The parties are advised to chill.
Mattel, Inc. v. MCA Records, Inc., 296 F.3d 894, 908 (9th Cir. 2002)

Friday, May 28, 2004
I Knew I'd Seen That Before!

When LGF pointed out Al Gore's speech at NYU (which, as James Taranto notes, was considered extreme even by Maureen Dowd), I was struck by the photo:

Al Gore
New York University
May 26, 2004
(via Yahoo!/AFP)

I knew it reminded me of something, but I just couldn't place it.
Then I remembered:

Nikita Khruschev
United Nations, New York
October 11, 1960
(via Corbis)

How about that?

Posted 8:40 AM by Tony

A Cautionary Note

Ralph Peters explains why going to the UN isn't the best choice:

IT'S easy to tell when terrorists and thugs are near defeat: They ask for a cease-fire.
It's just as simple to tell when the diplomats have overruled our military: We agree to the proposed cease-fire.

And stop short of victory again.

[ . . . ]

The Germans are madly anti-American, but far too cowardly to oppose the United States on their own. The core of the problem is France. French hatred of America is equally pathological, but it's also coldly calculated for maximum damage.

Paris wants to dictate the terms of any new United Nations resolution regarding Iraq. It's willing to wreck the hopes of 26 million people to spite Washington and make a couple of euros. The French want to design the world, but they can't even build an airport terminal — indeed, the recent collapse of that brand-new, $90 million passenger terminal at Charles de Gaulle airport is a perfect metaphor for French policy. They've wrecked everything they've touched.

Now they know exactly what to do in Iraq: Establish a firm deadline for the withdrawal of Coalition troops.

What would such a deadline achieve? It would guarantee the terrorists and Baathist assassins that they only have to hang on, that the Americans and British will be gone and la belle France will ensure that those uppity Kurds and any Arabs foolish enough to believe in democracy and human rights will be served up on a platter to the Middle East's latest consortium of murderers.

The strategy of the terrorists in Fallujah, of Sadr's ragtag murderers and of our French "allies" is exactly the same: Limit the number of quarters in the game, then call as many time-outs as necessary to let Team Terror recover whenever the Coalition offense threatens to score.

The administration's response? A ref from the United Nations. Guess who's going to get called "out of bounds"?

Check out the rest - while I may not agree with everything he says, his points are usually worth consideration.

Posted 7:56 AM by Tony

Thursday, May 27, 2004
Korean Copyright Enforcement

Well, it looks like Korea has taken a page out of the RIAA playbook (via Chosun Ilbo):

The [Dongnyuk Law firm] is entrusted in dealing with criminal lawsuits relating to copyright infringement by Digitalprizm, the copyright holder of Baek Ji-young’s music video; Taewon Entertainment, the company that imported “Kill Bill 2” and “The Grudge 2”; and Hanmaek Entertainment, the representative company for the Korean Film Producer Association.

The Munhwa Ilbo report cited the firm’s lawyer Jo Myun-sik saying, “We confirmed that as many as 3,500 Korean Internet users have violated the copyright law. We sent the certification of contents to a 100 of them, and we are initiating procedures to negotiate with them. But 20 refused to negotiate, so we made criminal complaints against them.”

The certification of contents states, “In return for not being sued, elementary, middle and high school students should pay W100,000, university students W300,000 and adults W500,000 in compensation.”

[ . . . ]

Meanwhile, since the Internet users are faced with lawsuits from the copyright holders, they established an Internet café called “The Group for Impeaching the Law Firm Dongnyuk,” on April 28 to discuss countermeasures for the criminal lawsuits and contents certification brought against them, reported Munhwa Ilbo.

There's a couple of things here that seem kind of odd, but that may be because I'm not familiar with Korean law. The article states that the firm brought criminal complaints against Internet users, but the certification refers to "not being sued," which is generally in the context of civil lawsuits. So it's unclear if the law firm is also filing civil lawsuits against the Internet users.

The other odd thing is the fact of attempted enforcement. Korea was known to be pretty casual in its attitudes to IP, despite, like the US, being a party to (in the case of copyright) the Berne Convention, and the World Trade Organization (as part of the Uruguay Round agreements). Earlier this month (PDF), the US Trade Representative had placed Korea on a Priority Watch List, stating, in part:

Despite such progress, the U.S. Government remains seriously concerned that modern copyright protection continues to be lacking in important areas. Key among these is Korea's failure to adequately update its laws to protect sound recordings against digital piracy. Statements by the Korean Government indicating an unwillingness to provide national treatment to U.S. sound recording producers are also a source of concern, and further exacerbate this problem. As a result, online music piracy has continued to grow, causing serious economic damage to U.S. companies.

However, Korea altered its copyright law last year to include criminal penalties for circumventing digital rights management measures.

I have a feeling that this sort of thing may indicate a new trend in the Korean copyright scene, but that's just my guess.

Posted 8:40 AM by Tony

Wednesday, May 26, 2004
DMZ-Style Golf

I'd heard of the golf course at Camp Bonifas (see also Global Security), of course.

I always thought it a bit surreal that people played on a par 3 hole surrounded on three sides by land mines. Reinforcing the point is a sign with a hazard warning you won't find at Pebble Beach:

Danger! Do Not Retrieve Balls From The Rough. Live Mine Fields

I didn't think it could get any weirder, until I ran across this July 2003 National Geographic article on Panmunjom:

Tired infantrymen rotate off zone duty and return home to Camp Bonifas, less than a mile away to the south. Many unwind at the links—or link. Dividing into offensive and defensive units, soldiers tee up at the "world's most dangerous golf course" (RealPlayer, WinMedia) for a quick game of combat golf. To simulate combat, each player dons laser receivers and wields a laser-mounted M4 rifle. One competitor actually plays golf while his partner protects him from two or three snipers positioned along the one-hole, 192-yard (176-meter), par-three course. Members of the offensive unit negotiate through smoke and wire to score while the defense, naturally, tries to kill them. Strokes plus time from tee to cup determines the score. If you kill a sniper, you lose a minute, and the lowest score wins.

It'd be pretty neat if the PGA Tour adopted these rules, I think.

Update: KimcheeGI has more.

Update 2: Here's another article in (of all places) South Africa Golf Digest:

And, on the edge of this slate-gray place, where the soldiers' ballcaps read "Ready To Fight Tonight," sits a one-hole, 192-yard, par-3 golf course with no name. How about Royal St. Douglas MacArthur? Lt. Col. Matt Margotta, the battalion commander, smiles.

You can't look at this preposterous hole with its barbed-wire border and artificial green without smiling. Next to the golf bunkers (sand traps) are the real bunkers (slit trenches). Just the slightest hook off the tee finds a cleared minefield that has been converted into a rice paddy. And live mines are still well in range.

At an annual tournament, the long-drive contest is conducted from the teeing mat straight left into the DMZ. "If you hit a land mine," Col. Margotta says, "you win a beer. For closest-to-the-pin, we use that marker -- see it? -- out on the south boundary of the DMZ. It's actually a warning to aircraft not to get too close."

The highlight every year is when the "Merry Monks of the DMZ" play "combat golf," involving a variety of obstacles, hoops of barbed wire and clouds of smoke. "Lots of smoke," Col. Margotta says. "It's a two-man best-ball competition. One guy negotiates the course. The other guy covers him. You wear laser receptacles telling you if you've been hit or not. There are snipers throughout." Colin Montgomerie might find it a bit difficult to concentrate.

"Where's Rukavina?" somebody shouts out. "Pass the word! Tell Rukavina we need him again!"

In a flash, a muscular kid from Los Angeles, Private Rich Rukavina, comes double-timing it to the tee, plucks a 4-iron out of a borrowed set and begins warming up in combat boots. Private Rukavina must be pretty good, because he's the one they always call.

"I'm all right," he says.

After a few cold misses, the click of his contact becomes crisper, and then crisper yet, until it blends in with the propaganda music of the mountains and the balls begin to land like perfect notes in the middle of the green.

Posted 1:39 PM by Tony

Unification Amateur Hour

The Korea Herald is running a story on the possible candidates for unification minister:

Politicians usually feel honored to enter the Cabinet, but not everyone thinks so and neither does Rep. Kim Geun-tae.

