Saturday, June 29, 2002

The air is getting stuffy in here. I think I'll go out for a walk, and if perhaps I come across a railway station I might hop aboard a train and see where it goes. In fact, you propably won't hear from me for a while, unless I feel an uncontrollable urge to locate an internet cafe, wherever. Be seeing you.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

They were chased from their country after a war half a century ago, and now their descendants want it back. Palestinians? Nope. Sudeten Germans.

Tuesday, June 25, 2002

There were more than 12 000 people in Oslo yesterday. Most of them had come to shut down, revolutionize, democratize or otherwise reform the World Bank. Everybody else, (recognizable by their cameras and failure to clap at the right places), came to see their town get trashed. Neither got what they came for, which is propably a good thing in many respects. I didn't hear of a single episode of violence, and I only ever saw two uniformed cops, riding ahead of the procession. There were houndreds closeby, of course, in full riot gear, but they could not be seen from the route. There may have been 40 or so protesters who looked eager for trouble, black-clad and masked, and I expect there were many more who wouldn't have backed out of a fight, but with post-hippies, commie grandmothers and gawking bystanders the nearest targets for a brick attack, the excuse never came. A kid who threw stones at a McDonalds was quickly stopped by fellow protesters.

Much of the credit for this success must go to the organizers for their strong focus on non-violence, but no less of course to the police, who acted professionally and prudently. By staying invisible during the entire protest, they created the illusion of a free zone in downtown Oslo, which lead to a relaxed atmosphere. Instead of a street riot we got a street party.

They were all there, all the favourite targets of this bloggers ridicule: Social democrats, socialist, anarchists, environmentalists, feminists, unionists and paper mache artists. I saw Cuba-supporters, Palestine-supporters and Zapatista-supporters. If there was a leftist cult with a Scandinavian branch not represented in the protest, I can't think of it. Luckily, or the wackiness would have overcome me, I ran into a Chomskyite pro-capitalist friend on a similar fact-gathering mission, and instead of sniping each others opinions as usual, we had fun mocking the speakers at the final rally. They had invited an agitated union leader from Argentina, who raved in Spanish about the revolution and class struggle, and complained how the World Bank, the United States and corporate logos had destroyed his country. There was a representative of the Youth section of the Farmers Party, who blamed the difficulties of third world farmers on the World Bank and neo-liberalism, conveniently leaving out the way her party in particular have helped build a wall of subsidies and taxes around Norwegian farmers, at the expense of above-mentioned third world farmers. (On the plus side, the Farmers Party kept us out of the EU in 1994 - but for all the wrong reasons.)

After the protest we dropped by the Reclaim the Streets party nearby, at Vaterland on Grønland. This was organized by the radical Blitz community, not known for its dedication to pacifism, and had not been approved by the main protest organizers. (When about 10 Blitz "cheerleaders" leapt up during the rally, right in front of where I sat, and began chanting "Reclaim the Streets!", Attac quickly organized a counter-chant to drown the sound.) The idea of Reclaim the Streets appears to be that you find a street and, uh, reclaim it, by sitting down and tagging doodles on it. I counted three reclaimed streets on Grønland. I neglected to check back this morning to see if they had been "re-reclaimed" by rush traffic again, but I strongly suspect that this is the case.

Oh, and here are my pictures - a veritable Who's Who of the Scandinavian wacky left.

Saturday, June 22, 2002

No offense to the not entirely insignificant American section of the blogosphere, but it's about time more Europeans caught the blog meme: Maarten Schenk writes from Brussels, and Teemu Lehtonen from Finland.

