Monthly Archives: July 2008

Rogers Hijacks Google Subdomains for Yahoo Ads

rogers-subdomains.png This is pretty blatant:
Rogers, a huge cable internet provider in Canada, has decided to hijack all unregistered domains, and replace them with Yahoo! advertisements. This means Rogers users who type in a domain that doesn’t exist, are now getting Yahoo ads instead of the normal “not found” error.

Interestingly, Rogers also decided to do this with subdomains. So for example, now takes you to the following advertising:

Rogers Hijacks Domain Name System, Puts Yahoo! Ads on Google’s Subdomains, John, Blamcast, 20 July 2008

The author points out that this essentially the same thing Verisign did in 2003 until they stopped due to massive backlash.


Congress at 9% Job Approval: Why Is Lessig Putting Lipstick on the FISA Pig?

fisa_crumbling.jpg Larry Lessig points out that for the first time in history Congress’ job performance is rated (by Rasmussen) in single digits: 9%. Some of his commenters think that has something to do with the recent FISA bill, and others think that’s just a minority concern.

Three quarters of the American people and even a majority of Republicans oppose Bush’s warrantless wiretaps. Two thirds oppose warrantless wiretaps even for communications between U.S. citizens and overseas persons, and almost 2/3 oppose immunity for telcos. Aome people call that a minority. I don’t think that word means what they think it means.

Instead of standing up to Bush as the Constitution requires, Congress capitulated and gave the worst president in history still more powers to spy on the people. And the people do know about it:

“Congress rolled over on FISA” –LA Times
“Democrats voted for FISA out of fear” –Chicago Tribune
“Obama gives telecoms a pass” –Hartford Courant
“Senate approves bill to broaden wiretap powers” –NY Times
“Senate vote backs Bush on wiretaps” –Salt Lake Tribune
“Senate vote gives Bush what he wants on surveillance bill” –Seattle Times finds about 960 other stories much like those.

Is the FISA bill the only reason Congress’s numbers tanked? Nope, but I don’t think it’s coincidence that they dropped immediately after the Senate passed that bill.

Why isn’t Larry Lessig working to convince Obama he was wrong and getting him to fix it, instead of trying to put lipstick on that pig of a bill?


Comcast: P2P Stifling Fail! Says FCC Chair

princques.png Maybe attacking Kevin Martin’s vanity is the way to get net neutrality, or at least that seems to have backfired on Comcast:
Remember how Comcast this week told us that 1) the FCC's "Internet policy statement" (PDF) had no legal force and 2) that the agency might not have the authority to enact such rules even if it wanted to? Those theories will soon be put to the test, as Republican FCC Chairman Kevin Martin now says he wants to rule against Comcast in the dispute over the company's P2P upload throttling. Score one huge, precedent-setting win for net neutrality backers.

Martin stands up for "principles"

Martin broke the news Thursday evening by way of the Associated Press, telling them that "the Commission has adopted a set of principles that protects consumers' access to the Internet. We found that Comcast's actions in this instance violated our principles."

Comcast loses: FCC head slams company’s P2P filtering, By Nate Anderson, ars technica, | Published: July 11, 2008 – 01:30AM CT

Oh, wait:
The decision could be an historic one, but not for its actual effect on Comcast. The cable company has already announced plans to transition away from the current throttling regime to something that looks more at overall bandwidth use rather than particular applications. Trials in Pennsylvania are currently underway on the new system, set to be deployed by year’s end. Martin’s order would therefore not require the company to do anything new, but it would have to provide more detail about past and future practices.
Lots of sound and fury signifying…?

I’d say it’s a bit too early to say Scott Cleland was wrong when he said enforcement of the FCC’s net neutrality principles was “preposterous”.


Senate: Get Out of Jail Free, Telcos and Administration!

get_out_of_jail_free_card_small.jpg Yes, I know, the FISA bill just passed by the Senate doesn’t preclude criminal liability. But Bush can, by pardoning for any and all crimes committed, just like Ford did for Nixon; the man who commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence won’t balk at that. And the bill does do away with civil liability, so the telcos never have to pay for illegal warrantless blanket wiretapping, and the criminal evidence against the politicians that hired it is hidden.
But, to be Chicago kind of candid, whatcha gonna do about it?

Today, the freshman senator from Illinois voted in favor of the FISA bill that provides retroactive legal protection to cooperating telecom companies that helped the feds eavesdrop on overseas calls. Up until a few weeks ago — let’s see, that would be shortly after the last primaries settled the Democratic nomination and terminated what’s-her-name’s once frontrunning campaign — Obama adamantly opposed the bill. “Unequivocally” was the word his people used.

Nomination in hand, Obama stiffs the Dem left on FISA vote, Andrew Malcolm, L.A. Times, 9 July 2008

When did the U.S. lurch so far to the right that jetissoning the Fourth Amendment is considered running to the center?

The “compromise” the bill was supposed to represent is nonexistent; Continue reading

Mises Hates Duopoly: Or Only Monopoly and Fictional Wal-E?

wall-e.jpg I was reading a review of the movie Wal-E, and ran across this quote:
…without the presence of multiple providers of goods in the economy, the single dominant firm is in the same position as a socialist central planner. In the real world, BNL would have no market price signals to help it discern consumer demand for and the relative scarcity of resources. It would not be able to engage in rational economic calculation and would make decisions arbitrarily. Surely, this state would not please many consumers, and the BNL monopoly would be short lived at most.

