Friday, April 24, 2009

Jesus was tortured for their sins

Everybody lost The Pirate Bay trial

Pirate LogoThe Pirate's Dilemma

by Matt Mason

Pirate flag at half mast

The victory for the entertainment business was Pyrrhic. Four Swedes have been martyred. Yet content creators and consumers are no closer to new business models that solve the problem.

Piracy is not usually honorable. But it is often a symptom of some kind of failure or injustice. The 17th Century pirates of the high seas were rebelling against tyrannical maritime labor practices. The pirates in Somalia are a direct result of government failure, and the pirates put on trial in Sweden were the result of a market failure, which is sadly now a decade old.

That the market has not come up with alternatives to file-sharing good enough to make piracy moot is the real problem, and the companies and individuals that have stood in the way of this are the ones who owe content creators an explanation. Extremists on both sides are hailing this as a win, but it's the majority of us in the middle who continue to lose out.

This was a show trial about money and politics, but most of all it was a sideshow. This argument is over and the entertainment industries should be focusing on the licensing schemes, royalty agreements and the new business models content creators desperately need. Thankfully many more of them are. But this verdict will encourage the ones who are not to continue pretending there is some other way around this problem that involves suing people.

No one should have to accept people stealing their work, just as no one should have to accept a company demanding that its business model works when it doesn't. But we all have to adapt to new market realities. The way we communicate and distribute all kinds of information will continue to change at an alarming pace. Taking hard-line measures against file-sharing in the interests of a handful of large organizations sets a dangerous precedent for the future of privacy, net neutrality and freedom of speech. Intellectual property laws are about striking a balance between the interests of individual IP creators and society as a whole. If the law tips too far in either direction, the whole system will fall. Bad legal decisions on piracy may actually end up doing more damage than the piracy itself.

The verdict gives lawyers everywhere a mandate to continue chasing shadows. It won't stop the Pirate Bay, let alone online piracy. The 20% surge in the Pirate Party's membership that was reported after the trial was just the beginning. It's since grown by 140% and is now the fourth largest political party in Sweden. Most of the commentary that followed rightly talked of cutting heads off hydras and hitting hornet's nests, etc. What that really means is non-accountability measures being baked into Bit Torrent software as standard, probably in the next six months to a year. It's already starting to happen.

Pirate Bay founder Peter Sunde said after the trial that "there's no difference between us and Google." The judge thought there was a difference – intent. The Pirate Bay was clearly all about file-sharing, Google is not. But thanks to this trial the next generation of file-sharing sites will be much more secretive. The next mutation of The Pirate Bay will have no subversive rhetoric and won't mock the labels and studios chasing it. It will be silent. It won't respond. It wont be nearly as fun as TPB, but there will be no real differences between it and Google. No one will be able to prove intent, making it even more of a threat. Doesn't exactly sound like a win for anybody in the business of creating content.

Pakistani - Taliban Collusion?

The apparent capitulation of the Pakistani authorities to the demands of the Taliban is actually a part of a long-standing alliance between them. The Pakistani military - that actually created and trained the Taliban in the 1990s - has long been using this movement to control Afghanistan and as a tool in its confrontation with the West. The Taliban, for its part, uses the support and protection of Pakistan to consolidate its strength and gain control over increasingly large areas in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It has long been alleged that some within ISI, the Pakistani intelligence, have retained links to the Taliban. Last year, the head of the CIA flew to Islamabad to present evidence that showed that ISI elements were involved in a deadly bomb attack on the Indian embassy in Kabul. Officials in Washington now say that, according to human intelligence and electronic intercepts, the ISI, through its "S Wing," which officials say directs intelligence operations outside Pakistan, is involved in operations in Afghanistan by supporting more militant networks than was previously thought, including Lashkar-e-Taiba, which was blamed for last year's attacks in Mumbai. According to some scholars, the reason why is the lack of will from the Army, that Pakistan does not manage to get rid of the Taliban.
However, during the past week criticism against the Taliban has intensified in the country, as beheadings, public executions and floggings are at the order of the day. VOA reports that the peace agreement has already lost support in Islamabad. Legal scholars have urged Zardari not to sign it, but he did, arguing it would harm Pakistan's legal system and further erode government authority in the region. Last week, actually, the public flogging of a 17-year-old girl in Pakistan's Swat Valley, that was recorded in a video ( sparked a wave of protests and prompted President Zardari to define such act as "shameful". But verbal condemnations are useless if not followed by action and for the moment no action is in sight.
Columnist Ejaz Haider of the Pakistani Daily Times describe what's going on in his country and accuses the role of the media: "The Urdu-language TV channels should be ashamed […] of supporting extremists in the name of jihad; for giving these thugs an aura of respectability and acceptability".
There is a lot of confusion in Pakistan on how to take on the Taliban. "While we all agree that we should fight terrorism, this is where the clarity ends. We are not sure who the enemy is and what we should be fighting against," says Nazish Brohi, a social worker.

