Tuesday, February 19

If you've not already escaped from AOL Hell, here's another reason to do so, from the Weekly Standardarticle below:

AOL is quietly weighing the pros and cons of informing on dissidents if the Public Security Bureau so requests; the right decision would clearly speed Chinese approval for AOL to offer Internet services and perhaps get a foothold in the Chinese television market.

A while back, it was "just following orders."

Now it's "just providing what the consumer wants." In this case, the consumer being the Chinese government and Internet services:

The former Yahoo! rep also admitted that the search phrase "Taiwan independence" on Chinese Yahoo! would yield no results, because Yahoo! has disabled searches for select keywords, such as "Falun Gong" and "China democracy." Search for VIP Reference, a major overseas Chinese dissident site, and you will get a single hit, a government site ripping it to shreds. How did Yahoo! come up with these policies? He replied, "It was a precautionary measure. The State Information Bureau was in charge of watching and making sure that we complied. The game is to make sure that they don't complain." By this logic, when Yahoo! rejected an attempt by Voice of America to buy ad space, they were just helping the Internet function smoothly. The former rep defended such censorship: "We are not a content creator, just a medium, a selective medium." But it is a critical medium. The Chinese government uses it to wage political campaigns against Taiwan, Tibet, and America. And of course the great promise of the Internet in China was supposed to be that it was unfettered, not selective. The Yahoo! rep again: "You adjust. The crackdowns come in waves; it's just the issue du jour. It's normal."

Theoretically, China's desire to be part of the Internet should have given the capitalists who wired it similar leverage. Instead, the leverage all seems to have remained with the government, as Western companies fell all over themselves bidding for its favor.

Here's the entire, depressing article from the Weekly Standard

Hah. Remember my column on the impossibility of selecting a single book for an entire diocese to read, along the lines of Chicago's "One book, One city" program?

Well, New York is having the same problem.

Before the meeting to pick a book, the organizers e-mailed an agenda listing some considerations: "Themes: overcoming diversity, embracing city's multicultural population, NYC backdrop?" The committee quickly agreed to favor books that were not too familiar from school reading lists, and not as predictable as other cities' picks.

Quickly discarded were scores of contenders including "Washington Square" by Henry James, "All the King's Men" by Robert Penn Warren, "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote and "Underworld" by Don DeLillo. One of the early nominees was Chang-rae Lee's well-received second novel, "A Gesture Life," but its story of Korean "comfort women" during World War II was deemed too remote, too racy and too controversial.

Eventually, the list dwindled to a final four: "Native Speaker," "The Color of Water," "Ragtime," by E. L. Doctorow, and "Report From Engine Co. 82," a fireman's 1972 memoir by Dennis Smith. The nomination of the last book was inspired by the attack on the World Trade Center. It was one committee member's passionate favorite but evoked private eye-rolling from others as too parochial. Several committee members said "Ragtime" seemed overexposed and insufficiently multicultural.

Read the NY Post's Andrea Peyser on the opening day of the Yates trial in Houston. The defense approach of avoiding the use of the word or even the suggestion of "killing" is not surprising, but it should remind us all of the same kind of dissembling that takes place in regard to the most frequent kind of child-killing practiced in America, abortion.

-- It was like watching Andrea Yates' children die again.
To hear the defense tell it yesterday, Yates did not kill her babies, she "interrupted their lives."

When Yates chased down her five kids and held their struggling heads under water, one by one, until they stopped breathing, it was not murder. It was an "incident."


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