President Roh Moo-hyun has reportedly decided to appoint the former Uri Party floor leader as health and welfare minister in his planned Cabinet reshuffle next month, but Kim and his close aides are not happy. They seem baffled and offended because he sought the post of unification minister instead.

The coveted position is likely to go to Chung Dong-young, former Uri chairman and Kim's biggest rival, triggering conflicts between supporters of the two men who want Korea's top policymaking post on North Korea.

And there's some puffery on the current minister, Jeong Se-hyun, who's pretty much set a low bar for his successor. As some of you might know, I consider Jeong to be a prize jackass, for jewels such as:

"The solution [to the US-North Korea nuclear issues] could be for both to simultaneously accept each other's demands"
"political freedom [for North Korea] is a luxury, like pearls for a pig"
[Nov. 3, 2003 - ROK Unification Minister Jeong admits lying to National Assembly when he denied knowledge of any payment to the North to participate in the Cheju festival.]
"Now even if we don't give food aid, China will provide a significant part of the North's needs as it is quietly doing now. Maybe half of the North Korean population will perish but we will have the other half alive and very angry."
"Despite North Korea's changes, our vision and understanding of the the problem of unification remains biased and at times extreme."
"At this point [discussing North Korea's nuclear plans], I don't think we need to talk about policy issues based on the possibility of negative scenarios."
"If North Korea is forced to admit [to the uranium program], it would affect their pride. That would not be an effective way to go about this. We need to work out an arrangement."
"[Seeing] the oxcarts and the children in the [poor] hospital beds [in TV footage from the disaster in Ryongchon, North Korea], it was really miserable. . . . Why, it's romantic, no?"
[May 2004 - Jeong explained the companies suffering deficits while trading with the North will be given financial support that amounts to 50 percent of their losses. (read: "money-laundering)]

Here's hoping that the next unification minister has some more sense, but given that it's the Roh administration, I'm not too optimistic.

Posted 9:36 AM by Tony

Axis of NAFTA

Just thought I'd take advantage of the bandwidth and put up some more Miss Universe-related pictures (prior posts here and here). So today, it's Rosalva Luna (Mexico), Shandi Finnessey (USA), and Venessa Fisher (Canada). Is it just me, or does it look like Miss Mexico has some serious toned abs?

Posted 8:44 AM by Tony

The Replacement

I've always liked Joss Whedon's shows: Buffy, Angel, and (the sadly short-lived) Firefly. The WB network had cancelled Angel, when the show was doing the best it had ever been, and so I was pretty ticked off while watching the final episode last week. Out of curiosity, I checked to see what would be taking the show's place.

There's a line from Firefly that pretty much sums up my reaction:

Bunch of qing wa cao de liu mang.

Posted 8:11 AM by Tony

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Reading Skills

I'm thinking that whoever tacks on the headlines to Associated Press stories at the Globe and Mail needs to take remedial reading comprehension lessons. Consider the title of this story, concerning the suspension of Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, and the replacement of Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez:

U.S. generals pay for Abu Ghraib

Read the title again.

The title indicates:
1) More than one (not just one) general is being disciplined;
2) because of what happened at Abu Ghraib.

The story only mentions Generals Karpinski and Sanchez. However, nowhere in the story is there any indication that General Sanchez's replacement is a consequence of the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. The Globe and Mail editor seems to have jumped on the title by this negative inference:

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, appearing Tuesday on CBS's The Early Show, said he had heard the reports but could not say whether Gen. Sanchez's departure was in any way related to the prison-abuse problem.

I suppose the easy response would be to say, "what else do you expect of a newspaper that employs the likes of virulent America hater Heather Mallick?" However that's far too easy of an answer. Either way, General Sanchez gets tarred without any sort of factual support to back it up.

Posted 5:14 PM by Tony

Linkin Park

Not like I needed it, but Blackfive gives yet another reason to like Linkin Park:

Nu-metal band, Linkin Park recently presented a $75,000 donation to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation at a concert at the USF Sundome in Tampa, March 5th. Each of the six Linkin Park band members have chosen a charity to support during their tour, and for bass player Dave Farrell, also known as Phoenix, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation was his choice.

Good for them.

Posted 10:36 AM by Tony

Lieberman And Iraq

I wasn't a fan of Joe Lieberman during his presidential campaign. What particularly stood out to me, as a gamer, was his view that video games caused youth violence, which I thought overly simplistic.

I think I have a bit more respect for him now (though I still wouldn't vote for him) after reading his reaction to the president's speech yesterday (transcript via Fox News; Financial Times; Newsday*).

In this CNN interview, Lieberman accurately notes that 1) reconstruction is a long and uncertain process, and 2) it all boils down to will:

[Paula] ZAHN: Sen. Lieberman, will the plan in place work? We just had Secretary Albright on, who more or less suggested that it is unrealistic.

LIEBERMAN: There are obviously no guarantees here. But I do think tonight that the president did what he has to do in this speech and in the ones that will follow in the next weeks, which is to shore up American support, to remind the American people why we must win this battle against the terrorists and the Saddam loyalists and to remind them that he has done some of the things that his critics asked him to do, including me.

He has now gone to the United Nations. He has now increased the number of American troops there and is prepared to send more to keep the security so that democracy can take hold.

I hope that all of us in both parties who have said that we have to stay in Iraq and finish the job in pursuit of our own values and of our own security will pull together and make it happen and not be part of a chorus of doubters that will undermine the support of the American people more.

We've got to stay united here as best we can to support our troops, but to support our cause. In my opinion, this is the test of our generation. And if we don't win it in Iraq, we're going to face it much closer to home in the years ahead.

[ . . . ]

ZAHN: Sen. Lieberman, there are obviously three disparate factions that this government has to worry about uniting, the Shias, the Kurds and the Sunnis. Do you have concerns about that, short-term and long-term?

LIEBERMAN: Democracy is not easy. It's sometimes messy. But the folks in Iraq, thanks to the courage and skill of the American military, have options before them that they never would have dreamed they would have today, and that's because Saddam, that brutal dictator is gone.

And we have the United Nations in there now, through ambassador Brahimi, trying to negotiate an agreement between the Shias the Sunnis and the Kurds. I believe he can do it.

But what's most important is that before long, the Iraqi people are going to get to do it. They're going to get to vote. And I think if the American people don't lose -- if we don't lose our will, we're going to look back with real pride at what our troops have done and what we can do together for the Iraqis, but also to secure our values and our security.

Compare that to Kerry, who simultaneously defines leadership as abdication of responsibility, and devalues the contributions of our allies already present in Iraq:

The President laid out general principles tonight, most of which we've heard before. What's most important now is to turn these words into action by offering presidential leadership to the nation and to the world. That's going to require the President to genuinely reach out to our allies so the United States doesn't have to continue to go it alone and to create the stability necessary to allow the people of Iraq to move forward. That's what our troops deserve, and that's what our country and the world need at this moment.

I might disagree with Lieberman on most things, but it seems to me that he's proven himself an honorable person.
* I'm a great believer in looking at the raw data rather than news "analyses." Thought it was a good speech, but I think Frank J's version would have worked better.

Posted 7:48 AM by Tony

Monday, May 24, 2004
Pinup Monday

I ran across this picture of half-Thai, half-German model Pim Marsha Wattanapanich on the Gweilo's site.*

Here's a couple more, reduced to fit this space:

(found at AZ Celebrity; Thai Supermodels)

That brightened up my Monday a bit.
* Which occasioned one of his better comments: "What the fuck is it with some of you people that every single time I run a photo of a Thai girl, I inevitable get comments that she's really a he?!? I suspect that some of you have serious repressed issues with your sexual orientation. "

Posted 5:23 PM by Tony

World War II Memories

The problem with oral history projects is time: as the distance from the event grows, witnesses die, or their memories become clouded. The Washington Post has a piece on the Battle of the Hurtgen Forest:

From Sept. 19, 1944, to Feb. 10, 1945, American commanders sent one division after another into a forest that was too dense for tanks to maneuver in, under inclement weather that often made air support all but impossible.