The Struggle At The New School Continues

One of the students arrested in the Good Friday occupation
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

NEW YORK — Did New School University president Bob Kerrey pepper spray his own students?

The student group calling itself the "New School In Exile" says that Bob Kerrey bears the bulk of the responsibility for police using physical force against unarmed students engaged in a peaceful protest — a protest that called for Kerrey to step down from his position as president of the New School.

In statements released on their website, students involved in the April 10th — Good Friday — takeover of the New School facility on 65 Fifth Avenue said that Kerrey called in riot police despite the existence of a "demonstrations policy" at the New School that banned the use of force and mandated other forms of action.

"The demonstrations policy states that "absolutely no form of physical violence or intimidation can be tolerated" on the part of demonstrators. But mobilizing the massive repressive apparatus of the riot police (or massacring an entire village in Vietnam) are apparently okay."

New School In Exile statement April 13, 2009

Kerrey's use of force against his students contradicts the core mission of the New School - to instill students with a passion for social justice activism:

"The New School is a legendary, progressive university comprising eight schools bound by a common, unusual intent: to prepare and inspire its 9,400 undergraduate and graduate students to bring actual, positive change to the world."
– About The New School


Kerrey has been a controversial figure ever since he arrived at the New School in 2001. Frustrated students and their supporters have been quick to point out that during the Vietnam War Kerrey led a Navy SEAL team on a Phoenix Program mission targeting the peasant village of Thanh Phong. The CIA's Phoenix program orchestrated the assassination of thousands of Vietnamese — some of the targets were National Liberation Front ("Viet Cong") but many others were innocent women and children.

A sign calling Kerrey a war criminal
(Photo: Thomas Good / NLN)

"Kerrey should be tried as a war criminal. His actions on the night of February 24-25, 1969 when the seven man Navy Seal unit which he headed killed approximately twenty unarmed Vietnamese civilians, eighteen of whom were women and children was a war crime. Like those who murdered at My Lai, he too should be brought into the dock and tried for his crimes."
– Michael Ratner (interview with CounterPunch)


Activists at the New School are locked in a protracted struggle with Kerrey, arguing that he is "corporatizing" the school while ignoring basic needs of the students. The student activists are calling for "socially responsible investing" (SRI) — an end to investing university funds in corporations run by defense contractors who engage in war profiteering. They are also demanding Kerrey's resignation.


The Demands:

The removal of Bob Kerrey as president of the university.
• The removal of James Murtha as executive vice president of the university.
The removal of Robert B. Millard as treasurer of the board of trustees.
• Students, faculty, and staff be allowed to elect the president, EVP, and Provost.
• Students be made part of the interim committee to hire a provost.
• Full transparency and disclosure of the university budget and investments.
• The creation of a committee on Socially Responsible Investments (SRI).
• The suspension of capital improvement projects like the tearing down of 65 Fifth Ave.

American vs foreign cars

 DaimlerChrysler             Chrysler Pacifica              Made in Canada
 DaimlerChrysler             Chrysler PT Cruiser        Made in Mexico 
 Ford Motor                     Ford Fusion                       Made in Mexico
 Ford Motor                     Lincoln MKX                     Made in Canada 
 General Motors              Chevrolet Impala             Made in Canada
 General Motors              Pontiac GTO                     Made in Austrailia

 Honda Motor                  Acura RDX                        Made in Ohio
 Honda Motor                  Honda Element                 Made in Ohio
 Toyota Motor                 Toyota Avalon                  Made in Ky
 Toyota Motor                 Toyota Camry Solara      Made in Ky


Cure For Honey Bee Colony Collapse?

For the first time, scientists have isolated the parasite Nosema ceranae (Microsporidia) from professional apiaries suffering from honey bee colony depopulation syndrome. They then went on to treat the infection with complete success.

In a study published in the new journal from the Society for Applied Microbiology: Environmental Microbiology Reports, scientists from Spain analysed two apiaries and found evidence of honey bee colony depopulation syndrome (also known as colony collapse disorder in the USA). They found no evidence of any other cause of the disease (such as the Varroa destructor, IAPV or pesticides), other than infection with Nosema ceranae. The researchers then treated the infected surviving under-populated colonies with the antibiotic drug, flumagillin and demonstrated complete recovery of all infected colonies.

