THE eBay BATTLE

Something like 78 million items are on sale at eBay at any given time, with 6 million being posted every day, and an increasing number of retailers are complaining that many products bearing their name are faked and eBay won’t do enough about it. New York’s Tiffany & Co., has filed a lawsuit that is due to be heard this fall. The company spent a year buying goods labeled with its name and says 73% proved to be “blatant counterfeits,” and that they notified eBay of 19,000 efforts to sell suspected Tiffany goods. “There is very obvious illegal stuff going on that (eBay) should have known about,” says Louis Ederer, an intellectual property rights attorney. In response, Catherine England says eBay “remains confident in its position in the case and looks forward to the opportunity to make its case before the court.”

Lilly Pad Terrorism

Illegal aliens land in the (U.S.) Virgin Islands regularly, reports the Economist, but they are rarely caught. “It’s no big secret that there are organizations using the Virgin Islands – America’s most vulnerable point – to get people into the United States.” Terrorists could easily use the St. Thomas/St. Croix seaplanes as a weapon, the mag claims, because they take off and land from the harbors each day and there is no passenger screening.

Big Apple Bite

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani may be “a number-one, top of the list, king of the hill,” says Kate O’Bierne, “but Sinatra’s catchy claim is turned on its head in the presidential sweepstakes. When it comes to winning over GOP primary voters, if you can make it in New York you can’t make it anywhere else.” National Review’s Washington editor suggests that all the things that make “America’s mayor” a big hit in the Big Apple – his support for abortion, gay rights and amnesty – are exactly why conservative voters will reject him as a candidate.

Farming out Prisoners

Why confine outsourcing just to business? Asks Jim Trimmer in a letter to the Spectator. There must be plenty of developing countries “whose costs are a fraction of our own” who would be happy to earn some hard currency by accommodating some of our prisoners and “a Jamaican drug dealer would surely think twice before risking another five years (jail) in, say, Uzbekistan.”

Corporate Beatnik

Describing much of the current output as “just corporate sound” as he released his new album (“Modern Times”), Bob Dylan said: “This is not art form….there’s very little there; you have to dress it up with all these tracks…Those beats don’t make people move or change their lives. For me, everything has to have a purpose or it should get lost.”

Trompe-l’oeil, Illegally

As the demand grows for American art, dealers are being deluged with phony paintings, according to the New York Sun. “I’m bombarded with fakes,” says Alexander Acevedo. “It goes on every day; it’s like a minefield. Wherever you turn there’s a fake out there.” The art world is rife with explanations about whether individual artists or “international conspiracies” are behind the flood of phonies. Former Metropolitan Museum director Thomas Hoving says: “You begin to look at everything with suspicion. Real stuff begins to look like forgeries.”

Beijing Everywhere

The World Tourism Organization predicts that 100 million Chinese will be vacationing abroad within the next decade or so, but only a small percentage of them will visit the U.S. This is because a nation must have “approved destination status” from the Chinese government before it allows its travel agents to book group tours, and although 100 nations have been granted ADS, the U.S. is not among them. The American Prospect surmises this is because “opening the Chinese tour business to free market competition would fatally compromise Beijing’s control.” In other words, “Beijing controls what the Chinese people are told at home (and) by extension it wants to control what they are told abroad,” the magazine asserts.

Tribal Rights and Fights

Native American tribes have been expelling members right and left so they can increase their individual shares of casino money, says Harper’s, which reveals that just one tribe, the Pechanga, rakes in more than $200 million a year. This works out to $290,000 for each member. Each of the 152 members of the Chumash pocketed $428,969 last year. Checking DNA and ancient records as well as reciprocating against those who question tribal policies are all being used as good reasons to cut people from the rolls. In California alone, the mag says, 1,000 people are fighting ejection from various tribes.

The Wilcock Web

“Repetitious publicity” about the events of 9/11 “turns a squalid crime into a constantly revitalized political act,” wrote Simon Jenkins in the Guardian. “Why should al Qaeda waste money on another attack when the media and the politicians” are doing the job for them?…. Motorcycle thieves in England leave their helmets at home since the introduction of a police policy not to give chase in case an accident resulted in an insurance claim…. The policy of soccer referees giving yellow cards as a warning and red cards to evict an offender from the game has been adopted by pubs in New Zealand who offer red card victims a free drink when they come back sober…. The A&E network just paid $2.5-million per episode to rerun HBO’s award-heavy “The Sopranos”…. One of the first Barbie dolls which in 1959 sold for $3 is expected to fetch at least $2,200 when 4,000 Barbies are auctioned at the London Christie’s…. “The quickest way to double your money,“ suggested Will Rogers, “is to fold it and put it back in your pocket…. “Faulty Towers” is the title of a book published by The Independent Institute with the subtitle: “Tenure and the Structure of Higher Education”…. Invented by irrigation expert Brian Burnett, the Solar Flow collects rainwater in a barrel and then pumps it to where it’s needed via energy from a solar panel…. A new British charity, Fareshare, is asking food companies to pass on to them all surplus food, rather than burying it, so that what’s useable can be passed on to the poor and the rest composted or used for animal feed…. “Government is not reason, it is not eloquence – it is force,” said George Washington.

John Wilcock’s weekly column can be read at www.ojaiorange.com