More than 24,000 U.S. soldiers were killed, wounded, missing or captured in the five-month battle. Another 9,000 were incapacitated by disease, particularly trench foot, a crippling injury caused by exposure to cold and moisture. Entire companies were wiped out in the fighting.

Pretty sobering stuff.

Posted 2:42 PM by Tony

Intellectual Property In Iraq

Professor Lessig points out that the intellectual property laws in Iraq have changed.

You can check out pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom laws for trademark, patent and industrial designs, and copyright, via Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property. The CPA has issued the changes at Order No. 80 (trademark), Order No. 81 (patent), and Order No. 83 (copyright). More generally, all CPA regulations can be found here.

What I find interesting is the criminal provisions for infringement. Check it out:

Pre-OIF - maximum 3 months imprisonment for repeat offenses
Post-OIF - maximum 5 years [!] imprisonment

Pre-OIF - maximum 2 years imprisonment
Post-OIF - no imprisonment

Pre-OIF - maximum 1 or 3 years imprisonment, depending on use
Post-OIF - maximum 3 years imprisonment, 5-10 years imprisonment for subsequent offenses

What the heck? Criminal penalties for garden-variety IP infringement seems a bit weird.

Posted 12:27 PM by Tony

Korean Cell Phone Perils

My understanding is that there are two major cell phone standards. One is CDMA, primarily found in the US, and GSM, which seems to be the norm everywhere else. (Explanations here and here) The two protocols, as you might expect, are incompatible, though the FCC has approved the first dual CDMA/GSM phone for US use, the Samsung SCH-A790 (though oddly, the phone is not found on either the Samsung or Verizon web sites).

Korean companies such as LG and Samsung are involved in the wireless market, which may explain the somewhat panicky tone of this Korea Times article (also see this Korea Herald article on cell phone infrastructure in Korea):

[title:] Royalty Nightmare Now Real

All companies which have any patent in code division multiple access (CDMA) technologies are rushing to Korea to rake in royalty from the nation's cell phone makers.

This poses a serious threat to the commercial viability of Korean handset makers, especially mid-tier players, as the flurry of royalty demands squeeze their already-flagging bottom line.

Industry sources on Sunday said several foreign firms with CDMA patents, including Lucent and Motorola, have tried to get technology usage fees from Korean firms since 2002.

[ . . . ]

Up to now, only Qualcomm has been believed to collect royalty for its source technology in CDMA but experts said around eight others also hold some locks about it.

I'm interested to see how this all plays out.

Update: More in the Joongang Ilbo.

Posted 10:05 AM by Tony

Friday, May 21, 2004
Local Idiocies

The East Bay Express has a piece on anti-Semitism at UC Berkeley (found via LGF):

But many remember spring 2002 as the season the screaming really started. On spring break, someone hurled the cinderblock through the front door of Berkeley's Hillel Center, scrawling the words FUCK JEWS nearby. Also that spring, catalogues appeared listing courses that would be offered during the forthcoming fall semester. One of these was an English course titled "The Politics and Poetics of Palestinian Resistance." Its instructor was graduate student Snehal Shingavi, a prominent member of Students for Justice in Palestine. Among the required textbooks for the class was The New Intifada: Resisting Israel's Apartheid. In the official catalogue, the course was described as addressing "the brutal Israeli military occupation of Palestine, an occupation that has been ongoing since 1948, has systematically displaced, killed, and maimed millions of Palestinian people. ... This class will examine the history of the Palestinian resistance and the way that it is narrated by Palestinians in order to produce an understanding of the intifada. ... Conservative thinkers are encouraged to seek other sections." The national media had a field day with it. Responding to the outcry, the UC administration issued a statement attributing the course description to "a failure of oversight on the part of the English Department in reviewing course proposal descriptions." Shingavi's "no conservatives allowed" shtick was deemed discriminatory, and the official course description was altered. By that time, however, the class was already full, and even boasted a waiting list.

Micki Weinberg remembers the events of April 9, 2002 as one of his pinnacles of horror. On that day, Students for Justice in Palestine held a rally on campus to commemorate 1948's Deir Yassin massacre, in which Israeli forces killed a hundred Palestinian civilians in a village near Jerusalem. Also that day, at the same time and virtually the same place, Jewish students gathered for a vigil to mark Yom Ha'Shoah, the annual Holocaust remembrance day. Whether these two commemorations were scheduled concurrently by happenstance or on purpose has been a matter of debate ever since.

At noon, Sproul Plaza was packed solid with an estimated six hundred to a thousand students, the majority of whom were Palestinian supporters. Palestinian and Israeli flags fluttered against the gray sky. One sign read, "Israel lovers are the Nazis of our time." Another proclaimed, "Today, Israel is killing terrorists who would attack America." Voices blared through megaphones. "Anti-Zionism is not anti-Semitism," declared pro-Palestinian community activist Micah Bazant -- the Jewish son of a Holocaust survivor. "Yes it is, yes it is!" chorused another group of students. A skirl of rage erupted when Bazant began reciting the Kaddish, the traditional Hebrew prayer of mourning, in honor of the Deir Yassin dead.

So let's hear it for Stanford!

Posted 6:29 PM by Tony

(Overly) Zealous Advocacy

Depositions involve the taking of oral testimony from witnesses. Like trials, testimony at depositions is given under oath and under penalty of perjury. One might reasonably expect that lawyers at a deposition would approach depositions similarly to the way they approach trials.

Of course, there are exceptions (via SF Chronicle):

The lawyer who barked like a dog at a witness during a deposition has been fined $8,500 for misconduct and harassment of opponents, according to a [New York state] judge's 54-page decision published Thursday.

Then again, dog-like behavior isn't unknown at trial, either.

Posted 12:08 PM by Tony

Irrelevance In Reporting

The irrelevancies in this Washington Post/AP article really irritated me:

[Title:] Fighting Continues Near Shiite Shrines in Karbala
American AC-130 gunships and tanks battered militia positions early Friday near two shrines in the holy city of Karbala, killing 18 fighters loyal to a rebel cleric, the U.S. military said, while 450 Iraqis were released from the Abu Ghraib jail at the center of the prisoner abuse scandal.

[ . . . ]

The fighting in Karbala started after insurgents fired several rocket-propelled grenades at U.S. tanks that were patrolling on the outskirts of the so-called "Old City," a maze of alleyways and cluttered buildings, said U.S. Army Col. Pete Mansoor of the 1st Armored Division.

The tanks returned fire, and more than two hours of heavy fighting followed. Smoke billowed from burning buildings. Explosions lit up the night sky and reverberated throughout the city. Electric lights flickered on and off. By 3 a.m., the fighting had stopped.

Much of the fighting was near the city's Imam Hussein and Imam Abbas shrines, which U.S. forces allege are being used by militiamen as firing positions or protective cover. Mansoor said the shrines were not damaged.

The military says it is doing its best to avoid damage to the gold-domed shrines, which could infuriate Shiite Muslims who are not involved in the conflict. Sadr, who launched an uprising against the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq last month, has accused U.S. forces of desecrating holy sites.

[emphasis added]

Nothing in the article indicates that there was any shooting going on from or in the shrine. That fighting was near a shrine is hardly relevant - one might as well write that "Fighting Continues Near A Flock Of Geese." All the mention of the shrine does is to imply that the US is carelessly targeting Shiite shrines, but without having to deal with the burden of, you know, factual support.


Posted 10:47 AM by Tony

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Gun Registry Blues

I've been deriving a certain deal of, well, let's be honest and call it schadenfreude, over Canada's attempts to implement a gun registry. Especially given that I live in California, which is notoriously hostile to the idea of gun ownership. Previous posts on the topic are here, here, and here.

Here's the latest chapter in the saga (via Globe and Mail):

Funding for the registry will be capped at $25-million a year, starting next fiscal year. The cost of the registry is currently $33-million, down from $48-million in 2001/2002.

The Deputy Prime Minister [Anne McLellan] has proposed a separate vote beginning in 2005/2006 to allow Parliament to enforce the budget cap.

The Globe and Mail reported Thursday that the registry was originally slated to cost only $2-million, but the Auditor-General estimated that it will have cost $1-billion by 2005.