The loss of honey bees could have an enormous horticultural and economic impact worldwide. Honeybees are important pollinators of crops, fruit and wild flowers and are indispensable for a sustainable and profitable agriculture as well as for the maintenance of the non-agricultural ecosystem. Honeybees are attacked by numerous pathogens including viruses, bacteria, fungi and parasites.

For most of these diseases, the molecular pathogenesis is poorly understood, hampering the development of new ways to prevent and combat honeybee diseases. So, any progress made in identifying causes and subsequent treatments of honey bee colony collapse is invaluable. There have been other hypothesis for colony collapse in Europe and the USA, but never has this bug been identified as the primary cause in professional apiaries.

"Now that we know one strain of parasite that could be responsible, we can look for signs of infection and treat any infected colonies before the infection spreads" said Dr Higes, principle researcher.

This finding could help prevent the continual decline in honey bee population which has recently been seen in Europe and the USA.


Unretouched photo.  The laser sears the meat, and leaves it this color.

We start with 100% beef jerky, and SEAR your contact information into it with a 150 WATT CO2 LASER.

Screw die-cutting. Forget about foil, popups, or UV spot lamination. THESE business cards have two ingredients:

Unlike other business cards, MEAT CARDS will retain value after the econopocalypse. Hoard and barter your calorie-rich, life-sustaining cards.

Different thieves

Smiles for Smirks


Once again the simple-minded media and its pundits are confused about the nature of Americanism and language. When President Obama today inferred consideration of holding former administration officials accountable to law, he was immediately accused of violating his belief that we should "look forward." Had President Ford "looked forward" in his decision as to whether or not to hold Nixon accountable, he perhaps would have seen the Bush administration abuse of power coming and chosen to be genuinely tough on crime -- you know, "tough on crime" -- sending Nixon to jail and deterring this recent avalanche of abuse.

Further, the criticisms of President Obama's warm greeting toward President Chavez of Venezuela have been the posturing of our nation's most bitter and humanly impotent voices. Why is anyone listening to former Vice President Cheney? He's the one person alive proven wrong on virtually every topic. Then there's Newt Gingrich, who commented on the Chavez greeting as being approached wrong. He suggested that the meeting itself may not be improper, but that it should have been handled with a cold demeanor. This is a pattern of bad acting advice from bad actors. (All wimps think playing a tough guy is done in one-note coldness.) With a friend, or an enemy, our president will gain greater strategic position with a smile.

I know President Chavez well. Whether or not one agrees with all his policies, what is certainly true of Chavez is that he is a warm and friendly man with a robust sense of humor (who daily risks his own life for his country in ways Dick Cheney could never imagine). To treat such a man coldly is akin to spitting on him. As a country we've done enough of that. Say what you will, but it has only resulted in the self-celebration of our smirking spitters, while costing us international respect, American lives, and left wounds in the hands of our children's future. The Cheneys, down to the O'Reillys and Hannitys and Limbaughs, effectively hate the principles upon which we were founded. They are among the greatest cowards in all of American history. I applaud an American President who's tough smile.

The shaming of America

Judge Jay S. Bybee provided the legal framework for torture to the Bush administration. If he had even a particle of decency, he'd resign.

By Gene Lyons

NewsAnybody with an active conscience can understand why President Barack Obama ordered the Bush administration's "terror memos" released, overruling his own CIA director. No intelligence secrets were revealed. Much of the information in the documents had previously been widely reported. They weren't classified "Top Secret" to protect national security, but the craven careerists who wrote them, and the White House officials who ordered it done.

To a one-time constitutional-law professor like Obama, the memos' legalistic rationalization of methods indistinguishable from those of the Soviet KGB or South African secret police must have been sickening. Besides shaming themselves and their country, their authors have sullied their profession.

In a 2002 advisory, Jay S. Bybee, subsequently appointed to the U.S. 9th District Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush, notes dryly that the practice of "waterboarding" -- recognized as torture since the Spanish Inquisition -- "constitutes a threat of imminent death," but says it's nevertheless legal because it doesn't cause "prolonged mental harm" in a psychologically healthy subject.

So here's my question: Would Bybee, in his capacity as a federal judge, uphold a murder conviction in which witnesses had been waterboarded? A rape confession? Would it be all right for police to induce confessions by keeping suspects awake for 11 days by shackling them naked in a standing position, dousing them with ice water and smashing their heads into a wall? How about cramming them into coffin-size boxes for weeks? He thought that appropriate for terror suspects.

If not, why not? Are rape and murder not the gravest of crimes? The answer, of course, is that criminal law recognizes that people can be tortured into confessing damn near anything. The "intelligence" implications, however, were lost on Bybee and the Bush White House.