WALL-E: Economic Ignorance and the War on Modernity, Daily Article by Gennady Stolyarov II | Posted on 7/4/2008

So is it better if we have a duopoly rather than a monopoly? Is that competitive, then? The current FTC and FCC will say yes. I say no.

Sure, the Austrian school is controversial and all, and I found much of the rest of the review hilariously inapt, but this quote did stick in my mind.


Patrick Henry Was Unreasonable, Too: Fight FISA “Compromise” on the Fourth of July!

496px-Patrick_henry.JPG On the Fourth of July, who wants to legalize their government spying on them, their children, their parents, and their neighbors, without even a warrant? Listening to every phone call; reading every text message, IM, email, and facebook poke; watching every video you post or view? This is what we expect from Hugo Chavez, from Fidel Castro, or from the old Soviet Union. Yet that is just what the United States Senate is proposing to do, after the House already passed it.

After fighting and winning a war at long odds against the greatest empire on earth, at the demand of the people, the Founders of U.S. added a Bill of Rights to the Constitution, the fourth of ten of which is:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

—Fourth Amendment, U.S. Constitution, effective 15 Dec 1791

That is what the Congress proposes to give away next week, by saying telcos like AT&T and Verizon can spy on you as long as they have a note from the president saying it’s OK.

The Internet provides us tools to bring the Senators to their senses.

To quote a fighter against that same world-spanning empire, Mohandas K. Gandhi: Continue reading

L.A. Times to cut 250 Jobs: Less Free Press; More Need for a Free Internet

lat_logo_inner.gif There’s good news and there’s bad news:
The Los Angeles Times on Wednesday announced plans to cut 250 positions across the company, including 150 positions in editorial, in a new effort to bring expenses into line with declining revenue. In a further cost-cutting step, the newspaper will reduce the number of pages it publishes each week by 15%.

“You all know the paradox we find ourselves in,” Times Editor Russ Stanton said in a memo to the staff. “Thanks to the Internet, we have more readers for our great journalism than at any time in our history. But also thanks to the Internet, our advertisers have more choices, and we have less money.”

Los Angeles Times to cut 250 jobs, including 150 from news staff, By Michael A. Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer, July 3, 2008

One reason for these cuts is the housing downturn in California: fewer real estate ads. But there are deeper reasons:
Announcements of hundreds of reductions were issued only last week by dailies in Boston, San Jose, Detroit and elsewhere. Among Tribune newspapers, the Baltimore Sun said it would cut about 100 positions by early August and the Hartford Courant announced plans to cut about 50 newsroom positions. The New York Times and the Washington Post both instituted layoffs or buyouts to reduce their staffs this year.

Besides the changes in the newspaper industry, Tribune carries the burden of about $1 billion in annual payments on its debt, much of which it took on to finance the $8.2-billion buyout.

Sure, it’s happening everywhere. But the L.A. Times is one of the best sources of journalism around. Why did somebody find it worthwhile to buy it out just to load it up with debt and force layoffs?

Whether this newspaper was targetted or not, the handwriting is on the wall for fishwraps. They’ll either adapt to the Internet or die. I suspect many of them will die. That means we’ll lose many of our traditional sources of real reporting. Fortunately, some new sources are arising, such as Talking Points Memo, which bit into the Justice Department scandals and hung on like a bulldog. Yet blogs like that thus far have a tiny fraction of the resources of big newspapers like the L.A. Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post. There’s going to be a time of unsettlement of the fishwrap plains while the new shops in cyberspace put down roots into the old country.

And we won’t have ready access to either the remaining existing newspapers worldwide or to the new online sources of reporting unless we have a free Internet. Yet another reason that net neutrality is important.

Yet another reason not to let the telcos get away with retroactive immunity. Remember, the telcos currently paying off Congress are the same companies that want to squelch net neutrality. If they can get away with handing over every bit to the NSA yesterday, why would they stop at squelching your P2P today?


Amnesty Foes 2.0: SenatorObama-PleaseVoteAgainstFISA

obamafisa.jpg I’ve been waiting for this to hit the bigtime, and it has, it’s been slashdotted:
ya really notes a blog posting up at Wired reporting that foes of the Telecom Amnesty Bill have mounted a campaign on Barack Obama’s own website. Though the group was created only days ago, on June 25, it has grown to be the fifth largest among 7,000 such groups, just short of Women for Obama. Although it is widely known that Obama changed his stance from opposing telecom immunity to supporting it, many have not given up hope of getting him to switch once again.

Telecom Amnesty Foes On the Move, Posted by kdawson, slashdot, on Tuesday July 01, @08:02AM from the one-week-and-counting dept.

And today the group has more than 9,000 members and is #2 among all MyBO groups.

It’s everywhere else, too, Time, WSJ, Wired, Huffington Post, TPM, DailyKos, MyDD, OpenLeft, digg, reddit, and of course facebook. Read all about it on the wiki.

(Yes, I’m a member of the group, since about the second day, and here’s what I think about the issue.)

This group is a goldmine of information about which telecoms gave what money to whom.

The most significant part to me is that people are using a candidate’s own organizing tools to attempt to organize the candidate. Not stopping there, either, attempting to organize allies for the candidate. Obama claims to be people-powered. Let him say that while other politicians follow money from lobbyists, he listens to the people who give him money, who are the people, and when they said think again he did, and discovered the bogus House FISA “compromise” bill is no such thing, and now he’s against it. We’ll see.