....LMB: "Anti-Terrorism vs. Human Rights"....

August 08, 2002

A few days back I wrote about the US State Dept.'s attempt to quash a human rights abuse lawsuit by Indonesians against Exxon-Mobil.

I found a copy of the State Department's letter to the judge explaining why the case should not go forward. Some highlights:

"[the lawsuit] may also diminish our ability to work with the Government of Indonesia on ... efforts to promote human rights in Indonesia."

Right. We have to prevent lawsuits that would punish human rights abusers so that we can promote human rights. Gotcha.

"The litigation's potential effects on Indonesia's economy could in turn adversely affect important United States interests."

If multinational corporations find out that they can be punished for violating human rights in Indonesia, they might pull out of Indonesia, harming its economy. And an unstable economy could lead to an unstable society, which could lead to an unstable government, which could utterly destabilize the entire south Pacific. This argument takes up a fairly large portion of the 6 page letter.

"A decision in favor of the plaintiffs might encourage secessionist activities in Aceh and elsewhere in Indonesia."

Most revolutionary movements in world history have hung balanced upon the decisions of civil lawsuits.

"This lawsuit could potentially disrupt the on-going and extensive United States efforts to secure Indonesia's cooperation in the fight against international terrorism."

This is the only claim in the letter that really holds up. The lawsuit could embarass the Indonesian government, and make them hostile towards the US. And if the allegations of government torture or rape are proven true, the US is legally obligated to not cooperate with them militarily. I don't think they'd restrain themselves that way, but allegedly the US government has laws which prevent it from providing military aid to nations that engage in human rights abuses. Which would probably mean that the international arms trade would have to stop completely.

"The United States is actively seeking to assist Indonesia in reform efforts aimed at ending the kinds of abuses alleged by this litigation. Through improved training and support of security personnel ... these programs are designed to establish a higher degree of professionalism and respect for individual rights."

American trained killers will teach Indonesian trained killers to be nice.

"An adverse effect on human rights objectives is also possible if the GOI [Government of Indonesia] were to turn down U.S. companies bidding for new contracts in response to the suit. Working side-by-side with U.S. firms, Indonesian companies and government agencies see the advantages of modern business practices, anti-corruption, efficiency and effectiveness."



[wipes away tear]

"Increasing opportunities for U.S. business abroad is an important aspect of U.S. foreign policy ... [this lawsuit] could prejudice the Government of Indonesia and Indonesian businesses against U.S. firms."

Justice served is bad for business. And what's bad for business is bad for US foreign policy.

Posted by Jake at 10:30 AM
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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:


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

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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