Gun-registry fees will be reduced and eliminated to encourage compliance with licensing. Registration fees range in cost from $18 to $25.

Now, let's assume that the gun registry actually has some sort of value. Let's also assume that total implementation cost is going to be $1 billion, as Auditor General Sheila Fraser reported. It stands to reason, then that lowering funding and reducing fees is going to result incomplete implementation for lack of money. So, where's the value in this program, then?

Ms. McLellan suggests that the shortfall can be overcome by increasing efficiency. Government efficiency. Sure.

Update: Oops (via Globe and Mail):

Several caucus sources said Civil Preparedness Minister Albina Guarnieri, author of the [revamped gun registry] package, was never informed that Ms. McLellan was poised to announce major changes to the registry.

She discovered there was to be an announcement late Wednesday night, when she heard it on the television news, sources said.

[ . . . ]

Ms. McLellan's announcement reflected only a part of what Ms. Guarnieri brought to the cabinet table, sources said. For example, a controversial recommendation to move the registry from a stand-alone agency into another department or agency, such as the RCMP, in order to save costs was not announced yesterday.

As well, according to sources, Ms. Guarnieri had recommended decriminalizing registry offences. This was also not reflected in Ms. McLellan's announcement.

[ . . . ]

"I'm pissed off," an Ontario MP from a rural riding said. "They've left this to the 11th hour and 59th minute. They're announcing something without any feedback from those of us who have been vocal about this thing."

The firearms registry, introduced by the Liberals in 1995, was expected to cost taxpayers $2-million, with the bulk of the $119-million expense covered by registration fees. However, Auditor-General Sheila Fraser calculated the registry cost, not including recouped fees, at $1-billion by 2005.

Alberta Justice Minister and Attorney-General Dave Hancock said he was disappointed with the announcement, since his government has long been lobbying to abolish the gun registry and focus on crime. He has also pushed to move firearms registration offences out of the Criminal Code so provinces aren't forced to prosecute.

Posted 7:00 PM by Tony

Trends That Should Fade Quickly

This sort of thing just makes me gape in disbelief. I give you: the Korean metrosexual (via Chosun Ilbo, by way of IA):


I have an aunt in Seoul that always feels the need to improve my wardrobe when I visit. I may want to avoid Korea for the rest of the year, I'm thinking.

Posted 6:48 PM by Tony

Miss Universe

I posted previously about Miss USA. However, I had totally forgotten that there was a Miss Universe contest until the other Tony started putting up pictures of the various contestants for this year's pageant. It's taking place June 1 in Ecuador. I hope that we won't see a repeat of what happened in Nigeria in 2002. I expect not - the people in Ecuador seem to have their heads screwed on tighter.

Anyways, here's some pics of last year's Miss Universe, Amelie Vega (via their web site):

Posted 6:23 PM by Tony

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Places To Go In Korea And A Mystery Solved

I pointed out earlier that hardyandtiny had found a US Army guide to Itaewon hotspots. The Army apparently withdrew the publication. But the Marines have provided their own list of Itaewon tourist attractions.

And a mystery solved:

Whenever I visited Korea, I'd watch Armed Forces Korea Network, which is pretty much the only English-language broadcast station there. Announcements would constantly mention "Area I" or "Area II," and the like, and I had no idea what the heck that referred to. Now I know. And I feel much better for the knowing.

Posted 4:00 PM by Tony

The Deer Epidemic

Apparently, the deer problem is not limited to the Bay Area. Unbillable Hours describes a land use meeting in New Jersey, and explains the dimensions of the deer (and fish, and turkey, and squirrel) problem there (found via Technicalities):

The population of deer in New Jersey is something like 200+ deer per square mile, which is particularly bad if they happen to live in your square mile. Deer, to some, are nice and pretty and such, but to me they’re nothing more than long-legged rodents with good PR. In that regard, they’re not that different from Kate Moss. However, if you’ve hit a deer while driving – say, hypothetically, of course, a 1998 Mercury Sable at 75 miles per hour – down Route 520 at 11:00 at night, you look at deer as a serious, oh-my-god-an-antler-almost-went-through-my-head problem. And you’ll be filled with hate, which, as we all know, is good.

Read the rest - it's priceless.

Posted 3:49 PM by Tony

KCNA Follies

The always entertaining KCNA, the mouthpiece of the North Korean government, has this story:

The demand for Saengmyongsu, a medical drink developed by the Koryo Saengmyongsu Technical Centre of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, is ever increasing among people. The drink (deoxidized water) is extensively used at hospitals and by many people to improve their health and treat diseases.

There are some ten Saengmyongsu-serving shops in Pyongyang.

The water eliminates oxygen toxicity accumulated in human body by hyperoxia. It prevents aging, maintains and increases the movement function in body and helps relieve physical fatigue.

Let's leave aside for the moment that hyperoxia seems unlikely due to drinking water, when compared to, oh, say, breathing. I'm just thinking of the advertising slogan:

Saengmyongsu - We Take The "O" Out of H2O!

Posted 3:34 PM by Tony

Korean Editorial Roundup

IA summarizes Korean editorial reaction to the news that part of the US 2nd Infantry Division is going to Iraq. I almost had tears in my eyes from laughing so much.

Posted 3:11 PM by Tony

Tuesday, May 18, 2004
Rene Gonzalez Must Really Be Wrong...

...when not a single person on SF Indymedia will agree with his position that Tillman got what was coming to him.

Posted 8:01 PM by Tony

Wild Animal Alert

If you're in the city of San Francisco, be on the lookout for this dangerous native of Marin County:

Its crime (via SF Chronicle):

A young deer made a traffic-stopping journey this morning from the Marin Headlands across the Golden Gate Bridge, through the FasTrak lane and into the Presidio of San Francisco.

[ . . . ]

When the deer reached the toll plaza it passed through FasTrak Lane 11. "It violated the toll," [bridge spokeswoman] Currie said.

Attempts were made to divert the deer onto Merchant Road just past the toll plaza, but the animal continued south, taking the 19th Avenue exit.

Let's be careful out there.

Posted 3:12 PM by Tony

Korean Language Day (Sorta)

The Joongang Ilbo has a piece on current Korean lingo relating to dating. One usage involves adding the suffix "-ting" to words, such as "sogaeting," in which "sogae" means "to introduce."

One wonders if and when the word "bloggaeting" will ever come to being, given the active nature of Korean blogs.

Posted 10:33 AM by Tony

Cultural Conflicts

Found on StrategyPage, via a bulletin board I frequent:

Several shipping containers of Spam (the pork kind, not the email variety) are headed for Iraq, and this might result in a major new media firestorm of bad publicity for coalition troops in the region. The Arab media has made indignation over all the infidel (non-believer, meaning non-Moslem) troops in Iraq a major news issue. All those infidels are seen as a blot on Arab, and Moslem, honor. Al Jazeera, and all the other major Arab news outlets, compete furiously for stories about outranges against Arab honor and customs. With that in mind, how did all this Spam get sent to a country where even touching pork is forbidden by Islamic law?

It seems that as the U.S. Army was looking for units to replace those that had spent a year in Iraq, it found a reserve engineer battalion (the 411th) in the Pacific that could replace the 389th Engineer battalion in Iraq. The units of the 411th Engineer battalion are from many American island territories in the Pacific. [as well as Alaska (!)] One of those islands is Guam, whose people consume more Spam per capita than any other people on the planet. Pork has always been a very popular dish in the Pacific, from the Chinese to the Polynesians (the people to live on most Pacific islands.) Spam was invented during World War II, as a way to turn various pork byproducts (Spam stands for Spiced Pork and Ham) into a canned meat product. Spam was shipped to the troops in large quantities. While it was never very popular in the United States, when people in the Pacific came across it, they quickly adopted it as a delicacy. When the Samoan GIs found out they were headed for Iraq, they filled up several shipping containers with Spam, so they would not be without their favorite food while they served in Iraq. Samoans also tend to be very large people, and not the kind of guys you want to get on the wrong side of. Should any Arabs try to get between the Samoans and their Spam, there could be trouble.

Let me just second that - screwing around with angry Samoans is generally what they call A Bad Idea.

