....LMB: "Symbolic Sham #485703854"....

May 24, 2002

Grabbing the major headlines today was the nuclear disarmament treaty signed by George W. Bush and Vladimir Putin. Unfortunately, most media outlets failed to remark upon how useless the treaty actually is.

The Christian Science Monitor got the story right with its article "Little Fine Print, and Lots of Loopholes". Basically, the treaty says that both the US and Russia will each have a maximum of 2200 long-range missiles with attached nuclear warheads by December 31, 2012 (down from the roughly 7000 that each currently has).

The first thing to note is how skimpy the treaty is. 475 words, 2-3 typed pages. I think I've had longer grocery lists. Seems a little too brief to plan, well, much of anything.

My biggest concern is that there is no timetable other than that final due date. Meaning that both countries could keep the exact same amount of active nuclear missiles up until maybe a month before the deadline, and then go on a mad warhead-removal spree (or however long it would take to remove the warheads. I'd try to estimate better, but I imagine that a Yahoo search for "how long will it take to removal a warhead from a nuclear missile" is going to have Secret Service men knocking on my door in the morning). And since the treaty is up for termination or removal on December 31, 2012, the Christian Science Monitor points out that techinically, the treaty only calls for each country to have cut their armed missiles back to 2200 for a single day.

Perhaps the most misleading aspect of the treaty is that it does not call for the destruction of nuclear warheads. Both nations could detach the warheads, and keep thousands in storage "just in case." Which, note members of the disarmament group Peace Action, would make it much easier for terrorists to get their hands on a nuclear device. Seems a reasonable point: warheads sitting on a shelf in storage are much easier to steal than warheads attached to the top of tall missiles hidden in secure silos.

And finally, either nation can withdraw from the treaty altogether just by giving 90 days notice.

But, the LA Times, NY Times, and CNN make little to no mention of the huge and obvious flaws in this treaty (although all of them took time to note that the pact was signed in a "ornate," "golden," "silk-bedecked" throne room at the Kremlin). Both the NY Times and CNN have a single paragraph repeating a criticism along the lines of Peace Action's, and the Washington Post article seemed slightly more skeptical of the treaty and of the whole Bush-Putin meeting.

I imagine that the story carries such weight because of its symbolic nature. The two former superpowered enemies, sitting down at a table to sign a disarmament pact, pacts that have become synonymous with peace. If viewed right, it is a lovely moment to think about the end of the Cold War, and the beginnings of world peace.

In reality, it is just another PR move in the name of global politicking. Bush wants his National Missile Defense shield, but was criticized for the potential violation of the US' Anti-Balistic Missile treaty with the USSR/Russia. Putin gave the thumbs-up to the US withdrawal from the ABM treaty in return for a sham disarmament treaty, and hopes to curry favor with the US. Which could result in, perhaps, US sponsorship in Russia joining the World Trade Organization, or the removal of various US restraints on Russian imports.

Just your average, everyday mutual back-scratching under a dovish camouflage.

Posted by Jake at 05:09 PM
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of course, "damn the public"!

Posted by: salle jr. at September 15, 2002 10:03 PM
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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

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Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:

Failure.

What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

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Result: not entirely edible.

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