in-arms. They died together and now they sleep side by side. To them we have a solemn obligation.
- Admiral Chester W. Nimitz

That was the most horrible scene you could ever think of. Shipmates there, you can’t save them.
- Ship Cook George Brown

When you go home, tell them of us and say for your tomorrows they gave their todays.
- John Maxwell Edmonds

Franklin Delano Roosevelt - Pearl Harbor Address

A Day of Infamy

China Hacking Nightmare

Security Nightmare: Chinese Government Has Microsoft Windows Source Codes From Big

This is extremely unsettling. The Chinese government has the keys to the kingdom as far as software information is concerned. And they were essentially given it through a Microsoft tech program designed to improve the software. Only problem? The Chinese government used it to search for vulnerabilities in Windows to penetrate U.S. government computers. They managed to “slurp up” 50 megabytes of government emails as a result. An excerpt:
“The Chinese government may have used its access to Microsoft source code to develop attacks that exploited weaknesses in the Windows operating system, according to a US diplomatic memo recently published by Wikileaks.

The June 29, 2009 diplomatic cable claims that a Chinese security firm with close ties to the People’s Republic of China, got access to the Windows source under a 2003 agreement designed to help companies improve the security of the Microsoft operating system. Topsec allegedly worked with a government organization known as CNITSEC, short for the China Information Technology Security Center, which actively worked with ‘private sector’ hackers to develop exploits.”

Net Neutrality Expose'

Pajamas Media » Just What Do They Mean by ‘Net Neutrality’?

On December 1, FCC Commission Chair Julius Genachowski made a speech announcing proposed rules through which the FCC proposed to establish “net neutrality.” There is much controversy about the rules and about “net neutrality” in general. The frustrating part: when you examine the arguments closely, it’s clear that no two commentators appear to be talking about the same thing.

So what does “net neutrality” mean?

To answer that question, first of all we need to understand a little bit about the Internet and how it works. (More technical readers can skip this section, or just amuse yourselves observing the simplifications and omissions I’m making to keep this reasonably concise.)

The Internet arose from ARPAnet, and ARPAnet arose as the answer to a very interesting question: how can you build a reliable communications network when your switching stations may, at any moment, turn into a very large, glowing, hole in the ground? Traditional telephone networks — known as circuit-switching networks — wouldn’t do it: they depend on having telephone switches that make fixed connections for the duration of a call.

You can think about a circuit-switched network by thinking of the old switchboard telephone operators. When you made a call, your local operator takes a wire from your phone, and plugs it into the socket to send the call to another phone. You’re now connected, and the call works as long as the operator doesn’t unplug you again. When you made a long-distance call — and frighteningly, I still remember when long-distance calls were made this way — you got in touch with the local operator, who then used a separate line to talk to a long-distance operator, who talked to one or more other operators; when they had all talked it over, various plugs went into the appropriate sockets. The result was that there was literally a wire connection going from your phone to the person at the other end.

Of course, if something happened to any of the connections, from someone clumsily kicking out a plug to an atomic bomb going off in the neighborhood, you were cut off.

The ARPAnet was based on another idea, called packet-switching. Packet switching works more like sending mail: your message is split up into separate packets, and each packet is sent on independently to its destination. Think of these packets like postcards: you want to send your new NaNoWriMo novel to your best friend, who will read it and praise it, making you feel ever so much better. So you split it up, putting the text onto postcards, and mail each postcard to your friend.

Now, the post office takes each card, sorts it, and sends it to a mail distribution center, which sends it to another center near your friend; from there it goes to the mail man letter carrier, who carries it to your friend’s house and drops it in the mud mailbox. Over time, you will get the whole novel, and if something happens to the distribution center in the middle, the Post Office simply re-routes the following postcards through another location. Other than some details, like what happens to a lost postcard (number them, and send a postcard back asking for copies of the missing pieces), this is basically how the whole Internet works.

In the ARPAnet, and later the Internet, all your data is broken into packets (postcards) with a destination address and a sender address. If someone blows up the Omaha switching center, messages are simply routed, say, to Fargo in its place. As far as the network is concerned, all it cares about are the addresses.
Which leads us to net neutrality (you thought I’d forgotten.) The basic assumption about the Internet is that it doesn’t matter what the content parts of the packet are, just as a postman doesn’t care if you’ve written a letter in English, Swahili, Klingon, or a special code of your own invention. They just deliver to the address given.

But now, what if the Post Office had a special deal with Hallmark, so that if you were sending a Hallmark card, it got special treatment — or what if the Post Office decided that it was carrying too many Hallmark cards, so it set a limit that it would only let a letter carrier carry 100 cards a day? Obviously, this would mean that Hallmark was very much dependent on staying in the good graces of the Post Office, and should the Post Office decide to go into the card business themselves, Hallmark could be in real trouble.

Around 2004, some of the big Internet service providers like Comcast decided to do just that: worried about people using file sharing or sending lots of video, they started looking at the contents of packets to see what was being sent, and throttling how much data of specific types a customer could receive. This led to the first push for net neutrality, of a sort that we might call net neutrality of the first kind, or “content neutrality.” Along with that, people demanded that they be able to connect their own equipment to their networks, and that third parties like new equipment companies had to be allowed to build new Internet equipment themselves.

The push for net neutrality, however, was quickly picked up by other people for other political purposes, starting with the idea that “net neutrality” meant that everyone ought to have equal access to Internet service, whether they live in the borough of Manhattan, or Manhattan, Kansas, or in a cabin twelve miles by road from the nearest human habitation. This quickly picked up other ideas: that “net neutrality” meant different ethnic groups have equal access — which would mean the government looking not just at the content of the messages, but the race of the person on the wire; or that different viewpoints ought to have equal access to the Internet — so, potentially, Fox News would be limited based on how much bandwidth the Huffington Post consumed, and even that “hate speech” and “lies” could be regulated.

This is what we might call net neutrality of the second kind: not content-neutral, but instead, content “fairness.”

Stated that baldly, a lot of people would object (and rightly, I believe.) The original Obama administration proposals were much more intrusive than what we know of the new proposal — “what we know” because, oddly, the proposed rules haven’t been made public. Based on Genachowski’s speech, the new rules sound reasonably benign — which, to a cynic like me, immediately leads to a second question: why aren’t the new rules being published?

Add to that other recent proposals, like the Obama administration’s proposal for a law authorizing fairly intrusive regulation, up to the legal right to completely shut down the Internet in an “emergency.” Or the recent BBC interview in which another FCC Commissioner, Michael J. Copps, suggests that the broadcast media should have to meet a more stringent “public values test” for license renewal — and makes it clear that “fairness” and “local content” are parts of that test as he sees it. One might object that this is only for the broadcast media, except for the number of other politicians who have proposed the FCC should also regulate the cable networks and Internet.

This, then, is the question I think everyone must ask when discussing net neutrality: do we mean the content-neutral, don’t read-the-postcards net neutrality of the first kind? Or the “fair access” net neutrality of the second kind?
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