Egalit watch - listening to NRK so you don't have to: Two Iranians, who in 1993 hijacked a plane and forced it to Norway, have finally been granted their request for asylum on humanitarian grounds, after years in Russian prison; how many they threatened to kill to get here this time has not been disclosed ... Amnesty approves of this interesting new anti-terror policy, and so does Norwegian State Broadcasting (NRK), who so valued the unique expertise of the hijackers that they hired the ringleader ... Classy neighbourhood "spoiled" by security measures at Israeli embassy, complains Aftenposten in editorial, two months after plans of terror attack revealed ... Local shopkeepers prepare for peaceful World Bank demo by removing lose bricks from street and barricading windows; local activists prepare for peaceful World Bank demo with detailed guides to tear gas protection, claiming masks and goggles a must-have.
Magnus Bernhardsen 2002-06-25 So, what do you say about the demos and violence now, Bjrn? They went off quite peacefully, as I insisted they would. Told you so! [more>>>]

Thursday, June 20, 2002

World Bank protest organizers protest media smear campaign:

There are no plans for violent actions or riots. The police have been informed of this. Even so, the police in Oslo have started a flood of unfounded rumours about plans for violent actions. It is difficult to see any other motives for this than that the police wish to use the demonstrations to ensure increased funding and new equipment for themselves and to frighten off demonstraters.

It is tragic that the police, by launching this campaign are making the same mistake as the police in Gothenburg did last year. They are heightening tensions which can contribute to provoking disturbances.

Now, I'm not saying that there will be extensive violence at the meeting. Hopefully, the opportunity to smash one of the less interesting Scandinavian cities, at a conference that isn't all that important, won't tempt continental anti-globos. For all I know, some of the McDonalds restaurants along the route may even be left standing. But what I expect is irrelevant. The police would not do their job if they didn't plan for the worst, and the protesters are already living up to expectations, perceiving oppression where there is none.
Craig 2002-06-22 The same crowd complained here (in Nova Scotia) when police used tear gas on them during a demonstration against the G-8 finance ministers' meeting... They claimed that the police arbitrarily opened [more>>>]

Tuesday, June 18, 2002

Check out World War 3 Report, a weekly newsletter with a comprehensive summary of the various wars on terror. Good example: This account of the proceedings at the Afghan Loya Jirga.
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A Palestinian terrorist blew up a busful of Israelis today, not far from TalG's home.
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Monday, June 17, 2002

Haven't you always wanted an Ask Osama column?
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Far left blogger Magnus Bernhardsen is confident that the World Bank protests in Oslo next week will be peaceful, and derides hysterical police preparations. Leader of Attac Norway Vegard Holes promises likewise in Dagbladet.

I believe in the peaceful intentions of the Norwegian organizers, and of course it's not fair to hold the hatred of a few violent extremists against the ideology of the peaceful many. Attac's beliefs are wrong because they are incorrect, not because some people express them with bricks. Their promises of non-violent protests, though, are void and empty. Sure, it's possible to gather a volatile crowd of angry and highly diverse organizations without violence, but to promise it, even expect it? To many of these experienced protestors, a police man is the uniformed manifestation of everything they hate, and there's no limit to the kind of barbaric acts one can rationalize as "self-defense". One rude cop, and all hell may break lose.

In fact, the rationalization has already begun. In a piece at Oslo 2002, The Government-created escalation of violence, Nils Christie warns that the police is creating some kind of unfriendly atmosphere, (which as we all know breeds all kinds of things except responsibility.) On the warning against kids being used as shields:

Police Chief Anstein Gjengedal and his people are usually sensible beings. But here something is going terribly wrong. If it were so that someone were trying to mobilize 12-16 year olds, it can't be the business of the police to prevent this. If some are coming to Oslo with this dubious aim, they will not be stopped by the lack of sleeping places in schools. The summer night is short, and perhaps even warm. The only thing the police will achieve is to create in advance a distance between the parties, give the protesters a sense that they are outcasts, as well as show that the police belongs completely to the other side, that the police is not the protesters police.

In other words: If something goes wrong, the police will be partly to blame. Which is of course to miss the point entirely, which is that you never hit a police officer in a free and democratic country - not even if he's being unfriendly. "But, but - they were" No. "They started it!" Doesn't matter. "I felt like an outcast!" Tough. "Fascist pigs!" No, they're not. They're here to protect private property and innocent bystanders. They're here to ensure that everyone can voice their views in public in a peaceful fashion, also after the McChomsky show have left town. By even accepting the possibility that protesters aren't fully responsible for how they choose to use or abuse their right to protest, Nils Christie and others like him are making it that much easier for violent World Bank protesters to rationalize their actions when they wake up on Tuesday 25th to a nasty headline.