Posted 8:27 AM by Tony

Monday, May 17, 2004
More Indianheads In Iraq?

The big news among the expat bloggers in Korea is that a brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division (composition here; history here) may be deployed to Iraq. The Marmot and
Budaechigae have this story covered.

A little background on why this is such a big deal:

The 2nd Infantry Division has, by my reckoning, five combat brigades. Three of them are maneuver brigades, one is an aviation brigade, and one is an artillery brigade. The entire division, with the exception of the 3rd Brigade, is stationed in South Korea. None of these Korea-based elements have ever been moved off the peninsula, as far as I know.

The 3rd Brigade is already in Iraq. Assuming the division artillery and aviation brigades aren't moved, the removal of the 1st or 2nd Brigade from Korea would seem to leave very few warm bodies on the ground to defend the peninsula. At least, the way it seems to me.

Update: Well, it's official: 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division is going (see also Global Security):

About 3,600 members of the 2nd Brigade of the 2nd Infantry Division will deploy to Iraq from the Republic of Korea, Defense Department officials confirmed today.

The troops will begin deploying to Iraq in mid-summer, a senior official said speaking on background.

The decision can be made with impunity, because of the beefed-up capabilities the United States has on the Korean peninsula, the official said. More capable air assets, a Patriot 3 brigade, rotating Stryker battalions, and far better command, control, computers, communications and intelligence facilities more than make up for the drop of U.S. troops in South Korea to 34,000, the official added.

[ . . . ]

The troops will spend one year in Iraq. Since military tours of Korea are typically one-year unaccompanied tours, some soldiers will spend up to two years separated from their families. Officials said the majority will spend between 12 and 18 months away from home. No decision has been made on whether the brigade will return to Korea following its tour of duty in Iraq.

Posted 11:21 AM by Tony

Bay To Breakers

The SF Chronicle has an amusing story, with pictures (including, of course Elvis) of yesterday's Bay to Breakers race. This is an annual race that is a combination of serious race / Halloween / movable keg party.

I couldn't get up early enough, and I'm not much for physical exercise. But I was at Golden Gate Park later in the morning, watching the partyers run by:

There were superheroes and beer wenches, Hooters girls and bloated Elvises, and dozens of salmon swimming upstream. Waldo was easy to spot, as was the "Gropernator" -- a reference to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

And for the 13th year in a row, the "Tiki Hut" float -- a giant, full- service Polynesian bar -- doled out piña coladas and margaritas. A testament to the preparation that can go into the Bay to Breakers, the float was started by a group of siblings from Walnut Creek and has grown every year.

In some cases, several runners confirmed what I call "Tony's Law": the ones with their clothes off are the ones you really wish would leave them on. 'Nuff said.

Posted 8:30 AM by Tony

WMD In Action

Well, looky here (via SF Chronicle):

A roadside bomb containing sarin nerve agent exploded near a U.S. military convoy, the U.S. military said Monday. Two people were treated for "minor exposure," but no serious injuries were reported.

[ . . . ]

"The former regime had declared all such rounds destroyed before the 1991 Gulf War," Kimmitt said. "Two explosive ordinance team members were treated for minor exposure to nerve agent as a result of the partial detonation of the round."

Hmm. Undeclared sarin => undeclared nerve agent => undeclared chemical weapon => undeclared WMD => violation of UN Security Council Resolution 1441. Interesting.

Posted 8:21 AM by Tony

Friday, May 14, 2004
Quick Question

Am I the only person out there who has never watched American Idol, Survivor, or any other "reality" TV program? Just wondering.

Posted 1:55 PM by Tony

Things You'll Never See In The Bay Area

The Demikini (via Yahoo!/AP by way of Wizbang):

Janine Newberry, right and Karen McKay model two new backless and strapless bikinis, on the King's Road in Chelsea London Wednesday May 12, 2004.

Now, as a Southern California lad, I had assumed this was invented there, or in some other well-known sunny clime. But, nope, it's from the UK, not exactly a beach vacation destination (via Manchester Online):

The Demikini - a stick-on bra without any visible means of support - is set to be the difference between unflattering streaky lines, and the perfect tan.

But its creator Jill Silver [of O.T.T.], from Altrincham, insists she has come up with the bikini top that can be a wow in the bedroom as well as on the beach.

Jill, a former English teacher at Altrincham Girls' Grammar School, came up with the idea on holiday in Majorca five years ago.

Seems like an evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, step in engineering to me. And I kinda doubt that you'll see this at Ocean Beach in SF, the weather being what it is.

Posted 1:17 PM by Tony

Thursday, May 13, 2004
Good Neighbors

Jen Martinez has some information on a security fence.

Not this one (via NDTV, India):

The Israeli army on Thursday began construction of a fence meant to protect Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip following a deadly attack on an Israeli family this week.

Israel is constructing the fence along a six-kilometer stretch of road near the Kissufim junction to protect Jewish settlements, military officials said.

The move came after Palestinian gunmen ambushed a settler's car near the crossing on Sunday, killing a pregnant woman and her four children.

The 34-year-old woman and her two daughters, aged two and 11, were attacked as they drove into Israel to campaign against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral withdrawal plan.

This one (via The Australian):

The $US21 million ($28.8 million) fence [around UN headquarters], which will be accompanied by an upgraded surveillance system along the perimeter, was designed by New York City officials and approved by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, the spokesman said.

Annan has expressed concern about the United Nations becoming a target for attacks after incidents in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the August 19 suicide bombing of its Baghdad headquarters.

UN approval for security measures apparently requires Kofi Annan to feel personally threatened. I hasten to point out, however, that I do not advocate threats to Annan or the UN - I just find the contrast interesting.

Posted 9:56 AM by Tony

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Wish I'd Considered That

Here's a hypothesis: real wages in a country (or, alternatively, buying power, or the worth of a currency), is inversely proportional to that country's progress or stability (be it political, social or economic). Put another way, the more screwed up a country is, the less buying power its citizens have.

Think about that while reading this post by Iraqi blogger Ali.

Posted 6:46 PM by Tony

A Name To Strike Fear In The Enemy

Opinion Journal has a piece on the Seawolf-class. The Seawolf is an attack submarine that bridges the Los Angeles-class and the forthcoming Virginia-class submarines. The third and final Seawolf-class submarine, SSN 23, is due to be commissioned. When I found out the name of this submarine, I had a reaction akin to the one in the Simpsons.

Its name?

USS Jimmy Carter

Truly, a name to strike fear in the hearts of our enemies.

Update: It occurs to me that the sub is better christened after Bill Clinton. What name is more suitable for something that goes down?

Posted 3:46 PM by Tony

Not My Pants!

Oh, darn (via SF Chronicle):

Levi Strauss & Co. plans to sell its $1.4 billion Dockers business and use the cash to pay down debt, a move analysts said focuses the company on mending its bigger, namesake Levi's blue jeans brand.

[ . . . ]

On the downside, Levi's would be giving up a profitable, well-known brand that accounted for $1 billion in sales -- 24 percent of the company's total -- plus $360 million in licensing fees in fiscal 2003.

The Dockers brand is seen as a valuable asset. Potential buyers discussed by analysts include apparel giant VF Corp. of Greensboro, N.C., a Levi's rival whose brands include Wrangler and Lee. However, VF's initial response suggested that it might not be in the market for a new khakis brand.

This is a blow, since that's pretty much all I wear, pants-wise. Perhaps I need to go shopping while I can still get these?

Posted 8:56 AM by Tony

Waffles, Anyone?

1991 (via The New Republic):

January 22 letter from John Kerry to Wallace Carter:

Thank you for contacting me to express your opposition ... to the early use of military force by the US against Iraq. I share your concerns. On January 11, I voted in favor of a resolution that would have insisted that economic sanctions be given more time to work and against a resolution giving the president the immediate authority to go to war.

January 31 letter from John Kerry to Wallace Carter:

Thank you very much for contacting me to express your support for the actions of President Bush in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. From the outset of the invasion, I have strongly and unequivocally supported President Bush's response to the crisis and the policy goals he has established with our military deployment in the Persian Gulf.

