Thursday, July 12, 2007

Forever Minus a Day?

Some Theory and Empirics of Optimal Copyright

The optimal level for copyright has been a matter for extensive debate over the last decade. This paper contributes several new results on this issue divided into two parts. In the first, a parsimonious theoretical model is used to prove several novel propositions about the optimal level of protection. Specifically, we demonstrate that (a) optimal copyright falls as the costs of production go down (for example as a result of digitization) and that (b) the optimal level of copyright will, in general, fall over time. The second part of the paper focuses on the specific case of copyright term. Using a simple model we characterise optimal term as a function of a few key parameters. We estimate this function using a combination of new and existing data on recordings and books and find an optimal term of around fourteen years. This is substantially shorter than any current copyright term and implies that existing copyright terms are too long.

(via BoingBoing)

Chicago dog

McCain campaign one-ups Giuliani campaign


As I mentioned earlier today, Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has a special talent for appointing people to key positions just before they are exposed in career-ending personal transgressions or major acts of criminal conduct, or both.

But don't count John McCain out of this race.

Only today, Florida state Representative Bob Allen (R), who is co-chairman of McCain's Florida campaign, was arrested in a Titusville park restroom on charges of solicitation after he approached a plain clothes police officer and offered to perform oral sex on the officer for $20.

It's conceiveable to me that with the recent news of McCain's flagging campaign this is actually an attempt on the part of the Arizona senator to up the ante on Giuliani. As you know it was only Monday night when Giuliani Southern regional campaign chair, Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) admitted to soliciting prostitutes.

Al-Qaida alive and well

Army Times

As widely assumed, Osama bin Laden is alive and is probably safely hiding in the remote tribal areas of Pakistan. More troubling, however, is that the activities of his al-Qaida terrorist group — still the No. 1 threat to the U.S. and its interests — appear to be increasing, a top CIA official told Congress on Wednesday.

“We see more training, we see more money, we see more communications,” said John Kringen, the CIA’s director of intelligence. “So we see that activity rising. At the same time, they are having success in the franchising ... and the branding.”

Al-Qaida, Kringen said, seems to be once again assuming more of a role in planning terrorist operations worldwide rather than letting loosely affiliated surrogates operate in a more laissez-faire manner — even as it continues to successfully recruit individuals and groups to its cause.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

"spiralling down at an alarming pace"

Juan Cole on security in the Green Zone

On Tuesday, guerrillas launched some 20 katyusha rockets and mortar shells into the Green Zone in downtown Baghdad, killing 3 persons, including a US soldier, and wounding 25 persons.

The Green Zone was originally supposed to be the safe place in Iraq, with the area outside it (everything else) called the "Red Zone." The US Embassy in Baghdad appears to have forgotten what the phrase "Green Zone" means, since a spokesman there told the LAT, "There's fire into the Green Zone virtually every day, so I can't draw any conclusions about the security situation based on that . . ."

Let me draw the conclusion. If you've got fire into the friggin' Green Zone every day, then we can draw the conclusion that the security situation in Baghdad sucks big time. When you've got people killed and a large number of people wounded in the one place in Iraq that was supposed to have a "permissive" security environment, then security in general is the pits.

Former Surgeon General - "I was just another sock puppet for the White House"


Former Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona told a Congressional panel Tuesday that top Bush administration officials repeatedly tried to weaken or suppress important public health reports because of political considerations.

The administration, Dr. Carmona said, would not allow him to speak or issue reports about stem cells, emergency contraception, sex education, or prison, mental and global health issues. Top officials delayed for years and tried to “water down” a landmark report on secondhand smoke, he said. Released last year, the report concluded that even brief exposure to cigarette smoke could cause immediate harm.

Dr. Carmona said he was ordered to mention President Bush three times on every page of his speeches. He also said he was asked to make speeches to support Republican political candidates and to attend political briefings.

And administration officials even discouraged him from attending the Special Olympics because, he said, of that charitable organization’s longtime ties to a “prominent family” that he refused to name.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Murderers to continue rampage

WASHINGTON - The White House is rethinking its diplomatic options in Iraq, but won't reconsider its military strategy before an assessment from war commanders is presented in September, U.S. officials said Tuesday.

President Bush's top war advisers, Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute and Stephen Hadley, went to Capitol Hill to assure Republican supporters that a precipitate pullout of troops won't happen. Sens. Trent Lott of Mississippi, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, John McCain of Arizona, Jon Kyl of Arizona and others met with the two advisers in Vice President Dick Cheney's office off the Senate floor.

Graham said members were told that Bush would back them in fiercely opposing legislation by Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., that would order troop withdrawals to start in 120 days.

Bush himself said Tuesday he had no intention of succumbing to political pressure. During a visit to Parma, Ohio on Tuesday, he reiterated that troop levels in Iraq "will be decided by our commanders on the ground, not by political figures in Washington, D.C."

Abu the Perjurer

After Bureau Sent Reports, Attorney General Said He Knew of No Wrongdoing

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. "There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse," Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI's use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department's inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Running of the Rollergirls

Originally uploaded by kim giesecke

The Big Easy Rollergirls were the guest "bulls" at the first ever "San Fermin in Nueva Orleans"..

The BERG bulls skated after the runners and whacked them with wiffle ball bats.

I'm told that most injuries involved Sangria, unlike this event.