If there is a peaceful future to these anti-globalization protests, it lies in complete abstination from violence, even, no, especially in the face of perceived police violence. No if's or but's, just non-violence. Is this possible? Do they have the stomach? We'll see. I hope they can pull it off, but history speaks against it.
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Teemu Lehtonen 2002-06-18 It's something of a time-honored method of hijacking an agenda: Take away the middle ground. It doesnt take more than two dozen people (for example. vast minority in any case) to get 50 thousand brand [more>>>]

According to 7th century religious leader Muhammed, writing in the local periodical the Holy Qur'an, there's No God but God, and Muhammed is his messenger.

Al-Baqarah 286: To Allah belongeth all that is in the heavens and on earth. Whether ye show what is in your minds or conceal it, Allah Calleth you to account for it. He forgiveth whom He pleaseth, and punisheth whom He pleaseth, for Allah hath power over all things.

I've began reading the Qur'an - I should have done so long ago - and may occasionally post some quotes I find interesting. (Ha - blogging the Qur'an! Has that ever been done before?) For instance, I didn't know there were three People of the Book: Jews, Christians and Sabians.

Al-Baqarah 62: Those who believe (in the Qurn), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.

No hope for interreligious marriage, but I don't think idolators include People of the Book:

Al-Baqarah 221: Do not marry unbelieving women (idolaters), until they believe: A slave woman who believes is better than an unbelieving woman, even though she allures you. Nor marry (your girls) to unbelievers until they believe: A man slave who believes is better than an unbeliever, even though he allures you. Unbelievers do (but) beckon you to the Fire. But Allah beckons by His Grace to the Garden (of Bliss) and forgiveness, and makes His Signs clear to mankind: That they may celebrate His praise.

On usury, (and from the context I'm not sure whether it's meant in the sense "interest" or "excessive interest"):

Al-Baqarah 275: Those who devour usury will not stand except as stand one whom the Satan by his touch Hath driven to madness. That is because they say: "Trade is like usury," but Allah hath permitted trade and forbidden usury. Those who after receiving direction from their Lord, desist, shall be pardoned for the past; their case is for Allah (to judge); but those who repeat (the offense) are companions of the Fire: They will abide therein (for ever).

On freedom of religion:

Al-Baqarah 256: Let there be no compulsion in religion: Truth stands out clear from Error: whoever rejects Taghut (evil) and believes in Allah hath grasped the most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. And Allah heareth and knoweth all things.

Truth stands out clear from error - couldn't have said it better myself. Sometimes a sword comes in handy to underscore a point, though.

Oddly, almost every rule, even the petty ones, are followed by some reminder along the lines of "Allah sees everything you do", or "Allah knows what's in your hearts", as if by ritual to drive in the importance of submission. Another observation: Belief in determinism, ie. nothing happens unless God wills it, strikes me as one of the more alien and contradictory concepts of Islam. Why the emphasis on determinism? Wouldn't this increase the problem of evil? For the Christians, this problem applies to the creation of the universe, and the inaction of God in face of evil. For Muslims, it seems to me it would apply to everything that happens, and that's a large logical hole even by religious standards. Strange.

Sunday, June 16, 2002

I think it's time to unveil my blog comment system. It's not all that revolutionary, and I'm way behind everyone else on this one, but mine have one neat feature, which strikes a balance between Bill Quick and Fred Pruitt, who show the full text of all comments in their blog, and most bloggers, who place all comments on a separate page. The way I've done it, if I see a comment I like, I can promote it to the blog, with a link to that particular comment. I may use it for reader mail too. See below.