2004 (via Right-Thinking From The Left Coast):

May 8 John Kerry speaking about Abu Ghraib to a Pittsburgh TV station:

[T]his is a moment for America to try to deal with this without any partisan politics. This is not about politics. This is about our country. This is about how we're going to be stronger.

May 7 John Kerry fundraising email:

Over the past week we have all been shocked by the pictures from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. John Kerry has called on Donald Rumsfeld to resign, and today we're asking you to support him by adding your name to the call for Rumsfeld to resign.

Keep the ball rolling. Donate now!

Some things just stand by themselves, without explanation.

Posted 8:42 AM by Tony

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

As an antidote to talking about beheadings...

Here are reduced versions of pictures found on the Sports Seoul's bulletin boards. Full versions here.

Found via Cathartidae, who posts about the racial sensitivity that is Korean TV.

It occurs to me that this blog is in danger of becoming a duplicate of hardyandtiny in seoul. It's a fine blog, but I really should leave the Korean/Japanese hotties to the expert.

Update: On a similar theme, see Conrad, and the Flying Yangban gets confused.

Update 2: Natch, the Marmot finds links to more Han Chae-young and Ha Ji-won photos.

Update 3: Hey, another gallery!

Update 4: Yet another gallery.

Posted 4:33 PM by Tony

Some People Just Need Killing

... no ifs, ands, or buts.

Michael "I'm With The Islamfacists" Moore wrote this about our enemies in April:

The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not "insurgents" or "terrorists" or "The Enemy." They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow -- and they will win.

No, I'm not suggesting that Moore be killed. Rather, the guys that did this (via SF Chronicle):

A video posted Tuesday on an Islamic militant Web site showed a group affiliated with al-Qaida beheading an American contractor in Iraq, saying the death was revenge for the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers.

The video showed five men wearing headscarves and black ski masks, standing over a bound man in an orange jumpsuit -- similar to a prisoner's uniform -- who identified himself as Nick Berg, a U.S. contractor whose body was found on a highway overpass in Baghdad on Saturday.

[ . . . ]

After reading a statement, the men were seen pulling the man to his side and putting a large knife to his neck. A scream sounded as the men cut his head off, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" -- "God is great." They then held the head out before the camera.

Ticked off does not even start to describe my opinion on this. I'm not holding my breath waiting for some Arab expression of outrage, though.

Update: Unedited video (here, here, or ZIP), and rough translation at Northeast Intelligence Network (via Hannity by way of Michele). I didn't look at the video myself, though - don't quite have the stomach.)

Update 2: Paul at Wizbang viewed the Yahoo! version of the same AP story:

When told of the video by an Associated Press reporter, Berg's father, Michael, and his two siblings hugged and cried.

Good job, jerks.

Posted 11:11 AM by Tony

Four Generations

I feel connected to Yonsei University in Seoul. My father went there, my relatives live near there, and I learned Korean there. Which, I guess, explains why I had a bit of a reaction on reading this story in the Chosun Ilbo:

The Underwood family, who have lived in Korea for four generations, will be leaving the country after 119 years.

In 1885, Horace G. Underwood came to Korea as the nation's first Presbyterian missionary and later founded Yonsei University, rendering great services to educational, religious, and social developments in Korea.

His great grandson, Horace H. Underwood, who is now serving as the executive director of the Korean American Educational Commission and on the board of directors at Yonsei, said that in four generations the Underwood family had done all the services that they could in Korea. He said that he and his wife would be moving to the United States, where his children are, this October. Underwood has two sons and two daughters, who were adopted from Korea.

Considering that Yonsei has traditionally been considered one of the top universities in Korea (along with Korea University and Seoul National University), I'd say that the family definitely made its mark.

Posted 9:10 AM by Tony

Take Our Pigeons. Please.

Let's start out with a couple of simple propositions. First, there are a whole lot of pigeons in San Francisco. While flocks of pigeons do not exactly block out the sun, they certainly are quite numerous. Second, I hate pigeons, finding them disgusting carriers of disease that all too frequently crap on my car.

Which is why I'm really hoping htis is a trend (via SF Chronicle):

For the first time in 70 years -- maybe longer -- peregrine falcons have successfully nested on a San Francisco building: the PG&E headquarters at Beale and Mission, to be precise.

[ . . . ]

Peregrines have been busy in other parts of the Bay Area, too. They've raised several broods on the Bay Bridge in recent years, and perhaps eight or nine pairs hunt and breed in the nine counties that surround the San Francisco Bay.

Here's hoping they can make it out to the Civic Center.

Posted 6:36 AM by Tony

Monday, May 10, 2004
Pete Stark, Class Act

I live in California's 13th Congressional District, and have the misfortune of being represented by Pete Stark. You may remember him as one of the cosponsors of a bill to bring back the draft.

Well, as it turns out, he's also a smooth touch with the constituent service. In response to a constituent's letter relating to Stark voting "no" to a resolution deploring prisoner abuse and commending the armed forces, Stark replied (via Opinion Journal ):

Dan, this is Congressman Pete Stark, and I just got your fax. And you don't know what you're talking about. So if you care about enlisted people, you wouldn't have voted for that thing either. But probably somebody put you up to this, and I'm not sure who it was, but I doubt if you could spell half the words in the letter, and somebody wrote it for you. So I don't pay much attention to it. But I'll call you back later and let you tell me more about why you think you're such a great goddamn hero and why you think that this generals [sic] and the Defense Department, who forced these poor enlisted guys to do what they did, shouldn't be held to account. That's the issue. So if you want to stick it to a bunch of enlisted guys, have your way. But if you want to get to the bottom of people who forced this awful program in Iraq, then you should understand more about it than you obviously do. Thanks.

The resolution was Roll Call Vote 150 for House Resolution 627 (PDF).

I'm so proud.

Posted 3:47 PM by Tony

Friday, May 07, 2004

Click on over to Jeff in Korea. Scroll down.

You're welcome. *grin*

Posted 5:54 PM by Tony

Koryo City Music Hall

Via the Chosun Ilbo:

North Koreans practicing bayonet drill in front of Koryo Hotel

You know, that reminds of this, for some reason.

Posted 9:26 AM by Tony

Unclear On The Definition

In today's Globe and Mail:

The Martin government vowed yesterday to crack down on foreign fishing ships it accuses of catching endangered species illegally, but the sudden publicity over the boarding of five vessels just beyond Canada's 200-nautical-mile limit brought charges of electioneering.

Flanked by two cabinet colleagues, Fisheries Minister Geoff Regan said Canadian Coast Guard ships and a navy frigate had boarded the vessels and confronted the "modern-day pirates" on board.

"Modern-day pirates"? Fishing in waters beyond Canadian territorial waters hardly makes a fisherman a modern Edward Teach or Anne Bonny. Or for that matter, a pirate as currently found around the world, for example, as in the ICC Weekly Piracy Report. (see also previous post here.)

But, as Mr. Axworthy's comments from February indicate, few people in the Liberal Party apparently understand the concept of piracy. Ironically, back then, he stated:

You don't simply climb onto your horse or your frigate and head off to stop the bad guys.


Posted 8:56 AM by Tony

Moore Nonsense

Yesterday (via Globe and Mail):

News broke yesterday morning that Disney had ordered its subsidiary Miramax not to distribute Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, a documentary/comedy about alleged decades-old links between the Bush family and powerful Saudi families, including that of Al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. The film, made in part with a reported $4-million (U.S.) in "bridge financing" from Miramax, is scheduled to have its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival later this month, and was to have been released commercially in either July or September of this year, an election year in the United States.

Toronto-based Alliance Atlantis has distribution rights for the film in Canada, which are contracted through Miramax. "We just don't know what's up yet," an Alliance representative said yesterday. "We have to wait and see."

In a statement posted on his website yesterday morning, Moore attributed Disney's action to the company's concern that an anti-Bush film could "endanger millions of dollars of tax breaks" for its Disney World complex in Orlando, Fla., by angering the state's governor, Jeb Bush, brother of the U.S. President. However, a senior Disney official told The New York Times on Tuesday that this wasn't the reason. Rather, since the company caters to "families of all political stripes," it wasn't in Disney's interests to be "dragged into a highly charged partisan political battle," he said.

