China Bans Time Travel Fictions

It’s not often that fiction, as a category of discursive production, makes the news, but according to this Techland post, the Chinese State Administration for Radio, Film & Television recently stated that:

> The producers and writers are treating the serious history in a frivolous way, which should by no means be encouraged anymore… [They] casually make up myths, have monstrous and weird plots, use absurd tactics, and even promote feudalism, superstition, fatalism and reincarnation.

U.S. to Host World Press Freedom Day in 2011

No, really. Here’s the press release. The entire government, and the attached media machine, is practically foaming at the mouth over WikiLeaks, which has only published 960 of 250,000 cables and those that were published were vetted by newspapers first (and, mind, no one made this much fuss over the Afghanistan war documents last year), but has the audacity has to claim this:

The theme for next year’s commemoration will be 21st Century Media: New Frontiers, New Barriers. The United States places technology and innovation at the forefront of its diplomatic and development efforts. New media has empowered citizens around the world to report on their circumstances, express opinions on world events, and exchange information in environments sometimes hostile to such exercises of individuals’ right to freedom of expression. At the same time, we are concerned about the determination of some governments to censor and silence individuals, and to restrict the free flow of information.

Oh, my. If I had to bold or italicize anything to point out the various layers of irony in those few sentences alone, it would be just too easy.

Somali Pirates’ Business Model

The U.N. Security Council recently dispatched a group of investigators to Somalia to examine who the pirates are and how they operate. [Mark Leon Goldberg]( reviewed their report and turned up this interesting passage in the report:

> A basic piracy operation requires a minimum eight to twelve militia prepared to stay at sea for extended periods of time, in the hopes of hijacking a passing vessel. Each team requires a minimum of two attack skiffs, weapons, equipment, provisions, fuel and preferably a supply boat. The costs of the operation are usually borne by investors, some of whom may also be pirates.
> To be eligible for employment as a pirate, a volunteer should already possess a firearm for use in the operation. For this ‘contribution’, he receives a ‘class A’ share of any profit. Pirates who provide a skiff or a heavier firearm, like an RPG or a general purpose machine gun, may be entitled to an additional A-share. The first pirate to board a vessel may also be entitled to an extra A-share.
> At least 12 other volunteers are recruited as militiamen to provide protection on land of a ship is hijacked, In addition, each member of the pirate team may bring a partner or relative to be part of this land-based force. Militiamen must possess their own weapon, and receive a ‘class B’ share — usually a fixed amount equivalent to approximately US$15,000.
> If a ship is successfully hijacked and brought to anchor, the pirates and the militiamen require food, drink, qaad, fresh clothes, cell phones, air time, etc. The captured crew must also be cared for. In most cases, these services are provided by one or more suppliers, who advance the costs in anticipation of reimbursement, with a significant margin of profit, when ransom is eventually paid.
> When ransom is received, fixed costs are the first to be paid out. These are typically:
> • Reimbursement of supplier(s)
> • Financier(s) and/or investor(s): 30% of the ransom
> • Local elders: 5 to 10 %of the ransom (anchoring rights)
> • Class B shares (approx. $15,000 each): militiamen, interpreters etc.
> The remaining sum — the profit — is divided between class-A shareholders.