Three rules: 1. Stay on topic. 2. Disagreement is encouraged. 3. I may delete anything I wish, but it won't be for petty reasons. See point 2.

Let me know of any problems. More semi-neat features coming up over the next couple of months, as I find time to write them.
Bjrn Strk 2002-06-16 See? Like this. You get a smaller font than I do, of course. [more>>>]
Winston Churchill 2002-06-16 I say to the House as I said to ministers who have joined this government, I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears, and sweat. We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have bef [more>>>]
Bjrn Strk 2002-06-16 Ok, it passed the Churchill Test. Hereby declared open for the public. [more>>>]

Saturday, June 15, 2002

One of the advantages of owning my own domain is that I can set up as many mail addresses I like, and filter them into appropriate folders with Eudora. (What, you're still using Outlook?) It's good for spam protection too. Just for curiosity, I once downloaded a 600mb spam list with some 29 million e-mail addresses [*] - and found one of my own. I've been careful not to expose my main address ever since, so that right now, everything that isn't for my main address, and isn't covered by any other rule, is moved to my "propably spam" folder, which is one quick look and a click away from the trash can. Works great, or did until now.

I don't know if I've been careless, or the spambots have learned the "name at something dot com" obfuscation technique, but I'm now getting spam to my main address. After living almost entirely without spam for a long time, this is very annoying. So I've made a new address for reader mail: - this one will be shown on the web only as an image. I'd like to see the spammer, (may he burn in hell), who will OCR umpteen billion images on the web just to find e-mail addresses. And if that doesn't work, there's always sound.

The old one will still be read, but it will be phased out and dumped in the propably spam folder when people have stopped using it. I will not give in to terr^H^H^H^H spammers.

[*] Quick search reveals other members of same spam list, which is about two years old: Ken Layne (tabloid), Matt Welch (tabloid, msn), Virginia Postrel (dynamist, msn), Glenn Reynolds (yahoo), and, despite obfuscation attempt, Richard Bennett. Hey, this is fun!
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Egalit watch - news from the flank of international socialism: High-rise buildings planned in central Oslo; Directorate of Cultural Heritage warns against environmental effects and Americanisation of unique city identity, the reasons for preservation of which remain unknown ... Reduction of state ownership in major companies prevented by opposition ... Three on trial for drunken paper plane attack on US embassy ... Committee suggests ban on racism expanded to include private conversations [pdf; summary] ... Unaware of Swedish Television and pubs, scores of B-Celebrities demand free viewing of Soccer World Cup; Cup shown on pay TV by Telenor after public channels found rights too expensive ... Ryanair laughs in the face of notoriously high-priced Scandinavian domestic flight market; "shouldn't be difficult to be profitable here" boasts owner.

Note new color codes for links: Blue - English language, Red - Scandinavian language.
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Wednesday, June 12, 2002

Norwegian fighter jets on their way to Afghanistan. I suppose it's only a mild gesture by the US towards multilateralism, but hey, it matters to me.

Thousands of fine young representatives of anti-globalization movement to descend on Oslo for World Bank meeting on June 24-26. In fact, some of them may be even younger than usual. Fredrik Norman reports that protesters may use children as shields against the police, and wonders where on earth they may have gotten that idea.

Being a known neo-Stalinist has its perks, and thanks to my access to the secret steganographic mailing lists of the far left I can now reveal the full story of this wicked plan. Children are in fact only a part of it. The World Bank protesters in Oslo will walk in several concentric rings of increasing age, each more wacky and evil than the last. In the outer and first circle, children wearing flowers of red and yellow will disarm police officers and reporters with their cute rendition of the Internationale. In the second circle, stylish teenagers move the crowds to pity with posters of starving Third World children. In the third circle, bright young students shout monotoneously out of their recently acquired Chomsky tomes at three syllables per second, placing unprepared listeners in a hypnotic trance. From the fourth circle, older students, well-read on all the books of their tribe, prepare deconstructive counter-measures against police blocks and counter-protests. If it doesn't really exist, there's need to blow it up.