[emphasis added]

Editorial, New York Times, entitled "Disney's Craven Behavior":

Give the Walt Disney Company a gold medal for cowardice for blocking its Miramax division from distributing a film that criticizes President Bush and his family. A company that ought to be championing free expression has instead chosen to censor a documentary that clearly falls within the bounds of acceptable political commentary.

Today (via Independent, by way of Blackfive):

Less than 24 hours after accusing the Walt Disney Company of pulling the plug on his latest documentary in a blatant attempt at political censorship, the rabble-rousing film-maker Michael Moore has admitted he knew a year ago that Disney had no intention of distributing it.

The admission, during an interview with CNN, undermined Moore's claim that Disney was trying to sabotage the US release of Fahrenheit 911 just days before its world premiere at the Cannes film festival.

And so Moore says (via CNN):

[Hala] Gorani: What was your communication with Disney?

Moore: Almost a year ago after we'd started making the film, the chairman of Disney, Michael Eisner, told my agent that he was upset that Miramax had made the film -- Disney owns Miramax -- and he will not distribute this film.

[emphasis added]

So, how truthful do you think his movie is going to be? About as much as his last film, I suppose. (Previous posts here, here, and here.) Think the New York Times is going to say anything?

Posted 12:06 AM by Tony

Thursday, May 06, 2004
Abu Ghraib

Well, the Washington Post has more pictures relating to the prisoner abuse scandal:

The photographs were taken by several digital cameras and loaded onto compact discs, which circulated among soldiers in the 372nd Military Police Company, an Army Reserve unit based in Cresaptown, Md. The pictures were among those seized by military investigators probing conditions at the prison, a source close to the unit said.

The investigation has led to charges being filed against six soldiers from the 372nd. "The allegations of abuse were substantiated by detailed witness statements and the discovery of extremely graphic photographic evidence," Taguba's report states.

You can find the report at Global Security.

And, closer to home (via SF Chronicle):

The commander of a Bay Area National Guard unit [the 870th Military Police Company] is accused of taking nude photos of female subordinates in a shower at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, where allegations of abuse of Iraqi inmates has focused attention on a place some troops described as chaotic.

[ . . . ]

[Leo] Merck's unit worked primarily in the towers and entry points at the sprawling prison and has not been implicated in the abuse scandal. Merck, a senior financial analyst at KLA-Tencor Corp. of San Jose before his deployment, was relieved of command.

[ . . . ]

Soldiers routinely cursed at prisoners, who learned to return the insults in English. The prison also was attacked by rockets, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars on several occasions, [Spc. Dave Bischel] said.

Morale was so bad that a combat stress management team prescribed the antidepressants Prozac and Paxil to troops, soldiers said.

Such abuse seems to have raised comparisons to Saddam Hussein's regime. It's worth noting that the Abu Ghraib abuse was not sanctioned, and that the perpetrators will be found and punished. In contrast, Hussein's regime made torture a government policy.

And so-called "Arab outrage" is a little hard to take seriously, where honor killings are a way of life. (via Conrad; see also Instapundit)

Update: The Washington Post quotes further expressions of Arab outrage.

Posted 8:39 AM by Tony

Dumbest Idea. Ever.

If not the dumbest idea ever, this surely is in the top 10 (via SF Chronicle):

After earnest testimony by teenagers and their youthful supporters, the Senate Elections and Reapportionment Committee passed legislation that would lower the state's legal voting age to 14.

If the bills by Sen. John Vasconcellos, D-Santa Clara, become law, they would cause a historic shift in the state political system, dropping a rite of passage long tied to adulthood to an age far below what is typically required nationwide to get a driver's license, a pack of cigarettes or a marriage license.

However, ballots of 14- and 15-year-olds would be counted as one-quarter of an adult vote, while those of 16- and 17-year-olds would be worth one-half of an adult vote.

[ . . . ]

"Teenagers pay millions of dollars in sales taxes and Social Security taxes ... but society has not given them any right to decide how their taxes will be spent," [Harkirat Hansra, 13, of Winston Churchill Middle School in the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael] said. "Isn't this taxation without representation?"

[ . . . ]

Sacramento County Registrar Jill LaVine called the fraction-vote idea a "logistical nightmare" for elections workers.

Weighting the value of votes also irked Sen. Kevin Murray, D-Los Angeles, an African American who alluded to a time in history when blacks were viewed as three-fifths of a man in determining congressional representation .

"The history of this country makes that concept a little over the top for me," he said.

When the voting age was lowered to 18, part of the rationale was that, if a person is old enough to fight and die for his country, he should be able to participate in the governing process as well. Paying taxes is hardly the same sort of sacrifice.

Only here in California, I guess.

Posted 8:20 AM by Tony

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
The Last Prince

There's a puff piece in the Joongang Ilbo about Lee Gu, last prince of the Chosun Dynasty:

The last crown prince of the Joseon Dynasty has lived in Japan most of his life, can't speak Korean and used English to conduct an interview with a Korean reporter.
But when asked whether he considers himself to be Korean, Lee Gu firmly nodded and said, "Yes," without hesitation. When he dies, he said, he wants to be buried here in Korea, next to his parents.

The reclusive crown prince, who is 73, does not open up to most Koreans and shuns contact with the Korean media. He finally agreed to an interview with the JoongAng Daily, after rejecting repeated requests for two years, while he was in Seoul last weekend for the royal shrine ritual, which is held every first Sunday in May, to pay his respects to his ancestors.

Lee Gu now resides in a small apartment in the Shibuya area of Tokyo, living off a subsidy from the Lee family organization in Korea.

"Whenever I think of Lee Gu and his fate, I get teary-eyed," says Lee Jung-jae, a secretary general of the Lee family organization, which also takes care of him when he's in Seoul. For his visits, the group provides Lee Gu a tiny yet decent house, supplied with eggs and fruit jam in a refrigerator, as well as a toaster and bread, so that he can fix himself a simple breakfast.

Last weekend, however, Lee Gu was accorded the honor due the crown prince's position. On a rainy Sunday, he woke up early to dress in the royal outfit for the parade, which started around noon from Gwanghwamun of Gyeongbok Palace, during which he would go through Jongno to Jongmyo, the royal shrine, on a palanquin.

His waiting room inside the palace was reserved for the Lee family only. A few members of the Lee family organization were present, and they were busy taking pictures with the last heir of the Joseon Dynasty crown.

He was carried on a palanquin by several young men in Joseon Dynasty costume down a street in central Seoul to stop in front of Jongmyo, the royal shrine, drawing curious looks from passers-by. Once they realized who he was, they said, "There he is, His Highness!" and started taking pictures.

Boo hoo. It's very hard for me to sympathize with so-called royalty who find themselves booted out by the vagaries of fate. My own personal feeling is that heads that wear crowns should be cut off. Flippant, but more or less accurate.

Perhaps I'm being overly harsh?

Posted 4:17 PM by Tony

Justifying Attacks On The Dead

A memorial service for Pat Tillman was held Monday in San Jose.

The next day, Ted Rall went on The O'Reilly Factor to discuss various topics, including the comic below:

(found via A Small Victory; see also here)

You may remember him from such classics as "Terror Widows" and "Why We Fight."

His explanation (via Fox News):

BILL O’REILLY, HOST: Now the top story: political cartoonist Ted Rall shows up here. And he is the author of the book "Wake Up, You're Liberal, How We Can take America back from the Right."

No qualms about being disrespectful to Pat Tillman and his family?

TED RALL, POLITICAL CARTOONIST: Well, it's not about being disrespectful to Mr. Tillman or his family. It's about making the broader point about the fact that the people who volunteered to go fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were used, were misled, and possibly even had ill intent in going over there to fight.

O'REILLY: But your strip here mentions Tillman specifically, and uses the words idiot, sap. You have a question mark on it. But I mean, for a guy who died fighting for his country, you don't think you crossed an ethical line here?

RALL: Well, I don't think honestly, I think it's a horrible tragedy that people have died in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it's a lie to say that they've died for their country. I have been to Afghanistan, and there's no way you could confuse that with the Texas-Mexico border. You are not defending your country when you fight in Afghanistan.

