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In a timely reminder of who's really in charge here, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has mounted a daring raid on the US Navy.

Acting unilaterally at the behest of the RIAA, Navy officials confiscated 100 computers on suspicion of harboring illegally downloaded MP3s, The Capital, an Annapolis, MD daily reports. A Naval official quoted confirms the raid, adding that punishment ranges from "court martial to loss of leave and other restrictions".

For the RIAA, there are no half measures: you're either with them, or against them. So even if you're risking having your ass blown off for your country, there's no mercy.

It's no picnic in the Navy, as many Register readers serving in the forces remind us. From a terrific account of Gulf War combat by a US marine sniper in the new Harper's magazine* we learn that shortly before entering a live combat, infantry are required to remove "foreign material" from their packs: letters from women who aren't their girlfriends, mothers or wives , and pornography, because in the event of death the personal effects will be dispatched to their next of kin in their entirety.

So have MP3s now joined this list of "foreign material"? Any Reg readers in the know? ®

* By popular request, he's called Anthony Swofford, his Jarhead: A Marine's Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles will be published next spring (Scribner), and he wrote:- "Our staff sergeant advises us to remove any foreign matter from our rucks. By foreign matter he means letters from women othen than our wives or girlfriends, and also pornography or other material that wives and girlfriends and mothers might not like to receive after our deaths when our personal effects will be shipped to the States, directly to our Homes of Record."

Amazon has it in the catalog here, and underneath you get an advertisment so:- "Customers who wear clothes also shop for: ... Clean Underwear from Amazon's Gap Store".

This is pretty funny, after you've read Swofford's account of combat:-

"I stand in place and piss my pants again, piss all over and running into my boots, thighs both, knees both, ankles both, bottom of my feet both, clear piss and no underwear, because otherwise chafed crotch because Vaseline only works to mile ten and all wars and battles occur farther than ten miles from all safe points, and rotten balls if you don't remove your underwear at mile ten..."

An amazing read. ®

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