In the fifth circle, black-masked nihilists who scorn the crass consumerism of mass-printed anti-consumerism books carry same books as lethal projectile weapons. In the sixth, scores of long-haired high school teachers drag the heavy weight of lost illusions, their aura of bitterness and self-loathing infecting everyone who looks upon them. In the seventh circle, aging punkers and anarchists make up the foot soldiers of the lot, armed with anti-Thatcher posters, chains, and nails dipped in toxic substances from their kitchen sink. In the eight circle, an elite group of Khmer Rouge veterans form a protective wall around the ninth and innermost circle, in which a shadow dwells that few dare name, although rumour has it that it answers to the call of .. Valla.

Things look bad indeed for local affiliates of oppressive hamburger chains.
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Tuesday, June 11, 2002

RFE/RL details Irans propaganda efforts in Afghanistan, (scroll to third item).
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In case you hadn't noticed, 3300 Norwegian journalists were on strike for over a week recently, demanding, uh, an extra vacation week. I passed them every day on Karl Johan street, where they had set themselves up a few meters away from a popular beggar spot, whining about how horrible they were being treated. Apparently, journalists were quitting to become teachers. Horror, despair!

An agreement was finally reached on Friday. The cry of joy you didn't hear was me not standing in line at the newsstand the next morning, waiting for a fresh edition of Dagbladet. (In fact, I wrote all of this days ago and forgot to publish, that's how happy I am.) I don't like legalized blackmail.

With nothing better to do than to hang around on streetcorners, (teachers and other lowly creatures walking about their business annoyingly unaffected), the strikers had all the more time to heckle profiteers, or as they are also known, non-unionized colleagues and employers. Sometimes with comical results, as in this news item about Dagsavisen, which was attempted kept alive by the editors:

The Strike Committee of the Norwegian Union of Journalists objected strongly after Dagsavisen on Thursday came out with an apparently full product without the participation of the striking journalists.

"Oh no, quick, get back to work! They're onto us!" Rule of employment #1: Everyone is expendable. But some, in this case an entire newspaper staff, are more expendable than others.

Sunday, June 09, 2002

The Straits Times reports from the battle between liberal and radical Islam in Indonesian universities.

The typical Muslim moderate intellectual is a young person in his late 20s to mid 30s. He teaches at an Islamic university, or works in a think tank or non-governmental organisation. He is articulate and presents his views with finesse. Such qualities give him substantial political cache and many of his kind are popular commentators in the Indonesian media. Mr Ulil Abshar-Abdalla is the man most identified as the face of the new Muslim moderate.

Last year, he and several like-minded friends started the Islam Liberals Network (JIL) to counter what they perceived as a growing radicalisation of the Islamic community in Indonesia. The movement started from an Internet mailing list to spread teachings on 'humanism', which they broadly defined to encompass tolerance, inclusiveness and gender equality.


Strangely enough, most of the Muslim hardliners come from secular universities like the Bogor Institute of Agriculture, Bandung Institute of Technology and the University of Indonesia. Nearly all of them are grounded in the science and engineering disciplines. In these universities, student bodies like the Campus Propagating Group (LDK) are common place and a focal point for students who lack an early education in the fundamentals of Islam. [..] Its members are easy to spot - the women wear long gowns and headscarves, while nearly all the men sport beards.

Courtesy of the translation service at Arcnet, here are (slow) links to the websites of two of the organizations mentioned in the article: Jaringan Islam Liberal and Hidayatullah, and some anti-Israeli propaganda posters used by Hidayatullah:

Boycott Johnson & Johnson, (warning, grisly picture).

Each time you see Johnson & Johnson, remember this baby.
This baby was killed by an Israeli sniper. Note how he took careful aim before shooting.

Companies like Johnson & Johnson fuel the war machines of Israel. At the 50th anniversary of Israel, Johnson & Johnson was given the Jubilee Award, for its efforts to strengthen the economy of Israel.

This poster captures the fears of radical Islam better than I ever could: Boycott Coca-Cola.

