Trotsky, Jewish universalist

by Chris Bertram on September 2, 2003

When I, somewhat unwisely, ventured into the “greatest figures of the 20th century” debate and mentioned Trotsky, there was a good deal of flak in the comments to the post. One blogger who agreed with that judgement, and who had voted for Trotsky in the original poll, was Norman Geras. Now Norman has published (for the first time in English) an essay he wrote a few years ago on Trotsky’s Jewish identity and the tension between that identity and the revolutionary leader’s universalist goals. It is well worth reading for many reasons, but I’ll mention two: first, it reveals Trotsky’s remarkable prediction, as early as 1938, that the extermination of the Jews was in prospect, and second, Geras reminds us via Trotsky’s account of a pogrom from 1905 what a powerful writer he was.

Pot. Kettle. Black

by Maria on September 2, 2003

It turns out that Kazaa has succeeded in having Google remove several responses to search queries involving ‘Kazaa’ and ‘Kazaa Lite’. The grounds? Violation of copyright of course.

Google ‘Kazaa Lite’ and a note pops up on the bottom of the page;

“In response to a complaint we received under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we have removed 11 result(s) from this page. If you wish, you may read the DMCA complaint for these removed results.”

Googling ‘Kazaa’ yields 6 removed results. Have no fear, though. The DMCA complaint that Google thoughtfully links to contains a list of the banished urls.

What’s interesting here is that rights holders are now picking off the low-hanging fruit by targetting search engines – shooting the messenger, so to speak. Rightsholders much prefer the big, easy targets, e.g. technical intermediaries such as telcos and ISPs, and are succeeding in changing laws all over the world to tip the balance even further against the idea of communications companies providing ‘mere conduit’ as the postal service does.

The latest push comes through the EU Commission’s IPR Enforcement Directive, which sacrifices the right to privacy, the European internal market, competitiveness and the entire communications industry to keep on filling the coffers of content owners. Check out London-based FIPR for an excellent analysis of everything that’s wrong with this proposal.

Let’s Go Dutch

by Maria on September 2, 2003

The US is not the only place where political dissent is considered a reasonable basis to prevent individuals from travelling freely. If the Italians have their way, all of Europe will be a no-go zone for anti-globalisation protesters, anti-war demo organisers, and a whole slew of objectors to the current soft-authoritarian right that prevails around the Mediterranean.

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It follows me wherever I go

by Kieran Healy on September 2, 2003

Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, David Bernstein has a problem. Recently he’s smelled stale urine in three different hotel rooms. “Has anyone else had the same experience,” he asks, “or know of some explanation for this phenomenon?” But the Volokh Conspiracy does not have comments enabled, so enterprising readers cannot make the appropriate rejoinder.


by Ted on September 2, 2003

About a month ago, there was a press release from Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club. They had filed a FOI act claim against Dick Cheney’s secretive energy task force. Among the documents that they had obtained were maps of Iraq’s oilfields and a document entitled “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” Some people took this as proof that the war on Iraq had been planned before September 11, 2001, in order to transfer control of Iraqi oilfields to American companies. After a few small mentions in the mainstream media, the story died, except on left-wing blogs.

I don’t know why the story didn’t hit the national news. Maybe it was because Dick Cheney’s office stonewalled, and the press couldn’t get enough information to make it a worthwhile story. Maybe the media is so cowed by right-wing carping that they won’t pursue stories about right-wing malfeasance without either airtight evidence or a lot of momentum from the press pack.

But I’d like to believe that the story died because honest reporters looked into the allegations and saw that it was a bullshit story. There is nothing suspicious about an energy task force gathering information about major oil wells, no matter where they are. Oil is a commodity, Iraqi oil was on the market under the oil-for-food program, and it would have been very strange if Cheney’s group had neglected this. Furthermore, when you read the “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts” document, it seems to be all about non-US companies who began working with the Iraqi oil company under the oil-for-food progam. There are no American companies on the list.

I bring this up because the same news outlets whose commitment to truth and honesty brought you such bullshit stories as “Paul Wellstone’s memorial was nothing but a political rally,” “Bill Clinton’s staff vandalized the White House on the way out,” and “Gen. Wesley Clark is a deranged liar” are proud to bring you a new one:

“Cruz Bustamante is refusing to repudiate his association as a student with the racist group MEChA. Why is the media ignoring this story?”

Now, the MEChA question actually seems to come up quite a bit in stories about Bustamante. But I can’t deny that major media haven’t given the question the prime-time treatment. Why is that? Again, I don’t know. I’d like to think that it’s because the media have examined the charges, called some members of MEChA, and decided that a full-court press is inappropriate.

You see, this is a bullshit story.

Let’s look a little closer.

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