INTERNET LIST INVITES STRONG TALK : FILE ON RUSSIA HAS FAN FERVOR, ANALYSTS' ANGST.
Byline: Sarah Koenig The New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of Times
People all over the world have asked him to stop. Others have sent him money to continue. Some have lashed out with withering criticism. One threatened to sue. And several, including a former U.S. ambassador and a Central Intelligence Agency employee, have sent laudatory laud·a·to·ry
Expressing or conferring praise: a laudatory review of the new play.
(of speech or writing) expressing praise
Of the many ventures that have stirred Internet uproar, David Johnson's Russia list Johnson's Russia List(JRL) is an email newsletter containing Russia-related news and analysis in English. David Johnson is the list's editor. The JRL generally comes out one or more times per day, and is also available online. has been one of the most tempestuous tem·pes·tu·ous
1. Of, relating to, or resembling a tempest: tempestuous gales.
2. Tumultuous; stormy: a tempestuous relationship. . A smattering of news, essays and commentary, Johnson's List is sent to roughly 1,000 scholars, journalists, policy-makers, and Russophiles from Washington to Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. via electronic mail - a practice increasingly endangered by the intricacies of copyright enforcement of material distributed on the Internet.
From his perch at a research center in Washington, Johnson, who has never been to post-Soviet Russia, has played conductor to the most influential and cacophonous ca·coph·o·nous
Having a harsh, unpleasant sound; discordant.
[From Greek kakoph exchange of Russian information on the Internet. Since its debut in May, his list's vitriolic spats over NATO NATO: see North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
in full North Atlantic Treaty Organization
International military alliance created to defend western Europe against a possible Soviet invasion. expansion or the shiftiness of Russia's presidential pretender, Alexander Lebed Alexander Ivanovich Lebed (Russian: Алекса́ндр Ива́нович Ле́бедь , have deeply irritated some of the world's leading analysts. But they can't stop reading it.
And despite the rancor it inspires, some say the list is beginning to change the way they do their work. ``Johnson's List, along with CNN CNN
or Cable News Network
Subsidiary company of Turner Broadcasting Systems. It was created by Ted Turner in 1980 to present 24-hour live news broadcasts, using satellites to transmit reports from news bureaus around the world. , is one more reason why we no longer need the State Department,'' said Jonathan Sanders, a Moscow correspondent for CBS News CBS News is the news division of American television and radio network CBS. Its current president is Sean McManus who is also head of CBS Sports. Current productions
Current television shows
``But it has all the worst elements of Sovietology as well,'' he quickly added. ``It's unfiltered Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style.
Remove this template after wikifying. This article has been tagged since , so you get this great outpouring of angst and self-promotion, ideological blathering and vicious polemic.''
The number of lists - compilations of articles, transcripts and commentary distributed by e-mail - like Johnson's now runs in the hundreds, some revolving around academic disciplines, others devoted to individual interests, like the list for devotees of the ``Godfather'' movies.
Johnson's left-leaning political agenda is what rankles and lures his readers. He gives priority placement to people like Fred Weir Fred Weir is a Canadian journalist who lives in Moscow and specializes in Russian affairs. He is Moscow correspondent for In These Times and regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor, The Independent, and the South China Morning Post. of The Hindustan Times, a Canadian journalist whose coverage of Yeltsin's Communist opponents was far less critical than that of most foreign journalists.
Johnson's acid attacks on the likes of his bete noire, David Remnick, the author and correspondent for The New Yorker, set the tone for the list's fiery early months. (``Ever since Yeltsin came to power Remnick has specialized in a sophisticated defense of the Yeltsin regime,'' read a typical critique.)
Since then, he has restrained himself. ``It was important that the list be seen as objective,'' he said.
The material is nothing if not varied. He is as quick to include an article from the nationalist, anti-Semitic Russian newspaper Zavtra, as from Foreign Affairs.
There are lofty musings - ``Gorbachev seems to have been influenced by the work of Immanuel Kant, who wrote about the `rule of law state,' as opposed to the rule of `benevolent despots,' so common in the late 18th century'' - and loud rants: ``Isn't it a bit late to reform the Russian army? The author of Parkinson's laws wrote that once corruption appeared in an organization the only way to handle the problem was to dissolve the organization, burn down all buildings and documentation and send people as far apart from each other as possible.''
Until January, Johnson's List also had a World Wide Web site. But after American Spectator magazine complained of copyright infringement, the site was dropped. When asked, Johnson invokes the copyright doctrine permitting ``fair use'' of portions of printed material, assuming publishers will look the other way as long as their material isn't used commercially. Mostly, they do.
Though in principle copyrighted material can be reproduced in full only by the owner's permission, this is a ``fuzzy area'' for Internet use, said John J. Shanahan, a retired vice admiral and the director of the Center for Defense Information, where Johnson works. Since the infringement scare, however, the center took its umbrella away from the list. Johnson now runs it from his home.
Others have a looser interpretation of U.S. copyright law. Pamela Samuelson, a law professor at the University of California at Berkeley (body, education) University of California at Berkeley - (UCB)
See also Berzerkley, BSD.
Note to British and Commonwealth readers: that's /berk'lee/, not /bark'lee/ as in British Received Pronunciation. who specializes in the Internet, said, ``As long as there is attribution, and if there's no direct harm to sales, I think you can make the argument that it's fair use.
``You don't want to shut off access to information where there isn't a demonstrable harm to the market,'' she said. ``That is what the Internet is all about - access to knowledge.''
Stephen Cohen, a professor of Soviet and Russian politics and history at Princeton University, credits the list with loosening up what he calls the ``narrow and therefore sterile public thinking about the Soviet Union and Russia that has gone on for decades.'' Johnson's List also has created a community, complete with village idiots and town elders. ``It has united a dispersed and diasporiaed group of people,'' he said.
Photo: David Johnson has developed a list of commentary about Russian affairs transmitted over the Internet from his Washington, D.C., home.
The New York Times