We just moved to a new location.
Drink Coca Cola. Support Israel.
Supporting American products means supporting Israel.

And wouldn't you know it, corporate logos do kill - look, there they are, hiding behind that tank: Boycott Sara Lee.

After throwing rocks at Israeli tanks for 21 days, Farish Oudeh was finally killed. Companies like Sara Lee fuel the war machines of Israel. In 1998, Sara Lee was given an award by prime minister Netanyahu for "doing the most to strengthen the Israeli economy".

Damn, I hate it when the bad guys know how to use Photoshop.
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Matt Welch does a royal trashing of the Chomskyite Left.

The Chomskyites can rarely bring themselves to admit that the United States has been, in tangible ways, an agent for actual good in the world (though Chomsky's recent acknowledgement, on CNN, that the United States is "the greatest country in the world" was a surprising departure). This stance, coupled with the one-sided drumbeat of criticism, has created a distorting, if attractive, dogma of its own. For years, this ideological subculture thrived in the academic shadows, far from the glare of public attention, comfortable in its grievances about being ignored. After Sept. 11, this cushy arrangement came to a crashing end. When Islamo-fascists mouth Berkeley slogans while waving around severed American heads, an engaged citizenry is now bound to take note.
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Saturday, June 08, 2002

To Hamid Akbari at the Iranian, Mohammed Mossadegh stands out against the Shahs and Ayatollahs of Iran as an icon of democracy, comparable to Gandhi, Mandela, Jefferson and Luther King. That's a grand comparison, but anyone who can point Iran towards democracy 35 years after his death must have been good for something. (It certainly was a mistake of the Americans and British to kick him out of office in 1953.)
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Common sense about the Middle East is uncommon in Scandinavia, but it exists. Former Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden and long time supporter of Israel, Per Ahlmark, in Dagens Nyheter, (translated for your convenience): The US and EU are different planets.

A few days in New York is a liberation, from scorn of Israel in Sweden and the EU, to balance, analysis and understanding of the only democracy in the Middle East. American pundits are certainly not without criticism of Israel. After watching several TV programs on the subject, I am struck by their ability to hold two, three, four thoughts in the head at the same time. They can be skeptical to the Jenin fights, while realizing that confrontations of this kind come as a consequence of Palestinian suicide bombers.

They criticize Israeli settlements, while at the same time pointing out that the intifada broke out after Arafat rejected Baraks proposal to disband most of the settlements. In American TV debates, one realizes that the war today isn't about the "occupation", which every pundit in Sweden claims to know that it is.

If Arafat had continued to negotiate in 2000, Palestinians could have gotten 96% of the West Bank, 100% of Gaza, and half of Jerusalem. And when Palestinians refer to the "occupation" they often mean the whole of Israel, including Tel Aviv, Haifa and Beersheba. So the conflict is about the existence of Israel. After the fiasco of Camp David, and Arafats support of terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, it is obvious that he does not want a Palestinian state that lives in peace with the Jewish state.

What the Americans also understand is that the free world now stands against a threat that resembles the threat of the former totalitarian world. Islamic fundamentalism despises democracy, freedom of religion, gender equality, the West, and most of all Jews and Americans. Their goal is to create theocratic dictatorships, whose oppression resembles that of fascism and communism.


The US and EU stand in this debate as two different planets, also in the area of pluralism and intelligence. To compare an American news program with Swedish chants of curses against Israel is like being thrown from civilization to charlatanism. From ABC's Ted Koppel in Nightline to SVT's Bo-Inge Andersson in Rapport.

In some years, books will be written about this decay, and the ones who were most involved will deny that they ever took part in it, invent some alibi opinions and otherwise keep quiet. In 1994 I wrote a book about the distortion of public debate by the '68 movement, ("The Left and the Tyranny"). What we see now is a late outbreak of the mad quarter-century.

