|PETER BRIMELOW THE GREEN...
Slipup at The Wall Street Journal? An article advocating more benefits for illegal and legal immigrants discloses facts that usually are suppressed. See "Emergency Medicaid Policy Binds Sick Immigrants Without an Exit", by Lucette Lagnado, The Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2000. Excerpt:
October 17, 2000. Comments on a New York Times editorial, "Blaming Immigrants."
September 5, 2000. Here's an article from The Guardian about my favorite tech news website, The Register. The Register is well written and humorous, two characteristics that set it apart from competing services. We learn from The Guardian that the The Register's mastermind formerly sold cod in Liverpool - a much more practical background for a newswriter than the mind-numbing Columbia School of Journalism (right image - their website arrogantly refers to "the craft of journalism"). He enjoyed reading Private Eye and created a tech news service with a similarly irreverent point of view.
There apparently has been no mainstream media coverage of July 29, 2000Washington Times article about a secret, bipartisan conspiracy led by Sens. Lieberman and Santorem to sneak a massive subsidy for MCI Center owner Abe Pollin into the death tax reform bill - "POLLIN NEARLY GOT TAX-FREE BOND DEAL. ROBB FOUND, FOILED $200 MILLION PLAN" - Article ID: 2000211039).
U.S. v. Microsoft
Having read hundreds of pages of the parties' submissions to the District Court and the District Court's April 3, 2000 decision in U.S. v. Microsoft, my initial reaction is that the court clearly has committed reversible error. Since there has been no evidence of a "per se" violation of the antitrust laws (such as price-fixing), the government has the burden of proving that Microsoft acted in "unreasonable" restraint of trade in relevant product and geographic markets (Section 1 of the Sherman Act) or that it "monopolized" or attempted to "monopolize" the relevant market (Section 2 of the Sherman Act).
A threshold issue that the court misapprehended is the definition of the relevant product market. Rather than including in the relevant market all the software platforms such as Netscape Navigator and Java and alternative computer systems such as the Apple Mac that compete with Windows, the Court adopted an exceedingly narrow market definition of "the licensing of all Intel-compatible PC operating systems." That is analogous to defining a relevant market as passenger rail service between New York and Philadelphia without taking into account bus and plane service.
I suspect that another key issue on appeal will be whether the trial judge disregarded the D.C. Circuit's 1998 decision reversing his earlier ruling against Microsoft, specifically on the question of whether Windows 98 with Internet Explorer was a permissible, "integrated product".
Finally, since it is well established that the antitrust laws protect competition and not competitors, the absence of any proof of injury to competition should in itself constitute sufficient grounds for reversal. Indeed, the government failed even to prove that a competitor was injured by the conduct alleged in the complaint. While the case was pending, the instigator of the government's action (and marketer of inferior web browsing software), Netscape, was taken over by AOL, which has surged to number 337 on the Fortune 500, and the individuals who founded Netscape in 1994 are now billionaires. Some injury!
However, everyone who owns Microsoft stock or who owns mutual funds that own Microsoft stock has been injured by the suit, which in addition to its drastic impact on the price of Microsoft shares has cost Microsoft millions of dollars in legal and expert fees and has been a significant distraction to management. That is a real injury to competition.
More comment on the decision will follow after I have had an opportunity to study the court papers in more detail.
News & Comment
May the less incompetent side win, or the $12 Million letter - In 1981, the Banco do Brasil loaned $3 Million to the State of Antigua & Barbuda. Antigua failed to repay the loan and in 1989, four years after the due date of the last payment, wrote to the bank to request six months to devise a plan to re-schedule the loan. The bank apparently lost track of the unpaid loan, as nothing more happened until long after the expiration of New York's six-year limitation period on contract suits.
In 1997, Antigua wrote to the bank, confirming the amount due with interest under the original loan agreement, which by then exceeded $11.4 Million. At that point, the bank finally demanded payment and brought suit in New York state court when Antigua failed to pay. Antigua moved to dismiss, citing the statute of limitations, but the trial judge denied the motion on grounds that Antigua's 1997 letter tolled the statute of limitations, and the Appellate Division unanimously affirmed. (NYLJ, 4/20/2000, p. 25).
British anti-censorship website censored, flees to US-based servers. See Campaign Against Censorship of the Internet in Britain. CACIB's web host shut down their website following a complaint by the plaintiff in Godfrey v. Demon Internet, the recently-settled action against an ISP for failure to remove Usenet messages Godfrey considered to be defamatory. The strong protection of free speech and substantial obstacles to successful prosecution of defamation actions in the U.S. are turning out to be good for American web hosts.