FBI interviewers who obtained the only useful intelligence ever provided by al-Qaida functionary Abu Zubaydah before CIA toughs got hold of him described the man to author Ron Suskind as psychologically fragile. Suskind's CIA sources found Zubaydah an "insane, certifiable, split personality," whom the agency nevertheless waterboarded 83 times.

Zealots in Washington, see, refused to accept his handlers' insistence that Zubaydah had already told them everything he'd known.

Ironically, Bybee's successor, Steven Bradbury, noted in a 2005 memo that the U.S. State Department regularly "condemns coercive interrogation techniques ... employed by other countries." Also, that "certain of the techniques appear to bear some resemblance to some of the CIA techniques." Others appear to have been borrowed directly from George Orwell's novel "1984."

Waterboard torture memo set to music

Report attempts to quantify Iraqi civilian deaths

Iraq's government has recorded 87,215 of its citizens killed since 2005 in violence ranging from catastrophic bombings to execution-style slayings, according to government statistics that break open one of the most closely guarded secrets of the war.
BAGHDAD — Iraq's government has recorded 87,215 of its citizens killed since 2005 in violence ranging from catastrophic bombings to execution-style slayings, according to government statistics that break open one of the most closely guarded secrets of the war.

Combined with tallies based on hospital sources and media reports since the beginning of the war and an in-depth review of available evidence by The Associated Press, the figures show that more than 110,600 Iraqis have died in violence since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

The number is a minimum count of violent deaths. The official who provided the data to The AP, on condition of anonymity because of its sensitivity, estimated the actual number of deaths at 10 to 20 percent higher because of thousands who are missing and civilians who were buried in the chaos of war without official records.

The Health Ministry has tallied death certificates since 2005, and the United Nations began using them late that year — along with hospital and morgue figures — to release casualty counts publicly. But the Iraqi numbers disappeared by early 2007, when sectarian violence was putting political pressure on the U.S. and Iraqi governments. The United Nations "repeatedly asked for that cooperation" to resume but never received a response, U.N. associate spokesman Farhan Haq said Thursday.

The data measure only violent deaths — people killed in the shootings, bombings, mortar attacks and beheadings that have ravaged Iraq. Indirect factors such as damage to infrastructure, health care and stress that caused thousands more to die are excluded.

Ralph Nader Was Right

Last year, Ralph Nader ran for President.
I was Ralph's national campaign coordinator.
During the campaign, Ralph called it as he saw it.
DC was a corporate prison.
The Democrats and Republicans were beholden to corporate America.
The corporate Obama we saw on the campaign trail in 2008 wouldn't be much different just because he became President Obama and moved into the White House in 2009.
As usual, Ralph was right.
Exhibit A: Health insurance.
Today, fifty million Americans are uninsured.
According to the Institute of Medicine, 22,000 Americans die every year from a lack of health insurance.
Obama knows that a Canadian style single payer national health insurance system - everybody in, nobody out, free choice of doctors and hospitals - will bring these numbers down to zero.
Zero people are uninsured in Canada.
Zero people die every year in Canada due to lack of health insurance.
Yet, during the 2008 campaign, Obama took single payer off the table.
It's still off the table in the corporate prison that is Washington, D.C.
This despite the fact that, according to the most recent polls, the majority of Americans, doctors, nurses, health economists and even small businesses want single payer.
Even a young Obama wanted single payer.
Before he became the politician that he is today.
Obama still knows what the answer is - single payer.
Yet he bows down before the ever powerful for-profit health and drug insurance industries.
That's just the seedy reality inside the beltway today.
The burning question outside is:
What are we going to do about it?
And the answer is:
We are going to deliver single payer for the American people.
To get the job done, we have launched - Single Payer Action.
Over the past couple of months, Single Payer Action has been out for a test drive.
We've been kicking the tires.
And things are looking good.
Single Payer Action exposed PBS Frontline for deliberately tilting its documentary "Sick Across America" to reflect an insurance industry bias.
The one-hour documentary never once mentioned single payer.

Single Payer Action activists burned their insurance bills outside a meeting of the health insurance industry's main lobbying group in Washington, D.C.

Single Payer Action blew open the story about how Obama tried to bar single payer advocates from the White House health care summit last month.

As a result of that reporting, Obama was forced to admit two single payer advocates inside the White House gates for the summit.

And in West Virginia last month, a group of Single Payer Action belly dancers drew widespread attention when they shook it up for single payer at the Martinsburg offices of Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

Last year, after the campaign, we wrote to you promising action on single payer.

Action time has arrived.

Have we learned nothing from roadrunner cartoons?