Oh, and he's a strong critic of Noam Chomsky, (again, link in Swedish). I haven't heard of Per Ahlmark before, but I'll try to keep you updated on what must be considered a revolutionary discovery: political intelligence in Sweden.
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Friday, June 07, 2002 reappears in Iran as, selling Real Video streams of recent movies, (although currently with "technical proxy/caching problem"). I wouldn't bother to mention it, (same old piracy story), except for this comment from a copyright law attorney:

If Hollywood is not successful, Broussard said other Internet file-sharing firms could follow's lead. "It will be interesting to see how this plays out," he said. "Iran could have a booming Internet business. It could be like the Switzerland of Internet hosting."

Uh, aren't we forgetting something here, like Irans censorship laws? I can't imagine that dealing with the Iranian Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is going to be that much easier than dealing with the MPAA.
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Thursday, June 06, 2002

Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew of Singapore talks of the growing influence of radical Islam in Southeast Asia, and of their attempts to unravel the local al-Qaeda network.

There are more than 230 million Muslims in Southeast Asia. Nearly all were tolerant and easy to live with. The majority of the 200 million Indonesian Muslims were abangans, Muslims who have fused Islam with Buddhism, Hinduism and other beliefs. They were not the intense and strict Muslims of the Arabs in the Middle East. We were aware that the nature of Islam in Southeast Asia has been changing over the last 30 years.

First and foremost, after the price of oil quadrupled in 1973, Saudi Arabia has generously financed the Dakwa (missionary) movement by building mosques and religious schools, and paying for preachers throughout the world, spreading the teachings and practices of its austere version of Wahabist Islam. Next, the overthrow of the shah of Iran in 1979 in a revolution led by Islamic clerics has had a profound impact on Muslim beliefs in Islam's power. Finally, the participation of large numbers of Southeast Asian Muslims in the jihad in Afghanistan during the 1980s and the 1990s has radicalized significant numbers of the Southeast Asian Muslims.

The Far East Economic Review offers this fascinating analysis of the galvanizing effect of radical Islam on Indonesias Christian community:

In the eyes of many Christians, the fight is now one for survival. "The conflict has amalgamated all the churches into one body with a common cause," says John Lindner from Christian Aid, a U.S.-based organization campaigning against anti-Christian violence. "They have laid aside their doctrinal differences for the sake of their survival." Some have also taken a more direct approach. In the largely Christian province of North Sulawesi, black-clad Christian militias patrol through towns, ready to take on members of the Laskar Jihad. But Poso's Christian warriors are as feared as the Laskar Jihad; they are widely suspected of massacring 500 Muslims in May 2000.

That may be so, but I'm still a long way from reading about, say, yesterdays bus bomb in Central Sulawesi, without immediately thinking of Islamic terrorism.
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Wednesday, June 05, 2002

Tal G, (who's now on my, come to think of it, increasingly diverse blogroll), wonders why the latest bus bombing haven't registered much in the blogosphere:

Many weblogs that discuss Israel haven't mentioned the Megiddo bombing. Could it be that, like the Israelis, they've run out of things to say about them?

Perhaps. In this case, I'll let this WP article say it for me:

"I saw a car passing and then there was an explosion. The bus turned over at least twice". [..] The blast rolled the bus like a kicked soda can, engulfed it in flames and hurled passengers onto the highway. [..] Witnesses said some passengers were burned alive, among them a man and a woman who died as they embraced. [..] The huge blast occurred right in front of Megiddo Prison, where Palestinian security prisoners are held. The inmates cheered, prison guards said, as the wardens watched the horror from their towers. [..] An advertisement recalling Israel's 20-month battle with Palestinian violence was blown off the back of the bus. It read: "To bus drivers, security forces and rescue teams the heart says thank you."