[ . . . ]

O'REILLY: Might this be insensitive and offensive?

RALL: That's certainly a valid opinion. I have no problem with people thinking that. But I think there's nothing more insensitive and callous than watching the administration for the last three years turn this supposed war on terror into a way of passing a partisan political agenda.

I mean, I was just reading a couple days ago about how even administration officials can't even keep track of the number of soldiers who have died in Iraq since the beginning of conflict, thinking they're off by 100 or 200 men. They can't even count them. I don't think they really care.

O'REILLY: Well, our information -- and we have pretty good information -- is that they're pretty precise in their casualty totals because we get them every day.

Now, look, I understand you're a far left guy. I got that. All right? And you're entitled to your opinion.

RALL: I'm just a good liberal Democrat, Bill.

He goes on to say that he doesn't know that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11. And he doesn't seem to think of his work as either disrespectful or insensitive. Scumbag.

Now, I suppose it's unfair of me to imply that all Democrats are like Rall. But then again, it's unfair for all Republicans to be tarred with the "Christian right-wing extremist" label as well.

Well, at least he provides good fodder for Cox and Forkum (see also here).

Update: Rall expands on a theme (Yahoo! via LGF):

Now it's official: American troops occupying Iraq have become virtually indistinguishable from the SS. Like the Germans during World War II, they cordon off and bomb civilian villages to retaliate for guerilla attacks on their convoys. Like the blackshirts who terrorized Europe, America's victims disappear into hellish prisons ruled by sadists and murderers. The U.S. military is short just one item to achieve moral parity with the Nazis: gas chambers.

Here's a thought - if America were truly the fascist state Rall seems to think, there's no way Rall's column (or Rall) for that matter, would have seen the light of day.

Update 2: Misha has a righteous fisking of the above column.

Posted 11:14 AM by Tony

Some Animals Were Harmed In The Making Of This Picture

I previously posted about the vampire bride babes in the Van Helsing movie. The SF Chronicle has a story on the special effects for that movie created by Industrial Light & Magic:

The speckled wings of Dracula's vampire brides, one of the most impressive effects created by Industrial Light & Magic for the new movie "Van Helsing," were born during an eel-hunting expedition in a San Francisco fish market.

"She actually found a catfish," says ILM sequence supervisor Hayden Landis, explaining last year's excursion by his colleague Donna Tennis. "They have an interesting texture. (She) had them fillet it, brought it in here and slapped it down on a flatbed scanner. One of the more bizarre requests, I'm sure, for the scanning department."

Interesting stuff.

Hey, does this mean there'll be PETA protestors outside the theater?

Posted 9:19 AM by Tony

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Boxer Weighs In

Those of you outside the Bay Area are probably unfamiliar with the recent cop-killer case in San Francisco.

An overview: Officer Isaac Espinoza was allegedly killed in the line of duty by David Hill. District Attorney Kamala Harris, elected last year, has refused to seek the death penalty for Espinoza's death.* As you might expect, Espinoza's family is unhappy, as are the police union, and the police chief also expressed her opposition. However, Harris has received support from local bar associations.** Mayor Newsom is trying to stay neutral.

Now, Senator Barbara Boxer is weighing in (via SF Chronicle):

Sen. Barbara Boxer on Tuesday called for the death penalty for the killer of a San Francisco police officer and asked the U.S. Attorney's office to prosecute the case.

"I hope you will come into this case as a prosecutor to assure the public that the full force of the law will be brought to bear and that the killer pays the ultimate price for his actions," Boxer wrote in a letter to Kevin Ryan, U.S. Attorney for the Northern California.

[ . . . ]

"I've been for the death penalty in heinous crimes since 1985," Boxer, who is heavily favored in the race, said in an interview. "It's a question of my beliefs and those beliefs have been out there and I've voted my beliefs many times in those years and this has been my position for almost 20 years now."

[emphasis added]

Is this really true?

In all fairness, I couldn't find anything either way. She was the co-sponsor of a S.3048 in 2000, which would have put a moratorium on the death penalty for federal prisoners. However I don't think that cuts either way, since the concern is whether the death penalty is being administered fairly, not whether or not the death penalty should be abolished.

Anyone want to take a crack?

* I disagree with Harris' decision, which, admittedly is consistent with her previous views. However, she's still better than the previous office holder, Terrence Hallinan, who I consider a prize jackass for various and sundry reasons.

** This kind of stuff is why I have no interest in joining local bar associations. Why join a group which takes political positions I oppose?

Posted 9:25 PM by Tony

Now, That's A Knife

Note to self: never mess with an El Salvadoran (via Washington Times by way of Blackfive):

One of his friends was dead, 12 others lay wounded and the four soldiers still left standing were surrounded and out of ammunition. So Salvadoran Cpl. Samuel Toloza [of the Cuscatlan Battalion] said a prayer, whipped out his knife and charged the [10] Iraqi gunmen [of al-Sadr's Mahdi Army, in Najaf].

In one of the only known instances of hand-to-hand combat in the Iraq conflict, Cpl. Toloza stabbed several attackers swarming around a comrade. The stunned assailants backed away momentarily, just as a relief column came to the unit's rescue.

"We never considered surrender. I was trained to fight until the end," said the 25-year-old corporal, one of 380 soldiers from El Salvador whose heroism is being cited just as other members of the multinational force in Iraq are facing criticism.

[ . . . ]

"You hear this snotty phrase 'coalition of the billing' for some of the smaller contingents," said Mr. [Phil] Kosnett [of the CPA], referring to the apparent eagerness of some nations to charge their Iraq operations to Washington. "The El Sals? No way. These guys are punching way above their weight. They're probably the bravest and most professional troops I've every worked with."

[ . . . ]

The Spaniards didn't fight and only after a long delay agreed to send armored vehicles to help evacuate the wounded. Col. Flores said he cannot question the Spanish decisions that day, but added that the Spaniards "could have helped us sooner."

Anyone that takes on gunmen armed with a pocket knife has my unqualified admiration:

Corporal Samuel Toloza, Cuscatlan Battalion
(via Washington Times/AP)

Paul Martin may want to take some notes from El Salvador's approach. Canada might not be able to meet Pearson's boast about the country "punching above its weight" by relying solely on soft power.

Posted 8:23 PM by Tony

Monday, May 03, 2004
Change Of Scenery

Well, it looks like Scott Peterson's lawyer wants to move the trial away from San Mateo County. I found part of the rationale rather clever, though I suspect the judge won't go for it (via SF Chronicle):

The trial was already moved from Stanislaus County, where Peterson was charged with murdering his wife and the fetus she was carrying, to San Mateo County because of pretrial publicity. In his motion, [defense attorney Mark] Geragos says it was a mistake to send the case to Redwood City. Its population is too small to draw an unbiased jury pool, it's too close to Modesto and the press coverage on the case is even more prolific now that the trial has been dropped into a major media market, he wrote.

"The idea that moving this case 90 miles from Modesto would somehow solve the problem of the unremitting local television and print coverage has been rebutted by the eight weeks of jury selection and the questionnaires themselves," Geragos wrote. "In spite of this court's herculean effort to try to seat an impartial jury it is time to transfer venue to the most populous county in the state, Los Angeles."

[emphasis added]

So because of the "unremitting [media] coverage" due to the case being tried in a "major media market," they want the trial in LA County.

Los Angeles County. Where every car chase is televised. Where ripped-from-the-headlines TV movies of the week are produced. Where the OJ trial was. The second largest Nielsen market area in the US. Hollywood. That Los Angeles County.

I'm not sure that the judge is going to buy into the "we need to move to LA because the coverage here is too intense" argument, though you have to give props to the attempt. Besides, I can just imagine how upset the San Mateo County Convention and Visitors Bureau would get, what with all that wasted effort.

Posted 10:44 PM by Tony

Escorting The Fallen

The SF Chronicle printed a story by the officer who escorted Chance Phelps home. It's a shorter version of the original, which I had seen last week at Blackfive. If you haven't read it already, I recommend that you do.

Posted 12:13 PM by Tony

An Orange County native trapped in the SF Bay Area. Email at

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