There's nothing more to say.
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The company I used to host this site on went broke the other day. I had done some work for them, and the sysadmin is a friend, so I had the space for free. Now I've switched to a commercial web host, (selected because they offer MySQL and GCC, and seem to have a friendly attitude towards developers. Don't ask me why I write CGI in C.) That's not the only reason I've added a Paypal tip jar to the link bar, but it's a good excuse. In the spirit of transparency, (and because it's a fun experiment I haven't seen any bloggers try before), I'll maintain a tip jar counter, to show how much has been given. The website doesn't cost much, about $10 per month, and if you want me to have more, feel free, but it'll propably just end up with the Palestinian Authority, through heavily taxed Norwegian beer.
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Tuesday, June 04, 2002

I've promised myself never to write about art in this blog, but after laughing my way through Ken Laynes great book Dot Con I find out that he's only sold a few thousand copies of it! Outrageous. This book has everything: evil executives, heroic web reporters, and militant Berkeley activists. It's funny without overt comedy, and do evil things to characters we don't like, (and some we do). What's not to like? You can buy it here.

Next Jonestowne thriller is apparently finished, and (ominously) "now in the hands of Agents & Publishers". Sign me up, Ken.
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West gets even with bin Ladenites at soccer World Cup. South Korea wants to show off for former oppressors. World Cup a "rare occasion where the poor can win against the rich, and where the U.S. is not dominant". What role does 22 men running after a leather ball play in international politics? I don't know, and I don't much care. Soccer is good fun, a great sport, and any discussion of it that moves on a higher level than whether or not the referee sucks is propably a waste of time.

Here's to more matches like Japan - Belgium.
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Monday, June 03, 2002

Orrin Judd reviews Ted "please oppress me" Ralls new book on his terrible ordeal in Afghanistan.

In this little psychodrama, the United States plays the role of the Nazis and Mr. Rall gets to be an ersatz Holocaust survivor. Luckily, he seems entirely comfortable viewing his own country in this light. As he tells another journalist, "It's a burden to be American. Everywhere you travel, people hate your country. You know they're right but if you admit it, you feel unpatriotic." One might think that Afghanistan would be a poor setting in which to despise American values, the most backward nation on earth because it is the least westernized. Mr. Rall, though, is not one to see the screamingly obvious, and in that vein he gives his readers this bit of insight about Afghanistans experiment with communism: "The only good thing to happen here was the Soviet invasion..."
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Sunday, June 02, 2002

Shin Bet: 40 terrorist attacks against Israel prevented in recent weeks, (via TalG).

IDF troops arrested two Palestinian women Saturday in the Rafidya neighborhood in the West Bank city of Nablus, who planned to carry out suicide attacks. One of the woman was carrying an explosive belt. IDF troops arrested a total of nine Palestinians in the neighborhood, including four female students from the A Najah University in Nablus.

So, how long until Palestinians notice that terrorism isn't leading anywhere, give their stupid and corrupt leaders a well-placed kick, and join modern civilization? Surely the quality (and age) of their kamikaze candidates must have begun to drop. An apparent 43% unemployment rate may be provide good recruitment grounds for extremists, but shouldn't it also put the idea into some peoples heads that peaceful coexistence with Israel is at least more profitable than war?
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Seems my first post in this weblog has been nominated, (again, actually), for that September 11 blog book. I liked my parody of it better, but I'm honored. Thanks.
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Saturday, June 01, 2002

Satish Nambir, formerly of the Indian Army, talks about Indias motivation for an attack on Pakistan-controlled Kashmir:

There is a general feeling that we have taken this nonsense from Pakistan far too long without making them pay a price for it. Some of these terrorist actions in the normal course would have necessitated an immediate response. And I think that is why the business of restraint becomes too much for anyone to swallow. Basically our tolerance threshold has been breached long ago. There is a requirement to take some action. The government has no option. After all these verbal attacks, they have to prove their credibility.


We have convinced ourselves that we are a nice set of people. Nice guys have no place in this world today. I am not saying that we must all be bad guys. But you have to display a certain degree of self- respect. If you have self-respect, they will give you the respect. Obviously the Western world, the Americans, are putting pressure on us. They are not going to suggest to go ahead and have a war. They will all try to dissuade us. But they're not interested in our national security; they are only interested in their own aims. We have to deal with it on our own terms.
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